User:PuppyOnTheRadio/History of the world

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Overview[edit]

Modern history[edit]

Modern history (the "modern period," the "modern era," "modern times") is history of the period following the Middle Ages. "Contemporary history" encompasses historic events that are immediately relevant to the present. Its intentionally loose scope includes major events such as World War II, but not those whose immediate effects have dissipated.

Early modern period[edit]

"Early modern period" is a term used by historians to refer to the period in Western Europe and its first colonies that spans the centuries between the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution – roughly 1500 to 1800. The early modern period is characterised by the rise to importance of science and by increasingly rapid technological progress, secularised civic politics, and the nation-state. Capitalist economies began their rise, initially in northern Italian republics such as Genoa. The early modern period also saw the rise and dominance of the mercantilist economic theory. As such, the early modern period represents the decline and eventual disappearance, in much of the European sphere, of feudalism, serfdom and the power of the Catholic Church. The period includes the late decades of the Protestant Reformation, the disastrous Thirty Years' War, the Age of Discovery, the European colonization of the Americas, and the peak of European witch-hunting.

Rise of Europe[edit]

During this period, European powers came to dominate most of the world. One theory of why that happened holds that Europe's geography played an important role in its success. The Middle East, India and China are all ringed by mountains and oceans but, once past these outer barriers, are nearly flat. By contrast, the Pyrenees, Alps, Apennines, Carpathians and other mountain ranges run through Europe, and the continent is also divided by several seas. This gave Europe some degree of protection from the peril of Central Asian invaders. Before the era of firearms, these nomads were militarily superior to the agricultural states on the periphery of the Eurasian continent and, if they broke out into the plains of northern India or the valleys of China, were all but unstoppable. These invasions were often devastating. The Golden Age of Islam was ended by the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258. India and China were subject to periodic invasions, and Russia spent a couple of centuries under the Mongol-Tatar yoke. Central and Western Europe, logistically more distant from the Central Asian heartland, proved less vulnerable to these threats.

Geography contributed to important geopolitical differences. For most of their histories, China, India and the Middle East were each unified under a single dominant power that expanded until it reached the surrounding mountains and deserts. In 1600 the Ottoman Empire controlled almost all the Middle East, the Ming Dynasty ruled China, and the Mughal Empire held sway over India. By contrast, Europe was almost always divided into a number of warring states. Pan-European empires, with the notable exception of the Roman Empire, tended to collapse soon after they arose. Another doubtless important geographic factor in the rise of Europe was the Mediterranean Sea, which, for millennia, had functioned as a maritime superhighway fostering the exchange of goods, people, ideas and inventions.

Nearly all the agricultural civilizations have been heavily constrained by their environments. Productivity remained low, and climatic changes easily instigated boom-and-bust cycles that brought about civilizations' rise and fall. By about 1500, however, there was a qualitative change in world history. Technological advance and the wealth generated by trade gradually brought about a widening of possibilities.

Many have also argued that Europe's institutions allowed it to expand, that property rights and free-market economics were stronger than elsewhere due to an ideal of freedom peculiar to Europe. In recent years, however, scholars such as Kenneth Pomeranz have challenged this view, although the revisionist approach to world history has been met with criticism for systematically "downplaying" European achievements.

Europe's maritime expansion unsurprisingly — given the continent's geography — was largely the work of its Atlantic states: Portugal, Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands. Initially the Portuguese and Spanish Empires were the predominant conquerors and source of influence, and their union resulted in the Iberian Union, the first global empire, on which the "sun never set". Soon the more northern English, French and Dutch began to dominate the Atlantic. In a series of wars fought in the 17th and 18th centuries, culminating with the Napoleonic Wars, Britain emerged as the new world power.

This era in European culture saw the Age of Enlightenment which led to the Scientific Revolution.

Modern period[edit]

The Scientific Revolution changed humanity's understanding of the world and led to the Industrial Revolution, a major transformation of the world's economies. The Scientific Revolution in the 17th century had made little immediate impact on industrial technology; only in the second half of the 18th century did scientific advances begin to be applied significantly to practical invention. The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and used new modes of production — the factory, mass production, and mechanisation — to manufacture a wide array of goods faster and using less labour than previously. The Age of Enlightenment also led to the beginnings of modern democracy in the late-18th century American and French Revolutions. Democracy and republicanism would grow to have a profound effect on world events and on quality of life.

After Europeans had achieved influence and control over the Americas, the imperial activities of the West turned to the lands of the East and Asia. In the 19th century the European states had social and technological advantage over Eastern lands. Britain gained control of the Indian subcontinent, Egypt and the Malay Peninsula; the French took Indochina; while the Dutch cemented their control over the Dutch East Indies. The British also colonised Australia, New Zealand and South Africa with large numbers of British colonists immigrating to these colonies. Russia colonised large pre-agricultural areas of Siberia. In the late 19th century, the European powers divided the remaining areas of Africa. Within Europe, economic and military challenges created a system of nation states, and ethno-linguistic groupings began to identify themselves as distinctive nations with aspirations for cultural and political autonomy. This nationalism would become important to peoples across the world in the 20th century.

During the Industrial Revolution, the world economy became reliant on coal as a fuel, as new methods of transport, such as railways and steamships, effectively shrank the world. Meanwhile, industrial pollution and environmental damage, present since the discovery of fire and the beginning of civilization, accelerated drastically.

The advantages that Europe had developed by the mid-18th century were two: an entrepreneurial culture, and the wealth generated by the Atlantic trade (including the African slave trade). By the late 16th century, silver from the Americas accounted for the Spanish empire's wealth. The profits of the slave trade and of West Indian plantations amounted to 5% of the British economy at the time of the Industrial Revolution. While some historians conclude that, in 1750, labour productivity in the most developed regions of China was still on a par with that of Europe's Atlantic economy (see the NBER Publications by Carol H. Shiue and Wolfgang Keller), other historians like Angus Maddison hold that the per-capita productivity of western Europe had by the late Middle Ages surpassed that of all other regions.

Contemporary history[edit]

1900 to 1945[edit]

The 20th century opened with Europe at an apex of wealth and power, and with much of the world under its direct colonial control or its indirect domination. Much of the rest of the world was influenced by heavily Europeanised nations: the United States and Japan. As the century unfolded, however, the global system dominated by rival powers was subjected to severe strains, and ultimately yielded to a more fluid structure of independent nations organised on Western models.

This transformation was catalysed by wars of unparalleled scope and devastation. World War I destroyed many of Europe's empires and monarchies, and weakened Britain and France. In its aftermath, powerful ideologies arose. The Russian Revolution of 1917 created the first communist state, while the 1920s and 1930s saw militaristic fascist dictatorships gain control in Italy, Germany, Spain and elsewhere.

Ongoing national rivalries, exacerbated by the economic turmoil of the Great Depression, helped precipitate World War II. The militaristic dictatorships of Europe and Japan pursued an ultimately doomed course of imperialist expansionism. Their defeat opened the way for the advance of communism into Central Europe, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, China, North Vietnam and North Korea.

1945 to 2000[edit]

After World War II ended in 1945, the United Nations was founded in the hope of allaying conflicts among nations and preventing future wars. The war had, however, left two nations, the United States and the Soviet Union, with principal power to guide international affairs. Each was suspicious of the other and feared a global spread of the other's political-economic model. This led to the Cold War, a forty-year stand-off between the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies. With the development of nuclear weapons and the subsequent arms race, all of humanity were put at risk of nuclear war between the two superpowers. Such war being viewed as impractical, proxy wars were instead waged, at the expense of non-nuclear-armed Third World countries.

The Cold War lasted to the 1990s, when the Soviet Union's communist system began to collapse, unable to compete economically with the United States and western Europe; the Soviets' Central European "satellites" reasserted their national sovereignty, and in 1991 the Soviet Union itself disintegrated. The United States for the time being was left as the "sole remaining superpower".

In the early post-war decades, the African and Asian colonies of the Belgian, British, Dutch, French and other west European empires won their formal independence. These nations faced challenges in the form of neo-colonialism, poverty, illiteracy and endemic tropical diseases.

Many Western and Central European nations gradually formed a political and economic community, the European Union, which expanded eastward to include former Soviet satellites.

The 20th century saw exponential progress in science and technology, and increased life expectancy and standard of living for much of humanity. As the developed world shifted from a coal-based to a petroleum-based economy, new transport technologies, along with the dawn of the Information Age, led to increased globalization. Space exploration reached throughout the solar system. The structure of DNA, the template of life, was discovered, and the human genome was sequenced, a major milestone in the understanding of human biology and the treatment of disease. Global literacy rates continued to rise, and the percentage of the world's labour pool needed to produce humankind's food supply continued to drop.

The technologies of sound recordings, motion pictures, and radio and television broadcasting produced a focus on popular culture and entertainment. Television spots sold both commercial products and political candidates. Then, in the last decade of this century, a rapid increase took place in the use of personal computers. A global communication network emerged in the Internet. One-way mass media gave way to individual communication in what has been called a shift from the fourth to a fifth civilization.

The century saw the development of man-made global threats, including nuclear proliferation, global climate change, massive deforestation, overpopulation, and the dwindling of global resources (particularly fossil fuels).

21st century[edit]

The 21st century has been marked by growth of economic globalization, with consequent risk to interlinked economies, and by the expansion of communications with mobile phones and the Internet. Worldwide demand and competition for resources has risen due to growing populations and industrialization, mainly in India, China and Brazil. This demand is causing increased levels of environmental degradation and a growing threat of global warming. That in turn has spurred the development of alternate or renewable sources of energy (notably solar energy and wind energy), proposals for cleaner fossil fuel technologies, and consideration of expanded use of nuclear energy (somewhat dampened by nuclear plant accidents).

In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the Middle Ages (c. 1500) through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions (c. 1800) and is traditionally demarcated by historians as beginning with the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire in 1453 CE. From a global standpoint, the most important feature of the early modern period was its globalizing character — it witnessed the exploration and colonization of the Americas and the rise of sustained contacts between previously isolated parts of the globe. The historical powers became involved in global trade. This world trading of goods, plants, animals, and food crops saw exchange in the Old World and the New World. The Columbian Exchange greatly affected almost every society on Earth.

In the world, capitalist economies and institutions became more sophisticated and globally articulated. This process began in the medieval North Italian city-states, particularly Genoa, Venice, and Milan. The early modern period also saw the rise and beginning of the dominance of the economic theory of mercantilism. It also saw the European colonization during the 15th to 19th centuries which resulted in the spread of Christianity around the world.

The early modern trends in various regions of the world represented a shift away from medieval modes of organization, sometimes politically and other-times economically. The period in Europe witnessed the decline of feudalism and includes the Reformation, the disastrous Thirty Years' War, the Commercial Revolution, the European colonization of the Americas, and the Golden Age of Piracy. Ruling China at the beginning of the early modern period, the Ming Dynasty was "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history". By the 16th century the Ming economy was stimulated by trade with the Portuguese, the Spanish, and the Dutch. The Azuchi-Momoyama period in Japan saw the Nanban trade after the arrival of the first European Portuguese.

Other notable trends of the early modern period include the development of experimental science, the shrinkage of relative distances through improvements in transportation and communications, increasingly rapid technological progress, secularized civic politics and the early authoritarian nation states in various regions of the world.

Early modern timeline[edit]

Europe and the West[edit]

This era in Western Europe is referred to as the early modern European period and includes the Protestant Reformation, the European wars of religion, the Age of Discovery and the beginning of European colonialism, the rise of strong centralized governments, the beginnings of recognizable nation-states that are the direct antecedents of today's states, the Age of Enlightenment and from the associated scientific advances the first phase of the Industrial Revolution. The emergence of cultural and political dominance of the Western world during this period is known as the Great Divergence.

The early modern period is taken to end with the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire at the Congress of Vienna.

At the end of the early modern period, the British and Russian empires had emerged as world powers from the multipolar contest of colonial empires, while the three great Asian empires of the early modern period, Ottoman Turkey, Mughal India and Qing China, all entered a period of stagnation or decline.

Renaissance and 'Early modern'[edit]

The expression "early modern" is sometimes incorrectly used as a substitute for the term Renaissance. However, "Renaissance" is properly used in relation to a diverse series of cultural developments that occurred over several hundred years in many different parts of Europe — especially central and northern Italy — and it spans the transition from late medieval civilization to the opening of the early modern period. In the visual arts and architecture, the term 'early modern' is not a common designation as the Renaissance period is clearly distinct from what came later. Only in the study of literature is the early modern period a standard designation. European music of the period is generally divided between Renaissance and Baroque. Similarly, philosophy is divided between Renaissance philosophy and the Enlightenment. In other fields, there is far more continuity through the period such as warfare and science.

The beginning of the early modern period is not clear-cut but is generally accepted to be in the late 15th century or early 16th century. Significant dates in this transitional phase from medieval to early modern Europe can be noted:

European kingdoms and movements[edit]

In the early modern period, the Holy Roman Empire was a union of territories in Central Europe under a Holy Roman Emperor. The first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was Otto I. The last was Francis II, who abdicated and dissolved the Empire in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. Despite its name, for much of its history the Empire did not include Rome within its borders.

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historic era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not uniform across Europe, this is a general use of the term. As a cultural movement, it encompassed a rebellion of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform.

Notable individuals[edit]

Johannes Gutenberg is credited with being the first European to use movable type printing, around 1439, and the global inventor of the mechanical printing press. Nicolaus Copernicus formulated a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe. His book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) began modern astronomy and sparked the Scientific Revolution. Another notable individual was Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher politician. He is considered a founder of modern political science. Machiavelli is most famous for a short political treatise, The Prince, a work of realist political theory.

Among the royalty of the time that were notable, Charles the Bold, known as Charles the Bold (or Rash) (not 'the Terrible') to his enemies, he was the last Valois Duke of Burgundy and his early death was a pivotal, if under-recognized, moment in European history. Charles has often been regarded as the last representative of the feudal spirit — a man who possessed no other quality than a blind bravery. Upon his death, Charles left an unmarried nineteen-year-old daughter, Mary of Burgundy, as his heir; her marriage would have enormous implications for the political balance of Europe. The Habsburg Emperor secured the match for his son, the future Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, with the aid of Mary's stepmother, Margaret. In 1477, the territory of the Duchy of Burgundy was annexed by France. In the same year, Mary married Maximilian, Archduke of Austria, giving the Habsburgs control of the remainder of the Burgundian Inheritance.

Claude de Lorraine was the first Duke of Guise from 1528 to his death. Claude distinguished himself at the battle of Marignano (1515), and was long in recovering from the twenty-two wounds he received in the battle. In 1521, he fought at Fuenterrabia, and Louise of Savoy ascribed the capture of the place to his efforts. In 1523 he became governor of Champagne and Burgundy, after defeating at Neufchâteau the imperial troops who had invaded this province. In 1525 he destroyed the Anabaptist peasant army, which was overrunning Lorraine, at Lupstein, near Saverne (Zabern). On the return of Francis I from captivity in 1528, Claude was made Duke of Guise in the peerage of France, though up to this time only princes of the royal house had held the title of duke and peer of France. The Guises, as cadets of the sovereign house of Lorraine and descendants of the house of Anjou, claimed precedence of the Bourbon princes of Condé and Conti.

The 3rd Duke of Alba was a nobleman of importance in the early modern period, nicknamed the "Iron Duke" by the Protestants of the Low Countries because of his harsh rule and cruelty. Tales of atrocities committed during his military operations in Flanders became part of Dutch and English folklore, forming a central component of the Black Legend.

In England, Henry VIII was the King of England and a significant figure in the history of the English monarchy. Although in the greater part of his reign he brutally suppressed the influence of the Protestant Reformation in England, a movement having some roots with John Wycliffe in the 14th century, he is more popularly known for his political struggles with Rome. These struggles ultimately led to the separation of the Church of England from papal authority, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and establishing himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Though Henry reportedly became a Protestant on his death-bed, he advocated Catholic ceremony and doctrine throughout his life. Royal support for the English Reformation began with his heirs, the devout Edward VI and the renowned Elizabeth I, whilst daughter Mary I temporarily reinstated papal authority over England. Henry also oversaw the legal union of England and Wales with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542. He is also noted for his six wives, two of whom were beheaded.

Christians and Christendom[edit]

Christianity at the beginning of the modern period saw the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the end of the Hundred Years War, the discovery of the New World in 1492, and thereafter various movements to reform the church (Lutheran, Zwinglian, Calvinist, etc.), followed by the Counter Reformation.

End of the Crusades and Unity[edit]

The Hussite Crusades involved the military actions against and amongst the followers of Jan Hus in Bohemia ending ultimately with the Battle of Grotniki. Also known as the Hussite Wars, they were arguably the first European war in which hand-held gunpowder weapons such as muskets made a decisive contribution. The Taborite faction of the Hussite warriors were basically infantry, and their many defeats of larger armies with heavily armored knights helped effect the infantry revolution. In totality, the Hussite Crusades were inconclusive.

The last crusade, the Crusade of 1456, was organized to counter the expanding Ottoman Empire and lift the Siege of Belgrade led by John Hunyadi and Giovanni da Capistrano. The siege eventually escalated into a major battle, during which Hunyadi led a sudden counterattack that overran the Turkish camp, ultimately compelling the wounded Sultan Mehmet II to lift the siege and retreat. The siege of Belgrade has been characterized as having "decided the fate of Christendom". The noon bell ordered by Pope Callixtus III commemorates the victory throughout the Christian world to this day.

Nearly a hundred years later, the Peace of Augsburg officially ended the idea that all Christians could be united under one church. The principle of cuius regio, eius religio ("whose the region is, [it shall have] his religion") established the religious, political and geographic divisions of Christianity, and this was established in international law with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which legally ended the concept of a single Christian hegemony, i.e. the "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" of the Nicene Creed. Each government determined the religion of their own state. Christians living in states where their denomination was not the established church were guaranteed the right to practice their faith in public during allotted hours and in private at their will. With the Treaty of Westphalia, the Wars of Religion came to an end, and in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 the concept of the sovereign national state was born. The Corpus Christianum has since existed with the modern idea of a tolerant and diverse society consisting of many different communities.

Inquisitions and Reformations[edit]

The modern Inquisition refers to any one of several institutions charged with trying and convicting heretics (or other offenders against canon law) within the Catholic Church. In the modern era, the first manifestation was the Spanish Inquisition of 1478 to 1834. The Inquisition prosecuted individuals accused of a wide array of crimes related to heresy, including sorcery, blasphemy, Judaizing and witchcraft, as well for censorship of printed literature. Because of its objective — combating heresy — the Inquisition had jurisdiction only over baptized members of the Church (which, however, encompassed the vast majority of the population in Catholic countries). Secular courts could still try non-Christians for blasphemy. (Most of the witch trials went through secular courts.)

The Reformation and rise of modernity in the early 16th century entailed the start of a series of changes in the Corpus Christianum. Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church to begin the Reformation. The Protestant Reformation was a Christian reform movement in Europe which is generally deemed to have begun with Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses although a number of precursors such as Johannes Hus predate that event. The Protestant movement of the 16th century was effected under the protection of the electors of Saxony. The Electorate of Saxony was an independent hereditary electorate of the Holy Roman Empire. The Elector Frederick III established a university at Wittenberg in 1502, at which the Augustinian monk Martin Luther was made professor of philosophy in 1508; at the same time he became one of the preachers at the castle church of Wittenberg. On 31 October 1517, he posted up the Ninety-Five Theses against the sale indulgences on the door of the All Saints' Church, which served as a notice board for university-related announcements. These were points for debate that criticized the Church and the Pope. The most controversial points centered on the practice of selling indulgences and the Church's policy on purgatory. The reform movement soon split along certain doctrinal lines. Spiritual disagreements between various leading figures led to the emergence of rival Protestant churches. The most important denominations to emerge directly from the Reformation were the Lutherans, and the Reformed/Calvinists/Presbyterians. The process of reform had decidedly different causes and effects in other countries. In England, where it gave rise to Anglicanism, the period became known as the English Reformation. Subsequent Protestant denominations generally trace their roots back to the initial reforming movements.

Of the late Inquisitions in the modern era, there were two different manifestations:

  1. the Portuguese Inquisition (1536–1821)
  1. the Roman Inquisition (1542 – c.1860)

This Portuguese inquisition was a local analogue of the more famous Spanish Inquisition. The Roman Inquisition covered most of the Italian peninsula as well as Malta and also existed in isolated pockets of papal jurisdiction in other parts of Europe, including Avignon.

The Catholic Reformation began in 1545 when the Council of Trent was called in reaction to the "Protestant Rebellion". The idea was to reform the state of worldliness and disarray which had befallen some of the clergy of the Church, while reaffirming the Catholic Church's spiritual authority and position as the sole true Church of Christ on Earth, as well as preventing further damage to the Church and her faithful at the hands of the newly formed Protestant denominations.

Tsardom of Russia[edit]

In development of the Third Rome ideas, the Grand Duke Ivan IV (the "Awesome" or "the Terrible") was officially crowned the first Tsar ("Caesar") of Russia in 1547. The Tsar promulgated a new code of laws (Sudebnik of 1550), established the first Russian feudal representative body (Zemsky Sobor) and introduced local self-management into the rural regions. During his long reign, Ivan IV nearly doubled the already large Russian territory by annexing the three Tatar khanates (parts of disintegrated Golden Horde): Kazan and Astrakhan along the Volga River, and Sibirean Khanate in South Western Siberia. Thus by the end of the 16th century Russia was transformed into a multiethnic, multiconfessional and transcontinental state.

Discovery and trade[edit]

The Age of Discovery was a period from the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century, during which European ships traveled around the world to search for new trading routes and partners to feed burgeoning capitalism in Europe. They also were in search of trading goods such as gold, silver and spices. In the process, Europeans encountered peoples and mapped lands previously unknown to them. This factor in the early European modern period was a globalizing character; the 'discovery' of the Americas and the rise of sustained contacts between previously isolated parts of the globe was an important historical event..

The search for new routes was based on the fact that the Silk Road was controlled by the Ottoman Empire, which was an impediment to European commercial interests, and other Eastern trade routes were not available to the Europeans due to Muslim control. The ability to outflank the Muslim states of North Africa was seen as crucial to European survival. At the same time, the Iberians learnt much from their Arab neighbors. The northwestern region of Eurasia has a very long coastline, and has arguably been influenced more by its maritime history than any other continent. Europe is uniquely situated between several navigable seas and intersected by navigable rivers running into them in a way which greatly facilitated the influence of maritime traffic and commerce. In the maritime history of Europe, the carrack and caravel both incorporated the lateen sail that made ships far more maneuverable. By translating the Arab versions of lost ancient Greek geographical works into Latin, European navigators acquired a deeper knowledge of the shape of Africa and Asia.

Mercantile capitalism[edit]

Mercantilism was the dominant school of economic thought throughout the early modern period (from the 16th to the 18th century). This led to some of the first instances of significant government intervention and control over the economy, and it was during this period that much of the modern capitalist system was established. Internationally, mercantilism encouraged the many European wars of the period and fueled European imperialism. Belief in mercantilism began to fade in the late 18th century, as the arguments of Adam Smith and the other classical economists won out.

The Commercial Revolution was a period of economic expansion, colonialism, and mercantilism which lasted from approximately the 16th century until the early 18th century. Beginning with the Crusades, Europeans rediscovered spices, silks, and other commodities rare in Europe. This development created a new desire for trade, and trade expanded in the second half of the Middle Ages. European nations, through voyages of discovery, were looking for new trade routes in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which allowed the European powers to build vast, new international trade networks. Nations also sought new sources of wealth. To deal with this new-found wealth, new economic theories and practices were created. Because of competing national interest, nations had the desire for increased world power through their colonial empires. The Commercial Revolution is marked by an increase in general commerce, and in the growth of non-manufacturing pursuits, such as banking, insurance, and investing.

Trade and the New Economy[edit]

In the Old World, the most desired trading goods were gold, silver and spices. Western Europeans used the compass, new sailing ship technologies, new maps, and advances in astronomy to seek a viable trade route to Asia for valuable spices which would be uncontested by Mediterranean powers.

In terms of shipping advances, the most important developments were the creation of the carrack and caravel designs in Portugal. These vessels evolved from medieval European designs from the North Sea and both the Christian and Islamic Mediterranean. They were the first ships that could leave the relatively placid and calm Mediterranean, Baltic or North Sea and sail safely on the open Atlantic.

When the carrack and then the caravel were developed in Iberia that European thoughts returned to the fabled East. These explorations have a number of causes. Monetarists believe the main reason the Age of Exploration began was because of a severe shortage of bullion in Europe. The European economy was dependent on gold and silver currency, but low domestic supplies had plunged much of Europe into a recession. Another factor was the centuries long conflict between the Iberians and the Muslims to the south.

Piracy's Golden Age[edit]

The Golden Age of Piracy is a designation given to one or more outbursts of piracy in the early modern period. In its broadest accepted definition, this Age of Piracy spans from the mid-17th century to the mid-18th century. The buccaneering period covers approximately the late 17th century. The period is characterized by Anglo-French seamen based on Jamaica and Tortuga attacking Spanish colonies and shipping in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific. The turn of 18th century saw the Pirate Round. They associated with long-distance voyages from Bermuda and the Americas to rob Muslim and East India Company targets in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. The post-Spanish Succession period extending into the early 18th century, when Anglo-American sailors and privateers left unemployed by the end of the War of the Spanish Succession turned en masse to piracy in the Caribbean, the American eastern seaboard, the West African coast, and the Indian Ocean.

European states and politics[edit]

The 15th to 18th century period is marked by the first European colonies, the rise of strong centralized governments, and the beginnings of recognizable European nation states that are the direct antecedents of today's states. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for European artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renaissance man".

The Baroque period saw the Thirty Years' War in Central Europe which decimated the population by up to 20%. The treaties in 1648 ended several wars in Europe and established the beginning of sovereign states. The Peace of Westphalia refers to the two peace treaties of Osnabrück and Münster, signed on May 15 and October 24, 1648, respectively, and written in French, that ended both the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire (today mostly Germany) and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The treaties involved the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand III (Habsburg), the Kingdoms of Spain, France and Sweden, the Netherlands and their respective allies among the princes and the Republican Imperial States of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Peace of Westphalia resulted from the first modern diplomatic congress. Until 1806, the regulations became part of the constitutional laws of the Holy Roman Empire. The Treaty of the Pyrenees, signed in 1659, ended the war between France and Spain and is often considered part of the overall accord.

Absolutism[edit]

The Age of Absolutism describes the monarchical power that was unrestrained by any other institutions, such as churches, legislatures, or social elites of the European monarchs during the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Monarchs described as absolute can especially be found in the 17th century through the 19th century. Absolutism is characterized by the ending of feudal partitioning, consolidation of power with the monarch, rise of state power, unification of the state laws, and a decrease in the influence of nobility.

French power[edit]

For much of the reign of Louis XIV, who was known as the Sun King (French: le Roi Soleil), France stood as the leading power in Europe, engaging in three major wars—the Franco-Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and the War of the Spanish Succession—and two minor conflicts—the War of Devolution, and the War of the Reunions. Louis believed in the Divine Right of Kings, the theory that the King was crowned by God and accountable to him alone. Consequently, he has long been considered the archetypal absolute monarch. Louis XIV continued the work of his predecessor to create a centralized state governed from the capital in order to sweep away the remnants of feudalism which had persisted in parts of France. He succeeded in breaking the power of the provincial nobility, much of which had risen in revolt during his minority called the Fronde, and forced many leading nobles to live with him in his lavish Palace of Versailles.

Men who featured prominently in the political and military life of France during this period include Mazarin, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Turenne, Vauban. French culture likewise flourished during this era, producing a number of figures of great renown, including Molière, Racine, Boileau, La Fontaine, Lully, Le Brun, Rigaud, Louis Le Vau, Jules Hardouin Mansart, Claude Perrault and Le Nôtre.

Early English revolutions[edit]

Before the Age of Revolution, the English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists. The first and second civil wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third war saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The Civil War ended with the Parliamentary victory at the Battle of Worcester. The monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship in England ended with the victors consolidating the established Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. Constitutionally, the wars established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without Parliament's consent. The English Restoration, or simply put as the Restoration, began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Commonwealth of England that followed the English Civil War. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 establishes modern parliamentary democracy in England.

International balance of power[edit]

The War of the Spanish Succession was a war fought between 1701 to 1714, in which several European powers combined to stop a possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under a single Bourbon monarch, upsetting the European balance of power. It was fought mostly in Europe, but it included Queen Anne's War in North America. The war was marked by the military leadership of notable generals like the duc de Villars, the Jacobite Duke of Berwick, the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy.

The Peace of Utrecht established after a series of individual peace treaties signed in the Dutch city of Utrecht concluded between various European states helped end the War of the Spanish Succession. The representatives who met were Louis XIV of France and Philip V of Spain on the one hand, and representatives of Queen Anne of Great Britain, the Duke of Savoy, and the United Provinces on the other. The treaty enregistred the defeat of French ambitions expressed in the wars of Louis XIV and preserved the European system based on the balance of power. The Treaty of Utrecht marked the change from Spanish to British naval supremacy.

Colonial expansion and possessions[edit]

The historical phenomenon of colonization in the modern era centers on the British empire, although the term colonialism is normally used with reference to discontiguous overseas empires rather than contiguous land-based empires, European or otherwise. European colonization during the 15th to 19th centuries resulted in the spread of Christianity to Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Australia and the Philippines.

Conquest and Americas exploration[edit]

Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492. Subsequently, the major sea powers in Europe sent expeditions to the New World to build trade networks and colonies and to convert the native peoples to Christianity. Pope Alexander VI divided newly discovered lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a north-south meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands (off the west coast of Africa). This division was never accepted by the rulers of England or France. (See also the Treaty of Tordesillas, which followed the papal decree.)

Colonial North America[edit]

Great Britain held several colonies in North America and the West Indies. The colonies in North America were founded between 1607 (Virginia), and 1733 (Georgia). The British colonies in North America rebelled against British rule in 1775, largely due to the taxation that Great Britain was imposing on the colonies. The Thirteen Colonies were part of what became known as British America, a name that was used by Great Britain until the Treaty of Paris recognized the independence of the original thirteen United States of America in 1783. A provisional government was formed which proclaimed their independence, which is now celebrated as having occurred on July 4, 1776, and subsequently became the original thirteen United States of America.

Colonial Latin America[edit]

Spain concentrated building its empire on the central and southern parts of the Americas allotted to it by the Treaty of Tordesillas, because of presence of indigenous states whose human and material resources it could exploit, and large concentrations of silver and gold. The Portuguese built its empire in Brazil, which fell in its sphere of influence per the Treaty of Tordesillas, by developing the land for sugar production since there was a lack of a large, complex society or mineral resources.

Africa and the Near East[edit]

The Ottoman Empire[edit]

In this period, the growth of the Ottoman Empire is the period followed after the rise of the Ottoman Empire in which the Ottoman state reached the Pax Ottomana. This era was perhaps the golden age for the Ottoman Empire.

North and East Africa[edit]

In North Africa, the Ottomans expanded southwestwards into North Africa and battled with the re-emergent Persian Shi'ia Safavid Empire to the east.

In the Saracen sphere of power, the Ottoman Empire, who had conquered Constantinople in 1453, and had seized Egypt in 1517, established the regencies of Algeria, Tunisia and Tripoli (between 1519 and 1551), Morocco remaining an independent Arabized Berber state under the Sharifan dynasty, which had its beginnings at the end of the 13th century.

In East Africa, the Solomonic dynasty came to rule in the 13th century and claimed direct descent from the old Axumite royal house. The Solomonics continued to rule their area of East Africa with few interruptions well into modern history. In the 16th century, Shewa and the rest of Abyssinia was conquered by the forces of Ahmed Gragn of Adal, and Shewa became under Muslim rule; the region then came under pressure from the Oromo, who succeeded during the first decades of the next century in settling the areas around Shewa.

Safavids[edit]

The Safavid Empire was a great Shia Persianate empire after the Islamic conquest of Persia and established of Islam, marking an important points in the history of Islam in the east. The Safavid dynasty was founded about 1501. From their base in Ardabil, the Safavids established control over all of Persia and reasserted the Iranian identity of the region, thus becoming the first native dynasty since the Sassanids to establish a unified Iranian state. Problematic for the Safavids was the powerful Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans, a Sunni dynasty, fought several campaigns against the Safavids.

What fueled the growth of Safavid economy was its position between the burgeoning civilizations of Europe to its west and Islamic Central Asia to its east and north. The Silk Road which led through northern lands to the eastern lands revived in the 16th century. Leaders also supported direct trade with Europe, particularly England and The Netherlands which sought Persian carpet, silk and textiles. Other exports were horses, goat hair, pearls and an inedible bitter almond hadam-talka used as a spice in India. The main imports were spice, textiles (woolens from Europe, cottons from Gujarat), metals, coffee, and sugar. Despite their demise in 1722, the Safavids have left their mark down to the present era by establishing and spreading Shi'a Islam in major parts of the Caucasus and West Asia.

