Posts in podcasts
Episode 12: Jews, Pestilence and the Apocalyptic 14th Century

At this stage in our journey through the History of the Netherlands we have emerged into the 1300s: a century which for a long time, has been seen as the most awful century to have been alive in western Europe. Warfare and plague led to an almost complete breakdown of order in the social fabric. Estimates vary and depend on the region, but in less than a decade up to half of the European population died of the black death after it first struck in 1348, before returning again later in the century and wiping out another huge chunk. And as bad as all that may be, it would have been even worse if you were a Jew. Because even though you had to live through the same hardships as everyone else, and were exposed to the same pestilence that could destroy your family, there was a very high chance that you were going to be blamed for the black plague and subsequently burned to death as punishment.

Read More
Swapcast: Those Conspiracy Guys

We recently had an extremely pleasant visit from a guy called Gordo, the main host of Those Conspiracy Guys, a podcast which explores and questions all sorts of topics, including the different ways that history is looked at and consumed . Gordo is making his way around Europe filming a series of travel videos, starting from his home in Ireland and heading east and south in his endeavour to uncover all sorts of stories, people and topics. In Amsterdam, we took him out on a boat ride and after chatting decided we would sit down with a microphone and have a chat about Dutch history and culture and how these coincide with the reputation of such a famously liberal city as Amsterdam.

Read More
Episode 10: The Battle of the Golden Spurs (A "Good Day" to Die Hard)

In the late 1200s many of the trends and forces that we've been exploring, such as feudalism, urbanisation and industrialisation erupted in a spectacular clash between Flanders and France. Flanders was totally annexed by their larger and more powerful neighbour, but a rebellion stirred that would result in a brutal massacre and an unlikely battlefield victory in a pile of mud, flesh and golden spurs just outside of the town of Kortrijk.

Read More
Episode 9: Weaving Our Way Through Flanders (A Wooly Good Episode)

Today we are taking you on an epic adventure, being passed from hand to hand and from group to group, throughout medieval Flanders, as wool. You read that correctly. Wool. Yes, it might seem strange at first, imagining being an inanimate object. But wool was the most important commodity in Flanders during the 13th century, and the process through which it was transformed from a raw material to a finished piece of fine cloth will take you through every layer of the new urban society that was developing in the low countries. You’re going to be dyed, spun, woven, beaten, pissed on and strung up on tenterhooks. It’s gonna be fun, trust us. After that adventure, we will focus on Bruges, the town that was at the epicentre of the wool trade, and see how that industry affected the people and architecture there. It’s a wooly good episode!

Read More
Episode 8: Draining the Swamp (or, the Secret Soggy Story of Sphagnum)

In this episode, we are going to break away from the main chronology of the series a little bit, to zoom out and the re-focus on one particular topic: how exactly, in the space of roughly 500 years, this empty swamp land was transformed into one of the most densely populated places on the planet. But in order to do that, we’re going to have to focus on one of the most underrated, and unappreciated of mother nature’s gifts. And that is something called sphagnum; more commonly known as peat moss.

Read More
Episode 7: Getting Down in Town

Freed from the need to be working the land due to the improvements in agriculture discussed in episode 6, people in the low countries began congregating in urban centres. They developed new skills and began manufacturing goods. Artisans like smiths, woodworkers, weavers, embroiderers and textile workers suddenly possessed talents with great economic value. Now, for the first time, members of the common class were able to put their fingers onto the scales of power, and begin to balance it back in their favour by making city charters. But the creation of a new body politic in the 11th century would not be without its adversaries, nor without its consequences.

Read More
SPECIAL: King's Day 2019 Live Extravaganza

The Netherlands has just celebrated its most festive day of the year: King’s Day! King Willem Alexander’s birthday is on the 27th of April. As tradition demands, and in honour of him, everybody dutifully got dressed up in orange and proceeded to get drunk and sell all of their old stuff on the street. Being dedicated podcasters, we decided to create a special episode, separate from the series chronology, in which we explore who exactly King Willem Alexander and his ancestors are, look at what they did to induce this bizarre collective frivolity in such a modern and progressive country, as well as recount how this day of monarchy-madness came to be. We recorded it in the morning before the party and then hit the streets to interview people off the street, to discover their favourite facts about Dutch history.

Read More
Episode 6: Ploughin' Forward

The last few episodes have focused heavily on the “Game of Thrones” layer of history; that’s to say, nobles killing each other. As exciting as it's been, only a tiny minority of people who lived around the end of the first millennium of the Common Era would have been directly concerned with those kind of conflicts. For most people in the lowlands, it didn’t matter who was their count or duke or emperor. For them, life was nasty, brutish and short, and involved an overwhelming amount of backbreaking manual labour. But an agricultural revolution was about to change life for these peasants forever. So let’s keep ploughin’ forward with the History of the Netherlands.

Read More
Episode 5: Welcome to Family Feudalism

The disintegration of Charlemagne’s empire at the end of the 9th century left the lowlands part of a larger entity, Lotharingia, wedged between two much more powerful kingdoms, East and West Francia. If you were an ambitious noble, controlling one of the many small, swampy territories and you wished to move yourself up into a more prominent position, what would you do? Well, what lots of them chose to do was switch allegiances to and fro between the great powers on either side whenever they deemed it politically necessary and beneficial to do so. Welcome to Family Feudalism!

