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European - Ethnic Relations

Europe has been populated by various prehistoric human types. It is likely that the first, Homo erectus, immigrated from North Africa about 750,000 years ago. The oldest finds are from the caves at Vallonet and Escale in southern France.

The modern man, Homo sapiens sapiens, to which all living people of the world belong, first appeared in Europe for approx. 40,000 years ago, during the last ice age. Their direct predecessors were a sparse population of Neanderthals ( Homo sapiens neanderthalensis ). These seem to have died out some time after modern humans invaded Europe from the Middle East and North Africa. Many scientists claim that the invaders not only displaced the Neanderthals, but also interfered with them, so that they partly joined the new population.

Throughout prehistory as well as in historical times, larger and smaller groups of people have migrated into Europe from Asia and from the African Mediterranean. Immigrants have varied quite strongly in physical type, and have mingled with the native population and with each other. This has produced a very variable, predominantly light-skinned human type belonging to the Caucasoid branch of humanity. Large parts of Europe, including Scandinavia, have an ethnically very homogeneous population, while the picture is far more diverse in, for example, Central, Southern and Southeastern Europe.

Particularly after the Second World War, some countries in Western Europe have experienced a fairly large immigration of people from the former colonies in Africa, Asia and America as well as from Turkey. See more information about Europe on This has helped to increase ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity, creating a foundation for both conflict and dynamic development, including in the cultural field.

European - Ethnic Relations

Europe - History (Middle Ages)

In the mid-700-t. the Arab expansion reached its peak. In the centuries before the year 1000, Europe was divided into a Western Roman Catholic-Latin and an Eastern Greco-Orthodox-Byzantine Christian culture. In addition, Islam had gained a foothold in southwestern Europe, and that pagan cultures prevailed in northern and eastern Europe. The Muslims had penetrated to southern France and had settled on the Iberian Peninsula. North Africa, the Middle East and southeastern Turkey were Arab territory. The Eastern Roman Empire had lost over half of its land, therefore the kingdom was reorganized in the following time. For the historians of the past, this reorganization has come to the fore in the designation of the Byzantine Empire, which was not used in modern times. The kingdom maintained a certain political and ecclesiastical connection to the pope in Rome until the final schism between the Greco-Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic in 1054, i.a. because of the kingdom's possessions in Italy, which were lost at the end of 1000-t. But the orientation was from the mid-700-t. targeting the central parts of the Balkans and Asia Minor.

The Byzantine Empire continued the traditions of the Late Roman state in a more direct sense than the new kingdoms of Western Europe and, in part, even the Arab Empire. Revised editions of the laws of the Roman Empire tied the kingdom together under one common law. The notion of a sovereign state represented by the emperor standing over the law was part of Byzantine law. The emperor's power was absolute; he was supreme legislator, judge, and military leader, and also head of both the secular and ecclesiastical administration. Although the emperor could not administer the sacraments, he had an influence on the interpretation of religion, as well as the right to enter and expel patriarchs and other clergy.

Europe - History (Middle Ages)

The Arabs' further advance in Western Europe was effectively halted after Pippin III the Little with the Pope's consent in 751 had deposed the last Merovingian king and proclaimed himself king. Pippin conquered southern France from the Arabs, and his son Karl, nicknamed the Great, drove the Muslims in northern Spain back. Karl conquered the kingdoms of the Longobards in Italy and defeated and co-Christianized Saxony; he created a kingdom that could largely compare with the West Roman Empire.

The center of the Carolingian kingdom became the Rhineland and the thriving city of Aachen, where Karl had his palace and court chapel built. The establishment of this kingdom significantly strengthened the western Christianity north of the Alps, and with the imperial coronation of Karl in Rome on Christmas Day 800 the connection between the worldly and the spiritual power was finally anchored. A state coinage and an expanded administration developed, which linked the aristocracy strongly to the central power.

Nevertheless, it was a fairly loose kingdom formation, which had more features in common with the former Germanic realms than with the Byzantine and Arab contemporaries. After Karl's death in 814, the weaknesses appeared, and disputes erupted between his sons. At the Settlement in Verdun 843, the kingdom was divided into three: a western kingdom (later France), an austria (later Germany) and a kingdom which comprised the area from the Netherlands over the Rhineland to northern Italy. The ruler of this most important part retained the imperial title after the father.

