European Misunderstanding

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Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt grew up as a devout Anglophile, yet he clashed heavily and repeatedly with his British counterparts Wilson, Callaghan, and Thatcher during his time in office.

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Helmut Schmidt and British-German Relations looks at Schmidt's personal experience to explore how and why Britain and Germany rarely saw eye to eye over European integ The former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt grew up as a devout Anglophile, yet he clashed heavily and repeatedly with his British counterparts Wilson, Callaghan, and Thatcher during his time in office. Helmut Schmidt and British-German Relations looks at Schmidt's personal experience to explore how and why Britain and Germany rarely saw eye to eye over European integration, uncovering the two countries' deeply competing visions and incompatible strategies for post-war Europe.

But it also zooms out to reveal the remarkable extent of simultaneous British-German cooperation in fostering joint European interests on the wider international stage, not least within the transatlantic alliance against the background of a worsening superpower relationship. By connecting these two key areas of bilateral cooperation, Mathias Haeussler offers a major reinterpretation of the bilateral relationship under Schmidt, relevant to anybody interested in British-German relations, European integration, and the Cold War.

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This book is not yet featured on Listopia. It took a further intellectual leap, however, to go from identifying continents to thinking of their inhabitants as a single people. He was born miles south of here at Halicarnasus—now Bodrum. And the Celts, to the north, about whom he knew so little, were much stranger to him than the Persians or the Egyptians, about whom he knew rather a lot. David Levering Lewis has claimed recently that it took two things to make Europeans begin to think of themselves, for the first time, at the end of the first millennium, as a people among peoples.

One was the creation of a vast Holy Roman Empire by the six-foot-four-inch, thick-necked, fair-haired Frankish warrior king we know as Charlemagne. The other was the development, in the Iberian Peninsula on the Southwestern borders of his domain, of the Moslem culture of Spain, which the Arabs called al-Andalus. In making the various tribes of Europe into a single people, what they shared and what distinguished them from their Moslem neighbors were both important.

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Europeans are defined, like so many peoples, as much as anything by what they are not. This is, by now, a familiar idea. But Lewis offers a more startling proposal: in making the civilization that modern Europeans inherit, the cultural legacy of Al-Andalus is at least as important as the legacy of the Catholic Franks. In borrowing from their great Other, they filled out the European Self. Charlemagne created his vast empire around the core of two Frankish kingdoms: Neustria—whose capital was Paris—in the west, and Austrasia in the east.

He created monastic centers of learning, drawing scholars from across his empire and outside it. When he traveled to Rome in December , some thirty years into his reign, he went to defend the authority of Leo III as Pope; and His Holiness returned the favor by crowning him Emperor of the Romans on Christmas Day … much to the annoyance of the Empress Irene here in Constantinople, who called herself Emperor not Empress and thought the title was hers.

Islam burst out of Arabia in the seventh century, spreading with astonishing rapidity in every direction.

The Umayyad dynasty, which began in , pushed on west into North Africa and east into Central Asia. Within seven years, most of the Iberian Peninsula was under Moslem rule; not until , nearly eight hundred years later, was the whole peninsula under Christian sovereignty again. The Umayyads did not, however, intend to stop at the Pyrenees. Their first attempt to take Aquitaine in the early eighth century were frustrated.

He got as far north as Poitiers, almost half way from the Pyrenees to Paris. There, however, the Moslems met their match. And it was written either in Cordoba or Toledo in al-Andalus. In retrospect, later Christian historians assigned to the Battle of Poitiers an epochal significance. Edward Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , pointed out that if the Moors had covered again the distance they had traveled from Gibraltar, they could have reached Poland or the Scottish Highlands. The small but influential Jewish community in Iberia had been tolerated in Spain when their Visigothic overlords were still Arian heretics ruling Catholic and Jewish subjects; but Jews began to be persecuted in , when the Visigoths converted to Catholicism.

For the Jews, then, the Moslem conquest, bringing rulers who largely practiced toleration of Jews—as well as Christians and Zoroastrians—in the large areas of the world now under their control, was not unwelcome. And during the first period of Moslem domination, Christians, too, discovered that they would have religious freedom, so long as they like the Jews did not seek to convert Moslems or criticize Islam.

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Foreign Policy. Where rights are conferred and duties imposed, where powers are exercised and obedience to rules of law required, judicial remedies are an absolute necessity. Misunderstanding Germany. Rating details. This is the earliest likely date for notification of intention to leave, with the two-year period commencing at this point. Supported by. This necessarily creates vast spatial inequities which the US and China can counter to some extent through massive transfers of wealth from richer areas to poorer, in perpetuity.

