European History

A Brief History of Vodka

The story of vodka is one that’s closely tied to cultural identity for several countries, but where did it originate, and how did it evolve over time? We’ll talk a bit about how vodka is made, where it came from, and how it’s expanded to a global market.

Paul Julius Reuter

Paul Julius Reuter had a knack for filling in the gaps in communication systems, and make a lot of money doing so. And eventually, he managed to to turn Reuters - which he had named himself after - into the largest international news service in the world.

A. Gustave Eiffel, Part 2

The second part of our look at Gustave Eiffel's life picks up just after he closed down all business interests in South America, and leads into some of his most famous work, including the Statue of Liberty and the Parisian tower that bears his name. 

A. Gustave Eiffel, Part 1

Gustave Eiffel’s expertise in iron work was sought for projects throughout Europe and South America, and he worked on one of the most iconic structures in the U.S. His career is mostly an impressive series of successes, save one colossal scandal.



A Brief History of Ballet, Pt. 2

In the first part of this two-parter, we covered ballet’s origins and early evolution. We left off with the founding of the Academie Royale de Musique, and the ways Jean-Baptiste Lully worked to ensure that his academy had as much prestige as possible.  

A Brief History of Ballet, Pt. 1

For a long time, there was no formalized dance in western culture. Eventually, court performers in Europe were asked to also teach their audiences how to dance, blending the worlds of performance and social dancing, and creating a new art form.

Unearthed: Francisco Franco

We’re taking a look at Francisco Franco and the Spanish Civil War. We've talked about Spain’s parliament voting to exhume the remains of dictator Francisco Franco and relocate them to a state-funded mausoleum, and we’re giving that entire situation more context.

Auguste Escoffier

Any chefs in our listening audience undoubtedly know about Auguste Escoffier, but people who haven’t studied cuisine may not realize that this one man revolutionized food preparation and restaurant dining in ways that are still part of almost any meal you may be served today. 



Kristallnacht

Kristallnacht was a massive act of antisemitic violence that was named for the shards of glass left littering the streets in more than a thousand cities and towns in the German Reich. NOTE: This episode is not appropriate for young children.

The Allegedly Haunted Island of Poveglia

This uninhabited Italian island that has come to be called all manner of scary things, including, “plague island,” “island of ghosts,” and “the Venetian island of no return,” among others. What's the real story on Poveglia?