Bronze Age Civilizations
The Oldest Civilization of the World
Mesopotamia means 'land between the rivers.' Mesopotamia is the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Mesopotamia comprises four regions: Sumer (Southernmost region), Babylonia and Akkad (middle region) and Assyria (Northernmost region).
Hammurabi (C. 2100 BC), the greatest Babylonian ruler, united the whole of what is now called Iraq into a single Kingdom. Hammurabi gave his people a code of laws. His code covered every aspect of life. His code was based on the law of 'eye for eye' and 'tooth for tooth' i.e., the law of 'tit for tat'.
Hittites, who came from Asia Minor (now Turkey) and destroyed the Babylonian kingdom, were the first to make regular use of horses for war chariots and to make iron implements.
The potter's was perhaps first used in Mesopotamia.
Egypt is called the 'Gift to the Nile'.
Historians divide the history of Egypt into three periods : the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom.
The Old Kingdom is also called the 'Age of the Pyramids'.
The Egyptian king was called the pharaoh.
The Egyptians were the worshipers of the nature and the sun was their most important god.
The earliest Chinese civilization is the Shang civilization.
The Shang dynasty was overthrown by the Chou dynasty.
The Chinese script is a pictographic script. It is remarkable that the Chinese script has changed very little since the earliest times.
In 3rd century BC, the Chin dynasty became important. To keep out invaders from the north, he began construction of a wall known as the Great Wall.
The Han dynasty followed the Chin dynasty in 202 BC and the Han emperors ruled China for almost 400 years.
In the middle of the 6th century BC, a powerful empire— Achaemenid empire— arose in Iran (Persia). The founder of this empire was Cyrus with his capital at Pasaragadae.
He was succeeded by Darius I (522 BC—486 BC). The empire reached its greatest expent under him and covered entire Iran, Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, Asia minor and north-western India. He built a new capital at Persepolis.
Derius I and his successors were involved in wars with the Greek states. They were defeated by Greeks. Alexander dealt the empire a final blow during the reign of Darius III.
In the 3rd century AD, a new and powerful empire—Sassanid empire— arose in Iran. This empire which was founded by Ardashir in 226 AD held sway in Iran up to the middle of the 7th century AD.
The Arabs, who emerged as a strong power after the rise of Islam, conquered Iran in 651 AD.
The early Greeks (or Hellens), like the Aryans in India, lived in tribes, each composed of a number of families under a leader. A group of tribes had a king.
The main occupations are agriculture and herding.
The early Greeks had many gods whom they imagined to be like human beings, though more powerful and immortal. Zeus was the god of the sky and hence caused thunder. Poseidon, god of the sea, raised storms that sank ships.
The Spartans' main concern was with militarism and war so much so that the word 'Spartan' is often used to mean militaristic.
The city-state of Athens developed along lines quite different from Sparta. The territories it ruled had been occupied gradually and peacefully and militarism had not developed. Athens had excellent and harbors and mineral deposits. Athenians built a prosperous trade and culture. Percales (469 BC—429 BC) was the most important ruler of Athens.
Contributions of Greek Civilization
The glory of Greece that the world has never forgotten was largely the glory of Athens at the time of Pericles.
Homer's 'Iliad and 'Odyssey' are among the best epics of the world. The Iliad is the story of siege and destruction of the city of Troy, as the western coast of Asia Minor. The Odyssey describes the adventures and home coming, from Troy, of a Greek hero, Odysseus.
Greece produced some of the world's earliest great historians e.g. Herodotus (known as 'the father of History'), Thucydides, Plutarch etc.
The Greek made many contributions to mathematics, especially to geometry as is seen in the work of Euclid and Pythagoras.
The temples of Athena, the Parthenon, is the best example of Greek architecture. Myron and Phidias are two best-known sculptors of ancient Greece. It was Phidias whom Pericles appointed to supervise the construction of the Acropolis in Athens.
The centre of the Roman civilization was Italy, the peninsula that projects into the Mediterranean sea in the west of Greece. The river Tiber on which the city of Rome is located runs through the central part of the peninsula.
The city of Rome was founded about 1000 BC by Romulus, in the district of Latium. The language of the ancient Romans, Latin, gets its name from Latium.
The early Romans had a king, an assembly and a senate.
By the beginning of the 1st century BC the Roman had conquered Greece and Asia Minor and established a protectorate over Egypt.
Medieval World (500 AD – 1500 AD)
The word 'feudal' comes from feud which originally meant a fief or land held on condition or service. In a feudal society, land was the source of power.
Feudalism originated in the 8th centuries.
First of all in western Europe the feudal system developed.
The man division in feudal society was between 'feudal lords', who either got a share of the peasants' produce or had peasants to work on their lands without any payment, and 'Peasants', who worked on the land.
Unification of Germany : 1848-71
Like Italy, Germany was also divided into a number of states. At the end of the Napoleonic wars (1792-1815) there were 38 independent states in Germany in which Prussia was the most powerful.
