The Roman Empire was the most powerful, far reaching, and longest-running empire of the last 2000 years. It once stretched from North Africa to Scotland, from the Atlantic well into Asia. It was centered in modern-day Europe and ended with the abdication of Francis II in 1806 – following nearly a millennium of rule in Europe.
Today, under the banner of European integration, the ancient Holy Roman Empire is being cited as not only a unifying historical foundation for the modern European Union (EU), but also as a guidepost for the creation of a "new" Holy Roman Empire of sorts.
The popular German periodical Deutsche Welle interviewed Brigitte Mazohl-Wallnig, director of the Innsbruck University History Department and author of the book entitled, Turn of an Era 1806: The Holy Roman Empire and the Birth of Modern Europe. Ms. Mazohl-Wallnig possesses great insight into how the Germans and Europeans can learn from the former integration of European nations (Deutshce Welle [on-line], August 28, 2006). According to Ms. Mazohl-Wallnig, "The Holy Roman Empire is the foundation of our common European history. It should be anchored much more strongly in the collective memory of all Europeans than is currently the case."
Later in the interview, she mused wistfully:
I think that it [The Holy Roman Empire] was an empire, which clearly
identified itself as such and was perceived as such. There were common
basic laws, which indeed formed something akin to a basic constitution.
There was the imperial parliament, two imperial courts of justice and
imperial districts. There was the emperor, as the guarantor of this order
and a superior entity, which –nota bene – was not absolutist. The system
was a dual one. The emperor basically could not decide without the
imperial parliament (Ibid.).
When asked what the EU can learn from the Holy Roman Empire, Ms. Mazohl-Wallnig responded:
It's almost as if the EU picks up where things left off in 1806. Similar
questions to those that were asked back then have to be asked again:
What responsibilities lie with the supra-structure, the community?
What responsibilities remain at the lower level, with individual states?
How are the smaller ones represented in relation to the bigger ones?
Under today's democratic conditions, we are faced with similar
questions that were answered back then after centuries of controversy.
One can learn from this that Europe definitely needs a common basic
law and a common constitution, which can be accepted by everyone.
The empire's basic laws were broad enough to be supported by
everyone and still tight enough to serve as a sufficient, common band.
The empire also had a strong political symbolism. It knew how to make
itself seen. Europe isn't as visible. It hasn't really developed a common
European symbolism (Ibid.).
Many Europeans are harkening back to the grand years of the Holy Roman Empire and the way it was able to unite many nations with diverse backgrounds, tongues, and currencies. They look at the Holy Roman Empire as a "common heritage" as well as a model for the future. Several factors that drove the Holy Roman Empire were a common language, common laws, common currency, common church, and a powerful central leader. Currently, the Finns are pushing for the reemergence of a common language, Latin (The Guardian, July 3, 2006), a possible future common language. The currency already exists.
The common laws are being put into place as the European Constitution. But there remains the need for a powerful central leader and a central religion or church. Of note, the Catholic Church has been pushing hard to influence the development of the European Constitution and to play a more influential role in EU affairs.
Long ago God prophesied that in the last days, there would arise an empire North of Jerusalem (see Daniel 11), that would integrate historically disjointed nations (Daniel 2:32-33). These nations would be rooted in a common empire. Eventually, ten nations would comprise this European empire and would give their power and sovereignty over to a central government and individual (Revelation 17:12-13). This empire would also be heavily influenced by a powerful religious leader (Revelation 17:1-6, 18).
What we see happening in Europe today was foretold thousands of years ago in the pages of your Bible. It is part of God's plan for mankind and must happen prior to the return of Jesus Christ. For more information on the important events currently taking place in Europe, please see our free booklet, The Beast of Revelation and our reprint article A Fourth Reich?