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Europe in the International Order


Roman Kuźniar

The subject of this work is the rise and fall of Europe’s aim to rebuild its position in global politics after the Cold War. With success in the unification of Europe and the subsequent deepening and enlargement of its integration, the Union set itself the ambitious task of becoming a global power, even a superpower.
However, starting with the first decade of the XXI century, we have witnessed a rapid erosion of the international position of Europe (the EU). The author carefully analyses the causes of the EU’s failure in pursuing the role of European representative, Europe thereby pretending to the role of one of three world powers. Besides cultural and demographic trends, the author identifies the main factors leading to this failure: the divergent interests of individual European powers, their incapacity to act in a geopolitical context and the rapid erosion of Europe’s civilizational identity.
The rapid decline of Europe’s international position threatens the appearance of a new and bipolar global arrangement together with the further marginalisation of Europe.

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1 Europe Becomes an International Order

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1 Europe Becomes an International Order

1 The ancient roots of the European international order – Greece

The early first signs of a future international order in Europe were provided by the microcosmos of ancient-Greek city-states. Two thousand years later Europe would be able to witness how the instincts, practices, logic and ideas of those times came to shape the now full-blooded international relations of European modernity. From the VIII to the VII centuries BC, not only where Greece lies today but also along the Mediterranean coasts (and the coasts of the smaller seas of the region), there emerged a constellation of city-states representing ancient Hellas. These Greeks were capable warriors, travellers and merchants. Thanks to their mastery of the craft of sailing in the waters around them, they easily gained control of the scattered islands and established colonies in Asia Minor. However, it was mostly on the continent of Europe that they developed a territorial–political form of organisation that had not been seen before and has not been seen since – the autonomous city-state or polis. The polis came, with time, to be the subject of the relations within the constellation of city-states as well as those with the outside world.

Two axes or poles came rather quickly to structure this region – Athens and Sparta. They fought between themselves for leadership position, but perhaps were even more motivated to block the other from acquiring a position of hegemony over the rest of the world of Greek poleis. These two poles did not impose a sharp duality: from time to time other pretenders came forward, but above all because Athens and Sparta joined forces to face common foes – especially the Persians. These two centres also represented two kinds of political system in the Greek city-state: democracy and oligarchy. Sometimes “tyranny” took hold, but this was not at that time a cruel system based on oppression and the persecution of subjects. Tyranny rather meant autocracy, which of course does not mean there were not cases of abuse of power by the “tyrants”. And democracies and oligarchies were also capable of being cruel systems with “democracy” in any case excluding slaves and women from the enfranchised. The division of systems was at least significant to the extent that it gave reason to go to war: democratic Athens desired the overthrow of oligarchies and Sparta the oligarchy lent support to city-states which resisted or overthrew democracy – to return power to the “rightful” oligarchs. ← 7 | 8 →

The kind of political system will also come to play an important role in the international relations of contemporary Europe, which is why it is worth recalling what was said about the virtues and vices of democracy by one of democracy’s greatest supporters, the Athenian politician Pericles (end of V century BC). It was because of democracy that they were an example to others. “We have a form of government which does not emulate the practice of our neighbours: we are more an example to others than an imitation of them. Our constitution is called a democracy because we govern in the interests of the majority, not just the few. Our laws give equal rights to all in private disputes, but public preferment depends on individual distinction and is determined largely by merit rather than rotation: and poverty is no barrier to office, if a man despite his humble condition has the ability to do some good to the city. We are open and free in the conduct of our public affairs […] in all public matters we abide by the law […] We cultivate beauty without extravagance, and intellect without loss of vigor; wealth is for us the gateway to action, not the subject of boastful talk”.3 But it was Pericles who already pointed out the weaknesses of this system, weaknesses that came to light in the first stage of the Peloponnesian War. The Athenians did not heed the words of Pericles and “did the opposite […], and in other ways too which seemed to have no relevance to the war they pursued policies motivated by private ambition and private gain, to the detriment of Athens herself and her allies…”. Commenting on this speech, Thucydides wrote: “What was happening was democracy in name, but [was] in fact the domination of the leading man”. Nevertheless, he tried to be fair to Pericles, adding: “Pericles’ successors were more on a level with one another, and because each was striving for first position they were inclined to indulge popular whim even in matters of state policy”.4 And as our Greek historian continues, the main sickness of democracy turned out to be the fighting of various factions which shook the state and weakened it. “The cause of all this was the pursuit of power driven by greed and ambition, leading in turn to the passions of the party rivalries thus established. The dominant men on each side in the various cities employed fine-sounding terms, claiming espousal either of democratic rights for all or of a conservative aristocracy, but the public whose interests they professed to serve were in fact their ultimate prize…”.5 We may easily perceive ← 8 | 9 → an analogous situation in the politics of contemporary Europe. The primitive instincts which sustain internal conflicts are also present in the relations between the various Greek poleis.

The logic and principles of these relations will develop both out of the instincts of the rulers of internal city-state politics and out of the necessity of defence from the outside world. Which is why the reality of these external relations will remain above all war. The Greeks will have their first serious encounters with war with their Eastern and for some time powerful neighbour – the expansive Persian empire. The series of “King of kings” – from Cyrus and Darius in the VI century BC – attempted to subdue the Greek colonies in Asia Minor as well as the city-states from the border areas. These Greek cities, in rebellion against the Persian rule, looked to Athens – by then a Hellenic “power”. So, it was that the turn of the VI and V centuries was marked by the Greco-Persian wars. Further chapters in this historical epic will be: the conquest and destruction of the Greek Miletus by the Persians (494 BC), the failure of the Persian expedition against the Athenians at Marathon (490 BC) and the battle of Thermopylae (“Passerby, go tell the Spartans…”) (480 BC), where Hellenic solidarity in the face of a common enemy was evident but which nevertheless did not protect Athens from destruction. Zygmunt Kubiak writes that out of the wars with the Persians, “the idea of freedom – or perhaps it was the idea of independence – took hold in Greece. This was the idea of the independence of the poleis, whether democratic like Athens or subject to a structure of stern discipline, like Sparta”.6 To protect them, the Greeks were forced to found for the first time a coalition, known as the Delian League. Run by Athens, it was a kind of system of joint defence which became a model for subsequent alliances. But Athens also used the League to consolidate their leadership position, sometimes hegemonic in nature, towards the other city-states that made up the League. It is also worth recalling that there were not infrequent cases where Greek city-states went over to join the Persian side that was able to influence the city-states in a variety of ways, including pecuniary.

