The Dutch teach their kids that Russian Czar Peter lived in the Zaanstreek to study shipbuilding before he went back to Russia and started that industry, in St. Petersburg, maybe? They can even point out the modest wooden house he lived in when he was an apprentice there. No doubt they're right; but the English tell exactly the same story about the same man, only, he studied in England. No doubt they are just as right. The Dutch never mention the English point of view, and vice versa.
comparing the viewpoints on history of different countries
they can get pretty old...
(we stay away here from Arabs-Israelis, slaves-bosses and all that heavy stuff)
The burning question does not seem to be "who's right?" but rather "who else is right?"
In the USA and most other places, it's Thomas Alva Edison who invented the motion picture camera. But in France, credit is given to the Lumière brothers; who as a matter of fact were the first to present a public film screening, in 1895. The funniest thing is that, no matter who's right here, it really was William Kennedy Laury Dickson who devised the motion picture camera for his mere boss, Edison.
The English history books tell you it was the British, commanded by Francis Drake who beat this fleet, sent out by the Spanish king to teach them a lesson. But the Dutch offered them a handy valuable helpful hand (for very good reasons of their own). At least, they in their history books do mention the role the British played.
Everybody knows about this, but everybody knows it a bit different. Must have been the Chinese! The Phoenicians! Or was it an Irishman? Just possibly, it even might have been an Indian! No matter how, it was a Viking who first arrived from Europe on the American continent. It most certainly was not a guy from Atlantis, nor was it Amerigo Vespucci who set foot there before Columbus—all those claims really come from kooks.
Discovery of America
Speaking of Columbus, I guess they teach you all over the world that his flagship, the Santa Maria, was a carvel. In point of fact, there are only two things known about this ship: a It was called Santa Maria; b It was not a carvel.
This is rather a hobby of mine, but even if I happen to be wrong, it's still funny that four (4! count 'em) countries claim to have made the first Atlantic crossing under steam with a choice of six (6! count 'em) ships: The USA with the Savannah; Canada with the Royal William; Great Britain with the Great Western (or the Sirius, depending on who's talking—or even the Rhadamanthus); and Holland with the Curaçao (which, not so incidentally, was also built in England).
Steam across the Atlantic
That's my candidate, but at least I took the trouble to check it all out.
In Germany and England, nowadays they will teach you at school that it was Gutenberg who invented book printing around 1450. But in my Dutch schools, I learned it was this cat Laurens Janszoon Koster of Haarlem. Wodehouse was taught that William Caxton invented the printing press, in London. Who can even guess what French or Italian kids are taught?
Not to mention Koreans: they claim movable metal type was used there forty years before Gutenberg. (If it's North Korea claiming that, I put precious little trust in it. Come to think of it, the same goes for South.)
You will often read how Hitler gets put down as a
The Monster Artistmerehouse painter who grew too big for his ladder. But that's Allied propaganda. In fact, he dabbled in water colors, and not at all as bad as they make out, either. Agreed, this is not a masterpiece.
They also remark there are no humans in his paintings. True for this one (where it's raining, give those extras a break) but judging from others I've seen, not really. So what, anyway? Then, they used to say the same about my work — only, my most-published stuff contains nothing but people. Hitler was bad enough as he was and doesn't need improving.
For long, I've thought that a clue to who really was the inventor might be hidden in the way titles are printed on books' spines. When you stack up books with the covers up, the English and German books' titles used to be printed upside down. The English started changing this around 1950; the Germans are still at it. But Dutch books have their title right sight up! Where do those different traditions stem from?
When you hold a book in your hands, the German way is most logical: You can read front and spine. When you stack 'em, the Dutch way is handiest. On a shelf, there's not much more in it one way or the other.
When I started looking for examples, I immediately found an exception for Holland, of course.
So it's not much of a clue; at least that's settled.
Paul F. Boller, Jr
& John George
Legends, Lies & Cherished
Myths of World History
on beloved stories
Fake quotes, misquotes,
& misleading attributions
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