The Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History was established in 1990 and supports research excellence in the field of history. The prize consists of 200,000 US Dollars and a trophy. It is funded by the Alfred Heineken Fondsen Foundation and is awarded every two years.
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History occupied a special place in Alfred Heineken’s wide range of interests. He was astonished at the lack of knowledge among Europeans about their own history, and he intended the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History as an expression of his appreciation of researchers who were helping to change that state of affairs.
Alfred Heineken initially planned to use the prize foundation to support a history project for young people in Europe. His goal was a single history book for use in schools in every European country. ‘Without a common history, you can’t create a united Europe. Children aren’t taught history any more. It’s beyond me how you can read a book without a knowledge of history.’ His interest in European history led Alfred Heineken to use the prize as an extra incentive for research into the history of Europe. European history played an important role in Heineken’s idea of dividing Europe up into 75 small states. Working with two historians, he elaborated on the idea in a booklet entitled The United States of Europe (A ‘Eurotopia’?). He was the first to acknowledge that there were all sorts of objections to the plan. ‘It’s not a blueprint of how things should be. I’m just sowing the idea.’
The prize originally recognised academic research into European history. From 2006, the prize is universal and applies to research into the history of any part of the world.