January 18, 2017

Cannonball from the 17th century found in Groenlo

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 8:21 pm

Archaeologists have found a cannonball from 1627 in Groenlo, Gelderland during an excavation along the A18
motorway. It weighs four kilos and dates back to the Eighty Years’ War when the Dutch revolted against the Spanish King, Philip II. Experts know what year it is from because the Dutch army had established a siege line in Groenlo to reconquer the town from the Spanish.

Although pieces of pots and jewellery have also been found, this is the most interesting find so far. And the good news is the archaeologists have until May to uncover more exciting finds, as excavations are taking place in 10 locations along the A18 motorway.

(Link: omroepgelderland.nl, Photo: BOOR Rotterdam)

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December 30, 2016

Branko’s favourite postings of 2016

Filed under: Bicycles,Food & Drink,General,History by Orangemaster @ 1:30 pm

It’s that time of year again where we look back and tell you about some of the things we wrote about, and this year we had one clear theme that stood out and that, sadly, was ‘tastelessness’.

First the weird junk food combos:

Spring: the discodel

Summer: frikandel ice cream

Winter: smoked sausage and kroket

Dear Dutch snack bars, please follow our neighbouring countries and sell halloumi, and stop mixing crap already.

Next up, we have a tasteless escape room with Anne Frank as a theme.

The entire year saw some tasteless bashing of Ukraine. What did Ukraine ever do to us? Oh yeah, they gave back stolen Dutch paintings to a museum to show how classy they are.

As well, we found out in 2016 that supermarkets sell fertilised eggs, chicks prove it, we saw a food bank snub the poor over a Facebook like and had a good laugh at this organic fries truck stuck at a junk food chain drive.

And then to move towards some more classy bits, here’s the bicycle tunnel built in a single weekend in Utrecht, police training eagles to attack drones and a woman as the world’s first ever Professor of Fatherhood.

To finish off, here’s a story that went from classy to tasteless, an elderly woman sews bags from abandoned umbrellas, but then a few months later is pushed off her mobility scooter and robbed of her gold chain.

We’ll leave it at that, thanks for all your comments, and a reminder that next year is our 10th year anniversary in February, so I guess we should think about doing something special.

Happy New Year!

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December 14, 2016

Almere misspells historical Dutch street sign

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 11:07 am
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This street sign is from Amsterdam in 2007, with an extra ‘r’, wavering between ‘brug’ and ‘burg’.

A lot of people don’t care about spelling unless it’s their name being butchered. The city of Almere messed up the last name of former Dutch Prime Minister from 1973-1977 Joop Den Uyl by going with ‘Uil’. It was noticed by a politician of the Labour Party, of which Den Uyl was a member – he’s now deceased.

The park where the ‘path’ (‘pad’) actually is, is called ‘Den Uylpark’ where there’s a statue of Joop Den Uyl with what I’m sure is a plaque with his name also written as ‘Joop Den Uyl’.

Almere apparently has a reputation of messing up its colourful street names. In 2011 it took the city three tries to get ‘Chicagostraat’ right: first it was ‘Chigacostraat’, then ‘Chigagostraat’ and finally ‘Chicagostraat’. In 2008 ‘Popeyestraat’, named after the American cartoon character Popeye was ‘Popeystraat’, and the character ‘Marsipulami’ from the Belgian Gaston Lagaffe comic strips was first ‘Marsipulamihof’ instead of ‘Marsupilamihof’.

(Links: nos.nl, nu.nl, Photo of a misspelled street name in Amsterdam by Herenlunch)

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December 10, 2016

Amsterdam’s oldest coffeeshop forced to close in 2017

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 10:15 pm

Amsterdam is currently on a mission to close down many of its coffeeshops in 2017, as some of them are too close to schools, following a policy called ‘Project 1012’, referring to a downtown postal code and one of their next targets is the city’s oldest coffeeshop, Mellow Yellow opened in 1972, albeit at another location.

The mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan made a deal back in 2011 with the Dutch government that if they didn’t force him to make Amsterdam coffeeshops register foreign patrons he would close down coffeeshops that were less than 250 metres from schools. However, a report from the Bonger Institute of Criminology says the remaining coffeeshops are now so overcrowded that they have twice as many patrons with people queueing outside to get in, which is disruptive.

