The notion of Europe as a cultural community, possible to delimit towards Asia and Africa, has first emerged in relatively modern times but has its roots far back in historical times. Culturally, Europe has not had a clear border with Asia in the east, and the Mediterranean in the south was rather a center and a link for related cultures. Europe has historically been open to migration flows and cultural impulses from the east. Unlike the previously developed high cultures at, for example, the Nile, Euphrates and Tigris and Ganges, European culture and the unique nature of the population was shaped by the population’s greater mobility and contact opportunities, which were favored by climate and geography, especially the proximity and access to the sea, lakes and navigable rivers.
Although Europe’s cultural development through ethnic and linguistic diversification is characterized by diversity, over time, the conditions for a common set of values, lifestyles, intellectual activities, ideologies, political structures and material manifestations of various kinds have emerged. In this shared world of experience, some clear building blocks can be discerned. As the three pillars of European civilization, mention is made of ancient Greek culture, especially philosophy, which is considered to have laid a foundation for free, scientific thinking, and further to Roman culture with its basic principles of legal development and social organization, and Christianity., born outside the continent but mainly developed within Europe, with important ethical principles for human cohabitation.
The Roman Empire, which in its most expansive phase, except for North Africa and the Ancient Orient, encompassed the whole of Southern Europe and Western Europe, bordering the Germanic world of the Rhine and Upper Danube, developed a culture comprised of leading strata throughout the ethnically mixed empire. This culture was put to the test when the Roman Empire was invaded by a number of different tribes during the migration period, some of whom became residents of the empire. The kingdom was divided into two halves 395, and the gradually weakened Västrom formally ceased to exist 476, while the Östrom or Byzantine Empire, with its culture based on Hellenistic and Oriental tradition, maintained external pressure until 1453, when it went down in the fighting against the Ottomans.. The idea of the unity of the empire lived in various ways both in the west and east. In the Byzantine Empire, Emperor Justinian (527-565) sought to reestablish a unified empire, and in the following centuries the Byzantines maintained the fiction that they managed the Roman heritage, even as the territorial base gradually shrunk.
|Country||Air Force (male)||Fleet (man)||Army (man)|
|Albania||550 (2017)||650 (2017)||3,000 (2017)|
|Armenia||1,100 (2017)||–||41 850 (2017)|
|Azerbaijan||7,900 (2017)||2,200 (2017)||66 950 (2017)|
|Belgium||5,850 (2017)||1,350 (2017)||10 350 (2017)|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||800 (2017)||–||10,500 (2017)|
|Bulgaria||6 700 (2017)||3 450 (2017)||15 300 (2017)|
|Denmark||2,700 (2017)||2,000 (2017)||8 200 (2017)|
|Estonia||500 (2017)||400 (2017)||5,700 (2017)|
|Finland||2,700 (2017)||3,500 (2017)||15 300 (2017)|
|France||41 150 (2017)||35 550 (2017)||112,500 (2017)|
|Georgia||1,300 (2017)||–||17 750 (2017)|
|Greece||20,000 (2017)||16 250 (2017)||93 500 (2017)|
|Ireland||700 (2017)||1,100 (2017)||7,300 (2017)|
|Italy||41 900 (2017)||30,400 (2017)||102 200 (2017)|
|Croatia||1,250 (2017)||1,300 (2017)||11 250 (2017)|
|Latvia||310 (2017)||550 (2017)||1,250 (2017)|
|Lithuania||1,100 (2017)||700 (2017)||11 650 (2017)|
|Northern Macedonia||–||–||8,000 (2017)|
|Malta||–||–||1 950 (2017)|
|Moldova||800 (2017)||–||3 250 (2017)|
|Montenegro||225 (2017)||350 (2017)||875 (2017)|
|Netherlands||8,050 (2017)||8,500 (2017)||18 860 (2017)|
|Norway||3 600 (2017)||4 300 (2017)||9 350 (2017)|
|Poland||18 700 (2017)||7,400 (2017)||61 200 (2017)|
|Portugal||6,000 (2017)||8,000 (2017)||16,500 (2017)|
|Romania||10,300 (2017)||–||36 000 (2017)|
|Russia||165,000 (2017)||150,000 (2017)||280,000 (2017)|
|Switzerland||–||–||20 950 (2017)|
|Serbia||5,100 (2017)||–||13 250 (2017)|
|Slovakia||3 950 (2017)||–||6 250 (2017)|
|Slovenia||650 (2015)||170 (2015)||7 250 (2017)|
|Spain||19 250 (2017)||20 050 (2017)||70 950 (2017)|