With time, the Persian threat diminished (internal problems befell the empire) and the Greeks were able to focus on their own goals. These were not limited to literature, art, games, the cult of gods or the cultivation of vineyards. Greece will enter a series of internal wars and persistent battles with her neighbours, as well as embarking on pointless expeditions which with time will come to exhaust ← 9 | 10 → Greece and make her easy prey for the external conqueror. The first of these wars will be the Peloponnesian War, made familiar to Europe by the work of Thucydides. Greece never learnt the lesson of this war: by its length (twenty-seven years), pointlessness, the level of destruction and cruelty it may be compared to the European Thirty Years’ War.7 The Peloponnesian War was a war between Athens and Sparta for leadership position in the Greek world. Though both sides were prompted by predominantly low motives, the ultimate cause of the conflict was the greater ambition of Athens and her intolerance of the strength, independence and political character of Sparta. Sparta, on the other hand, was ready to upset the hegemonic plans of its rival, exhibiting at the same time an aristocratic–democratic sense of superiority. Some twenty-odd centuries later, the account of this war – with a precise description of the parties’ underlying instincts and arguments, the logic and principles of the ongoing conflict – will form the basis of the realist school of thought in international relations.

Thucydides emphasises “human nature” which dominates over laws and justice and pushes people towards evil. By human nature he had in mind one’s self-interest, fear of one’s enemies and ambition.8 The primacy of power over law – the foundation stone of the realist school – was frankly laid out by the Athenian representatives at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War. “Nor again did we start anything new in this, but it has always been the way of the world that the weaker is kept down by the stronger. And we think we are worthy of our power. There was a time when you thought so too, but now you calculate your own advantage and talk of right and wrong – a consideration which has never yet deterred anyone from using force to make a gain when opportunity presents”. And further: “The reason is that those who can get their way by force have no need for the process of law”.9 The Athenians were not the only ones of their times who presented and practiced the hard rules of realism (as we well know, these rules are present in the thinking of world powers at the beginning of the XXI century AD). The Corinthians, encouraging their Peloponnesian allies to confront the Athenians, said: “A peace won through war has a firmer base: to ← 10 | 11 → refuse war for the sake of the quiet life runs the greater risk”.10 The Athenians were notorious for the severity of their treatment of allies who were not willing to bear the burdens of their protection (i.e. payment of tribute, ruthlessly levied by the Athenians). The harsh punishments served as a deterrent, discouraging others from rebellion against the hegemony of the metropolis which lay under the Acropolis. A paradigm of this severe realism is the argumentation with which they defended the necessity of subduing the peaceful inhabitants of the Island of Melos. The Athenian ambassadors explained that, “we are here in the interests of our own empire, yes”, but they also wish to save Melos, “Our desire is to take you under our rule without trouble…”. The Athenian demand was simple: they wanted the Melians to become their allies and pay them tribute. When the Melians, invoking justice and honour, offered them friendship and neutrality, the Athenians refused, arguing in the following manner: “Your friendship is more dangerous to us than your hostility. To our subjects friendship indicates a weakness on our part, but hatred is a sign of our strength”. The Melians, however, did not succumb to the imperial overtures of the Athenians and took up arms in defence of their freedom. In the end, they gave in to the overwhelming force of the Athenians who murdered all their men, sold their women and children into slavery, and then colonised the island.11

The Peloponnesian War, though cruel and pointless, became the paradigm case for future alliances. Many and short-lived were the alliances that were established in this war, and this despite the fact they were often agreed for long periods of time – even for fifty years! Such was the term of the alliance between the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians that it envisaged mutual support in the event of external attacks, guaranteeing that neither party would have to fight off an aggressor alone. The parties did not trust each other from the start, however, and other city-states tried to pull their alliance apart – with success in fact, when, after a few years, the former allies renewed their war. Somewhat later, a similar alliance – concluded for a period of hundred years – united the Athenians with other Peloponnesian city-states. It was an agreement to provide mutual support in the event of aggression from outside parties and the commitment to refrain from hurting the interests of the other party to the alliance. The alliance was concluded with an oath: “I shall abide by the alliance on the terms agreed with all justice, fidelity, and honesty, and I shall not violate it by any means or contrivance”. The individual clauses of the text and the language of the covenant ← 11 | 12 → could have appeared without shame in the Treaty of Washington or the Warsaw Pact from the middle of the XX century AD.12 Yet this alliance did not last long either. In the history of Greece, there were many relations which were similar to alliances and were for either collective security or collective defence; some were aggressive, some were ad hoc. Some, especially those concluded by Athens, enabled a party to influence the internal situation of an allied polis, that is these alliances were a means of extorting protection and strengthening (in this case) Athens’ leadership position. In various constellations of city-states, besides the opposition of Athens and Sparta, a permanent problem of the relations was the autonomy of the city-states, preserving a balance between them, the pursuit of a leadership role or hegemony.13 The Athenians themselves often referred to their hegemony as an empire “which they richly deserved”.

Let us say it once again: these relations breathed the air of war. Thucydides writes about the nature of war in the same way as war’s greatest theoretician Clausewitz, writing twenty-two centuries later. The greatest historian of the Greeks writes that, “War is not something that proceeds on set rules – far from it: for the most part war devises its own solutions to meet any contingency”.14 The Greeks will go on to become the masters of pointless, self-destructive wars. Already at the time of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians, wanting to make up for their lack of success in the confrontation with the Greeks from the peninsula, made a decision to mobilise against Sicily. They decided to embark on this expedition democratically, easily convinced by those who promised easy loot, which after all the empire “deserved”, at the same time being able to consolidate their security. How European were the arguments for war laid out to the Athenians by Alcibiades, the aristocrat and demagogue: “And we cannot ration ourselves to some voluntary limit of empire. Given the position we have reached, we have ← 12 | 13 → no choice but to keep hold of our present subjects and lay designs on more, because there is the danger that, if we do not rule others, others will rule us”.15 For Greece did not only produce strategists (in the narrow sense of this word), but above all it also produced demagogues (in the worst sense of the term), demagogues who destroyed their democracy. The extravagantly equipped Sicilian expedition ended in unprecedented catastrophe, contributing to the final failure of Athens in the Peloponnesian War. Athens never again reached its former glory, and in the ensuing chaos it was easier for the rather small Macedonia – ethnically and culturally akin – to gain control of the conflicted and weakened nebula of poleis. Macedonia’s King Philip II entered Hellas almost without a fight, because the Athenians, despite the wonderful speeches of Demosthenes, were neither inclined to fork out on defence nor come to the aid of those who were in the first line of danger from the Macedonians. Athens brings to mind our own Rzeczpospolita during the last 150 years of its existence.