Then there’s stories about coffeeshops allowed to stay open because schools are either closing or moving, and when a school moves then other coffeeshops may all of a sudden have a problem. And there’s the story of a coffeeshop not having to close after all because someone measured the 250 metres incorrectly. Oh, and there are newspaper articles about coffeeshops being shot at and closed temporarily, so that the actual number of coffeeshops in Amsterdam is never quite right.

Goodbye Mellow Yellow, 1972-2017, the experts think you should stay open, but not the city who doesn’t want to see the new problems caused by shutting the likes of you down.

(Link: parool.nl, a report on Project 1012Photo by Eric Caballero, some rights reserved)

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October 10, 2016

Tourists school the Dutch on Dutch World Heritage sites

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 9:30 pm
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Yes, the quiz is in Dutch, but feel free to try and guess which sites are actually Dutch World Heritage sites (Wikipedia cheat sheet) by clicking on this link. I got 9 out of 15.

And if it makes you feel any better, the Dutch world heritage people have gone so far as to have a video campaign that says “Our world heritage is world-famous, soon to be famous in the Netherlands”, which is passive-aggressive speak for ‘how embarrassing, we don’t even know our own heritage’.

The underlying gripe in the Dutch media is that World Heritage sites in foreign countries are way cooler because the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and all that. I’m a foreigner who thinks there’s some great stuff to see here that even my family pushed me to visit years ago, which helped my score.

(Link: rtlnieuws, Photo: philips.nl)

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October 3, 2016

Help! My mammoth takes up too much space

Filed under: Animals,History,Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:04 am

Online auction site Catawiki has all kinds of stuff up for grabs, and as of last weekend, there’s a Dutch person selling off a complete mammoth skeleton.

According to the auction site, there are seven complete mammoth skeletons in the Netherlands, and this was the only one not owned by a museum. Originally found in the North Sea, the bones are not from the same mammoth, and were carefully collected over time. The skeleton is 3.2 metres high and 5.5 metres long, with 270 bones and two tusks that are three metres long.

Catawiki expects the skeleton to fetch between 200,000 and 260,000 euro. As of last weekend the highest bid was 35,000 euro.

UPDATE: A German museum that wishes to remain anonymous has bought the skeleton for 120,000 euro.

(Link: nos.nl, Photo: Wolfgang Staudt, some rights reserved)

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September 29, 2016

New letters and photos of Mata Hari published

Filed under: History,Literature by Orangemaster @ 10:17 pm

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The Frisian History and Literature Centre Tresoar in Leeuwarden, Friesland have made public a gift of 48 letters and 14 photos never been seen before they received from the family of the ex-husband of famous Frisian exotic dancer, Mata Hari. The only thing Tresoar had to do in return was turn it all into a book, so that everyone could enjoy the discoveries. The book ‘Don’t think that I’m that bad’ (‘Denk niet dat ik slecht ben’) by Marita Mathijsen-Verkooijen should be out at least in Dutch any day now.

One of the letters written during Mata Hari’s life in Paris in 1904-1905 talked about her one day become a mother and how difficult her life was in general, while in another she talks about living in Nijmegen and having to sell her bike to be able to survive. Mata Hari’s life story is a great read in itself, and these letters will certainly help historians and fans find out even more about her turbulent life. Next year in 2017, the legal documents of 1917 about her execution by a firing squad just outside Paris for being a German spy on 15 October 1917 will be made public, so stay tuned for more.

(Link: nos.nl, Photo of Mata Hari in the public domain)

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September 11, 2016

The eel riots of 1886 ended with 26 people and 1 eel dead

Filed under: Animals,History by Branko Collin @ 8:30 pm

In the wake of the 1886 Eel Riots in Amsterdam, Dutch newspapers filled their columns with reports about the event, but it was French magazine l’Illustration that came out with these drawings by M. de Haenen 10 days later.

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Fait sur place, these illustrations tell the story of the Palingoproer (eel riots), the bloodiest case of Dutch police brutality in the 19th century.

On Sunday 25 July 1886 a great mass of people gathered on the Lindengracht in Amsterdam to watch a cruel spectacle. Fish sellers had tied a rope between numbers 184 and 119 across what was then still a canal and a live eel had been tied to that rope. Men in small boats had to try and pull the eel from the rope—the winner would get the princely sum of 6 guilders, almost a week’s wages. This sport was called palingtrekken (eel pulling) and by that time already outlawed.

