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John McCormick

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199556212

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556212.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 January 2022

The Idea of Europe

The Idea of Europe

(p.17) 1 The Idea of Europe

John McCormick (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 examines broad themes in the evolution of the idea of Europe and of how Europeans have been defined. In this chapter, it is further argued that Europeans were for centuries understood less on their own terms than in relation to outsiders. Christianity provided a critical early defining force, as did external threats from the Persians, the Arabs, and the Ottoman Turks. But Christianity was never a unifying force, and indeed Europe was for centuries divided by religious wars, and territorial authority was exerted by aristocrats and the church. It was only in the seventeenth century that the modern Westphalian state system began to emerge, soon to be overlaid by national divisions that created a complex and troubled political dynamic. In the nineteenth century, nationalism evolved from a cultural into a political force, Europe was held hostage to great power rivalry, and the accumulating tensions spilled over into the two world wars. Until 1945, European history was one of divisions compounding divisions, and there was little sense of a common European mission or purpose.

Keywords:   Europe, religious wars, Westphalian, nationalism

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