After Philip II, power passed to his son, the favourite of historians – Alexander the Great. His expedition into the heart of Asia (334–323 BC) – financed by his almost complete conquest of Greece – was as pointless and destructive as the Athens’ Sicilian expedition nearly a century before. This aspiring empire of a madly ambitious, despotic and capricious leader – despite also being an exceptional general – collapsed and vanished without trace within two decades of his death. Neither his education with Aristotle nor his legendary, ingenious cutting of the Gordian knot was to any avail.16 After his death, Athens became a mere province.

The reality of Greek wars was sometimes exceptionally cruel. The victors might completely destroy the conquered city and murder its population (especially the men – women and children were more often sold into slavery). Which is why the Sicilians defended themselves against the Athenians with such ← 13 | 14 → determination.17 When it came to their own security, they stubbornly ignored the criticisms made by the Corinthians both towards themselves and towards their allies. These criticisms were made in the context of their joint efforts to fend off the ever-advancing Athenians: the accusation of a lack of reason, weakness of character and carelessness. By not heeding the warnings, they fell into a complacence which blinds and brings the greatest of harm.18

The end of the Greek order of city-states came at the turn of the III and II centuries BC when their relations (coalitions) – whether formed to fight among each other or with an external enemy (still Macedonia) – began to impact Rome, the rising power, and connect their security arrangements. The decisive step was taken by the Aetolian League who invited Rome to settle the question of its domination of Greece – which, it turned out, did not require any great battles. The final episode in the transformation of the microcosmos of the Greek poleis into a Roman province came with the pacification of the Achaean League (Corinth and its vicinity) by the Roman forces in around 150 BC.19 The new power gratefully accepted the most valuable achievements of Greek civilisation. Greece was unable to form an international order – its inhabitants belonged to a single nation, believed in the same gods, had the same culture. Yet they bequeathed to what was to become Europe bad and good experiences of a pluralistic, decentralised society of city-states, the experiences of war and peace, attempts at hegemony and alliances aimed at restoring balance, political thought of distinction combined with scurrilous political practice. The Hellenic “proto-order” permits us to speak of Greece as a “proto-Europe”.

2 The pre-European experience of empire – Rome

Ancient Rome bequeathed to Europe – what Europe would apply in its attempts at an international order – the idea of an empire, the imperial instinct and a model empire to imitate. Rome is already much closer in time to Europe than the ← 14 | 15 → Hellenic “proto-order”, partly because when Europe proper came into existence with the Carolingian Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) was still in existence. Rome provided an attractive example because of her size. Furthermore, it was in Roman territory that Christianity developed – at first ruthlessly resisted, then granted a legal place, finally become the official state religion. The process by which Rome metamorphosed into an empire lasted a long time – even for technical reasons it could not have happened faster. Rome had no imperial design or ideology to follow, though various Roman Caesars and consuls before them had demonstrated imperial instincts. Nevertheless, Rome was an empire pure and simple, and there were attempts to replicate Rome in Europe once Europe – thanks in part to Rome – had become a political–territorial entity conscious of its own identity.

During the first few centuries of its existence (regardless of the date and legend we adopt as constituting that beginning), Rome built its position of primacy in Italy, that is in its own backyard, in the V to the III centuries BC. Subsequently, its neighbours provoked its expansion – the Greek colonies of the Italian peninsula and Greece itself seeking Rome’s protection. A similar challenge presented itself in the conflict with Carthage for the Greco-Italian Sicily, which led to the series of Punic Wars (three altogether). From northern Africa, passing through Spain and the Alps, came Hannibal himself. He arrived in the direct vicinity of Rome, expressly with the purpose of holding back the rise of his Roman rival in the western part of the Mediterranean. Victory over the aggressive Carthage in the III century BC allowed Rome to dominate the region. The acquisition of the “windfall” of Greece’s territories up to and including those in Asia Minor, as well as northern Africa and the northern coast of the Mediterranean, unexpectedly made Rome master of this extensive sea. In the II century BC, these successes only whetted Rome’s appetite for more. All this took place in the times of the Republic when consuls oversaw the Senate. Despite civil wars between the ambitious governors of individual provinces and the generals of legions, as well as slave revolts (Spartacus), Rome in the I century BC did not lose its desire to conquer.

In hindsight, the most significant conquest was that of Gaul, achieved by the “Roman Alexander the Great”, Julius Caesar, in the middle of the I century BC. Julius Caesar’s conquests differed from those of the Macedonian: he connected the conquered peoples and regions to the metropolis and they thereby became a part of the empire with its power structures, culture, law and administration. Julius Caesar went on to expand the empire to include the rest of Iberia and a small part of North Africa. His successor Octavian continued in like manner, expanding the borders of Rome in Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor. The Empire would later stretch from the Persian Gulf through the Pillars of Hercules ← 15 | 16 → (the Gibraltar Strait), from Egypt to the English Channel and the Rhine and the Danube. But the most significant of these conquests and assimilations was Gaul. It was in Gaul that the seeds of the future Europe would lie dormant and later sprout into the first European empire – the state of Charlemagne. Neither the Greeks nor the Romans regarded themselves as Europeans, indeed the very term “Europe” had a merely geographical connotation, concerning the northern coast of the Mediterranean, as opposed to the eastern coastline (Asia) and the southern (Africa),20 all three being parts of the greater whole that was a single empire consisting of some fifteen-odd provinces.

An empire modelled on the Roman example might have seemed attractive to the Europe of the Middle Ages if we take the period from Octavian Augustus (27 to 14 BC) through Vespasian to the times of Trajan and Hadrian at the turn of the I and II centuries AD. Those were Rome’s glory days, even if we leave out the madness of Caligula and Nero. The Pax Augusta was a period of sufficient peace, of restrained governance, a rule which ensured stability, security and the stable prosperity of citizens. Rome’s territory expanded, but not as the result of bloody conquest but through a combination of soft power and, of course, military force, but even then mainly in response to barbarian intrusions. Borders shifted to strengthen the security of the existing extent of the empire. The divine Augustus himself preferred to be known as the Restorer of Rome (the initiator of many constructions, renovating and developing infrastructure) once the period of civil war had finished. He himself had been a party to that conflict, reaching the zenith of his power only after defeating Mark Antony with whom he had earlier formed the triumvirate.21 The honorific “Father of the Country” (Pater Patriae) was very much deserved. After nearly two centuries of prosperity there came a long period of crisis – degeneration in the manner of ruling; the decline of republican virtues; the spread of the parasitic role of the aristocracy; the neglect of domestic production, especially agricultural, progressive depopulation; and the need to acquire cheap labour, soldiers and products from foreign sources. The Empire was able to continue living off previously acquired wealth for some time. The Diocletian Reforms at the turn of the II and IV centuries seemed to revitalise the empire, but it was only to be for a short time. After 395, when Theodosius formally divided the empire into two parts, its western part (Europe to-be) did not survive even a hundred years despite centuries of history. ← 16 | 17 → (The division of the empire into west and east had in fact appeared much earlier with Diocletian if not earlier.) By 476, the German military leader Odoacer had overthrown the last emperor in Rome, sending his crown to Constantinople and himself becoming king of Italy. The weaknesses of the Roman Empire opened the way for barbarians pressing in from outside. They wanted to enjoy the fruits of Rome’s civilisation but were unable to sustain it, unable as they were to assimilate its code of culture, its public ethos.

