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SHOW NOTES

Algeria, 1940-1950AD, Nature

Episode 21

Ryan

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Tell people more about the services you offer. Use this repeating layout to display content. It's an easy way to keep your customers up to date with what's happening. Want to make this content your own? Simple drag and drop elements like text, images and links, or connect to data from your collection. Tell people more about the services you offer. Use this repeating layout to display content. It's an easy way to keep your customers up to date with what's happening. Want to make this content your own? Simply drag and drop elements.

Mozambique, 2000-2005AD, Religion

Episode 20

 

Peter

On the South East coast of Africa, just opposite Madagascar, we find the country of Mazambique.

The fun in Mozambique all started with Early Man, as it tends to do. Then fast forward to the 1st to 5th centuries where we see the Bantu migrations bringing the Bantu people to the area.  These guys hung out for a while, developing trading centres up and down the coast and exchanging goods, services and who knows what else with traders from the Middle-East.

 

Then, and this isn’t going to surprise you, the Portugese arrive in 1500 or so. Largely outsourcing the management of the area to Portugese companies, eventually Portugal decided to bring it all in-house and in 1951, the Portuguese overseas colonies in Africa were rebranded as Overseas Provinces of Portugal.

 

Along with large chunks of the rest of the world, anti-colonialism rose after world war 2 and no more so than in Mozambique, where a guerrilla movement arose. The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) initiated a campaign against Portuguese rule in September 1964 which ran for ten years. 

 

As it happens, at the same time, back in Portugal the ‘Carnation revolution’ was happening in 1974. This was a bloodless military coup that arose in part because people tired of constant war with the colonies.

 

This helped end the war and in 25th June 1975 Mozambique became independent.

 

Less fortunately, they were still bordered by white controlled countries – South Africa and Rhodesia. Having a minority government overthrown by Marxist rebels made them nervous, so they funded and supported an opposition force to FRELIMO, called RENAMO. 

 

And so after just 2 years of peace, Mozambique was plunged back into war, a civil war, in 1977.

 

This meant another 15 years of conflict, keeping the nation from doing much in the way of progressing until  1992, when peace finally broke out.

 

In 1994 they celebrated with their first elections. In these, FRELIMO come out ahead, but very close with RENAMO, who challenge the results and generally complain that none of it had been fair, establishing a pattern that was to repeat itself for the next decade. 

 

In the last 1990s the country began to show signs of substantial growth, aided by the discovery of billions of dollars worth of natural gas on their doorstep, which is hopefully a sign of better things to come for this nation that hovers in the top 10 poorest countries in the world. 

 

The millennium gets off to a shocking start

In February 2000 Mozambique was hit by catastrophic flooding, the worst in 50 years. 800 people died, thousands of cattle were lost and more than half a million people displaced. Even as late as 2016, people were still living in recovery shelters from the event. 

 

So you can imagine people might turn to religion to make sense of it all.

 

But what does that look like. The country is a mix of  56% Christian, 18% Muslim, and 7% other, which probably means traditional beliefs, rather than a population of hardcore atheists.

 

Of the Christians, nearly half are Zionist Christians – a church that seems to be popular in Southern African in particular. But where did it come from?

 

Where we remember Zion – the one in Illinois. 

 

The Zionist Christian church was founded by John Alexander Dowie, a Scottish-Australian minister who became a faith healer who believed illness is the work of the devil and/or demon possession, therefore faith will keep you healthy.

 

He ran faith healing events with much drama and tossing away of canes and such. But how could he heal? Some say it was the will of God, others that they were carefully choreographed affairs, restricted only to fervent true believers and reliant heavily on the placebo effect. Later there are also suggestions that he relied on trickery and stooge to maintain his reputation.

Notably, John did not charge for healings. I mean, he did ask for a tithe and donations and became a millionaire based on takings from his congregations, but he didn’t directly charge for healing, so he must have been a good guy right?

So John Alexander Dowie moves from Australia to the United States in 1888, first settling in San Francisco, where he expanded his faith healing into a mail order business. How you mail in faith and get a cure by return of post we are not sure. Let’s just assume money changed hands. 

