Another delightfully silly video from our favorite Horrible Histories, with their usual little edge to the humor. The point of this video – that often the things considered most thoroughly British were in fact imported from somewhere else – is one more commonly made against us Americans.
In our enthusiasm to display our Yankee-Doodle-Dandy patriotic fervor, we (particularly politicians) too often slap the "All American" tag on things that really aren't. Denim jeans are one of the examples that comes immediately to mind. We've all heard the tale of how, in 1853, enterprising Levi Strauss created sturdy work pants for the miners of the California Gold Rush, and an entire denim world was born. What could be more thoroughly American than jeans? (Of course this glosses over the fact that Strauss was a German immigrant, and that his fabric of choice was serge de Nimes, a heavy twill imported from France.)
Now a recently rediscovered series of 17th century paintings by a forgotten Italian artist have tossed that assumption out the window. Based on the evidence of these pictures by the newly-dubbed "Master of the Blue Jeans", it seems that denim clothing has been around for a lot longer than the United States.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.