Brief History of Europe/Late modern period

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The Late modern period was circa 1750–1945, or 1800–1945. It may also be extended to the present day.

The "long nineteenth century" was 1789–1914.

States and territories of the late modern period[edit]

Europe in 1815

In 1815 states included:

Northern Europe
Included Sweden–Norway (1814–1905) and Denmark. The Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1801) (of England, Wales and Scotland) would merge with the Kingdom of Ireland (1542–1801) to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801–1922); this later became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Western and Central Europe
Included France and Switzerland. The German Confederation included some of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815–1839) covered the present-day Netherlands and Belgium. The Belgian Revolution (1830–1831) and the First Treaty of London (1839) resulted in Belgium separating from the Netherlands, mainly on the grounds of religion as Belgium was mainly Catholic, and the Dutch were mainly Protestant; Luxembourg, in the area were they spoke a German dialect called Luxembourgish, also received independence. After the Luxembourg Crisis (1867) between the the French Empire and Prussia, the Second Treaty of London (1867) was passed.
Eastern Europe
Included the Russian Empire and Congress Poland; Congress Poland became a puppet state of Russia, although the Polish Free City of Cracow (1815–1846) was autonomous until annexed by the Austrians. The Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro (1516–1852) would later became the Principality of Montenegro. The Ottoman Empire included the semi-autonomous Principality of Serbia (1815–1882). The Danubian Principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia) were Ottoman vassals which would later become the United Principalities (1859–1881), later renamed to Romania; they eventually, with Transylvania, formed the basis for the Kingdom of Romania (1881–1947). With the Greek War of Independence (1821–1832), Greece would obtain independence from the Ottomans as the Kingdom of Greece (1832–1924).
Iberian Peninsula
Included Spain and Portugal.
Italian Peninsula
Included the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples. Northern Italy included the Kingdom of Sardinia (with Piedmont, Nice, Savoy, Genoa), the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia (Austrian), the Papal States, and the duchies of Lucca, Massa and Carrara, Modena and Reggio, and Parma; and San Marino.

Age of Revolution and late eighteenth century[edit]

Age of Revolution (1774–1848): saw a rise of revolutionary activities, especially away from absolute monarchy and towards constitutional republics. The Atlantic Revolutions was a revolutionary wave within the Atlantic World, and included: the American Revolution (1765–1783); the French Revolution (1789–1799); the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), a large slave rebellion followed by a massacre of the French (1804); the Irish Rebellion of 1798, which would contribute to the formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; and the Spanish American wars of independence (1808–1833).

Other revolutionary waves included the Revolutions of 1820 and the Revolutions of 1830. The Ottoman Empire would also experience unrest in this period, with the Serbian Revolution (1804–1835) and the Greek War of Independence (1821–1832). The Revolutions of 1848, with widespread revolt across Europe, contributed to the French Revolution of 1848, and the First Italian War of Independence (1848–1849).

Seven Years' War, and French and Indian War[edit]

North America in 1750
Mount Rushmore with sculptures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln (left to right)

Seven Years' War (1756–1763) split Europe into two coalitions: (i) Kingdom of Great Britain coalition, including the German states of Prussia and Hanover, and Portugal; (ii) Kingdom of France coalition, including the Habsburg/Austrian Monarchy, Russian Empire, Bourbon Spain, and Sweden. Major European theaters included: Silesia, Pomeranian War (Sweden and Prussia), and the Spanish invasion of Portugal (1762). Other European theaters included: Bohemia and Moravia; Westphalia, Hesse, and Lower Saxony; Upper Saxony; Brandenburg; and East Prussia.

The Seven Years' War also had theaters in North America, West Indies, West Africa, India, and Uruguay and Rio Grande do Sul. It resulted in a Anglo-Prussian coalition victory, although there was little change in European territories. There were transfers of colonial possessions, including in North America, and India (the Northern Circars ceded to Great Britain). After the Anglo–Spanish War (1762–1763), Spain ceded Florida to Britain in exchange for return of Havana.

French and Indian War (1754–1763) was a North American theater of the Seven Years' War, although warfare was extended during the period 1688 and 1763. Principally it was British America against New France and its Indian allies. It ended with Louis XV ceding New France (a North American territory roughly west of the Thirteen Colonies) to Spain and Great Britain after France's defeat. Britain received Canada, Acadia, and parts of Louisiana, with Spain gaining the larger portion of Louisiana.

After the war French possessions in North America were reduced to the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. In 1800 Spain returned its portion of Louisiana to France, but Napoleon Bonaparte in turn sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

American Revolution[edit]

American Revolution (1765–1783): resulted in the Kingdom of Great Britain losing possession of the United States of America (USA), called the Thirteen Colonies until the Declaration of Independence of the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It included the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). In 1765 the First Congress of the American Colonies met in response to taxation introduced by the Stamp Act. The Boston Tea Party (1773) was an act of symbolic defiance against the tax on tea. In 1774, the First Continental Congress attempted to create at a separatist government. War erupted in 1775, with the Patriots (and later their French, Spanish, and Dutch allies) against the British and Loyalists (also known as Tories).

In 1783 the British capitulated to the Americans, and signed the Treaty of Paris. George Washington was the first President of the United States (1789–1797), and the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. George Washington is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, along with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison.

Partitions of Poland[edit]

Partitions of Poland (1772–1795): in a series of partitions, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was partitioned to the Habsburg/Austrian Monarchy, Kingdom of Prussia, and Russian Empire. Three partitions took place in 1772, 1793, and 1795. In 1807, Napoleon resurrected Poland when he set up the Duchy of Warsaw.

French Revolution[edit]

Storming of the Bastille (1789)
La Mort de Marat (Jean-Paul Marat) by Jacques-Louis David (1793)
Thermidorian Reaction: Saint-Just and Robespierre at the Hôtel de Ville of Paris on the night of 27–28 July 1794 (9–10 Thermidor Year II).

The French Revolution (1789–1799) was a period of French history that resulted in the abolition of the Ancien Régime (the Old Rule of the monarchy and nobles), the establishment of a republic based on secular democracy and liberalism, and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. The guillotine was used in many executions during this period.

It began with the formation of the Third Estate of the Estates-General (May 1789), an assembly representing commoners, as opposed to clergy (the First Estate) and nobility (the Second Estate); it was then renamed the National Assembly (17 June 1789).

National Constituent Assembly (July 1789 to September 1791) followed the National Assembly on 9 July, after its members had taken the Tennis Court Oath (20 June 1789).

