Ole Larson's Folks

It is for me a source of amusement and fascination that so many historic world leaders are among my ancestors. (e.g. Marc Antony, William the Conqueror, Saint Olaf, Eleanor of Aquitane,  etc. etc.).

In trying to write about them in a way that illustrates their importance to Western “civilization,” I hope I haven’t given you the impression that I admire them or their accomplishments, or even approve of them. To achieve what they did, I know they had to be ruthless, cruel, and corrupt, most often in direct proportion to their power and importance.

In a world where the accepted path to influence was military conquest, if a leader had the means to subjugate his neighbors by force, then in the name of lifting up his people, he was expected to do so. That does not mean it was morally justifiable even then, only that it was “how things were done.” One point in respect of these ancient leaders: they were in the thick of their battles, risking their own lives alongside their soldiers, unlike the powerful leaders of the present era.

Bayeux“Death of Harold,” detail from the Bayeux Tapestry

I dream of a different world, where leaders have learned that our collective survival depends on cooperation and compassion across all lines of language, race, and religion, not on the superiority of armaments and killing power of one neighbor versus another.

Now that I have set the record straight on that, there are one or two more of these “king” guys I want to tell you about. Stay tuned.

I, Claudius, Great-Grandpa
Birkebeiner, past and present