European History

Large Scale Movements

Renaissance Era

1350 - 1600

Began in Florence, spread through Europe. Rise of humanism and philosophy, focus on classics like Greek and Roman. Art emphasized the human form, realism, symmetry. Less emphasis on religious figures as deities.

Age of Exploration

1450 - 1600

European Powers (Namely: Portugal, Spain, France, England, Netherlands) begin exploring lands previously undiscovered or unexplored by Europeans. Notable explorers: Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Francis Drake, Vasco de Gama, Amerigo Vespucci, Hernando Cortes


1517 - 1648

Begins with Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses on the door of the Church in Wittenberg. Anabaptists, Calvinists, Huguenots, part of reformation. Inspires many wars. Essentially ends with Treaty of Westphalia.

Scientific Revolution

1543 - 1687

Explosion in scientific understanding of the natural world. Began with Nicolaus Copernicus's "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres" which outlined a heliocentric theory of the universe. The heliocentric theory was condemned by Catholic and Protestant leaders alike, though protestants were more accepting of it.
Important events:
(1609) Kepler publishes "Astronomia Nova" outlined first two laws of planetary motion
(1609) Galileo invents telescope
(1610) Galileo publishes "Starry Messenger", outlines discovery of the Moon's rocky surface
(1633) Galileo Tried for heresy, didn't renounce beliefs, put on house arrest
(1687) Newton publishes "Principia"

Agricultural Revolution

1599 - 1750

Improvements in agriculture technology improved quality of life for farmers, displaced many people from countryside to the city,


1685 - 1815

"Age of Reason"; Radical change in the philosophy of European intellectuals. Founded on Classical Liberalism, emphasized things like secularism, individual right, and skepticism. Aimed for a rigorous and systematic explanation of the human being and the world, all based on scientific principles. Very secular, first large scale break from all forms of Christianity.

Industrial Revolution

1760 - 1840


Hundred Years War

1337 - 1453

Edward III claims French throne, takes French land, France fights back
Results: France wins, England gains Calais

French Wars of Religion

1562 - 1598

Huguenots and Catholics fight for throne.
War of three Henrys: Henry II (Valois, Catholic), Henry III (Valois, Catholic), Henry IV (Bourbon, Huguenot-Catholic)
Many Huguenots killed in St Bartholomew's Day Massacre
Edict of Nantes gave Huguenots relative religious freedom.

Thirty Years' War

1618 - 1648

Habsburgs attempt to end reformation once and for all
Calvinism not mentioned in Peace of Augsburg, Bohemian ruler wants Calvinism
Bohemian Phase: Starts in Bohemia with defenestration of Prague, go to war with HRE.
Danish Phase:Denmark comes to Bohemia's aid
Swedish Phase: Gustavus Adolphus also aids protestants, wants to keep Habsburgs down.
French phase: War turns political, Catholic France sends troops to fight HRE simply because they fear HRE power and Habsburg supremacy. No religious motivation at all.

English Civil War

1642 - 1651

Charles I increased taxes, wants more power
Parliament + people get angry
Conservative royalists are loyal to crown
Liberal Parliamentarians want him gone, want commonwealth
Royalists lose, Charles I executed
Religiously charged, royalists largely Anglican and parliamentarians largely Puritan

The Fronde

1648 - 1653

Series of civil wars in France. Nobles and Parlement rose up against Absolute rule of Louis XIV. Louis's victory established his supremacy over nobles and parlement

War of Devolution

1667 - 1668

Philip IV dies, Louis XIV claims Spanish Netherlands. Britain, Holland, Sweden form alliance to stop the conquest.

War of Spanish Succession

1701 - 1714

Charles II of Spain dies without Heir. Louis XIV's grandson Philip named heir of Spain. England and Holland think that the Leopold of Austria has claims to throne. European coalition goes to war to prevent French-Spanish merger. Philip named Spanish king but France and Spain never allowed to unify.

War of Austrian Succession

1740 - 1748

Prussia seized Silesia from Austria.

French Revolution

1789 - 1799

Caused by political unrest in France. Third estate wanted more power over government matters. Peasants were getting taxed more than they could pay, and prices were inflating.
Major events:
Tennis Court Oath - The third estate met as the "National Assembly" and vowed not to stop meeting until they had written a new constitution for France.
Storming of the Bastille - Revolutionary forces storm the Bastille, a prison that held large amounts of weapons and gunpowder, to supply their military needs. Killed many French officials and put their heads on stakes.
Declaration of the Rights of Man: A document which outlined the unalienable rights that the National Assembly believed each man had.
Women's March on Versailles: Many women marched to Versailles to demand bread for their children.
Reign of Terror: The "Committee of Public Safety" put to death anyone who seemed unsympathetic to the revolution. About 40,000 political dissidents executed.

Reign of Napoleon

1804 - 1814

Napoleon names himself emperor of France, tries to protect the advances made in the revolution, but will not spare any dissidents. Involved in endless wars trying to take over as much of Europe as he could


Papacy at Avignon

1307 - 1377

The Papacy was moved to Avignon for this period, following disagreements between the French and the HRE

Black Death in Europe

1346 - 1353

Plague kills 1/3 of European population. Religion somewhat ignored, value of human and work goes up, puts more money in hands of peasants.

Western Schism

1378 - 1417

Papacy moved to Avignon, Two men simultaneously claim papal throne, Council of Pisa fails to resolve and elects third ineffective Pope.

Cosimo de Medici ruler of Florence

1434 - 1464

Cosimo de Medici begins Medici dynasty in Florence, which lasted until 1537

Height of Medici Power

1434 - 1700

The Medici family had a pervasive influence throughout Europe from the 15th to the 17th centuries. Producing French leaders, Florentine leaders, Popes and banking tycoons. Medicis were patrons of the arts.
Important names:
-Giovanni de Medici (founder of Medici Bank)
-Cosimo de Medici (began Medici dynasty when he came to power in Florence)
-Lorenzo de Medici (Ruled Florence after Cosimo through the height of the Italian Renaissance, became patron of many famous artists)
-Catherine de Medici (Queen Regent of France)
-Pope Leo X
Pope Clement VII
Pope Leo XI

Invention of Printing Press


Johannes Gutenberg invents movable type, rise of printing press. Biggest revolution in communication until the Internet

Fall of Constantinople

29 May 1453

Byzantine’s Constantinople falls to Ottomans

War of Roses

1455 - 1487

House of Lancaster and house of York fight for English throne. York wins and establishes Tudor dynasty

Ferdinand and Isabella marry


Castille and Aragon unified, Spain becomes great empire

Columbus's First Voyage


Columbus sails to Hispanolia, thinks it is India, Discovers the Americas for Spain

Reign of Henry VIII

1509 - 1547

Henry VIII asked for an annulment from Pope. After a refusal he broke from the Catholic Church and began the Anglican church, with him at the head.
Had 6 wives, 2 beheaded.

Diet of Worms


Martin Luther declared a heretic by the Catholic Church, protected by Frederick III of Saxony

Sack of Rome


Sack of Rome by mutinous troops of Holy Roman Empire

Council of Trent

1545 - 1563

Embodiment of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Some hoped for a reconciliation of Protestants and a reunifying of Christendom. Instead, the Catholic church reaffirmed and strengthened its doctrines (though it limited the sale of indulgences), and condemned all Protestants as heretics.

Treaty of Augsburg


Granted by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Gave German princes the right to choose the religion of their land.

Charles V abdicates HRE throne


Charles V gives throne of HRE to various heirs, goes to live in a monastery.

Poland and Lithuania officially unified


Reign of The Sun King

1643 - 1715

See Louis XIV
One of the longest reigns of any monarch in history
Regent: Queen Anne (Mazarin and Richelieu, sort of)
Came to full power at 20 in 1653. Continued with help from Mazarin and Richelieu, and economic help from Jean-Baptiste Colbert

Treaty of Westphalia


Ends 30 years war.
Takes substantial land from HRE, distributes it to European powers. Concerned with balance of power. Allows Calvinism under treaty of Augsburg.

Reign of Oliver Cromwell

1653 - 1658

Oliver Cromwell named "Lord Protector", basically a King

Glorious Revolution


Glorious revolution overthrows Charles II and institutes William of Orange (William III) as king of England.

Watt's Steam Engine


James Watt created a steam engine that could pump water 3 times faster than traditional engines.


Thomas Aquinas

1225 - 1274

Catholic Theologian and philosopher. Influenced modern philosophy.


1304 - 1374

Father of Renaissance Humanism. Rediscovered Cicero and began to study classics.

John Wycliffe

1331 - 1384

Early critic of the Catholic Church. Believed scripture was the sole authority of Christianity. Believed Monasticism and the Papacy were corrupt.
Declared a heretic in 1415 and his works were burned.

Prince Henry the Navigator

1394 - 1450

Prince Henry the Navigator begins sponsoring explorations around the coast of Africa

Joan of Arc

1412 - 1431

Joan of Arc, important woman in late middle ages. Claimed visions from God, inspired French troops, captured by English and put to death for heresy.

Christopher Columbus

Approx. 1450 - 1506

First explorer to sail West, looking for India but found Americas

Leonardo Da Vinci

1452 - 1519

Model of the Renaissance man.
-Inventor, artist, architect, philosopher, historian, mathematician, scientist
Most important works include: The Last Supper, the Mona Lisa, the Vitruvian Man


1469 - 1527

Renaissance Humanist, wrote The Prince, on the importance of pragmatic leadership over moral leadership.

Isabella d'Este

1474 - 1539

One of the few well educated women of Renaissance times. Became a very effective ruler of Mantua after death of her husband.