As an empire, Rome owed its greatness to the excellent organisation of its state authorities and of the space it ruled over. For its first centuries it had been a republic, but even when it became an empire it held onto many republican tools of governance. Individual institutions of this system long ensured what was for those times the highly efficient operation of the republic. The assemblies (representative of the people) expressed opinions and sometimes took decisions, the Senate gathered the most distinguished personalities (qualified advisors, including legislative advisors), officials and executive offices (consuls, proconsuls), the judiciary, that is the praetors, censors with a variety of roles (including the gathering of statistical data), the equites who also dealt with a range of issues (from trade to taxes), tribunes of the people – the ombudsmen of the rights and opinions of the people. These were elected, rotating positions and, what is important, they could be occupied by people coming from the lowest levels of society. This principle also applied to the emperors who were most often selected from among the most successful military leaders. Besides good organisation and civilisational superiority, it was precisely the army which was the basis for the empire, the instrument of its expansion, the demonstration of its vitality and, of course, the guarantee of its security and territorial integrity. Rome had at its disposal what no other power at that time in that part of the world had – a professional army. Conscripts served for fifteen to twenty years. They had time to learn their craft, to master the technology and tactics of battle and to learn how to solve the problems of logistics and related issues concerning army supplies (in this the legions of Julius Caesar were unrivalled.) It was thanks to these skills that Julius Caesar was able to carry out “Blitzkrieg” wars – something no one else managed until Napoleon. Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars were ahead of their times by some fifteen centuries.22 Still, it bears repeating: the foundation stone of Rome’s military successes and its expansion was its entire civilisational superiority to the rest of the world at that time. ← 17 | 18 →

Rome’s advance as an empire led to tensions between the republic and the centralisation of power. For centralisation meant in the hands of someone able to ensure effective rule and success in relation to the outside world (with victories over barbarians, expansion of territory and glory to Rome). The republican framework was not able to satisfy the ambitions of the victorious Julius Caesar. Glorified as the conqueror of Gaul, he pursued a brutal civil war and became the sole ruler – an emperor. He united in his own person the roles of consul, commander in chief of the army, the head of the Senate and highest priest (pontifex maximus). Thus he aspired to divine status. The speeches of Cato, the defender of the republic, were to no avail and he took his own life unable to bear the fall of the republic. Julius Caesar ruled for a short time, just a few years, stabbed to death in the Senate by supporters of the republic. Yet their triumph was also short-lived – the empire needed an emperor, and that emperor (following another short civil war) was Octavian Augustus. He also concentrated in his hands the same powers as Julius Caesar had, and this situation remained unchanged until the final Roman provinces enjoyed a considerable measure of administrative autonomy, to facilitate the management of such an enormous empire. The empire was superbly integrated by, among other things, its network of roads enabling rapid travel and communication. The empire’s strength, besides the general organisation of state authority, was also a unified legal system. It is said that Greece gave Europe philosophy and the aesthetic canon while Rome, besides the organisation of the state, gave Europe law. First there was customary law; this was followed by positive law, with clear procedures and sanctions enforced and amended in the codes of particular Caesars (the greatest codifier being Justinian the Great, the emperor of the East Roman empire in the VI century AD). There was a veritable army of professional jurists, creating great legal works and schools of law. Particular attention was paid not only to the law defining the personhood of a physical person, citizenship (i.e. freedom), property – but also to the status of other inhabitants of the empire. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, in the area Europe would come to occupy, the region underwent a deep legal regress. “Pre-Europe” witnessed a period of wildness, lawlessness, chaos, in short – barbarity. The later nostalgia for empire was also a longing for the rule of law – “it might be severe law, but it was law nonetheless” (dura lex, sed lex). From the XII century, Roman law would find its place in European universities.

Ancient Rome achieved fame for its many civilisational achievements. In the actual exercise of power as an empire, however, it revealed its weaker sides. The majority of Caesars suffered unnatural deaths often accompanied by their wives and children. (Cleopatra preferred to take poison after Mark Antony’s death rather than wait for her fate at the hands of the people of the victorious ← 18 | 19 → Octavius.) Christians were fed to wild animals and the conquest of Gaul led to the deaths of a third of its population. In the civil wars alone whole legions were decimated. And yet it was a better life under the empire than beyond its borders. The excellent Polish classicist Zygmunt Kubiak, though at times uncritical towards the empire, seems to hit the mark when he cites the opinion of a wise Greek: one prayed that the dominion of Rome would last for ages. Subjects of the empire felt liberated from the constant, pointless fighting they had had to deal with pre-Rome. The Greek cities under Rome no longer clamoured over illusory goods but sought to outshine each other in wisdom and beauty. Why were the Romans able to rule? Because they combined strength with gentleness.23

3 The emergence of Europe and the European international order

It is hardly surprising after the early part of the Middle Ages, the so-called “Dark Ages”, Europeans longed for empire to overcome the brutal chaos around them. “Europeans” came onto the scene nearly 300 years after the fall of the (Western) Roman Empire. The term “European” was used for the first time to describe the army of Charles “the Hammer” Martel. The Battle of Tours of 732 held off the army of the Umayyad Caliphate who had earlier taken Iberia with ease. In this area, there already existed the country of the Franks who had much earlier conquered Gall after it was abandoned by Rome. There the Franks encountered Latin culture – preserved by Christianity and preserving the memory of empire – and they assimilated that civilisation as best they could. As far as the conception of empire was concerned, it was still highly simplistic. The ideal of empire has been accurately reconstructed by Marek A. Cichocki24 – “the pursuit of universalism, the pursuit of hegemony by expansion, globalism, territorial expansion, conviction of the universal validity of the model” – but still this was far from the thinking and efforts of the Middle Ages. The creators of the first European empire (Charlemagne and his milieu, as well as his immediate predecessors and heirs) had a much simpler ideal – a state and a ruler completely in charge of their territory, that is a sovereign political and territorial entity, with a supranational scope (able to encompass several nations). Charlemagne’s state was supposed only to include Christian nations, whereas all of Rome’s borders lay in lands which effectively resisted Rome. The expansion of Rome was not justified much or at all by religious or ideological motives. It was a matter of civilisational superiority as ← 19 | 20 → evidenced by their military power and to which the weaker and less developed must succumb, accepting Rome’s dominion and the principle that might makes right. An unquestioned legitimation of empire, however, and one Charlemagne was also able to prove, was its provision of peace and security. Empire allowed for stable development – of production, agriculture, trade. People ceased to live in fear of their neighbours; they could travel once again, as they had under Rome. Against the bleak backdrop of contemporary Europe with its war of all against all where various marauding tribes and their leaders brought death, destruction and pillaging (whether Huns, Ostrogoths, Alemanni, Vandals, Pannonian Avars and their like), the imperial alternative was highly attractive.

