Europe History

The name Europe is known with geographical significance from the oldest Greek poets. In Hesiod, Europe and Asia are both daughters of the ocean, the Okeanos; in the Homeric hymns, Europe denotes the Greek mainland without the Peloponnese and the islands. Even in late antiquity around 300 AD. got a Roman province in Thrace (present-day European Turkey) named Europe. The expanded significance and the earliest awareness of Europe as a continent is due to the Persian Wars around 500 BC.

Ancient Mediolanum Santorum

Europe. Urban planning was a characteristic feature of the Roman provincial administration in the northwestern part of the empire. The cities were characterized by a certain uniformity, and modeled on Rome, a number of public buildings were erected: forums, thermal facilities, temples, theaters and amphitheaters. The vast majority were built by wealthy private individuals who could thereby gain themselves and their descendants a reputation as benefactors or gain political support from the city’s citizens. Here are the ruins of the amphitheater in Saintes in France, the ancient Mediolanum Santorum; it is dated to the 1st century AD.


Europe. Already in the 400-t. Christianity came to Ireland, where it was influenced by Celtic culture. Soon, monasteries were built that developed into centers of art and literature. Here is the monastery of Clonmacnoise, which was founded in 545; it became Ireland’s most significant and influential center of learning. In front of the church, which was started around 900, stands a high stone cross with rich sculptural decoration from approximately 908.

From the Greek historian Herodotus in 400 BC. and for the rest of antiquity, three continents were counted, Europe, Asia, and Libya (Africa), and the river Tanais (Don) was considered the eastern border of Europe continent according to COUNTRYAAH. Knowledge of Western, Northern, and Central Europe expanded little by little as Greeks and Romans gained more regular trade ties with their own.

The Greek world

From the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. the Greeks developed their characteristic urban state culture, which corresponded to their settlement in secluded valleys, islands and peninsulas. A constant shortage of land suitable for cultivation led to the emigration and construction of overseas urban facilities, so-called colonies. Around 800 BC. the west coast of Asia Minor was completely incorporated into Greek territory. Colonies were then established along the northern part of the Aegean Sea and all the way around the Black Sea, in certain places in the eastern Mediterranean in addition to southern Italy, in Sicily and as far west as Massilia (now Marseille). In some regions, non-Greek city-states were encountered, such as the Etruscans of central Italy and the Phoenician colonies of the western Mediterranean.

The city-states developed a uniform culture. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER. Intensive cultivation of wine and olives as well as refinement of handicrafts soon allowed an extensive export to grain-producing regions, so as to enable some urban population growth. The original small kingdoms and aristocratic forms of government were replaced in most places by egalitarian tyrannical rule or democracy. Contributing to this was in particular the development of weapons and military organization. The heavily armed infantry, which was identical with the male citizens of the state, became strategically crucial, and new ideals such as individual self-assertion in solidarity with the citizens united with the willingness to sacrifice towards the city came to shape the Greek mentality. The precondition for the participation of the citizens in the political and cultural life was throughout antiquity that a significant part of the manual work was performed by slaves.

During the Persian Wars in general and especially during Xerxes’ invasion of Europe 480-479 BC. showed the strength of this culture, and first and foremost Athens, which gained dominion over an alliance of cities, experienced a heyday in all areas. This “classical” period (400-300-t.) Became significantly norm-setting for all later European culture, including the political one. The Greeks came to nurture the view that they were superior to all other peoples, the so-called barbarians. However, Greece itself was conquered in 338 BC. of its semi-barbaric neighbor, the Kingdom of Macedonia. With the conquest of the Persian Empire by the Macedonian king Alexander the Great (336-23), a new period of Greek expansion and colonization began as far east as the Indus. Under the Macedonian kings and later under the rule of Rome, the Greek bourgeois ideals had lost their original power of inspiration; but the city-state remained the form in which the life of antiquity was organized, just as Greek language and literature were the most important medium of ancient culture.

Celtic culture


The rise and dominance of the Roman Empire

On the border between Greek and Etruscan dominance in central Italy, Rome achieved by the middle of the 1st millennium BC. an independence that was still consolidated until the whole of Italy in 265 BC. was conquered. Through protracted wars with Carthage in the century thereafter, Rome succeeded in subduing this state’s naval empire in the western Mediterranean, and attempts at intervention from Macedonia and Greece led to these countries also becoming Roman provinces. Gradually, the empire of Rome expanded until in the 1st century. BC under Caesar and Emperor Augustus came to include all countries bordering the Mediterranean, including the European mainland up to the Rhine and Danube, which in the following centuries was the kingdom’s fixed northern border. Furthermore, in the 1st century AD. Britain, i.e. England, but not Scotland and Ireland, and in the 2nd century Dacia (Romania).

The Roman city-state had undergone the typical development: first primitive monarchy, then aristocratic rule and finally a more democratic form of government, but the violent civil wars between warring army commanders and politicians in the 1st century BC. ended with the so-called principat; it meant that Augustus in 27 BC. became real dictator. The Roman Empire was thus established. It ensured the kingdom a relatively stable period of peace for the following two centuries, as the borders were fortified and defended against the nearest neighbors, ie. in Europe especially Germans and Sarmatians. However, the Romans also maintained a significant trade with these peoples.