The contrast with the kingdom of the Franks, and, by the ninth century with the Frankish empire, could hardly have been more striking. The obsession of Catholic rulers with religious orthodoxy was one of the things that made the Dark Ages—as Petrarch was to dub the period from the fifth to the tenth centuries—so dark. The Great Cordoba Mosque is the most evident material embodiment of the civilization of the Arabs in Spain, but their intellectual achievements were even more astonishing.

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Over the next few centuries, Cordoba alone acquired hundreds of mosques, thousands of palaces, scores of libraries. By the tenth century, those libraries had hundreds of thousands of manuscripts, while the largest libraries of Christian Europe could boast collections of only a few hundred. And al-Andalus was a world of cities, not, like Europe, a world of country estates and small towns.

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In those cities, Jews, Christians and Moslems, Arabs, Berbers, Visigoths, Slavs and countless others created the kind of cultural goulash—a spicy mixture of a variety of distinct components—that generates a genuine cosmopolitanism. There were no recognized rabbis or Moslem scholars at the court of Charlemagne; in the cities of al-Andalus there were bishops and synagogues.

The knowledge they acquired made Cordoba one of the great centers of medical knowledge of Europe. Had the three religions not worked together, borrowing from the pagan traditions of Greece and Rome, what we call the West would have been utterly different. In an age where some claim a struggle between the heirs of Christendom and of the Caliphate is the defining conflict, it is good to be reminded of this long ago history of fruitful cohabitation. This quick sketch of the history of relations among Europeans, Arabs and North Africans at the turn of the first millennium of the Common Era is a reminder of the messy interconnections between Islam and what we now call the West.

One could explore, as well, the equally fascinating interweaving of European, North African and Middle Eastern histories that occurred as the imperial dreams of France and Britain met the fading power of the Ottoman Empire in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

In each case, what we see is not the opposition of two distinct homogeneous civilizations, but conflicts within as well as between societies whose religious and intellectual lives had much in common; in part because of the interactions I have been sketching, which began a millennium earlier. I want now to turn to an attempt to explain why we so easily misunderstand this long history of sharing as well as conflict as the story of two great and utterly separate entities—the West and Islam—with distinct and irreconcilable essences.

And to do that, I must sketch the story of how we came to think of modern Europeans and Americans as the real heirs to the classical civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean. The academic curriculum of the nineteenth century traced civilization to roots in ancient Greece, following a history of progress from the excellent beginnings mapped out by the heirs of Homer. The culture of the West is a sort of golden nugget, dug from the earth of Hellas.

Perhaps it traveled with Alexander. So it went to Egypt—the library at Alexandria was once its home. And the Macedonian emperor may have left some gold dust in Central Asia. You can see that in the sculpture of Gandhara.

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But the treasure was taken finally in triumph to Rome. There, of course, as everywhere on its travels it was embellished: for example, in the second century BCE by Terence, the greatest of the Roman comic dramatists, who was born in Carthage now Tunis ; and—at the turn of the fifth century CE, as the empire became Christian—by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, born at Tagaste now Souk Ahras in Algeria.

In St. It may even be conceded among the learned that the nugget passed in the 9th century to Baghdad and the Bayt al-Hikmah, the palace library set up under Harun al-Rashid; but it began wandering Western Europe again after the Reconquest of Spain.

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Partitioned between the Flemish and Florentine courts and the Venetian Republic in the Renaissance, its fragments passed through cities such as Avignon, Paris, Amsterdam, Weimar, Edinburgh and London, and were finally reunited—pieced together like the broken shards of a Grecian urn, in the academies of the United States. Let us admit that this sort of essentialism remains extremely common in our intellectual lives.

We too often suppose that a historically produced identity must have a trans-historical essence. But that is simply a mistake. What was England like in the eleventh century? Take whatever you think was distinctive of it. Rather, as time rolls on, each generation inherits the label from an earlier one; with the label may come some legacies. But as the legacies are lost or exchanged for other treasures, the label can keep on.

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And so, when a generation comes that moves from the territory to which English identity was once tied—moves, shall we say, to a New England—the label can even travel beyond the territory. Identities can be held together by narratives, in short, without essences. The contemporary idea of a Western civilization, which has escaped the Academy and entered the general culture, is the result, I want to suggest, of five exaggerations: hyperboles that are mistaken for the literal truth.

And these exaggerations begin with the essentialist error I just identified: the mistake of thinking that a tradition needs to be defined by something shared across time in every moment of its trajectory, an error that leads us to exaggerate what we have in common with our ancestors.