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The Idea of Europe

 | 
Catriona Seth
, 
Rotraud von Kulessa

52. Europe and its Long History of Migrations

Texte intégral

1In his treatise which offers Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Humanity, 1784–1791), Johann Gottfried Herder describes the continent’s history as a long process largely shaped by the movement of people.

Frontispiece to Johann Gottfried Herder, Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (Riga, 1785).i

2And thus at last, because of the part played by the long migration of peoples over land, in this small continent the beginnings of a great alliance of nations have been established, which the Romans had already unknowingly prepared through their conquests and which could hardly come into being anywhere other than here. In no other part of the world has there been such a mingling of peoples as in Europe; nowhere have they changed their place of habitation, and with it their way of life and customs, so markedly and with such frequency. In many countries it would now be difficult for the inhabitants, especially some families and individuals, to say from which race or people they come: whether they descend from Goths, Moors, Jews, Carthaginians, Romans, or from Gauls, Celts, Burgundians, Franks, Normans, Saxons, Slavs, Finns, or Illyrians, and how their blood has mixed in the long sequence of their ancestors. Down the centuries the ancient original formation of several European nations has been tempered and altered by a hundred causes, and without this fusion it is unlikely that Europe’s universal spirit could ever have been woken.

3Johann Gottfried Herder,
Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Humanity (1784–1791).

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Table des illustrations

Légende Frontispiece to Johann Gottfried Herder, Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (Riga, 1785).i
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/4340/img-1.jpg
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