Low Countries map

What If Belgium and the Netherlands Had Remained One Country?

450 years ago this year, the Dutch Revolt against the Catholic king of Spain started. For eighty years, the largely Protestant provinces of the Netherlands fought for their independence. They got it in 1648, when the Peace of Münster (part of the Peace of Westphalia) recognized the Northern Netherlands as an independent republic.

But the largely Catholic South remained Spanish until 1714, when it became Austrian. It was briefly joined with the Netherlands after the defeat of Napoleon, but by then the two had grown apart culturally, economically and linguistically. Belgium seceded from the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1830.

This separation was not preordained. In 1581, Brabant (which is now split between Belgium and the Netherlands), Flanders as well as Mechelen had joined the Northern provinces in their declaration of independence, the Act of Abjuration. But they were quickly reconquered by Spanish forces. Antwerp and Brussels had been the centers of economic and political life in the Low Countries. They too fell under Spanish rule. The North continued as a republic, centered on Amsterdam.

What if the rebels had succeeded in holding the South? What could a United Netherlands have looked like? Continue reading “What If Belgium and the Netherlands Had Remained One Country?”

Once Upon a Time

Cinquantenaire Museum Belgium Once Upon a Time exhibit
Once Upon a Time exhibit at the Cinquantenaire Museum, Belgium, August 13 (Hilde Heyveart)

Once Upon a Time at the Cinquantenaire Museum was probably the clockpunk exhibit extraordinaire.

For those not familiar with the term, it coins all manners steampunk style before the start of the late Regency, which is the starting era for steampunk.

That geekery aside, it was amazing. This exhibit was almost entirely about pocket watches from 1650-1850. Not just any type of pocket watch mind, no, enameled pocket watches. Continue reading “Once Upon a Time”

Nantes Castle France

Nantes Castle and Musée d’Histoire de Nantes

Le Château des Ducs de Bretagne, or Nantes Castle for short, is not just the medieval home of the famous Anne de Bretagne (yes, the one from the Musketeer novels), but also a veritable source of history.

The castle has has been completely renovated and turned into a museum depicting the history of Nantes: the Musée d’histoire de Nantes. Continue reading “Nantes Castle and Musée d’Histoire de Nantes”

Disneyland Paris France

Photographic Impressions of (Halloween in) Disneyland Paris

On Friday the 3rd of October, 3 days into this year’s Halloween season at their Disneyland Park, myself and Bert (a regular Gatehouse photographer) visited Disneyland Paris for exactly that, the Halloween celebrations, going on from October 1st to November 2nd.

That Disneyland Paris is a veritable treasure throve for steampunks and dieselpunks isn’t news, in fact, I wrote an article about it in the 2nd and 15th editions of the Gatehouse Gazette.

So in this post I won’t repeat myself, I will, however, share photos from (Halloween specific) steampunk in the Disneyland Park for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy! Continue reading “Photographic Impressions of (Halloween in) Disneyland Paris”

Da Vinci: The Genius

Da Vinci: The Genius exhibit Brussels Belgium
Da Vinci: The Genius exhibit at the Stock Exchange in Brussels, Belgium, July 24 (Hilde Heyvaert)

This particular exhibit of Leonardo Da Vinci’s life and work has visited a great many of cities before, delighting fans of both Da Vinci himself, science and clockpunk around the globe, before taking its current stop in the capital of Belgium.

The exhibit has been very well set up. They start by explaining the purpose of the exhibit as well as the reason for the use of the replicas on display. I’m sure that some will be bothered by the use of copies, but, to be honest, it is so well put together that no one should let the lack of originals get to them. Continue reading “Da Vinci: The Genius”

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers

Let me start by saying that this version of The Three Musketeers may very well be the definitive clockpunk movie.

Those who saw the trailer already knew that this was no canon Alexandre Dumas movie version of the classic tales. The airships, explosions and battle scenes gave that away pretty clearly.

Now we all know that when Hollywood gets involved, it’s either going to suck so badly you wish you could get your time and money back or it’s going to be epic. Thankfully this movie is the latter, and, lo and behold, this retelling of Dumas’ story rocks the airship like you wouldn’t believe. Continue reading “The Three Musketeers”

Carnival of Venice Italy

The Carnival of Venice

The Venetian Carnival evokes thoughts of a centuries-old tradition of lavish celebration. A seemingly timeless event, with it roots in the thirteenth century, the carnival is known the world over for its elaborate costumes; as a playground for the nobility, the wealthy and the common man alike; a time of celebration, dancing, gambling, intrigue and just plain old craziness of every kind imaginable.

A more perfect backdrop for a steampunk story seems hard to imagine. Continue reading “The Carnival of Venice”