AP European History II: January-May
"The Industrial Revolution, which took place from the 18th to 19th centuries, was a period during which predominantly agrarian, rural societies in Europe and America became industrial and urban. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the late 1700s, manufacturing was often done in people’s homes, using hand tools or basic machines. Industrialization marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production. The iron and textile industries, along with the development of the steam engine, played central roles in the Industrial Revolution, which also saw improved systems of transportation, communication and banking. While industrialization brought about an increased volume and variety of manufactured goods and an improved standard of living for some, it also resulted in often grim employment and living conditions for the poor and working classes."
"The period 1815-48 saw periods of apparent tranquility broken by recurring waves of revolution. In two of three cases (1830 and 1848), these revolutionary movements started in France and inspired similar outbreaks all over Europe. Generally, revolutions in Western Europe focused on liberal reforms, since, with the exception of Belgium, nation states with a strong middle class were already established there. Eastern Europe, with its multi-national empires, saw more nationalist uprisings as various ethnic groups wanted independence from the Hapsburg, Ottoman, and Russian empires. Germany and Italy, in the middle of Europe, were especially turbulent since they were striving for both national unification and liberal civil rights."
"Where radical revolution failed, nationalism took hold and succeeded. Italian unification, after centuries of disunity, was finally realized in 1861, with the proclamation of Italy under the Sardinian king. By 1870, with the annexation of Rome and its surrounding provinces from France and the Pope, the entire boot of Italy became one united nation-state. Just to the north, the wily political animal that was Otto von Bismarck used everything from war to harsh diplomacy to finally unite the German provinces under the Prussian crown in 1871. Central Europe, previously divided by more powerful interests to the west and east, was finally consolidated into viable and strong states (Germany). Meanwhile, Great Britain continued its pattern of gradual reform and experienced firsthand an active debate over government intervention in the economy and society. Russia, the most backward of all the European powers, frightened by her defeat in the Crimean War, finally moved to some reforms in society and government; however, these reforms were halfhearted and did not effect lasting change."
"The years between 1871 and 1914 witnessed a great upheaval in the world of ideas. It was a time when men were thinking audacious thoughts, when composers were producing adventurous pieces of music, and when painters were painting revolutionary canvases. These new ideas, whether expressed in words, music or art, challenged and brought into question assumptions--confidence in human reason, faith in science and mechanical models of the universe, belief in human goodness, and convictions about individual and social progress; also questioned was the idea of natural rights and the belief that there were objective standards governing human behavior--that western thinkers had taken for granted, at least since the Renaissance. And they heralded an age that would be less certain and less sure about just about everything. Hence, many historians describe this passage from intellectual and cultural certainty to uncertainty as a crisis of revolutionary proportions."
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WWI: World War I was an extremely bloody war that engulfed Europe from 1914 to 1919, with huge losses of life and little ground lost or won. Fought mostly by soldiers in trenches, World War I saw an estimated 10 million military deaths and another 20 million wounded. While many hoped that World War I would be "the war to end all wars," in actuality, the concluding peace treaty set the stage for World War II.
Russian Revolution: In 1917, two revolutions swept through Russia, ending centuries of imperial rule and setting in motion political and social changes that would lead to the formation of the Soviet Union. In March, growing civil unrest, coupled with chronic food shortages, erupted into open revolt, forcing the abdication of Nicholas II (1868-1918), the last Russian czar. Just months later, the newly installed provisional government was itself overthrown by the more radical Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924).
With the onset of the age of anxiety, political dictatorships grew as people searched for stability and solution to the economic difficulties of the Great Depression. The end result was a combination of the resurgence of authoritarian rule coupled with a new type of ruthless and dynamic tyranny which reached its zenith in Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union.
World War 2, also known as the Second World War, was a war fought from 1939 to 1945 in Europe and, during much of the 1930s and 1940s, in Asia.
The war in Europe began in earnest on September 1, 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, and concluded on September 2, 1945, with the official surrender of the last Axis nation, Japan.
The conflict spilled over into Africa, included a handful of incidents in the Americas, and a series of major naval battles.
It was the largest armed conflict in history, spanning the entire world and involving more countries than any other war, as well as introducing powerful new weapons, culminating in the first use of nuclear weapons.
The war ravaged civilians more severely than any previous conflict and served as a backdrop for genocidal killings by Nazi Germany as well as several other mass slaughters of civilians which, although not technically genocide, were significant.