The kingdom was divided into provinces where a Romanization took place; colonies were established and older tribal communities were transformed into city-states. Apart from the actual Greece and Aegean coast, the European mainland was given Latin as a common language during the imperial period; Celtic and other earlier languages, however, remained alive for a long time in certain non-urbanized regions. In 212, Emperor Caracalla granted all free subjects in the kingdom Roman civil law. This increased the opportunities for integration, but at the same time the obligations to the central government grew. Already in the beginning of 100-teKr. had the Roman historian and geographer Tacitus, who had an in-depth knowledge of the Germanic tribes, praised their freedom at the expense of the Romans.

The need to maintain an ever-increasing army force coupled with an expansion of the central administration caused an increasing tax burden and economic instability that from the end of the 100-t. manifested itself in frequent political crises and wars between army divisions. The basic productivity of the Roman Empire did not grow, and labor shortages led to constant slave imports. In addition, there was undoubtedly a certain still immigration of free peasants, from Northern and Central Europe. On several occasions, immigration even took the form of armed invasions by Germanic surplus populations, such as the Cimbrians and Teutons in the late 100’s BC, the Markomans in the second half of the 100’s. and especially Goths, Franks, and Alemannians in the second half of the 200-t. After the last invasion, which, like the previous ones, was repulsed,


Around the year 300, the imperial power was stabilized by a series of reforms under the emperors Diocletian and Constantine the Great. Significant is the division of the Roman Empire into larger administrative units, dioceses, giving the main geographical regions of Europe political status, such as Britain, Spain, Gaul and Italy; the last two both divided into a northern and southern part. In 311, Christianity was officially permitted, after it had gradually spread throughout the Roman Empire in previous centuries, but only to a lesser extent in the European provinces. During the 300-t. Christianity penetrated strongly everywhere, and after 380, state support for all hitherto practiced religions ceased. The organization of the Christian Church, which followed the state, became a decisive factor in the perpetuation of cultural unity during the violent political upheavals of the following centuries. After 395, the Roman Empire was gradually divided into an eastern and a western part, which slipped apart.

The time of migration

In the 370’s, a new wave of Germanic invasion began, this time partly provoked by the Asian nomadic people, the emergence of the Huns in the Danube region. In the decades that followed, in Western Europe land had to be left to the Goths, Vandals, Burgundians and other peoples, and new, partly independent kingdoms emerged during the 400’s. These immigrants converted to Christianity and soon acquired Latin as the language of church and law. Also the Franks in northern Gaul and anglers and Saxons in Britannia established themselves around 500. The Huns’ invasion, on the other hand, was stopped by a Roman army at the Battle of the Catalan Fields in 451, where Germans fought on both sides. Thereafter, the Western Roman Empire quickly collapsed and ended with the death of Emperor Nepos in 480.

The Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I, who ruled 527-65, succeeded in reconquering all of Italy and smaller parts of Spain and North Africa; but already between 568 and 600 Italy was invaded by a new Germanic people, the Lombards. About 600 Slavic peoples immigrated to smaller tribes in Eastern Europe, including the Balkans. Here, in the Frankish Empire and in England, the new peoples came to make up a significant part of the population, while the Germanic population element in South Gaul, Spain and Italy was less numerous. Within the ancient Roman borders, a system of dual rights emerged in most places: Roman and Germanic. The Bulgarians created approximately 680 a permanent state around the Lower Danube with dominion over the Slavic tribes in the area. To this end, the Christian mission departed from the Eastern Roman Empire,

During the turbulence of the migrations, the cities shrank in size, although most continued to exist as local centers. The economic importance of long-distance trade diminished, and the natural economy gained ground. However, the old trade routes between the Orient and Europe, including Northern Europe, were never interrupted and new ones were established. A series of epidemics between the 100’s and 700’s. contributed to the weakening of the Mediterranean countries; the same was true of the hard and protracted border wars between the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire until 628. This is the reason why the Arab caliphate after 636 was able to conquer the entire Middle East and North Africa so quickly. The Byzantine Empire was reduced to areas that could be held together by a superior naval power, and for a long period this was also threatened by the caliphate. Constantinople was besieged 673-77 and 717-18,

In 711, an Arab army invaded the Iberian Peninsula, where the Western Gothic Empire was quickly conquered, and the peninsula, apart from Asturias in the northwest, came under Arab rule and Islamic cultural influence. A further advance in France, however, was halted by Poitiers in 732. During the weakening of Byzantine rule in Italy, the Lombard empire had conquered Ravenna and threatened Rome; but the pope allied with the Frankish Carolingian dynasty, secured its takeover of the monarchy in 751, and even achieved sovereignty in the former imperial parts of central Italy. This was supported by the largest document forgery in European history, the Constantine Gift Certificate.