If occasionally history throws up a real eccentric from the primordial gloop it would probably justify itself with the excuse that every now and again it needs to become interesting. The young student has to be provided with a resource of amiable nutters or genocidal megalomaniacs to amuse, to keep him reading further; otherwise his verdict of ‘boring’ would be reached too soon and he would remain forever ignorant of historical facts essential to his future well-being. He would not know, for example, that he is of a certain national heritage; if he is of French extraction, or German, or Roman.
And that’s important, isn’t it?
Well, I think it is.
We owe them much, those power-hungry, often delusional characters from history who not only hastened the migration of peoples, but left their mark to intrigue a student and to keep his attention. In UK we can barely turn around without encountering one of William the Conqueror’s castles, for example. I have to ask – what would our landscape be like without Ludwig II of Bavaria’s magnificent clifftop Schloss Neuschwanstein, or Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s army of Terra Cotta soldiers?
Or Trump Tower?
Or the Great Wall of Mexico (you’ll be able to see it from space).