It is worth recalling a certain paradox: whereas the monoethnic Greece was a “proto international order”, the multi-ethnic Rome was an out-and-out empire. Perhaps that is why Europe first developed as an empire yet the attempts to sustain it in this form were not successful – neither in the Middle Ages nor later. The empire of Charles the Great was perhaps an essential stepping stone, but it was nevertheless only a stepping stone en route to the international European order which at first was reminiscent of Greece’s constellation of city-states. Charles, who ruled the Franks from 768 and quickly became known as “the Great” (Charlemagne), decided that he would bring all the lands of western Christendom under his sceptre. And he was successful: from central Italy to Belgium, from eastern Germany (where western Slavs also lived) to Gaul (almost in its entirety). In recognition of this feat, the Pope crowned him Emperor (800 AD), in some way requiring of Charles that he build Christian Europe after the imperial model. This is another irony of our story: Christians had been persecuted by the Romans, managed to survive the fall of that empire, now served to legitimise a new emergent empire, even playing the role of co-host of that empire. This was also Charlemagne’s wish: he consciously built up his empire on the spiritual and ideological foundation of Christianity, as well as in opposition to neighbouring lands – the barbarians and the East Roman Empire, at that time a more advanced civilisation. Christianity was supposed to support the acceleration of Europe’s development, and it did.

Firstly, as H.G. Wells wrote, thanks to Christianity the empire “conquered its conquerors, the barbarians”. He also argues that, “Had it not been for the monks and Cristian missionaries Latin learning might have perished altogether”. It is true that the empire, when it came to lack reason and the will to survive, died. But something else was born in its place: “the Latin-speaking half of the Catholic Church”. The Church survived the early Middle Ages, a time of darkness and dread, rife with warlords, because “it had books and a great system of teachers and missionaries to hold it together”, “it appealed to the minds and wills of men” ← 20 | 21 → and these, Wells concludes, were “things stronger than any law or legions”.25 To the Christian foundation of the Carolingians – above all to Charlemagne – the Church accorded “gravity and unity to the power of the state [powagę i jedność władzy państwowej]” (Jan Baszkiewicz).26 The lands of the Holy Roman Empire were not mere provinces that conquered and attached to a “centre” as in Roman times; they were constituents of equal standing. Latin became the official state language and the whole was welded together not only by Catholicism but also by sound military organisation, efficient civil and Church administration, and the development of infrastructure as well as of literature, science and art, all which were patronised generously by Charlemagne. The empire was vertically organised according to the feudal system. This system required the loyalty which still obtained in the times of Charlemagne himself, but later disintegrated due to the increase in wealth, power and autonomy of the counts and bishops – that is the entire, diversified aristocracy. Which is why the empire of Charlemagne did not survive long after the death of its founder who has with justice been referred to as the Father of Europe. The empire lasted sufficiently long to allow for the process of the synthesis, the joining of three defining constituent elements for European identity. The borders of these three subsequently defined the borders of Europe: the borders of Greece, Rome and Christendom. “Europe” acquired an identity and was no longer merely the name of a geographical region.

Charlemagne’s empire fell apart along ethnic borderlines. They were still weakly designated at the time, but still they were already the basis for the formation of political societies. The grandchildren of the great predecessor first started to fight among themselves, until in 843 they signed a treaty at Verdun. On its basis, the empire was divided into three states: the west went to Charles, the central-southern region to Lothar and the east to Ludwig. Broadly speaking, these states represented the future France, Italy and Germany. The title of Emperor first fell to Lothar I, but relatively quickly came to the Ottonian house and the German imperial line. The Ottonians, especially Otto III, had the ambition of recreating the empire of Charlemagne to be comprised of four equal parts: Italy, Gaul, Germany and the Sclaveni. The last of these and the newest were otherwise known as Slavs; they were represented by the Polish Bolesław Chrobry. Otto came in 1000 to Gniezno with the express purpose of empire-building, encouraged by Pope ← 21 | 22 → Sylvester II who came from Burgundy.27 Poland here also represented another broader process which was underway: around 1000 AD Europe, western Christianity reached its pinnacle in terms of geographical area covered. As a result of their contact with the empire of Charles the Great and the Christianity which was being reborn there, peoples were baptised (in practice their leaders were baptised). These were peoples who had not been a part of the Roman Empire: central-European peoples (Magyars, Moravian-Czechs and the tribes organised under the state of Mieszko II and his son Bolesław) and the Normans living in today’s Denmark and Scandinavia. The Rus from the Kiev region were baptised by Byzantium in 984. Latin Europe coincided with these new geopolitical borders. So, the schism of 1054 did not have as much impact as it might have done – it only served to confirm the “actual” borders which had already been established.28

The fleeting and chimerical “empire” the Ottonians created could not contain Europe’s march towards a pluralist and decentralised international order. The “Empire” was an empire only in name, unable to consolidate real power because it did not have at its disposal executive apparatus – it lost its “imperial capacity”. Europe moved towards its pluralistic destiny in the late Middle Ages. Surprisingly, it was then that Europe gained a clear identity, in a period of dramatic conflict and change. From a political perspective, this was a time of a kind of entropy, the collapse of the unity that had been previously taking shape. Instead there appeared a nebula of countless states – kingdoms, earldoms, bishoprics, republics, free cities. Some of them were formed as part of quasi-federal or feudal relations and some attempted to preserve their autonomy but were only able to sustain independence until they were absorbed into larger geopolitical entities or unities, through royal marriages or other dynastic relations. None of the countries of today’s Europe is close to the form it took in its formative stage in the Middle Ages, an excellent example being Poland, a promising state of the first two Piasts, but one which was to become engulfed in 300 years of civil war, to return to the map of Europe at the time of the last of the Piasts in a greatly deformed state, nothing like its original territory (the Poland of Chrobry and Kazimierz the Great). ← 22 | 23 →

