History of Western Europe

Western Europe is small but densely populated, with a remarkable diversity of peoples and languages. In the early Middle Ages, kings and princes consolidated their power as feudal overlords in Europe’s northern and southern regions. This was a time of exploration, with the growth of the Ottoman Empire cutting off trade routes to the east and Columbus’s travel to the Americas and Vasco da Gama’s circumnavigation of Africa and India marking key milestones.

At the same time, a scientific revolution was taking place in Europe, with Nicolaus Copernicus’s publication De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) often cited as its beginning. The enlightenment provided a philosophical underpinning for the new outlook, while the growing availability of print created an expansion in the scope and study of human knowledge.

By the end of the century, absolute monarchy was virtually gone from Europe and many countries had experimented with parliamentary democracy. The twentieth century brought two world wars and a protracted Cold War that polarized the continent into a political contrast of East versus West. Towards the end of this era, European powers began to dismantle their colonial empires, and several of them became members of the European Union.

The emergence of the EU has transformed Europe and introduced it to an unprecedented level of economic cooperation. It has also heightened the importance of its role in international politics. However, the EU has been plagued with problems over immigration and security issues, and public opinion has turned against further enlargement including Turkey’s candidacy.

The USC Libraries’ collection of resources on Western Europe is broad and varied, with emphasis on materials that support a variety of research areas. These include but are not limited to anthropology, Byzantine Studies, Catholic Studies, Classics, Economics, European Civilization, Gender Studies, History and Philosophy of Science, International Relations, Law, Literature, Literary Theory, Musicology, Political Science, Religion and Sociology. In addition to course textbooks and anthologies, the library collects monographs on all subjects and provides access to primary sources and scholarly journals. It also holds an extensive collection of electronic resources. The collections are intended to provide an array of perspectives and approaches for the teaching and research of European history. To this end, we strive to acquire a wide range of materials that are published in and translated into English.

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