The Medici family first attained wealth and political power in Florence through its success in commerce and banking. The family’s support of the arts and humanities made Florence into the cradle of the Renaissance, a cultural flowering rivaled only by that of ancient Greece.
After the fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine empire, many refugees escaped to Western Europe and helped create humanism. In particular, the arrival in Italy of Greek scholars is said to have helped the Renaissance.
The English Civil Wars was caused by conflict between Charles I and Parliament over an Irish insurrection and was divided into three phases. The first pphase was settled with Oliver Cromwell’s victory for Parliamentary forces at the 1645 Battle of Naseby. The second phase ended with Charles’ defeat at the Battle of Preston and his subsequent execution in 1649. Cromwell then invaded Scotland in 1650. This ended the “wars of the three kingdoms,” though Charles II eventually ascended to the throne in 1660.
The restoration of the English Monarchy marked the return of Charles II as king following the period of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth. The bishops were restored to Parliament, which established a strict Anglican orthodoxy. The period, which also included the reign of James II was marked by an expansion in colonial trade, the Anglo-Dutch Wars, and a revival of drama and literature.
The War of the Spanish Succession was a conflict over who had the right to be king of Spain after the previous king, Charles II, died childless. France wanted Philip of Anjou, a relative of its king, to rule. Great Britain, the Dutch Republic and other states wanted to prevent that.
In 1804, a British-financial plot against Bonaparte was uncovered. This gave Napoleon a reason to start a hereditary dynasty. Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself "Emperor of the French", but people of France did not see him as the monarch of the old regime because of his holding a Roman Empire title. His reforms included regulating the economy and modernizing finance, both which were needed after the economically draining French Revolution.
The Crimean war was caused by Russia’s threat to multiple European interests with its pressure of Turkey. It is intellectual in nature because the weaponry and tactics used had never been seen before and thereafter affected all other wars after it. It was also the first war where a telegraph was used to quickly give information to a newspaper.
The main fighting was between the Red Army and the White Army - communists and their opposers, respectively. The Red Army won this war because their army was better organized and they held the best territory, and afterwards the communists established the Soviet Union.
The Treaty of Versailles was a peace treaty between Japan, the United States, France, Austria-Hungary, Germany and Britain after World War I. The treaty was made in 1919, but the German government did not participate in it. Germany had the choice between signing it or facing the occupation of Germany by Allied troops, and this angered the German people as they believed that they did not start the war.
The year before hitler was crowned, Germany had seen his rapid rise to prominence, spurred largely by the German people’s frustration with dismal economic conditions and the difficulties inflicted by defeat in WWI and the harsh peace terms of the Versailles treaty. A charismatic speaker, Hitler channeled popular discontent with the post-war Weimar government into support for his fledgling Nazi party.
The invasion of and battle of Normandy was fought by the Allied forces against German forces. The most critical part was the Normandy invasion, which was to get the Allied armies onto the continent of Europe. It was critical because it could not have failed, but heavy casualties were expected. In the end it was ultimately successful. The battle continued until German forces retreated across the Seine. This marked the close of "Operation Overlord". It was the largest invasion by sea in history. Almost three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy in then German-occupied France.
Throughout European history - namely from the 14th century to the 18th century - differentiating religious views sparked much conflict, especially military and governmental clashes. It was often insisted that government and religion were to be kept close in correlation, but new ideas came along that challenged this common way of thinking such as the Protestant Reformation. It was during this time that Europe began to see government moving away from religion, eventually keeping the two almost entirely separate.
The Great Schism refers to the rift in the Church in the late 14th century. This separation led to the "Roman Catholic" Church, known as the Western Church, and the "Greek Catholic" Church, known as the Eastern Church.
The Protestant Reformation led to the demise of the influence of the previously powerful Catholic Church. It involved the discrepancies and lies within the church being exposed as what they were, and the introduction of the Lutheran and Calvinist religions. After the Reformation, people were able to worship God as they believed and they no longer relied on the Catholic Church for guidance with religious matters.
Luther's 95 Theses - which was the spark of the Protestant Reformation - was a list of questions and propositions for debate. It included criticism of the sale of indulgences, the idea of "salvation through faith alone" and an undermining of papal authority. All of these ideas would later be widely recognized and accepted throughout Europe.
In 1520, Pope Leo X issued a bill against Martin Luther, declaring him to be a heretic because of his preachings. As a result, Emperor Charles V called the Diet of Worms as a court of inquisition and ordered Luther to appear and either affirm or renounce his teachings. Luther refused, once again undermining the widely respected papal authority, further proving his ideals.