The dominant form of relations at the political level was armed conflict. To begin with, if for no other reason than the limited resources of the participants, these were local conflicts. Of exceptionally large scale for the times were the expedition of Frederic Barbarossa against Italy, the wars between Italian states, the German–Danish conflict and the Franco-English conflict which was only getting going. Many conflicts were private wars, with marauding bandits – often brutal and cruel. It seemed Europe had returned to the situation following the fall of the Roman Empire.29 This situation intensified at the same time as the newly forming states increased in strength. Fully fledged, all-out war came with the Hundred Years’ War between England and France (1337–1453), against a backdrop of dynastic conflict as was typical for the times. Accounts of the crime, the rape, cruelty, the sheer scale of destruction freeze the blood, especially in view of the fact that both sides were Christian. No less cruel was England’s civil war30 – the War of the Roses (between the Lancasters and the Yorks), later an inspiration for Shakespeare and Hobbes. In Central and Eastern Europe (including Poland and Hungary), similar destruction, robbery, depopulation, civilisational collapse followed the invasions of the Tartars in the XIII and XIV centuries. Only the XV century brought relative peace, a peace which immediately bore fruit. However, a new threat to Europe was coming on the scene: the Ottoman Empire, which was growing in strength. It conquered Byzantium and took over its Balkan territories, thereby appearing geographically in Europe. Until then Europe might have thought – after regaining Spain and repelling the Saracens who had been the scourge of Europe from the south – that they had seen off bellicose Islam.

In a sense, European civilisational identity developed as opposition to endless fighting and wars. Johan Huizinga’s “autumn of the Middle Ages” is Europe’s spring. The XI–XIII centuries, following the emergence from the cultural and economic crisis of the X century, is a period in which Europe flourishes both culturally and economically – indeed the two were intertwined. Europe owed its spring to Christianity which – though not without sin in its upper echelons – developed at the grassroots of ordinary people, the parish and, especially in the beginning, the monastery. Over the course of three centuries, Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans and other orders – including the Benedictines of earlier times – transformed the cultural landscape of Europe. In particular the Cistercians, “the ← 23 | 24 → white brothers”, were famous not only for their prayer and asceticism but also for their achievements in husbandry, herbal medicines and mineral products. They took the Benedictine ora et labora, but placed their emphasis on labora. This was a conscious plan of their spiritual leader of the time – St. Bernard – also evident in the excellent organisation of the abbeys and monasteries and the logistics of their interconnections. The Cistercians sowed the seeds of civilisation in many hitherto dangerous and remote regions of Europe. The monastery was a bearer not only of faith – and the word of God, sacred art, the tradition of holidays – but also of education in general, as well as health care and compassion for the needy. Step by step, steadily they were a force transforming a mere species, Homo sapiens, into “humanity”. However inadequately Christianity performed this civilising mission, they were often the only “game in town”. The pilgrimages initiated by the monks to holy places, sometimes a thousand or more kilometres away, allowed the faithful to get to know their emerging European homeland, which referred to itself as Christianitas.

At the same time there came the development of the gothic cathedral – one of the wonders of the world, phenomenally combining metaphysics with the art of building and logistics on a grand scale.31 Towns were developing and becoming more and more numerous; there appeared whole series of larger and smaller conglomerations of people across Europe from east to west and from north to south. Cities create civilisation (municipal laws and local government!), and the level of urbanisation of Latin Europe was initially behind that of the East Roman Empire. “Where there is gothic, there is Europe” – gothic constructions like the Pillars of Hercules would come to mark the boundaries of the emergent civilisation. In cities, by cathedrals there were created universities – another miracle of the Middle Ages and a wonderful invention of Western civilisation. Their creation was the ambition of popes and bishops who believed that the development of learning required autonomy, and the universities from the start had that autonomy assured. The university – besides theology – is philosophy, law, medicine. The study of law and philosophy brought Europe back into contact with Greece and Rome. The spread of the university across the whole of Europe of that time gave Europe a powerful impulse to develop and gave our civilisation a Promethean element – the desire to expand the borders of knowledge, a refusal to accept received wisdom as well as the ability to question oneself. The development of cities and universities, education in general, created an environment in which once again – after centuries of absence – art and literature could appear; ← 24 | 25 → the novel, poetry and painting flourished. Dante’s Divine Comedy and Petrarch’s Sonnets to Laura took Europe by storm. The whole of educated Europe followed with baited breath the dialectics of Thomas Aquinas, the father of the humanities, as he taught in Paris about the harmony of reason and faith; the passionate argumentation of Abelard the rationalist fascinated its audience and the drama of his feelings towards and relationship with Heloise moved them. The university’s “republic of reason” is the European reality from the XIII century on. The XI-century Song of Roland, about a knight of Charlemagne, became the source of the chivalric code for the whole of Europe in the late Middle Ages.

Advances in agriculture released a huge number of hands for non-agricultural tasks, such as crafts and trade or the processing of raw materials found in nature. As Fernand Braudel claimed, this brought on a peculiar economic turnaround in the middle of the XV century. Handicraft products came to achieve higher prices than agricultural goods, yet the latter brought the market to life (in the form of numerous town markets), which marked the beginnings of capitalism. The dynamics of the market became a powerful integrating factor for Europe and its development in other domains – building, learning, art.32 Referring to similar conclusions of other researchers, Krzysztof Pomian in Europe and Its Nations writes about “the religious, cultural and social unity of Latin, Christian society, a unity of beliefs and church institutions, a unity of liturgy, calendar and holy days, a unity of the state organisation of society, of a similarity of institutions representing states before the country, a unity of writing and language of the educated, a unity of learning and secular knowledge, a unity of architecture and the plastic arts, a unity of monastic, chivalric and urban culture”.33

In these circumstances, it might be expected that there would be one more attempt at unification, on the basis of Christianitas – with a uniform political construction, a “soft” empire. The very young King (soon-to-be emperor of Habsburgian Spain) Charles V took up the challenge. He had come from the Netherlands, which was still under the control of Spain. His long struggles against Italy – the Italian wars bringing most suffering to the native population, especially to Rome, which was horribly desolated by German soldiers in 1527 – finally collapsed in the face of opposition from France (also a Catholic country). France did this in the name of balance in Europe and out of fear of a hegemony of the Habsburgs who were already well established in central Europe. France ← 25 | 26 → did not hesitate to seek an ally in the Islamic Ottoman Empire with whose help they kept the Habsburgs at bay in the Balkans. Charles’ unification plans were also frustrated for another important reason: assuming the title of Emperor in the year 1519, he could not have picked a worse moment for the realisation of his goals. Two years before, in 1517, Martin Luther had nailed his ninety-five theses to the doors of the church in Wittenberg, demanding the reform of the Church and the Christian faith. The Reformation would not only come to divide western Christianity but also wherever it was accepted it strengthened statehood and, in its various versions (Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism), was a national movement, whereas Catholicism (the “Papists”) was still universalist, by the standards of the time. Charles’s efforts, rather weak in any case, to suppress reformist tendencies came to nothing. The wave of local religious wars, brought on by the Reformation and the Counterreformation, finished in 1555 with the decision of the Imperial Diet (the Peace of Augsburg) and the acceptance of the principle of Cuius regio, eius religio. This was recognition of sorts of the sovereignty of the German principalities, since it allowed the dukes a free hand in defining the faith of their territory. The solution was such a total fiasco that a year later Charles V abdicated the imperial and the royal crown.

