A group of senators afraid of Caesar's title of dictator for life assassinated him the Ides of March of 44 BC. Both parts of the Empire abandoned pagan polytheism in order to tolerate monotheistic Christianity and finally make it the state religion. The West collapsed around , and several centuries of Germanic migrations and "barbarian" conquests followed. Greece continued to be ruled by the Byzantine eastern roman Empire while the Iberian peninsula fell under Arab control. The Germanic Emperor and the Roman Pontiff came to be known as the universal powers of Europe, but then entered in conflict during the investiture controversy and the clash between their factions.
Their rivalry made possible the birth of autonomous city-states in northern Italy and the rise of an independent feudal monarchy in France under the House of Capet. Around the same period, the Norse Viking expansion was taking place with the Norman conquest of England happening in and that of Sicily in With the holy land lost to Islam and the Byzantine Empire seeking help from Turks , the Pope initiated the crusades against Muslims in an attempt to restore Christian unity following the Eastern Schism of the Orthodox from the Catholics.
Most of the crusades did not achieve their objective, but some of them had a massive impact on the political and economic landscape of Europe: the first crusade re-opened the trade routes in the Mediterranean and ushered the commercial revolution ; the fourth crusade resulted in the formation of the Venetian maritime empire ; and the sixth crusade temporarily made Frederick stupor mundi , heir of both the Kingdom of Sicily and the Holy Roman Empire , also King of Jerusalem.
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At the same time, the Reconquista of christian forces was taking place in the Iberian peninsula and the countries of Portugal , Castille and Aragon were formed. A vast part of the French nobility took part in the crusades under the leadership of their king: this made possible the formation of a strong centralized French monarchy. The rise of medieval France began with the Battle of Bouvines and the Avignon Papacy but ended with the outbreak of the Hundred Years' War with England and the return of the papacy to Rome As Europe recovered from the Black Death , a Renaissance in art and science began in Italy and spread to the rest of the continent.
Portugal formed the first European colonial Empire in with the conquest of Ceuta. In the Indies, recently discovered by Cristopher Columbus for Castille and Aragon, he ordered the conquistadores to annex the Atzec Empire and conquer the Incas. He made use of the gold and silver coming from the Americas to finance the defence of his German territories in Austria from the Ottoman Empire Siege of Vienna and his Italian territories in the Duchy of Milan from France Battle of Pavia.
The papacy launched the Catholic revival in an attempt to halt the growth of Protestantism and Ottoman expansion. Ultimately, the Papacy lost its status and influence with the Thirty Years' War and many Protestant states experienced a golden age: the Netherlands now independent of the Holy Roman Empire formed the Dutch East India Company in Indonesia ; Sweden formed an empire in northern Europe ; and England began the colonization of North America. By the Treaty of Westphalia at the end of the Thirty Years War, the Holy Roman Empire became a more decentralized entity in which constituent states, such as Prussia, were allowed to pursue their own foreign policy independent of that of the Habsburg Emperor.
The Habsburgs also controlled some states outside of the Holy Roman Empire. It was France who took the status of dominant continental power from the Habsburgs thanks to the Treaty of Westphalia and the Treaty of the Pyrenees.
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In the 16th and 17th centuries, English foreign policy strove to prevent a creation of a single universal monarchy in Europe, which many  believed France or Spain might attempt to create. To maintain the balance of power, the English made alliances with other states —including Portugal , the Ottoman Empire , and the Netherlands —to counter the perceived threat. They often involved the English later the British and Dutch paying large subsidies to European allies to finance large armies. In the 18th century, this led to the stately quadrille , with a number of major European powers—such as Austria , Prussia , Great Britain , and France — changing alliances multiple times to prevent the hegemony of one nation or alliance.
A number of wars stemmed, at least in part, from the desire to maintain the balance of power, including the War of the Spanish Succession , War of the Austrian Succession , the Seven Years' War , the War of the Bavarian Succession and the Napoleonic Wars. Following Britain's success in the Seven Years' War during which it was allied with Prussia, many of the other powers began to see Great Britain as a greater threat than France.
