Western Europe History

western europe history

Western Europe history has been shaped by the political systems of its states and by the evolution of civil institutions that have developed separate from government. These include religion, the family, business, the arts, and schools. How have these changed over time? How have these groups interacted and competed with each other to influence the development of society? How have they influenced the growth of science and technology, and how has that in turn affected their role as an influential component of Western culture?

Western European history is also the study of the way in which individuals and groups interact with their environment, each other, and with each other over time. How have these interactions influenced culture, science, and the economy? How have the values and attitudes of Western Europe evolved, and how has that affected their place in the world?

The collection supports research in the areas of anthropology, archaeology, classics, economics, education, history, international affairs, law, linguistics, literature, politics and philosophy, sociology, and social work. Special emphasis is placed on collecting materials published in or translated into English.

In the 10th century Western Europe became increasingly political in character. Vikings settled in Britain and Ireland, and Christian kingdoms formed in northern France, Spain and Germany. The major barbarian invasions ended in 1000, and the region began to settle into the contours of modern Europe.

By the end of the 15th century technological changes such as gunpowder and the printing press had transformed warfare, and knowledge was spreading rapidly. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Age of Enlightenment triggered intellectual change throughout the continent. In the 18th century Napoleon’s rise to power shook Europe, and after his defeat, he was replaced with a more stable French Empire. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire declined and the Age of Exploration ushered in colonization.

In the 19th century, Western European politics shifted away from absolutist rule and toward parliamentary regimes. In addition, new ideas about the role of state and nation arose, and the concept of a balance of powers was established as a guiding principle in European diplomacy. By the end of the 20th century, globalization and democratization were making the European Union a reality. At the same time, the breakup of Yugoslavia and the fall of Communism were occurring, which created uncertainty about what constituted a Europe that was truly united. Nevertheless, in the years after World War II, the EU continued to expand. Today, the EU has 28 member countries.

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