  • The Storming of the Bastille (a state prison), a mainly symbolic gesture, commenced on 14th July 1789, and is now commemorated on Bastille Day.
  • The abolition of feudalism (August 1789), and later the privileges of the nobility (June 1790). The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (in part drafted by the Marquis de Lafayette) was adopted in August 1789, and was later followed by the Declaration of the Rights of Woman (September 1791).
  • The Women's March on Versailles (October 1789) compelled the Louis XVI and most of the Assembly to return with them to Paris; Louis took up residence in the Tuileries Palace in Paris.
  • Jacobin Club (re-founded in Paris in November 1789) was a nationwide republican movement, which would greatly influence three main bodies of revolutionaries of whom many were members: Montagnards, Girondins, and Maraisards. The sans-culottes (lower-class radicals) were closely aligned, and involved in the September Massacres (September 1792).
  • The Civil Constitution of the Clergy (July 1790) caused the immediate subordination of the French clergy to the French government. Many anti-clerical laws would later be passed.
  • The Flight to Varennes (June 1791) of Louis XVI, and his subsequent capture, damaged his prestige. The Champ de Mars massacre (July 1791) took place after it was announced that Louis XVI would retain his throne.

National Legislative Assembly (October 1791 and September 1792) replaced the National Constituent Assembly as legislative body, with government on the basis of a constitutional monarchy, a position favored by moderates such as the Count of Mirabeau.

The Paris Commune, who ruled Paris, became dominated by Jacobins in 1792, and would became insurrectionary that summer; it lost much power in 1794 and was replaced in 1795 by the French Directory.

National Convention (1792–1795) replaced the National Legislative Assembly on 20 September, after the storming of the Tuileries Palace (10 August 1792); it was dominated by Jacobins.

  • The French First Republic (1792–1804) was declared on 22 September 1792 by the National Convention. This ended the reign of Louis XVI; he was then executed in January 1793, followed by his wife Marie Antoinette nine months later.
  • The Committee of Public Safety (1793–1795) was first chaired by the Montagnard Georges Danton (who was executed with Camille Desmoulins in April 1794). It held de facto executive from April 1793, and organized the Reign of Terror (1793–1794), with resulted in over 40,000 executions, particularly from the Law of Suspects (September 1793).
  • The fall of the Girondin party took place after the Insurrection of 31 May to 2 June 1793; in July 1793 Jean-Paul Marat was assassinated by Charlotte Corday (a Girondin sympathizer); and in October 1793 many prominent Girondins were then executed, including Jacques Pierre Brissot.
  • The Thermidorian Reaction ended the Reign of Terror; Montagnard committee member Maximilien Robespierre, Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, and twenty of their allies were executed by the Thermidorians on 28 July 1794. It was followed by the First White Terror (1794–1795) against people identified as being associated with the Reign of Terror, particularly those of the Jacobin Club which was suppressed and disbanded.

French Directory (1795–1799) in November 1795 became the new five-member executive elected by the legislature (the Council of Five Hundred and Council of Ancients), after 13 Vendémiaire (an October 1795 battle between revolutionary troops and royalist forces in Paris). The Committee of Public Safety and National Convention were abolished.

There was a number of coups during the French Directory: the Conspiracy of the Equals (May 1796, a failed royalist coup), the Coup of 18 Fructidor (September 1797, against the royalists), and the Coup of 30 Prairial VII (June 1799, with Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès gaining control). The Coup of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799) ended the French Directory and the French Revolution era; the French Consulate and Napoleonic Era began the next day.

French Revolutionary Wars[edit]

French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802): were wars of French Republic against Great Britain, Austria and others, sparked by the overthrow of Louis XVI. They included two wars, well as numerous other conflicts:

  • War of the First Coalition (1792–1797): with French annexation of the Austrian Netherlands, the Left Bank of the Rhine and other smaller territories. Northern Italy and other territories were turned into several French sister republics.
  • War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802): the previous annexations by France were confirmed. France was led by Paul Barras (until 1799) and Napoleon Bonaparte (from 1799).

The French Revolutionary Army was greatly strengthened by Lazare Carnot. The Levée en masse introduced mass national conscription (August 1793). Napoleon was the most successful general for France, and conquered much of Italy (campaigns of 1796 and 1797), and made the Austrians sue for peace; he also led the French campaign in Egypt and Syria (1798–1801). The French Revolutionary Wars temporarily ended with the Treaty of Amiens 1802, but would flare up in 1803 with the Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleonic Era[edit]

Napoleon Bonaparte
Europe in 1812, before the French invasion of Russia
1st Duke of Wellington (Arthur Wellesley)

Napoleonic Era (1799–1815) was the era when France was led by Napoléon Bonaparte, as First Consul (1799–1804) and then Emperor (1804–1814, 1815).

The French Consulate (1799–1804) began with Napoleon Bonaparte seizing control on 10 November 1799 and becoming First Consul. The Provisional Second and Third Consuls Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès and Roger Ducos were soon replaced by J.J. Cambacérès and Charles-François Lebrun. The three parliamentary assemblies were the Conseil d'État, Tribunat, and Corps législatif; the Sénat conservateur directly advised the First Consul.

It was followed by the First French Empire (1804–1814, 1815), when Napoléon was crowned Emperor of the French, replacing the Consulate. He had previously gained Life Consulship (May 1802). In 1812, France was enlarged with territories such as the Low Countries and parts of Italy; and had client states such as the Confederation of the Rhine, Switzerland, the Kingdom of Italy, the Kingdom of Naples, the Duchy of Warsaw, and Spain; and had allies such as Austria and Prussia.

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of conflicts between Napoleon's France its allies and client-states, against the Coalition Forces of the Napoleonic Wars (the third through to the seventh). They began with the United Kingdom declaring war on France in May 1803. Co-belligerents with the UK included Holy Roman Empire (pre-1806), Austria (from 1804), Prussia, and Russia, among others; the French were allied with their client states. The wars were a continuation of the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802), with the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) being part of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Era.

Major battles and aspects of the Napoleonic Wars included the following:

  • War of the Third Coalition (1803–1806). The Franco-Spanish navy was defeated by the British Navy (commanded by Horatio Nelson) at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), off Cape Trafalgar, Spain; this prevented a French invasion of England. But the French were victorious over the Russian-Austrian army at the Battle of Austerlitz (1805) in Austrian Moravia. The Confederation of the Rhine was created, and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire followed (1806).
  • War of the Fourth Coalition (1806–1807). The French had victories over the Prussia and Saxony at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt (1806) in Germany; and the Russians at the Battle of Friedland (1807) in Prussia. This created an uneasy truce, with the Napoleon receiving many Prussian lands; these contributed to the formation of the Kingdom of Westphalia and Duchy of Warsaw,
  • French Invasion of Portugal (1807), and the subsequent overthrow of the Spanish Bourbons (1808) and occupation of Spain and Portugal. The Peninsular War (1808–1814) eventually resulted in the expulsion of the French from Portugal and then Spain. The Battle of Vitoria (1813) in Spain was a decisive victory for the British, who were led by the Duke of Wellington (Arthur Wellesley).
  • War of the Fifth Coalition (1809), with a French victory over the Austrians at the Battle of Wagram (1809) in Austria. The French imposed harsh terms on the Austrians.
  • French invasion of Russia (1812), and the resulting catastrophe for the French; the French Grande Armée of circa 685,000 troops had losses of circa 500,000; the Russians lost a similar amount. It included the major but indecisive Battle of Borodino (1812) in Russia.
  • War of the Sixth Coalition (1812–1814), with French defeat by coalition forces at the Battle of Leipzig (1813) in Saxony; but the French had success in the Six Days' Campaign (1814) in northeastern France. The Battle of Paris (1814) ended the war in favor of the coalition.
  • Hostilities temporarily ended with Provisional Government of 1814, and then the first Bourbon Restoration (1814–1815) of the Kingdom of France under Louis XVIII. Napoleon was forced to abdicate, and was temporarily exiled to the island of Elba (1814–1815).
  • The Hundred Days, or War of the Seventh Coalition (1815), was the from 20 March 1815 (the French Government of the Hundred Days after Napoleon's return from Elba), to 8 July 1815 (the second Bourbon Restoration), a period of 111 days. Napoleon's was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo (1815) in present day Belgium; this was by an Anglo-allied army (commanded by the Duke of Wellington), and a Prussian army (commanded by Field Marshal Blücher). The French had previously beaten the Prussians at the Battle of Ligny two days earlier.

