European stories

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Europe - the beautiful story

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From cannons to coffee tables. Denmark and Europe across a cultural millennium.

Let it be said without further ado as Denmark holds the Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2012: Denmark and Europe are inextricably linked.

Europe has enriched Denmark, and a Denmark without Europe is inconceivable. Another certainty is that in spite of its limitations, Denmark has, if not enriched Europe, then had some influence, formerly as a large and medium-sized military power and latterly as a peaceful smaller state in a union where war is no longer an option, and commercial, cultural and other competition prevail instead. If the Europeans are in trouble, they find a peaceful solution, however good or bad. We have, so to speak, gone from cannons to coffee tables.

Denmark has had its own role to play in the European drama that began to unfold after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century. There are but few written sources in the ensuing centuries. But from circa 800, the Danes were demonstrably in existence. They…

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