|UK||32 900 (2017)||32 350 (2017)||85,000 (2017)|
|Sweden||2,700 (2017)||2,100 (2017)||6 850 (2017)|
|Czech Republic||5,850 (2017)||–||12 250 (2017)|
|Turkey||50,000 (2017)||45 600 (2017)||260 200 (2017)|
|Germany||28 300 (2017)||16 300 (2017)||60 900 (2017)|
|Ukraine||45,000 (2017)||6,000 (2017)||145 000 (2017)|
|Hungary||5,750 (2017)||–||10 450 (2017)|
|Vatican City State||–||–||–|
|Belarus||15,000 (2017)||–||16,500 (2017)|
|Austria||2,800 (2017)||–||12 200 (2017)|
The universalist direction founded during the Roman emperor era was taken over after the political disintegration of the Christian church, which from persecuted dissident religion to official state religion, was established in the 390s. Much of the church’s organizational and hierarchical structure was based on Roman traditions, and the official language of the empire, Latin, also became the western church’s both liturgical language and means of communication. On the church level too, the contradictions between West and East deepened. In Rome, the pope claimed spiritual supremacy over the entire Christian world, while the East Roman emperor was the head of Orthodox Christianity. The final rift between the two European Christian churches took place in 1054. Previously, the contradictions had had consequences for Europe as a whole. through the mission of both churches. The Germanic peoples north and east of the Rhine had all been Christianized by the missionaries of the Roman Church, while mainly the Byzantine Church was among the slaves. In the 9th century, the Magyars settled in the area that was then called Hungary and Christianized from Rome. The Hungarian people came to form a wedge into the Slavic world, which was divided into a West Slavic part with, among other things, Poles and Czechs, who became Roman Catholic, and an East Slavic part, including Serbs, Bulgarians and Russians, who became Orthodox. This division has largely become a part of our own time. A sharp boundary came to pass through the area of modern Yugoslavia, between Croats who became Roman Catholics and the Orthodox Serbs.
The ecclesiastical division had repercussions for European culture. The Christian culture in Western Europe became an integral part of various national cultures that grew there, a legacy that the Reformation later could not disrupt. By the end of the 7th century, Frankish King Charles the Great had laid the foundation for an “empire of Christianity”, and had the legitimacy of the Roman Church by being crowned emperor in Rome Christmas Day 800. The newly established empire had its political center in the area between Seine and the Rhine, and besides France covered large parts of Germany and Italy, ie. the countries that were then the core area of Roman Catholic Christianity. In the northern border area, both Germans and slaves were drawn into the Frankish sphere, which was carried by a relatively thin layer of Frankish great men.
However, the Carolingian Empire lacked internal consistency and soon fell apart through national divisions, finally laying the foundation for the emergence of a West Franconian, Roman, and an East Franconian, Germanic, kingdom. The universal claims were later taken over by the German-Roman emperors, who initially cooperated with the papacy. During the 1000s, a power struggle between the emperors and the papacy culminated in the so-called investiture struggle regarding the right to appoint church services. The battle ended in the middle of the 13th century with a defeat for the emperors, and the German-Roman Empire existed from the latter part of the Middle Ages until 1806 mostly to its name.
The real victors of the investiture battle were the princes, who strengthened their influence over their territorial possessions, while losing universal power claims from both imperial power and church in strength. For a long time, the papal church, whose position culminated with the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, was able to hold the position in Germany and Italy, while in France, England and the Nordic countries a form of national churches, linked to the domestic prince power, was developed instead. The difference had consequences for state and nation formation; In Germany and Italy, the development of nation states was delayed, while in Sweden such a development was accelerated as soon as possible.
