How a 16th Century Book of Insults From a Small British Village Lead to the Name of Batman’s City

In a truly fascinating episode of “Things You Might Not Know“, host Tom Scott traveled to the Nottingham village of Gotham (pronounced Gautam) to recount the city’s unique history in which the residents of the 16th century pretended to be crazy in order to avoid visits by the King. This branded them simultaneously a village of fools, madmen and wise men. The residents bought into the image wholeheartedly and published a book of insults making fun of themselves. Inspired by this book a century later, satirist Washington Irving likened New York City to Gotham (pronounced Gotham) and it stuck, giving D.C. Comics writer Bill Finger the perfect name for Batman‘s fictional city. Gotham City.

There’s a link from a 13th century legend, to a 16th century insult book, to a 19th century writer, to a 20th century comic book hero. And it starts in a small village near Nottingham, in the time of Robin Hood. Here’s why Batman comes from Gotham City.