Witnessing the events unfolding within the EU in recent years, one could be excused for thinking that these dramas are unique in European history. But, by setting them in the context of the continent’s much longer story, it is possible to see that this is far from the case. The present-day struggle between those seeking ever closer cooperation across Europe, and those pursuing the cause of national sovereignty, has parallels lasting centuries. In fact, there has always been a tension between the idea of a shared European civilization and the desire for self-governing states. This is at the heart of the continent’s history: it has always been there, and is unlikely ever to go away. From the days of the Romans and Charlemagne, the dream of a single power in Europe has come close to realisation but never been permanent, while the cause of independence has powered great nations but resulted in numerous destructive wars. For anyone wishing to understand the past, present and future of Europe, it is important to have this 'long history' of how we got here.