Sunday, December 13, 2020

MAKING SMALL TALK WITHOUT COMPLICATIONS

First she mentioned that my accent seemed German. I clarified that some people hear it as British, but that I actually sound the same in Dutch. English and Dutch are my two native languages. Whereupon she asked me about kings and queens. 'In short, Holland is currently headed by a King (Willem-Alexander). Whose mother was Queen Beatrix (monarch from 1980 to 2013). Her mother was Juliana (queen from 1948 to 1980), who had succeeded Wilhelmina (queen from 1890 to 1948). The ruling family (Orange-Nassau) dates from the eleventh century, became stadholders in the fifteen hundreds, were enthroned two centuries ago. Stadholder (state holder) means 'viceroy', which they were on behalf of the king of Spain because they were the chief nobles of the Netherlands, which had come into Spanish hands because of the Habsburg inheritance. The Dutch forcefully threw the Spaniards out in the sixteen hundreds. It's complicated'.

No, I didn't mention the Napoleonic interruption. Or the Dutch Republic (1588 to 1795), during which we kind of screwed over the world. We've been in decline ever since.

That's where some of the "complicated" comes into play.

I could have also delved into the Hook and Cod Wars, the States of Gelderland (successors to the Duchy of Jülich-Cleves-Berg) or the Battle of the Golden Spurs, but those would have been baffling unless ellucidated at length.

No disquisition on Prince Johan Willem Friso (1687 - 1711), Prince of Orange, and ancestor of all current European monarchs.


Nor did I explain that in English I sound sort of semi-Bostonian, in Dutch Hagueish. As any reasonably educated person would. Or that I am distantly related to the Roosevelts (family history; that, too, is complicated).


Sadly, casual conversations cannot be complicated. And the history of the area of the Western Roman Empire since the Middle Ages is frightfully Byzantine.


The details are dreary.
To most people.



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