Summing up this attempt, Jean Delumeau wrote in his exceptional La Civilisation de la Renaissance: “For the future belonged to territorial structures founded on an authentic sense of nationhood”.34 And somewhat more broadly about the same process: “At the beginning of the XIV century, Europe was still a constellation of indefinite shape with an uncertain future. By 1620, quite to the contrary, political divisions on the continent, if not fully settled, were at least clearly marked out. […] The map of Europe in 1850 does not fundamentally differ from the form it took at the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War” (the only key difference which Delumeau points to being the fall of Poland). “In this great period […] Europe defined itself in the political sphere, acquiring for example Italy; and thanks to France’s resistance to Habsburg ambition the golden rule of the balance of powers was established. A certain relationship of powers came to take the place of the ideal of European unity under the rule of the Emperor”.35 ← 26 | 27 → This is no way, in Delumeau’s opinion, weakened the process of the deepening cultural unity of Europe and its separation from the rest of the world.

The bloody culmination of this process was the Thirty Years’ War which, we might say, began as “reluctantly” as World War I (here the defenestration of the Emperor’s emissaries, there the assignation of the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914). The Czech nobility did not want the Viennese court to choose their religion (and in Czech the reformation had a definite national hue – Hussitism). The initially local conflict dragged in all the European powers, especially the military of all of Europe. The conflict mainly took place in Germany, at that time still highly divided, and it was Germany’s population and civilisational achievements that suffered the most. The death toll in some countries reached a level of 50% of the population; the brutality of soldiers from northern and southern Europe even led to racial changes in the population in central parts of Germany. Production and trade regressed by several decades. Once again, France was the victor – under Louis XIV, France entered a golden age. Other key changes were as follows: for a short time Sweden became an international power; the Seventeen Provinces gained their independence; Switzerland was recognised and a status quo was preserved in the geopolitical strategic territories of Germany and later Germany would enter the European stage in a leading role. Another result of this war was the beginning of Spain’s marginalisation, not held back by their mass robbery of ore from the New World. The treaty ended the war more effectively than the Peace of Augsburg (whose resolutions mainly affected German territories – after all the St. Bartholomew massacre happened after the Peace of Augsburg).

The Thirty Years’ War drained Europe, especially its central region. The Treaty of Westphalia, concluded at the end of the hostilities in 1648, has been variously interpreted. For example, in France, which had actively participated in the war and has been regarded as the war’s main beneficiary, the geopolitical resolutions of the treaty are almost all that is perceived.36 In the Anglo-Saxon school of thought, “Westphalia” has been made into a foundation stone of the European international order. This perception is above all due to Henry Kissinger, whose opinion holds some sway in the interpretation of international issues, including historical ones. In his opinion, “The Peace of Westphalia became a turning point in the history of nations because the elements it set in place were as uncomplicated as they were sweeping. [Here “elements” refers to the elements of international life – R.K.] The ← 27 | 28 → state, not the empire, dynasty, or religious confession, was affirmed as the building block of European order”. There are also – as he continues – other important elements of the international order: the conception of sovereignty (the shaping of the internal political order without intervention from outside), diplomacy and talks as an art of preserving peace (to avoid wars as terrible as the Thirty Years’ Wars) and the development of international law which was intended to serve the same purpose. The legitimation of the European order was henceforth to come not from the papacy (from religion) or from the empire, but from a balance of powers assuming ideological neutrality.37 It is worth, however, recalling that the treaties of Münster and Osnabrück announced “peace for the glory of God and the security of Christendom” – the community of Christian nations. Kissinger’s position and the whole of his school may easily be relativised. Europe in 1648 was only in part a Europe of countries. Most of the parties to the treaty were not countries but tiny republics, bishoprics, dukedoms or principalities the size of a county today. Sovereignty was a function of power and it had been practised and promoted before, as had the balance of powers which had its origins in the relations between the Italian states, as evidenced by the much earlier Treaty of Lodi of 1454. As long as the law of nations granted (sovereign) states the right of war (as was very much the case at the time), the principle of non-intervention was a facade.38 The Fall of Poland or the Napoleonic Wars provide striking confirmation of the fleeting nature of the Westphalian resolutions. Without getting into a more detailed polemic with this position, it is more appropriate to recognise the ex post myth-making significance of Westphalia, what does not diminish its status in the eyes of researchers in international relations.39 ← 28 | 29 →

Regardless of whether it is worth arguing about key turning points, it is now received wisdom that every international order has its own name. The adjective “Westphalian” has found its place in the literature. From the perspective of this book, Europe’s approach in the XV to the XVII centuries is important as the first international order worthy of the name (the previous period being concerned with the development of European identity). From the XVII century, regardless of the role played by the treaties of Münster and Osnabrück, the leading actors in international life are states – some being more equal than others – and big powers, which together define the changing balance of power. Secondly, there appeared at this time the first and still simple principles governing the mutual relations of countries: the principle of sovereignty and the principle of balance (anti-hegemony). Thirdly, there also appeared institutions regulating international relations – permanent diplomacy, congresses, law in the form of doctrine which is also its source. And fourthly, the first European international order had support, strengthening its legitimacy, in the form of peace for Christianitas according to the provisions of the treaties of 1648. The papacy lost its ideological pre-eminence – Pope Innocent X condemned the Treaty of Westphalia – but Christianity remained the ideological source for Europeans. The divisions created by the Reformation were deep and painful, but no one questioned the realities which formed the basis for “the family of Christian nations”, nor the membership of the various countries in one circle of faith and spirit. Finally, the fifth change from the XVII century, Europe started to become one rather integrated economic structure, both in terms of the level of trade or close relations in production and finance, or in the institutions of economic life which illustrated the homogeneity of the economic region that was Europe (more on that in Chapter 2). Finally, it is notable that the most mature of the plans for an ideal international order for Europe at that time – the perpetual peace of King Georg von Podiebrad from the mid-XV century and the European Federation of Maximilien de Béthune, the Duke of Sully, from the beginning of the XVII century – both invoke the idea of a pluralist community of sovereign states.40

3 Thucydides, tr. Hammond, Martin, The Peloponnesian War, Kindle Edition, OUP, Oxford, 2009, pp. 91–92.

4 Ibidem, p. 106.

5 Ibidem, p. 171. Thucydides also writes that, “in this out-and-out contest for supremacy they committed the most appalling atrocities and took their acts of vengeance yet further, imposing punishments beyond anything required by justice or civic interest, and limited only by their supporters’ appetite at the time…”. And he concludes: “Thus civil wars brought every form of depravity to the Greek world…” (p. 171).

