Ideas Of European Unity Before 1945
The idea of European unity is a historically recent idea.
The word 'Europe' originally referred to the south-eastern part of Europe, in the same way that 'Asia' originally referred to western Anatolia, and 'Africa' referred to northern Africa, and it was the Greek civilization who used the words to mean the continents as they do today.
After the Fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, the first proposal for peaceful methods of unifying Europe against a common enemy emerged. George of Podebrady, a Hussite king of Bohemia proposed the creation of a union of Christian nations against the Turks in 1464. However, there is no evidence that he viewed Europe as being anything other than a geographical place where those Christian nations resided.
The Frankish Empire of Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire united large areas of Germany, Italy and France under a loose administration for hundreds of years without articulating an 'idea of European unity'. However, the idea of Europe, of those parts of Europe occupied by Germanic peoples, representing 'Europe' had become common by the 19th century. That the 19th century idea of Europe was essentially a Germanic one can be witnessed from the counterblast by the Russia philosopher Danilevsky in his Russia and Europe. The idea of Germany and Europe being coterminous was taken to its fateful conclusion under Hitler.
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