He then moved to Chicago for the crowds attracted to the 1893 World's Fair. There he developed a huge faith healing business, with multiple homes and businesses, including a publishing house.

His ambitions continue, and next he bought land north of the city to set up a private community, which he called Zion City.

The faithful moved in. Zion City residents leased lots from Dowie for fifteen times the amount that he obtained the land for. But don’t worry, the contracts were only for 1,100 years.

The contracts also stipulated strict adherence to a number of laws (e.g. no drinking, no alcohol, no pork, no use of medical doctors) and gave Dowie the right to eject anybody from the town who broke them without the right to receive compensation. Handy eh? 

Eventually missionaries from the church came to South Africa in 1904, including John G Lake and Petrus Louis Le Roux, an Afrikaner faith healer where they set up shop.

Interestingly though, on arrival the church became known for mixing black and white in a way not generally done at the time. The church’s promise to reshape human bodies into a new redeemed race, transcending markers of biology and ethnicity, was especially appealing to South Africa’s black citizens struggling with increasing territorial dispossession and political disenfranchisement.

By the 1920s the church in Africa was entirely separated from its American version. And today there are an estimated 15 million southern Africans who belong to one or another Zionist church.

 

Religion and tradition side-by-side

 

One feature of Mozambiquan life is that church life seems to sit alongside the continuation of traditional beliefs. Traditional healers thrive, and there are 70,000 Tinyanga to just 1500 regular medical doctors in the country.

 

When a nyanga is possessed by spirits for the first time, it occurs without warning and unwillingly. The spirits will then force them to abandon all other activities, quit their jobs, and start focusing all of their time and energy on healing people.

This might involve using herbs, or something more unsettling, such as bathing in goat’s blood or

making special cuts with a razor blade all over the patient’s body.

 

The form the sprits take seems to vary widely, including possessions by:

  • the spirit of a shrimp

  • a white Rhodesian soldier

  • The Nyanga’s grandfather 

  • Both a lion and a leopard

Tinyanga can help in the process of healing, driving off restless spirits, such as Mpfhukwa

spirits. These are the spirits of fighters and civilians killed during the war who did not receive

the proper burial rites.

One such spirit was recorded in 1993, when the Tinyanga from the locality of Munguine in Manica province was asked to deal with the Mpfhukwa spirit of a Renamo commander who had been killed there was afflicting passers-by and preventing them from using the road after dark. 

They can also conduct purification rituals. The Timhamba ritual give thanks to ancestral spirits. These usually take place at dawn at the gandzelo tree or in the family cemetery where an animal is sacrificed.

If you want to be a fully certified Nyanga though, you’d better join the AMETRAMO (Association of Traditional Medics of Mozambique). This organisation brings together all the healers from across the country and issues them with a license to practice “doctor” activities. Sounds fishy? Well the work of AMETRAMO has been officially recognized by the government of the Mozambique since 2001.

And finally 

Whilst we’re still in 2000 to 2005, let’s talk Olympics. No, it’s not related to the topic, but we

like to end on something positive.

In 2000 Maria de Lurdes Mutola took gold at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sidney. Maria,

known as the Maputo Express romped home in the Women's 800 metres and won Mozambique’s first and, thus far, only gold medal.

In fact, Mozambique has only won one other medal at the games – a bronze in 1996. The winner of that one? Marie de Lurdes Mutola.

 

Good work Maria.

Lichtenstein, 1100-1200AD, Business

Episode 19

 

Ryan
 

Since last episode, we haven’t gone far.

 

Liechtenstein is a tiny alpine micro-state sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria and is one of only two double-landlocked countries in the world. 

 

It is German speaking (well, more like Swiss-German, but we’re not going to quibble) and uses the Swiss franc as currency, which it earns in part by manufacturing fully 20% of the world’s false teeth. We don’t know why. 

 

Liechtenstein is actually named after the Liechtenstein family. As the Holy Roman Empire rose in power and prominence, the Liechtenstein family are living in their castle in Lower Austria, like you do. They weren’t much to speak of at that time, spending their time buying land, advising the Habsburgs and trying to stay out of trouble. 