The French Provisional Government of 1815 was followed by the second Bourbon Restoration (1815–1830), the restoration of the Kingdom of France at first under Louis XVIII. Napoleon was permanently exiled to St. Helena, where he died in 1821. The Bourbons were overthrown in 1830, but the French monarchy survived until the French Second Republic (1848–1852).

Other wars of the Napoleonic Era included the following (some of which may be also included in the Napoleonic Wars): Anglo-Spanish War (1796–1808); English Wars (of the UK and Sweden against Denmark-Norway, 1801–1814); Russo-Persian War (1804–13); Franco-Swedish War (1805–1810 which included the Finnish War of 1808–1809); Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812); Anglo-Turkish War (1807–1809); Anglo-Russian War (1807–1812); Anglo-Swedish War (1810–1812); War of 1812 (between the United States and the United Kingdom, 1812–1815); Swedish-Norwegian War (1814). The Latin American wars of independence, the wars for independence of countries in Latin America mainly from the Spanish, were greatly influenced by the Napoleonic Wars.

Post-Napoleonic Europe[edit]

Congress of Vienna
Queen Victoria in 1882

Congress of Vienna was completed with the Final Act in 1815. The were many territorial changes, but major ones included:

  • Russia obtained most of the Duchy of Warsaw, and kept Finland which they had annexed from Sweden in 1809, and which they held until 1917.
  • Prussia gained Swedish Pomerania, and parts of Saxony, the Duchy of Warsaw, Danzig, and the Rhineland/Westphalia.
  • Austrian Empire gains included Lombardy–Venetia (1815–1866), and they regained Tyrol and Salzburg.
  • Congress Poland (1815−1867) was created, which later became part of Russian Empire 1867 to 1915.
  • United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815–1839) was created, which is now the Low Countries.
  • Sweden kept Norway, which they had obtained from Denmark.
  • There were various colonial changes and restorations, such as Britain with Cape Colony, Tobago, Ceylon, and various other colonies.
  • German Confederation (1815–1866) was created; for Italian changes see the Risorgimento.

Concert of Europe (1815): also known as the Congress System or the Vienna System, it was a system of dispute resolution founded by the Quadruple Alliance (Austria, Prussia, Russia, and the UK) that defeated Napoleon. The Quadruple Alliance, minus the UK, also formed the Holy Alliance that same year. The principles were that no important change take place without the consent of these Great Powers, and that a the balance of power be maintained.

Pax Britannica (1815–1914) was a period of relative peace between the five great powers of the period: the Austrian Empire, France, Prussia, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Other powers had lessened influence, such as Spain, Portugal, and Sweden. The United Kingdom in particular had a position of hegemony (that is, leadership and dominance) through its British Empire and Royal Navy. The Royal Navy had surpassed the Dutch Navy and the French Navy to "rule the waves". Slavery was abolished within the British Empire in 1833 under William IV. Queen Victoria, who reigned 1837–1901, ruled over the Victorian era of the United Kingdom, characterized by great national confidence in empire and industry.

Post-Napoleonic France[edit]

Liberty Leading the People (Eugène Delacroix) commemorated the July Revolution (1830); Marianne (Liberty) is a symbol of France and French liberty

Post-Napoleon, major French regimes included:

1. Monarchies of the Kingdom of France (1814–1815 and 1815–1848):

  • Bourbon Restorations (1814–1815 and 1815–1830): with the reigns of Louis XVIII (until 1824) and Charles X (1824–1830); both restorations of Louis XVIII were preceded by Provisional Governments.
  • July Monarchy: after the July Revolution (1830) resulted in the reign of the the Orléans King Louis Philippe I (1830–1848). The June Rebellion (1832): which was an unsuccessful Paris uprising immortalised in Les Misérables.

2. France after the French Revolution of 1848:

  • French Second Republic (1848–1852): preceded by Provisional Government, and with President Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte (the nephew of Napoleon) ruling after the presidential election of 1848.
  • Second French Empire (1852–1870): after the French coup d'état of 1851, with Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte ruling as Emperor Napoleon III.
  • French Third Republic (1870–1940): after the collapse of the regime of Napoleon III, during defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871). The Paris Commune (1871) was bloodily suppressed. The first government was the Government of National Defense.
  • In 1940, during World War II, mainland France separated into: (i) zone libre ("free zone") administered by Vichy France, although the zone sud ("south zone") was later occupied by Italy; (ii) zone occupée/nord ("occupied/north zone") occupied by Germany, with the zone interdite/réservée ("forbidden/reserved zone") reserved for coastal military and German settlement. Alsace-Lorraine was secretly annexed by Germany, and some border areas were annexed by Italy. France's colonies came under occupation by Germany, Italy, Japan, and Thailand. Free France was a government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle.
  • Provisional Government of the French Republic (1944–1946), after the liberation of continental France.
  • French Fourth Republic (1946–1958), a post-World War II republic.
  • French Fifth Republic (1958 to the present day) was established after the Algerian crisis of 1958.

Revolutions of 1848[edit]

Revolutions of 1848: across much of Europe (1848–1849), with numerous revolutions and periods of unrest. In France it contributed to the formation of the French Second Republic (1848–1851). In Hungary, the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 would eventually give rise to the Austro-Hungarian Compromise (1867), which gave birth to Austria-Hungary. In Italy, temporary independence in Sicily was created, followed soon after by the First Italian War of Independence (1848–1849). In the Danish Duchy of Schleswig, unrest contributed to the the First Schleswig War (1848–1852) against the Germans, which ended with a Danish victory; but in the Second Schleswig War (1864), Schleswig-Holstein would be lost to the Germans.

There were numerous other events; 1848 was also the year of the publication of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Spain during the late modern period[edit]

The Third of May 1808; French reprisals following the Dos de Mayo Uprising (1808) in Madrid following occupation (by Francisco Goya)

Bourbon monarchs ruled the Kingdom of Spain between 1700 and 1808, interrupted by Joseph Bonaparte of the House of Bonaparte (1808–1813), who was installed by Napoleon during the Peninsular War. After Spanish victory in the Peninsular War the Bourbons were restored (1813–1868) with Ferdinand VII (who reigned in 1808 and 1813–1833); during this period the Spanish colonies in the New World were lost, except for Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Carlism was an attempt to promote a rival branch of the House of Bourbon to the Spanish monarchy; it stemmed from Infante Carlos, Count of Molina, who claimed the monarchy after the death of his brother Ferdinand VII in 1833, over Ferdinand's daughter Isabella II. This led to the Carlist Wars for the monarchy, which were unsuccessful, although Carlism would continue as right-wing political movement, and Carlists were instrumental for the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War.

