Our second “minisode” focuses on the events that happened in Runnymede, England in 1215, when King John of England sealed a deal with his rebellious barons to bring some peace to his kingdom.
Thanks to Sam Hume from the History of Witchcraft Podcast for lending us his voice to give life to King John. Music this week comes from Lee Rosevere, and is used under Creative Commons License 3.0 (by attribution).
In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Liechtenstein, a tiny European principality, sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria that is still ruled by the same family since the early 18th century. In a small valley towards the beginning of the mighty Rhine river, it was frequented by the Romans and incorporated into the empire before that all went sideways and the Vandals earned their name. After passing through the infuential spheres of central Europe through the centuries they were eventually taken over by the Liechtenstein family in a bid to get more favor with the Austro-Hungarian Empire (which worked a treat as it happened.) They side-stepped the devastation of World War 2 and spent the latter half of the 20th century becoming a financial services powerhouse, while also making a surprisingly successful go of manufacturing – dentures and drills in particular. Builders drills. Not dentists drills. Though there’s a business plan in there somewhere.
Liechtenstein – strong contender for the nicest place we’ve profiled. Apologies to Liberia…
In a break from our normal desktop research, we sent the intrepid Joe Byrne into the field with the savage Liechtensteiners to risk his life in doing some field research. Turns out it’s super safe and lovely. Who knew? Well you did if you listened in, as well as the chilled out nature of the locals and how normal it is to just run into some royalty if you live there.
Proof of Joe’s expedition below-
That’s Joe there, showcasing the Liechtenstein flag like a boss.
Above are a selection of photos from Liechtenstein, including the Roman ruins and the bronze Celtic figurines discussed in the episode. More photos can be seen here.
Here are some HOTLINKS (guitar solo here) to give you all the extra background you apparently weren’t sufficed with in our mega-bumper podcast, you info-hungry maniac:
Thanks to Sarah O’Farrell and Niall O’Leary for your support on Kickstarter and Sinéad Dowling who helped our man on the ground Joe Byrne with his visit and research. Thanks too to Martin Meier for a useful conversation and Donat Büchel, curator of the Liechtensteinische Landesmuseum for some assistance. Special thanks to students Julia and Sebbi from the Liechtensteinische Gymnasium (High School) for a long and informative interview – they make videos that can be found on YouTube.
Thanks too to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code “80DAYS”.
In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Georgia. Not the US state, but the country in the south caucasus, known to its inhabitants as “Sakartvelo”. This former Soviet Republic is nestled between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and is home to around 3.7 Million people with a history dating back thousands of years. Throughout its history, Georgia has been subject to numerous larger powers, including the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire, and dynasties of Persia (Iran) and the Soviet Union. As the Iron Curtain fell, Georgia declared its independence and has operated as a modern Republic ever since. It’s neighbour to the North, Russia, however, has ensured that Georgia’s hold over independence has never been as secure as most Georgians would like. Ethnic conflicts and economic turmoil beset the country throughout the 1990s, culminating in the brief Russo-Georgian war of 2008, from which tensions still remain to this day.
To get a grip on the expanding and contracting borders of Georgia over the centuries, there are two videos available on YouTube, showing changing maps: here, and here
In 1185 Queen Tamar built remarkable thirteen-storey fortress cave city of Vardzia in the Erusheli Mtn, which looks like something out of Lord of the Rings(Atlas Obscura). It survived the coming of the Mongols, but an earthquake and a Shah more or less finished it off. Now some committed monks live there (see it on YouTube). There is also another rock-hewn city called Uplistsikhe which served as capital after Arab conquest of Tbilisi
“The History of the Mongols“ podcast gives a comprehensive view of the momentous impact of the Mongol expansion on vast reaches of the world, from China to the Caucasus; (iTunes link) Episodes “Tamerlane” and “Blood and Ink” might be of interest
Finally, we promised to include the video of the insane baptism rituals available in the Georgian Orthodox Church, so from EuroNews, here it is:
A massive thanks to the inimitable Gary O’Daly and Jeffrey Dokar, two of the backers of our recent Kickstarter Campaign – thank you for making Season 2 possible. Big thanks also to Mariam Kalandarshvili for talking to us and helping us understand (and pronounce) some elements of Georgian history; we now know that the capital is T’bee-lee-see! Thanks too to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code “80DAYS”.
For the festive season, 80 Days brings you a Christmas special on the most appropriate place we could think of, complete with reindeer and Santa Claus: Lapland, or – as the native Sami people prefer to call it – Sápmi. This is a large region of Fennoscandanavia, north of the Arctic Circle, with its territory spanning parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia (see map). This episode will touch on all areas of Lapland, but will focus primarily on the Finnish and Norwegian sides. The area is named for the indigenous people (and their specific language grouping), who have sparsely inhabited the region for several thousand years.