In 1815, the German states along with Austria were organised into a Germanic confederation.
In 1848 revolts occurred in every German state and the rulers were forced to grant democratic constitutions. To unite Germany and to frame a constitution for the united Germany, a constituent assembly met in Frankfurt.
With the failure of the revolution of 1848 to unify Germany, one phase in the struggle for unification came to an end.
Bismarck described his policy of unification as one of 'blood and iron'. The policy of blood and iron meant a policy of war.
The unification of Germany was completed as a result of Prussia— France War (1870) in which the French emperor Louis Bonaparte was defeated and captured. This war enabled Bismarck to absorb the remaining German states into a united Germany.
First World War : Aug. 4, 1914 – Nov. 11, 1918
Militarism : This means the dangerous and burdensome mechanism of great standing armies and large navies along with an espionage system.
Narrow Nationalism or Competitive Patriotism : The love of one's country demanded the hatred of the other. Love of Germany demanded the hatred of France and vice-versa.
Economic Imperialism : It led to international rivalries. Every country tried to capture markets in every nook and corner of the world. This led to bitterness and heart-burning.
Russian Revolution : 1917
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was one of the most significant events of 20th century. It established the ideology of Marxism. It was a great revolution after French revolution which was not limited to Russia but affected several countries of the world.
The great revolution in Russia took place in two stages. The first stage of Russian Revolution began in March 1917 with the overthrow of the Czar Nicholas II. The second stage in Nov. of the same year led to the establishment of the world's first communist state by Bolsheviks under Lenin.
The immediate cause of the event was however the suffering and confusion caused by Russian disastrous defeats during world war I. Her armies lacked arms and ammunition. Prices soared high and the economy was in shambles.
Chinese Revolution :
1911 (Republication Revolution); 1949 (Communist Revolution)
In Oct., 1911, a revolution under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen ousted the Manchu or Ch'ing Dynasty and a republic was set up.
However, first President San Yat-sen resigned in 1912, in favour of strongman Yuan Shik-Kai (1912-16).
The period 1916-18, known as the Warlord Era, was one of great chaos, as a number of generals seized control of different provinces.
A party known as the Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalists (formed by Sun Yat-sen in 1912) was trying to govern China and control the generals who were busy fighting each other. The KMT leaders were Sun Yat-sen and after his death in 1925, General Chiang Kai-shek.
Chiang Kai-shek had help from the USA, but in 1949 it was Mao Tsetunge and the communists who finally triumphed.
Fascism In Italy
The unification of Italy was only completed in 1870, however, the new state suffered from economic and political weaknesses.
The First World War (1914-18) was a great strain on her economy, and there was bitter disappointment at her treatment by the Versailles settlement.
Between 1919 and 1922 there were five different governments, all of which were incapable of taking the decisive action that the situation demanded.
In 1919 Benito Mussolini founded the Italian Fascist Party, which won 35 seats in the 1921 elections.
Crusades : 1095 AD — 1291 AD
Crusades means the military expeditions, under the banner of the cross, organised in western christendom primarily to recover the Holy Places of Palestine from Muslim occupation.
Four Crusades were fought by the European Christian to liberate Jerusalem from Seljuq Turks (Muslims) who did not permit Christian pilgrims to enter the holy land.
The fall of Edessa (1144) inspired the unsuccessful IInd Crusade (1147-48).
In the 7th century, a new religion, Islam, arose in Arabia, which led to the establishment of a big empire.
Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was born in Meca in 571 AD. When he was 40, he had 'visions of truth' and became a prophet. Muhammad's visions completely convinced him that Allah was the only god.
From the early 7th century, China was ruled by the Tang dynasty. The rule of Tang dynasty (618 AD — 906 AD) was followed by the Sung dynasty for about 300 years. After this, for about 100 years China was ruled by the Mongols.
Modern World : (1500 Ad Onward)
The 16th century is commonly designated as the 'Age of Renaissance', also called the 'Revival of learning'.
Great writers of the Italian Renaissance included Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio and Machiavelli. Great painters of Italian Renaissance included Leonardo da Vinci (Famous Paintings:' The Last Super' and Monalisa'), Michelangelo ('The Last Judgement' and 'The Fall of Man') and Raphel ('Madona'). Great astronomers of Italian Renaissance included Bruno and Galileo.
The Renaissance movement was enormously, helped by the invention of the printing press (in 1454 by Gutenberg of Germany; 'Gutenberg Bible' 1456-the first printed book) with the help of which old and classical books were multiplied leading to a great increase in knowledge and in the spirit of inquiry and experiment.
Glorious Revolution : 1688, England
James II was a Roman Catholic. His tactless attempt to secure freedom of worship for Catholics united the Whigs and Tories of the Anglican Church against him.
William accepted the invitation and came to England for his purpose.
