A Brief Overview of Western Europe History

Although the word Europe is often used to refer to a single continent, the region has a very different history than the rest of the world. Rather than an integrated and homogeneous whole, it is a diverse and warlike region with many different peoples speaking various languages. The history of western europe includes a long tradition of conflict both within and outside its borders.

The most obvious feature of western europe history is the presence of several major empires that conquered and colonized a significant portion of Earth’s land mass. As a result, they left lasting impacts on cultures and economics of the world beyond their own boundaries.

These empires were not just a military power but also brought new ideas and technologies to foreign lands, including the modern university, the hospital system, scientific economics, and the concept of international law based on natural rights.

A cultural rebirth known as the Renaissance brought to Europe such figures as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, while establishing ideas that have profoundly changed how Europeans view themselves and how they live. These ideas, including the belief that human beings are fundamentally good, were later spread around the world through the expansion of the Christian church and by the advent of the Age of Enlightenment.

In the 1700s, industrial growth in Europe inspired a wave of nationalism that led to several wars between France and the German states (later Germany). In addition, these nations raced for control of the lucrative markets of the colonies.

Despite its small size, Europe has always been an intensely fought-over region. Its people are highly diverse, ranging from the Nordic and Alpine or Celtic groups to those of southern Europe that speak Latin. This has made for a lively and combative culture that has been driven by the strong desire to unite on a foundation of equality. This desire was first implicitly prefigured by ancient Greece and Rome, and imperfectly embodied by Charlemagne’s empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Roman Catholic church. More recently, Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler both hoped to achieve it through conquest.

Today, the concept of a western europe is mostly used to describe members of the European Union (EU). This organization works to unify social, political and economic policies between member countries. The term has only been formally established since the end of the Cold War, and may not last for very long, as there are already calls to expand its membership into eastern European countries that were previously part of the Soviet sphere of influence. This would include the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Slovakia. However, some countries like Norway and Switzerland refuse to join the EU and instead prefer a neutral stance.

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