In Lapland, winter lasts from early October to early May, with temperatures well below freezing throughout the region and up to 60 cm or 23 inches of snow during midwinter. However, in summer the sun does not set on the region for several weeks at a time. Population has declined quite significantly since 1990, and the region is now home to approximately 180,000 people. Residents are spread across a total area of just over 100,000 square kilometers, or 38,000 square miles, and there are as many reindeer here as there are people. Your hosts are Luke Kelly@thelukejkelly, Mark Boyle@markboyle86 and Joe Byrne@anbeirneach, in Hong Kong, the UK and Switzerland, respectively. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)
World War II in Scandanavia was a very complicated affair, with various alliances, invasions and small wars. Finland alone had the Winter War, the Continuation War and the Lapland War, all of which had some effects on Sami people, not least the final one, which resulted in the destruction of Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland. A helpful summary of what happened in the region over the course of WW2 can be found here, while an article about how the war effected the Sami in particular (by Jessica Johnson) may be found here. These conflicts were devastating to the continuity of Sami culture, with many people killed or displaced and settling elsewhere. Notable fighter around this region was sniper Simo Häyhä, who the Russians nicknamed the “White Death” (pictured)
A lot has been written about Lapland’s most famous resident and how he came to be here. Most of it is mysterious and people make some wild guesses (often not true), but here, in no particular order, are a few resources that might be useful about Santa Claus and his village near Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland. Who is St. Nicholas (about his early years in Myra); Andrea McDonald’s account of visiting; History of Santa Claus (on the-north-pole.com), Santa Claus and His Works (New York Times piece describing the contributions of artist Thomas Nast to the image of Santa’s snowy abode); Head to Finnish Lapland…(a 2009 article in the Independent, including descriptions of Santa’s village); Checking Out Santa’s Workshop in Lapland (a 1988 article in the LA Times describing visiting Santa in Rovaniemi). For the more cynical, a stuffy article on postmodernism and Finnish tourism policy can be found here (for all the Scrooges out there!).
You can often watch people visiting Santa live (or look back at earlier recordings) at this website, which is wonderfully magic
We hope you have a happy Christmas and a wonderful new year and that you are looking forward to joining us for Season 2 in the coming months. As always, please get in touch if you are enjoying what you are hearing or have anything to share with us!
The name Gibraltar comes from the Arabic Jabal Tariq (جبل طارق) named for Tariq ibn Ziyad who led the Moorish/Umayyad conquest of what is now Spain in the 710s; he had gathered his invading troops at the Rock of Gibraltar before pressing inland.
In 1706, when the English took the Rock during the War of Spanish Succession, nearly all of the inhabitants decamped to the City of Gibraltar in the Fields of San Roque, expecting a temporary stay. The Spanish city of San Roque is still there to this day and still features symbols of Gibraltar in its crest
Gibraltar’s status as an British territory was regularised, by Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713)
The Catholic King does hereby, for himself, his heirs and successors, yield to the Crown of Great Britain the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging; and he gives up the said propriety to be held and enjoyed absolutely with all manner of right for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever.
Crew of the HMS Wasp who demolished O’Hara’s Tower (O’Hara’s Folly)
New Statesman has an article describing the history behind the legends that tie the presence of the famous Barbary macaques to British control of the Rock
Photo of a “Barbary Ape” over Gibraltar by user kanu101 on Flickr
We spoke about the unusual airport that spans Gibraltar’s entire border with Spain and crosses the main street; there is a video on YouTube which shows the airport from above and a plane taking off from its short runway
A BBC report on the outcome of the 2002 Sovereignty Referendum gives some insight into the origins of the dispute and the implications of the results. 98% of Gibraltarians opposed the idea of “shared sovereignty” between Britain and Spain
During this period, there were also plans drawn up to use the extensive cave network to hide soldiers in, in the case of a German occupation of Gibraltar to observe and sabotage the Axis powers’ operations; this documentary discusses “Operation Tracer“
In this week’s episode of 80 Days, we are talking about the Isle of Man, a small island in the Irish sea that lies right between Britain and Ireland. From its highest point Snaefell (620 m, 2034 ft), it is said you can see 6 kingdoms: England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Man and Heaven. It’s known for its rugged landscape, motorsport and a very curious flag. Today, the island is a British crown dependency although it has never been a part of the United Kingdom. It’s 85,000 inhabitants, 28,000 of whom live in the capital, Douglas, on the east coastare spread over the island’s 572 square kilometers. The Isle of Man’s fascinating history has made for a unique pocket of culture within the British isles, a place that has never been truly overcome by the powers surrounding it, and has always stood apart. Your hosts are Luke Kelly@thelukejkelly, Mark Boyle@markboyle86 and Joe Byrne@anbeirneach, in Hong Kong, the UK and Ireland, respectively. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)
We are all Irish, but the Isle of Man, despite its proximity is really that neighbour we don’t know very well. Needless to say, we learned a lot this week about the smallest Celtic nation.
There are some things we talked about you might want to know more about:
Tynwald claims to be the oldest continuous parliamentary assembly in the world and largely consists of the directly elected House of Keys. At Tynwald Day (annually on 5th of July) laws are promulgated from a hill in St Johns. The Sword of State (which leads the procession on Tynwald Day each year) allegedly dates back to Olaf the Black
The Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys (early history of the Kingdom of the Isles in Latin with English translation) can be read here, while a version of Njal’s Saga which deals with the Battle of Clontarf in Dublin and the Manx brothers who fought on opposite sides can be found here
We also mentioned that the Isle of Man was once part of the Archdiocese of Dublin; the homepage of Francis Street Parish describes the “manx emblem” decorating the church, reflecting this history
The Camp – a newsletter from the World War 2 Hutchinson Internment Camp – can be read on archive.org
A book of Manx Ballads and Musicedited by Arthur William Moore (1896) includes a wonderful introduction, maligning the music itself with passages like the following: “It will be observed that their authors, the majority of whom are clearly illiterate men, are occasionally quite indifferent to the exigencies of either metre or rhyme.” Some of the songs are charming. The Arrane Oie Vie/Good Night Song can be found on manxmusic.com
And finally, the TT (Tourist Trophy motorcycle race) is probably the thing the Isle of Man is most famous for. It’s fast, dangerous and unique and its madness is probably best demonstrated by a video, like this one of Guy Martin and Michael Dunlop racing at speeds of up to 200 mph on public roads