Social Sciences

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World History 10th
Studying world history provides important perspectives on the past and offers direction for the future.
In high school you’re expanding your knowledge about the world, learning about different cultures and exploring different periods that have shaped where you sit today. Student resources for high school world history can help you find what you need for everyday homework and for important class projects.

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Some sites for learning World History:
Student Resources for History:

Student's Guide, Why Study History? :

History Insights:

Nivelation Assignment:

*5-page report about the Church in the Middle Ages:
Structure; political, economical, and religious power; Influence on daily life; Monasteries and Convents; Scholasticism.
*Combine information from the book and from other sources.
*Include cover and 3 conclusions.


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The EnlightenmentPolitical RevolutionsThe Age of NapoleonThe Early Industrial Age
The Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of intellectuals beginning in late 17th- and 18th-century Europe emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition. Its purpose was to reform society using reason, to challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and to advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism, and intellectual interchange. It opposed superstition and intolerance, with the Catholic Church as a favorite target. Some Enlightenment philosophes collaborated with Enlightened despots, who were absolute rulers who tried out some of the new governmental ideas in practice. The ideas of the Enlightenment have had a long-term major impact on the culture, politics, and governments of the Western world.

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Originating in the 17th Century, it was sparked by philosophers Francis Bacon (1562-1626), Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677), John Locke (1632–1704), Pierre Bayle (1647–1706), Voltaire (1694–1778) and physicist Isaac Newton (1643–1727). Ruling princes often endorsed and fostered these figures and even attempted to apply their ideas of government in what was known as enlightened absolutism. The Scientific Revolution is closely tied to the Enlightenment, as its discoveries overturned many traditional concepts and introduced new perspectives on nature and man's place within it. The Enlightenment 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 Romantics complained that the Enlightenment had neglected the force of imagination, mystery, and sentiment, and could not handle the emergence of new phenomena.

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In France, Enlightenment was based in the salons and culminated in the great Encyclopédie (1751–72) edited by Denis Diderot (1713–1784) and (until 1759) Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1717–1783) with contributions by hundreds of leading intellectuals who were called philosophes, notably Voltaire (1694–1778), Rousseau (1712–1778) and Montesquieu (1689–1755). Some 25,000 copies of the 35 volume encyclopedia were sold, half of them outside France. The new intellectual forces spread to urban centres across Europe, notably England, Scotland, the German states, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Italy, Austria, and Spain, then jumped the Atlantic into the European colonies, where it influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, among many others, and played a major role in the American Revolution. The political ideals of the Enlightenment influenced the American Declaration of Independence, the United States Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and the Polish–Lithuanian Constitution of May 3, 1791.

The American Revolution
The American Revolution was a political upheaval, 1765–1783, as the Thirteen American Colonies broke from the British Empire and formed the independent nation, the United States of America. Starting in 1765 the Americans rejected the authority of Parliament to tax them without elected representation; protests escalated as in the Boston Tea Party of 1773, and the British imposed punitive laws on Massachusetts in 1774. In 1774 the Patriots suppressed the Loyalists and expelled all royal officials. Each colony now had a new government that took control. The British responded by sending combat troops to re-establish royal control. Through the Second Continental Congress, the Patriots fought the British in the American Revolutionary War 1775–83.

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The British sent invasion armies and used their powerful navy to blockade the coast. George Washington became the American commander, working with Congress and the states to raise armies and neutralize the influence of Loyalists. While precise proportions are not known, about 40% of the colonists were Patriots, 20% were Loyalists and the rest were neutral or kept quiet. Claiming British rule was tyrannical and violated the rights of Englishmen, the Patriots used the political philosophy ofrepublicanism to reject monarchy and aristocracy, and proclaim that all men are created equal. Congress declared independence in July 1776, when Thomas Jefferson wrote and the Congress unanimously approved the United States Declaration of Independence. The colonies now became states, and Congress rejected British proposals for compromise that would keep them under the king. The British were forced out of Boston in 1776, but then captured and held New York City for the duration of the war, nearly capturing General Washington and his army. The British blockaded the ports and captured other cities for brief periods, but 90% of the people were in rural areas.

In early 1778, after an invading army from Canada was captured by the Americans, the French entered the war as allies of the United States. The naval and military power of the two sides was about equal, and France had allies in the Netherlands and Spain, while Britain had no major allies in this large-scale war. The war turned to the South, where the British captured an American army at South Carolina, but failed to enlist enough volunteers from Loyalist civilian to take effective control. A combined American–French force captured a second British army at Yorktown in 1781, effectively ending the war in the United States. A peace treaty in 1783 confirmed the new nation's complete separation from the British Empire. The United States took possession of nearly all the territory east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes, with the British retaining control of Canada and Spain taking Florida.

The American Revolution was the result of a series of social, political, and intellectual transformations in American society, government and ways of thinking. Among the significant results of the revolution was the creation of a democratically-elected representative government responsible to the will of the people. The period after the peace treaty came in 1783 involved debates between nationally-minded men like Washington who wanted a strong national government, and local leaders who wanted strong states but a weak national government. The former group won out the ratification of a new United States Constitution in 1788. It replaced the weaker Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The new Constitution established a relatively strong federal national government that included a strong elected president, national courts, a bicameral Congress that represented both states in the Senate and population in the House of representatives. Congress had powers of taxation that were lacking under the old Articles. The United States Bill of Rights of 1791 comprised the first ten amendments to the Constitution, guaranteeing many "natural rights" that were influential in justifying the revolution, and attempted to balance a strong national government with strong state governments and broad personal liberties. The American shift to liberal republicanism, and the gradually increasing democracy, caused an upheaval of traditional social hierarchy and gave birth to the ethic that has formed a core of political values in the United States.

The French Revolution

The French Revolution was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France from 1789 to 1799 that profoundly affected French and modern history, marking the decline of powerful monarchies and churches, and the rise of democracy and nationalism. It was a highly controversial instance of the Atlantic Revolutions of the era. Historian François Aulard writes:

From the social point of view, the Revolution consisted in the suppression of what was called the feudal system, in the emancipation of the individual, in greater division of landed property, the abolition of the privileges of noble birth, the establishment of equality, the simplification of life... The French Revolution differed from other revolutions in being not merely national, for it aimed at benefiting all humanity."

Popular resentment of the privileges enjoyed by the clergy, aristocracy and the King's court at Versailles combined with an economic crisis following the expenses of the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War and years of bad harvests motivated demands for change, which were couched in terms of Enlightenment ideals and caused the convocation of the Estates-General in May 1789. The first year of the Revolution saw members of the Third Estate proclaiming the Tennis Court Oath in June, the assault on the Bastille in July, the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August, and an epic march on Versailles that forced the royal court back to Paris in October. The next few years were dominated by struggles between various liberal assemblies and right-wing supporters of the monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. A republic was proclaimed in September 1792 and King Louis XVI was executed the next year.

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External threats closely shaped the course of the Revolution. The Revolutionary Wars began in 1792 and ultimately featured spectacular French victories that facilitated the conquest of the Italian Peninsula, the Low Countries and most territories west of the Rhine – achievements that had eluded previous French governments for centuries. Internally, popular agitation radicalized the Revolution significantly, culminating in the rise of Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins. The dictatorship imposed by the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror, from 1793 until 1794, caused up to 40,000 deaths inside France, abolished slavery in the colonies, and secured the borders of the new republic from its enemies. The Reign of Terror ended with the overthrow and execution of Robespierre and the other leading Jacobins in the Thermidorian Reaction. The Directory assumed control of the French state in 1795 and held power until 1799. In that year, conventionally seen as the conclusion of the Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the Directory in the coup of 18 Brumaire and established the Consulate. The First Empire under Napoleon emerged in 1804 and spread French revolutionary principles all over Europe during the Napoleonic Wars. The First Empire was militarily defeated by an anti-Napoleonic coalition that in 1815 brought about the restoration of the Bourbons, albeit under a constitutional monarchy, and the reversion to France's traditional frontiers.


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Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution and its associated wars in Europe. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1814. He implemented a wide array of liberal reforms across Europe, including the abolition of feudalism and the spread of religious toleration. His legal code in France, the Napoleonic Code, influenced numerous civil lawjurisdictions worldwide. Napoleon is remembered for his role in leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won the majority of his battles and seized control of most of continental Europe in a quest for personal power and to spread the ideals of the French Revolution. Widely regarded as one of the greatest commanders in history, his campaigns are studied at military academies worldwide. He remains one of the most studied political and military leaders in all of history.

Napoleon was born in Corsica in a family of noble Italian ancestry which had settled in Corsica in the 16th century. He spoke French with a heavy Corsican-Italian accent. Well-educated, he rose to prominence under the French First Republic and led successful campaigns against the enemies of the French revolution who set up the First and Second Coalitions, most notably his campaigns in Italy.

He took power in a coup d'état in 1799 and installed himself as First Consul. In 1804 he made himself emperor of the French people. He fought a series of wars —the Napoleonic Wars—that involved complex coalitions for and against him. After a streak of victories, France secured a dominant position in continental Europe, and Napoleon maintained the French sphere of influence through the formation of extensive alliances and the elevation of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French vassal states.

The Peninsular War (1807–14) and the French invasion of Russia in 1812 marked major military failures. His Grande Armée was badly damaged and never fully recovered. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces at the Battle of Leipzig and his enemies invaded France. Napoleon was forced to abdicate and go in exile to the Italian island of Elba. In 1815 he escaped and returned to power, but he was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterlooin June 1815. He spent the last 6 years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of Saint Helena. An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer, but there has been debate about the cause of his death, some scholars have speculated he was a victim of arsenic poisoning.

The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power, the increasing use of steam power and the development of machine tools. It also included the change from wood and other bio-fuels to coal. It began in Great Britain and within a few decades had spread to Western Europe and the United States.

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The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. In the words of Nobel Prize winner Robert E. Lucas, Jr., "For the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth ... Nothing remotely like this economic behavior is mentioned by the classical economists, even as a theoretical possibility."

The period of time covered by the Industrial Revolution varies with different historians. Eric Hobsbawm held that it 'broke out' in Britain 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.

Some 20th-century historians such as John Clapham and Nicholas Crafts have argued that the process of economic and social change took place gradually and the term revolution is a misnomer. This is still a subject of debate among historians. GDP per capita was broadly stable before the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the modern capitalist economy. The Industrial Revolution began an era of per-capita economic growth in capitalist economies. Economic historians are in agreement that the onset of the Industrial Revolution is the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals and plants.

The First Industrial Revolution evolved into the Second Industrial Revolution in the transition years between 1840 and 1870, when technological and economic progress gained momentum with the increasing adoption of steam-powered boats, ships and railways, the large scale manufacture of machine tools and the increasing use of steam powered factories

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Spain´s Growing Power
France´s Power Peaks
Monarchies in Russia, Prussia, and Austria
Limited Monarchy in England

Eastern Absolutism

The rulers of Central and Eastern Europe shared many of the same structures. Each had a strong ruler who maintained ties with the nobility through dispensing concessions. The concessions granted to the nobility gave them far more autonomy than in the west. Consequently, the peasants suffered significantly more in eastern Europe than in the west because of enforced serfdom.

In eastern Europe during the seventeenth century the rights of the peasants were taken away. As a labor shortage swept eastern Europe workers became a necessity and as a result the movement of peasants was restricted. Peasants lost their land and were forced into more obligations for their lords. Between 1500 and 1650 conditions worsened and serfs could be killed for nothing.

Political factors accounted for the new serfdom. Weaker kings were forced to give more freedom to landlords. Landlords sold directly to foreign capitalists and abolished the need for a middle class. War and the threat of war aided the absolute monarchies. Would-be absolutists gained power in 3 areas:

a) imposed and collected permanent taxes without consent
b) maintained permanent armies
c) conducted relations with other states as they pleased

King Phillip II of Spain

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Philip II (Spanish: Felipe II; 21 May 1527 – 13 September 1598) was King of Spain from 1556 and of Portugal from 1581 (as Philip I, Filipe I). From 1554 he was King of Naples and Sicily as well as Duke of Milan. During his marriage to Queen Mary I (1554–58), he was also King of England and Ireland. From 1555, he was lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands. Known in Spanish as "Philip the Prudent" (Felipe el Prudente), his empire included territories on every continent then known to Europeans, including his namesake Philippine Islands. During his reign, Spain reached the height of its influence and power. The expression "The empire on which the sun never sets" was coined during Philip's time to reflect the extent of his possessions.

During Philip's reign there were separate state bankruptcies in 1557, 1560, 1575, and 1596. This was partly the cause for the declaration of independence which created the Dutch Republic in 1581. A devout Catholic, Philip is also known for organizing a huge naval expedition against Protestant England in 1588, known usually as the Spanish Armada, which was unsuccessful, partly due to storms and grave logistical problems.

Philip was described by the Venetian ambassador Paolo Fagolo in 1563 as "slight of stature and round-faced, with pale blue eyes, somewhat prominent lip, and pink skin, but his overall appearance is very attractive." The Ambassador went on to say "He dresses very tastefully, and everything that he does is courteous and gracious."


The Habsburgs were exhausted after the Thirty Years’ War, but they still remained emperors of the Holy Roman Empire

The real power lay with 300 varying political entities that shared a geographic region, but had very little else in common.

Conditions for serfs became worse

The robot - 3 days of unpaid labor a week became the norm, many serfs worked everyday except Sunday. In 1683 the Ottomans laid siege to Vienna. After two months the Turks were eventually forced back by fresh troops who had come to the aid of the Austrians. Pushing forward against the Ottomans, the Habsburg troops captured Budapest in 1686 and acquired nearly all of Hungary in the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699). The Habsburg troops were led by Prince Eugene of Savoy, whom would go on to play a prominent role in the War of Spanish Succession. The Habsburgs then turned to fight the Ottomans, who under Suleyman the Magnificant ruled the most powerful empire in the world

The Habsburg state had 3 parts:

a) Austria

b) kingdom of Bohemia

c) kingdom of Hungary

The Hungarians resisted because many wanted to remain Protestant. Hungary allied to Turkey. During the War of Spanish Succession the Hungarians led by Prince Francis Rakoczy rebelled. Rakoczy was defeated but it led to a compromise:

a) Hungary accepted Habsburg rule

b) Charles VI restored the rights of the aristocracy of Hungary
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By Austrian law women were not allowed the claim the throne of Austria. In 1711 Holy Roman Emperor and Austrian monarch Charles VI issued the Pragmatic Sanction (1713) which persuaded Europe’s rulers to accept a female monarch and to never divide the Habsburg lands. Maria Theresa became queen of Austria. She took local control away from the regional diets, made German the language of the empire, created a large bureaucracy, taxed the nobility and the clergy and took control of the Roman Catholic Church.

1740 Frederick II became king of Prussia, rejected the Pragmatic Sanction and invaded the Austrian province of Silesia. This started the War of Austrian Succession (1740-48). Great Britain, and the Dutch supported Austria; France and Spain supported Austria. In 1748 the war ended with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. The Austrians could not stop the Bourbons from gaining control of the Spanish throne, Frederick kept Silesia and Austria received the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium) as compensation.

Joseph II succeeded his mother in 1780 and as an enlightened despot he initiated sweeping reforms. Personally, he was against serfdom and abolished the robot in 1789, the year of the French Revolution. However, these reforms came too fast and many peasants took advantage of the situation and revolted. Leopold II followed Joseph and repealed most of the reforms to pacify the nobility. He reintroduced serfdom and the robot, which remained in existence until the revolution of 1848.


The Mongols ruled and unified the eastern slavs for more than 200 years. The Mongol Khan was supreme ruler. Mongol rule was absolute and violent, uprisings were brutally suppressed. The Mongols used local princes to collect taxes and as servants and through cooperation, Moscow became the most loyal city. Eventually the prince of Moscow was the tsar and he was an absolute rule.
Moscovite authority was based on:
a) Ivan III stopped acknowledging the khan as a supreme rulerb) after the fall of Constantinople (1453) the tsars saw themselves as heirs to the caesars and Orthodox Christianity

All the other kings of Europe were heretics. Ivan III (1442-1505) ended Mongol domination of Russia and took the title Tsar (Caesar) proclaiming himself heir to the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire). He confiscated 80% of Novgorod, keeping half and gave the rest to his nobles, causing a rise in service nobility. Ivan IV "the Terrible" grandson of Ivan III who started westernizing Russia was a contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Ivan the Terrible claimed all nobles had to serve the tsar in order to hold office. His purges depopulated much of Russia, forcing many peasants to flee west to hide and form groups called Cossacks. Ivan believed he owned all the trade and industry which sharply contrasted with capitalism in western Europe.

The ruling Moscovite family died out in 1584 which led to the Time of Trouble (1584-1613). The "Time of Trouble" followed the death of Ivan the Terrible, especially after Ivan’s son and heir died. The rebellion of the peasants caused problems for the aristocracy. The social confusion and possibility of war brought the nobles to their senses. The tsar relaxed obligations of nobility, but increased pressure on the peasants.

In an attempt to end the turmoil the Russian nobility (boyars) elected the young Michael Romanov (r. 1613-54) as tsar in 1613. The Romanov family ruled until 1917 when Nicholas II was overthrown in the Revolution. Stability was restored by Michael, but the steltsi (Moscow garrison) and the boyars (nobility) continued to challenge his authority. Moscovy in 1689, was 3 times larger than the rest of Europe, but people were the primary unit of taxation.

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Peter the Great (r. 1682-1725) established stability after the Times of Troubles (1584-1613) and turned Russia into an empire. Peter was fascinated by geography and spent 18 months touring Europe in disguise. The steltsi, taking advantage of Peter’s absence, rebelled in 1698 - Peter brutally suppressed the revolt. He forced the boyars to accept western ways including shaving and allowing women to attend social functions
In 1703 he built a new capital called St. Petersburg the "window to the West". The best part of the army was the cavalry comprised of the boyars and nobility. Peter wanted to improve the army but it only served part-time. The sons of nobles were forced to attend military or engineering schools and prohibited from marrying until they had done so. Created a standing army of 200,000 men, recruitment was for life.

Russia won the Great Northern War (1700-21) against Sweden’s Charles XII including the Battle of Poltava (1709) and signed the Peace of Nystad (1721) ending the war. Russia annexed Latvia and Estonia. Westerners and western ideas flowed to Russia. The gap between the educated and the peasants widened. Few Russians were wealthy, the vast majority of people were poor uneducated peasants. New ideas of statehood took hold and Russia became closer to Europe than Asia. Forced boyars to serve the state by enlisting in the civil or military service. 1722 - issued the Table of Ranks - provided social position and privileges based on rank in the military or bureaucracy – not status. Forced China to accept Russia’ claim for Siberia. To make the Russian Orthodox Church more secular he abolished the office of patriarch - established the Holy Synod. Peter had his son, Alexis, imprisoned in 1718, where Alexis died under mysterious circumstances. When Peter died in 1725 the Russian empire was six times larger than during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. Without a designated successor the nobility and the military fought for almost fifty years. In 1762 the weak Peter III became tsar and shortly after was assassinated with his wife’s approval. The widowed queen who took control was the German Catherine who would go on to rule on her own for over thirty years.
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Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96) admired the ideas of the Enlightenment and corresponded with Voltaire. However, she did little to reform Russia. Serfs became the property of the nobles and consequently could be treated accordingly. From 1773 to 1775 the peasants rebelled. Led by Emelian Pugachev the serfs tried to gain certain rights. Pugachev was captured and beheaded. Defeated the Ottomans and expanded Russia’s southern border. Russia gained control of the Black Sea and her warm water ports as well as control of the straits to the Aegean Seas. Also the treaty made a vague reference to Russia being the protector of the Orthodox Christian subjects of the Sultan – this would later be invoked as justifiable cause for Russian intervention in affairs of the Ottoman Empire. Divided Poland with Austria and Prussia. Poland ceased to exist until 1919
In the 1785 Charter of the Nobility Catherine made sweeping concessions to the nobility. They became:
-exempt from taxation
-exempt from required military service
-gained complete control over their estates and serfs

Catherine was the last of great absolute monarchs. She died in 1796 when Europe was challenging the idea of the monarchy.

PrussiaIn 1415 the Hohenzollern family began to rule as electors of Brandenburg. The Hohenzollern family had little real power. Choosing the Holy Roman Emperor was of little value and they had no military strength. The Hohenzollern power-base was Brandenburg and was cut off from Prussia, which was part of Poland. In 1618 the Hohenzollern prince died and Prussia returned to the Elector of Brandenburg. Gradually they increased the size of their land until they were second only to the Hapsburgs. The Hohenzollern family formed an alliance with the Junkers (unlike the monarchy of France). They practiced religious toleration. Improved the economy, abolished torture, reorganized the tax system, imposed tariffs to protect Prussian industry, made more land available for agriculture.
The power of the Estates (the Junkers) was weakened and elector Frederick William (Great Elector) assumed absolute control. The Great Elector (r. 1640-88) - started to rule Germany after it had been devastated by the Thirty Years' War (1618-48). He reduced the power of the landed aristocracy (Junkers) and the estates, established the civil service and the army as the focus of the states’ power. He also used the military and civil service to control the state - top jobs went to the Junkers. In return he did not interfere with Junker control of the serfs. He wanted to unite 3 areas: Prussia, Berlin, and the Rhine. There are 2 reasons he was successful:
1) the wars between Sweden and Poland and the wars of Louis XIV seemed to create a sense of permanent crisis2) the Junkers were unwilling to join the commoners against the crown
By 1688 Frederick I (r. 1688-1713) had made Prussia one state. He supported the Habsburgs in the war of Spanish Succession and was granted the title “King of Prussia”. Frederick William I (r. 1713-40) "the soldier king" truly established Prussian absolutism. He created the best army in the world and gave society military values. Frederick William I always wore a uniform. Created a strong centralized bureaucracy. Parliamentary government vanished as Frederick William enlisted the Junkers to help him. Prussia was 12th in population, 4th largest army clearly deserving of the title, the "Sparta of the north". Royal absolutism in Prussia was stronger than in Austria

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Conquest in the Americas
Colonies in Middle and South America
Colonies in North America
Africa and the Atlantic Slave Trade

Hernan Cortes

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In 1519, an explorer by the name of Hernan Cortes left his home in Cuba in order to explore Mexico. Cortes was convinced that he could obtain more riches on the mainland than was possible by remaining on the islands in the Caribbean.

Cortes and over 500 men arrived in Mexico, and began traveling towards the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. The Aztec Empire was wealthy and in many ways more advanced than any European nation. However, they did not have horses, nor did they have guns. This gave the Spaniards a huge advantage.

In addition, many of the peoples who had been conquered by the Aztecs were unhappy about the way they had been treated by them. The Aztecs were brutal and often sacrificed the people they conquered to their gods. As a result, many of these people were ready to join forces with Cortes and his men to overthrow the Aztec Empire.

At first the Aztecs did not fight back. They thought that the Europeans were the fulfillment of an ancient legend that spoke of white-bearded gods. After seeing the wealth of their empire, Cortes set out to take control of it. Within just a few years, he and his small army were able to defeat one of the most advanced civilizations of the era, setting Cortes as the ruler of Mexico in behalf of Spain.

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Francisco Pizarro
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A few years after Cortes conquered the Aztec Empire, another explorer named Francisco Pizarro discovered another wealthy empire in Peru known as the Inca Empire.

Pizarro was able to capture the Incan King, Atahualpa, and hold him ransom. After the Incas paid Pizarro a ransom for the release of their leader, Pizarro had Atahualpa put to death, along with other top leaders in the Incan government. The result was that the Incan Empire also fell.

The 13 American Colonies

Each colony had its own unique characteristics, but historians lump them into groups based on where they were, why they were founded, and what kinds of industry they had:

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New England Colonies

Rhode Island



New Hampshire
Middle Colonies



New York

New Jersey
Southern Colonies



North Carolina

South Carolina



By and large, the people who settled in the New England Colonies wanted to keep their family unit together and practice their own religion. They were used to doing many things themselves and not depending on other people for much. Some of these people came to New England to make money, but they were not the majority. The people who founded the Middle Colonies were looking to practice their own religion (Pennsylvania mainly) or to make money. Many of these people didn't bring their families with them from England and were the perfect workers for the hard work required in ironworks and shipyards. The founders of the Southern Colonies were, for the most part, out to make money. They brought their families, as did the New England colonists, and they kept their families together on the plantations. But their main motivation was to make the good money that was available in the new American market.

The New England Colonies were largely farming and fishing communities. The people made their own clothes and shoes. They grew much of their own food. Crops like corn and wheat grew in large numbers, and much was shipped to England. Foods that didn't grow in America were shipped from England. Boston was the major New England port.

The Middle Colonies were part agriculture, part industrial. Wheat and other grains grew on farms in Pennsylvania and New York. Factories in Maryland produced iron, and factories in Pennsylvania produced paper and textiles. Trade with England was plentiful in these colonies as well.

The Southern Colonies were almost entirely agricultural. The main feature was the plantation, a large plot of land that contained a great many acres of farmland and buildings in which lived the people who owned the land and the people who worked the land. (A large part of the workforce was African slaves, who first arrived in 1619.) Southern plantations grew tobacco, rice, and indigo, which they sold to buyers in England and elsewhere in America.

The Atlantic Slave Trade
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Between 1450 and the late 1800's, it is estimated that between 10-15MILLION Africans were kidnapped and sold into slavery. The expanding European empires in the New World, in North, South, and Central America, lacked a major resource - workers. At first, the European colonists attempted to use Native Americans as a work force, but that did not work very well. Native Americans could slip away, and return with others to punish those who tried to enslave them.

The early colonists tried to bring people from Europe to work in the New World, both as indentured servants and as slaves. That did not work well either, especially in the tropical regions. The Europeans were not used to a tropical climate. Many died of disease. Some ran away and blended with other early colonists.

The Portuguese soon discovered that Africans were excellent workers. They were used to more tropical climate conditions. The African people did not want to be slaves. They had to be captured and forced into slavery. A business sprang up - slavers. These were traders who captured and sold people into slavery. Many captured people died on the ships sailing to the New World. Conditions were terrible. People were packed into the hold of ship without regard to their safety or their most basic needs. The slaves who made it alive were strong workers and resistant to disease.

The Slave Trade was incredibly profitable and incredibly cruel. It ripped families apart. People would come home from a hunt or from the fields and find their families missing. In some cases, entire villages were captured. The people in an entire village were rounded up and traded as slaves.
For over 300 years, slaves were captured along the west coast of Africa, often with the active help of African kings and merchants. Slaves were traded for beads, textiles, brandy, horses, and guns. Slavery was illegal in the United States after the Civil War, but slaves continued to be traded in Central and South America for another 40 years until finally slavery was declared illegal in Central and South America as well.

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European Exploration Begins
Europeans in India and Southeast Asia

Europe explores East Asia

Exploration and Expansion

For thousands of years the major civilizations of the world thrived in isolation from one another. These civilizations had very little contact with one another, and in many cases had no knowledge of each other. This all began to change during the Dark Ages. Both Western Europe and China began to send out explorers in an effort to learn about the world around them. These explorers helped to expand the knowledge of their people. As a result of their explorations, trade routes opened up between civilizations. Each nation specialized in certain types of products and goods. These goods would be shipped to far away nations in exchange for the goods that they specialized in.

Trade Becomes More Difficult

In the 1300s A.D., trade had become more costly and more difficult. The Mongol Empire had offered protection to travelers who carried trade goods. As the Mongol Empire collapsed, it became too dangerous to travel between Asia and Western Europe using overland routes. This meant that spices from Asia could only reach Europe by going around Asia, and through the Italian Peninsula.

These spices were in high demand. They were used by Europeans to flavor their food, to preserve their meats, to make medicines, and even in perfumes. Yet, the cost of transporting these spices to Europe made them very expensive and difficult for the struggling nations of Western Europe to afford. These nations began to look at other ways of transporting spices into Western Europe. Many adventurous businessmen began to look at the sea. If they could find a way to sail from Europe to Asia over the sea, they could make a fortune.

Technology Allows Exploration

As civilizations around the world advanced, so did their technologies. For thousands of years it had been impossible for explorers to travel too far from their homelands. Sailors were limited by what they could see. If they traveled out into the open ocean away from land they would get lost. They used landmarks along the coast to help them navigate. Thus, they were forced to stay near the coastlines. They were also limited by their sailing technology. Up until now ships had been equipped with square-shaped sails. These sails only allowed explorers to travel in the same direction that the wind was blowing. If the wind stopped blowing in the right direction, they had to take down their sails and either paddle or wait for the wind to change again. This made it very dangerous to travel too far from shore.

Between 1100 A.D. and 1400 A.D. new technologies emerged which helped to overcome many of these problems. The astrolabe, which was invented by the Arabians, helped sailors measure objects in the sky such as stars, planets, the moon and Sun. After measurements were taken, the use of star charts then helped them to determine their location.

The compass, which was invented by the Chinese, helped them to track what direction they were traveling. By using an hourglass, they could determine how long they had been traveling. Maps also began to improve. For centuries the maps used by travelers had been very inaccurate. These maps were handed down from civilization to civilization, and were gradually improved upon. By the 1400s A.D., they were much more accurate. About this time, map makers began to use grid lines known as latitude and longitude to help travelers measure and determine where they were.

The final invention that allowed sailors to travel further from home was that of the triangle-shaped sail. This new type of sail allowed ships to harness the power of the wind to travel in any direction, and not just in the direction that the wind was blowing. This made it much safer for explorers to travel away from land.

Portuguese Explorers Survey Africa

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Driven by a desire to find an overseas route to India, Prince Henry the Navigator, who was the son of King John I of Portugal, worked tirelessly to advance the exploration efforts of his father’s kingdom.

Prince Henry brought together mapmakers, astronomers and mathematicians to study star charts and to help improve methods of ocean navigation. He also funded a number of important expeditions into the Atlantic Ocean and down the west coast of Africa.
By the late 1400s A.D., explorers from Portugal had discovered new islands, rivers, trading posts, and even a way to travel from Portugal to India over water.

Bartholomeu Dias

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In 1487 A.D., a young and adventurous explorer by the name of Bartholomeu Dias set out on an expedition to find the southern tip of Africa. Up until now, many explorers from Portugal had traveled by ship to the western coasts of Africa. But no one had ever found the southern tip of this large continent. At this time, no one knew how far south it extended.
In 1488 A.D., Dias and his men arrived at the southern tip of Africa, which was later named The Cape of Good Hope. Dias’ bravery helped prove that it was possible to reach Asia by sailing around the tip of Africa.

Vasco Da Gama

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Following in the footsteps of Bartholomeu Dias, another explorer left Portugal in 1497 A.D., hoping to sail around Africa and reach India. This explorer was Vasco Da Gama.
Da Gama set out with four ships from his homeland in Portugal. Ten months later he and his men arrived in Calicut, India. Here they established ties with the leaders of this city, and attempted to set up a trading partnership.
While their efforts to set up a partnership with Indian traders was not successful, they did prove once and for all that moving goods over the sea was possible. Vasco Da Gama and his men returned to Portugal as heroes.

Christopher Columbus

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Traveling to India around the southern tip of Africa was dangerous and difficult. An Italian sailor by the name of Christopher Columbus proposed finding a new route by sailing west. Columbus thought that if they sailed west, they would eventually circle the globe and arrive in eastern Asia.For seven years Christopher Columbus traveled around Europe looking for someone who would finance his journey. The monarchs of Europe made fun of him, saying that it was too risky and dangerous to attempt such a voyage around the globe.

Finally, Columbus arrived in Spain. For many years Spain had been caught up in civil war. As a result, they were behind much of Europe in their development. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were anxious to prove that Spain could be as powerful and successful as their neighbor Portugal. In August of 1492, they granted Christopher Columbus the supplies, men and ships that he needed to carry out his expedition. Columbus was given three sailing ships. These ships were named the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

Columbus’ men were terrified that they would be lost at sea and that they would suffer starvation. As the days wore on these men began to turn against him. Columbus was forced to agree to turn back if they did not find land within three days. On the night of the second day, just before he would have had to turn around, land was sighted. Columbus and his men discovered an island in the Caribbean, which they named Hispanolia. This island is the location of the present day nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Columbus did not realize that he had arrived in a new part of the world. He was convinced that he was in India. For this reason, he called the natives who lived on these islands the Indians. Columbus returned to the Americas three more times. Each time believing that he was in India. During his life, he never realized what he had discovered.

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The Renaissance Begins
The Renaissance Moves North
Martin Luther and the Reformation

Reformation Ideas Spread

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The Dark Ages lasted for hundreds of years, as many generations of individuals lived and died in these terrible conditions. Then, in the mid 1300s A.D., things slowly began to improve. People began again to discover the arts and technologies of the Romans and Greeks, making life a little easier. We call this period of time the Renaissance. The Renaissance began around 1350 A.D. in Italy, and continued until about 1600 A.D.

The Italian Peninsula had been home to the Roman Empire for centuries. It had been the world center of culture, power, business and technology. The ideas that evolved and were developed in this region would have a lasting impact for thousands of years. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Italy was ruled by many different people and groups. It was conquered by Germanic tribes, by the Byzantine Empire, by Islam, and by others. It also experienced many periods of self-rule, where small city-states were governed by local leaders. Because the Italian Peninsula jets out into the Mediterranean Sea, it is an ideal location for controlling important trade routes. As merchants traveled from China to the Byzantine Empire, and into Africa and other parts of the world, they often passed through the Italian Peninsula. This brought both money and culture into the region. As a result, the Italians were not hit as hard by the Dark Ages as were other parts of Western Europe.

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The practice of studying ancient works by the Romans and Greeks became known as humanism. Those who studied these classical works became known as humanists. These humanists became popular throughout Italy in the mid 1300s A.D

Renaissance in Florence

The city-state of Florence in Italy was the location where the Italian Renaissance began. This city was ruled by a wealthy family known as the Medici family. The Medici’s were effective leaders. They taxed both the poor and the wealthy, and used the funds to build public works, such as roads and sewers, that benefited everyone.

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The result was that Florence became one of the wealthiest cities in all of Western Europe. The Medici Family were avid supporters of the humanities. They donated money to help support the development of the arts in their city. They were an important reason why the humanist movement grew in strength and popularity.
By the late 1500s A.D., the center of the Renaissance in Italy began to shift from Rome to the more wealthy city-state of Venice. Venice was located in the Mediterranean Sea among hundreds of tiny islands on the northeast edge of the Italian Peninsula. Its location made it ideal for trade

Many in Venice grew wealthy, which allowed them to afford the finer pleasures of art and the humanities. Their money attracted the attention of many of the artists, writers and scholars in Rome. There was more money in Venice than in Rome, and as a result, it was easier for a humanist to make a living in Venice. Venice quickly became world famous for the high quality of art and literature that they were producing.
Spreading Renaissance Ideas
As other people in Western Europe visited Italy, they became fascinated with their ways of life, their culture, art, literary works, and customs. In 1494 A.D., the French invaded Italy. They brought a number of Italian artists and scholars back to France. Among them was an artist by the name of Leonardo Da Vinci. The French hired these artists to paint beautiful masterpieces for their palaces and public buildings. They hired the scholars to teach their children and improve their educations.

Soon many other monarchies, including the English, Spanish, Germany, and even as far away as the Netherlands, were actively employing humanists in their courts to help improve life. They adopted many of the beliefs of the humanists in Italy, but also modified them to suit their own needs and circumstances.

The Reformation
As the Renaissance spread throughout Europe, the standard of living among Europeans greatly improved. As this happened, more people could afford to have their children receive a formal education. With more people being able to read and write, the number of individuals who read the bible increased. Many began to criticize the Catholic Church for its extravagance and for its abuses. There were many people who felt that the practices and teachings of the Church were not consistent with the teachings found in the scriptures. The result was what historians call the Protestant Reformation.

Martin Luther
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Many years after the formation of the Waldensian Church, the protestant reformation continued to gather support, beginning with the efforts of a German monk born in 1483 A.D. This monk’s name was Martin Luther. Luther’s parents wanted him to become a lawyer and were sending him to law school. Deep within his heart, however, Martin Luther wanted to serve God.

On a fateful afternoon while caught out in a storm, Martin Luther was nearly struck by lightning. He felt that this was a sign that he should give up law school and become a monk. Shortly thereafter Martin Luther joined a monastery in Germany, and began to dedicate his life to learning and teaching the Gospel. The more he studied, the more he felt that the Catholic Church had gone astray. He collected a list of 95 different points of doctrine where he felt that the Church was incorrect.

On October 31, 1517, Martin wrote these 95 points of doctrine on a placard, which he nailed to the door of the Catholic Church in Wittenberg, Germany. These 95 points of doctrine were copied and sent throughout Germany, resulting in the Catholic Church losing out on the collection of money that it collected in exchange for indulgences. The sale of indulgences was one of the 95 practices that Martin Luther disagreed with. This practice allowed people to buy forgiveness for their sins. As the money from the sale of indulgences greatly declined, Pope Leo X grew upset and sent convoys to Martin Luther in an attempt to get him to recant his disagreement. Martin Luther refused to do so, stating that he had an obligation to God to do what he felt was right.

By 1520 A.D., the Catholic Church had had enough. They declared Martin Luther a heretic, a crime punishable by death. Luther escaped and went into hiding, where he translated the Bible into German.

Citing the Waldensians as an example of a Christian church that was separate from Catholicism, Martin Luther founded a new religion known as Lutheranism.

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Europe in the Middle Ages

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With the decline of Rome, there was no one to stop the advancement of the warring Germanic tribes. These tribes traveled in search of food, wealth and shelter, and often left devastation behind them. The result was that civilized life saw a long period of decline. Building slowed down and bridges and roads fell into serious decline and disuse. The lack of good roads and bridges, and the danger caused by the roaming Germanic tribes and bandits made it difficult to send goods from one place to another. The lack of trade seriously hurt the local economies of Europe. Additionally, during this time period there was a general decline in education. Overall, the lives of the people were harder, they had less food, poorer educations, and lower living conditions than earlier generations. This time period has come to be known as the Dark Ages, or Medieval times. Medieval means “Middle Age” and refers to the fact that these difficult times bridged the ancient world with the modern world.
The Frankish Empire
In 771 A.D., Pepin the Short was succeeded as king by his son Charlemagne. Charlemagne was a tall, friendly ruler, and was also a skillful politician. Under his leadership, the kingdom controlled by the Franks doubled in size, growing to include France, Germany, Spain and Italy. This kingdom became known as the Frankish Empire. For the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire, all the people of Western Europe were ruled over by a single government and by a single leader.
Following his taking control of the Frankish government, Charlemagne grew concerned about the great number of his people who could not read or write. He sought to improve the situation by opening schools around his kingdom. Charlemagne also gathered together the brightest scholars of his era and had them work to preserve ancient texts and records. These scholars copied the writings of the Romans and others, preserving them for future generations.

Holy Roman Empire Collapses
After the death of Charlemagne in the year 814 A.D., his son Louise the Pious took the throne as emperor. Louise was not as effective a leader as his father. Upon the death of Louise, his three sons began fighting over control of the empire. After several years of civil war, which greatly weakened the empire, the three brothers signed a treaty in 843 A.D., which divided the empire into three equal pieces.
The civil war between the sons of Louise the Pious greatly weakened the Frankish civilizations at a time when barbarians and outsiders threatened to attack the kingdoms from almost every side. Muslims from northern Africa, Slavs from the East, and nomads known as Magyars from Asia, all with their eyes on conquering and controlling the Franks. The biggest threat of all came in the form of the Vikings from Scandinavia.
Feudalism Develops in Europe
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As a result of the constant attacks by the Vikings and other nomads, the governments of Europe were constantly under attack. Communities did not feel that their governments were providing adequate protection for them against outsiders. The economies of Western Europe were in shambles, and trade routes were disrupted.
As the monarchs of central governments lost power, a new type of government evolved called Feudalism. Feudalism began in France around 900 A.D., and spread throughout the remainder of Europe within 150 years.

Feudalism began as monarchs started giving control of local territories to lords. These lords controlled almost all aspects of life within their estates. Along with their lands, these lords also owned the peasants who lived on their land, as well as all of their possessions. The peasants were obligated to work for the Lords, farming their lands, and filling other necessary duties. In exchange for this sovereignty, the lords pledged their loyalty to the king and promised to supply him with knights for his armies. Often a lord would have lesser lords whom he controlled, and greater lords whom he was loyal to.
The vassals agreed to pay a tribute of knights to their lord in order to defend their lord's lands. They agreed to pay a dowry upon the marriage of their lord’s eldest daughter, and also agreed to pay a ransom in the event that their lord was kidnapped.

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Knights were guided in their conduct by a code of ethics known as chivalry. Chivalry promoted honesty, fairness in battle, and proper treatment of noble women. The concepts of chivalry gradually blended with the expectations of proper manners for gentleman in western culture.

Lords and peasants worked together to support one another. The wealth of the lords came by the labors of the peasants who worked their lands. In return, the lords protected the peasants, offered them shelter, and insured that they were fed. The lands of a lord were referred to as a manor. A manor consisted of the lord's estate or castle, farmlands, forests for hunting, and a village where the peasants lived. Because war was rampant, trade was nearly impossible. This meant that a manor had to be self-sufficient. They had to produce everything they needed to survive within their own manor.
The lord directed these efforts and protected his peasants. In exchange, the peasants worked on road repairs, built bridges, farmed the lord's lands, and built buildings. They also paid tribute to the lord in the form of grain, food, clothing, and other goods.

The Authority of the Church

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Under the feudal system, the Catholic Church grew in power and prestige. The bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, claimed authority over all Christians in Western Europe. The Pope often became involved in political affairs, and even anointed kings and rulers of various nations. Some Roman Popes were more powerful than the local monarchs.
The Crusades
The city of Jerusalem was the center of faith for three major world religions. For the Jews, it was their homeland. It had been promised to them by Jehovah, whom they believed had covenanted with Abraham to give him the land of Israel. To the Muslims, Jerusalem was the location where the Prophet Muhammad had ascended into heaven. After Makkah and Medinah, Jerusalem was Islam’s third most holy city. To the Christians, Jerusalem was both the location of Christ’s birth and the location of his death. It is also the location of much of the New Testament.

This Holy Land was conquered by Islam in the 600s A.D., and would remain in their control for many centuries to come. In 1095 A.D., Pope Urban II called for volunteers to travel to Jerusalem and fight to take it back from the Muslims. He called their mission a crusade. The word “crusade” comes from the word Crux, which means “cross” in Latin. Those who volunteered for the crusade would be called crusaders, meaning that they took the cross of Jesus upon them.
This crusade would be the first of nine total crusades that Christians would carry out as they attempted to control Israel territory.

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As the governments of Western Europe began to stabilize and the lives of the people became easier, a new class of merchants and artisans began to emerge. These new workers formed themselves into what they called guilds. A guild was a group of craftsmen or merchants who shared a similar trade. The guild did two important things. First, it helped regulate how business should be done. The guild established rules which regulated a particular industry. Secondly, the guilds allowed the craftsmen to control the price of their goods. As a combined group they formed a monopoly. This allowed them to artificially set the prices at any level they desired.
The Hundred Years War
The English had been conquered and ruled by a French feudal lord from Normandy by the name of William the Conqueror. Because William the Conqueror had been a powerful leader in Normandy, he claimed both England as well as much of France as his kingdom. Later English kings maintained their right to rule parts of France. This created a great deal of resentment for both the French people as well as their kings, who wanted control of their lands back.
In 1152 A.D., King Henry II of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor was the heiress to much of the lands in the southwest of France. This gave King Henry II control over more of France than the French king had.
In 1328 A.D., when the king of France died without leaving a direct heir, the situation became dangerous. King Edward III of England was the grandson of the former French King. As such, he was the rightful successor to the French throne. This gave King Edward III the right to rule both England and France from a single throne.
The French were not ready to be ruled by an English King. Feelings between the English and French were too bitter. A Frenchman by the name of Philip of Valois, who was the nephew of the former king of France, began preparations for war with England, a war that would last from 1337 until 1453 A.D.
At first, it appeared as though England would win the war. Their superior technology and strategies led them to victory in a series of battles where they were often out numbered by the French. Eventually, however, the tables would be turned. After more than one hundred years of fighting, the French were eventually able to declare victory over the English. The One Hundred Years War greatly strengthened France, while weakening England. Following the war, England would enter a period of turmoil and civil war that would last for another 30 years.

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Last year's review (Ancient Civilizations)
1. Mesopotamia2. Ancient Egypt and Nubia3. Ancient India4. Ancient China5. Ancient Greece6. Ancient Rome7. Byzantine and Muslim Civilization8. Civilizations of Africa9. Civilzations of America10. Civilizations of Asia

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