EUROPA, 1945 AND EARLIER
     

The first well-known literate civilization in Europe was that of the Minoans of the island of Crete and later the Myceneans in the adjacent parts of Greece, starting at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC

Jupiter’s (by Romans regarded as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus) abduction of Europa (Metamorphoses Bk II:833-875)

In colour he was white as the snow that rough feet have not trampled and the rain-filled south wind has not melted. The muscles rounded out his neck, the dewlaps hung down in front, the horns were twisted, but one might argue they were made by hand, purer and brighter than pearl. His forehead was not fearful, his eyes were not formidable, and his expression was peaceful. Agenor’s daughter marvelled at how beautiful he was and how unthreatening. But though he seemed so gentle she was afraid at first to touch him.

Soon she drew close and held flowers out to his glistening mouth. The lover was joyful and while he waited for his hoped-for pleasure he kissed her hands. He could scarcely separate then from now. At one moment he frolicks and runs riot in the grass, at another he lies down, white as snow on the yellow sands. When her fear has gradually lessened he offers his chest now for virgin hands to pat and now his horns to twine with fresh wreaths of flowers. The royal virgin even dares to sit on the bull’s back, not realising whom she presses on, while the god, first from dry land and then from the shoreline, gradually slips his deceitful hooves into the waves. Then he goes further out and carries his prize over the mid-surface of the sea. She is terrified and looks back at the abandoned shore she has been stolen from and her right hand grips a horn, the other his back, her clothes fluttering, winding, behind her in the breeze.

Prehistoric era, Bronze Age, Iron Age | Hellenism and Roman Empire | Middle ages (Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages, Late Middle Ages) | Colonial expansion | EARLY MODERN PERIOD: 16th, 17th and 18th centuries (The Enlightenment, Capitalism) | MODERN EUROPE (Industrial Revolution, Renaissance & Reformation, The French Revolution - The storming of the Bastille) | THE 19th CENTURY (NAPOLEONIC WARS, Congress of Vienna) | world wars

 

world wars

After the relative peace of most of the 19th century, the rivalry between European powers exploded in 1914, when World War I started. On one side were Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey (the Central Powers/Triple Alliance), while on the other side stood Serbia and the Triple Entente - the loose coalition of France, the United Kingdom and Russia, which were joined by Italy in 1915 and by the United States in 1917.

Despite the defeat of Russia in 1917 (the war was one of the major causes of the Russian Revolution, leading to the formation of the communist Soviet Union), the Entente finally prevailed in the autumn of 1918. During this period, Germany began the systematic genocide of over 11 million people, including the majority of the Jews of Europe, in the Holocaust. Even as German persecution grew, over the next year the tide was turned and the Germans started to suffer a series of defeats, for example in the siege of Stalingrad and at Kursk.

Meanwhile, Japan (allied to Germany and Italy since September 1940) attacked the British in south-east Asia and the United States in Hawaii on December 7, 1941; Germany then completed its over-extension by declaring war on the United States. War raged between the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) and the Allied Forces (British Empire, Soviet Union, and the United States). Allied Forces won in North Africa, invaded Italy in 1943, and invaded occupied France in 1944. In the spring of 1945 Germany itself was invaded from the east by Russia and from the west by the other Allies respectively; Hitler committed suicide and Germany surrendered in early May ending the war in Europe. After allying with Mussolini's Italy in the "Pact of Steel" and signing a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, the German dictator Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin started World War II on 1st and 17 September 1939 attacking Poland and following a military build-up throughout the late 1930s. After initial successes (mainly the conquest of western Poland, much of Scandinavia, France and the Balkans before 1941) the Axis powers began to over-extend themselves in 1941.

Hitler's ideological foes were the Communists in Russia but because of the German failure to defeat the United Kingdom and the Italian failures in North Africa and the Mediterranean the Axis forces were split between garrisoning western Europe and Scandinavia and also attacking Africa. Thus, the attack on the Soviet Union (which together with Germany had partitioned central Europe in 1939-1940) was not pressed with sufficient strength. Despite initial successes, the German army was stopped close to Moscow in December 1941.

In the Treaty of Versailles (1919) the winners imposed relatively hard conditions on Germany and recognized the new states (such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Yugoslavia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) created in central Europe out of the defunct German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires, supposedly on the basis of national self-determination. Most of those countries engaged in local wars, the largest of them being the Polish-Soviet War (1919-1921). In the following decades, fear of Communism and the economic Depression of 1929-1933 led to the rise of extreme nationalist governments - sometimes loosely grouped under the category of 'Fascism' - in Italy (1922), Germany (1933), Spain (after a civil war ending in 1939) and other countries such as Hungary.

Europe in 1941-42

Europe during World War I (1914 - 1918)

About the occasion of the origin World War I, Christopher Clark published the book 'The Sleepwalkers'. The New York Times wrote a review and concluded: "The brilliance of Clark’s far-reaching history is that we are able to discern how the past was genuinely prologue. The participants were conditioned to keep walking along a precipitous escarpment, sure of their own moral compass, but unknowingly impelled by a complex interaction of deep-rooted cultures, patriotism and paranoia, sediments of history and folk memory, ambition and intrigue. They were, in Clark’s term, “sleepwalkers, watchful but unseeing, haunted by dreams, yet blind to the reality of the horror they were about to bring into the world.” In conception, steely scholarship and piercing insights, his book is a masterpiece.

The 19th Century
Napoleonic Wars Congress of Vienna

Napoleon Bonaparte was France's most successful general in the Revolutionary wars, having conquered large parts of Italy and forced the Austrians to sue for peace. In 1799 he returned from Egypt and on 18 Brumaire (9 November) overthrew the government, replacing it with the Consulate, in which he was First Consul. On 2 December 1804, after a failed assassination plot he crowned himself Emperor.

In 1805 Napoleon planned to invade Britain, but a renewed British alliance with Russia and Austria (Third Coalition), forced him to turn his attention towards the continent, while at the same time failure to lure the superior British fleet away from the English Channel, ending in a decisive French defeat at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October put an end to hopes of an invasion of Britain. On 2 December Napoleon defeated a numerically superior Austro-Russian army at Austerlitz, forcing Austria’s withdrawal from the coalition and dissolving the Holy Roman Empire. In 1806 a Fourth Coalition was set up, on 14 October Napoleon defeated the Prussians at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, marched through Germany and defeated the Russians on 14 June 1807 at Freidland, the Treaties of Tilsit divided Europe between France and Russia and created the Duchy of Warsaw.

On 12 June 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia with a Grande Armée of nearly 700,000 troops. After the measured victories at Smolensk and Borodino Napoleon occupied Moscow, only to find it burned by the retreating Russian Army, he was forced to withdraw, on the march back his army was harassed by Cossacks, and suffered disease and starvation. Only 20,000 of his men survived the campaign.

Europe in 1812

By 1813 the tide had began to turn from Napoleon, having been defeated by a seven nation army at Battle of Leipzig in October 1813. He was forced to abdicate after the Six Days Campaign and the occupation of Paris, under the Treaty of Fontainebleau he was exiled to Elba. He returned to France on 1 March 1815 (see Hundred Days), raised an army, but was comprehensively defeated by a British and Prussian force at Waterloo on 18 June.

The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, Springtime of the Peoples or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. It was the first (and only) Europe-wide collapse of traditional authority, but within a year reactionary forces had won out and the revolutions collapsed. This revolutionary wave began in France in February, and immediately spread to most of Europe and parts of Latin America. Over 50 countries were affected, but there was no coordination or cooperation among the revolutionaries in different countries.
Five factors were involved:

  • the widespread dissatisfaction with the political leadership;
  • the demand for more participation and democracy;
  • the demands of the working classes;
  • the upsurge of nationalism; and finally,
  • the regrouping of the reactionary forces based in the royalty, the aristocracy, the army, and the peasants.

The uprisings were led by shaky ad-hoc coalitions of reformers, the middle classes and workers, but it could not hold together for long. Tens of thousands of people were killed and many more forced into exile. The only significant reform was the abolition of serfdom in Austria and Hungary. The revolutions were most important in France, Germany, Italy, and Austria, and did not reach Russia, Great Britain, or the United States.

After the defeat of revolutionary France, the other great powers tried to restore the situation which existed before 1789. However, their efforts were unable to stop the spread of revolutionary movements: the middle classes had been deeply influenced by the ideals of democracy of the French revolution, the Industrial Revolution brought important economical and social changes, the lower classes started to be influenced by Socialist, Communist and Anarchistic ideas (especially those summarized by Karl Marx in the Manifesto of the Communist Party), and the preference of the new capitalists became Liberalism (a term which then, politically, meant something different from the modern usage).

Further instability came from the formation of several nationalist movements (in Germany, Italy, Poland etc.), seeking national unification and/or liberation from foreign rule. As a result, the period between 1815 and 1871 saw a large number of revolutionary attempts and independence wars.

Even though the revolutionaries were often defeated, most European states had become constitutional (rather than absolute) monarchies by 1871, and Germany and Italy had developed into nation states. The 19th century also saw the British Empire emerge as the world's first global power due in a large part to the Industrial Revolution and victory in the Napoleonic Wars.

The first revolution to occur in Europe after the French Revolution was the Serbian Uprising of 1804, and the Second Serbian Uprising of 1815, which resulted in the proclamation of autonomous Serbia by the Ottoman Empire. The political dynamics of Europe changed three times over the 19th century - first after the Congress of Vienna, and again after the Crimean War. In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, the major powers of Europe managed to produce a peaceful balance of power among the empires after the Napoleonic wars (despite the occurrence of internal revolutionary movements). But the peace would only last until the Ottoman Empire had declined enough to become a target for the others. This instigated the Crimean War in 1854 and began a tenser period of minor clashes among the globe-spanning empires of Europe that set the stage for the first World War. It changed a third time with the end of the various wars that turned the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Kingdom of Prussia into the Italian and German nation-states, significantly changing the balance of power in Europe.
From 1870, the Bismarkian hegemony on Europe put France in a critical situation, and it slowly rebuilt its relationships, seeking alliances with Russia and Britain, to control the growing power of Germany. By this way, two sides grew in Europe, improving year by year their military forces and alliances
.

The Congress of Vienna was a conference between ambassadors from the major powers in Europe. It was held in Vienna from 1 October 1814, to 9 June 1815. The discussions continued despite Napoleon's return and the Congress's Final Act was signed nine days before his final defeat at Waterloo (*) . 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 in May 1814.

The Congress's principal results, apart from its confirmation of France's loss of the territories annexed in 1795 - 1810, were the enlargement of Russia, (which gained most of the Duchy of Warsaw) and Prussia, which acquired Westphalia and the northern Rhineland. Germany was consolidated from the ~300 states of the Holy Roman Empire (dissolved in 1806) into 39 states. These states were formed into a loose German Confederation under the leadership of Prussia and Austria. Poland was again divided by Russia, Prussia and Austria. The Polish Kingdom became part of Russia, while western Poland became Prussian and southern Poland was made Austrian. Only the Republic of Cracow stayed independent until 1846.

Representatives at the Congress agreed to numerous other territorial changes. Norway was transferred from Denmark to Sweden. Austria gained Lombardy-Venetia in Northern Italy, while much of the rest of North-Central Italy went to Habsburg dynasts (The Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy of Modena, and the Duchy of Parma). The Pope was restored to the Papal States. The Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was restored to its mainland possessions, and also gained control of the Republic of Genoa. In Southern Italy the Bourbon Ferdinand IV was restored to the throne. A large United Kingdom of the Netherlands was created for the Prince of Orange, including both the old United Provinces and the formerly Austrian-ruled territories in the Southern Netherlands. There were other, less important territorial adjustments, including significant territorial gains for the German Kingdoms of Hanover and Bavaria, and the Portuguese rights to the Territory of Olivenza were recognized.

The countries involved with the Congress also agreed to meet at intervals and this led to the establishment of the "Congress system". This system was frequently criticized by 19th century historians for ignoring national and liberal impulses associated with the French Revolution. However, in the twentieth century many historians began to admire the work of the statesmen at the Congress of Vienna, whose work appeared to have prevented another large-scale European war for nearly one hundred years (1818-1914).

(*)

 

15Km from Brussels the allied troops, under the command of the Duke of Wellington and Field Marshal Blucher, came face to face with the French army of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon, finding himself outnumbered, decided to try and defeat each of the different parties of the coalition army separately. 200.000 Men from seven nations went into battle, with losses of some 50.000 men in less than a day. This world-famous battle would play a decisive role in European history.

Château d'Hougoumont, where British and other allied forces faced Napoleon's Army at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815

 

Modern Europe
The French Revolution -
The storming of the Bastille
Renaissance & Reformation Industrial Revolution

The storming of the Bastille

By the late 18th century France's finances were in disarray. Lavish royal expenditure and costly wars, such as the French intervention in the American war of Independence, had bankrupted the state. After repeated failed attempts at financial reform, Louis XVI was persuaded to convene the Estates-General, a representative body of the country made up of three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners.

The members of the Estates-General assembled in Versaille in May 1789, but the debate as to which voting system should be used soon became an impasse. Come June, the third estate, joined by members of the other two, declared itself to be a National Assembly and swore an oath not to dissolve until France had a constitution and created, in July, the National Constituent Assembly. At the same time the people of Paris revolted, famously storming the Bastille prison on 14 July.

On 20 September 1792 the National Convention abolished the monarchy and declared France a republic. Due to the emergency of war the National Convention created the Committee of Public Safety, controlled by the Jacobin Robespierre, to act as the country's executive. Under Robespierre the committee initiated the Reign of Terror, during which up to 40,000 people were executed in Paris, mainly nobles, and those convicted by the Revolutionary Tribunal, often on the flimsiest of evidence.

Elsewhere in the country, counter-revolutionary insurrections were brutally suppressed. The regime was overthrown in the coup of 9 Thermidor (27 July 1794) and executed. The regime which followed ended the Terror and relaxed Robespierre's more extreme policies.

The Renaissance and the New Monarchs marked the start of a period of discovery, exploration, and increase in scientific knowledge. In the 15th century, Portugal opened the age of discoveries, soon followed by Spain. They were later joined by France, the Netherlands and England in building large colonial empires with vast holdings in Africa, the Americas, and Asia.

After the age of discovery, the ideas of democracy took hold in Europe. Struggles for independence arose, most notably in France during the period known as the French Revolution. This led to vast upheaval in Europe as these revolutionary ideas propagated across the continent.

The rise of democracy led to increased tension within Europe on top of the tension already existing due to competition within the New World.
The most famous of these conflicts happened when Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power and set out on a conquest, forming a new French Empire, which soon collapsed.

After these conquests Europe stabilised, but the old foundations were already beginning to crumble.

The Industrial Revolution started in Great Britain in the late 18th century, leading to a move away from agriculture, much greater general prosperity and a corresponding increase in population. Many of the states in Europe took their present form in the aftermath of World War I. From the end of World War II through the end of the Cold War, Europe was divided into two major political and economic blocks: Communist nations in Eastern Europe and Capitalist countries in Southern Europe, Northern Europe and Western Europe. About 1990, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the wider Iron Curtain, and the Soviet Union the Eastern Block disintegrate.

European integration has been a theme in European relations since the end of the second World War, and has accelerated since the end of the Cold War. The European Union, the successor to the European Community, has enlarged from 6 original founding members to 27 today. The European Union has developed from a trade-oriented organisation into one resembling a confederation in a number of respects. The European Union, or EU, describes itself as a family of democratic European countries, committed to working together for peace and prosperity. The organisation oversees co-operation among its members in diverse areas, including trade, the environment, transport, security, science, education and employment. European membership of NATO has also increased since the end of the Cold War, with the admission of a number of Eastern European countries.

Land relief in Europe shows great variation within relatively small areas. The southern regions, however, are more mountainous, while moving north the terrain descends from the high Alps, Pyrenees and Carpathians, through hilly uplands, into broad, low northern plains, which are vast in the east. This extended lowland is known as the Great European Plain, and at its heart lies the North German Plain. An arc of uplands also exists along the north-western seaboard, beginning in the western parts of Britain and Ireland and continuing along the mountainous, fjord-cut spine of Norway.

This description is simplified. Sub-regions such as the Iberian Peninsula and Italy contain their own complex features, as does mainland Central Europe itself, where the relief contains many plateaus, river valleys and basins that complicate the general trend. Sub-regions like Iceland and Britain and Ireland are special cases. The former is a land unto itself in the northern ocean which is counted as part of Europe, while the latter are upland areas that were once joined to the mainland until rising sea levels cut them off.

