Tag Archives: Dutch

The World’s Most Famous Ghost Ship Is an Enduring Symbol of Empire

28 Oct
A painting from 1683 shows Dutch East India Company ships in South Africa's Table Bay, the northern end of the Cape of Good Hope.

A painting from 1683 shows Dutch East India Company ships in South Africa’s Table Bay, the northern end of the Cape of Good Hope. PUBLIC DOMAIN

IT’S SAID THAT NOT ALL who wander are lost, and that’s mostly true. Some are just damned for all eternity—like the crew of the Flying Dutchman, perhaps the most infamous ghost ship to haunt the seven seas.

But before it sailed all seven, serving as an omen of doom for any sailor who saw it, the Dutchman made its name off the coast of Africa—as an English creation dressed up in Dutch clothing, says Agnes Andeweg, a literature professor at University College Utrecht who specializes in Dutch literature and cultural memory.

So begins Isaac Schultz’s fascinating report on the backstory of the Flying Dutchman legend. You may read the entire piece at Atlas Obscura here.

Inside the Belgian Library That Tore Itself Apart

18 Feb

This library wasn't meant to be so empty.

IN THE MID-1960S, THERE WERE no Belgians attending Belgium’s oldest university. Founded in 1425, the institution—known in French as the Université catholique de Louvain and in Dutch as the Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven—was no longer viable despite its rich legacy, and its national symbolic value. As in many places in the country, French speakers, known as Walloons, had long enjoyed special status at the institution, controlling its administration despite Leuven’s location in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders. Fed up, the Flemish students demanded that the university rectify historic inequities and finally prioritize its Dutch-speaking majority.

The institution had torn apart at its factional seams, and nothing less than a split down the middle would suffice. This division would ultimately require the construction of a new town, Louvain-la-Neuve (literally “New Leuven” in French) and a new campus just across the border, only about 40 minutes’ drive away. But dividing the library’s collection—splitting an expression of a unified culture, a shared history—may have been harder than building a new city.

So begins Matthew Taub’s fascinating story of the division of a library and a university. You may read the entire Atlas Obscura story here.

The Warlike Origins of ‘Going Dutch’

1 Oct

A pitched sea battle during the Anglo-Dutch Wars.

AT THE END OF A restaurant meal, deciding who pays and how much can be fraught. Societal norms tend to dictate if one person whips out their credit card, or if everyone should “go Dutch”: that is, pay their own share.

“Going Dutch” can quickly get complicated, with adding up tax, tip, and separate bills. But the origin of the term is even more complex: It likely stems from a centuries-old dispute between England and the Netherlands that left behind a slew of uncomplimentary phrases in English, all rooted in the word “Dutch.”

So begins Anne Ewbank’s reminder of the England-Netherlands rivalry in the 17th century. You may read the entire Atlas Obscura post here.

Holland America & Rotterdam: From Rotterdam, Many Left for a New Life

25 Apr

ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands — They came from Russia, Poland, Germany and Ukraine, bearing tickets bought in the field offices of the Holland America Line passenger ships. They were fleeing the pogroms, escaping tyrants, running from war or just seeking a better life. About two million people made their way to Rotterdam harbor during the peak years from 1880 to 1920 to begin a trans-Atlantic journey that would often end at Ellis Island.

The stories of these migrants inspired the former Rijksmuseum director, Wim Pijbes, and the group he leads, Stichting Droom en Daad (Foundation Dream and Do), to transform a crumbling warehouse on the Rotterdam piers into a kind of Dutch sister-site to Ellis Island. The nonprofit organization he directs, founded in 2016 to support arts in Rotterdam, acquired a city permit in March to turn the old Holland America Line warehouse into an institution that will commemorate those journeys.

So begins Nina Siegal’s New York Times story on the Holland America Line site in Rotterdam. You may read the rest of the post here.

Celebrating a medieval ‘Miracle of Amsterdam’ in city better known for its vices

9 Apr

AMSTERDAM (RNS) — Several thousand faithful braved below-freezing wind chills on a recent weekend night and filed quietly through the streets of a city more typically known for its red-light district vices than for its religiosity.

The hourlong Stille Omgang, or “silent walk,” held every year on a Saturday night around midnight a couple weeks before Easter, commemorates a medieval miracle and a post-Reformation time when Catholics were forbidden from displaying their faith publicly.

It’s a subdued ritual that stands in contrast to the extravagant processions found in other countries with a rich Catholic heritage.

So begins Menachem Wecker’s report on a Catholic ritual in contemporary Netherlands. You may read the rest of his report here.

There Never Was a Real Tulip Fever

18 Sep

A new movie sets its doomed entrepreneurs amidst 17th-century “tulipmania”—but historians of the phenomenon have their own bubble to burst. Read Lorraine Boissoneault’s report at the Smithsonian on historian Anne Goldgar’s work on tulipmania here: There Never Was a Real Tulip Fever | History | Smithsonian

Lions, the Dutch, and Maps

21 Jun

Back in the 16th century, the “Leo Belgicus” helped the Netherlands win a long war for independence. Read Cara Giaimo’s fascinating illustrated post about this here at Atlas Obscura: The Lion-Shaped Maps That United a Nation – Atlas Obscura

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