Zwarte Piet- Tradition or Racism?
In many countries around the world, Santa Claus has helpers. We have discussed Krampus (http://www.historynaked.com/krampus/) in a previous post. However, in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Aruba and Curaçao, SinterKlaas or St. Nicholas has a different helper- Zwarte Piet or Black Pete. Zwarte Piet is depicted as a “blackamoor” from Spain dressed in a colorful Renaissance costume of pantaloons, feathered cap and ruffled shirt, curly hair, bright red lipstick and gold earrings. He travels with SinterKlaas when he arrives by boat from Spain in November and is welcomed with a parade. SinterKlaas rides through town on a white horse while Zwarte Piet distributes treats of pepernoten, kruidnoten, and strooigoed to…
The Legend of Melusine
If you have read The White Queen or watched the miniseries of the same name, you have heard of Melusine. In those stories, Jacquetta Woodville was descended from the mythical goddess and had otherworldly powers from her, which she passed onto her daughter, Elizabeth. (And they were terrible at it as everything rebounded on them because they totally forgot the Rule of Three, but I digress). However, Melusine was a popular myth in medieval times. There are several versions of the story, but the meat of the story is the same. A young nobleman gets lost in the woods while hunting and comes upon an extremely beautiful woman in the…
BLIND TO HIS FATE – THE HEROIC LIFE AND DEATH OF JOHN OF BOHEMIA
Today the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is best known as a financial, judicial and administrative centre of the European Union but during the Middle Ages the Counts of Luxembourg competed with the German Wittlesbachs and the Austrian Hapsburgs for control of the vast Holy Roman Empire. In 1312 Henry VII became the first Count of Luxembourg to wear the imperial crown and the marriage of his young son played an important part in Henry’s election. In 1310, the 14 year old John of Luxembourg wed the 18 year old Elizabeth of Bohemia and by these diplomatic nuptials, Henry succeeded in depriving his rivals of vital territory at the heart of…