History of Europe

History of Europe

Europe has a very long history, as modern humans have inhabited parts of Europe since about 40,000 years ago. Some of the earliest civilizations in Europe were the ancient Greeks that established cities with the polis structure that heavily influenced modern systems. The Greeks also had trade relations with ancient Egypt and parts of Asia, which contributed to the advancement of the society. The ancient Roman civilization began around the 8th century BC.

It expanded over the next 12 centuries to encompass most of Europe, as one of the largest civilizations in the world at the time, including up to 20% of the world population. Beginning as the Roman Kingdom, the government became a Republic and the Roman Empire in 27 BC. The Roman Empire reached its peak around the first or second century AD, after periods of rule by powerful leaders like Julius Caesar and Augustus who helped expand the territory. However, the Roman Empire grew too large, and split into the Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire) around 405. Meanwhile, major migrations began happening across Europe, with the movement of the Goths and Vandals, Angles and Saxons, Lombards, Franks, Huns, Slavs, Bulgars, and Normans for the next few centuries. The Western Roman Empire fell in 476 because of foreign invasions, and many small kingdoms arose in its place. In 711, the Arabs arrived in Iberia, while the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne of the Franks, ruled much of the rest of Western Europe. Slavic countries, the Bulgarian Empire, Serbian Principality, and Duchy of Croatia emerged in the 8th century. The Byzantine Empire had been centered in Constantinople, but after the Crusades hit the city in 1204, the empire faced heavy destruction, and the Ottomans were able to conquer it in 1453.

The Italian Renaissance began around 1400, causing a major cultural shift with emphasis on art and science, and important artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci emerged. The Age of Exploration and Discovery had begun, and explorers were sent from many countries, especially by the Spanish, Portuguese, French, and British. The Protestant Reformation began around 1517 with Martin Luther publishing the Ninety-five Theses, beginning a period of church reform that would last until 1648. The Thirty Years War lasted from 1618 to 1648, sparked by the religious division of Germany and ending with the Peace of Westphalia. There was also a scientific revolution beginning around the 16th century with major advancements in science made by Copernicus, Galileo, and Isaac Newton. This was followed by the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, which truly transformed the continent. France had emerged as a powerful nation, and the French Revolution in 1789 set off a new model of government, with other nations following suit with the European Revolutions in 1848. Many changes subsequently occurred, including the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867, and the unification of Germany and of Italy in 1871.

In 1914, World War I began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and the war was fought primarily in Europe. The war ended with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, but caused major devastation and major changes in Europe. The Russian Revolution, formation of the USSR, the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and the Turkish War of Independence all happened within a short time. With the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, the scene was set for World War II. The Nazi party, led by Hitler, rose to power around 1933, while the Great Purge in the Soviet Union, led by Stalin began in 1937. World War II began in 1939 and continued until 1945, causing incredible destruction and many deaths. One result of WWII was the formation of the United Nations in 1945. Shortly after WWII ended, the Cold War began between the USSR and the U.S. The Space Race was a competition between the two nations, resulting in the USSR launching Sputnik in 1957 and the U.S. landing the first man on the moon in 1969. The Berlin Wall that had been constructed to restrain movement in the German capital in the wake of WWII was finally brought down in 1989, and the USSR collapsed in 1991, leading to major reorganization. The European Union was established in 1993 by the Treaty of Maastricht, and the continent began further unification with the Euro currency beginning in 2002.

Timeline of European History

  • 7000 BC - Neolithic period began in Greece
  • 3500 BC - Minoans settled on Crete
  • 3200 BC - Bronze Age began in Greece
  • 1200 BC - European Iron Age began
  • 750 BC - Roman Kingdom founded
  • 509 BC - Roman Republic established
  • 264-146 BC - Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage
  • 27 BC - Roman Empire formed
  • 400-800 AD- Age of Migrations saw waves of migrations of Goths, Vandals, Angles, Saxons, Lombards, Franks, Huns, Avars, Slavs, Bulgars, Vikings, Normans, Arabs, Mongols, etc.
  • 476 AD - Fall of the Western Roman Empire
  • 711 AD - Muslim conquest began
  • 1215 - Magna Carta created in England, limiting power of government
  • 1346 - Black Death reached Europe
  • 1400-1600 - Italian Renaissance
  • 1453 - Fall of the Byzantine Empire (conquered by Ottoman Empire)
  • 1492 - Christopher Columbus reached the New World
  • 1517 - Protestant Reformation begins when Martin Luther publishes his Ninety-five Theses
  • 1618-1648 - Thirty Years War
  • 1688 - Glorious Revolution, overthrow of King James II
  • 1789 - French Revolution
  • 1799 - Napoleon takes power
  • 1812 - War of 1812
  • 1845-1852 - Irish Potato Famine
  • 1848 - European Revolutions (Spring of Nations)
  • 1854-1856 - Crimean War
  • 1867 - Austro-Hungarian Empire formed
  • 1871 - Italy unified, Germany unified
  • 1914 - World War I began with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand
  • 1917 - Russian Revolution
  • 1918 - Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved
  • 1919 - Treaty of Versailles officially ended WWI
  • 1919 - Turkish War of Independence after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire
  • 1922 - Formation of USSR
  • 1929 - Wall Street Crash and beginning of the Great Depression
  • 1933 - Rise of the Nazi Party and Hitler
  • 1937 - Great Purge in Stalin's Soviet Russia leads to nearly 700,000 deaths, millions deported
  • 1938 - Munich Crisis
  • 1939-1945 - World War II
  • 1944 - D-Day
  • 1945 - Potsdam Conference
  • 1945 - United Nations formed
  • 1946-1990 - Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR
  • 1957 - Sputnik launched by the USSR
  • 1967 - Merger Treaty established the European Communities
  • 1989 - Fall of the Berlin Wall
  • 1991 - Collapse of the USSR
  • 1993 - European Union formed by the Treaty of Maastricht
  • 2002 - Circulation of Euro currency began
  • 2003 - Ten thousand people died in heat wave in France
  • 2004 - The EU gained 10 new members. Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus and Malta join the European Union.
  • 2005 - Pope John Paul II died. 56 people were killed and over 700 injured in bomb attack on three of London's underground trains
  • 2007 - 2009 - Russia attacked Georgia
  • 2007 - Romania and Bulgaria join the European Union.
  • 2008 - The Great Recession begins. Unemployment rises in some parts of Europe.
  • 2013 - Croatia joins the European Union.
  • 2014 - Revolution in Ukraine and serious tensions between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union.
  • 2015 - European migrant crisis starts.
  • 2016 - Brexit Referendum was held on Thursday 23 June, 2016.

Last Updated on: October 24th, 2017