One of the assumptions of the Enlightenment is that we (Western civilization) are ever progressing: scientifically, technologically, sociologically, morally, etc. As I visited the thousand year old Tower, with its wild and bloody history, I wondered if we have really improved all that much.
Here is an interesting art piece created first in the 19th C to illustrate the institutions housed in the Tower over the years. It is made of armour and weapons representing the military; coins representing the mint; scrolls and maps the records office; telescopes the royal observatory, and so forth. It is pretty fierce:
Here is Traitors’ Gate, by which enemies of the state were brought to imprisonment and execution:
So many of those decisions seem in retrospect entirely political, to benefit a person, party, or faction rather than the nation as a whole. Sometimes I think we need the long look back to gain perspective on our own times and political passions.
Note: during this coming week, we will travel with the students to visit York, Edinburgh, and the Lake District in the north. I will still hear my phone messages and return phone calls, however.