Rome and Byzantine were in schism with each other and regarded each other as competitors, but they had had a common enemy in the Arabs, who with Islam as a coherent ideology from the second half of the 600s, pushed forward against Western Europe via North Africa and partly in rounds. against the Byzantine Empire. The Mediterranean was ruled by the Arabs, the Iberian Peninsula was conquered, but the Arab expansion in the West was finally halted by the Franks under the leadership of Karl Martell at Poitiers 732. The Iberian Peninsula was completely recaptured from the Muslim Moors only in the 1400s. In the east, during most of the Middle Ages, Byzantine waged a sustained struggle against Islam, and from Western Europe crusades were organized to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslim Turks. The Byzantine Empire succumbed to the Turks at the end of the Middle Ages, which continued to expand up the Balkans to the Danube. By the beginning of the 16th century, most of Hungary had been conquered, and Vienna and the Habsburg heritage countries were threatened to exist. For nearly 200 years, the Turkish threat to Europe remained, only during the 18th and 19th centuries, the Turks were pushed back into the Balkans, and the end point of the Turkish influence was set first with the First World War. The long-standing Turkish dominance of the Balkans left its mark on cultural development there. Some of the oppressed people converted to Islam, others retained their Christian faith to pay a special tax. That so many of the Balkan peoples were able to maintain their religious and ethnic identity explains that a national awakening became possible in the Balkans during the 19th century. However, economic development was hampered, and Southeastern Europe has long been an underdeveloped area with a range of inherent contradictions of ethnic, religious and political nature, still clearly expressed in the area. For Russia, Turkish expansion had other consequences. Since the 13th century, Russia had listened to the Golden Horde, a Mongolian-Muslim regime that allowed the Orthodox Church to operate but at the same time shielded Russia from contact and cultural impulses from the rest of Europe. The weakening of the Golden Hord allowed the Russians to liberate themselves from the Mongol domination in 1480.
By the end of the Middle Ages, the border between Roman-Christian Europe and Islam had stabilized in the southwest, as was the border between Catholic Europe in the west and Orthodox Europe in the east. Socially, economically and politically, large parts of Europe were characterized by the feudal social system that developed during the first centuries after the death of Karl the Great, which in practice meant a fragmentation of society into smaller and more isolated units, including manifested in the so-called large goods system. Remote commerce and contacts played a less prominent role in this relatively static society, where the Catholic Church, in particular, had the conditions to serve as a mediator of a common cultural development. Monasticism, the spiritual knights and the church administration created throughout the Catholic Europe a functioning network capable of supporting a European community of values. During the High Middle Ages, universities become important cultural centers. With Latin as a means of communication, the universities came to play an integral role in a joint knowledge-building process with large dissemination effects. Although scholasticism, a symbiosis between medieval philosophy and theology with a dominant position in the university world, could have an inhibitory effect on free scientific thinking, the universities also conveyed knowledge based on empirical studies. The universities also played an important role in the continuity of the ancient culture. They thus pioneered the ideas in art and cultural life that are usually summarized under the term Renaissance and for the intellectual transformation expressed by humanists when they put man at the center. These spiritual currents developed throughout most of Europe in the following centuries and form an important foundation for the common European culture.
A prerequisite for cultural expansion has been the economic, social and political development that has taken place since the High Middle Ages. Feudalism was broken down, trade and contacts intensified, cities built up, markets and monetary households introduced. Unlike the hierarchical structure of feudal beings, cities were more collectively and horizontally organized. In Italy and Germany, cities often developed a politically independent position, sometimes in conjunction with other cities, which can be exemplified by the Lombard City Council of Northern Italy and the German Hansa; in the rest of Western Europe, they usually had to submit to the prince’s power. Urban citizenship – merchants and craftsmen – became an economically and socially important group alongside the nobility and peasants in the countryside. When during the latter part of the Middle Ages the feudal state was transformed into a state of states, the cities became an important ally to the princes, including by providing capital for the financing of armed forces and administration. For the development of a common European culture, cities have played an integral role. by linking north and south.