Having lived side-by-side with agricultural peoples for millennia, Europe's animals and plants have been profoundly affected by the presence and activities of man. With the exception of Scandinavia and northern Russia, few areas of untouched wilderness are currently found in Europe, except for various national parks. The main natural vegetation cover in Europe is forest. The conditions for growth are very favourable. In the north, the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift warm the continent. Southern Europe could be described as having a warm, but mild climate. There are frequent summer droughts in this region. Mountain ridges also affect the conditions. Some of these (Alps, Pyrenees) are oriented east-west and allow the wind to carry large masses of water from the ocean in the interior. Others are oriented south-north (Scandinavian Mountains, Dinarides, Carpathians, Apennines) and because the rain falls primarily on the side of mountains that is oriented towards sea, forests grow well on this side, while on the other side, the conditions are much less favourable. Few corners of mainland Europe have not been grazed by livestock at some point in time, and the cutting down of the pre-agricultural forest habitat caused disruption to the original plant and animal ecosystems.

Eighty to ninety per cent of Europe was once covered by forest. It stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arctic Ocean. Though over half of Europe's original forests disappeared through the centuries of deforestation, Europe still has over one quarter of its land area as forest, such as the taiga of Scandinavia and Russia, mixed rainforests of the Caucasus and the Cork oak forests in the western Mediterranean.

Glaciation during the most recent ice age and the presence of man affected the distribution of European fauna. As for the animals, in many parts of Europe most large animals and top predator species have been hunted to extinction. The woolly mammoth and aurochs were extinct before the end of the Neolithic period. Today wolves (carnivores) and bears (omnivores) are endangered. Once they were found in most parts of Europe. However, deforestation caused these animals to withdraw further and further. By the Middle Ages the bears' habitats were limited to more or less inaccessible mountains with sufficient forest cover.

Since the Renaissance, Europe has had a dominating influence in culture, economics and social movements in the world. European demographics are important not only historically, but also in understanding current international relations and population issues. Some current and past issues in European demographics have included religious emigration, race relations, economic immigration, a declining birth rate and an ageing population.

Early Modern period: 16th, 17th and 18th centuries
Capitalism and The Enlightenment

The Reformation had profound effects on the unity of Europe. Not only were nations divided one from another by their religious orientation, but some states were torn apart internally by religious strife, avidly fostered by their external enemies. France suffered this fate in the 16th century in the series of conflicts known as the French Wars of Religion, which ended in the triumph of the Bourbon Dynasty. England avoided this fate for a while and settled down under Elizabeth to a moderate Anglicanism. Much of modern day Germany was divided into numerous small states under the theoretical framework of the Holy Roman Empire, was also divided along internally drawn sectarian lines, until the Thirty Years' War seemed to see religion replaced by nationalism as the motor of European conflict. The single exception to this was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, an entity created by the agreement between the nobility of those two countries, highly valuing the religious tolerance.

Throughout the early part of this period, capitalism was replacing feudalism as the principal form of economic organization, at least in the western half of Europe. The expanding colonial frontiers resulted in a Commercial Revolution. The period is noted for the rise of modern science and the application of its findings to technological improvements, which culminated in the Industrial Revolution. Iberian exploits of the New World, which started with Christopher Columbus's venture westward in search of a quicker trade route to the East Indies in 1492, was soon challenged by English and French exploits in North America. New forms of trade and expanding horizons made new developments in international law necessary

Map of Europe in 1648 at the end of the Thirty Years' War

Europe in the 1470s

After the Treaty of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years' War, Absolutism became the norm of the continent, while parts of Europe experimented with constitutions foreshadowed by the English Civil War and particularly the Glorious Revolution. European military conflict did not cease, but had less disruptive effects on the lives of Europeans. In the advanced north-west, the Enlightenment gave a philosophical underpinning to the new outlook, and the continued spread of literacy, made possible by the printing press, created new secular forces in thought. Again, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth would be an exception to this rule, with its unique quasi-democratic Golden Freedom.

Eastern Europe was an arena of conflict for domination between Sweden, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire. This period saw a gradual decline of these three powers which were eventually replaced by new enlightened absolutist monarchies, Russia, Prussia and Austria. By the turn of the 19th century they became new powers, having divided Poland between them, with Sweden and Turkey having experienced substantial territorial losses to Russia and Austria respectively. Numerous Polish Jews emigrated to Western Europe, founding Jewish communities in places where they had been expelled from during the Middle Ages.

Petrarch wrote in the 1330s: 'I am alive now, yet I would rather have been born in another time.' He was enthusiastic about the Greek and Roman antiquity with great men who were dead. Matteo Palmieri wrote in the 1430s: 'Now indeed may every thoughtful spirit thank god that it has been permitted to him to be born in a new age.' The renaissance was born: a new age where learning was very important.

The Renaissance was inspired by the growth in study of Latin and Greek texts and the admiration of the Greco-Roman era as a golden age. This prompted many artists and writers to begin drawing from Roman and Greek examples for their works, but there was also much innovation in this period especially by multi-faceted artists like Leonardo da Vinci. Much of the Greek texts came from Islamic sources who also improved upon them. Important political precedents were also set in this period. Machiavelli's political writing in The Prince influenced later absolutism and real-politik, also important was the fact that many patrons ruled states and used the artistry of the Renaissance as a sign of their power.

During this period corruption in the Catholic Church lead to a sharp backlash in the Protestant Reformation. It gained many followers especially among princes and kings seeking a stronger state by ending the influence of the Catholic Church. Figures other than Martin Luther began to emerge as well like John Calvin whose Calvinism had influence in many countries and King Henry VIII of England who broke away from the Catholic Church in England and set up the Anglican Church. These religious divisions brought on a wave of wars inspired and driven by religion but also by the ambitious monarchs in Western Europe who were becoming more centralized and powerful.

The Protestant Reformation also led to a strong reform movement in the Catholic Church called the Counter-Reformation, which aimed to reduce corruption as well as to improve and strengthen Catholic Dogma. An important group in the Catholic Church who emerged from this movement were the Jesuits who helped keep Eastern Europe within the Catholic fold. Still, the Catholic Church was intensely weakened by the Reformation, large parts of Europe were no longer under its sway and kings in the remaining Catholic countries began to take control of the Church institutions within their kingdoms. Unlike Western Europe, the countries of Central Europe, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Hungary, were more tolerant. While still enforcing the predominance of Catholicism they continued to allow the large religious minorities to maintain their faiths. Central Europe became divided between Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and Jews.

Another important development in this period was the growth of pan-European sentiments. Eméric Crucé (1623) came up with the idea of the European Council, intended to end wars in Europe; attempts to create lasting peace were no success, although all European countries (except the Russian and Ottoman Empires, regarded as foreign) agreed to make peace in 1518 at the Treaty of London. Many wars broke out again in a few years. The Reformation also made European peace impossible for many centuries.

Another development was the idea of European superiority. The ideal of civilization was taken over from the ancient Greeks and Romans: discipline, education and living in the city were required to make people civilized; Europeans and non-Europeans were judged for their civility, and Europe regarded itself as superior to other continents. There was a movement by some such as Montaigne that regarded the non-Europeans as a better, more natural and primitive people. Post services were founded all over Europe, which allowed a humanistic interconnected network of intellecutals across Europe, despite religious divisions. However, the Roman Catholic church banned many leading scientific works; this led to an intellectual advantage for Protestant countries, where the banning of books was regionally organized. Francis Bacon and other advocates of science tried to create unity in Europe by focusing on the unity in nature.

In the 15th century, at the end of the Middle Ages, powerful states were appearing, built by the New Monarchs who were centralizing power in France, England, and Spain. On the other hand the Parliament in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth grew in power, taking legislative rights from the Polish king. The new state power was contested by parliaments in other countries especially England. New kinds of states emerged which were cooperations between territorial rulers, cities, farmer republics and knights.

Colonial expansion

The numerous wars did not prevent the new states from exploring and conquering wide portions of the world, particularly in Asia (Siberia) and in the newly-discovered America. In the 15th century, Portugal led the way in geographical exploration, followed by Spain in the early 16th century. They were the first states to set up colonies in America and trade stations on the shores of Africa and Asia, but they were soon followed by France, England and the Netherlands. In 1552 Russian tsar Ivan IV the Terrible conquered Kazan and the Yermak's voyage of 1580 led to the annexation of Siberia into Russia.

Colonial expansion proceeded in the following centuries (with some setbacks, such as the American Revolution and the wars of independence in many American colonies). Spain had control of part of North America and a great deal of Central America and South America, the Caribbean and the Philippines; Britain took the whole of Australia and New Zealand, most of India, and large parts of Africa and North America; France held parts of Canada and India (nearly all of which was lost to Britain in 1763), Indochina and large parts of Africa; the Netherlands gained the East Indies (now Indonesia) and islands in the Caribbean; Portugal obtained Brazil and several territories in Africa and Asia; and later, powers such as Germany, Belgium, Italy and Russia acquired further colonies. This expansion helped the economy of the countries owning them. Trade flourished, because of the minor stability of the empires. The European countries fought wars that were largely paid for by the money coming in from the colonies.


Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages High Middle Ages Early Middle Ages

Early signs of the rebirth of civilization in western Europe began to appear in the 11th century as trade started again in Italy, leading to the economic and cultural growth of independent city states such as Venice and Florence; at the same time, nation-states began to take form in places such as France, England, Spain, and Portugal, although the process of their formation (usually marked by rivalry between the monarchy, the aristocratic feudal lords and the church) actually took several centuries. These new nation-states began writing in their own cultural vernaculars, instead of the traditional Latin. Notable figures of this movement would include Christine de Pisan and Dante, the former writing in French, and the latter in Italian. On the other hand, the Holy Roman Empire, essentially based in Germany and Italy, further fragmented into a myriad of feudal principalities or small city states, whose subjection to the emperor was only formal

One of the largest catastrophes to have hit Europe was the Black Death. There were numerous outbreaks, but the most severe was in the mid-1300s and is estimated to have killed a third of Europe's population. Since many Jews worked as money-lenders (usury was not allowed for
Christians) the Jews were often disliked by Europeans, so it was popular to blame them for the epidemic. This led to increased persecution of Jews in some areas. Thousands of Jews fled to Poland which, ironically, was spared by the first plague, but black death came back time after time

Beginning in the 14th century, the Baltic Sea became one of the most important trade routes.
The Hanseatic League, an alliance of trading cities, facilitated the absorption of vast areas of Poland, Lithuania and other Baltic countries into the economy of Europe. This fed the growth of powerful states in Eastern Europe including Poland, Hungary, Bohemia and Russia.

The conventional end of the Middle Ages is usually associated with the fall of the city Constantinople and of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
The Turks made the city the capital of their Ottoman Empire, which lasted until 1919 and also included Egypt,
Syria and most of the Balkans.

After the East-West Schism, Western Christianity was adopted by newly created kingdoms of Central Europe: Poland, Hungary and Bohemia. The Roman Catholic Church developed as a major power, leading to conflicts between the Pope and Emperor.

The area of the Roman Catholic Church expanded enormously due to conversions of pagan kings (Scandinavia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary) and crusades. Most of Europe was Roman Catholic

Western Europe emerged as the site of a distinct civilization after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, as Germanic peoples conquered it, while the Eastern Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire) survived for another millennium. The Roman Empire was already divided into Greek-speaking and Latin-speaking regions for centuries. In the 7th and 8th century the Arab expansion brought Islamic cultures to the southern Mediterranean shores (from Syria to Sicily and Spain), further enlarging the differences between the various Mediterranean civilizations.

In the same century, Bulgarians created the first Slavic state in Europe - Bulgaria. Feudalism created a new order in a world without cities and replaced the centralized Roman administration which was based on cities and a highly organized army.

The only institution surviving the collapse of the Western Roman Empire was the Roman Catholic Church, which preserved part of the Roman cultural inheritance and remained the primary source of learning in its domain at least until the 13th century; the bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, became the leader of the western church (in the east his supremacy was not accepted in the end).

The Holy Roman Empire emerged around 800, as Charlemagne, king of the Franks, was crowned by the pope as emperor. His empire based in modern France, the Low Countries and Germany expanded into modern Hungary, Italy, Bohemia, Lower Saxony and Spain. He and his father received substantial help from an alliance with the Pope, who wanted help against the Lombards. The pope was officially a vasal of the Byzantine Empire, but the Byzantine emperor did (could do) nothing against the Lombards.
Two empires, Great Moravia and Kievan Rus', emerged among the Western and Eastern Slavs respectively in the 9th century.