 

That is, until the 1600s when Karl I of Liechtenstein sides with the Holy Roman Emperor in a political battle, which is presumably effective as Karl is then made a Prince (a Fürst). It’s not Liechtenstein as we know it today though. That is another 100 years away when, in 1700, Karl’s grandson, Hans-Adam I, buys the regions of Schellenberg and Vaduz and the Holy Roman Emperor decrees that this territory now be called "Liechtenstein”

 

The Feudal system – the original 1% 

1100 to 1200 was a time of feudalism. But what does that mean? 

Top of the tree were the Kings who own land because (according to, well, them) God said they should. This naturally meant they could claim taxes from the people living there. 

Looking after whole kingdoms is a big job though, so kings would portion out land to their family and friends in different size packages. This creates the nobility. These nobles then function as middle management in the feudal system, overseeing the management of the land, claiming taxes and building armies, taking their cut of everything as they went, obviously. 

And on the land? The peasants, which is to say, almost everybody. 98% of the population worked the land and either paid taxed into the feudal system or if they couldn’t pay taxes, were allowed to work the land to feed themselves as serfs. 

Very much the bottom of the heap, the serfs were almost slaves, who could be forced to work wherever they were commanded, could not marry without permission and if a farm was sold, the peasants were sold along with it.

Oh, and alongside all that hierarchy, there was the church. The church would look after your spiritual wellbeing…. In in return for a mere 10% of all your income.  

 

God needs his cut too

 

At this time the Catholic church became the largest landowner in Europe, with a network of parishes reaching into every town and village across Europe. And they had a hierarchy of their own. 

 

The power of the church was represented by Bishops (including the pope himself, who was a bishop). The Bishop would oversee his own church, plus all other parishes in a district. Day-to-day, he would baptize babies, conduct wedding ceremonies, hold last rites, settle disputes, hear confessions, and ordain priests and assign them to their posts. 

He would also uphold church law (known as Cannon Law) in Church courts, on moral issues such as incest, adultery, bigamy, matrimonial cases, and legitimacy of children. And as well as church law, there was church business, basically collecting money from donations, ‘tithe’ collection (10% of all income), farming or tolls. 

After bishops, monasteries were the most important religious and business centre for the church. On the Rhine, just 9miles south of Liechtenstein’s border today – is Pfäfers Abbey founded by Benedictine monks in 731.  The order is named after ‘Benedict of Nursia’ who, shocked by the depravity of Rome fled south to become a hermit, where he conceives of a religious community based on gentle discipline, strict morality, and well-ordered routine. He writes all this up into a handbook, ‘the Rule of St. Benedict’ – but it isn’t until  several hundred years later it actually starts to catch on. So don’t despair if that book you wrote isn’t popular today – just give it a couple of centuries.  

 

At its core it is a practical guide for decent living. He recommends we listen, respect, and forgive one another. Also you don’t need to own loads of stuff, share your stuff instead. But be careful with your stuff and realise that God is nearer to us than we imagine – in the ordinary and mundane. 

 

These were the guiding principles for Benedictine monasteries, who aimed to be independent and self-sufficient. To that end the would make their own products in-house as much as possible. This included beer, because Benedict didn’t say you couldn’t have any fun. 

 

As it happens, Pfäfers Abbey is also located on the Rhine trade route, so between their in-house production facilities and the opportunities presented by so many passing traders, the monks were sitting on a pretty impressive fortune. 

 

Nobility

The nobility weren’t short of cash either. Being a noble was a hereditary affair, so you were either born lucky, or heading for the fields. It was possible to become a noble in some cases, but only if you could forge documents to ‘prove’ your ancestors were nobles, buy an exemption from the rules (as ever, it helps if you start with a great deal of money), or convince a lovely young noble that you weren’t, in fact, a smelly peasant and convince them to marry you. 

 

This (sort of) actually happened with the daughter of the Count of Bregenz, whose only child Elizabeth was courted and married by Hugo II of Tübingen, who inherited the family territory all along the Alpine Rhine, which is a bit more exciting than the oak credenza we got when granny died.

