Sunday, 19 April 2009

A salute to the heritage of the EU

It's recently come to my attention that euro bank notes are probably the only paper currency in the world that don't have any historical or monarchical figures on them. No doubt this is because it would be near impossible to find the appropriate historical figures without offending a good handful of nations whose forebears didn't quite make it. Indeed, this is the case right down to the bridges and 'gateways' featured on the notes, which aren't even real structures, lest they incur the petty jealousies of member states.

Hence I've taken it upon myself to come up with a solution for this predicament. In a multi- and supra-national state, it would be understandably difficult to come up with any criteria for a historical figure that could justify leaving many nations' heroes out. However, there is one that to me seems perfectly reasonable - all the men who have laid the groundwork for the EU by attempting to force European unity.

True, this hardly includes all member states, but it makes a damn good tour of the continent. Candidates come from as far as Italy, Germany, France, Austria, and even Turkey. All these nations have, at one time or another, had rulers who have attempted to force Europe together under a common yoke, whether they liked it or (as was most often the case) not. What better way, I ask you, to celebrate the heritage of this great European project than the tyrants and despots who set such a precedent for it?

Julius Cæsar (100-44 BC)

Charlemagne (742-814)

Suleiman I of the Ottoman Empire (1494-1566)

Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire (1500-1558)

Louis XIV of France (1638-1715)

Napoléon I of France (1769-1821)

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)

Needless to say, most of these rulers (the exceptions being Cæsar and Charlemagne) failed in their ambitions to forcibly unite Europe. Usually this was a direct result of British intervention. I do hope the significance of this fact is not lost...