With the disintegration of the feudal system and the weakening of the imperial power and papacy, during the latter part of the Middle Ages, paving was made for the creation of states with more solidly organized territory, greater permanence, dynastic continuity, popular anchoring and embryo into a national identity. France was Europe’s most powerful state at the beginning of the 13th century, and the French kings were able to successfully compete with the popes, who for a long period of years had to move their residence from Rome to Avignon. Even in England, the foundation of a nation-state with king, parliament and a well-functioning military force was laid early. In northern Europe, similar state types emerged with bounded territories and with ethnically relatively unified populations as state-carrying elements. In the Iberian Peninsula, a strong and expansive state was created through the dynastic merging of the Aragonese-Catalan Kingdom and Castile in 1469. Another early European state formation is Switzerland, which was constituted by the merging of local units of different ethnic characteristics. In both Germany and Italy, however, the territorial fragmentation that was established during the feudal period remained long and accentuated by later dynastic developments. In Eastern Europe, at the end of the 13th century, Poland and Lithuania merged into a union whose territory stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea and for a time could play the role of regional superpower. The emergence of the European state system favored the emergence of national cultures, but the cohesive elements of a European value community could still be preserved.
European expansion into America, along the west coast of Africa and all the way to southern and south-east Asia began with Portugal and Spain. The most important driver was the quest to seize precious metals in the spirit of mercantilism, but also followed colonial conquests, which became the starting point not only for economic exploitation but also for the spread of European culture. Following Spanish and Portuguese colonizers, British, Dutch and French followed, and all of Europe’s economic center of gravity shifted west towards the Atlantic coastal states. The German emperor Karl V, who inherited a large but divided kingdom comprising, among other things, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain and parts of Italy attempted to establish a more solidly organized empire, but his successor was unable to keep the state together; which was instead split into a German and a Spanish national half. The economic center of gravity in Europe was then shifted from the Iberian Peninsula to England and the Netherlands. The European divide was also underlined by the Reformation, which came to divide Europe into a Protestant and a Catholic part, with contradictions that led to convulsions and wars in the following centuries, civil wars as in France and Britain or international settlements such as the Thirty Years’ War. The religious wars were generally linked to economic and political interests; religious unity strengthened the nation state, and the nation states saw it as a goal to achieve such unity. The religious wars were generally linked to economic and political interests; religious unity strengthened the nation state, and the nation states saw it as a goal to achieve such unity. The religious wars were generally linked to economic and political interests; religious unity strengthened the nation state, and the nation states saw it as a goal to achieve such unity.
The system of sovereign territorial states that crystallized at the end of the Middle Ages and gained legitimacy at the time of the Westphalian Peace in 1648, existed in its main constituents until the early 19th century. Shifts of power between the system’s actors took place all the time, and different states could therefore influence European policy at different times, but no state could, before Napoleon’s time, decide this policy alone. A news for the 16th and 16th centuries was that states outside the Catholic core area could also play the role of regional superpowers: England, the Netherlands, Russia and for a time Sweden. The balance of power was called the widely held foreign policy doctrine applied by Europe’s great powers to preserve peace. At the end of the 18th century, France, which underwent a transformation in the Revolution of 1789, began to expand and put the international order out of play. Napoleon Bonaparte’s ambitions were to create a European empire with Paris as the center and with a system of sound states, controlled from France and extending from Spain to Poland, from Italy to Northern Germany. For a time, it seemed as if a united Europe covering the entire continent would be a fact.
Napoleon’s empire, based on military control and forced adaptation to France’s interests, was short-lived. Just as it was built up with the help of weapons, it was lost with the same means. After Napoleon’s definitive military defeat in 1815, France regained its frontiers of war, and the victorious forces, gathered for a conference in Vienna, established a new order for Europe, based on balance of power and dynastic legitimacy.
Special responsibility for the international peace order was placed on Europe’s five great powers, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Prussia and Austria. Three of them, Russia, Prussia and Habsburg Austria, wanted to establish a new basis for a Christian Europe with a “holy alliance”. The victorious powers, however, only to a limited extent took into account the nationalist currents that grew strongly during the Napoleonic period. With roots partly in the Enlightenment philosophy and the French Revolution and partly in the German romanticism, during the 19th century a conscious nationalist ideology developed which became of great importance for nation formation in Europe, especially by emphasizing the fundamental right of every people to form their own state. The nationalist ideology had a fragmenting effect in the existing multi-ethnic states but played a unifying role in nationally divided areas such as Italy and Germany. At the same time, the 19th century was a period of strength for the continent as such. It was in European territory that industrialism first broke through, first in England and Western Europe, later spreading to the entire continent and further out into the world. With the industrialization came the emergence of new social classes and new values, settlement patterns and lifestyles. In Europe, social ideologies such as conservatism, liberalism and socialism were developed as well as fundamental notions of democracy and parliamentarism.
