We cannot find our way clearly unless we know our starting point – and we cannot know that unless we know where we have come from. History is a vital part of knowing who and what we are, where we come from and where we are going.

The past is not just a series of random events, for human beings are driven by ideas as well as by animal passions. Our aim is to examine the concepts that have driven individuals and created the societies and institutions we see today. In doing so, we want not only to recount what happened in years gone by but to show why we are as we are and thereby help illuminate the way ahead.