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The Idea of Europe

Catriona Seth
Rotraud von Kulessa

76. What Future for Europe?


1Swiss intellectual Johannes von Müller (1752–1809i was an active correspondent. In a 1778 letter he speaks of the importance of history to attempt to understand what the future has in store. He is conscious that the balance of power in Europe and beyond is about to shift.

2It is unbelievable how beautiful history is, but the historian who must write about all aspects of Administration, requires all the knowledge that a king should have. Burgoyne’s misfortune should serve as a lesson to historians as times are coming when Europe may no longer be at the centre of the world. Thus, small, local events which are only important to local princes, will be banished from history, while Ancient and Modern history will both be regarded in the same way. As far as imminent new revolutions which will occur in the future, they will be a resource for political maxims, which sooner or later, will find an application. Europe is perhaps playing her last act, and we shall be more able in the future than we are at present, to appreciate each incident of the great drama which is unfolding and to assign to it its rightful place in our annals.

3Johannes von Müller,
Letter 80, January 1778 in Collected Works, 1812.

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