6 Z. Kubiak, Dzieje Greków i Rzymian [The History of the Greeks and the Romans], Świat Książki, Warsaw, 2003, p. 66.

7 In view of the costs borne, it is hard to see the point of the Thirty Years’ War, yet religious freedom was a stake besides the interests of the powers involved, that is the freedom from the imposition of a given religion which was important for the future peace of Europe. This element of the pursuit of religious freedom is missing from the Peloponnesian War.

8 Thucydides, op. cit., p. 172; K. Kumaniecki in the Preface to his Polish translation of the Peloponnesian War, Wojna peloponeska, Czytelnik, Warsaw, 1988, p. X.

9 Ibidem, p. 38.

10 Ibidem, p. 60.

11 Ibidem, pp. 301–307.

12 Ibidem, pp. 283–284, 298–299.

13 M.A. Cichocki, Problem politycznej jedności w Europie [The Problem of Political Unity in Europe], PISM, Warsaw, 2012, pp. 30–35.

14 Thucydides, op. cit., p. 58. Von Clausewitz writes of war as “more than a chameleon” [emphasis added] but it is at least that: “War is more than a true chameleon that slightly adapts its characteristics to the given case. As a total phenomenon its dominant tendencies always make war a paradoxical trinity – composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, which are to be regarded as a blind natural force; of the play of chance and probability within which the creative spirit is free to roam; and of its element of subordination, as an instrument of policy, which makes it subject to reason alone.” V. Clausewitz, M. Howard and P. Paret (ed. and tr.), Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1989, Book One, Chapter One, Section 28: The Consequences for Theory.

15 Ibidem, p. 318. Alcibiades’ argumentation is reminiscent of the behaviour of the current president of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

16 This did not stop Zygmunt Kubiak – in any case a great classicist – from writing with characteristic emphasis: “Jakiej to jednak wymagało męki, tak zmienić świat, jak on zmienił” [“What a struggle it was, to change the world as he did”], op. cit., p. 183. Yet Alexander’s “empire” was only a region controlled directly by his ever-advancing army. He had no influence on the rule over these provinces, each being run by a local or a Macedonian satrap. Nor was Alexander’s expedition a channel for the transmission of Hellenic culture. Influence went rather in the opposite direction – Alexander being affected especially by Persian culture.

17 As one of leaders declared to inspire them to greater determination in their self-defence, “the Athenians are not only enemies but the worst of enemies. They came against our country to enslave it. If they had succeeded in this, they would have brought the ultimate suffering on our men, the worst indignities on our children and women, and on the whole city the most shameful name there can be.” Thucydides, op. cit., p. 401.

18 Ibidem, p. 57: “People whose present comfort makes them reluctant to act will quickly find that inaction brings the loss of that agreeable ease which caused their reluctance: and people who make grand presumptions after military success have not realized the fragility of the confidence which excites them.”

19 Z. Kubiak, op. cit., pp. 303–306; M.A. Cichocki, op. cit., pp. 42–43.

20 The term “Europe” appeared at that time, that is between the II century BC and the II century AD, in the work of a few geographers and historians, including Polybius, Strabo and Ptolemy.

21 Z. Kubiak, op. cit., pp. 435–483.

22 J. Caesar, The Gallic War, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1989.

23 Z. Kubiak, op. cit., p. 483.

24 M.A. Cichocki, op. cit., p. 55.

25 H.G. Wells, A Short History of the World, The Collected Works of H.G. Wells, Pergamon Media, 2015.

26 J. Baszkiewicz, Historia Francji [History of France], Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, Wrocław, 1974, p. 24.

27 One might suggest, in a light-hearted manner, that this event anticipated the future Weimar Triangle (a Burgundian, i.e. a Frenchman, sent a German to a Pole). It is a pity that it took a thousand years to fulfil the intention! The appearance of the Triangle can indeed be seen as confirmation of the geopolitical-cultural intuition of Sylvester II, Otto III and Bolesław Chrobry.

28 O. Halecki, The Limits and Divisions of European History, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1950.

29 G. Duby, The Age of the Cathedrals: Art and Society, 980–1420, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1983, introductory pages to Part 1, The Monastery; French original: Les Temps des cathédrals: L’art et la société, 980–1420, Gallimard, Paris, 1976.

30 N. Davies, Europe: A History, OUP, Oxford, 1996, pp. 419–423; M. Howard, War in European History, OUP, Oxford, 2009, Chapters 1 and 2.

31 G. Duby, op. cit., “The Threshold”, pp. 77–89.

32 F. Braudel, La dynamique du capitalism, Arthaud, Paris, 1985.

33 K. Pomian, Europa i jej narody [Europe and Its Nations], PIW, Warsaw, 1992, especially pp. 32, 51.

34 J. Delumeau, La Civilisation de la Renaissance, Arthaud, Paris, 1993.

35 Ibidem. Delumeau also draws attention to the birth of national individualism already at the beginning of the renaissance, encouraged by the religious factor as well (the translation of the Bible into various languages following Luther’s example) and the flourishing in this period of national languages and great literature (represented in Poland, according to Delumeau, by the work of Mikołaj Rej).

36 Delumeau presents the matter in this way and the French Nouveau Larousse of 1904 in a similar vein presents under “Westphalia” exclusively the religious and geo-political resolutions of the treaty, Volume 7, p. 1380.

37 H. Kissinger, World Order, Penguin Press, New York, 2014, pp. 25–27.

38 B. Simms even considers that the Westphalian treaties were an expression of agreement between the statesmen of the time as to the “direct link between domestic liberty, the balance of power and the right to intervene”, the treaties being “nothing less than a charter for intervention”, and “by placing the whole German settlement under international guarantee, they provided a level for interference in the internal affairs of the empire throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries”. B. Simms, Europe. The Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the Present, Basic Books, New York, 2013, p. 64. Simms also considers “Westphalia” a myth.

39 A. Gałganek, “Westfalia” jako metafora genezy w nauce o stosunkach międzynarodowych [“Westphalia” as a metaphor of genesis in the science of international relations], in: M. Pietraś, K. Marzęda (eds.), Późnowestfalski ład międzynarodowy [The Late Westphalian International Order], UMCS, Lublin, 2008. The “Westphalian Myth” is a term used by western historians outside of the United States.

40 For a more detailed discussion, see: R. Kuźniar, My, Europa [We, Europe], Scholar, Warsaw, 2013, pp. 37–39, 45–46.