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Thessa Lageman
Journalist, Writer, Photographer
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piqer: Thessa Lageman
Wednesday, 13 February 2019

A Country That Is More Invented Than Most

I recently discovered this great podcast which started last Spring. It’s interesting to hear about the invention of Germany, the USA, Brazil, Italy, the Habsburg Empire, Spain and France, but because I’m from the Netherlands, I will review the first of the three episodes about this country.

Presenter Misha Glenny starts his journey on a train:

This is a country more invented than most. In part because of the inventiveness of the people here. To survive and prosper, they had to be.
Chances are you think we're talking about Holland. But Holland's a province, two really, north and south.

He talks to Dutch journalist and historian Geert Mak, who says:

The Netherlands is a strange combination of parts of Europe. The south is almost French. The east is German. The west is very Atlantic. The north is already Scandinavian. It is a crossroads of European cultures.

The presenter also talks to a few academics and to Ben Coates, a Brit who lives in Amsterdam and wrote the book Why the Dutch are Different. They talk about the fact the country has been changing shape in the past five hundred years quite dramatically, because of the large parts of reclaimed land from the sea.

Glenny calls the Netherlands a fragmented society, “one that is brought together by opposition to the distant Habsburg monarch Filip the second in Madrid.”

William of Orange, the country’s 'founding father', that revolted against the Spaniards and the first head of state who was killed by a gun, would by today’s standards be seen as a 'terrorist'.

Ben Coates calls him “an unlikely Dutch hero,” because he was born in Germany and didn’t speak much Dutch.”

The national colour is orange and whenever you see the Dutch football team play or during King’s Day, you see an outbreak of ‘orange fever’.

I didn't know, but hear the story goes that around five hundred years ago, Dutch farmers even insisted on growing orange carrots, instead of the then usual brownish or purplish carrots to show their support of William of Orange.

A Country That Is More Invented Than Most
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