Isabella II was later deposed in the Spanish Glorious Revolution (1868). The Glorious Revolution was followed by the Sexenio Democrático (six democratic years): Provisional Government (1868–1871), King Amadeo I of the House of Savoy (1871–1873), and the First Spanish Republic (1873–1874). The Bourbons were then restored for the second time during the period known as the Restoration (1874–1931) with Alfonso XII of Spain. After the fall of Alfonso XIII of Spain, in part due to economic chaos caused by the Wall Street Crash (1929), the Second Spanish Republic (1931–1939) was established.

General Franco was proclaimed Head of State after the Spanish coup of July 1936; in the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) Franco's Nationalists defeated the Republicans, and Franco would remain dictator of Francoist Spain until his death in 1975. In 1947, Spain was declared a kingdom, but without a monarch; not until 1969 did Franco establish Juan Carlos of Bourbon as the heir to the monarchy. After Franco's death, democracy was slowly established under a constitutional monarchy with a Bourbon monarch, the third restoration of the Spanish Bourbons; this continues to this day. Juan Carlos I (who reigned 1975–2014) was succeeded by Felipe VI (2014 to present).

Crimean War[edit]

Crimean War (1853–1856): the Russian Empire lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia. Russia was expanding into the Danubian Principalities, then vassals of the Ottoman Empire. Also involved the rights of Christians (Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox) at Holy Land sites, then under the Ottoman Empire. Fighting took part on the Crimean peninsula and around the Black Sea.


Risorgimento (Italian unification) animated map

The Risorgimento, or Italian unification, occurred between 1815 and 1871. After the Congress of Vienna (1815), there were many changes in the Italian makeup:

  • Kingdom of Sardinia was restored to include Sardinia, Piedmont, Genoa, Nice, and Savoy. Its capital was Turin.
  • Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was created from Sicily and Naples (southern Italy); it was restored to the Bourbon King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.
  • Lombardy-Venetia (Lombardy and Venice) was gained by the Austrian Empire.
  • Italy also consisted of the Papal States, and some central states: the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (Toscana); the duchies of Parma, Modena (and Reggio), Massa and Carrara, and Lucca; and the Republic of San Marino.

Key events included:

  • Massa and Carrara would be annexed by Modena (1829); and Lucca would be annexed by Tuscany and Modena (1847).
  • Revolutions of 1848 created insurrection across Italy; the Sicilian revolution of 1848 created independence in Sicily for 16 months.
  • First Italian War of Independence (1848–1849): resulted in a victory of Austria over Sardinia, without territoral changes.
  • Second Italian War of Independence (1859): Sardinia then annexed the majority of Lombardy from Austria.
  • United Provinces of Central Italy (1859) was created by Sardinia from Tuscany, Parma, and Modena, and the Papal Legations (Romagna).
  • Central Italy was united with Sardinia in 1860, but Savoy and Nice were annexed by the French that year.
  • Most of the Two Sicilies, and much of the Papal States, were annexed by Sardinia in 1860.
  • Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) was proclaimed in 1861 under King Victor Emmanuel II; it was a renaming of the Kingdom of Sardinia.
  • Third Italian War of Independence (1866): Italy annexed Venetia (Venice) from Austria.
  • Remaining Papal States were annexed by Italy in 1870; in 1929 Vatican City was established with the Lateran Treaty.
  • Italian capital city was moved to Rome in 1871; earlier it had been Turin (1861–1865) and Florence (1865–1871).

Only San Marino was to remain independent, although Vatican City achieved independence in 1929. Giuseppe Garibaldi was a popular statesman and the greatest military leader during unification, his actions included leading the Expedition of the Thousand (1860–1861) to conquer the Two Sicilies.

German Empire[edit]

The proclamation of the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, 18 January 1871. Wilhelm I stands centrally on the left, and Otto von Bismarck appears in white.
Austria-Hungary, with Cisleithania (1–15), Hungary (16), Croatia-Slavonia (17), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (18)

The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved to form the Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhine (1806–1813). It was eventually replaced by the German Confederation (1815–1866), with 39 states created from the previous 300 states of the Holy Roman Empire. The German Confederation contained (in part) two major states: the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918) and the Austrian Empire (1804–1867).

After Austrian defeat in the Austro-Prussian War (1866), the North German Confederation (1867–1871) of mainly Protestant northern German states was formed; this excluded the Austrian Empire and the mainly Catholic southern German states. With the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), which included the Siege of Paris (1870–71), France was defeated by Prussia, and Alsace-Lorraine was annexed by the Germans. In January 1871 the German Empire was declared, which now included the southern states of Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, and Hesse. The new Constitution of the German Empire was then adopted, with Germany under the permanent presidency of Prussia.

The German Empire (Deutsches Kaiserreich) (1871–1918) was a federal semi-constitutional monarchy; the German Emperor (Deutscher Kaiser) was the King of Prussia; they were Wilhelm I (1871–1888), Friedrich III (1888), and Wilhelm II (1888–1918). The empire was composed of four kingdoms: Prussia (Preußen), Bavaria (Bayern), Saxony (Sachsen), and Württemberg. It also included many other territories; larger ones included Baden, Hesse, Oldenburg, Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Alsace-Lorraine. The first chancellor was Otto von Bismarck (1873–1890), who had been Minister President of Prussia from 1862; nicknamed the "Iron Chancellor", he is regarded as an outstanding statesman and architect of the German Empire.

After defeat in World War I, the German Empire became a much reduced state called the Weimar Republic (1918–1933); this became Nazi Germany (1933–1945), the "3rd Reich" in Nazi terminology; they considered the 1st as being the Holy Roman Empire, and the 2nd as being the German Empire. After World War II, Germany would be divided into West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany) and East Germany (the German Democratic Republic), until German reunification in 1990.


Austria-Hungary (1867–1918): was created after the Austrian Empire had left the German Confederation, and the Austro-Hungarian Compromise (1867). Austria-Hungary was a constitutional union between the Austria, Hungary, and Croatia-Slavonia; the Habsburg Austrian Emperor was the monarch. Hungary and Croatia-Slavonia (termed the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen or Transleithania) were administered by the Hungarian government; while the other lands (Cisleithania) were administered by the Austrians. Hungary included Transylvania, and the Voivodeship of Serbia and Temes Banat.

Following the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), Bosnia and Herzegovina nominally remained under sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire, but was de facto ceded to Austria-Hungary. The Bosnian Crisis of 1908–1909 was created by the formal annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary.

After defeat in World War I, Austria-Hungary was broken up, and separated into Austria and Hungary; and Austria-Hungarian lands were ceded to Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, Poland, Italy, and Liechtenstein. Before World War II, the Anschluss was the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938. After World War II, Austria was again separated from the German states (West Germany and East Germany).

