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What is Europe? First, of course, it is a continent of countless disparate peoples, races, and nations, and governed by different ideas, philosophies, religions, and attitudes. Nonetheless, it has a common thread of history running through it, stitching the lands and peoples of its past and present into one fabric and held together by the continent?s great institutions, such as the Church of Rome, the Holy Roman Empire, the European Union, individual monarchies, trade organizations, and social movements. Europe, however, is also an idea. Men have always harbored aspirations to make this vast territory one. The Romans came close and a few centuries later, the foundations for a great European state were laid with the creation of the Holy Roman Empire. Napoleon overreached himself in attempting to create a European-wide Empire?as did Adolf Hitler. Now, Europe is as close as it ever has been to being one entity, yet Europeans still cling to national independence. This fascinating history for beginners provides a coherent map of the jumbled history of Europe and the European idea that has led up to this point.