Has the financial crisis fundamentally weakened Europe’s welfare states? This paper assesses the development of welfare states in Europe in the post-war period. During such a period three distinct ‘ages’ of welfare can be identified: a ‘Golden Age’ which ended in the mid-1970s, a ‘Silver Age’ which ran from the 1970s until the financial crisis, and a ‘Bronze Age’ in the period after the crisis. It is argued that in each ‘age’ the stability of welfare states has been challenged. Doubts raised now on how to ensure that the welfare states of the future can to meet their commitments of the past. The paper elaborates of the feeling that the current Bronze Age of welfare may just be the prelude to the return of prehistoric social Europe.