New Imperialism[edit]

Imperialism in 1914
All territories that were part of the British Empire
Scramble for Africa
Colonial Africa in 1913
Atrocities in the Congo Free State

New Imperialism is a term for the imperialism that followed the first wave of European colonization (1402 to 1815). From 1800 onward most of the colonies in the Americas would be lost, with the United States already independent; the largest remaining European colony would be Canada.

At around 1800, European power was comparatively weak outside of Europe and the Americas; the larger empires there included the Russian Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Qajar Iran, the Chinese Qing dynasty, and the Indian Maratha Empire. But by 1914 European colonization outside of the Americas had greatly increased.


Most New World possessions of Spain were lost during the Spanish American wars of independence (1808–1833), partly a result of the Napoleonic Wars. Simón Bolívar led the secession of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama from Spain. The War of Independence of Brazil (1822–1825) resulted in Brazil becoming independent of Portugal.

After these wars, most mainland European colonies in the Americas were lost; South American colonies that continued included French Guiana, Suriname (then Dutch), and Guyana (then British). Canada (then British), and Russian America (now the U.S. state of Alaska, purchased in 1867), continued in Northern America. British Honduras (now Belize) continued in Central America.

West Indies colonies were slower to gain independence or would remain dependent. The British West Indies included large territories such as Jamaica and the Bahamas. The Danish West Indies consisted of the present-day United States Virgin Islands. The Netherlands Antilles (Dutch West Indies) consisted of islands in the Lesser Antilles. With the the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), Haiti achieved independence from the French West Indies. The Spanish West Indies in 1815 consisted of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic).

Early imperialism by the United States included the Commonwealth of Liberia (1821–1847) in Africa, and they annexed Hawaii in 1898. With the Spanish–American War (1898), Cuba (now independent), Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands came under US rule. The Philippine Revolution (1898) ended Spanish colonization, but colonization by the United States was confirmed by their victory in the Philippine–American War (1899–1902); colonial rule lasted until 1946. The Banana Wars (1898–1934) were United States military interventions in Cuba, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Asia and Oceania[edit]

Britain's imperial century (1815–1914) was a time of unprecedented expansion of the British Empire; it reached a territorial peak in 1921. The East India Company was a British charted company founded in 1600; it seized British possessions on the Indian subcontinent, South East Asia, and Hong Kong. The rivalry between Britain and Russia in Afghanistan and surroundings during this period became known as the Great Game (1830–1895).

The British Empire included:

  • British Raj (1858–1947), now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Asian and Oceanic possessions also included: Burma (now Myanmar), Malaya and British Borneo (now Malaysia and Brunei), Singapore, Hong Kong, British New Guinea (now Papua New Guinea); the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius, Seychelles, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka); and some islands in the Pacific Ocean.
  • British African colonies included: Egypt, Sudan, Somaliland, South Africa, South-West Africa (now Namibia), Basutoland (now Lesotho), Swaziland, Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe and Zambia), British East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania/Tanganyika, Zanzibar), Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, British Togoland (now part of Ghana), Cameroons (now parts of Cameroon and Nigeria), Gold Coast (now Ghana), Nyasaland (now Malawi).
  • The British also expanded Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. They also had possessions in Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, and other American and Caribbean colonies. They also had protectorates in southern and eastern Arabia and Kuwait.

The Dutch East Indies (1816–1949) followed on from the possessions of the defunct Dutch East India Company; the territories would form the basis for present-day Indonesia. They also controlled Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles. See below for French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish colonization.

The Empire of Japan (1868–1947) would gain prominence in world affairs after the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Japan built an extensive empire from 1894. It included Taiwan (1895–1945), Korea (1910–1945), Manchuria (as Manchukuo, 1932–1945), and parts of northern China. Japan fought and defeated Russia during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), with Russia losing territories and local influence.

The century of humiliation (1839–1949) was a period of intervention and imperialism by Western powers and Japan in China, with China under the Qing dynasty (1636–1912) and Republic of China (1912–1949). It included defeat in the Opium Wars (1839–1842 and 1856–1860), defeat in the Sino-French War (1884–1885), the First and Second Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895 and 1937–1945), Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931-1932), and many other aspects.

Scramble for Africa[edit]

Scramble for Africa was the rapid colonization of Africa beginning in the late nineteenth century; new empires mostly centered on Africa included the Italian (1869–1960), German (1884–1918), and Belgian (1885–1962) colonial empires; the British, French, Portuguese and Spanish also colonized Africa. In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was formally under European control. Between 1881 and 1914 the majority of Africa was colonized, with only with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia remaining independent in 1914. The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 to some extent formalized the Scramble for Africa.

As well as British colonization (see above), other European colonization included:

  • French colonialism in Africa would become extensive, with French North Africa, French West Africa, French Equatorial Africa, and French East Africa (including Madagascar). Outside of Africa, French colonies included French Indochina (now Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam), French Polynesia, French Guiana, and the French West Indies.
  • German colonial empire was the third-largest colonial empire by 1914, after the British and French; African possessions included German Kamerun, German South West Africa, German East Africa, and German Togoland. Outside of Africa, it also included German New Guinea and German Samoa.
  • Belgian colonization included that of Leopold II of Belgium, who was founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State (1885–1908), which became infamous for atrocities and lack of judicial interference, which created international outrage. It was succeeded by the Belgian Congo (1908–1960), and the Belgians also controlled Rwanda and Burundi.
  • Italian colonization included in the Balkans, Italian East Africa, Italian Libya, and territories in the Western Mediterranean and Far East. It gained momentum with the rise of Benito Mussolini in 1922, who conquered Albania, Ethiopia, British Somaliland, parts of south-eastern France, western Egypt, and most of Greece; by 1947 it had lost them all, but Italian Somaliland would then become its protectorate.
  • Portuguese colonies in Africa included Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Portugal also controlled Macau, Goa, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Portuguese Timor (now East Timor). To this day they control the Azores, Madeira, and Savage Islands.
  • Spanish colonies in Africa included Northern Spanish Morocco, Spanish West Africa, and Spanish Guinea. After the Dominican Restoration War (1863–1865), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) restored independence. After the Spanish–American War (1898), Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands would be lost by Spain.

In 1936 Ethiopia fell to the Italians, and only Liberia remained independent. Gradually, decolonization resulted in the loss of these African colonies by 1975, accelerated by the devastation of the world wars.

Decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire[edit]

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey

The Ottoman Empire, then described as the "sick man of Europe", was in decline in the 19th and early 20th centuries. What would happen to the failing empire would be called the Eastern Question.

It led to a number of newly independent Balkan countries by 1914, such as Greece (and the Cretan State of 1898–1908), Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania; Montenegro was already independent, and the status of Bosnia and Herzegovina within Austria-Hungary would help to precipitate World War I. Further afield, the Ottoman Empire lost a number of territories before 1914: Algeria and Tunisia to France; Egypt, the Yemen, and Cyprus to Britain; and Italian Libya to the Italians.

Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire (1908–1922) was the general disintegration of the empire, particularly as a result of World War I. After Italian victory in the Italo-Turkish War (1911–1912), the First Balkan War (of 1912) resulted in the victory of the Balkan League (Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro) against the Ottoman Empire. During World War I, genocide in Anatolia became prevalent; 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the Armenian Genocide (1914–1923), and there was also genocide of Greek and Assyrian minorities.

In 1916, Hussein bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, led the the Great Arab Revolt, a pan-Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire to create a united Arab state. There was fighting in Hejaz, Transjordan, and Syria. Although Arab efforts to achieve unified independence failed, Allied victory in World War I assured the end of the Ottoman Empire. With the end of Ottoman suzerainty in Arabia, Hussein bin Ali became King of the Kingdom of Hejaz (1916–1925). The Saudi conquest of Hejaz (1924–25) was a step in the unification of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the third Saudi state ruled by the House of Saud, and was founded in 1932 by Ibn Saud; it dominates the Arabian peninsula.

Partition of the Ottoman Empire, after World War I outside of the Arabian peninsula, was largely under the terms of the British/French Sykes-Picot Agreement, which planned for a geographical divider called the Sykes-Picot line, with French influence to the north and British influence to the south. To the north, French had the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon (1923−1946). To the south, British mandates included: Mandatory Palestine (1920–1948, today Israel and the State of Palestine), and Mandatory Iraq (1921–1932); the Emirate of Transjordan (1921–1946, today Jordan) was a British protectorate. Slowly, these states would became independent from the French and British.

The Turkish War of Independence (1919–1922) was a war for a Turkish state covering Anatolia and Eastern Thrace; the Turks defeated Greece, the United Kingdom, France, and Armenia. The Ottoman Sultanate was then abolished (1922), and the Republic of Turkey declared (1923). The Turks were led by Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who became known as Atatürk. Atatürk had come to prominence during the Ottoman Turkish victory at the Battle of Gallipoli (1915) during World War I; and as the leading figure of the Turkish National Movement he won the Turkish War of Independence. Atatürk became the first President of Turkey, with Turkey guided by Atatürk's Reforms and Kemalism.

World War I and the Interwar Period[edit]

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Leaders of the Central Powers (left to right): Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany; Kaiser and King Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary; Sultan Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire; Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria
Big Four: Vittorio Orlando (Italy), David Lloyd George (Britain), Georges Clemenceau (France), Woodrow Wilson (USA) (left to right)
European alliances during the 1914-18 war

Prelude to World War I[edit]

The war had roots in the tensions between France and Germany, exacerbated by the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), and the French defeat and loss of Alsace-Lorraine to the Prussians. The Dual Alliance (1879) and Triple Alliance (1882) created an alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy that excluded France. Partly in response, and after the failure of the German–Austrian–Russian League of the Three Emperors (1873–1880) and the secret German–Russian Reinsurance Treaty (1887–1890), the French–Russian Franco-Russian Alliance was created with agreements between 1891 and 1894.

The Anglo-German naval arms race (1898–1912) worsened British and German relations. The Entente Cordiale (1904) between the British and French improved their relations, and marked the end of almost a thousand years of intermittent conflict between them. The First and Second Moroccan Crises (1905–1906, 1911) worsened German relations with both France and the Britain. The Anglo-Russian Convention (1907) led to the creation of the Triple Entente (1907), an alliance between Britain, France and Russia.

The Bosnian crisis (1908–1909), when Austria-Hungary announced the formal annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Ottomans, worsened Austria-Hungarian relations with Italy, Serbia, and Russia. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was on Sunday, 28 June 1914; the Austrian heir was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb nationalist. Franz Ferdinand was visiting Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was a mixture of South-Slavic peoples: Bosniaks, Bosnian Serbs, and Bosnian Croats. Many Bosnian Serbs and other Bosnians opposed the Austrian annexation; Serbia was sympathetic to them, and the Black Hand, a secret military society formed by officers in the Army of the Kingdom of Serbia, had helped the assassins.

World War I[edit]

World War I (the Great War, 1914–1918) had the Allied Powers defeating the Central Powers. The Allied Powers included the Triple Entente of France, the British Empire, and Russia (to 1917), but also include Japan (from August 1914), Italy (from April 1915), the USA (from April 1917), and other allies and co-belligerents. The Central Powers would eventually include Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria, and other co-belligerents and client states; it evolved from the earlier Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy (but Italy never fought for the Central Powers).

Key aspects include:

  • In the July Crisis, after a series of diplomatic maneuvers, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28 July, who they blamed for the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Serbia was a Russian ally, so Russian mobilization had already commenced.
  • Events of August 1914: Germany declared war on Russia, and then France and Belgium; they would invade France through Belgium according to the Schlieffen Plan. Britain then declared war against Germany for violating Belgian neutrality, and sent the British Expeditionary Force to France. Austria-Hungary declared war against Russia, and Britain and France declared war against Austria-Hungary.
  • German advances in France came to a halt after the First Battle of the Marne (September 1914) with over a half a million casualties; afterwards the Western Front was little changed until 1917.
  • In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war in support of the Central Powers, and opened fronts in the Caucasus, Mesopotamia and the Sinai Peninsula. The Middle Eastern theater included the Gallipoli campaign (1915), which resulted in over half a million casualties.
  • The Balkans Campaign (1914–1918) extended the war to the Balkans, with Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 and the Greece joining the Allies in 1917.
  • On the Eastern Front, the Austro-Hungarian offensive at the Battle of Galicia (1914) resulted in over half a million casualties; the German Gorlice-Tarnów Offensive (1915) resulted in as many as half a million casualties; the Russian Brusilov Offensive (1916) resulted in over a million casualties.
  • On the Western Front, the Battle of Verdun (1916), the longest offensive of the War, resulted in over a half a million casulaties; the First Battle of the Somme (1916) resulted in over a million casualties; the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) (1917) resulted in over half a million casualties.
  • In 1917, the Central Powers achieved victory on the Eastern Front, with Russian capitulation. Other Allied defeats included Serbia (1915) and Romania (1917).
  • The USA joined the Allied Powers in 1917, after German U-boats sank seven US merchant ships, and the Zimmermann Telegram suggesting that Germany was inciting a Mexican-American war.
  • On the Western Front in 1918, the German Spring Offensive resulted in one and a half million casualties; and the Allied Powers' Hundred Days Offensive resulted in over two million casualties.
  • The Central Powers, of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria, all capitulated to the Allied Powers in 1918. Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and Germany signed an armistice on 11 November 1918.

World War I was largely based on the attrition due to casualties of troops, rather than decisive territorial gains. As a result of the World War I, the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian Empires ceased to exist. An estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a direct result of the war. The 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Interwar period[edit]

Post World War I Europe in 1923

The interwar period was post-World War I to World War II in 1939. The League of Nations was founded in 1920 to maintain world peace. The Roaring Twenties, a period of economic prosperity, would end with the Great Depression during the 30s.

With the Treaty of Versailles, signed at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the Big Four imposed their terms on Germany; they were represented by David Lloyd George (for Britain), Georges Clemenceau (for France), Woodrow Wilson (for the USA), and Vittorio Orlando (for Italy). Germany had Alsace-Lorraine returned to France, its colonies taken, was disarmed, and was forced to make reparation payments.