 

In fact, the descendents of Hugo and Elizabeth took a new name, Werdenberg and not only became super-wealthy. They also built their own fortress - Schloss Vaduz (Castle Vaduz) which they still live in to this day. 

No, you can’t go and visit, it’s still their home. They do, however, have an ‘open house’ garden party with a firework display on the 15th August every year, which History Happened Everywhere will be trying to gatecrash this year. 

 

Peasants – revolting as ever

Sorry to have to tell you, but you’d probably have been a peasant. Across most of Europe, 90% of the population were living on rural farms or villages across noble or monasterial estates. 

The good news – you might be given about 10 acres of land to farm. The bad news, you need about 12 acres to feed yourself and your family. Great system eh? 

In Vaduz, the peasants likely had a second job to make up the difference, such as blacksmith, shoe-maker, butcher, baker, weaver, stone-mason, wheel-wright, tanner, or tax-collector. 

 

Some of these would be done out of their homes, presenting onto the street with a stall under a wooden canopy – very early signs of a high street, albeit with fewer Starbucks. 

 

In your farm, you’d probably rotate crops like rye and barley while putting cattle out to pasture on fields high up on the mountainsides. You might also indulge in a spot of vertical transhumance – this is the seasonal migration of livestock between valleys in the winter and high mountain pastures in the summer. 

 

If you were lucky, you had some cows because the quality of the meat and milk from the alpine herds was considered very good. So much so that cattle production became an investment opportunity for monasteries and citizens of nearby cities. Investors would buy cattle and rent them to farmers or herders. 

But with opportunity comes friction. Some “foreign" cattle started to be placed in the alpine pastures, which led to conflicts over grazing rights between the farming communities and their neighbouring cities and monasteries. Wars broke out, over cows. Cows. 

 

Then again, we’d probably support a war over delicious cheese, which was an important product in this time before everyone had a fridge.

 

The milk from this area was known as heumilch ("hay milk"), based on their diet of natural meadow grasses and this was made into over 30 different Alpine cheeses. 

 

Cheese – it’s what’s for dinner? 

One cheese local to Liechtenstein is Sura Kees, which means "sour cheese". This is low-fat and made from skimmed milk, and has been part of the peasant diet for centuries, often served with vinegar, oil and onions, pure on black bread, or eaten with potatoes. Yum. 

 

How to make SuraKees:

  • Filtered milk is filled into wooden vessels which separates milk into cream and skim milk

  • The cream is used for butter, the skim milk for sour cheese

  • The skimmed milk is acidified, then heated, turned and pressed by its own weight

  • It remains until a solid mass is formed (about 24 hours)

  • Then drained, rubbed with salt (sometimes paprika) and matured in a cellar

  • After 3 weeks, the cheese rind is washed off, and placed on wooden cheese racks to be ripened for a further 4 to 6 weeks – maturing from outside in

  • A bark grows thick over the cheese, and gives the cheese its typical aroma 

 

So, there you have it. You’re a peasant, you own next-to-nothing, the church takes 10% of your nothing every month. But at least you’ve got your good friends and a tasty cheese. 

 

Welcome to Liechtenstein, 1100 to 1200.

Austria, 1400-1500AD, Traditions

Episode 18

Peter

Tell people more about the services you offer. Use this repeating layout to display content. It's an easy way to keep your customers up to date with what's happening. Want to make this content your own? Simple drag and drop elements like text, images and links, or connect to data from your collection. Tell people more about the services you offer. Use this repeating layout to display content. It's an easy way to keep your customers up to date with what's happening. Want to make this content your own? Simply drag and drop elements.

 

Tell people more about the services you offer. Use this repeating layout to display content. It's an easy way to keep your customers up to date with what's happening. Want to make this content your own? Simple drag and drop elements like text, images and links, or connect to data from your collection. Tell people more about the services you offer. Use this repeating layout to display content. It's an easy way to keep your customers up to date with what's happening. Want to make this content your own? Simply drag and drop elements.

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