The Emperor Charlemagne may be considered as the very first “Father of Europe”. He managed to consolidate a large part of Western Europe, and laid the principles of government which were later inherited by major European States. King of the Francs (France) and King of the Lombards (Italy), he was crowned Emperor of the West in the year 88, in Rome. He chose Aachen (a German city today) as the capital of its Empire.
Leonardo da Vinci, a scientist, inventor and painter of extraordinary genius, was born in Tuscany, Italy. He entered the Service of Francis the First, King of France, and moved to Touraine (France), at the Clos Lucé, near Amboise.
Henri of Navarre, King of France, and his minister Sully worked together between 1600 and 1607 to set up a permanent committee representing Europe´s fifteen largest Christian States. This Committee was supposed to act as an arbitrator for all matters arising from religious conflicts, national borders, internal trouble and the common action to be taken against threats coming from the East (at the time, this threat was represented by the Turks).
Franz Liszt, a Hungarian pianist, had a truly European career: Hungary, Austria, France, England (United Kingdom), Switzerland, Italy, Germany.
Vincent Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands, but he is also seen as a European citizen. His appointment in one of the most important art galleries in The Hague allowed him to travel and work at its branch in London (United Kingdom), and later in Paris (France). After studying theology in Amsterdam (Holland), he was assigned an evangelist mission in Brussels. This is where the call of Art became inevitable: he received art education in Brussels, and later went to Paris, where he lived with his brother Theo. His stay in Provence (France) was chaotic. He left Arles and St Rémy de Provence to Auvers-sur-Oise, where he became Doctor Garchand´s protégé, and where he would later commit suicide.
Victor Hugo, a major French writer, spent his earlier years in Paris (France). But the appointments assigned to his father, a serviceman, made him travel to Spain and to Italy (Naples) at a very young age. Later, his political standpoints would force him to go into exile: in Belgium, in Luxembourg, in Guernesey and Jersey (United Kingdom). He never lost one hope: at a time when France and Germany were deemed to be irreducible enemies, Victor Hugo dreamt of the yet-to-come United States of Europe.
Datcha Ivan Tourgueniev was born in Russia. He studied at the Faculty of Arts of Moscow (Russia), at the Faculty of Philosophy in St Petersburg (Russia) and finally at the University of Berlin (Germany). He travelled to Italy, but also to France (the Pyrenees and the Southwest), where he struck up a friendship with George Sand. He lived in France for 3 years. While visiting his country, he found himself trapped there by the Crimean War. At this time, he welcomed a young Leon Tolstoi into his house. He struggled to bring the translation of “War and Peace” to the attention of the French public. Back in Paris, Tourgueniev frequently kept company with Prosper Merimée and Alexandre Dumas, and with Carlyle, Disraeli and Thackeray in London. After spending one year in Baden-Baden (Germany), Tourgueniev went back to Paris, and later moved to Bougival, in the Parisian region. In 1879, he spent some time in England, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Oxford University. Most of his works were first published by a Saint Petersburg journal called “Europe´s Messenger”.
Mozart is Europe´s child. This genius, who was born in Austria, tirelessly travelled throughout Europe to show off his talent. He successively lived in Germany (Munich, Augsburg, Mannheim, Frankfort), in Austria (Vienna), in France (Paris, Dijon, Lyon), in Belgium (Brussels), in the United Kingdom (London), in the Netherlands (The Hague, Amsterdam) and in Switzerland (Geneva, Lausanne).
Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, declared at the opening of the Congress of The Hague in 1948 that “united Europe is of vital importance”.
Robert Schuman (Luxembourg) was the president of the European Movement in France from 1955 to 1961. His Declaration of the 9th of May, 1950 is deemed to be the act which gave birth to Europe.