The Transformation of Europe

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Over two-hundred years ago, Europe was a vastly different place. To the modern eye, the Europe of the 18th Century would be unrecognizable compared to its current state. However, the road to this new Europe has been not been all kicks and giggles, but a rather rough and tumble journey. Due to the introduction of new ways of thinking, the occurrences of multiple revolutions, changes in government style and leadership, which led to the creation and extinction of numerous countries as well as rearrangement of boundary lines, and the formation of a European Union, Europe today is hardly comparable to the Europe in our history books. The transformation that Europe experienced spanned a period of more than two-hundred years and made it into the more unified 21st Century powerhouse that we know today.

One of the new ways of thinking that was introduced in Europe, which changed the course of history, was the idea of Enlightenment. As defined by Immanuel Kant, “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another” (Reader pg 33). To Enlightenment philosophers like Kant, John Locke, Olympe de Gouges, and Voltaire life was about reason, individualism, and human rights, not about the state or a king who thought he was the state. The Age of Enlightenment encouraged individuals to think for themselves; and many people took advantage of this opportunistic thinking. In France, the Third Estate pushed for equal rights by presenting their own cahiers de doléances during the Estates General assembly in 1789. John Locke, an Englishman, proposed the thought human nature was inherently good, human nature is shaped by education, one’s upbringing a...

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...a partner that can stand toe to toe with the U.S. making the world a more stable place, supporting a popular thesis in Europe known as the “counterweight thesis” (Reid 3). This union is a far cry from the belligerent and contentious countries of centuries past.

Comparing the modern European Union to the Europe of the 18th Century is a task that takes a lot of consideration. Europe has a massive history that spans across many countries, not just one. With the events of the French Revolution, the Age of Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the multiple revolutions throughout Europe in the 1800’s, and numerous leaders and wars, Europe has undergone an extreme transformation in the last two hundred years. Unrecognizable is the Europe of today compared with that of the 18th Century, but without Europe’s trying history it would not be the powerhouse that it is now.
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