A must see: “The high art of the low countries”

Its recommend a documentary time, again! This time i’ll recommend something that isn’t only about the 16th century, but starts in the 15th century. It is the wonderful art that was born in the Netherlands and Belgium during this period. I cannot stress enough how much I love the northern European renaissance – it’s love for the common man (and woman) and the artists almost alchemichal talent in using paints and colors.

The film is called “The high art of the low countries” from 2013. In the first episode of three the British art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon focuses on the 15th and 16th century and deeply explores the brothers van Eyck, Bruegel the elder and Peter Paul Rubens along with churches and tapestries of the time.

It’s a must see!


Horror & gore! Hidden killers in early modern times

Its Recommend a Documentary time again!

This time it a sneak peak into the everyday lives of the tudor homes, and secret hidden dangers that effected the normal lives of people.

HEEMSKERCK, Maerten van Family Portrait c. 1530.

“Family Portrait” by Maerten van Heemskerck c. 1530.

The beautiful Dr Suzannah Lipscomb with BBC 4 takes us back to early modern times in search of the household killers of the era in the documentary series “Hidden killers“:

“It was a great age of exploration and science where adventurers returned from the New World with exotic goods previously unknown in Europe. An era in which the newly emergent middle classes had, for the first time, money for luxuries and early consumer goods, many of which contained hidden dangers.

The period also saw a radical evolution in the very idea of ‘home’. For the likes of Tudor merchants, their houses became multi-room structures instead of the single-room habitations that had been the norm (aristocracy excepted). This forced the homebuilders of the day to engineer radical new design solutions and technologies, some of which were lethal.”

I can tell you that there are some surprising finds that truly entertained and horrified me in this documentary. Like why drowning was a common reason of death for young women at the time. Or why teeth hygien suddenly horribly declined during the Tudor period.

I highly recommend it!

The most dangerous man in Tudor England…?

It is Retyndale1commend A Documentary-time! In the documentary “The most dangerous man in Tudor England” BBC have truly peeked into the most dusty corners of the 16th century book shelves and let some light in on one of perhaps the most interesting people during Tudor times. The problem is that noone knows of him today.

He was a mortal enemy of not only Henry VIII but also the pope in Rome. He was insanely passionate about language and theology. He is also the one we have to thank for famous idioms like “ask and it shall be given you”, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” and “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”.

We are talking about William Tyndale (1494–1536), an English scholar who became a leading figure in Protestant reform.

The documentary is led by the broadcaster Melvyn Bragg and leads us into the complicated religious reality of the 16th century Europe. A Europe which is slowly reacting more and more on papal authority. The fact that Henry VIII, famous for bringing a English version of Protestantism to England, declared a lifelong war against Tyndale only shows the complicated relations & development of Protestantism.


Henry VIII

Tyndale started thinking about alternate translations of the bible as early as 1509, when he was translating the bible from its original language old Greek. In the middle of this massive endeavor Tyndale got convinced that the only way of actually understanding the bible, the words of God, was to read yourself. That the ancient & unchallenged papal power and approach of the bible in Latin in fact corrupted the meaning of it. Tyndale set his mind on translating the bible into English, a bible that everyone could read – high aswell as low.


The only surviving copy of the first edition of Tynsdales bible, printed 1526 (Library of St Pauls)

This was off course an extremely unpopular idea in most of Europe. Rulers all over, the pope aswell as Henry VIII, wanted to keep the power over the bible by keeping it in Latin – a language only the highly educated could read. Tyndale was soon an enemy of the English state and had to flee to Germany. In Stuttgart in 1526, Tyndale finally printed the very first edition of his translated bible. And this made him an enemy not only of England, but also the entire papal powerhouse.

Don’t miss this fascinating documentary! It is available on BBC iplayer right now, and perhaps one other sites of the internet aswell.