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When Vasa was being built, the tactics of sea battles were changing. Cannon had not yet been used in a coordinated or decisive way, and the goal was to capture the enemy ship by boarding, rather than to sink it. Later in the 17th century, ships and cannon were coordinated in the line of battle: opposing fleets fired at each other in two lines. Vasa stands somewhere between these two approaches to fighting at sea. She has a large number of heavy cannon, at the same time that she was manned and equipped for hand-to-hand combat. The high stern allowed men with muskets to shoot down into the decks of a lower ship, and on the upper deck were guns called stormstycken (literally, “assault guns”), which fired canisters of small shot and scrap metal, much like a giant shotgun.
Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights. In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states. Text by Steve Smith.