An Introduction to the Study of Western History

The study of western history encompasses the political, economic, religious and cultural developments that shaped Western civilization from the ancient Near East to the emerging nation-states of the sixteenth century. Western history is not a single story but rather a collection of intersecting narratives, making it more complex and interesting than the simple tales we are often told.

A common way to understand western history is through the lens of the Renaissance. It was a time of great scientific, artistic and literary achievement. During this period, aristocratic power was eroding and new ideas were spreading rapidly. This was a major turning point in the growth of the modern world.

This is also known as the Age of Enlightenment. In this era, people began to question religious authority and traditional social mores. The printing press accelerated the spread of these ideas. The enlightened attitude that emerged during this period helped to give rise to democratic government.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a great deal of fighting took place, as European powers struggled for supremacy and control of the world’s natural resources and populations. Many nations grew in size and wealth, becoming the countries we know today. This era saw the first steps toward fully-fledged parliamentary democracy and the rise of the middle class. It was also a time of colonization, as the European powers carved out global empires.

As these new countries arose, they were often at war with each other, but at the same time, their citizens made significant progress in personal freedoms. Women could vote in some places for the first time. The era also saw the development of the five good emperors of Rome, including Trajan, Nerva, Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, who were seen as moderate and just rulers.

This was also a time when Christianity was growing rapidly, as it became the dominant religion in Europe and beyond. During this era, the Reformation was a major development that challenged the power of the church and asserted that people had the right to choose their own beliefs.

At the same time, a new form of art called baroque flourished. This style of painting is characterized by elaborate details and a sense of drama. In the 18th century, a great deal of progress was made in science, and by the end of this era, a number of Western societies were thriving economically and socially.

As we moved into the 20th century, many of these societies were changing. The world of the West became more diverse, as millions of people from Asia, Africa and Latin America migrated to European cities. These societies were being transformed by a new kind of immigration, one that was often viewed with suspicion and even hostility at first. It was also a time when sexual revolutions were underway, with the invention of the contraceptive pill and Roe v. Wade, for example. This era was also when the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon Landing took place.

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