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  • This is the small village where I live in the middle of Germany,

  • and it seems quite unremarkable.

  • But if you just look behind the scenes a bit,

  • you discover that for large parts of its history, it just seemed to drop in and out of existence,

  • like something out of a bad science-fiction movie.

  • You see, back in the 14th century, a group of villages here were grantedfree jurisdiction”,

  • and this village seemed to be perfectly happy to count itself part of thefree jurisdiction

  • as long as it meant they could get out of paying taxes.

  • But not if it meant they had to pay tribute to the lords of Hanau.

  • There are stories like this all the time.

  • For many years, the owner of a local schnapps destillery

  • successfully blocked a minor correction to the border between Bavaria and Hesse,

  • on the grounds that it would have caused him some major bureaucratic headaches.

  • That dispute has since been resolved,

  • but not before he’d caused the authorities some major bureaucratic headaches.

  • One day, this story, too, will be just another quirky historical footnote.

  • When I was at school, I just couldn’t see the point of history.

  • I think maybe it was the way it was taught,

  • which consisted of either learning dates of battles,

  • or writing essays on what it must be like to be a domestic servant in the 18th century.

  • What history really is, is the story of ordinary people trying to be clever.

  • And, more often than not, failing.

  • Every country is interesting.

  • It has its own culture, its own way of life, and its own unique look and feel.

  • It’s always worth poking around a bit behind the scenes to see what makes the place tick,

  • because a part of that is what makes us tick.

  • Beyond that is the pleasure of knowledge for the sake of knowledge,

  • which has never really gone out of fashion.

  • It just needs the right approach, coupled with a few resources,

  • some know-how, and a little help to, as it were, spread the word.

  • The whole world is fascinating,

  • but sometimes people just need to be reminded of the fact.

  • It’s also the story of why the people who live here

  • would rather die than admit

  • they had anything in common with the people who live on the other side of that hill.

This is the small village where I live in the middle of Germany,

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B1 UK jurisdiction knowledge tick sake history village

For the sake of knowledge

Video vocabulary