The history of Europe, like other continents, for over the last 2,400 years pertains to a fascinating and rather multifarious geopolitical scope with the balance of powers shifting throughout time-frames small and big. And while this dynamic scope can be (to some degree) objectively represented through the territorial changes of the numerous empires, kingdoms, and realms, the political side of the historical ‘equation’ was symbolically achieved under the name of the rulers, leaders, and generals of these nations. The following time-lapse animation, concocted by YouTuber Cottereau, aptly presents such a string of fascinating events mirrored by the ever-changing geographical extent, while being associated with their ever powerful rulers, ranging from the ancient Roman emperors to the Enlightened Despots of the 18th century.
Now if we go through the video, we can easily comprehend how no European power even came close to the territorial extent governed by the Roman emperors. To that end, from a backwater kingdom to a thriving republic to a world dominating empire, and finally back to oblivion – the Roman scope does embody the cycle of history in all its glory, innovations and misfortune. In fact, the Roman history aptly showcases the multifaceted capacity of determined humans, ranging from courage, fortitude, ingenuity to downright viciousness and brutality. Of course, beyond written words, one of the parameters that suggest such triumphs and tribulations, relate to the lands and territories conquered and administered by the Romans. But once again, such an objective ambit always had the ‘coating’ of a political veneer in reality – and one could only imagine the magnitude of power wielded by the emperors and leaders at the apical stage of the Roman Empire.
On the other hand, a few centuries after the passing of the Romans, history was witness to the cultural conflicts and the confluence of the various European states. Late 8th century AD brought forth the resourceful Islamic Moors on to the Iberian peninsula (comprising modern-day Spain and Portugal), while the western European lands were under the dominion of the Carolingians, who by Charlemagne’s time had already started to advocate their Christian religion. The central and east European lands were under the sway of various pagan native tribes and distant steppe nomads, while the Balkans, Greece, and Anatolia (along with some parts of Italy) still held on the Roman legacy and Eastern Orthodox religion, in the form of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire – under the reign of the Roman emperor. And interestingly enough, concurrent to this time period, in European Russia, we can see the synthesis of the Scandinavian Rus and the localized Slavic people, resulting in a fascinating political domain whose rulers ranged from warlords to later merchant-princes.
Given so many variant and complex factors, it should be noted that along with political influence and kingly authority, the ‘power’ of the European states were also somewhat dependent on their population and resources. Luckily for the history aficionados, Cottereau had previously also made a time-lapse animation (presented below) that aptly showcases the territorial changes of the various European realms along with their population.
Thanks, Cottereau. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel.