Europa Universalis is a realistic grand strategy franchise created by Paradox Interactive, which focuses on Europe and the rest of the world from around 1400s to the 1800s. It started in 2000 with Europa Universalis, with the latest game, Europa Universalis IV, announced in Aug 2012. The franchise has 4 main games, and with 2 spin-offs, Europa Universalis: Crown of the North and Europa Universalis: Rome, that uses the same gameplay but set in a different time period and scale.
The Europa Universalis franchise is normally set around the years 1453 to 1793, and takes into account everything that happened between these years, using leaders, events, and battles from the time period. The many expansions to the games has expanded the timeline up to 1399 - 1812, and added more detail to the Asian continent, which has always been less focused on in the games (as compared to Western Europe).
The games use diplomacy, warfare, and exploration as the main features, normally on a worldwide scale (excluding Crown of the North and Rome). The main focus of the games are the discovery and colonization of the New World by the European powers, but they also touch on the religious turmoil and diplomatic manoeuvrings in Early-Modern Europe. The rest of the world are not as fleshed out as Europe, but also play a large part in shaping the history of the games.
Europa Universalis was built on the 2D Europa Engine, which has been in use for the majority of Paradox Interactive's games. It which remained in use until Europa Universalis III, which then switched to Paradox's current 3D Clauswitz Engine.
In early 2008, Paradox offered the old Europa Engine license to anyone interested in making games to be published by them. In 10 Nov, 2009, the first game to make use of the license, For the Glory: A Europa Universalis Game, was released. For the Glory is an improved version of Europa Universalis II and makes it much easier for modders to make their own mods in the game.