Calvinism is a branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice of John Calvin. Calvinists illustrated the tends of the Reformation era when they broke from the Roman Catholic church.
The Counter-Reformation was primarily concerned with refuting and silencing Protestant disagreements. Even though some aspects of the Counter-Reformation were aimed at repairing broken parts of Catholicism, the primary effect was to stabilize and reinforce Catholic errors, keeping them in good social spirits with the people of Europe.
Council of Trent was the 19th Ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church. Important members of the church met in Trento as a reaction to the Protestant Reformation. It was social in nature because it stated current Catholic doctrines on salvation, the sacraments, and the Biblical canon, it answered all Protestant disputes.
Mary succeeded her short-lived half brother, Edward VI, to the English throne. She is remembered for briefly re-establishing England as a Roman Catholic country. Mary had almost 300 protestants burned at the stake, creating yet another religious conflict between the government and the people of Europe. When her half-sister, Elizabeth I, came to the throne after Mary's death, England was made protestant again.
The Peace of Augsburg was the "legalization" of Catholicism and Lutheranism in the country of Germany. It allowed princes to determine the primary religion in their ruling region, giving religion an even bigger role in politics. Although it allowed people to practice Lutheranism, they could only practice it if the government allowed, hence resulting in an illusion of religious freedom that was not quite there yet.
The Edict of Nantes, proclaimed in 1598, sought to end the Wars of Religion in France. It granted French Protestants freedom of conscience and allowed them to worship publicly. Although it was later revoked, the religious freedom it granted illustrated a major turning point and introduced a new trend in European history.
Galileo's world of science and humanism collided with the world of Scholasticism and absolutism that held power in the Catholic Church. In an attempt to silence Galileo and keep up the pristine reputation of the Church, he was convicted of heresy and sentenced to house arrest.
As much as war, religion, and economics shaped Europe, cultural ideologies did as well. Throughout European history, the introduction of new ideals and intellectual findings changed the continent's way of thinking. Some events, such as the Scientific Revolution, brought forth new knowledge and opened doors to academic opportunities. Others, such as the Renaissance, precipitated new trends in human behavior and art. All of these kept Europe culturally diverse, modern and flourishing.
The Renaissance was a "rebirth" for European culture and arts, from simplistic medieval themes to aesthetically thought out and humanistic trends. It's celebration of the human form and mind, as well as introduction of artistic techniques and Greek and Roman influences changed Europe forever.
The Prince is considered a revolutionary text, in the fact that it challenged Catholic doctrines of the time and common ways of thinking. In this work, Machiavelli argues that the truth is more important than the abstract ideal. This influence can later be seen in many other cultural movements in European history, such as the Enlightenment.
The Scientific Revolution was a major intellectual movement that challenged the worldview of the universe immensely. Before this time, the world was seen as impeccable and a perfect product of God. After this time, science began to take on a new presence and gained respect throughout Europe, and for the first time the church's word was not always accepted as true fact.
On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres was the main spark of the Scientific Revolution. In this text, Nicholas Copernicus illustrates an elliptical pattern of planetary motion, disproving the circular orbit theory that was accepted as fact at the time. This was the first of many challenges to religious ideals and influences.
The Enlightenment's most important idea was that all people can reason and think for themselves, and not automatically believe what the church tells them, which was of course revolutionary at the time. This is similar to Martin Luther's ideals and the Protestant Reformation of the previous century.
A common motivator throughout European history was the economy. The more economically successful that a country was, the more influence and power it had on others. This spurred actions such as colonization for trade and the exploration of the new world. Europe saw plenty of economic prosperity as well as economic deterioration, often caused by war or revolution.
Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492. He was economically supported by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, for whom he promised to bring back spices and other goods. This was the first of many explorations of the Americas, which brought Europe large amounts of economic satisfaction and a flourish of new goods.
The Industrial Revolution the time in Europe - mainly Britain - when there was a large and rapid change in the way things were made. Instead of things being hand made in small workshops, they were made more cheaply in large quantities by machines in factories, which allowed them to be sold for less. Many people also began to move from an agricultural based life in the country to the towns where the factories offered more and better paid work.
The Marshall Plan was a plan by the United States for rebuilding the allied countries of Europe after World War II. The largest motivator for this was to combat communism (the USSR, in particular). During the years it was in place the US gave $13 billion to help the recovery of the European countries that had joined in the Organization for European Economic Co-operation. By the time the plan ended, the economy of every member state had grown well past pre-war levels.
Europe experienced its fair amount of revolutions throughout its history. A common trend reflected is the difficulty that the government and nobility had in keeping up good relations with their subjects. Distrust and disagreement between the two groups was a primary source of uproar and upset, which the government often failed to control.
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre was a targeted group of assassinations and a wave of Catholic mob violence, directed against the Huguenots during the French Wars of Religion. The massacre marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was hurt deeply by the loss of many of its prominent aristocratic leaders.
The Glorious Revolution occurred in England and Scotland in 1688. Catholic King James II was widely disliked because they were not able to vote or practice the religion of their choice. They invited the Protestant William III of Orange to take over as king. He came to England with his wife Queen Mary, the daughter of King James II. William signed the Bill of Rights and became king, and England became a constitutional monarchy.
Before 1789, France was ruled by the nobles and the Catholic Church. The ideas of the Enlightenment were beginning to make the ordinary people want more power. Many people disliked absolute rule by the royalty and the nobility. The revolution was economic in nature because a main cause was the upset at the fact that the first and the second estate enjoyed all the privileges and rights but the third estate were exploited and had to pay tithes and taille.
The Bastille in Paris became a symbol of the monarchy's dictatorial rule, and was attacked by the people of France for its artillery and gunpowder. It was the main spark of the French Revolution, which was caused in part by anger over taxes imposed by the monarchy.
The Reign of Terror was a period of the French Revolution characterized by a mas amount of executions of presumed enemies of the state. Directed by the Committee of Public Safety, the Revolutionary government's terrorization was essentially a war dictatorship, instituted to rule the country in a national emergency.
The Emancipation Reform of 1861 was a liberal reform passed during the reign of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. The reform effectively abolished serfdom throughout the Russian Empire. Although it had good intentions, the reform was not very successful and serfdom was still very prevalent.
In the aftermath of the February Revolution, power was shared between the weak provisional government and the Petrograd Soviet. Then, revolutionaries led by Bolshevik Party leader Vladimir Lenin launched a nearly bloodless coup d’état against the provisional government. The result was Lenin becoming the virtual dictator of the first Marxist state in the world. His government made peace with Germany, nationalized industry and distributed land, but fought a detrimental war against anti-Bolshevik White Army forces. In 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was established.
Built to separate Eastern Germany from Western Germany, The Berlin Wall was a tangible symbol of the suppression of human rights by the Eastern bloc during the Cold War.
Although loyalties and enemies changed throughout Europe in its history, one thing stayed the same - national relationships were often crucial in determining a country's actions or success. Providing of economic support and materials within alliances were pivotal, especially in times of military conflict. Conflicts between countries also were the source of plenty of not only wars, but competition for territorial and cultural achievements.
The Hundred Years' War was a long lasting conflict between England and France over the succession to the French throne.
The Thirty Years' War was primarily about religion — the Protestants versus the Catholics. As the war continued, the Habsburg dynasty and other organizations used the war to try and get more power. It also sparked national conflict due to the fact that Catholic France fought for the Protestants, which made the France-Habsburg rivalry even worse.
During the time of the Seven Years' War, Colonialism was very common. In the war, the trade interests of the British Empire were opposed to that of the Bourbons (in France and Spain). The Hohenzollerns (in Prussia) and Habsburgs (Holy Roman Emperors and archdukes in Austria) confronted each other. There were also conflicts about who controlled what parts of Silesia.
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of the major powers of Europe. Its purpose was to sort out the political situation in Europe after the defeat of Napoleon. The Congress was concerned with determining the entire shape of Europe after the Napoleonic wars, with the exception of the terms of peace with France, which had already been decided by the Treaty of Paris, signed a few months earlier.
The unification of Italy was the political and social movement that consolidated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of the Kingdom of Italy. This was central to both Italian politics and Italian historiography, for this period is one of the most contested and controversial in modern Italian history. Italian nationalism was based among intellectuals and political activists, often operating from exile.
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, was a conflict between France and Prussia, which was backed by the North German Confederation and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria. The Prussian and German victory brought about the final unification of the German Empire under King William I of Prussia. It also marked the downfall of Napoleon III and the end of the Second French Empire, which was replaced by the Third Republic.
World War II, also called the Second World War was in many respects a continuation, after a 20-year hiatus, of the disputes left unsettled by World War I, such as the Treaty of Versailles. It involved a majority of Europe's great powers as well as countries on other continents. It involved more countries, cost more money, and killed more people than any other war before it.