Over the centuries there have been several empires, which more or less had the contours of what we nowadays call Europe.
There was the Roman general Julius Ceasar, who's empire in the north was bounded by the river Rhine. Or in the 9th Century Charlemagne, who united 'Europe' in his war against the Arabic Moors. Then in the 17th Century Charles JV over who's empire "the sun never sank". And of course Napoleon, who dreamt of one Europian Family in a common fatherland (= of course France). And lastly Hitler, who explained his expansion policy with beautiful words about Europian Union.
All these European empires had two facts in common: They were all based on military power. And after the disappearance of the Man in Power, the empire quickly broke up.
In the cultural period "The Enlightenment" was not thought of on the bases of a clash of arms. European nations had to join on base of common laws, manners and morals. The Frenchman Rousseau and the German Kant spoke about a European League of Nations.
That League of Nations reflected the European civilisation, which - according to the Enlightenment philosophers - was not based on Christianity, but on arts and sciences. It is the first pleading on the priciple of voluntarism and democracy.
Not weapons, but this Enlightenment's philosophy was the beginning of what now is called the European Union. But for honesty we must say, that modern facts like Coal and Steal Unions and the Communist threat probably were of greater influence.
The efforts of modern politicians like the Dutch prime minister Balkenende to get the word Christianity in the European constitution failed. And here we see the influence of the Enlightenment.
by Jan de Crom
taken from "The Postal Bee" 1/2006
Contact Group Bee Philately