Pope Pius II (1405-1464): His book, On Europe (1458), influenced by Strabo’s Geography,  has (just) this to say about Ireland: “We ought now to acquit ourselves of Ireland, which is separated from Britain by a short stretch of sea, […]but since nothing worth remembering has taken place there, we understand, during the period we write about, we hurry on to matters Spanish.” Photograph:  APIC/Getty Images

In 1513, shortly after completing The Prince, Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote a letter to a friend describing his life on the farm to which he had be(...)