In the following years the divide increased in the two westernmost kingdoms, while the kingdoms in the easternmost part succeeded in maintaining it. King Otto the Great's successful defense of the Austrian against the Magyars' attacks from the East strengthened him both inwardly and towards the outside world. He obtained the imperial title by his intervention in favor of the pope in Italy in 962, and as emperor he and his descendants claimed Italy, Burgundy and the Rhineland. In the mid-1000-t. most of these lands were placed under the emperor, who also had a certain power over the territories north and east of the kingdom, i.a. Denmark.

The German Empire was considered by scholars to be the continuation of the Carolingian Empire and thus also of the Roman Empire, and the German emperors competed with the papacy for the leadership position within Western Christianity. This power struggle culminated with the defeat of the German emperors in the Investiture battle (1075-1122). The decision on the battle marks the church's emancipation from worldly power, first and foremost by the denial of the influence of the imperial power on the insertion of bishops. It is also the beginning of the unfolding of the spiritual papacy of the medieval papacy, as well as worldly and especially political power.

Christianization of the Nordic countries

At the same time as the early Christianization of the Nordic countries, the king's power was established in Norway and Denmark around the year 1000. Sweden with Finland first emerged as a kingdom in the mid-1100s. In the Viking Age, eastern England was linked to the Nordic countries, and in the period 1019-42 Denmark and England, and for a shorter number of years also Norway, united in one kingdom.

By the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the Anglo-Nordic connection was broken. England's union with Normandy laid the groundwork for a new Western great power, and when Henry II came to the English throne in 1154 and married Eleonora of Aquitaine, all of western France came into the hands of the English kings. However, as early as 1202-06, the French king became subservient to the English lands of northwestern France, but the English kings still had considerable holdings in southwestern France.

During Henry 6, the German Empire was expanded with the Kingdom of Sicily through a marriage alliance. After Henry's death in 1197, civil war broke out in the kingdom. The pope supported Otto IV, who came to power, and in 1214 Otto formed an alliance with the English aimed at France. However, the French king, Philip August 2, won a crushing victory in 1214 at the Bouvines in Flanders. He thus temporarily stopped the attempt by the English to recapture their former lands in France. In Germany, the defeat meant that Henry VI's son Frederik II became emperor in 1220. He concentrated on Italy, with the result that Germany was divided into a number of small principals who were formally under the emperor's supremacy.

The split of Germany and the French king's control over the north-west French fortified the French central power. Now it was France who sought to submit to the old Middle Kingdom. In 1246, Provence came under French influence, and the Diocese of Lyon and the Duchy of Burgundy as well as the Dauphiné were incorporated into France in the 1300s. In the north, the French pushed towards Hainault, Elsaß and the Lorraine, and in Italy, Charles I conquered Anjou Sicily in 1266. The papacy also came under strong French influence; Philip IV blocked the Pope's revenues in France and in 1309 the Pope's seat was moved to Avignon.

The weakening of the German imperial power also meant the strengthening of the kingdoms in the north and east - Denmark, Poland, Bohemia and Hungary - as well as the principalities within the empire that had been created during the great colonization of northeastern Europe in the 1100s and 1200s., i.e. Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, The German Order State, etc. Europe's population grew through the Middle Ages until 1300-h, and some could indicate that growth was strongest from 1000- to 1200-h. In northwestern Europe, certain areas were characterized by considerable population pressure, which was facilitated by emigration. Thus, emigration took place from the Netherlands and northwestern Germany to the newly Christianized areas east of the Elbe.

Although most of the German kings also became kings of Italy, the country through the Middle Ages was effectively dissolved in areas under various princes. Unlike the cities in the north, the Italian cities were inhabited by the nobility and many of them were diocesan cities. The Italian cities were larger and had natural conditions to become trade centers with a proto-industrial development, and their central location on the Adriatic and the Mediterranean helped them to develop into strong urban states as the Byzantine Empire declined and after the Arab The collapse of the kingdom.