Several states entered the American War of Independence in the hope of overturning Britain's growing strength by securing the independence of the Thirteen colonies of British America. After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, during which France directly or indirectly controlled much of Europe except for Russia, and the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved, the Concert of Europe tried to maintain the balance of power. The territorial boundaries agreed to by the victorious Great Powers Prussia, Austria, Russia and Great Britain at the Congress of Vienna in were maintained, and even more important there was an acceptance of the theme of balance with no major aggression.
They rejected the plan of Tsar Alexander I to suppress future revolutions.
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The Concert system fell apart as the common goals of the Great Powers were replaced by growing political and economic rivalries. Before Britain and France were the strongest powers in Europe, but by the s they had become deeply concerned by the growing power of Russia, which had expand westward towards Central Europe, and Prussia, which was increasingly assuming control and influence over the German lands. The creation in and rise of the Prussian-led German Empire excluding Austria as a dominant nation Prussia had quickly defeated both Austria and France in wars restructured the European balance of power.
For the next twenty years, Otto von Bismarck managed to maintain the balance of power, by proposing treaties and creating many complex alliances between the European nations such as the Triple Alliance. After the forced resignation of Otto Von Bismarck in , the young Kaiser Wilhelm set out on his imperialist course of Weltpolitik "world politics" to increase the empire's influence in and control over the world. This idea floundered as Europe split into three principal factions in the s and s: liberal democratic states led by the UK and France, communist states led by the Soviet Union , and authoritarian nationalists led by Germany and Italy.
The failure of the democratic states to prevent the advance of Nazi Germany ultimately led to the Second World War , which led to a temporary alliance between the UK and the Soviets. During the post-Second World War era the Allies split into two blocs, a balance of power emerged among the Eastern Bloc affiliated with the Soviet Union and the Socialist nations of Central and Eastern Europe , the Western Bloc affiliated with the Western democracies , particularly France , the United States , and the United Kingdom , and neutral or non-aligned countries including Ireland , Sweden , Switzerland and Yugoslavia.
The majority of the European democratic nations, together with Canada and the US, came together under the military alliance of NATO , which continues to this day and has expanded to other countries in Europe. They are major European powers and the only EU countries individually represented as full members of the G7 , the G8 and the G The term G4 is especially although not only used to describe meeting of the four nations at the leaders' level.
In addition, the term EU three or G-3 is used to describe the grouping of foreign ministers from France, the UK and Germany during the Iran nuclear talks. European security and defence have been once again put on the political agenda as priority issues. Different reactions have welcomed the new Global Strategy among the EU Member States, reflecting their respective divergent interests and preferences according to each specific politic, economic, cultural, social, and geographic situation. Despite this, all of them agreed on the urgent need of a stronger security and defence policy.
In an era of potential structural changes several questions arise. How these preferences on security and defence are made? To which set of priorities should we refer? Are choices made according national priorities, or rather according to common visions and values within political families? Or, again, to a combination of both? In order to better understand the changes in the international environment, their causes and consequences, the analysis of the decision-making process in security and defence policy becomes an issue of increasing interest. When it comes to these matters, how do actors define their preferences?
The new provisions in the EU Global Strategy clearly support the adoption of measures aiming at strengthening a more autonomous military capacity for the European Union, always in the framework of NATO. Some Member States have expressed the fear that such provision will harm the security of the region; some others have welcomed the news as a necessary, inevitable step in reinforcing both regional and national borders. It seems fair to presume that traditional categories and theories are no longer sufficient to explain the phenomenon in a global environment that becomes more and more complex, while the balance of power on both the European and the international scale is even more likely to induce atypical, if not anomalous alliances at least on specific issues and interests according to the traditional dynamics of International Relations.
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On top of this, institutional conflicts within the European Union itself about decision-making in foreign policy have always existed. It results necessary to identify a new paradigm according to which such processes are being led. This would allow political researchers to better understand — and, ultimately, influence, such dynamics.
Which instruments do we need?