Martin Luther

1483 - 1546

Rejected Papal supremacy. Believed that the Bible was the sole authority for Christians. Wrote "95 Theses", A list of grievances against Catholic corruption, specifically the sale of indulgences. Protected from execution by German Princes. Spread of his ideas was aided by Printing Press.

Ulrich Zwingli

1483 - 1531

Swiss Reformer, Christ symbolized by the Eucharist

Charles V

1500 - 1558

Holy Roman Emperor, lost Catholic unity under his reign. Strongly believed in Christian unity and fought against the reformation.
Most of Europe against him because he had the claim to three crowns (Holy Roman Empire, Netherlands and Spain), they feared a European hegemony

John Calvin

1509 - 1564

Reformer who started Calvinism

Catherine de Medici

1519 - 1589

Queen regent of France, ruled through her two sons.

Henry III

1551 - 1589

Last Valois monarch of France

William Shakespeare

1564 - 1616

English writer whose ubiquitous writings formed the greatest plays of the late English Renaissance.

Henry IV (of Navarre)

1572 - 1610

Converted to Catholicism for the throne. "Paris is worth a mass". Issued Edict of Nantes, murdered by Catholic fanatic

Louis XIV, "Sun King"

1638 - 1715

King of France, embodiment of absolutism. Became absolute ruler through tactical court politics, and manipulating nobles to remain under his control. Involved in constant wars and partially caused the economic downfall of France that led to French Revolution

Spanish War of Succession

1701 - 1714

Charles II of Spain dies without an heir. Louis claims Spain for his grandson, Philip. Coalition of European states against Louis because they feared a unification of France and Spain. Philip was made king but France and Spain were never allowed to unify.

Important Documents

Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri


the Divine Comedy describes Dante's descent into Hell, through Purgatory, and ascent into Heaven. Important because it was one of the first works written in the Tuscan Language rather than Latin, standardizing Tuscan as the common Italian language

In Praise of Folly by Erasmus


A satire which personifies "Folly" as a person, and uses this outlook to criticize the Church and many other standards of European life at the time.

The Prince by Machiavelli


Handbook for the ruler on preserving your state. Emphasizes Pragmatic leadership over moral/kind leadership. "It is better to be feared than loved"

Utopia by Thomas More


Critique of his society and the Church, to an extent. Envisioned a world called "Utopia" which had religious tolerance, rational government and a socialist economy

95 Theses by Martin Luther


Criticized and condemned various aspects of Catholic corruption focused on sale of indulgences.

The Courtier by Castiglione


Explained proper behavior and disposition of a renaissance prince or courtier. Provided the model for the Renaissance Man, instructed the courtier to be well rounded and well read in many subjects and interests.

On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres by Copernicus


Near the end of his life. Copernicus publishes discoveries of a heliocentric universe. Claims that Earth rotates around sun, places sun in the center of universe.

Starry Messenger by Galileo


Starry Messenger explains discoveries that the moon is rocky, like the earth's surface, and not smooth like previously believed. It also explains that the surface and composition of the planets are different from that of the stars.

Discourse on Method by Descartes


Descartes attempts to outline a strict skeptical logic system. Decides that the only thing he truly knows is that he exists. "I think, therefore I am". Embodiment of skepticism, beginning of deductive reasoning.

Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes


Thomas Hobbes argued for monarchy. Rejected divine right theory and rather focused on a theory of force, asserting that humans are naturally in a state of "war of all against all", and an absolute monarch is the only thing to bring men out of this natural state.

Principia by Isaac Newton


Newton synthesizes inductive and deductive reasoning into the modern scientific method. He also outlines his laws of motion and the beginnings of calculus.

Locke's Two Treatises of Government


John Locke deconstructs Hobbes' argument for monarchy and instead argues for the social contract theory, claiming that government has no right but the protection of the people. Beginning of classical liberalism, influenced the enlightenment greatly

Spirit of the Laws by Montesquieu


Advocated separation of powers, criticized French government but used English government as a good illustration of separation of powers.

Encyclopedie by Diderot and others (first publication)


The Encyclopedie was written as an attempt to index all the world's knowledge through an enlightened, skeptical lens. It was the first time a skeptical, rigorous directory of knowledge existed.

Candide by Voltaire


Candide was a largely religious satire, featuring corrupt preachers, ignorant teachers, and exposing hypocrisy of all forms of religion

Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith


Advocated economic freedom and competition, laissez-faire economics. Criticized guilds and mercantilism. Foundation of modern economic theory.

Vindication on the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft


Beginning of modern feminist philosophy. Advocated legal and intellectual equality of the sexes. Believed that women should be educated as thoroughly as men and given the same opportunities in society. Very conservative compared to the true feminist writings of the 20th century.

Report on Living Conditions by Edwin Chadwick


Chadwick was a reformer set on ending poverty in urban areas.

Great Exhibition