Read More
Episode 4: Charles in Charge

In the latter half of the 8th century, events and circumstances around Europe become vastly influenced by a man who ruled a vast empire from the lowlands. This man is the reason why the name Charles - which if you think about it really hard is actually a pretty weird name - is anywhere near as populous as it is today. But this Charles was, apparently, greater than the rest, and so he gets to be called Charlemagne - Charles the Great.

Read More
Episode 1: 99% of Dutch History

We set off on an epic journey to explore the history of a small piece of land in the northwest part of the European continent known as ‘the lowlands’, which roughly includes today’s Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and bits of northern France. This episode will take us from so called “pre-history” to around the Roman era. So strap in while we deal with 99% of Dutch history... that’s most of it.

Read More
Episode 3: Execution and Escape

On 5 February, 1943, thirteen of the twenty-three defendants from the First Parool Trial were given paper and pens and told to write farewell letters to their families. Hours later, they were executed by firing squad. But the ringleader of the group, Frans Goedhart, was able to win a temporary reprieve and over the next few months undertook various attempts to escape from Vught concentration camp. But would luck be on his side?

Read More
Episode 2: The Process

After the botched arrest of Arie Addicks in September 1941, the Addicks group was firmly in the sights of the authorities. Over the course of four months, a series of arrests would take place across the Netherlands, from the streets of Amsterdam to a freezing beach in Scheveningen, which would end with twenty-three people being charged with crimes against the state. But would these freedom fighters survive some of the Netherlands’ most infamous concentration camps?

Read More
Episode 1: The Addicks Group

After the invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, a group of men from a disbanded socialist youth group called the AJC, came together to fight back against the new Nazi regime. The young members of the so-called “Addicks Group” joined forces with journalist and activist Frans Goedhart and became active in stenciling and distributing the illegal anti-Nazi newspaper Het Parool. But their activities would soon put themselves and their loved ones in mortal peril.

Read More
Coup de Pod II: Power to the Pussy Episode 2 - Don't Iron While the Strike is Hot!

By the 1950s women in the West had been pushed back into the household; their roles in the expectations of society confined to the whims and demands of men. By the end of that decade, a low rumble of discontent had begun amongst women in the US. In the 1960s that rumble grew into a roar, as women around the country stood up and spoke up. They were united, organised and began an inexorable push for social, legal and economic change that would bring them into the realm of self-empowerment. Although that push must continue to this day, it was these women who built the scaffolding, from the frames of which women’s rights could begin to be constructed.

Read More
The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior

On a summer's night in July, 1985 a ship called the Rainbow Warrior lay moored at Marsden Wharf in Auckland, New Zealand. Just before midnight, it suddenly exploded. The bomb which blew it up had been expertly attached to the hull by trained military divers. The attack was aimed at the heart of the international anti-nuclear movement, and it was conducted by the foreign intelligence agency of one nation, and committed on the soil (or water) of one of their allies. The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior showed how very much the fears and insecurities of powerful nations had become misaligned with public opinion, and the positions of their allies, around the world.

Read More
Abolishing the Norm - Episode 4: Over John Brown's Body

Despite over half a century of abolitionist activity, including subversive activism, dissent, debate, protest and attempts at electoral process, by the end of the 1850s the demise of slavery seemed to some to still be as far from becoming reality as ever.

Enter John Brown. Whereas the division over the issue of slavery had riven the young federal society of the US apart, John Brown never wavered, questioned or acted against the defining principle of his life: slavery was an abomination that must end.

Read More
Coup de Pod II: Power to the Pussy Episode 1 - Suffering for Suffrage

In the second "Coup de Pod" episode in Stuff What You Tell Me history, the show is finally taken over by someone capable. Awesome storyteller Dominique Reviglio takes us down the path of the history of women's rebellion; on a journey through the millennia of both oppression and rebellion, before exploring the militant Suffragette movement that erupted in Britain in the first decades of the 20th century.

Read More
Abolishing the Norm - Episode 3: No Place Like Home

The passing of the Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854 opened up a new battlefront in the United States between those for and against the institution of slavery. Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who sponsored the bill, supported the notion of popular sovereignty; that the people who lived in a certain territory could decide by themselves whether or not to allow slavery. In so doing, he began a race between rebellious free-staters and resistant pro-slavery partisans to claim Kansas as their own, which lead to an outburst of violence that history remembers as the Bleeding of Kansas.

Read More
Abolishing the Norm - Episode 2: Railroad Rebels

In antebellum United States, in the first half of the 1800s, chattel slavery was deeply embedded. It was an integral part of the socio-economic systems of the various states, and thus protected by the constitution. The 'Railroad Rebels' didn't care. They knew that slavery was wrong. They were the ones who suffered from it, the ones who escaped from it; they were those who harboured fugitives, and who helped them move from servitude to liberty; people of all colours and classes who flouted the law on a daily basis, because their principles and beliefs demanded it of them. They are the heroes who would form what became known as the Underground Railroad, a loose, organic, grass-roots system helping fugitive slaves. It is because of them, that institutional slavery is now dead. And thank fuck for that. Long live the Railroad Rebels.

Read More