The Books that made Europe

By Rachel Chanter

May 26, 2017 – Peter Harrington is proud to be associated with an exhibition currently running in Rome, at the Palazzo Madama, the home of the Italian Senate.


The exhibition, which was earlier displayed at the Pufendorf-724x1024Biblioteca Wittockiana in Brussels, runs until June 20 2017 and is highly recommended.


Books That Made Europe is a timely exhibition.


Scheduled to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome (1957) which facilitated the creation of the European Economic Community, the exhibition celebrates the printed works which underpin the culture and values of the modern-day European Union.


This exhibition roots the EU’s foundation ideals of freedom, human rights and integration in Europe’s intellectual and cultural heritage, beginning with Johann Gutenberg, whose invention in c. 1440 of movable type enabled the mass circulation of ideas through the printed word.


The exhibition features 140 books, spanning six centuries. Recalling that European federalism was sought in the aftermath of the Second World War, as a direct attempt to curb future abuses of power by Nation States and to guard against the rise of extreme nationalism, the books featured have been selected for their capacity to challenge assumptions and broaden minds.


The most influential scientific and cultural works are represented in the collection, to which Peter Harrington has supplied and lent a number of items and has facilitated the loan of several others through its connections to private collectors and institutions.


One of the most important books in the history of political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes’ treatise on the structure of society and legitimate government is the first attempt to set out a cohesive political system in the English language.


The work was conceived in one of the most tumultuous periods in English history; the conflict between Charles I and parliament and the resultant civil war, which culminated in the execution of the king and installation of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector.