A double exploration of Europe's both "real" and "ideal" emergence. An introductory section to be devoted to (a) the physical shaping of a continent, (b) its stages of human settlement, from prehistoric times through the Germanic and Slavic migrations down to modern and recent patterns of movement, (c) the basic language groups created on this basis, and (d) Europe's religions in flux across space and time. Through these and related dimensions, simultaneously, the three main thresholds of "European history" as such : the Dark Ages, the birth of Early Modernity, and the Age of Revolution. The parallel development of the notion of Europe in political and social thought, together with its various theoretical ramifications or extensions (such as "the West", "the historical nations", "bourgeois civil society", "civilisation" or "capitalism"), juxtaposed to its non-European others or counterparts, in the course of the creation of a Eurocentric symbolic geography by the 19th and 20th century social sciences. Selective studies of specific aspects of European history (such as cities, wars, or revolutions), as well as of how all this has impacted on modern European politics and culture.