Category: Europe

Jeanne Darc

Was she the craziest woman in history? Either way, she became one of those symbols people twist and turn in an effort to bring meaning to whatever absorbs and excites them. Her actual history is a mass of contradictions, none of it reliable. She was—and still is—whoever and whatever anyone wanted her to be.

Vin Rouge

How can so many French men and women—statistically speaking, of course—eat all that stinky cheese and goose liver without all the heart attacks of our odor-free, foie-free American ecosystem? The answer has to be… Vin rouge!

Magyars

The Magyars who overran the Carpathian Basin and settled in Budapest around the first millennium were fast, brutal, clever, smallish raiders on light horses with minimal armor whose use of the latest technology–spurs–allowed them to plunder and outmaneuver enemies as far away as the Iberian peninsula.

18 x Bretagne

It’s no wonder that Brittany was the last of the great French historical provinces to be subdued by the French crown–to the extent that it ever was. Celtic roots, both cultural and linguistic, still run deep here.

The Raj

The loss of India was in effect the end of the British Empire. And all it took to terminate three centuries of worldwide expansion by one of the greatest military and industrial powers in history was one very smart, determined, and, above all, patient old man in a homespun dhoti.

Armistice Day

I remember an evening sitting through one of those ghastly, self-righteous arguments about the Vietnam War that seemed to plague any attempt at serious conversation in the 1970s. The wild-eyed beard next to me showed no interest whatsoever and seemed to regard all the hot air as little […]

Tain-l’Hermitage

Thomas Jefferson might have had better weather in the 1780s when he came to the Hermitage Mountain here and declared this vista of the Rhône River valley the most beautiful in all of France. The trip from the Colonial Ambassador’s residence in Paris—564km by modern roads—would have taken […]

Glasgow

When you come to Glasgow, you might wonder at Saint Paul’s assertion that, “the wages of sin is death”—and not because of the famously gloomy weather or the dreary, coal-stained sandstone of the buildings. Nor because of the crime, violence, and drug addiction that have afflicted the less […]