It's all too much for me to take - the Beatles, 1969
He was from the richest city in Ming China, or one of the richest, and after his checkered political career, he came home and planted a garden. 500 years later, we can still visit his garden and marvel at the humility of Wang Xianchen, the Humble Administrator. This episode is a pleasant diversion beforewe get back to the big stories.
And we'll have Suzhou "smoked" fish while we're here!
Monarch butterflies are tiny, ephemeral creatures, whose audacious color patterns makes them beloved across a continent, yet few realize how remarkable their migration from Canada and the US to their winter ground west of Mexico City really is. Listener Livia Montovani joins us to talk about visiting the mountain reserves where hundreds of millions of butterflies spend their winter.
We'll also cover the conquest of Mexico and the personalities involved, from Motecuhzoma of the Mexica to Cortés of Spain to the controversial role of la Malinche, the formerly enslaved woman who translated for the Spainiards. It's a story with no heroes, but it needs to be told.
And we'll make carnitas at home with salsa verde!
Baumle, Kylee, The monarch: Saving our Most-Loved Butterfly
Dennis, Peter. Tenochtitlan 1519-21: Clash of Civilizations
Diáz dl Castillo, Bernal. The True History of the Conquest of New Spain
Dykman, Sara. Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-mile Journey Following the Monarch MMigration
Fehrenbach, T.R. Fire & Blood: a History of Mexico
Keeling, Stephen et al. The Rough Guide to Mexico
Levy, Buddy. Conquistador: Hernán Cortés, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs
Sainsbury, Brendan et al. Lonely Planet Mexico
Photograph by pendens proditor CC 2.0
Just a little 440-room hunting lodge built among other chateaux in France's Loire Valley, Chambord is the grand dame of them all. Built for François Ier, it betrays the influence of the Italian Renaissance, specifically of Leonardo da Vinci, François' teacher and mentor.
Gary Girod, host of the French History Podcast, joins us to discuss François and his place in French history, while listener Sarah Demetz shares her experience visiting the chateau and the Loire.
Plus fish in a lovely white butter sauce!
Horne, Alistair. Seven Ages of Paris
Isaacson, Walter. Leonardo da Vinci
Nuland, Sherwin B. Leonardo da Vinci
Price, Roger. A Concise History of France
Rick Steves Loire Valley
Vasari, Giorgio. Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects
Photograph by Patrick Giraud CC 3.0
The largest episode on the smallest country. It's the city-state home of the Catholic Church, a neighborhood of Rome, home to some of the greatest art in the western world.
In the early 16th century, the Catholic Church began to turn Rome into a capital glorious enough to serve as the capital of Christendom, and in the process, the popes drove Christendom apart. And Michelangelo was there the whole way.
Bry Rayburn from the Pontifacts podcast joins us to talk about some of the most epic popes in history, from Alexander VI to Paul IV: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We talk about Michelangelo, the role of the papal patrons, Martin Luther, the Swiss Guard, and so much more!
Plus a mysterious pasta recipe from the Vatican cookbook!
Beck, James H. Three Worlds of Michelangelo
Buonarroti, Michelangelo. Michelangelo's Notebooks: The Poetry, Letters, and Art of the Great Master
Cahill, Thomas. Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World
Garwood, Duncan. Lonely Planet Rome
Graham-Dixon, Andrew. Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel
Phillips, Charles. The Illustrated History of the Popes: An Authoritative Guide to the Lives and Works of the Popes of the Catholic Church, with 450 Images
Rick Steves Rome 2020
Rome, Insights Guides
Scotti, R.A. Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's
The Pontifical Swiss Guard. The Vatican Cookbook: Presented by the Pontifical Swiss Guard: 500 Years of Classic Recipes, Papal Tributes, & Exclusive Images
Wallace, William E. Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man and His Times
Portuguese king Manuel I commissioned the monastery upon learning of the success of Vasco da Gama's first expedition to India, the longest sea voyage undertaken to that time, a voyage that would seal the fate of three continents. For good and ill.
Listener Maria Fernandes joins to talk about her home country, and we wax nostalgic on the pleasures of Portugal, a country I very much like, including my favorite dessert of all time: pastéis de Belém.
Clark, Gregor. Lonely Planet: Portugal
Cliff, Nigel. The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco da Gama
Payne, Stanley G. A History of Spain and Portugal
Taborda, Joana. Lisbon
Photograph by Concierge.2C (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The best example of Sahelian mud-brick architecture, the great mosque seems like a sandcastle rising from the Niger Inland Delta in Mali.
Originally built in the early days of the Mali Empire, the mosque also connects with the Songhai, Africa's largest and strongest empire, whose collapse came at key moment in world history.
We'll follow the fates of two great kings and see how choices made in the early 1500s echo today. And we'll eat tiguedegana, a peanut tomato stew that is just so freaking delicious.
Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sa’di. Tarikh al-sudan
Davidson, Basil, et al. A History of West Africa to the Nineteenth Century
Dorsey, James Michael. “Mud and infidels: Djenné, Mali” in the San Diego Reader
Dubois, Félix. Notre beau Niger…
French, Howard W. Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War.
Ibn Mukhtar. Tarikh al-fattash
Lonely Planet West Africa
Meredith, Martin. The Fortunes of Africa: A 5000-year History of Wealth, Greed, and Endeavour
Reader, John. Africa: A Biography of the Continent
Wilson, Joe. “In search of Askia Mohammed: The epic of Askia Mohammed as cultural history and Songhay foundational myth”
Photograph by Francesco Bandarin CC 3.0
Officially, this episode is on the amazing glowing algae living in the waters of three of Puerto Rico's bays, most notably Puerto Mosquito on Vieques, one of Puerto Rico's smaller islands. Listener and boriqueño native Roberto Cancel describes swimming in the bay on a dark night, surrounded by glowing blue waters.
But most of the episode is devoted to perhaps the most important event in world history: 1493. Not 1492, but 1493. That's the year when Christopher Columbus returned to the Americas, not as an explorer, but as a conqueror.
We discuss (and really only scratch the surface of) the impact of this second voyage. It's only the beginning, because every episode to come will exist in the new world (pun intended) created by this event.
And we have shrimp mofongo, a boriqueño specialty that blends European, African, and American in a way that exemplifies the new global world.
Bergreen, Laurence. Columbus: the Four Voyages
Diamond, Jared. Germs, Guns, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Fodor’s Puerto Rico
Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook Got Wrong
Mann, Charles C. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
Mann, Charles C. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
Photograph by Edgar Torres CC 3.0