Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Learning Today: June 1st 2011. The Times They Were A Changin'

Before the Revolution of 1848 the tiny principality of Monaco had a really good deal going for it. Monaco was allowed to tax all the orange and lemon trees in Provence. The Princes of Monaco didn't need to do much more than sit back, look out at the Mediterranean, and wait for the farmers of Provence to bring them fresh lemon-scented money. But nothing is forever. In 1848 persky Revolutionaries put an end to many aristocratic privileges--including Monaco's right to tax those tasty citrus fruits.

What's a small principality to do? Countless other once-privileged elites across France and the rest of Europe took this opportunity to curl up into a vomit-stained ball of debauchery and decadence. The Princes of Monaco had a better idea. They would give other people a place where they could curl up into vomit-stained balls of debauchery and decadence. They would open a casino.

And it worked. Today, Monaco is still a country. The Princes of Monaco are still rich. And people still come to the minuscule country to waste their money and get drunk.

And every so often, the scent of lemon and orange wafts through the air, suggesting to the Princes the simplicity of a past time.

Found in C.A. Bayley's The Birth Of The Modern World, Chapter 11, The Reconstruction of Social Hierarchies.

No comments: