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Snapshots of the world from one year in the past

CARS RACE FROM PEKING TO PARIS

ALAMY X1, GETTY X6, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS X1

The French newspaper Le Matin proposed an ambitious (make that foolhardy) race in January 1907. “Now that man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Does anybody accept the challenge of going from Peking to Paris by car?” That was enough for five crews to head to Peking (Beijing) and brave the journey of more than 9,000 miles. Drivers went through deserts, mountain passes and woodland, while dealing with no roads, maps or petrol stations. Yet somehow, the Italian Prince Scipione Borghese made it to the French capital on 10 August, the arrival shown here, 61 days after setting off, in his 40hp Itala – although by the end, it was sporting a replacement wheel of wood.

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About BBC History Revealed

William Shakespeare had humble beginnings – how did he transform into England’s greatest playwright? We explore how the ‘upstart crow’ became so widely celebrated. Plus: The mysterious assassins of the medieval Muslim world are explored, we dig into the diaries of Samuel Pepys and take a look at the life of Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians.