Most historians agree that the modern age began about the 16th century. There is of course no exact date defining when the medievakl era enbded and the modern era began. Several events came togethrr at about this time. The Renaissance had fostered profound changes in the outlook of Euopeans. In the East, The Mongols were in eclipse so there was no danger from the Steppe. This allowed the Ottomon Turks to consolidate their power and seize Constaninople (1453) and drive into Europe. In the West, the Spanish completed the Reconquista and the great Voyages of Discovery negan with Columbus' voyage (1452). Ottoman naval powr was broken at Diu (1509), although land armies continued to threatened Vienna for more than a decade. uther launched the Protestant Reformation (1519) leading to more than a century of religious wars. Althiouh small countries, the Netherland invented capitalism and was able to stave off attempts by Spanish and French Catholic absolutists. England also a small power was able to use capitalism and naval suporenmecy to emerge as a major European power. The Enlightenment under cut the traditionasl foundatioins of Europe (18th century). This was followed by the Industrial and French Revolution. The Industrial Revolution remade Europe in the 19th century and provide Europe the means of projercting power. Sociaslism challenged the foundations of captalism and acqwuired many devotees. European capitalism was buttressed by the rise of America. Several hegemonic powers attempted to supplant the Anglo-American world system (Willhemite Germany, NAZI Germany, Imperial Japan, and finally the Soviert Union). Despite many advantages, each failed. And a seeries of Revolutions (Mexico, and China) challenged the Western view of moderity.
Most historians agree that the modern age began about the 16th century. There is of course no exact date defining when the medievakl era enbded and the modern era began. Several events came togethrr at about this time. The Renaissance had fostered profound changes in the outlook of Euopeans. In the East, The Mongols were in eclipse so there was no danger from the Steppe. This allowed the Ottomon Turks to consolidate their power and seize Constaninople (1453) and drive into Europe. In the West, the Spanish completed the Reconquista and the great Voyages of Discovery negan with Columbus' voyage (1452). Ottoman naval powr was broken at Diu (1509), although land armies continued to threatened Vienna for more than a decade. uther launched the Protestant Reformation (1519).
The 17th century is often a century that is skipped over after the more dramatic 16th century and the 18th centuries.
The 17th century was dominated by terrible religious wars. Out of these wars came the foundation for the idea of religious tolerance whicvh slowly developed, largely because the Catholics failed at gaining control of all of Europe and the Protestants split into so many denominations. It was the 17th century when true modern science developed. Probably the greatest scientist of all time appeared in the 17th century--Issac Newton. He addressed the subject of Newton and much more, including inventing the the reflecting telescope. Althouh small countries, the Netherland invented capitalism and was able to stave off attempts by Spanish and French Catholic absolutists. England also a small power was able to use capitalism and naval suprenmecy to emerge as a major European power. The two developments, defeating abolutism and inventing capitalism are the two most imporant events in European history and in the samne century Newton invented modern science. Few historians give these developments the importance they deserve. And it wold be nbaive to think that they occured as three unrelated developments.
Europe was dominated by a series of wars, now mostly dynastic rather than religious. Perhaps the sinle most important was the Great Northern War which established Russia as a major European power. Louis XIV continued attempting to expand French borders. The Battle of Blenheim ednsured that his gains would be limited (1704). The Act of Unioin created Britain (1707).
As was the case throughout European history, small territories were dusputed at great cost. The important struggles took place outside Europe. The death of Aurangzeb led to the disintegration of the Mughal Empire and setting up a conflict between Btitain and France for dominance. Britain and France struggled for dominance in their overseas empires. Britain emertged in possession of both India and North America. Rousseau publishes the Social Contract (1760) The Enlightenment philosophically under cut the traditional foundatioins of Europe (18th century). At the same time the Industrial Revolution began to fundamentally change economics by making possible the generation of wealth in unprecedented quantitty. Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations (1776). It is no accident that the modern concept of democracy began to take shape at about the same time. Austria, Prussia, and Rusdia begin the Polish Partitions. The world was dominsted by monarchies, some of which still claimed divine right absolutism. The first chink in the monarcial systen to break was the American Revolution (1776). This was followed by the French Revolution (1789). The Declaration of the Rights of Man approved by the French National Assembly. At the same time the Consitution is approved in America. While the Bill of Rights becomes a part of the American Consitution, the French Revolution degenerates into the Reign of Terror. At the end of the century, Napoleon takes ciontrol of France.
The early-19th century was dominated by the Napoleonic Wars. After the Congress of Vienna, conservative forces were able to reestablish control in Europe. Less noticed at the time was how capitalism and the democratic forces were buttressed by the rise of America. Britain with the powerful Royal Navy prevented these forces from reestablish control of the Western Hemisphere. Britain also initiasted a campaign to end the slave trade, employing the powerful Royal Navy. The Revolutions of 1848 threatened the dominance of the European monasrchies. The Crimean War soon after weakened the hetherto amnity of the great powers. While the Europeans squabeled over relatively minor priovinces and territories, Russia expanded unopposed into Asia and America reached the Pacific and dominated North America establish the base for the two superpowes of the 20th century. The American Civil War ended slavery in America. It also determined that the only democratic republic at the time United States would not only remain united, but demonstrated the ernormous power that a democracy could generate. The unification of Germany and Italy dramatically changed the European power balance. The Industrial Revolution, especiaslly the railroad, remade Europe in the 19th century. And industrial development provided Europe the Europeans means of projecting power to every corner of the globe. The Scramble for Africa carved up the last areas of the world not under European control. Huge technological advances occurred in the 19th century, especially the second half of the century. Sociaslism challenged the foundations of captalism and acquired many devotees. Coservative forces in China resisted modernization as the European powers carved out zones of interest. The Menjii Restoration in Japan launched the country's modernization.
Europe was optimistic at the turn-of-the 20th century. Technnological advances convinced many that nothing was beyond man's abilities. Civilization had reached a new stage in which technology could solve all problems. Wars were seen as a phenomenon of the past. Europe was seen as too economically inter-connected and the weapons too terrible for another major war. The Titanic disaster (1912) was the first shock of the century, highlighting the limits of technology. And this was followed by the catasthrophic Great War--World War I (1914-18). In many ways, the rest of the century was working out the forces set in motion by the War. Several rising, but disatisfied hegemonic powers attempted to supplant the Anglo-American world system (Willhemite Germany, NAZI Germany, Imperial Japan, and finally the Soviet Union). Despite many advantages, each failed. And a seeries of Revolutions (Mexico, Russia, and China) challenged the Western view of moderity. The great question to be answered in the 20th century was whether the individual mattered and had inalienable rights or whether it was the state collective was ultimately of primazry importance. Many argued that the totalitarian systems be they Fascist or Communist could amass and mobilize power beyond that of democratic states. This proved to be a fundamental error. The wastelands of demolished German and Japanese cities stood in mute testimony of the power democratic peoples could generate. After World War II the European empires were unwound in the decolonization process. Few adopted either capitalism or democracy, opting for authoritarian socialist regimes. The optimism of independence was in country after country dashed by econimic failure. Only the Asian Tigers demonstrated the power of both democracy and capitalism. The century ended with the failure of Communism and the impolsion of the Soviet Union. And both China and India introduced capitalist reforms demonsrratuing the power of free market capitalism.
Dramatic developments in Europe and Asia have marked the early-21st century. The implosion of the Soviet Union and Comminism at the end of the 20th century offered the possibility of a new more peaceful and just 21st century. The immediate impact was the freeing of Eastern Europe from Soviet control. Most of the Soviet Eatern European empire has made slow, but steady progress toward modrn democracies and ar in the procdess of joining the European Union. Russia itself under President Putin has moved in the opposite direction, undmiing Russia's nacent democracy and disrupting the development of a modern economy. Russia under President Putin has become a country largely dependent on exporting raw matrial, primarily energy. Russia under Prsident Putin hs been actively involved in trying to disrupt the dedocratic process and independence of nignoing countries which were once part of the Soviet empire or controlled by the Soviet Union. Rising oil prices gave Putin the economic power to improve conitions in Russia and undermine progress in other countries, most prominently in Ukraine. Americn oil companies developing new technologies have brought down oil prices, undermining Russia's economy abd ability to disrupt developmnts in neigboring countries. It is unclear to what extent th uropean Union can effectively reist Russin adventurism. There are poulist mocements throughout the European Union questioning the value of the European experiment. Even Britain is considering exiting the EU. Perhps even more importantly the socialist movement has significantly weakened the vitality of the EU, with ruinous welfre spnding that is unsustainable and weakened the private sector resulting in low growth anf high unemployment. The Asian Tigrs showed the impressive results of free market capitalism. China's market reforms are achieving the same results, but Chinese leaders have rejected democracy. It isuncler if this will change hs the Chinese economy grows. For the present, Chin's economic success has resulted in an increasingly asertive forign policy, most prominently exhibted in outrageous clims in the outh China Sea. Authoritarian Russia abd Cuna pose a significant challenge to liberal democracy. Indian markert reforms have also resulted in economic growth, but with political democracy. After decaes of economic failure since decolonization, After leaders are increasingly questioning the Socialist certainties of early leaders. Latin America has dbled ith market reforms, but Socialist ideology has stong popula appeal and the region's future is unclear. The oil bonanza beginning in the mid-20th century has given huge economic poer to Muslim countries allowing the continuation of a medieval social and religious structure which has resulted in chos and violence throughout the region. The impact in oil pricesis tet to be seen. Much of the progress chieved during the 20th century has resulted from America's saving Europe three and Asia once from domination by authoritarin nd totalitarian regimes. President Obama and many Americans have come to se that this role was often not a positive one and want to merica to play a more lomited role in world affairs. Policies undermining America's market economy may also undermine the vitality of the private sector s it has done in the EU. This may mean that the gistory of the 21st century may be very different than the 20th century.
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