Towards the end of the century, nineteenth-century nationalism became more aggressive and contributed to sharpened contradictions, which were finally discharged in the devastating First World War (1914-18). The war led to the disintegration of some of the old empires: Germany was forced to make significant land resignations, the Habsburg empire was divided into smaller units and the Turkish empire was largely confined to Asia Minor. In Russia, the October Revolution of 1917 laid the foundations for a communist social system, based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The ethnic and national contradictions of the multinational Soviet Union were swept under the dictator Josef Stalin’s time under the rug. Other interwar totalitarian regimes, including fascist Italy and, to a greater extent, Nazi Germany, used nationalism for purely destructive purposes. Adolf Hitler sought a complete reorganization of Europe on the terms of Nazi Germany, with a racial ideology that placed the Germans in the leading position as an exclusive men’s class.
The Second World War (1939-45) ended with an even greater political, economic and moral disaster for Europe, which was divided into two ideological and power-political blocks with a well-guarded iron curtain between them. During the Cold War days, the Communist Eastern Bloc was dominated by the Soviet Union, financially through the Council of Economic Cooperation (SEV) and military and security policy through the Warsaw Pact. From the Soviet side, the intention was to achieve integration in Eastern Europe, but the Soviet Union’s totally dominant position led to the new peoples’ democracies perceiving cooperation as forced and contrary to their own national interests.
In Western Europe, post-war integration had greater success. Here, a number of organizations of a transnational or intergovernmental nature were created with the task of supporting Western European cooperation in the economic, political, military and scientific fields. With assistance from the United States and in accordance with the guidelines of the so-called Marshall Plan in 1947, reconstruction within the Western parliamentary democracies quickly started, mainly through the OEEC’s coordinating efforts. Further economic cooperation was made possible by a political approach between West Germany and France. This was personified by the two states’ leaders Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, who united in the effort to finally put an end to a historically fatal enmity between the two major continental powers. Western European security policy was coordinated within NATO (1949). The most important step towards Western European integration was taken through the formation of the European Community (EC) in 1957, a further development of the successful work which, among other things, the European coal and steel community started as early as the 1950s. With the EC, the foundations for a common market were created, initially comprising West Germany, France, Italy and the three Benelux states, and at the bottom also was a quest for a future political merger. Cooperation within the EC achieved rapid results when it came to abolishing customs duties and payment obstacles, but the attempts to get the capital to circulate freely were countered by the nationally based banks. Especially in the agricultural sector, the market targets proved difficult to achieve. Even less successful were those EC supporters who wanted to see the community expanded into a political union. Alongside the EC, a number of Western European states joined in a looser organization, EFTA, in effect a free trade area but without a common external tariff tariff that the EC had and without the ambition to harmonize agricultural policy.
At the end of the 1980s, efforts were made to complete integration within Europe. Economic cooperation was strengthened through an agreement between the EC and EFTA, the so-called EEA Agreement (European Economic Space). The number of Member States in the EC increased gradually from the original 6 to 15 by the mid-1990s. Cooperation was clarified following the EC summits in Maastricht and Edinburgh in 1991 and 1992, and in November 1993 the Community name was officially changed to the European Union, the EU. By the turn of the millennium 2000, integration into the EU has reached a long economic and organizational level, while different opinions prevailed about the desirability of institutionalizing cooperation in, for example, foreign and security policy. At the same time, the Union will be gradually enlarged by allowing the states of post-communist Eastern Europe to join. According to Countryaah, EU stands for European Union.
The Europe that emerges in the 21st century will be completely different from the last century. The culture that will characterize the new Europe can build on shared historical experiences, shared values, related structures and organizational forms, but also on diversity and diversification, with room for many languages, beliefs and political ideologies. Many of the building blocks of European culture are now also part of a global culture, but are in important respects marked by their European origins, whether in the fields of science and life, industrialization and technology, freedom and democracy, development and solidarity, lifestyle, values or other basic prerequisites for social life.