Four officers from nearby police station Noordermarkt decided to put a halt to the spectacle. They entered one of the houses to which the rope was tied and used a pocket knife to cut down the rope. Apparently the rope hit one of the spectators who started thwacking the police with his umbrella as soon as they left the building. Fast forward a couple of hours and a full blown riot was going on with police using their sabres and rioters throwing pavers.

Nightfall came and a drizzle helped to cool tempers. The next day, however, rioters stormed the police station which led to the army getting out their guns. As soon as the smoke had cleared (smokeless powder had only been invented two years earlier and was being introduced slowly to European armies), 26 rioters lay dead and observers (reporters, essayists, historians) started to explain what it was that just had happened.

Right-wing rags Algemeen Handelsblad and NRC, and the mayor of Amsterdam, tried to blame the socialists for being the instigators, but the public prosecutor thought that conclusion was preposterous—royalist inhabitants of the nearby Willemsstraat had even thrown red and black flags into the canal that the socialists had quickly brought to the scene of the riots.

Two thousands rioters were given prison sentences, police officers were treated to cigars and in 1913 the eel that involuntarily started it all showed up at an auction where it was sold for 1,75 guilders and was never seen again.

(Images: VKTV.nl / M. de Haenen)

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August 20, 2016

The gruesome murder of the De Witt brothers was 344 years ago today

Filed under: Art,History by Branko Collin @ 10:58 pm

de-wit-brothers-jan-de-baenThe year was 1672. The 80-year war of independence of the United Provinces against Spain had been hard fought, but had also ushered in a golden age in which trade, science and arts blossomed. Now that progress was halting. The Treaty of M√ľnster in 1648 had seen the recognition of the young Dutch republic as an independent nation, but 24 years later fresh enemies were at the door. England had declared war, followed by France and a bunch of German bishops.

An Anglo-French attack over sea had been thwarted with ease by the mighty Dutch fleet, but the weakened Dutch army could not stop the French from invading over land. The Dutch tried to retreat to the redoubt formed by the Dutch Water Line; a huge lake formed by flooding parts of Utrecht and Brabant. The flooding went slower than expected and it also made the people outside the redoubt feel they were being left to their own devices. People started panicking and started looking for scapegoats.

These scapegoats were found in the brothers Johan and Cornelis de Witt. The former was the grand pensionary of the provinces of Holland and Zeeland, which made him the de facto leader of a federation of provinces that preferred not to have leaders. It also brought him in direct competition with the line of Orange-Nassau which had assumed the stadtholdership and had turned it into a hereditary position. The Oranges were the favourites of many people who saw in the latest heir, William III, a new leader for the new war.

Cornelis had been framed for the crime of conspiracy and had been banished from the country. On 20 August 1672 his brother Johan came to pick him up from prison in The Hague, but outside a mad crowd awaited them. The rabble lynched the brothers, mutilated their bodies and cut parts off. The heart of Johan was cut out of his body and thrown in his face.

The painting shown here was created by Jan de Baen. On the back is written: “These are the corpses of Jan and Cornelis de Witt, painted from life by an important painter, as they were hanging from the gallows at 11 o’clock in the evening. Cornelis is the one without a wig, Jan de Witt has his own hair. This is the only painting painted from life on 20 August 1672 and therefore worth a lot of money.”

According to vandaagindegeschiedenis.nl, “some of their body parts were even traded, taken as souvenirs and eaten. The Haags Historisch Museum owns a tongue and a toe of one or both of the brothers. These became the property of supporters of the brothers who kept them as relics.”

(Illustration: Jan de Baen / Wikimedia Commons)

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August 7, 2016

Why America doesn’t know its Dutch history

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 12:04 pm

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Here’s our online version of reading a book on the beach: let’s all learn about the Dutch origins of New York City and more by American author and historian Russell Shorto who sounds like he could talk about it all day.

The first part is a quick introduction called ‘Why don’t Americans know about their own Dutch history?’, which starts by naming all the British things Americans usually know about their country and exposing the blind spot in people’s knowledge about anything Dutch.

Check out the rest, all short videos. Part 2 starts off with an explanation of the Castello Plan that we’ve used as an image.

Part 2. What’s left of New Amsterdam in Lower Manhattan?
Part 3. Meet a forgotten American visionary
Part 4. How New Amsterdam influenced America

Notice the Heineken truck going by as the video starts in Part 1.

(Image: Castello Plan of the tip of Manhattan)

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