sixteenth century Dutch painters and designers of Bible-themed collectable card games, couldn’t there have been some sort of fight for Endor in the past? It certainly sounds more plausible than the War of Jenkin’s Ear. The problem is that there’s no resonance to the Battle of Hastings itself; everyone knows the date, but the Bayeux Tapestry leaves something to be desired in these highly mediated times. If people are confused about whether William Wallace was real, it shows that Robert Burns has been letting down the side. More movies on the order of Gibson’s manly Scottish Western won’t do the trick; the secret is to build into myth. Believing in a historical Arthur or even a historical Robin Hood doesn’t seem entirely half-baked, but surely Arthur and Robin seem more real than, say, William Pitt the Elder. Pollsters can phrase questions to make people sound stupid, but nobody makes people believe truth or lies. We do that for ourselves, because some things sound right. Put the penny dreadful back in history. People will respond when the Duke of Marlborough and Admiral Nelson seem as real as Robin in the forest, Lord Edmund Blackadder, the Battle of the Bulge, the last desperate stand of the 300.

Every now and again, a survey comes out designed to show how stupid Americans (and particularly American schoolchildren) are compared to the rest of the world. Americans don’t know where Mexico and Canada are! They can’t identify what language the Dutch speak! They think The Flintstones is solid anthropological fact! This tradition seems to have moved on to England, where a recent poll seems designed to make the British feel as bad as Americans. It seems that Britons are confused about whether the Battle of Hastings or the Battle of Helm’s Deep was real, and so forth. Some of it seems calculated to confuse; the Battle of Endor, featuring those irritating (yet beloved among a certain segment of the population) Ewoks sounds real. If the Witch of Endor could serve as the basis for sixteenth century Dutch painters and designers of Bible-themed collectable card games, couldn’t there have been some sort of fight for Endor in the past? It certainly sounds more plausible than the War of Jenkin’s Ear. The problem is that there’s no resonance to the Battle of Hastings itself; everyone knows the date, but the Bayeux Tapestry leaves something to be desired in these highly mediated times. If people are confused about whether William Wallace was real, it shows that Robert Burns has been letting down the side. More movies on the order of Gibson’s manly Scottish Western won’t do the trick; the secret is to build into myth. Believing in a historical Arthur or even a historical Robin Hood doesn’t seem entirely half-baked, but surely Arthur and Robin seem more real than, say, William Pitt the Elder. Pollsters can phrase questions to make people sound stupid, but nobody makes people believe truth or lies. We do that for ourselves, because some things sound right. Put the penny dreadful back in history. People will respond when the Duke of Marlborough and Admiral Nelson seem as real as Robin in the forest, Lord Edmund Blackadder, the Battle of the Bulge, the last desperate stand of the 300.