Other territorial changes included:

  • Austria and Hungary were founded as reduced states with the end of Austria-Hungary.
  • Republic of Turkey founded in 1923 after the Turkish War of Independence, and the end of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia achieved independence.
  • Finland and Poland, achieved independence from Russia; Poland gained territories from Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary.
  • Czechoslovakia was created from lands of Austria-Hungary, including Bohemia and Moravia.
  • Yugoslavia were created as the the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes; it included Serbia, Montenegro, and lands of Austria-Hungary. Josip Broz, also known as Tito, would later become the Yugoslav leader.
  • Romania gained Bessarabia (Moldova) from Russia, and Transylvania, Banat, and Bukovina from Austria-Hungary.
  • Italy gained territories from Austria-Hungary. The Principality of Liechtenstein achieved independence.
  • Irish Free State, of southern Ireland, achieved independence in 1922 following the Irish War of Independence.

Spanish Civil War (1936–1939): Spanish Republicans, loyal to the left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, fought and lost against the Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco. Resulted in the continuing rule of Francoist Spain (1936–1975).

Russian revolutions and Soviet Union[edit]

The "Old Bolsheviks" Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, and Mikhail Kalinin in 1919

Russian revolutions: the first successful revolution was the February Revolution (March 1917), and the Russian Provisional Government, a coalition of various revolutionary factions, came to power. With the October Revolution (November 1917), the Bolsheviks, a communist faction led by Vladimir Lenin, took over, and established the Russian SFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic). The Russian SFSR left World War I with the armistice of December 2017, and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 1918).

Russian Civil War (1917–1922): was a civil war in which the Red Army of the Bolsheviks defeated the anti-communist White Army; there were between 7 and 12 million deaths during the Russian Civil War (including civilians). In July 1918, the former Russian Emperor Nicholas II, and his wife Alexandra and their five children, were executed. The Second Polish Republic was declared in 1918; after the Polish–Soviet War (1919–1921), Ukraine and Belarus were partitioned between Poland and the Soviet Union. There were successful wars of independence in Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The Russian famine of 1921–1922 killed an estimated 5 million people.

Subsequently the Soviet Union or USSR (1922–1991) was established as a union of socialist states formerly in the Russian Empire; the Soviet Union was dominated by the Russian SFSR. Decossackization was a policy of elimination against the Cossacks who had formed the effective core of the anti-Bolshevik White Army.

After the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, he was replaced by a "troika" ('a set of three') consisting of Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, and Joseph Stalin. Joseph Stalin, who had been General Secretary since 1922, gradually became an absolute ruler; in 1929 he had great rival Leon Trotsky exiled, who was then murdered in 1940. The Soviet famine of 1932–33 may have killed as many as eight million, and was related to the forced collectivization of agriculture as a part of the Soviet first five-year plan; it included the Holodomor, widely seen as genocide against the Ukrainians, as well as alleged genocide against the Kazakhs. Stalin's Great Purge (1936–1938) was a campaign of political repression that killed hundreds of thousands; it included the executions after show trials of Nikolai Bukharin, Zinoviev, and Kamenev.

World War II[edit]

Pacific imperial powers in 1939
Europe under Nazi domination 1941-1942
Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in 1940, leaders of fascist Italy and Germany
Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin at the Yalta conference (1945)

Background to World War II[edit]

Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister of Italy in 1922. In 1933 Adolf Hitler became Chancellor (and later Führer) of Nazi Germany, and Germany withdrew from the League of Nations. Ethiopia was invaded by Italy in 1935. Italy and Germany created the Rome-Berlin Axis in 1936, which was later widened to Japan. In 1938 Germany annexed Austria; Czechoslovakia was then annexed by Germany, Hungary and Poland. In March 1939 the UK and France promised to defend the independence of Poland. In August 1939, the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Germany planned for mutual non-aggression, and the division of Europe into spheres of influence.

World War II summary[edit]

World War II (1939–1945): was a world war in which the Allies would eventually defeat the Axis powers.

The Allies of World War II would eventually include the Big Four of the USA, UK (United Kingdom), Soviet Union, and China; and also governments-in-exile of occupied countries and other combatant states. It started as France, Poland and the United Kingdom, and their dependent states. They were joined by independent Dominions of the British Commonwealth: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, and Yugoslavia joined the Allies, but would quickly fall to the Axis powers, as did France, and Poland (with German–Soviet partitioning).

The Axis powers included the Tripartite Pact (September 1940) powers of Germany, Japan and Italy (until 1943); the pact later included Hungary (1940), Romania (1940), Bulgaria (1941), Slovakia (1940, a German client state), and the State of Croatia (an Italo-German client state of 1941 covering much of Yugoslavia). There were other co-belligerents, such as Finland (Soviet–Finnish Continuation War), Iraq (Anglo-Iraqi War), Thailand, and the Soviet Union (until their invasion).

Key aspects include (this list is very limited):

  • Preceded by and included the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), after Japan invaded China, who already occupied Manchuria after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931–1932), with resulting Soviet–Japanese border conflicts (1932 to 1939).
  • In September 1939 the UK and France declared war on Germany after the Invasion of Poland, which included Germany and the Soviet Union. This commenced the European theatre of conflict. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Eastern Europe was occupied by Germany and the Soviet Union. Poland was partitioned, and the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) were occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940.
  • Phoney War (September 1939 to May 1940) was a period of limited engagement, although the Soviets attacked Finland in the Winter War (November 1939 to March 1940), and there was the German invasion of Denmark and Norway (April 1940).
  • The Western Front commenced with the the Battle of France (May 1940); within six weeks Germany had conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Germany avoided the stronger Maginot Line fortifications by invading through the Ardennes forest. Erich von Manstein formulated the plan for the battle. This ended land operations on the Western Front until D-Day. Germany divided France into German-occupied northern France and a German-friendly Vichy France to the south. The UK evacuated their forces with the Dunkirk evacuation.
  • The Mediterranean and Middle East theatre opened in June 1940, beginning with the Battle of the Mediterranean, and later extending to the Middle East, North Africa, and West Africa. Erwin Rommel commanded the Germans in the the North African campaign.
  • Conflict in the South-East Asian theater began when Japan invaded French Indochina in September 1940, who they occupied. It later included British Burma, Ceylon, Malaya and Singapore; and in Thailand. There was also warfare in the Indian Ocean, as well as the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, New Guinea, and Borneo (see the Pacific War).
  • By early June 1941, only the UK actively opposed Germany in Europe; the Soviet Union and Germany were still at peace, and controlled much of Europe. The Battle of the Atlantic (1939–1945) had weakened the UK due to a blockade of supplies by German U-boats. During July–October 1940, the Battle of Britain was the successful defense of the UK from the German air force.
  • On the 22nd June 1941, Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, commenced the German-Soviet War at the Eastern Front; German-occupied Europe reached a territorial peak 1941–1942. On the Eastern Front, Georgy Zhukov was responsible for some of the Russian Red Army's most decisive victories.
  • In 1941 the USA joined the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7. This commenced the Pacific War; theaters can be divided into North; Central (including Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway); South (including the Solomon Islands and the Battle of Guadalcanal); and South West (including the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, New Guinea, and Borneo). Warfare continued in the South-East Asian theater and China.
  • During 1942, key Axis defeats included the Battle of Midway (in the Pacific), the Second Battle of El Alamein (in North Africa), and Stalingrad (in the Soviet Union, ending in 1943). The Italian Campaign, commencing July 1943, resulted in the collapse of Fascist Italy (1943) and the Allied occupation of all of Italy by 1945. In December 1943 Dwight D. Eisenhower was made Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. On 6 June 1944, D-Day commenced the Allied invasion of northern Europe, the second stage of conflict on the Western Front.
  • V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day) declared on May 8, 1945, after the defeat and occupation of Germany by the Allies. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki contributed to the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945 (V-J Day).

