Using examples, illustrate how European civilization was formed by the coming together of three major elements: the legacy of the Romans, the Christian church, and the Germanic peoples.

European civilization was formed by the coming together of the Roman Empire's legacy with the newly adopted Christian religion. The migration of the Germanic peoples from their homeland in central and eastern Europe into other parts of the continent facilitated this process of unity in the long term.

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The answer to this question involves our understanding of a historical process which is arguably still ongoing, stretching from the time of the Roman Republic to the European Union today. We can safely say that the foundations of Europe as we know it began to be laid approximately 2,000 years...

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The answer to this question involves our understanding of a historical process which is arguably still ongoing, stretching from the time of the Roman Republic to the European Union today. We can safely say that the foundations of Europe as we know it began to be laid approximately 2,000 years ago.

In conquering the Greek city-states Gaul (present-day France) and Iberia (present-day Spain), the Roman Republic established its control over a vast territory. It also established the Latin language as a continent-wide lingua franca. The dialects into which the local versions of Latin developed formed the basis of the modern Romance languages: Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian. The original Latin language itself became the basis of learning and the means by which knowledge was disseminated. This linguistic unity was, and is, crucial in creating the European identity.

The adoption of Christianity by the Roman Empire did not occur until the fourth century CE, but religion was a subsequent factor both in the linking of the eastern and western Mediterranean worlds and in extending the unity of the European continent to areas the Roman Republic and Empire had not conquered. At the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest in 9 CE, the Germanic peoples had defeated the Romans and stopped their advance into the territory that later would become Germany. Nevertheless, the Germanic nations lived in much of the area that was already under Roman control, and their presence and influence gradually increased, especially in the army.

By the fifth century CE, repeated migrations and invasions from the north into Italy resulted in the overthrow of the Western Roman Empire and the establishment of rule by "barbarian" (Germanic) kings. The Vandals, Goths, and other Germanic tribes mixed with the indigenous population of Italy and other parts of the former Empire. These people ultimately adopted Christianity. The migration of the various Germanic nations into other parts of Europe created a kind of ethnic unity throughout the continent, though one paradoxically based on diversity.

By the eighth century CE, the Franks had emerged as the most powerful of these nations and, under Charlemagne, succeeded in re-unifying much of Western Europe in what was explicitly regarded as a recreation of the Roman Empire. Charlemagne's goal was to convert the various tribes throughout his realm to Christianity. Eventually, of course, the entire continent accepted the new religion, though the political unity of a huge territory under Frankish leadership was not sustained. Yet it was through religion, the Latin language (and in much of the continent, its descendants in the modern Romance languages), the mixing of Germanic and non-Germanic peoples, and the political unity created by the Franks that by the Middle Ages, the present form of Europe was taking shape, despite the innumerable wars and enormous political changes and upheavals that would occur over the next 1,000 years or more. Arguably, given the establishment of the European Union and the absence of any major war in the center of Europe for seventy-five years, the Europeans today have come even closer to continent-wide unity than at any point since the early Middle Ages.

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