Castles, palaces and mansions dot the landscape in many regions of Europe. These edifices are silent monuments of the wealth that has been concentrated into the hands of a few over the millennia. The sizes of these homes are staggering. It becomes especially evident when one tours these palatial residences—some of which boast hundreds of rooms and vast acreages. What are castles, palaces and mansions really all about? What’s behind it all. How does YHVH Elohim view what they represent? These are the questions I found myself asking on my recent trip to the British Isles, Ireland and Paris.
In many cities you visit, the castles, palaces and mansions of the wealthy “elite” top the list of the most popular tourist attractions. Everyone wants to experience the lifestyles of the rich and powerful if only vicariously. People the world over flock to them in droves as they purchase their tickets, board buses and often travel great distances to some remote and exclusive location with commanding view on a mountain or cliff top, beach or lake side or some other venerable piece of real estate, where they will spend the better part of a day touring the extravagant grounds, gardens and residences. We did! Some palaces are so elite that photography is even forbidden. It’s hard not be awed at the sight of throne rooms, mirrored ballrooms with frescoed ceilings and dozens of yards of rich tapestries, exotic wood carvings and paneling and marbled flooring and enormous art galleries with paintings up to the gilded ceilings.
But all of this richness is, in reality, a pathetically thin veneer covering, in most cases, a sinister and evil side of palaces, castles and mansions. The tour guides, while giving the awestruck tourist the front story, will every so often allude to the backstory of how these wealthy “elite” obtained their vast lands and wealth. Yes, this background information paints a completely different story that betrays the rich but superficial patina of tree lined boulevards leading up to these grand estates as you drive past the high stone walls and gate houses, through the wrought iron gates to these homes surrounded by formal botanical gardens with their lakes, fountains, statuary and Greek-styled columned verandas, porticos and even garden sheds.
Yes, the tour guides don’t want to ruin the fun for their bedazzled paying guests, but the honest guides, when pressed with questions, will let slip out the truth of how these rich folks often acquired their land, and it’s not a pretty picture—certainly not as nice as the homes they left behind.Continue reading