In the late 9th century and 10th century, northern and western Europe felt the burgeoning power and influence of the Vikings who raided, traded, conquered and settled swiftly and efficiently with their advanced sea-going vessels such as the longships. The Hungarians pillaged mainland Europe and the Arabs the south. In the 10th century independent kingdoms were established in Central Europe, for example, Poland and Kingdom of Hungary. Hungarians had stopped their pillaging campaigns; prominent nation states also included Bulgaria and Serbia, that have rivalled Byzantium in the Balkans.The subsequent period, ending around 1000, saw the further growth of feudalism, which weakened the Holy Roman Empire

Celts

Around 400 BC, the La Tene culture spread over most of the interior as far as the Iberian Peninsula, mingling with earlier residents of Iberia to produce a unique Celtiberian culture, and later Anatolia. As the Celts did not use a written language, knowledge of them is piecemeal. The Romans encountered them and recorded a great deal about them; these records and the archaeological evidence form our primary understanding of this extremely influential culture. The Celts posed a formidable, but disorganized, competition to the Roman state, that later colonized and conquered much of the southern portion of Europe.


Hellenism and Roman Empire

The Roman Forum was the central area around which ancient Rome developed and served as a hub for daily Roman life

The origins of western democratic and individualistic culture are often attributed to Ancient Greece. The Hellenic civilization took the form of a collection of city-states (the most important being Athens, Corinth, Siracuse and Sparta), having vastly differing types of government and cultures, including what are unprecedented developments in various governmental forms, philosophy, science, politics, sports, theatre and music.

The Hellenic city-states founded a large number of colonies on the shores of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean sea, Asia Minor, Sicily and Southern Italy in Magna Graecia, but in the 4th century BC their internal wars made them an easy prey for king Philip II of Macedon. The campaigns of his son Alexander the Great spread Greek culture into Persia, Egypt and India, but also favoured contact with the older learnings of those countries, opening up a new period of development, known as Hellenism.

Much of Greek learning was assimilated by the nascent Roman state as it expanded outward from Italy, taking advantage of its enemies' inability to unite: the only real challenge to Roman ascent came from the Phoenician colony of Carthage, but its defeat in the end of the 3rd century BC marked the start of Roman hegemony.

First governed by kings, then as a senatorial republic (the Roman Republic), Rome finally became an empire at the end of the 1st century BC, under Augustus and his authoritarian successors.


Prehistoric era, iron era, bronze era

Europe in 220BC

540-530 bc. Red figure amphora

The Roman Empire had its centre in the Mediterranean Sea, controlling all the countries on its shores; the northern border was marked by the Rhine and Danube rivers; under emperor Trajan (2nd century AD) the empire reached its maximum expansion, including Britain, Romania and parts of Mesopotamia. The empire brought peace, civilization and an efficient centralized government to the subject territories, but in the 3rd century a series of civil wars undermined its economic and social strength.


In the 4th century, the emperors Diocletian and Constantine were able to slow down the process of decline by splitting the empire into a Western and an Eastern part. Whereas Diocletian severely persecuted Christianity, Constantine declared an official end to state-sponsored persecution of Christians in 313 with the Edict of Milan, thus setting the stage for the empire to later become officially Christian in about 380 (which would cause the Church to become an important institution).


Greece and Balkans
At the end of the Bronze Age the older Greek kingdoms collapsed, followed by the Greek Dark Ages and Classical Greece. The Iron Age Balkans were inhabited by various "Palaeo-Balkans" peoples, such as Thracians, Illyrians.

The first well-known literate civilization in Europe was that of the Minoans of the island of Crete and later the Myceneans in the adjacent parts of Greece, starting at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.
Homo erectus and Neanderthals settled Europe long before the emergence of modern humans, Homo sapiens. The bones of first Europeans are found in Dmanisi, Georgia, dated 2,000,000 BC. The earliest appearance of anatomically modern people in Europe has been dated to 35,000 BC. Evidence of permanent settlement dates from the 7th millennium BC in Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. The Neolithic reached Central Europe in the 6th millennium BC and parts of Northern Europe in the 5th and 4th millennium BC. There is no prehistoric culture that covers the whole of Europe.