Conferences and aftermath[edit]

There were a number of conferences during and after World War II, which involved members of the Big Three (USA, UK and Russia). Conferences included:

  • Casablanca Conference (January 1943): included Franklin D. Roosevelt (USA President), Winston Churchill (UK Prime Minister), and Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud (for Free France).
  • Cairo Conference (November 1943): included Roosevelt, Churchill, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (of the Republic of China). It ended with the Cairo Declaration for post-war Asia.
  • Tehran Conference (November and December 1943), the first meeting of the Big Three: with Roosevelt, Churchill, and Joseph Stalin for Russia. It planned for the continuing European war, and a date for D-Day.
  • Fourth Moscow Conference (October 1944): included Churchill and Stalin and some ministers, with planning for post-war spheres of influence in Eastern Europe.
  • Yalta Conference (February 1945), a pre-V-E Day conference between the Big Three (Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin). It planned for the defeat of Germany, and post-war arrangements.
  • Potsdam Conference (July to August 1945), a pre-V-J Day conference between the Big Three: Stalin, Harry S. Truman (USA President), and Churchill and Clement Attlee (UK Prime Ministers). It created the Potsdam Declaration on the surrender of Japan, and a policy for Germany.

Aftermath of World War II: there were between 50 to 85 million fatalities, mostly civilians in the Soviet Union and China. The war marked the advent of air supremacy and nuclear warfare. The Holocaust, a genocide perpetrated by the Germans during the war, resulted in 17 million deaths, including 6 million Jews. Strategic bombing, the bombing of non-military targets, was a result of the blurring between civilian and military contributions to the war effort, and total war meant that entire populations were dedicated to the war effort. The end of the war marked the beginnings of the Cold War.

Industrialization and cultural changes[edit]

Luddites (or Frame-breakers) smashing a loom (1812)

The First Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly in Europe and the USA. Around 1750, developments included the mechanisation of the textiles, developments of iron-making, the introduction of canals, the development of steam power and railways, and the development of all metal machine tools. Luddites protested against the use of machinery, and committed acts of sabotage.

The Second Industrial Revolution was the rapid industrialization between late 19th century and early 20th century. It included the Machine Age, circa 1880–1945. As industrial work forces grew in Western Europe, socialism and trade union activity developed. The last vestiges of serfdom were abolished in Russia in 1861 by Alexander II.

Other important historical periods included: the Victorian era and the Edwardian periods in the UK, 1837–1901–1910 with British Empire building and industry at its peak. The Gilded Age of the United States, 1870–1900, was a period of rapid growth in industry. The Meiji era of Japan, 1868–1912, was the rule of Emperor Meiji and period of Japanese industrialization in which it emerged as a great power. The Great Depression (1929–1939), which came after the Roaring Twenties; an earlier period, called the Long Depression, was between 1873–1879 (by some metrics).

Arts of the late modern period[edit]

Classical music composers montage. First row: Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Händel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven. Second row: Gioachino Rossini, Felix Mendelssohn, Frédéric Chopin, Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi. Third row: Johann Strauss II, Johannes Brahms, Georges Bizet, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Antonín Dvořák. Fourth row: Edvard Grieg, Edward Elgar, Sergei Rachmaninoff, George Gershwin, Aram Khachaturian

European arts can be divided into many Western art movements and periods. For music these include:

  • Early Music (circa 500–1600)
  • Baroque era (c. 1600–1750)
  • Galant music era (c. 1720s–1770s)
  • Classical era (c. 1730–1820)
  • Romantic era (c. 1780–1910)
  • Modernist era (c. 1890–1950)
  • Postmodern era or Contemporary period (c. 1930 to the present-day)

Common practice period (circa 1600 to 1910) was the musical era of the tonal system. The Classical period of music was named after the 18th century rise in classicism (drawing inspiration from classical antiquity). The term "classical music" can be applied to all Western art music.

Visual arts and architecture movements and periods, from circa 1750 onward, included:

  • Rococo, or Late Baroque, emerged circa the 1730s to the 1760s, as highly ornate styles in architecture and arts.
  • Neoclassicism, began circa 1760 in opposition to the Rococo style, and continues to the present day. As a form of classicism, it draws inspiration from classical antiquity. Neoclassicism in music was a twentieth-century trend.
  • Romanticism in art and music was circa 1780 to 1910, and was in part a reaction to modernity. The Pre-Raphaelitess were influenced by romanticism.
  • Realism, as an art movement, emerged in the 1840s, and nouveau réalisme (new realism) developed in the 1960s.
  • Impressionism in art and music, emerged early 1860s. It was followed by Post-Impressionism, and Neo-Impressionism and Pointillism.
  • Modernism was circa 1860s to the 1970s. Late modernism was after World War II, and it was followed by postmodern art.
  • Arts and Crafts movement was between circa 1880 and 1920, and stood for traditional craftsmanship. It is related to Art Nouveau.
  • Expressionism in art and music, is a modernist movement from the early 20th century onward. It is related to abstract expressionism, and it was followed by neo-expressionism.
  • Art Deco emerged in the 1910s as a popular modern art movement, particularly with architecture and design.
  • Dada started circa 1915, and rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society; it was followed by Neo-Dada.
  • Surrealism started in 1917, and applied aspects of dreams and reality.
  • Avant-garde ("advance guard") is cutting-edge experimental art, and was the term was particularly applied to 20th-century music and theater.
  • Pop art, from the 1950s onward, was so named as it glorified and expanded upon popular culture.
  • Conceptual art emerged late 20th century; new concepts and ideas take precedence over traditional craftsmanship.
  • Contemporary art is a period of art post-World War II to the present day.

There were many other movements. Other 20th century movements include: Fauvism (circa 1900 to 1935), Cubism (circa 1907 to 1914), Futurism (circa 1909 to 1920s), Constructivism (1913 onward), Suprematism (1913 onward), Bauhaus (circa 1919 to 1933), Constructivism (1920s), The International Typographic Style (1945 onward), Op Art (1950s to 1960s), Arte Povera (1960s), Land art (1960s onward), Minimalism (1960s to 1970s), Installation art (1970s onward), and Memphis design aesthetic (1980s).

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