In this series we hop in an Uber and ask the driver for a quick history lesson. Everything gets fact checked, so feel free to use this to study for your next quiz.
*translated from French* *our driver’s name has been changed to preserve anonymity*
Banter: Hey, man, can I sit in the front seat?
Rachid: Yeah sure, just move the seat back if you need.
Banter: I hope you don’t mind...we’re doing this series called Uber History, and it’s where we talk to Uber drivers about history, the history of Canada, their country of origin, whatever. You mind if I ask you some questions?
Rachid: Go ahead, but I’m not super gifted in history. I’m actually an engineer.
Banter: Ok, starting off, where are you from?
Rachid: France. Paris.
Banter: Can you tell us how Paris was founded?
Rachid: Yeah, it was twins I think, and they were born to a wolf, a she-wolf if I remember correctly. Romeo and Romuald or something like that.
No, that is so far from being true it’s actually hard to overstate. I think our driver was referring to the legend of Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome who indeed were supposed to have been raised by a she-wolf. Again, nothing to do with Paris, or reality. The area near Paris was inhabited by wandering Celctic tribes until the 1st century BCE when it was conquered by the Romans.
Banter: Yeah, I dunno, that sounds a little off. Can you clarify?
Rachid: Ah, putain no, it was three brothers, d’Artagnan and the others... What were their names?
Banter: Athos? Porthos? Aramis? d’Artagnan’s just the guy who hung out with them.
Rachid: Yes, yes, now I remember.
Banter: Uh, no, those are actually The Three Musketeers. They’re fictional, they’re from a book.
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas is very entertaining, and has been adapted to the screen and the stage with great success. Basically the sword dudes run around haranguing the agents of the Bond villain (Cardinal Richelieu) while succumbing to predictably campy duels which always go awry. It was written in the middle of the 19th century and has nothing to do with the founding of Paris.
Banter: Okay, nevermind, um, what about something more modern...can you tell us about the Franco-Prussian War?
Rachid: What’s Prussian?
Banter: Like Germany, but smaller and more warlike, wait, less warlike, no, similarly warlike. With the boche helmets, you know?
Rachid: Oh yes, les Borusses. They invaded France to kill all the Catholics right?
Banter: No, not really.
The rapidly expanding capabilities of the Prussian state in the late 19th century left it well poised to adopt an expansionist outlook on the European continent. Some scholars have suggested that Otto Von Bismarck intended to drag the other German states into the conflict in a sort of makeshift alliance and thereby set in motion the unification of Germany.