Effects : (1) The despotic rule of the Stuarts ended; the supremacy of Parliament was established. (2) The system of requiring estimate and accounts for supplies and, of specific appropriations—which is nucleus of modern budgetary system—now became fixed. (3) The Bill of Right (1689): It settled down the problem of succession; it also laid the provision that no Roman Catholic can wear the Crown.
The process of change that transformed Britain first and then other countries from agricultural to industrial economics.
The Industrial Revolution began about 1750 when the agricultural revolution was well under way. Inventions were made in the textile industry by such men as James Hargreaves (Spinning Jenny, 1764), Richard Arkwright (Power Loom, 1785), which made the production if cloth much faster and the yarn produced if better quality.
These new machines required factories to house them, at first near rivers for water power and then, when the steam engine was invented (by James Watt in 1769), near coalfields.
American Revolution or American War of Independence : 1777-83
The American Revolution is the name given to the struggle by which 13 colonies of England in North America declared their independence from England and fought a war to make it a reality.
By the middle of the 18th century, difference in thought and interests had developed between the colonies one the one hand and the mother country (England) on the other.
Boston Tea Party (1773) : The tax on tea led to trouble. In 1773, several colonies refused to unload the tea coming in England ships. In Boston, when the governor ordered a ship to be unloaded, a group of citizens dressed as American Indians, boarded the ship and dumped the creates dressed as American Indians, boarded the ship and dumped the crates of tea into the water. This incident is known as the 'Boston Tea Party'.
The American Revolution started in 1775 and lasted until 1781.
French Revolution : 1789-93
The French Revolution was a great event in the history not only of France and Europe but of mankind as a whole. It gave to humanity new ideas of 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity'.
The French Revolution is the name given to the struggle which swept away the Old Regime in France and brought about fundamental changes in the socio-political set-up.
French society consisted of three estates or classes. The first (clergy) and second (nobility) estates were privileged in many ways. Members of third estate—commoners (middle class, workers and peasants. They made 90% of the population. Almost the entire tax burden fell on third estate. But the privileged classes were exempted from these taxes.
The immediate cause of the French Revolution was the bankrupt condition of the French treasury brought about in part by the extravagant expenditure and inefficiency of Louis XV and Louis XVI.
The French Revolution started with the fall of Bastille Fort. The mobs in Paris attacked the Bastille on July 14, 1789, killed its governor and freed was the symbol of tyranny in France. Its capture aroused the whole nation. Peasants in the provinces plundered and burnt several castles.
Unification of Italy : 1848-70
One of the major features of the history of Europe in 19th century was the struggle for the national unification and independence. Italy and Germany were the two important nations which emerged as united, independent states in the 19th century.
In the early was divided into a number of states in which the Kingdom of Sardinia was the most powerful.
After the revolution of 1848, Count Cavour, the Prime Minister of Sardinia, took the initiative of uniting Italy under the leadership of Sardinia.
Nazism in Germany
As Germany moved towards defeat in 1918, public opinion turned against the government, and in Oct., the Kaiser, in a desperate bid to hang on to power, appointed Prince Max as Chancellor. He was known to be in favour of mover democratic from of government in which parliament had more power.
But it was too late; in Nov. revolution broke out, the Kaiser escaped to Holland and abdicated, and Prince Max resigned. Friedrich Ebert, leader of the left-wing Social Democrat Party, became head of the government.
The new government was by no means popular with all German : even before the elections the communist had attempted to seize power in the Spartacist Rising (Jan., 1919).
Meanwhile Adolf Hitler and his National Socialists (Nazis) had been carrying out a great propaganda compaign blaming the government for all the ills of Germany, and setting out Nazi solutions to the problems.
Second World War : Sep. 3, 1939 – Aug. 14, 1945
Causes : The causes of Second World War as under —
The Treaty of Versailles (1919): The treaty of Versailles had in itself the germs of the Second World War. The Germany was very badly treated. She was forced to sign the treaty at the point of a bayonet, in a spirit of revenge. To tear away the treaty of Versailles, Hitler joined hands with Mussolini of Italy.
Nationalist Movements of Germany and Italy: The rise of the national movement in Germany and Italy added fuel to the fire. Although Hitler tried to assure the world that he meant peace, he could not conceal his ambition for long. He embarked on a career of aggression which ultimately led to war. The same was the case with Mussolini who had established his dictatorship in Italy in 1922.
Conflict of Ideology between Dictatorship and Democracy: Countries like Germany, Italy and Japan represented the ideology of dictatorship while Great Britain, France and USA represented the ideology of democracy. Mussolini described the conflict between the two ideology thus : 'The struggle between the two worlds can permit no compromise. Either we or they'.
Immediate Cause: The immediate cause of the war was the refuse of Poland to surrender. Germany gave an ultimatum to Poland regarding : (i) surrender the port of Dazing, (ii) the right of establishing a rail link tow demands were rejected by Poland. So Germany invaded Poland on Sep. 1, 1939. Britain and France as they were under treaty obligations to aid Poland, declared war against Germany on Sep. 3, 1939.