Europe is a continent that comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia. Europe is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. To the east and southeast, Europe is generally considered as separated from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways of the Turkish Straits. Yet the non-oceanic borders of Europe--a concept dating back to classical antiquity--are arbitrary. The primarily physiographic term "continent" as applied to Europe also incorporates cultural and political elements whose discontinuities are not always reflected by the continent's current overland boundaries.
Europe covers about 10,180,000 square kilometres (3,930,000 sq mi), or 2% of the Earth's surface (6.8% of land area).
Politically, Europe is divided into about fifty sovereign states of which the Russian Federation is the largest and most populous, spanning 39% of the continent and comprising 15% of its population.
Europe had a total population of about 740 million (about 11% of world population) as of 2012.
The history of Europe covers the peoples inhabiting the European continent from prehistory to the present. Some of the best-known civilizations of prehistoric Europe were the Minoan and the Mycenaean, which flourished during the Bronze Age until they collapsed in a short period of time around 1200 BC.
The period known as classical antiquity began with the emergence of the city-states of Ancient Greece. After ultimately checking the Persian advance in Europe through the Greco-Persian Wars in the 5th century BC, Greek influence reached its zenith under the expansive empire of Alexander the Great, spreading throughout Asia, Africa, and other parts of Europe. The Roman Empire came to dominate the entire Mediterranean basin in a vast empire based on Roman law. By 300 AD the Roman Empire was divided into the Western and Eastern empires. During the 4th and 5th centuries, the Germanic peoples of northern Europe grew in strength and repeated attacks led to the Fall of the Western Roman Empire. AD 476 traditionally marks the end of the classical period and the start of the Middle Ages.
The culture of Europe is rooted in the art, architecture, music, literature, and philosophy that originated from the European cultural region. European culture is largely rooted in what is often referred to as its "common cultural heritage".
As a continent, the economy of Europe is currently the largest on Earth and it is the richest region as measured by assets under management with over $32.7 trillion compared to North America's $27.1 trillion in 2008. In 2009 Europe remained the wealthiest region. Its $37.1 trillion in assets under management represented one-third of the world's wealth. It was one of several regions where wealth surpassed its precrisis year-end peak. As with other continents, Europe has a large variation of wealth among its countries. The richer states tend to be in the West; some of the Central and Eastern European economies are still emerging from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia.
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The Bal des Ardents (Ball of the Burning Men) or Bal des Sauvages (Ball of the Wild Men) was a masquerade ball held on 28 January 1393 in Paris at which Charles VI of France performed in a dance with five members of the French nobility. Four of the dancers were killed in a fire caused by a torch brought in by a spectator, Charles's brother Louis I, Duke of Orléans. Charles and another of the dancers survived. The ball was one of a number of events intended to entertain the young king, who the previous summer had suffered an attack of insanity. The event undermined confidence in Charles's capacity to rule; Parisians considered it proof of courtly decadence and threatened to rebel against the more powerful members of the nobility. The public's outrage forced the king and his brother Orléans, whom a contemporary chronicler accused of attempted regicide and sorcery, to offer penance for the event.
Charles's wife, Isabeau of Bavaria
, held the ball to honor the remarriage of a lady-in-waiting
. Scholars believe the dance performed at the ball had elements of traditional charivari
, with the dancers disguised as wild men
, mythical beings often associated with demonology, that were commonly represented in medieval Europe and documented in revels of Tudor England
. The event was chronicled by contemporary writers such as the Monk of St Denis
and Jean Froissart
, and illustrated in a number of 15th-century illuminated manuscripts
by painters such as the Master of Anthony of Burgundy
. The incident later provided inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe
's short story Hop-Frog
. Read more...
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Belgrade ( BEL-grayd; Serbian: Beograd / ?, lit. 'White City', pronounced [berad] ; names in other languages) is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and the crossroads of the Pannonian Plain and the Balkan Peninsula. Nearly 1.7 million people live within the administrative limits of the City of Belgrade, a quarter of the total population of Serbia.
One of the most important prehistoric cultures of Europe, the Vin?a culture
, evolved within the Belgrade area in the 6th millennium BC. In antiquity, Thraco
inhabited the region and, after 279 BC, Celts
settled the city, naming it Singid?n
. It was conquered by the Romans
under the reign of Augustus
and awarded Roman city rights
in the mid-2nd century. It was settled by the Slavs
in the 520s, and changed hands several times between the Byzantine Empire
, the Frankish Empire
, the Bulgarian Empire
, and the Kingdom of Hungary
before it became the seat of the Serbian king Stefan Dragutin
in 1284. Belgrade served as capital of the Serbian Despotate
during the reign of Stefan Lazarevi?
, and then his successor ?ura? Brankovi?
returned it to the Hungarian king in 1427. Noon bells in support of the Hungarian army against the Ottoman Empire
during the siege in 1456
have remained a widespread church tradition to this day. In 1521, Belgrade was conquered by the Ottomans and became the seat of the Sanjak of Smederevo
. It frequently passed from Ottoman to Habsburg
rule, which saw the destruction of most of the city during the Austro-Ottoman wars
. Read more...
(c. 1759 - 1829) was an English actress of the late 18th century. She made her premiere in a performance of She Stoops to Conquer
in 1777, retiring over twenty years later. Horace Walpole
described her as the "most perfect actress" he had ever seen.
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Frédéric François Chopin (, , French: [p], Polish: ['p?n]), born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin (1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849), was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation."
Chopin was born in ?elazowa Wola
in the Duchy of Warsaw
and grew up in Warsaw
, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland
. A child prodigy
, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20, less than a month before the outbreak of the November 1830 Uprising
. At 21, he settled in Paris. Thereafter--in the last 18 years of his life--he gave only 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon
. He supported himself by selling his compositions and by giving piano lessons, for which he was in high demand. Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt
and was admired by many of his other musical contemporaries, including Robert Schumann
. Read more...