Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oudenaarde and how the Dutch went bankrupt

The order in which the podcast Historyzine offers its sections is thus that the narrative of the next part in the War of Spanish Succession always comes last. A new and very good feature within the show - the interview with a historian -therefore comes previously. This makes generally good sense, as the War of the Spanish Succession is the main subject of the show, yet in the latest issue, the order might better have been reversed.

Host Jim Mowatt spoke with James Falkner, before telling about the battle of Oudenarde in 1708. (I spell this town Oudenaarde, but that is the difference between Dutch and English) He asks Falkner about the show's continuing hero, the Duke of Marlbourough, and about the outcome of the war and that is why the talk would have probably suited better after the show. In the narrative a good portion of the tension is that you do not know in advance, how things are going to work out. However, the interview talked about the war in general and extensively discussed the outcome of the war, thus defusing part of the suspense.

Nevertheless, this is once again, a great show and I hope Mowatt will continue to have interviews with specialists. It was very enlightening to learn Falkner's analysis of the war. Even though the Allies (notably the English and Dutch) won and France lost, the result was more like a stand off. France was still powerful and especially the Dutch got bad terms in the peace treaty. The war had bankrupted them and as Falkner put it, made them draw the conclusion that playing the game of empire was not something they could or wanted to keep up with. Hence, the long-term outcome was Britain's hegemony on the seas. Very interesting, but much more effective to consider, after you have heard about troops moving around a town in Belgium.

More Historyzine:
Aftermath of victory,
The Battle of Ramillies,
Winter diplomacy,
The lines of Brabant,
Historyzine at its best.