Originally published 06/10/2013
Brendan Simms is a professor of history at Cambridge University and the author, most recently, of “Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy From 1453 to the Present.”CAMBRIDGE, England — THE cheerleaders of the European Union like to think of it as an entirely new phenomenon, born of the horrors of two world wars. But in fact it closely resembles a formation that many Europeans thought they had long since left to the dustbin of history: the Holy Roman Empire, the political commonwealth under which the Germans lived for many hundreds of years.Some might take that as a compliment; after all, the empire lasted for almost a millennium. But they shouldn’t. If anything, today’s Europe still has to learn the lessons of the empire’s failures.