Like Father, Unlike Son

The Battle of Tours in 732 turned out to be a turning point in the wars against the Umayyad Caliphate. The Caliphate was one of the biggest empires in history, but it lost this battle. At the confluence of the rivers Clain and Vienne, the Franks, led by statesman maior domo Charles Martel, only justContinue reading “Like Father, Unlike Son”

The Thing is…

The heart of western democracies is the joint assembly of parliament, cabinet and high councils of state. Its Germanic origin is the thing, also called ting, ding or þing in other languages. Today, national assemblies in Scandinavian countries still refer to this ancient tradition. For example, the parliament of Åland (autonomous region in Sweden) isContinue reading “The Thing is…”

A Frontier known as Watery Mess: the Coast of Flanders

At the end of the eighth century, under supervision of the wisemen Wlemar and Saxmund, customary law of the Frisians was codified, as was decreed by Charlemagne. It is the Lex Frisionum. Its jurisdiction was, among other, the land inter Flehum et Sincfalam fluvium ‘between Vlie and the River Sincfalam’. The River Flehum flowed intoContinue reading “A Frontier known as Watery Mess: the Coast of Flanders”

The Raider’s Portrait of Appels

In the year 1934, while dredging upstream the River Scheldt near the village of Appels in the region of Flanders, an extraordinary ship’s figurehead was found. It is dated around the year 400. Among scholars there seems agreement it is Germanic and originates from the southern North Sea coast. Hitherto, no people has claimed beingContinue reading “The Raider’s Portrait of Appels”

Wa bin ik, wa bist do en wa bin wy?

“If you don’t care about your own history, you may as well leave the classroom.” Words from the geography teacher at high school Simon Vestdijk in the port town of Harlingen in 1988. We, the two Frisian bastards, were about sixteen years old and in the fifth grade of the VWO (i.e. pre-university education). TheContinue reading “Wa bin ik, wa bist do en wa bin wy?”

Yet another wayward archipelago

Peoples of islands and archipelagos do not let others dictate how to live their life. One of those archipelagos that meets these criteria as well, is the Wadden Sea. For centuries it is from here where sea explorers, tax evaders, sturdy Arctic whalers, self-righteous women, pirates, privateers, and other vagabonds came from. An archipelago whichContinue reading “Yet another wayward archipelago”

Frisia, a Viking graveyard

When reading about the famous deeds of great Viking warriors, often not much attention is given to the moments of failure. Not much is written about where and when the glorious men, and women, died. As it turns out, the coast of Frisia is one big Viking graveyard. It is here, in the (still) smellyContinue reading “Frisia, a Viking graveyard”

Rowing souls of the dead to Britain: the ferryman of Solleveld

In 2004, a unique discovery was made at the early-medieval grave field of Solleveld, just south of the city of The Hague: a boat grave. Exactly two hundred kilometers, perfectly east, across the North Sea, of the legendary boat burial of Sutton Hoo. With this one-of-a-kind found, the Netherlands joined the ranks of ship-burial-countries. AContinue reading “Rowing souls of the dead to Britain: the ferryman of Solleveld”

It all began with piracy

The arrival of the Romans in northwest Europe at the beginning of the era, with the River Rhine as frontier, was the starting signal for five centuries of widespread piracy. Piracy that not only affected the coasts of Britannia and Gaul. It stirred things up even as far as the coasts of the Mediterranean andContinue reading “It all began with piracy”

With the White Rabbit down the Hole

R1b/Hg1/Eu18; R-M213; R-M9; R1b-M45; R-M207; R-M173; R-M343; R-L278; R-L754; R-L389/R1b1a1; R-M415; R-P297/R1b1a1a; R-M269/R1b1a1a2; R-M520; R-L23; R-M412; R-L11; R-S21/U106/M405/R1b1a1a1a2a1a1… Knock Knock… Wake up Neo… Follow the White Rabbit… | These serial numbers, chronologically arranged, represent groups and subgroups of people who genetically share one common ancestor. Pulling these protein strands is like going down the RabbitContinue reading “With the White Rabbit down the Hole”