After the acquisition of the Omajjadic Caliphate in Cordoba in 1031, the Arab possessions in the Iberian Peninsula were divided into small units, and these little kingdoms soon became subject to aggression by the Christians. It temporarily culminated with Alfonso 6, king of León and Castile, in 1085 conquering the most important Arab city, Toledo. Almost 200 years later, most of the Iberian Peninsula was taken from the Muslims and divided into three Christian kingdoms, Castile, Aragon and Portugal. The Byzantine and Muslim decline coincided with a strong cultural boom in Western Christianity, which was largely indebted to these declining cultures. Around 1300, a Western Christianity had become the leading figure in European spiritual and cultural life.

Considerable cities had emerged and trade in goods had grown. A network of trade routes had formed, linking Europe and strengthening commercial relations with the Orient. The transformation of the trade community from mainly consisting of the exchange of luxury items to a greater extent also included food and building products reflected the long division of labor between the country and the city, which was now seriously breaking out between the European regions. Proto-industrial centers had emerged, especially in the Netherlands and Northern Italy, which could only co-exist with raw material and food supply regions. Thus, food imports into Flanders from the Baltic Sea, Denmark, West Germany and Northern France started early, while England supplied raw materials for the Flemish garment manufacture.

From 1200-h. and by the year 1500 the political center of this culture lay in the rival kingdoms of England and France. Through an arduous conflict that began in the 1200s. and ended with the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), the French royal power succeeded in winning the English counties in southwestern France. In doing so, the French kings had ruled over a territory that was roughly similar to modern France. England had subjugated parts of Ireland under Henry II, and Edward I brought Wales under the English crown. Scotland, on the other hand, succeeded in resisting the pressure of England in the 13th and 13th centuries, although the English influence in Scottish domestic policy was considerable at times.

Thus, in the West, large territorial units were created in the form of kingdoms, which gradually began to develop into actual state powers. Developments went faster in England than in France. England had a better starting point due to an early strong royal power, but probably so important was that the social and economic development of the country during these centuries created a number of societal needs that led to the administrative and constitutional institutions that had become founded in the 1100- and 1200-t., was expanded and strengthened.

A similar, but not so strong, development took place in the North, in Eastern Europe, in the Iberian Peninsula and in the area between France and Germany, where the Burgundian kingdom expanded its territories in the 1300s and 1400s. From about 1450, Italy's myriad of petty territories were brought together in larger and firmer political units, while the dissolution of Germany, which began in the 1200s, continued into the Middle Ages.

The last centuries of the Middle Ages were marked by plague epidemics. In 1347, the plague was brought to Italy, and from there it spread far and wide along Europe's well-developed trade routes. The plague epidemics are thought to have halved Europe's population by the second half of the 1300s, after which the frequency, prevalence and strength of the epidemics decreased. The decline in population led to widespread destruction of farms and villages throughout most of Europe and affected the spiritual and social and economic life in various ways, but European societies showed an astonishing ability to withstand the demographic decline. Urban and commercial development continued despite the loss of population. as a result of a strengthened interregional division of labor between Eastern and Western Europe.

Countries in Europe
  1. Aland
  2. Albania
  3. Andorra
  4. Austria
  5. Belarus
  6. Belgium
  7. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  8. Bulgaria
  9. Croatia
  10. Czech Republic
  11. Denmark
  12. Estonia
  13. Faroe Islands
  14. Finland
  15. France
  16. Germany
  17. Greece
  18. Hungary
  19. Iceland
  20. Ireland
  21. Italy
  22. Kosovo
  23. Latvia
  24. Liechtenstein
  25. Lithuania
  26. Luxembourg
  27. Malta
  28. Moldova
  29. Monaco
  30. Montenegro
  31. Netherlands
  32. Northern Macedonia
  33. Norway
  34. Poland
  35. Portugal
  36. Romania
  37. Russia
  38. San Marino
  39. Serbia
  40. Slovakia
  41. Slovenia
  42. Spain
  43. Sweden
  44. Switzerland
  45. Ukraine
  46. United Kingdom
  47. Vatican City

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