Uzbeks and Afghan Pashtuns[edit]

In the 16th to the early 18th centuries, areas north were under the Uzbeks and the far eastern portions were ruled by the local Pashtuns. Between the 15th and 16th centuries, various nomadic tribes arrived from the steppes including the Kipchaks, Naymans, Kanglis, Kungrats, Manġits and others and these tribes were led by Muhammad Shaybani who was the Khan of the Uzbeks.

The Afghan Pashtuns' lineage stretches back to the Hotaki dynasty. Following Muslim Arab and Turkic conquests, Pashtun ghazis (warriors for the faith) invaded and conquered much of northern India during the Lodhi dynasty and Suri dynasty. Pashtun forces would also invade Persia and the opposing forces were defeated in the Battle of Gulnabad. The Pashstuns would form the Durrani Empire.

Sub-Saharan Africa[edit]

The Songhai Empire took control of the trans-Saharan trade at the beginning of the modern era. It seized Timbuktu in 1468 and Jenne in 1473, building the regime on trade revenues and the cooperation of Muslim merchants. The empire eventually made Islam the official religion, built mosques, and brought Muslim scholars to Gao.

Around the beginning of the modern era, the Benin Empire was an independent trading power West Africa, blocking other inland nations access to the coastal ports. Benin, which may have housed 100,000 inhabitants at its height, spread over twenty-five square kilometres, and was enclosed by three concentric rings of earthworks. By the late 15th century Benin was in contact with Portugal. At its apogee in the 16th and 17th centuries, Benin encompassed parts of southeastern Yorubaland and the western Igbo.

Indian Empires and Southeast Asia[edit]

Mughal Empire[edit]

On the Indian subcontinent, the Lodhi Dynasty ruled over the Delhi Sultanate during its last phase. The dynasty founded by Bhalul Lodhi ruled from 1451 to 1526. The last ruler of this dynasty, Ibrahim Lodhi was defeated and killed by Babur in the first Battle of Panipat.

The Vijayanagara Empire was based in the Deccan Plateau but with diminished power after a major military defeat in 1565 by the Deccan sultanates. The empire is named after its capital city of Vijayanagara.

The rise of the Great Mughal Empire usually is dated to have begun in 1526, around the end of the Middle Ages. The Mughal Empire was an Islamic Persianate imperial power which began in 1526, ruled most of the area as Hindustan by the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The Mughal culture displayed a markedly orderly government, widespread economic prosperity and religious tolerance, and great achievements in the arts in architecture, miniature painting, and literature. The empire dominated south and south-western Asia, rivaling other empires in history for both population and area held.

Archipelagic empires[edit]

At the start of the modern era, the Spice Route between India and China crossed Majapahit. This was an archipelagic empire based on the island of Java. The Majapahit empire was the last of the major Hindu empires of the Malay archipelago and is considered one of the greatest states in Indonesian history. Its influence extended to states on Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, Borneo and eastern Indonesia, though the effectiveness of the influence is the subject of debate. Majapahit found itself unable to control the rising power of the Sultanate of Malacca. The Sultanate of Malacca stretched from Muslim Malay settlements of Bukit (Phuket),Setol (Satun), Pantai ni (Pattani) bodering Ayutthaya Kingdom of Siam (Thailand) in the north to Sumatra in the southwest. The Portuguese invaded its capital in 1511 and, in 1528, the Sultanate of Johor was established by a Malaccan prince to succeed Malacca.

East Asian dynasties and politics[edit]

Chinese dynasties[edit]

In Chinese history around the 16th century the Ming Dynasty's economy was stimulated by maritime trade with the Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch. China became involved in a new global trade of goods, plants, animals, and food crops. Trade with Early Modern Europe and the Japanese brought in massive amounts of silver, which then replaced copper and paper banknotes as the common medium of exchange in China.

During the last decades of the Ming the flow of silver into China was greatly diminished, thereby undermining state revenues and indeed the entire Ming economy. This damage to the economy was compounded by the effects on agriculture of the incipient Little Ice Age, natural calamities, crop failure, and sudden epidemics. The ensuing breakdown of authority and people's livelihoods allowed rebel leaders such as Li Zicheng to challenge Ming authority.

The Ming Dynasty fell around 1644 to the Qing Dynasty which was the last ruling dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 (with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917). During its reign, the Qing Dynasty became highly integrated with Chinese culture.

Japanese shogunates[edit]

Following contact with the Portuguese on Tanegashima Isle in 1543, the Japanese adopted several of the technologies and cultural practices of their visitors, whether in the military area (the arquebus, European-style cuirasses, European ships), religion (Christianity), decorative art, language (integration to Japanese of a Western vocabulary) and culinary: the Portuguese introduced the tempura and above all the valuable refined sugar.

The Azuchi-Momoyama period saw the political unification that preceded the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate. Although a start date of 1573 is often given, in more broad terms, this period begins with Nobunaga's entry into Kyoto in 1568, when he led his army to the imperial capital in order to install Ashikaga Yoshiaki as the 15th, and ultimately final, shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate, and lasts until the coming to power of Tokugawa Ieyasu after his victory over supporters of the Toyotomi clan at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.

The Edo period from 1600 to 1868 characterized early modern Japan. The Tokugawa shogunate was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which now is called Tokyo. The Tokugawa shogunate ruled from Edo Castle from 1603 until 1868, when it was abolished during the Meiji Restoration around the late Edo period (often called Late Tokugawa shogunate).

Korean dynasty[edit]

In 1392, the general Yi Seong-gye established the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) with a largely bloodless coup. Joseon experienced advances in science and culture. King Sejong the Great (1418–1450) promulgated hangul, the Korean alphabet. The period saw various other cultural and technological advances as well as the dominance of neo-Confucianism over the entire Korea.

During the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when invasions by the neighboring Japanese and Qing Chinese nearly overran the Korean peninsula.

After invasions from Manchuria, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace. However, whatever power the kingdom recovered during its isolation further waned as the 18th century came to a close, and faced with internal strife, power struggles, international pressure and rebellions at home, the Joseon Dynasty declined rapidly in the late 19th century.

Religious trends and philosophy[edit]

Eastern philosophies[edit]

Concerning the development of Eastern philosophies, much of Eastern philosophy had been in an advanced state of development from study in the previous centuries. The various philosophies include Indian philosophy, Chinese philosophy, Iranian philosophy, Japanese philosophy, and Korean philosophy.

Muslim world[edit]

The Islamic Golden Age had reached its peak in the High Middle Ages, stopped short by the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. The re-establishment of three major Muslim empires by the 16th century, the aforementioned Ottoman Safavid and Mughal empires, gave rise to a Muslim cultural revival. The Safavids established Twelver Shi'a Islam as Iran's official religion, thus giving Iran a separate identity from its Sunni neighbors.

Protestant Reformation[edit]

The early modern period is initated by the Protestant Reformation and the collapse of the unity of the medieval Western Church.

The theology of Calvinism in particular has been argued as instrumental to the rise of capitalism (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism).

Counter-Reformation and the Jesuits[edit]

The Counter-Reformation or "Catholic Reformation" was a period of Catholic revival in response to the Protestant Reformation during the mid 16th to mid 17th centuries. .

The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, involving ecclesiastical or structural reforms as well as a political dimension and spiritual movements.

Such reforms included the foundation of seminaries for the proper training of priests in the spiritual life and the theological traditions of the Church, the reform of religious life by returning orders to their spiritual foundations, and new spiritual movements focusing on the devotional life and a personal relationship with Christ, including the Spanish mystics and the French school of spirituality. It also involved political activities that included the Roman Inquisition.

New religious orders were a fundamental part of this trend. Orders such as the Capuchins, Ursulines, Theatines, Discalced Carmelites, the Barnabites, and especially the Jesuits strengthened rural parishes, improved popular piety, helped to curb corruption within the church, and set examples that would be a strong impetus for Catholic renewal.

Humanism[edit]

With the adoption of large-scale printing after 1500, Italian Renaissance Humanism spread northward to France, Germany, Holland and England, where it became associated with the Protestant Reformation. In France, pre-eminent Humanist Guillaume Budé (1467–1540) applied the philological methods of Italian Humanism to the study of antique coinage and to legal history, composing a detailed commentary on Justinian's Code. Although a royal absolutist (and not a republican like the early Italian umanisti), Budé was active in civic life, serving as a diplomat for Francis I and helping to found the Collège des Lecteurs Royaux (later the Collège de France). Meanwhile Marguerite de Navarre, the sister of Francis I, herself a poet, novelist and religious mystic, gathered around her and protected a circle of vernacular poets and writers, including Clément Marot, Pierre de Ronsard and François Rabelais.

17th-century philosophy[edit]

The philosophy of 17th-century Europe marks the departure from medieval scholasticism and the often occultist approach of Renaissance philosophy.

The period is typified in Europe by the great system-builders — philosophers who present unified systems of epistemology, metaphysics, logic, and ethics, and often politics and the physical sciences too.

Immanuel Kant classified his predecessors into two schools: the rationalists and the empiricists, The three main rationalists are normally taken to have been René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Gottfried Leibniz.

The mid 17th century sees the first great advances towards modern science, most notably the theory of gravity by Isaac Newton (1643–1727).

Newton together with Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677), John Locke (1632–1704), and Pierre Bayle (1647–1706) was one of the philosophers sparking the Age of Enlightenment in the following century.

Age of Reason and the scientific revolution[edit]

The Great Divergence is epitomized by the Age of Enlightenment or "Age of Reason".

The Enlightenment (starting in the 1750s) flourished until about 1790–1800, after which the emphasis on reason gave way to Romanticism's emphasis on emotion and a Counter-Enlightenment gained force.

The center of the Enlightenment was France, where it was based in the salons and culminated in the great Encyclopédie (1751–72) edited by Denis Diderot (1713–1784) with contributions by hundreds of leading philosophes (intellectuals) such as Voltaire (1694–1778) and Montesquieu (1689–1755).

The French Enlightenment was received in Germany, notably fostered by Frederick the Great, the king of Prussia and gave rise to a flowering of German philosophy, represented foremost by Immanuel Kant.

The French and German developments were further influential in Scottish,

Russian, Spanish and Polish philosophy.

End of the early period[edit]

In modern history, the end of the early period falls in the late eighteenth century, as an Age of Revolutions dawns, beginning with those in North America and France. Subsequent important political changes occurred throughout Europe, including upheavals following the Napoleonic Wars, the redrawing of the map of Europe through the Second Treaty of Paris, the rise of new concepts of nationalism and reorganization in military forces. The end of the early modern period is usually also associated with the Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the mid eighteenth century.

Late Modern[edit]

Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after the Middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Contemporary history describes the span of historic events that are immediately relevant to the present time.

The modern era began approximately in the 16th century. Many major events caused Europe to change around the turn of the 16th century, starting with the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the fall of Muslim Spain and the discovery of the Americas in 1492, and Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation in 1517. In England the modern period is often dated to the start of the Tudor period with the victory of Henry VII over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Early modern European history is usually seen to span from the turn of the 15th century, through the Age of Reason and the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, until the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century.

The study of modern history[edit]

Some events, though born out of context not entirely new, show a new way of perceiving the world. The concept of modernity interprets the general meaning of these events and seeks explanations for major developments.

Source text[edit]

The fundamental difficulty of studying modern history is the fact that a plethora of it has been documented up to the present day. It is imperative to consider the reliability of the information obtained from these records.

Terminology and usage[edit]

Pre-Modern[edit]

In the Pre-Modern era, many people's sense of self and purpose was often expressed via a faith in some form of deity, be that in a single god or in many gods. Pre-modern cultures have not been thought of creating a sense of distinct individuality, though. Religious officials, who often held positions of power, were the spiritual intermediaries to the common person. It was only through these intermediaries that the general masses had access to the divine. Tradition was sacred to ancient cultures and was unchanging and the social order of ceremony and morals in a culture could be strictly enforced.

Modern[edit]

In contrast to the pre-modern era, Western civilization made a gradual transition from premodernity to modernity when scientific methods were developed which led many to believe that the use of science would lead to all knowledge, thus throwing back the shroud of myth under which pre-modern peoples lived. New information about the world was discovered via empirical observation, versus the historic use of reason and innate knowledge.

The term "modern" was coined shortly before 1585 to describe the beginning of a new era. The European Renaissance (about 1420–1630) is an important transition period beginning between the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Times, which started in Italy.

The term "Early Modern" was introduced in the English language in the 1930s. to distinguish the time between what we call Middle Ages and time of the late Enlightenment (1800) (when the meaning of the term Modern Ages was developing its contemporary form). It is important to note that these terms stem from European History. In usage in other parts of the world, such as in Asia, and in Muslim countries, the terms are applied in a very different way, but often in the context with their contact with European culture in the Age of Discoveries.

Postmodern and contemporary[edit]

"Postmodernism", coined 1949, on the other hand, would describe rather a movement in art than a period of history, and is usually applied to arts, but not to any events of the very recent history. This changed when postmodernity was coined to describe the major changes in the 1950s and 1960s in economy, society, culture, and philosophy. Sometimes distinct from the modern periods themselves, the terms "modernity" and "modernism" refer to a new way of thinking, distinct from medieval thinking. "Contemporary" is applied to more recent events because it means "belonging to the same period" and "current".

Modern era[edit]

Significant developments[edit]

The modern period has been a period of significant development in the fields of science, politics, warfare, and technology. It has also been an age of discovery and globalization. During this time that the European powers and later their colonies, began a political, economic, and cultural colonization of the rest of the world.

By the late 19th and 20th centuries, modernist art, politics, science and culture has come to dominate not only Western Europe and North America, but almost every civilized area on the globe, including movements thought of as opposed to the west and globalization. The modern era is closely associated with the development of individualism, capitalism, urbanization and a belief in the possibilities of technological and political progress.

The brutal wars and other problems of this era, many of which come from the effects of rapid change, and the connected loss of strength of traditional religious and ethical norms, have led to many reactions against modern development. Optimism and belief in constant progress has been most recently criticized by postmodernism while the dominance of Western Europe and Anglo-America over other continents has been criticized by postcolonial theory.

Modern as post-medieval[edit]

One common use of the term is to describe the condition of Western history since the mid-15th century, or roughly the European development of movable type and the printing press. In this context the "modern" society is said to develop over many periods, and to be influenced by important events which represent breaks in the continuity.

Early modern period[edit]

The modern era includes the early period, sometimes called the early modern period, which lasted from c. AD 1500 to around c. AD 1800 (most often 1815). Particular facets of early modernity include:

Important events in the development of early modernity period include:

The concept of the modern world as distinct from an ancient or medieval world rests on a sense that the modern world is not just another era in history, but rather the result of a new type of change. This is usually conceived of as progress driven by deliberate human efforts to better their situation.

Advances in all areas of human activity—politics, industry, society, economics, commerce, transport, communication, mechanization, automation, science, medicine, technology, and culture — appear to have transformed an Old World into the Modern or New World. In each case, the identification of the old Revolutionary change can be used to demarcate the old and old-fashioned from the modern.

Portions of the Modern world altered its relationship with the Biblical value system, revalued the monarchical government system, and abolished the feudal economic system, with new democratic and liberal ideas in the areas of politics, science, psychology, sociology, and economics.

This combination of epoch events totally changed thinking and thought in the early modern period, and so their dates serve as well as any to separate the old from the new modes. Particular ways to categorize early modernity include:

As an Age of Revolutions dawned, beginning with those revolts in America and France, political changes were then pushed forward in other countries partly as a result of upheavals of the Napoleonic Wars and their impact on thought and thinking, from concepts from nationalism to organizing armies.

The early period ended in a time of political and economic change as a result of mechanization in society, the American Revolution, the first French Revolution; other factors included the redrawing of the map of Europe by the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna

and the peace established by Second Treaty of Paris which ended the Napoleonic Wars.

Late modern period[edit]

As a result of the Industrial Revolution and the earlier political revolutions, the Modernism worldview's emerged. The industrialization of many nations was initiated with the industrialization of Britain. Particular facets of the late modernity period include:

Other important events in the development of the Late modern period include:

Our most recent era - Modern Times - begins with the end of these revolutions in the 19th century, and includes the World Wars era (encompassing World War I and World War II) and the emergence of socialist countries that lead to the Cold War. The contemporary era follows shortly afterward with the explosion of research and increase of knowledge known as the Information Age in the latter 20th and the early 21st century. Today's Postmodern era is seen in widespread Digitality.

Early modern period[edit]

The early modern period is a term used by historians to refer to the period from approximately 1500 to 1800. follows the Late Middle Ages period, and is marked by the first European colonies, the rise of strong centralized governments, and the beginnings of recognizable nation states that are the direct antecedents of today's states.

In Africa and the Ottoman Empire, the Muslim expansion took place in North and East Africa. In West Africa, various native nations existed. The Indian Empires and civilizations of Southeast Asia were a vital link in the spice trade. On the Indian subcontinent, the Great Mughal Empire existed. The archipelagic empires, the Sultanate of Malacca and later the Sultanate of Johor, controlled the southern areas.

Concerning the Asia, various Chinese dynasties and Japanese shogunates controlled the Asian sphere. In Japan, the Edo period from 1600 to 1868 is also sometimes referred to as the early modern period. And in Korea, from the rising of Joseon Dynasty to the enthronement of King Gojong is referred to as the early modern period. In the Americas, Native Americans had built a large and varied civilization, including the Aztec Empire and alliance, the Inca civilization, the Mayan Empire and cities, and the Chibcha Confederation. In the west, the European kingdoms and movements were in a movement of reformation and expansion. Russia reached the Pacific coast in 1647 and consolidated its control over the Russian Far East in the 19th century.

Later religious trends of the period saw the end of the expansion of Muslims and the Muslim world. Christians and Christendom saw the end of the Crusades and end of religious unity under the Roman Catholic Church. It was during this time that the Inquisitions and Protestant reformations took place.

During the early modern period, an age of discovery and trade was undertaken by the European nations. European powers went on a colonial expansion and took possession throughout the world. There was a conquest of the Americas and exploitation of its resources. Various European powers set up colonies in North America and Latin America.

Toward the end of the early period, Europe was dominated by the evolving system of mercantile capitalism in its trade and the New Economy. European states and politics had the characteristic of Absolutism. The French power and English revolutions dominated the political scene. There eventually evolved an international balance of power that held sway a great conflagration till years later.

The end date of the early modern period is usually associated with the Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in about 1750. Another significant date is 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution, which drastically transformed the state of European politics and ushered in the Prince Edward Era and modern Europe.

Eastern foundations[edit]

In China, urbanization increased as the population grew and as the division of labor grew more complex. Large urban centers, such as Nanjing and Beijing, also contributed to the growth of private industry. In particular, small-scale industries grew up, often specializing in paper, silk, cotton, and porcelain goods. For the most part, however, relatively small urban centers with markets proliferated around the country. Town markets mainly traded food, with some necessary manufactures such as pins or oil. Despite the xenophobia and intellectual introspection characteristic of the increasingly popular new school of neo-Confucianism, China under the early Ming Dynasty was not isolated. Foreign trade and other contacts with the outside world, particularly Japan, increased considerably. Chinese merchants explored all of the Indian Ocean, reaching East Africa with the voyages of Zheng He.

The Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) was founded after the defeat of the Ming, the last Han Chinese dynasty, by the Manchus. The Manchus were formerly known as the Jurchen. When Beijing was captured by Li Zicheng's peasant rebels in 1644, the last Ming Emperor Chongzhen committed suicide. The Manchu then allied with Ming Dynasty general Wu Sangui and seized control of Beijing, which became the new capital of the Qing dynasty. The Manchus adopted the Confucian norms of traditional Chinese government in their rule of China proper.

In Japan following the Sengoku Period of "warring states", central government had been largely reestablished by Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, central authority fell to Tokugawa Ieyasu who completed this process and received the title of shogun in 1603. In order to become shogun, one traditionally was a descendant of the ancient Minamoto clan.

Society in the Japanese "Tokugawa period", unlike the shogunates before it, was supposedly based on the strict class hierarchy originally established by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The daimyo, or lords, were at the top, followed by the warrior-caste of samurai, with the farmers, artisans, and traders ranking below. In some parts of the country, particularly smaller regions, daimyo and samurai were more or less identical, since daimyo might be trained as samurai, and samurai might act as local lords. Otherwise, the largely inflexible nature of this social stratification system unleashed disruptive forces over time. Taxes on the peasantry were set at fixed amounts which did not account for inflation or other changes in monetary value. As a result, the tax revenues collected by the samurai landowners were worth less and less over time. This often led to numerous confrontations between noble but impoverished samurai and well-to-do peasants, ranging from simple local disturbances to much bigger rebellions. None, however, proved compelling enough to seriously challenge the established order until the arrival of foreign powers.

On the Indian subcontinent, the Mughal Empire ruled most of India in the early 18th century. The "classic period" ended with the death and defeat of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 by the rising Hindu Maratha Empire, although the dynasty continued for another 150 years. During this period, the Empire was marked by a highly centralized administration connecting the different regions. All the significant monuments of the Mughals, their most visible legacy, date to this period which was characterised by the expansion of Persian cultural influence in the Indian subcontinent, with brilliant literary, artistic, and architectural results. The Maratha Empire was located in the south west of present-day India and expanded greatly under the rule of the Peshwas, the prime ministers of the Maratha empire. In 1761, the Maratha army lost the Third Battle of Panipat which halted imperial expansion and the empire was then divided into a confederacy of Maratha states.

Western transformations[edit]

Tsardom of Russia[edit]

Russia experienced territorial growth through the 17th century, which was the age of Cossacks. Cossacks were warriors organized into military communities, resembling pirates and pioneers of the New World. In 1648, the peasants of Ukraine joined the Zaporozhian Cossacks in rebellion against Poland-Lithuania during the Khmelnytsky Uprising, because of the social and religious oppression they suffered under Polish rule. In 1654 the Ukrainian leader, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, offered to place Ukraine under the protection of the Russian Tsar, Aleksey I. Aleksey's acceptance of this offer led to another Russo-Polish War (1654–1667). Finally, Ukraine was split along the river Dnieper, leaving the western part (or Right-bank Ukraine) under Polish rule and eastern part (Left-bank Ukraine and Kiev) under Russian. Later, in 1670–71 the Don Cossacks led by Stenka Razin initiated a major uprising in the Volga region, but the Tsar's troops were successful in defeating the rebels. In the east, the rapid Russian exploration and colonisation of the huge territories of Siberia was led mostly by Cossacks hunting for valuable furs and ivory. Russian explorers pushed eastward primarily along the Siberian river routes, and by the mid-17th century there were Russian settlements in the Eastern Siberia, on the Chukchi Peninsula, along the Amur River, and on the Pacific coast. In 1648 the Bering Strait between Asia and North America was passed for the first time by Fedot Popov and Semyon Dezhnyov.

Reason and Enlightenment[edit]

Traditionally, the European intellectual transformation of and after the Renaissance bridged the Middle Ages and the Modern era. The Age of Reason in the Western world is generally regarded as being the start of modern philosophy, and a departure from the medieval approach, especially Scholasticism. Early 17th century philosophy is often called the Age of Rationalism and is considered to succeed Renaissance philosophy and precede the Age of Enlightenment, but some consider it as the earliest part of the Enlightenment era in philosophy, extending that era to two centuries. The 18th century saw the beginning of secularization in Europe, rising to notability in the wake of the French Revolution.

The Age of Enlightenment is a term used to describe a time in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the 18th century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source and legitimacy for authority. Developing more or less simultaneously in many parts of Europe and America. Developing during the Enlightenment era, Renaissance humanism was an intellectual movement spread across Europe. The basic training of the humanist was to speak well and write (typically, in the form of a letter). The term umanista comes from the latter part of the 15th century. The people were associated with the studia humanitatis, a novel curriculum that was competing with the quadrivium and scholastic logic.

Renaissance humanism took a close study of the Latin and Greek classical texts, and was antagonistic to the values of scholasticism with its emphasis on the accumulated commentaries; and humanists were involved in the sciences, philosophies, arts and poetry of classical antiquity. They self-consciously imitated classical Latin and deprecated the use of medieval Latin. By analogy with the perceived decline of Latin, they applied the principle of ad fontes, or back to the sources, across broad areas of learning.

The quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns was a literary and artistic quarrel that heated up in the early 1690s and shook the Académie française. It opposed two sides, the Ancients (Anciens) who constrain choice of subjects to those drawn from the literature of Antiquity and the Moderns (Modernes), who supported the merits of the authors of the century of Louis XIV. Fontenelle quickly followed with his Digression sur les anciens et les modernes (1688), in which he took the Modern side, pressing the argument that modern scholarship allowed modern man to surpass the ancients in knowledge.

Scientific Revolution[edit]

The Scientific Revolution was a period when European ideas in classical physics, astronomy, biology, human anatomy, chemistry, and other classical sciences were rejected and led to doctrines supplanting those that had prevailed from Ancient Greece to the Middle Ages which would lead to a transition to modern science. This period saw a fundamental transformation in scientific ideas across physics, astronomy, and biology, in institutions supporting scientific investigation, and in the more widely held picture of the universe. Individuals started to question all manners of things and it was this questioning that led to the Scientific Revolution, which in turn formed the foundations of contemporary sciences and the establishment of several modern scientific fields.

American wars and revolution[edit]

The French and Indian Wars were a series of conflicts in North America that represented the actions there that accompanied the European dynastic wars. In Quebec, the wars are generally referred to as the Intercolonial Wars. While some conflicts involved Spanish and Dutch forces, all pitted Great Britain, its colonies and American Indian allies on one side and France, its colonies and Indian allies on the other.

The expanding French and British colonies were contending for control of the western, or interior, territories. Whenever the European countries went to war, there were actions within and by these colonies although the dates of the conflict did not necessarily exactly coincide with those of the larger conflicts.

Beginning in the Age of Revolution, the American Revolution and the ensuing political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century saw the Thirteen Colonies of North America overthrow the governance of the Parliament of Great Britain, and then reject the British monarchy itself to become the sovereign United States of America. In this period the colonies first rejected the authority of the Parliament to govern them without representation, and formed self-governing independent states. The Second Continental Congress then joined together against the British to defend that self-governance in the armed conflict from 1775 to 1783 known as the American Revolutionary War (also called American War of Independence).

The American Revolution begun with fighting at Lexington and Concord. On July 4, 1776, they issued the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed their independence from Great Britain and their formation of a cooperative union. In June, 1776, Benjamin Franklin was appointed a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Although he was temporarily disabled by gout and unable to attend most meetings of the Committee, Franklin made several small changes to the draft sent to him by Thomas Jefferson.

The rebellious states defeated Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War, the first successful colonial war of independence. While the states had already rejected the governance of Parliament, through the Declaration the new United States now rejected the legitimacy of the monarchy to demand allegiance. The war raged for seven years, with effective American victory, followed by formal British abandonment of any claims to the United States with the Treaty of Paris.

The Philadelphia Convention set up the current United States; the United States Constitution ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic with a limited central government. The Bill of Rights, comprising ten constitutional amendments guaranteeing many fundamental civil rights and freedoms, was ratified in 1791.

The French Revolutions[edit]

Toward the middle and latter stages of the Age of Revolution, the French political and social revolutions and radical change saw the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy transform, change to forms based on Enlightenment principles of citizenship and inalienable rights. The first revolution led to government by the National Assembly, the second by the Legislative Assembly, and the third by the Directory.

The changes were accompanied by violent turmoil which included the trial and execution of the king, vast bloodshed and repression during the Reign of Terror, and warfare involving every other major European power. Subsequent events that can be traced to the Revolution include the Napoleonic Wars, two separate restorations of the monarchy, and two additional revolutions as modern France took shape. In the following century, France would be governed at one point or another as a republic, constitutional monarchy, and two different empires.

National and Legislative Assembly[edit]

During the French Revolution, the National Assembly, which existed from June 17 to July 9 of 1789, was a transitional body between the Estates-General and the National Constituent Assembly.

The Legislative Assembly was the legislature of France from October 1, 1791 to September 1792. It provided the focus of political debate and revolutionary law-making between the periods of the National Constituent Assembly and of the National Convention.

The Directory and Napoleonic Era[edit]

The Executive Directory was a body of five Directors that held executive power in France following the Convention and preceding the Consulate. The period of this regime (2 November 1795 until 10 November 1799), commonly known as the Directory (or Directoire) era, constitutes the second to last stage of the French Revolution.

The Napoleonic Era is a period in the History of France and Europe. It is generally classified as the fourth stage of the French Revolution. The Napoleonic Era begins roughly with Napoleon's coup d'état, overthrowing the Directory and ends at the Hundred Days and his defeat at Waterloo (November 9, 1799 – June 28, 1815). The congress of Vienna soon set out to restore Europe to pre-French revolution days.

Italian unification[edit]

Italian unification was the political and social movement that annexed different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century. There is a lack of consensus on the exact dates for the beginning and the end of this period, but many scholars agree that the process began with the end of Napoleonic rule and the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and approximately ended with the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, though the last città irredente did not join the Kingdom of Italy until after World War I.

Eastern colonization[edit]

The development of New Imperialism saw the conquest of nearly all eastern hemisphere territories by colonial powers. The commercial colonization of India commenced in 1757, after the Battle of Plassey, when the Nawab of Bengal surrendered his dominions to the Company, in 1765, when the Company was granted the diwani, or the right to collect revenue, in Bengal and Bihar, or in 1772, when the Company established a capital in Calcutta, appointed its first Governor-General, Warren Hastings, and became directly involved in governance.

The Maratha states, following the Anglo-Maratha wars, eventually lost to the British East India Company in 1818. The rule lasted until 1858, when, after the Indian rebellion of 1857 and consequent of the Government of India Act 1858, the British government assumed the task of directly administering India in the new British Raj. In 1819 Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a key trading post for Britain in their rivalry with the Dutch. However, their rivalry cooled in 1824 when an Anglo-Dutch treaty demarcated their respective interests in Southeast Asia. From the 1850s onwards, the pace of colonization shifted to a significantly higher gear.

The Dutch East India Company (1800) and British East India Company (1858) were dissolved by their respective governments, who took over the direct administration of the colonies. Only Thailand was spared the experience of foreign rule, although, Thailand itself was also greatly affected by the power politics of the Western powers. Colonial rule had a profound effect on Southeast Asia. While the colonial powers profited much from the region's vast resources and large market, colonial rule did develop the region to a varying extent.

Decolonization of the Americas[edit]

Decolonization of the Americas refers to the process by which the countries in the Americas gained their independence from European rule. Decolonization began with a series of revolutions in the late 18th and early to mid-19th centuries. The Spanish American wars of independence were the numerous wars against Spanish rule in Spanish America that took place during the early 19th century, from 1808 until 1829, directly related to the Napoleonic French invasion of Spain. The conflict started with short-lived governing juntas established in Chuquisaca and Quito opposing the composition of the Supreme Central Junta of Seville.

When the Central Junta fell to the French, numerous new Juntas appeared all across the Americas, eventually resulting in a chain of newly independent countries stretching from Argentina and Chile in the south, to Mexico in the north. After the death of the king Ferdinand VII, in 1833, only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule, until the Spanish–American War in 1898. Unlike the Spanish, the Portuguese did not divide their colonial territory in America. The captaincies they created were subdued to a centralized administration in Salvador which reported directly to the Crown in Lisbon.

Modern Age[edit]

Late modern period

Industrial revolutions[edit]

A Watt steam engine. The development of the steam engine started the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain. The steam engine was created to pump water from coal mines, enabling them to be deepened beyond groundwater levels.

The date of the Industrial Revolution is not exact. Eric Hobsbawm held that it 'broke out' in the 1780s and was not fully felt until the 1830s or 1840s, while T.S. Ashton held that it occurred roughly between 1760 and 1830 (in effect the reigns of George III, The Regency, and George IV). The great changes of centuries before the 19th were more connected with ideas, religion or military conquest, and technological advance had only made small changes in the material wealth of ordinary people.

The first Industrial Revolution merged into the Second Industrial Revolution around 1850, when technological and economic progress gained momentum with the development of steam-powered ships and railways, and later in the 19th century with the internal combustion engine and electric power generation. The Second Industrial Revolution was a phase of the Industrial Revolution; sometimes labeled as the separate Technical Revolution. From a technological and a social point of view there is no clean break between the two. Major innovations during the period occurred in the chemical, electrical, petroleum, and steel industries. Specific advancements included the introduction of oil fired steam turbine and internal combustion driven steel ships, the development of the airplane, the practical commercialization of the automobile, mass production of consumer goods, the perfection of canning, mechanical refrigeration and other food preservation techniques, and the invention of the telephone.

Industrialization[edit]

Industrialization is the process of social and economic change whereby a human group is transformed from a pre-industrial society into an industrial one. It is a subdivision of a more general modernization process, where social change and economic development are closely related with technological innovation, particularly with the development of large-scale energy and metallurgy production. It is the extensive organization of an economy for the purpose of manufacturing. Industrialization also introduces a form of philosophical change, where people obtain a different attitude towards their perception of nature.

Revolution in manufacture and power[edit]

An economy based on manual labour was replaced by one dominated by industry and the manufacture of machinery. It began with the mechanization of the textile industries and the development of iron-making techniques, and trade expansion was enabled by the introduction of canals, improved roads, and then railways.

The introduction of steam power (fuelled primarily by coal) and powered machinery (mainly in textile manufacturing) underpinned the dramatic increases in production capacity. The development of all-metal machine tools in the first two decades of the 19th century facilitated the manufacture of more production machines for manufacturing in other industries.

The modern petroleum industry started in 1846 with the discovery of the process of refining kerosene from coal by Nova Scotian Abraham Pineo Gesner. Ignacy Łukasiewicz improved Gesner's method to develop a means of refining kerosene from the more readily available "rock oil" ("petr-oleum") seeps in 1852 and the first rock oil mine was built in Bóbrka, near Krosno in Galicia in the following year. In 1854, Benjamin Silliman, a science professor at Yale University in New Haven, was the first to fractionate petroleum by distillation. These discoveries rapidly spread around the world.

Notable engineers[edit]

Engineering achievements of the revolution ranged from electrification to developments in materials science. The advancements made a great contribution to the quality of life. In the first revolution, Lewis Paul was the original inventor of roller spinning, the basis of the water frame for spinning cotton in a cotton mill. Matthew Boulton and James Watt's improvements to the steam engine were fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both the Kingdom of Great Britain and the world.

Nikola Tesla, with Ruđer Bošković's book Theoria Philosophiae Naturalis, sits in front of the spiral coil of his high-frequency transformer at East Houston Street, New York.

In the latter part of the second revolution, Thomas Alva Edison developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world and is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory. In 1882, Edison switched on the world's first large-scale electrical supply network that provided 110 volts direct current to fifty-nine customers in lower Manhattan. Also toward the end of the second industrial revolution, Nikola Tesla made many contributions in the field of electricity and magnetism in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Much of Tesla's early work in electrical engineering and many of his discoveries were of importance. Tesla's patents and theoretical work formed the basis of modern alternating current electric power systems, including the polyphase systems power distribution and the alternating current motor, with which he helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution. In 1887, Tesla filed a number of patents related to a competing form of power distribution known as alternating current. In the following years a bitter rivalry between Tesla and Edison, known as the "War of Currents", took place over the preferred method of distribution. After Tesla's demonstration of wireless communication (radio) in 1894 and after being the victor in the "War of Currents", he was widely respected as one of the greatest electrical engineers who worked in America.

Social effects and classes[edit]

The Industrial Revolutions were major technological, socioeconomic, and cultural changes in late 18th century and early 19th century that began in Britain and spread throughout the world. The effects spread throughout Western Europe and North America during the 19th century, eventually affecting the majority of the world. The impact of this change on society was enormous and is often compared to the Neolithic revolution, when mankind developed agriculture and gave up its nomadic lifestyle.

It has been argued that GDP per capita was much more stable and progressed at a much slower rate until the industrial revolution and the emergence of the modern capitalist economy, and that it has since increased rapidly in capitalist countries.

Mid-19th century European revolts[edit]

The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout the European continent. Described as a revolutionary wave, the period of unrest began in France and then, further propelled by the French Revolution of 1848, soon spread to the rest of Europe. Although most of the revolutions were quickly put down, there was a significant amount of violence in many areas, with tens of thousands of people tortured and killed. While the immediate political effects of the revolutions were reversed, the long-term reverberations of the events were far-reaching.

Industrial age reformism[edit]

Industrial age reform movements began the gradual change of society rather with episodes of rapid fundamental changes. The reformists' ideas were often grounded in liberalism, although they also possessed aspects of utopian, socialist or religious concepts. The Radical movement campaigned for electoral reform, a reform of the Poor Laws, free trade, educational reform, postal reform, prison reform, and public sanitation.

Following the Enlightenment's ideas, the reformers looked to the Scientific Revolution and industrial progress to solve the social problems which arose with the Industrial Revolution. Newton's natural philosophy combined a mathematics of axiomatic proof with the mechanics of physical observation, yielding a coherent system of verifiable predictions and replacing a previous reliance on revelation and inspired truth. Applied to public life, this approach yielded several successful campaigns for changes in social policy.

Imperial Russia[edit]

Under Peter I (the Great), Russia was proclaimed an Empire in 1721 and became recognized as a world power. Ruling from 1682 to 1725, Peter defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War, forcing it to cede West Karelia and Ingria (two regions lost by Russia in the Time of Troubles), as well as Estland and Livland, securing Russia's access to the sea and sea trade. On the Baltic Sea Peter founded a new capital called Saint Petersburg, later known as Russia's Window to Europe. Peter the Great's reforms brought considerable Western European cultural influences to Russia. Catherine II (the Great), who ruled in 1762–96, extended Russian political control over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and incorporated most of its territories into Russia during the Partitions of Poland, pushing the Russian frontier westward into Central Europe. In the south, after successful Russo-Turkish Wars against the Ottoman Empire, Catherine advanced Russia's boundary to the Black Sea, defeating the Crimean khanate.

European Hegemony and the 19th century[edit]

Historians sometimes define the 19th century historical era stretching from 1815 (the Congress of Vienna) to 1914 (the outbreak of the First World War); alternatively, Eric Hobsbawm defined the "Long Nineteenth Century" as spanning the years 1789 to 1914. During this time, the fall of the Spanish Armada enabled the rise of the British Empire.

Imperialism and empires[edit]

During the 19th century, the Spanish, Portuguese, and Ottoman empires began to crumble and the Holy Roman and Mughal empires ceased. Following the Napoleonic Wars, the British Empire became the world's leading power, controlling one quarter of the World's population and one third of the land area. It enforced a Pax Britannica, encouraged trade, and battled rampant piracy.

Electricity, steel, and petroleum enabled Germany to become great international power that raced to create empires of its own. The Meiji Restoration was a chain of events that led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure that was taking a firm hold at the beginning of the Meiji Era which coincided the opening of Japan by the arrival of the Black Ships of Commodore Matthew Perry and made Imperial Japan a great power. However, Russia and Qing Dynasty China failed to keep pace with the other world powers which led to massive social unrest in both empires. The Qing Dynasty's military power weakened during the 19th century, and faced with international pressure, massive rebellions and defeats in wars, the dynasty declined after the mid-19th century. European powers controlled parts of Oceania, with French New Caledonia from 1853 and French Polynesia from 1889; the Germans established colonies in New Guinea in 1884, and Samoa in 1900. The United States expanded into the Pacific with Hawaii becoming a U.S. territory from 1898. Disagreements between the US, Germany and UK over Samoa led to the Tripartite Convention of 1899.

British Victorian era[edit]

The Victorian era of the United Kingdom was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from June 1837 to January 1901. This was a long period of prosperity for the British people, as profits gained from the overseas British Empire, as well as from industrial improvements at home, allowed a large, educated middle class to develop. Some scholars would extend the beginning of the period—as defined by a variety of sensibilities and political games that have come to be associated with the Victorians—back five years to the passage of the Reform Act 1832.

In Britain's "imperial century", Victory over Napoleon left Britain without any serious international rival, other than Russia in central Asia. Unchallenged at sea, Britain adopted the role of global policeman, a state of affairs later known as the Pax Britannica, and a foreign policy of "splendid isolation". Alongside the formal control it exerted over its own colonies, Britain's dominant position in world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many nominally independent countries, such as China, Argentina and Siam, which has been generally characterized as "informal empire". Of note during this time was the Anglo-Zulu War, which was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Empire.

British imperial strength was underpinned by the steamship and the telegraph, new technologies invented in the second half of the 19th century, allowing it to control and defend the Empire. By 1902, the British Empire was linked together by a network of telegraph cables, the so-called All Red Line. Growing till 1922, around 13,000,000 sqmi of territory and roughly 458 million people were added to the British Empire. The British established colonies in Australia in 1788, New Zealand in 1840 and Fiji in 1872, with much of Oceania becoming part of the British Empire.

French governments and conflicts[edit]

The Bourbon Restoration followed the ousting of Napoleon I of France in 1814. The Allies restored the Bourbon Dynasty to the French throne. The ensuing period is called the Restoration, following French usage, and is characterized by a sharp conservative reaction and the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic Church as a power in French politics. The July Monarchy was a period of liberal constitutional monarchy in France under King Louis-Philippe starting with the July Revolution (or Three Glorious Days) of 1830 and ending with the Revolution of 1848. The Second Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.

The Franco-Prussian War was a conflict between France and Prussia, while Prussia was backed up by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria. The complete Prussian and German victory brought about the final unification of Germany under King Wilhelm 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. As part of the settlement, almost all of the territory of Alsace-Lorraine was taken by Prussia to become a part of Germany, which it would retain until the end of World War I.

The French Third Republic was the republican government of France between the end of the Second French Empire following the defeat of Louis-Napoléon in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 and the Vichy Regime after the invasion of France by the German Third Reich in 1940. The Third Republic endured seventy years, making it the most long-lasting regime in France since the collapse of the Ancien Régime in the French Revolution of 1789.

Slavery and abolition[edit]

Slavery was greatly reduced around the world in the 19th century. Following a successful slave revolt in Haiti, Britain forced the Barbary pirates to halt their practice of kidnapping and enslaving Europeans, banned slavery throughout its domain, and charged its navy with ending the global slave trade. Slavery was then abolished in Russia, America, and Brazil (see Abolitionism).

African colonization[edit]

Following the abolition of the slave trade, and propelled by economic exploitation, the Scramble for Africa was initiated formally at the Berlin West Africa Conference in 1884–1885. All the major European powers laid claim to the areas of Africa where they could exhibit a sphere of influence over the area. These claims did not have to have any substantial land holdings or treaties to be legitimate. The French gained major ground in West Africa, the British in East Africa, and the Portuguese and Spanish at various points throughout the continent, while King Leopold was able to retain his personal fiefdom, Congo.

Meiji Japan[edit]

Around the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century, the Meiji era was a marked by the reign of the Meiji Emperor. During this time, Japan started its modernization and rose to world power status. This era name means "Enlightened Rule". It was not until the beginning of the Meiji Era that the Japanese government began taking modernization seriously. Japan expanded its military production base by opening arsenals in various locations. The hyobusho (war office) was replaced with a War Department and a Naval Department. The samurai class suffered great disappointment the following years.

Laws were instituted that required every able-bodied male Japanese citizen, regardless of class, to serve a mandatory term of three years with the first reserves and two additional years with the second reserves. This action, the deathblow for the samurai warriors and their daimyo feudal lords, initially met resistance from both the peasant and warrior alike. The peasant class interpreted the term for military service, ketsu-eki (blood tax) literally, and attempted to avoid service by any means necessary. The Japanese government began modelling their ground forces after the French military. The French government contributed greatly to the training of Japanese officers. Many were employed at the military academy in Kyoto, and many more still were feverishly translating French field manuals for use in the Japanese ranks.

After the death of the Meiji Emperor, the Taishō Emperor took the throne, thus beginning the Taishō period. A key foreign observer of the remarkable and rapid changes in Japanese society in this period was Ernest Mason Satow.

United States egress[edit]

Antebellum expansion[edit]

The Antebellum Age was the a period of increasing sectionalism that led up to the American Civil War. The Antebellum Age was a time of great transition because of the industrial revolution in America. It also was a time of growth in slavery in the American South. In a sense, the Antebellum Period is often considered to have begun with the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, though it is sometimes stipulated to extend back as early as 1812.

"Manifest Destiny" was the territorial expansion of the United States from 1812 to 1860. Manifest Destiny incorporated the belief that the United States was destined, even divinely ordained, to expand across the North American continent, from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. This era, from the end of the War of 1812 to the beginning of the American Civil War, has been called the "Age of Manifest Destiny." During this time, the United States expanded to the Pacific Ocean—"from sea to shining sea"—largely defining the borders of the contiguous United States as they are today.

US Civil War and Reconstruction[edit]

The American Civil War was a civil war in the United States of America. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secession from the U.S. and formed the Confederate States of America (the Confederacy). Led by Jefferson Davis, they fought against the U.S. federal government (the Union), which was supported by all the free states and the five border slave states in the north.

Northern leaders agreed that victory would require more than the end of fighting. It had to encompass the two strategies: secession had to be totally repudiated and all forms of slavery had to be eliminated. They disagreed sharply on the military tactics and political tactics for these goals. They also disagreed on the degree of federal control, that should be imposed on the South and the process by which Southern states should be reintegrated into the Union. The Reconstruction Era in United States history existed in the post-Civil War era in the entire United States between 1865 and 1877.

The Gilded Age and legacy[edit]

During the Gilded Age, there was substantial growth in population in the United States and extravagant displays of wealth and excess of America's upper-class during the post-Civil War and post-Reconstruction era, in the late 19th century. The wealth polarization derived primarily from industrial and population expansion. The businessmen of the Second Industrial Revolution created industrial towns and cities in the Northeast with new factories, and contributed to the creation of an ethnically diverse industrial working class which produced the wealth owned by rising super-rich industrialists and financiers called the "robber barons". An example is the company of John D. Rockefeller, who was an important figure in shaping the new oil industry. Using highly effective tactics and aggressive practices, later widely criticized, Standard Oil absorbed or destroyed most of its competition.

The creation of a modern industrial economy took place. With the creation of a transportation and communication infrastructure, the corporation became the dominant form of business organization and a managerial revolution transformed business operations. In 1890, Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act — the source of all American anti-monopoly laws. The law forbade every contract, scheme, deal, or conspiracy to restrain trade, though the phrase "restraint of trade" remained subjective. By the beginning of the 20th century, per capita income and industrial production in the United States exceeded that of any other country except Britain. Long hours and hazardous working conditions led many workers to attempt to form labor unions despite strong opposition from industrialists and the courts. But the courts did protect the marketplace, declaring the Standard Oil group to be an "unreasonable" monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1911. It ordered Standard to break up into 34 independent companies with different boards of directors.

Transitions and Enlightenment negation[edit]

Around the turn of the 20th century, Enlightenment philosophy was challenged in various quarters. After the use of classical physics since the end of the scientific revolution, modern physics arose with the advent of quantum physics; substituting mathematics studies for experimental studies and examining equations to build a theoretical structure. The old quantum theory was a collection of results which predate modern quantum mechanics, but were never complete or self-consistent. The collection of heuristic prescriptions for quantum mechanics were the first corrections to classical mechanics. In addition, the various number of aether theories in classical physics which supposed a "fifth element", such as the Luminiferous aether, was nullified by the Michelson-Morley experiment in an attempt to detect the motion of earth through the aether. In biology, Darwinism gained acceptance and exposed adaptation in the theory of natural selection. The fields of geology, astronomy and psychology also made strides and gained new insights. In medicine, there were advances of medical theory and treatments.

Another philosophical trend was Chinese philosophy began to integrate concepts of Western philosophy, as steps toward modernization. By the time of the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, there were many calls, such as the May Fourth Movement, to completely abolish the old imperial institutions and practices of China. There have been attempts to incorporate democracy, republicanism, and industrialism into Chinese philosophy, notably by Sun Yat-Sen (Sūn yì xiān, in one Mandarin form of the name) at the beginning of the 20th century. Mao Zedong (Máo zé dōng) added Marxism, Stalinism, and other communist thought. When the Communist Party of China took over power, previous schools of thought, excepting notably Legalism, were denounced as backward, and later even purged during the Cultural Revolution.

Developed from earlier secular traditions, modern Humanism ethical philosophies affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to universal human qualities, particularly rationality, without resorting to the supernatural or alleged divine authority from religious texts. For liberal humanists such as Rousseau or Kant, the universal law of reason guided the way towards total emancipation from any kind of tyranny. These ideas were challenged. The young Karl Marx criticized the project of political emancipation (embodied in the form of human rights), asserting it to be symptomatic of the very dehumanization it is supposed to oppose. For Friedrich Nietzsche, humanism was nothing more than a secular version of theism. In his Genealogy of Morals, he argues that human rights exist as a means for the weak to collectively constrain the strong. On this view, such rights do not facilitate emancipation of life, but rather deny it. In the 20th century, the notion that human beings are rationally autonomous was challenged by the concept that humans were driven by unconscious irrational desires.

Notable persons[edit]

Sigmund Freud is renowned for his redefinition of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life, as well as his therapeutic techniques, including the use of free association, his theory of transference in the therapeutic relationship, and the interpretation of dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires.

Albert Einstein is known for his theories of special relativity and general relativity. He also made important contributions to statistical mechanics, especially his mathematical treatment of Brownian motion, his resolution of the paradox of specific heats, and his connection of fluctuations and dissipation. Despite his reservations about its interpretation, Einstein also made contributions to quantum mechanics and, indirectly, quantum field theory, primarily through his theoretical studies of the photon.

Social Darwinism[edit]

At the end of the 19th century, Social Darwinism was promoted and included the various ideologies based on a concept that competition among all individuals, groups, nations, or ideas was the framework of social evolution in human societies. In this view, society's advancement was dependent on the "survival of the fittest", the term was in fact coined by Herbert Spencer and referred to in "The Gospel of Wealth" theory written by Andrew Carnegie.

Marxism's society[edit]

Karl Marx summarized his approach to history and politics in the opening line of the first chapter of The Communist Manifesto (1848). He wrote:

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

The Manifesto went through a number of editions from 1872 to 1890; notable new prefaces were written by Marx and Engels for the 1872 German edition, the 1882 Russian edition, the 1883 German edition, and the 1888 English edition. In general, Marxism identified five (and one transitional) successive stages of development in Western Europe.

  1. Primitive Communism: as seen in cooperative tribal societies.
  1. Slave Society: which develops when the tribe becomes a city-state. Aristocracy is born.
  1. Feudalism: aristocracy is the ruling class. Merchants develop into capitalists.
  1. Capitalism: capitalists are the ruling class, who create and employ the true working class.
  1. Dictatorship of the proletariat: workers gain class consciousness, overthrow the capitalists and take control over the state.
  1. Communism: a classless and stateless society.

European decline and the 20th century[edit]

Major political developments saw the former British Empire lose most of its remaining political power over commonwealth countries. The Trans-Siberian Railway, crossing Asia by train, was complete by 1916. Other events include the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, two world wars, and the Cold War.

Australian Constitution[edit]

In 1901, the Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British self-governing colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia formed one nation. They kept the systems of government that they had developed as separate colonies but also would have a federal government that was responsible for matters concerning the whole nation. When the Constitution of Australia came into force, the colonies collectively became states of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Eastern warlords[edit]

The last days of the Qing Dynasty were marked by civil unrest and foreign invasions. Responding to these civil failures and discontent, the Qing Imperial Court did attempt to reform the government in various ways, such as the decision to draft a constitution in 1906, the establishment of provincial legislatures in 1909, and the preparation for a national parliament in 1910. However, many of these measures were opposed by the conservatives of the Qing Court, and many reformers were either imprisoned or executed outright. The failures of the Imperial Court to enact such reforming measures of political liberalization and modernization caused the reformists to steer toward the road of revolution.

In 1912, the Republic of China was established and was inaugurated in Nanjing as the first Provisional President. But power in Beijing already had passed to Yuan Shikai, who had effective control of the Beiyang Army, the most powerful military force in China at the time. To prevent civil war and possible foreign intervention from undermining the infant republic, leaders agreed to Army's demand that China be united under a Beijing government. On March 10, in Beijing, Shikai was sworn in as the second Provisional President of the Republic of China.

After the early 1900s revolutions, shifting alliances of China's regional warlords fought for control of the Beijing government. Despite the fact that various warlords gained control of the government in Beijing during the warlord era, this did not constitute a new era of control or governance, because other warlords did not acknowledge the transitory governments in this period and were a law unto themselves. These military-dominated governments were collectively known as the Beiyang government. The warlord era is ends around in 1927.

World Wars era[edit]

Turn of the 20th century[edit]

Begun at the Battle of Port Arthur, the Russo-Japanese War establishes the Empire of Japan as a world power. The Russians were in constant pursuit of a warm water port on the Pacific Ocean, for their navy as well as for maritime trade. The Manchurian Campaign of the Russian Empire was fought against the Japanese over Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were Southern Manchuria, specifically the area around the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden, and the seas around Korea, Japan, and the Yellow Sea. The resulting campaigns, in which the fledgling Japanese military consistently attained victory over the Russian forces arrayed against them, were unexpected by world observers. These victories, as time transpired, would dramatically transform the distribution of power in East Asia, resulting in a reassessment of Japan's recent entry onto the world stage. The embarrassing string of defeats increased Russian popular dissatisfaction with the inefficient and corrupt Tsarist government.

The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a wave of mass political unrest through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included terrorism, worker strikes, peasant unrests, and military mutinies. It led to the establishment of the limited constitutional monarchy, the establishment of State Duma of the Russian Empire, the multi-party system and Russian Constitution of 1906.

In China, the Qing Dynasty was overthrown following the Xinhai Revolution. The Xinhai Revolution began with the Wuchang Uprising on October 10, 1911 and ended with the abdication of Emperor Puyi on February 12, 1912. The primary parties to the conflict were the Imperial forces of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), and the revolutionary forces of the Chinese Revolutionary Alliance (Tongmenghui).

Edwardian Britain[edit]

The Edwardian era in the United Kingdom is the period spanning the reign of King Edward VII up to the end of the First World War, including the years surrounding the sinking of the RMS Titanic. In the early years of the period, the Second Boer War in South Africa split the country into anti- and pro-war factions. The imperial policies of the Conservatives eventually proved unpopular and in the general election of 1906 the Liberals won a huge landslide. The Liberal government was unable to proceed with all of its radical programme without the support of the House of Lords, which was largely Conservative. Conflict between the two Houses of Parliament over the People's Budget led to a reduction in the power of the peers in 1910. The general election in January that year returned a hung parliament with the balance of power held by Labour and Irish Nationalist members.

World War I[edit]

The causes of World War I included many factors, including the conflicts and antagonisms of the four decades leading up to the war. The Triple Entente was the name given to the loose alignment between the United Kingdom, France, and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907. The alignment of the three powers, supplemented by various agreements with Japan, the United States, and Spain, constituted a powerful counterweight to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, the third having concluded an additional secret agreement with France effectively nullifying her Alliance commitments. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism played major roles in the conflict. The immediate origins of the war lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the July crisis of 1914, the spark (or casus belli) for which was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.

However, the crisis did not exist in a void; it came after a long series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powers over European and colonial issues in the decade prior to 1914 which had left tensions high. The diplomatic clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1870. An example is the Baghdad Railway which was planned to connect the Ottoman Empire cities of Konya and Baghdad with a line through modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The railway became a source of international disputes during the years immediately preceding World War I. Although it has been argued that they were resolved in 1914 before the war began, it has also been argued that the railroad was a cause of the First World War. Fundamentally the war was sparked by tensions over territory in the Balkans. Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region and they pulled the rest of the great powers into the conflict through their various alliances and treaties. The Balkan Wars were two wars in South-eastern Europe in 1912–1913 in the course of which the Balkan League (Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece, and Serbia) first captured Ottoman-held remaining part of Thessaly, Macedonia, Epirus, Albania and most of Thrace and then fell out over the division of the spoils, with incorporation of Romania this time.

Various periods of World War I;

  • 1914.07.28 (Tsar Nicholas II of Russia orders a partial mobilization against Austria-Hungary),
  • 1914.08.01 (Germany declares war on Russia),
  • 1914.08.03 (Germany declares war on Russia's ally France),
  • 1914.08.04 (Britain declares war on Germany),
  • 1915.12 (French and German Christmas truce),
  • 1917.12 (British troops take Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire), and
  • 1918.11.11 (World War I ends: Germany signs an armistice agreement with the Allies).

The First World War began in 1914 and lasted to the final Armistice in 1918. The Allied Powers, led by the British Empire, France, Russia until March 1918, Japan and the United States after 1917, defeated the Central Powers, led by the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. The war caused the disintegration of four empires — the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian ones — as well as radical change in the European and Middle Eastern maps. The Allied powers before 1917 are sometimes referred to as the Triple Entente, and the Central Powers are sometimes referred to as the Triple Alliance.

Much of the fighting in World War I took place along the Western Front, within a system of opposing manned trenches and fortifications (separated by a "No man's land") running from the North Sea to the border of Switzerland. On the Eastern Front, the vast eastern plains and limited rail network prevented a trench warfare stalemate from developing, although the scale of the conflict was just as large. Hostilities also occurred on and under the sea and — for the first time — from the air. More than 9 million soldiers died on the various battlefields, and nearly that many more in the participating countries' home fronts on account of food shortages and genocide committed under the cover of various civil wars and internal conflicts. Notably, more people died of the worldwide influenza outbreak at the end of the war and shortly after than died in the hostilities. The unsanitary conditions engendered by the war, severe overcrowding in barracks, wartime propaganda interfering with public health warnings, and migration of so many soldiers around the world helped the outbreak become a pandemic.

Ultimately, World War I created a decisive break with the old world order that had emerged after the Napoleonic Wars, which was modified by the mid-19th century's nationalistic revolutions. The results of World War I would be important factors in the development of World War II approximately 20 years later. More immediate to the time, the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire was a political event that redrew the political boundaries of the Middle East. The huge conglomeration of territories and peoples formerly ruled by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new nations. The partitioning brought the creation of the modern Arab world and the Republic of Turkey. The League of Nations granted France mandates over Syria and Lebanon and granted the United Kingdom mandates over Mesopotamia and Palestine (which was later divided into two regions: Palestine and Transjordan). Parts of the Ottoman Empire on the Arabian Peninsula became parts of what are today Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Revolutions and war[edit]

The Russian Revolution is the series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. Following the abdication of Nicholas II of Russia, the Russian Provisional Government was established. In October 1917, a red faction revolution occurred in which the Red Guard, armed groups of workers and deserting soldiers directed by the Bolshevik Party, seized control of Saint Petersburg (then known as Petrograd) and began an immediate armed takeover of cities and villages throughout the former Russian Empire.

Another action in 1917 that is of note was the armistice signed between Russia and the Central Powers at Brest-Litovsk. As a condition for peace, the treaty by the Central Powers conceded huge portions of the former Russian Empire to Imperial Germany and the Ottoman Empire, greatly upsetting nationalists and conservatives. The Bolsheviks made peace with the German Empire and the Central Powers, as they had promised the Russian people prior to the Revolution. Vladimir Lenin's decision has been attributed to his sponsorship by the foreign office of Wilhelm II, German Emperor, offered by the latter in hopes that with a revolution, Russia would withdraw from World War I. This suspicion was bolstered by the German Foreign Ministry's sponsorship of Lenin's return to Petrograd. The Western Allies, expressed their dismay at the Bolsheviks, upset at:

  1. the withdrawal of Russia from the war effort,
  1. worried about a possible Russo-German alliance, and
  1. galvanized by the prospect of the Bolsheviks making good their threats to assume no responsibility for, and so default on, Imperial Russia's massive foreign loans.

In addition, there was a concern, shared by many Central Powers as well, that the socialist revolutionary ideas would spread to the West. Hence, many of these countries expressed their support for the Whites, including the provision of troops and supplies. Winston Churchill declared that Bolshevism must be "strangled in its cradle".

The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed and the Soviets under the domination of the Bolshevik party assumed power, first in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and then in other places. In the wake of the October Revolution, the old Russian Imperial Army had been demobilized; the volunteer-based Red Guard was the Bolsheviks' main military force, augmented by an armed military component of the Cheka, the Bolshevik state security apparatus. There was an instituted mandatory conscription of the rural peasantry into the Red Army. Opposition of rural Russians to Red Army conscription units was overcome by taking hostages and shooting them when necessary in order to force compliance. Former Tsarist officers were utilized as "military specialists" (voenspetsy), sometimes taking their families hostage in order to ensure loyalty. At the start of the war, three-fourths of the Red Army officer corps was composed of former Tsarist officers. By its end, 83% of all Red Army divisional and corps commanders were ex-Tsarist soldiers.

The principal fighting occurred between the Bolshevik Red Army and the forces of the White Army. Many foreign armies warred against the Red Army, notably the Allied Forces, yet many volunteer foreigners fought in both sides of the Russian Civil War. Other nationalist and regional political groups also participated in the war, including the Ukrainian nationalist Green Army, the Ukrainian anarchist Black Army and Black Guards, and warlords such as Ungern von Sternberg. The most intense fighting took place from 1918 to 1920. Major military operations ended on 25 October 1922 when the Red Army occupied Vladivostok, previously held by the Provisional Priamur Government. The last enclave of the White Forces was the Ayano-Maysky District on the Pacific coast. The majority of the fighting ended in 1920 with the defeat of General Pyotr Wrangel in the Crimea, but a notable resistance in certain areas continued until 1923 (e.g., Kronstadt Uprising, Tambov Rebellion, Basmachi Revolt, and the final resistance of the White movement in the Far East).

In 1917, China declared war on Germany in the hope of recovering its lost province, then under Japanese control. The New Culture Movement occupied the period from 1917 to 1923. Chinese representatives refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles, due to intense pressure from the student protesters and public opinion alike.

The May Fourth Movement helped to rekindle the then-fading cause of republican revolution. In 1917 Sun Yat-sen had become commander-in-chief of a rival military government in Guangzhou in collaboration with southern warlords. Sun efforts to obtain aid from the Western democracies were ignored, however, and in 1920 he turned to the Soviet Union, which had recently achieved its own revolution. The Soviets sought to befriend the Chinese revolutionists by offering scathing attacks on Western imperialism. But for political expediency, the Soviet leadership initiated a dual policy of support for both Sun and the newly established Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The policy of working with the Kuomintang and Chiang Kai-shek had been recommended by the Dutch Communist Henk Sneevliet, chosen in 1923 to be the Comintern representative in China due to his revolutionary experience in the Dutch Indies, where he had a major role in founding the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) - and who felt that the Chinese party was too small and weak to undertake a major effort on its own (see Henk Sneevliet's work for the Comintern).

In early 1927, the Kuomintang-CCP rivalry led to a split in the revolutionary ranks. The CCP and the left wing of the Kuomintang had decided to move the seat of the Nationalist government from Guangzhou to Wuhan. But Chiang Kai-shek, whose Northern Expedition was proving successful, set his forces to destroying the Shanghai CCP apparatus and established an anti-Communist government at Nanjing in April 1927 - bloody events.

The Twenties and the Depression[edit]

The interwar period was the period between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Second World War. This period was marked by turmoil in much of the world, as Europe struggled to recover from the devastation of the First World War.

In North America, especially the first half of this period, people experienced considerable prosperity in the Roaring Twenties. The social and societal upheaval known as the Roaring Twenties began in North America and spread to Europe in the aftermath of World War I. The Roaring Twenties, often called "The Jazz Age", saw a exposition of social, artistic, and cultural dynamism. 'Normalcy' returned to politics, jazz music blossomed, the flapper redefined modern womanhood, Art Deco peaked. The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity, a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, movies and radio proliferated 'modernity' to a large part of the population. The Twenties saw the general favor of practicality, in architecture as well as in daily life. The Twenties was further distinguished by several inventions and discoveries, extensive industrial growth and the rise in consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle.

Europe spent these years rebuilding and coming to terms with the vast human cost of the conflict. The economy of the United States became increasingly intertwined with that of Europe. In Germany, the Weimar Republic gave way to episodes of political and economic turmoil, which culminated with the German hyperinflation of 1923 and the failed Beer Hall Putsch of that same year. When Germany could no longer afford war payments, Wall Street invested heavily in European debts to keep the European economy afloat as a large consumer market for American mass produced goods. By the middle of the decade, economic development soared in Europe, and the Roaring Twenties broke out in Germany, Britain and France, the second half of the decade becoming known as the "Golden Twenties". In France and francophone Canada, they were also called the "années folles" ("Crazy Years").

Worldwide prosperity changed dramatically with the onset of the Great Depression in 1929. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 served to punctuate the end of the previous era, as The Great Depression set in. The Great Depression was a worldwide economic downturn starting in most places in 1929 and ending at different times in the 1930s or early 1940s for different countries. It was the largest and most important economic depression in the 20th century, and is used in the 21st century as an example of how far the world's economy can fall.

The depression had devastating effects in virtually every country, rich or poor. International trade plunged by half to two-thirds, as did personal income, tax revenue, prices and profits. Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by roughly 60 percent. Facing plummeting demand with few alternate sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries suffered the most.

The Great Depression ended at different times in different countries with the effect lasting into the next era. America's Great Depression ended in 1941 with America's entry into World War II. The majority of countries set up relief programs, and most underwent some sort of political upheaval, pushing them to the left or right. In some world states, the desperate citizens turned toward nationalist demagogues — the most infamous being Adolf Hitler — setting the stage for the next era of war. The convulsion brought on by the worldwide depression resulted in the rise of Nazism. In Asia, Japan became an ever more assertive power, especially with regards to China.

Nanjing period[edit]

With help from Germany, Chinese industry and military was improved just prior to the war against Japan.

The "Nanjing Decade" of 1928-37 was one of consolidation and accomplishment under the leadership of the Nationalists, with a mixed but generally positive record in the economy, social progress, development of democracy, and cultural creativity. Some of the harsh aspects of foreign concessions and privileges in China were moderated through diplomacy.

The League and crises[edit]

The interwar period was also marked by a radical change in the international order, away from the balance of power that had dominated pre–World War I Europe. One main institution that was meant to bring stability was the League of Nations, which was created after the First World War with the intention of maintaining world security and peace and encouraging economic growth between member countries. The League was undermined by the bellicosity of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union, and Mussolini's Italy, and by the non-participation of the United States, leading many to question its effectiveness and legitimacy.

A series of international crises strained the League to its limits, the earliest being the invasion of Manchuria by Japan and the Abyssinian crisis of 1935/36 in which Italy invaded Abyssinia, one of the only free African nations at that time. The League tried to enforce economic sanctions upon Italy, but to no avail. The incident highlighted French and British weakness, exemplified by their reluctance to alienate Italy and lose her as their ally. The limited actions taken by the Western powers pushed Mussolini's Italy towards alliance with Hitler's Germany anyway. The Abyssinian war showed Hitler how weak the League was and encouraged the remilitarization of the Rhineland in flagrant disregard of the Treaty of Versailles. This was the first in a series of provocative acts culminating in the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the beginning of the Second World War.

Few Chinese had any illusions about Japanese designs on China. Hungry for raw materials and pressed by a growing population, Japan initiated the seizure of Manchuria in September 1931 and established ex-Qing emperor Puyi as head of the puppet state of Manchukuo in 1932. During the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), the loss of Manchuria, and its vast potential for industrial development and war industries, was a blow to the Kuomintang economy. The League of Nations, established at the end of World War I, was unable to act in the face of the Japanese defiance. After 1940, conflicts between the Kuomintang and Communists became more frequent in the areas not under Japanese control. The Communists expanded their influence wherever opportunities presented themselves through mass organizations, administrative reforms, and the land- and tax-reform measures favoring the peasants — while the Kuomintang attempted to neutralize the spread of Communist influence.

Tripartite Pact[edit]

The Second Sino-Japanese War had seen tensions rise between Imperial Japan and the United States; events such as the Panay incident and the Nanking Massacre turned American public opinion against Japan. With the occupation of French Indochina in the years of 1940–41, and with the continuing war in China, the United States placed embargoes on Japan of strategic materials such as scrap metal and oil, which were vitally needed for the war effort. The Japanese were faced with the option of either withdrawing from China and losing face or seizing and securing new sources of raw materials in the resource-rich, European-controlled colonies of South East Asia—specifically British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies (modern-day Indonesia). In 1940, Imperial Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

World War II[edit]

The Second World War was a global military conflict that took place in 1939–1945. It was the largest and deadliest war in history, culminating in the Holocaust and ending with the dropping of the atom bomb.

Even though Japan had been fighting in China since 1937, the conventional view is that the war began on September 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, the Drang nach Osten. Within two days the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany, even though the fighting was confined to Poland. Pursuant to a then-secret provision of its non-aggression Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union joined with Germany on September 17, 1939, to conquer Poland and to divide Eastern Europe.

The Allies were initially made up of Poland, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, as well as British Commonwealth countries which were controlled directly by the UK, such as the Indian Empire. All of these countries declared war on Germany in September 1939.

Following the lull in fighting, known as the "Phoney War", Germany invaded western Europe in May 1940. Six weeks later, France, in the mean time attacked by Italy as well, surrendered to Germany, which then tried unsuccessfully to conquer Britain. On September 27, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed a mutual defense agreement, the Tripartite Pact, and were known as the Axis Powers.

Nine months later, on June 22, 1941, Germany launched a massive invasion of the Soviet Union, which promptly joined the Allies. Germany was now engaged in fighting a war on two fronts. This proved to be a mistake by Germany - Germany had not successfully carried out the invasion of Britain and the war turned against of the Axis.

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, bringing it too into the war on the Allied side. China also joined the Allies, as eventually did most of the rest of the world. China was in turmoil at the time, and attacked Japanese armies through guerilla-type warfare. By the beginning of 1942, the major combatants were aligned as follows: the British Commonwealth, the United States, and the Soviet Union were fighting Germany and Italy; and the British Commonwealth, China, and the United States were fighting Japan. From then through August 1945, battles raged across all of Europe, in the North Atlantic Ocean, across North Africa, throughout Southeast Asia, throughout China, across the Pacific Ocean and in the air over Japan.

Italy surrendered in September 1943 and split in a northern Germany-occupied puppet state and in an Allies-friendly state in the South; Germany surrendered in May 1945. Following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered, marking the end of the war on September 2, 1945.

It is possible that around 62 million people died in the war; estimates vary greatly. About 60% of all casualties were civilians, who died as a result of disease, starvation, genocide (in particular, the Holocaust), and aerial bombing. The former Soviet Union and China suffered the most casualties. Estimates place deaths in the Soviet Union at around 23 million, while China suffered about 10 million. No country lost a greater portion of its population than Poland: approximately 5.6 million, or 16%, of its pre-war population of 34.8 million died.

The Holocaust (which roughly means "burnt whole") was the deliberate and systematic murder of millions of Jews and other "unwanted" during World War II by the Nazi regime in Germany. Several differing views exist regarding whether it was intended to occur from the war's beginning, or if the plans for it came about later. Regardless, persecution of Jews extended well before the war even started, such as in the Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass). The Nazis used propaganda to great effect to stir up anti-Semitic feelings within ordinary Germans.

After World War II, Europe was informally split into Western and Soviet spheres of influence. Western Europe later aligned as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Eastern Europe as the Warsaw Pact. There was a shift in power from Western Europe and the British Empire to the two new superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. These two rivals would later face off in the Cold War. In Asia, the defeat of Japan led to its democratization. China's civil war continued through and after the war, resulting eventually in the establishment of the People's Republic of China. The former colonies of the European powers began their road to independence.

Post-1945 world[edit]

The mid-20th century is distinguished from most of human history in that its most significant changes were directly or indirectly economic and technological in nature. Economic development was the force behind vast changes in everyday life, to a degree which was unprecedented in human history.

Over the course of the 20th century, the world's per-capita gross domestic product grew by a factor of five, much more than all earlier centuries combined (including the 19th with its Industrial Revolution). Many economists make the case that this understates the magnitude of growth, as many of the goods and services consumed at the end of the century, such as improved medicine (causing world life expectancy to increase by more than two decades) and communications technologies, were not available at any price at its beginning. However, the gulf between the world's rich and poor grew wider, and the majority of the global population remained in the poor side of the divide.

Still, advancing technology and medicine has had a great impact even in the Global South. Large-scale industry and more centralized media made brutal dictatorships possible on an unprecedented scale in the middle of the century, leading to wars that were also unprecedented. However, the increased communications contributed to democratization. Technological developments included the development of airplanes and space exploration, nuclear technology, advancement in genetics, and the dawning of the Information Age.

American Peace[edit]

Pax Americana is an appellation applied to the historical concept of relative liberal peace in the Western world, resulting from the preponderance of power enjoyed by the United States of America starting around the turn of the 20th century. Although the term finds its primary utility in the latter half of the 20th century, it has been used in various places and eras. Its modern connotations concern the peace established after the end of World War II in 1945.

Cold War era[edit]

The Cold War began in the mid-1940s and lasted into the early 1990s. Throughout this period, the conflict was expressed through military coalitions, espionage, weapons development, invasions, propaganda, and competitive technological development. The conflict included costly defense spending, a massive conventional and nuclear arms race, and numerous proxy wars; the two superpowers never fought one another directly.

The Soviet Union created the Eastern Bloc of countries that it occupied, annexing some as Soviet Socialist Republics and maintaining others as satellite states that would later form the Warsaw Pact. The United States and various western European countries began a policy of "containment" of communism and forged myriad alliances to this end, including NATO. Several of these western countries also coordinated efforts regarding the rebuilding of western Europe, including western Germany, which the Soviets opposed. In other regions of the world, such as Latin America and Southeast Asia, the Soviet Union fostered communist revolutionary movements, which the United States and many of its allies opposed and, in some cases, attempted to "roll back". Many countries were prompted to align themselves with the nations that would later form either NATO or the Warsaw Pact, though other movements would also emerge.

The Cold War saw periods of both heightened tension and relative calm. International crises arose, such as the Berlin Blockade (1948–1949), the Korean War (1950–1953), the Berlin Crisis of 1961, the Vietnam War (1959–1975), the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989) and NATO exercises in November 1983. There were also periods of reduced tension as both sides sought détente. Direct military attacks on adversaries were deterred by the potential for mutual assured destruction using deliverable nuclear weapons. In the Cold War era, the Generation of Love and the rise of computers changed society in very different, complex ways, including higher social and local mobility.

The Cold War drew to a close in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. The United States under President Ronald Reagan increased diplomatic, military, and economic pressure on the Soviet Union, which was already suffering from severe economic stagnation. In the second half of the 1980s, newly appointed Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the perestroika and glasnost reforms. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, leaving the United States as the dominant military power, though Russia retained much of the massive Soviet nuclear arsenal.

Latin America polarization[edit]

In Latin America in the 1970s, leftists acquired a significant political influence which prompted the right-wing, ecclesiastical authorities and a large portion of the individual country's upper class to support coup d'états to avoid what they perceived as a communist threat. This was further fueled by Cuban and United States intervention which led to a political polarization. Most South American countries were in some periods ruled by military dictatorships that were supported by the United States of America. Around the 1970s, the regimes of the Southern Cone collaborated in Operation Condor killing many leftist dissidents, including some urban guerrillas. However, by the early 1990s all countries had restored their democracies.

Space Age[edit]

The Space Age is a period encompassing the activities related to the Space Race, space exploration, space technology, and the cultural developments influenced by these events. The Space Age began with the development of several technologies that culminated with the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union. This was the world's first artificial satellite, orbiting the Earth in 98.1 minutes and weighing in at 83 kg. The launch of Sputnik 1 ushered a new era of political, scientific and technological achievements that became known as the Space Age. The Space Age was characterized by rapid development of new technology in a close race mostly between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Space Age reached its peak with the Apollo program which captured the imagination of much of the world's population. The landing of Apollo 11 was an event watched by over 500 million people around the world and is widely recognized as one of the defining moments of the 20th century. Since then and with the end of the space race due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, public attention has largely moved to other areas.

Contemporary era[edit]

In the Contemporary era, there were various socio-technological trends, among the challenges and problems the modern world faces is climate change. Regarding the 21st century and the late modern world, the Information age and computers were forefront in use, not completely ubiquitous but often present in daily life. The development of Eastern powers was of note, with China and India becoming more powerful. In the Eurasian theater, the European Union and Russian Federation were two forces recently developed. A concern for Western world, if not the whole world, was the late modern form of terrorism and the warfare that has resulted from the contemporary terrorist acts.

Modern history education and schools[edit]

The humanities are academic disciplines which study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytic, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural and social sciences. Although many of the subjects of modern history coincide with that of standard history, the subject is taught independently by various systems of education in the world.

British education[edit]

Students can choose the subject at university. The material covered includes from the mid-18th century, to analysis of the present day. Virtually all colleges and sixth forms that do teach modern history do it alongside standard history; very few teach the subject exclusively.

Universities[edit]

At the University of Oxford 'Modern History' has a somewhat different meaning. The contrast is not with the Middle Ages but with Antiquity. The earliest period that can be studied in the Final Honour School of Modern History begins in 285.

Contemporary History[edit]

Contemporary history describes the period timeframe that is without any intervening time closely connected to the present and is a certain perspective of modern history. The term "contemporary history" has been in use at least by the early 19th century. In the widest context of this use, contemporary history is that part of history still in living memory. Based on human lifespan, contemporary history would extend for a period of approximately 80 years. Obviously, this concept shifts in absolute terms as the generations pass. In a narrower sense, "contemporary history" may refer to the history remembered by most adults currently living, extending to about a generation or roughly 30 years. From the perspective of the 2010s, thus, contemporary history would include the period since the mid-to-late 20th century, including the postwar period and the Cold War.

The present age possesses a distinct character of its own.

More than most periods of like duration, it is the direct consummation of the years immediately preceding. It differs from them as the harvest differs from the seed-time.|Contemporary History of the World ` Edwin Grosvenor

While there have been scientific accomplishments and humanitarian achievements during the present age (i.e., the modern age), the contemporary era has seen scientific and political progress, not so much in what has been originated as by what has been developed. Notable achievements have been those such as the redefinition of nationalities and nations and the ongoing technological advances that marked the 20th century.

In contemporary Science and Technology, history notably includes spaceflight, nuclear technology, laser and semiconductor technology and the beginning Information Age, and the development of molecular biology and genetic engineering, and the development of particle physics and the Standard Model of quantum field theory.

In contemporary African history, there was apartheid in South Africa and its abolition, Decolonization, and a multitude of wars on the continent.

In contemporary Asian history, there was the history of the People's Republic of China, Indian independence, the Korean, Vietnam, the ongoing Afghan civil war, and the US Forces stationed in Japan and in South Korea. In the Middle East, there was the Arab-Israeli conflict, the conflict between Arab nationalism and Islamism, and the (still ongoing) Arab Spring.

In contemporary European history, there was the Revolutions of 1989, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the ongoing process of European integration.

Post-1945 history[edit]

At the turn of the 20th century, the world saw a series of great conflagrations, World War I and World War II. Near the end of the first great war, there were a series of Russian Revolutions and a Russian Civil War. In between the great wars, the "Twenties" saw a great rise in prosperity where progress and new technology took hold of the world, but this was soon ended by the Great Depression. During this time, the League of Nations was formed to deal with global issues, but failed to garner enough support by the leading powers and a series of crises once again lead the world into another epoch of violence.

Notable events of this modern period of universal history include two World wars and the Cold War, characterized by the dispute for world influence between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Cold War began in 1945 and lasted into 1989. The Space Age was concurrent with this time, encompassing the activities related to the Space Race, space exploration, space technology, and the cultural developments influenced by these events. Pax Americana is an appellation applied to the historical concept of relative liberal peace in the Western world, resulting from the preponderance of power enjoyed by the United States of America and, in its contemporaneousness connotations, the peace established after the end of World War II in 1945.

The post-1945 world experienced the establishment and defense of democratic states. Throughout post-1945 period, the Cold War was expressed through military coalitions, espionage, weapons development, invasions, propaganda, and competitive technological development. The Soviet Union created the Eastern Bloc of countries that it occupied, annexing some as Soviet Socialist Republics and maintaining others as satellite states that would later form the Warsaw Pact. The United States and various western European countries began a containment policy of communism and forged alliances to this end, including NATO. The conflict included defense spending, a conventional and nuclear arms race, and various proxy wars; the two superpowers never fought one another directly.

The post-1989 World saw the abolishment of totalitarian regimes of the Cold War and the abolishment of Cold War superpower client states. By the Democratizing Revolutions of Eastern Europe in 1989 and the Cold War effectively ended by the Malta Summit on 3 December 1989. The Soviet Union was dissolved on the last day of 1991. The "post-Cold War regimes" established were democratic republics, not the oligarchic republics.

In South America, military regimes supported by the CIA, such as seen in the United States intervention in Chile, give way. In Southeast Asia, developmental dictatorships were overthrown by uprising of people.

Information age and computers[edit]

The Information Age or Information Era, also commonly known as the Age of the Computer, is an idea that the current age will be characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to knowledge that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously. The idea is heavily linked to the concept of a Digital Age or Digital Revolution, and carries the ramifications of a shift from traditional industry that the Industrial Revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based around the manipulation of information. The period is generally said to have begun in the latter half of the 20th century, though the particular date varies. The term began its use around the late 1980s and early 1990s, and has been used up to the present with the availability of the Internet.

During the late 1990s, both Internet directories and search engines were popular—Yahoo! and Altavista (both founded 1995) were the respective industry leaders. By late 2001, the directory model had begun to give way to search engines, tracking the rise of Google (founded 1998), which had developed new approaches to relevancy ranking. Directory features, while still commonly available, became after-thoughts to search engines. Database size, which had been a significant marketing feature through the early 2000s, was similarly displaced by emphasis on relevancy ranking, the methods by which search engines attempt to sort the best results first.

"Web 2.0" is characterized as facilitating communication, information sharing, interoperability, User-centered design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. It has led to the development and evolution of web-based communities, hosted services, and web applications. Examples include social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, mashups and folksonomies.

Development of Eastern powers[edit]

While Asia has seen considerable economic development, China in particular has experienced immense growth, moving toward the status of a regional power and billion-consumer market. India, along with other developing non-western countries, is also growing rapidly, and has begun integrating itself into the world economy.

After China joined the World Trade Organization, the standard of living in the country has improved significantly as China saw the reappearance of the middle class. Wealth disparity between East and the Western hinterlands continued to widen by the day, prompting government programs to "develop the West", taking on such ambitious projects such as the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The burden of education was greater than ever. Rampant corruption continued despite Premier Zhu's anti-corruption campaign that executed many officials.

By the beginning of 2009, about 300 million people in India – equivalent to the entire population of the entire United States – have escaped extreme poverty. The fruits of India's economic liberalization policies reached their peak in 2007, with India recording its highest GDP growth rate of 9%. With this, India became the second fastest growing major economy in the world, next only to China. An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report states that the average growth rate 7.5% will double the average income in a decade, and more reforms would speed up the pace.

The majority of the Next Eleven economies are Asian countries. A number of newly industrialized countries have emerged from Asia, including China, India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

European Union and Russian Federation[edit]

In Europe, the European Union is a geo-political union founded upon numerous treaties and has undergone expansions to include a majority of states in Europe. Its origins date back to the post-World War II era, in particular the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community in Paris 1951, following the "Schuman declaration", or the Treaties of Rome establishing the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community. Both these bodies are now part of the European Union, which was formed under that name in 1993.

In the Post-communist period, the Russian Federation became an independent country. Russia was the largest of the fifteen republics that made up the Soviet Union, accounting for over 60% of the GDP and over half of the Soviet population. Russians also dominated the Soviet military and the Communist Party. Thus, Russia was widely accepted as the Soviet Union's successor state in diplomatic affairs and it assumed the USSR's permanent membership and veto in the UN Security Council; see Russia and the United Nations. Russia today shares many continuities of political culture and social structure with its tsarist and Soviet past.

Concerning NATO–Russia relations, the NATO-Russia Council has been an official diplomatic tool for handling security issues and joint projects between NATO and Russia, involving "consensus-building, consultations, joint decisions and joint actions." "Joint decisions and actions", taken under NATO-Russia Council agreements, include fighting terrorism, military cooperation (joint military exercises and personnel training), cooperation on Afghanistan, industrial cooperation, cooperation on defence interoperability, non-proliferation, and other areas. Because NATO and Russia have similar ambitions and mutual challenges, the NATO-Russia Council is seen by both sides as effective at building diplomatic agreements between all parties involved.

Late modern terrorism and warfare[edit]

Major political developments in the 2000s for the Western World and the Middle East revolved around recent modern terrorism, the War on Terrorism, the Afghanistan War, and the Iraq War.

The 11 September attacks were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by Al-Qaeda upon the United States on 11 September 2001. On that morning, 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Both buildings collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C. Major terrorist events after the 11 September 2001 Attacks include the Moscow Theatre Siege, the 2003 Istanbul bombings, the Madrid train bombings, the Beslan school hostage crisis, the 2005 London bombings, the October 2005 New Delhi bombings, and the 2008 Mumbai Hotel Siege.

The United States responded to the 11 September 2001 attacks by launching a "Global War on Terrorism", invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, who had harbored al-Qaeda terrorists, and enacting the Patriot Act. Many other countries also strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded law enforcement powers. The 'Global War on Terrorism' is the military, political, legal and ideological conflict against Islamic terrorism and Islamic militants since the 2001 attacks.

The War in Afghanistan began in late 2001 and was launched by the United States with the United Kingdom, and NATO-led, UN authorized ISAF in response to the 11 September attacks. The aim of the invasion was to find the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking al-Qaeda members and put them on trial, to destroy the whole organization of al-Qaeda, and to remove the Taliban regime which supported and gave safe harbor to al-Qaeda. The Bush administration policy and the Bush Doctrine stated forces would not distinguish between terrorist organizations and nations or governments that harbor them. Two military operations in Afghanistan are fighting for control over the country. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) is a United States combat operation involving some coalition partners and currently operating primarily in the eastern and southern parts of the country along the Pakistan border. The second operation is the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which was established by the UN Security Council at the end of 2001 to secure Kabul and the surrounding areas. NATO assumed control of ISAF in 2003.

The multinational infantry actions, with additional ground forces supplied by the Afghan Northern Alliance, and aerial bombing campaign removed the Taliban from power, but Taliban forces have since regained some strength. The war has been less successful in achieving the goal of restricting al-Qaeda's movement than anticipated. Since 2006, Afghanistan has seen threats to its stability from increased Taliban-led insurgent activity, record-high levels of illegal drug production, and a fragile government with limited control outside of Kabul. At the end of 2008, the war had been unsuccessful in capturing Osama bin Laden and tensions have grown between the United States and Pakistan due to incidents of Taliban fighters crossing the Pakistan border while being pursued by coalition troops.

The Second Gulf War began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a multinational force. The invasion of Iraq led to an occupation and the eventual capture of Saddam Hussein, who was later executed by the Iraqi Government. Violence against coalition forces and among various sectarian groups soon led to asymmetric warfare with the Iraqi insurgency, strife between many Sunni and Shia Iraqi groups, and al-Qaeda operations in Iraq. Member nations of the Coalition withdrew their forces as public opinion favoring troop withdrawals increased and as Iraqi forces began to take responsibility for security. In late 2008, the U.S. and Iraqi governments approved a Status of Forces Agreement effective through to the end of 2011. The Iraqi Parliament also ratified a Strategic Framework Agreement with the U.S., aimed at ensuring international cooperation in constitutional rights, threat deterrence, education, energy development, and other areas. In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama announced an 18-month withdrawal window for "combat forces".

The Obama administration has renamed the War on Terror as the "Overseas Contingency Operation". Its objectives are to protect US citizens and business interests worldwide, break up terrorist cells in the US, and disrupt al-Qaeda and affiliated groups. The administration has re-focused US involvement in the conflict on the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, the closing of Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and the surge in Afghanistan. Starting with information received in 2010, the location of Osama bin Laden was ascertained to be in a large compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a suburban area 35 miles from Islamabad. On 1 May 2011, he was killed and the papers and computer drives and disks from the compound were seized. In 2011 Europe, the former Bosnian Serb Army commander Ratko Mladić, wanted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, is arrested on 26 May in Serbia by the Military Security Agency.

In 2011, the United States formally declared an end to the Iraq War. The 2011 Libyan civil war saw the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi killed in Sirte, with National Transitional Council forces taking control, and ending the war. Terrorist actions were experienced in the 2011 Norway attacks, a bombing in the Regjeringskvartalet government center in Oslo and a shooting at a political youth camp on the island of Utøya. Others turn away from violent militant-ism with the Basque separatist organisation ETA declaring an end to its 43-year campaign of political violence.

Israeli–Palestinian conflict[edit]

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has been an ongoing dispute between Israelis and the Palestinians. It forms part of the wider Arab–Israeli conflict. The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the consensus solution that is currently under discussion by the key parties to the conflict.

A two-state solution envisions two separate states in the Western portion of the historic region of Palestine, one Jewish and another Arab to solve the conflict. According to the idea, the Arab inhabitants would be given citizenship by the new Palestinian state; Palestinian refugees would likely be offered such citizenship as well. Arab citizens of present-day Israel would likely have the choice of staying with Israel, or becoming citizens of the new Palestine.

At present, a considerable majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, according to a number of polls, prefer the two-state solution over any other solution as a means of resolving the conflict. Most Palestinians view the West Bank and Gaza Strip as constituting the area of their future state, which is a view also accepted by most Israelis. A handful of academics advocate a one-state solution, whereby all of Israel, the Gaza Strip, and West Bank would become a bi-national state with equal rights for all.

There are significant areas of disagreement over the shape of any final agreement and also regarding the level of credibility each side sees in the other in upholding basic commitments. Within Israeli and Palestinian society, the conflict generates a wide variety of views and opinions. This serves to highlight the deep divisions which exist not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but also amongst themselves. In 2003, the Palestinian side was fractured by conflict between the two major factions: Fatah, the traditionally dominant party, and its more electoral challenger, Hamas. Hamas and Fatah, among other Palestinian groups, held 2010 talks aimed at reconciling rival factions for the first time in two years in February 2010. In March 2010, on the Doha Debates television show, representatives of Fatah and Hamas discussed the future of the Palestinian leadership. Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians (2010-2011) began with Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, George J. Mitchell and Hillary Clinton on 2 September 2010. Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority have been taking place since September 2010, between United States President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and ended when Netanyahu refused to extend the freeze for settlements in the West Bank.

Great Recession[edit]

In the beginning of the 2000s, there was a global rise in prices in commodities and housing, marking an end to the commodities recession of 1980–2000. The US mortgage-backed securities, which had risks that were hard to assess, were marketed around the world and a broad based credit boom fed a global speculative bubble in real estate and equities. The financial situation was also affected by a sharp increase in oil and food prices. The collapse of the American housing bubble caused the values of securities tied to real estate pricing to plummet thereafter, damaging financial institutions. The late-2000s recession, a severe economic recession which began in the United States in 2007, was sparked by the outbreak of a modern financial crisis. The modern financial crisis was linked to earlier lending practices by financial institutions and the trend of securitization of American real estate mortgages. The emergence of Sub-prime loan losses exposed other risky loans and over-inflated asset prices.

The Great Recession spread to much of the industrialized world, and has caused a pronounced deceleration of economic activity. The global recession occurred in an economic environment characterized by various imbalances. This global recession has resulted in a sharp drop in international trade, rising unemployment and slumping commodity prices. The recession renewed interest in Keynesian economic ideas on how to combat recessionary conditions. However, various industrial countries continued to undertake austerity policies to cut deficits, reduced spending, as opposed to following Keynesian theories.

From late 2009 European sovereign debt crisis, fears of a sovereign debt crisis developed among investors concerning rising government debt levels across the globe together with a wave of downgrading of government debt of certain European states. Concerns intensified early 2010 and thereafter making it difficult or impossible for sovereigns to re-finance their debts. On 9 May 2010, Europe's Finance Ministers approved a rescue package worth €750 billion aimed at ensuring financial stability across Europe. The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) was a special purpose vehicle financed by members of the eurozone to combat the European sovereign debt crisis. In October 2011 eurozone leaders agreed on another package of measures designed to prevent the collapse of member economies. The three most affected countries, Greece, Ireland and Portugal, collectively account for six percent of eurozone's gross domestic product (GDP).

Arab Spring[edit]

In the Middle East and North Africa, a series of protests and demonstrations calling for democracy and freedom across the region started on 18 December 2010 and became known as the Arab Spring. The protests, uprisings and revolutions brought about the overthrow of the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan governments and the resignation of Yemen's President. A major uprising is ongoing in Syria. The period of political liberalization also affected countries that were not strictly part of the Arab world.

Contemporary world[edit]

Present and future[edit]

The world is currently in the third millennium. The 21st century is the current century of the Christian Era or Common Era in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on 1 January 2001 and will end 31 December 2100. The 2010s, or The Tens, decade runs from 1 January 2010, to 31 December 2019.

The present is the time that is associated with the events perceived directly, not as a recollection or a speculation. It is often represented as a hyperplane in space-time, often called now, although modern mathematical physics demonstrates that such a hyperplane can not be defined uniquely for observers in relative motion (which negates the concept of absolute time and space). The present may also be viewed as a duration (see specious present).

The third millennium is the third period of one thousand years. As this millennium is currently in progress, only its first decade, the 2000s, can be the subject of the conventional historian's attention. The remaining part of the 21st century and longer-term trends are currently researched by futures studies, an approach that uses various models and several methods (such as "forecasting" and "backcasting"). Ever since the invention of history, people have searched for "lessons" that might be drawn from its study, on the principle that to understand the past is potentially to control the future. A famous quote by George Santayana has it that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Arnold J. Toynbee, in his monumental Study of History, sought regularities in the rise and fall of civilizations. In a more popular vein, Will and Ariel Durant devoted a 1968 book, The Lessons of History, to a discussion of "events and comments that might illuminate present affairs, future possibilities... and the conduct of states." Discussions of history's lessons often tend to an excessive focus on historic detail or, conversely, on sweeping historiographic generalizations.

Future Studies takes as one of its important attributes (epistemological starting points) the on-going effort to analyze alternative futures. This effort includes collecting quantitative and qualitative data about the possibility, probability, and desirability of change. The plurality of the term "futures" in futurology denotes the rich variety of alternative futures, including the subset of preferable futures (normative futures), that can be studied.

Practitioners of the discipline previously concentrated on extrapolating present technological, economic or social trends, or on attempting to predict future trends, but more recently they have started to examine social systems and uncertainties and to build scenarios, question the worldviews behind such scenarios via the causal layered analysis method (and others) create preferred visions of the future, and use backcasting to derive alternative implementation strategies. Apart from extrapolation and scenarios, many dozens of methods and techniques are used in futures research.

Socio-technological trends[edit]

At the end of the 20th century, the world was at a major crossroads. Throughout the century, more technological advances had been made than in all of preceding history. Computers, the Internet, and other modern technology radically altered daily lives. Increased globalization, specifically Americanization, had occurred. While not necessarily a threat, it has caused anti-Western and anti-American feelings in parts of the world, especially the Middle East. The English language has become a leading global language, with people who did not speak it becoming increasingly disadvantaged.

A trend connecting economic and political events in North America, Asia, and the Middle East is the rapidly increasing demand for fossil fuels, which, along with fewer new petroleum finds, greater extraction costs (see peak oil), and political turmoil, saw the price of gas and oil soar ~500% between 2000 and 2005. In some places, especially in Europe, gas could be $5 a gallon, depending on the currency. Less influential, but omnipresent, is the debate on Turkey's participation in the European Union.

Challenges and problems[edit]

In the contemporary era, several issues are faced in the world.

First of all, wealth is concentrated among the G8 and Western industrialized nations, along with several Asian nations and OPEC countries. The richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000 and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. The bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth.

Another study found that the richest 2% own more than half of global household assets. Despite this, the distribution has been changing quite rapidly in the direction of greater concentration of wealth. Nevertheless, powerful nations with large economies and wealthy individuals can improve the rapidly evolving economies of the Third World. However, developing countries face many challenges, including the scale of the task to be surmounted, rapidly growing populations, and the need to protect the environment, and the cost that goes along with facing such challenges.

Secondly, disease threatened to destabilize many regions of the world. New viruses such as SARS, West Nile, and Bird Flu continued to spread quickly and easily. In poor nations, malaria and other diseases affected the majority of the population. Millions were infected with HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. The virus was becoming an epidemic in southern Africa. Even problems with non-infectious diseases has been raised in the world – innovations in the technology in the western world, by the 1900th spread of sedentary lifestyle where TV, computers, fast food and elevator has caused obesity become a global challenge. This causes challenges on the global economy since obesity is linked to a broad kind of diseases. This problem has even been influenced previously famine parts of the world where obesity lives beside poverty.

Terrorism, dictatorship, and the spread of nuclear weapons were also issues requiring immediate attention. Dictators such as Kim Jong-un in North Korea continue to possess nuclear weapons. The fear exist that not only are terrorists already attempting to get nuclear weapons, but that they have already obtained them.

Climate change[edit]

Climate change and global warming reflects the notion of the modern climate. The changes of climate over the past century, have been attributed of to various factors which have resulted in a global warming. This warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation. Some effects on both the natural environment and human life are, at least in part, already being attributed to global warming. A 2001 report by the IPCC suggests that glacier retreat, ice shelf disruption such as that of the Larsen Ice Shelf, sea level rise, changes in rainfall patterns, and increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events are attributable in part to global warming. Other expected effects include water scarcity in some regions and increased precipitation in others, changes in mountain snowpack, and adverse health effects from warmer temperatures.

It usually is impossible to connect specific weather events to human impact on the world. Instead, such impact is expected to cause changes in the overall distribution and intensity of weather events, such as changes to the frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation. Broader effects are expected to include glacial retreat, Arctic shrinkage, and worldwide sea level rise. Other effects may include changes in crop yields, addition of new trade routes, species extinctions, and changes in the range of disease vectors. Until 2009, the Arctic Northwest Passage pack ice prevented regular marine shipping throughout most of the year in this area, but climate change has reduced the pack ice, and this Arctic shrinkage made the waterways more navigable.

Contemporary technologies[edit]

Various emerging technologies, the recent developments and convergences in various fields of technology, hold possible future impacts. Emerging technologies cover various cutting-edge developments in the emergence and convergence of technology, including transportation, information technology, biotechnology, robotics and applied mechanics, and material science. Their status and possible effects involve controversy over the degree of social impact or the viability of the technologies. Though, these represent new and significant developments within a field; converging technologies represent previously distinct fields which are in some way moving towards stronger inter-connection and similar goals.

After Space Shuttle Atlantis lands successfully at Kennedy Space Center after completing STS-135, concluding the shuttle program, NASA announces in 2011 that its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured photographic evidence of possible liquid water on Mars during warm seasons. The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, the most elaborate Martian exploration vehicle to date, is also launched that same year from the Kennedy Space Center.