15th December

1970 Soviet Venera lands on Venus

Alderney Homecoming [of WII evacuees] Day

Netherlands Kingdom Day


The Netherlands’ unofficial name is Holland, although that’s actually only the name of two of its counties, but those counties were so famous in the 17th century that their name is more widely known. The people are the Dutch. It’s ridiculous.

250,000 years ago Neanderthals arrived in the higher-up parts of the Netherlands. The oldest canoe ever found came from Mesolithic tribes here in 8,000 A.D.

Around 650 B.C. Germanic tribes arrived from the North. Some of these would become early Saxons, Franks and Celts.

Part of the area was conquered by Julius Caesar in the Gallic Wars around 57 B.C. After the Romans left, the southern Netherlands became the Frankish Kingdom ruled by Clovis I. The people spoke Old Frankish, which eventually became Dutch, while the language of the Franks living to the north became French.


Saxons, Angles, Jutes and Frisii moved into land that was previously abandoned. Some moved into England and became the Anglo-Saxons. About 500,00 people still speak Frisian in this area – it’s the closest language to English…. particularly the English spoken in Great Yarmouth (not even a joke!).

The Frankish Carolingian (i.e., ruled by Charles the Great and his increasingly not-as-good heirs, up to Charles the Fat) Empire ruled most of Western Europe, and when it split the Netherlands was in Middle Francia. This was quite weak and was always being reshaped or being invaded by Vikings.

Around 1100 tradesmen and farmers began draining Holland’s swampy marshes and turned it into a place of power. In the 15th century Amsterdam became the main trading place for grain in Europe.

Charles V united the Netherlands, Belgium and bits of France and Germany into his land along with the whole of Spain. This led to the Eighty Years’ War as they all tried to get their independence again. In 1579 in the Union of Utrecht the northern half of the Netherlands swore to join together against France. Elizabeth I sent a British army to help.

After regaining their independence they formed a confederation of states, and in the 17th century the Dutch Empire became one of the world’s major powers. They settled New York (which they called New Amsterdam) in 1614.

The Netherlands became the first capitalist country in the world, with the first full-time stock exchange, inventing insurance and retirement funds and the world’s first economic bubble when everyone went mad for tulips, and the world’s first ‘bear raider’, a trader who made everyone lower their prices by dumping his own stock, then buying everyone else’s at the new discount.

After France’s revolution, the Netherlands had its own and declared itself the Batavian Republic – its ruler, William V of Orange, fled to England.

(to be continued ….)

It’s famous for tulips, windmills, clogs, Delft Blue pottery, canals, the Dutch Masters, bicycles and the ice-skating tour. Find out more here.

Zamenhof Day (creator of Esperanto)

Bonaire Kingdom Day


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