World History Study Games and Practice Quizzes
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Free World History Study Games and Practice Quizzes
Early humans evolved to migrate out of Africa and populate the globe, displacing their evolutionary relatives, such as the Neanderthals, in the process. People learned to farm, leading to the creation of the first permanent settlements. Animals were domesticated, as shepherding largely replaced the hunting of wild game.
Founded on the banks of the Nile River and nourished by its regular flooding, ancient Egypt dominated northern Africa and the Near East for centuries. From the pyramids to hieroglyphics, the Egyptian legacy remains a powerful force today, capturing the popular imagination.
The ancient Near East saw the rise and fall of many powerful civilizations. The Lydians were the first to coin money. The Persians ruled the region until conquered by Alexander the Great. The Hittites, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Arameans and others, each contributed to the development of the early world.
Of all civilizations of the ancient Near East, the Israelites have perhaps had the most impact on the modern world. Stories of the Hebrew patriarch Abraham, through Moses, to Saul, David, and Solomon, to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Romans, are shared and loved by billions today.
Many religions are practiced around the world. The diverse belief systems range from monotheism to polytheism, and include Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
The first Greek civilization thrived on Crete in the Mediterranean Sea, and included the celebrated King Minos. Classical Greece saw the world's first experiment with democracy in Athens. Major events included the Peloponnesian Wars. The hellenistic empire of Alexander the Great of Macedon and the kingdoms established by his successors changed the social and political landscape of the ancient world.
The ancient Romans are given the full treatment. Sections are divided into the establishment of the democratic Roman Republic, the Punic Wars, the civil war, the rise of the Roman Empire, and the barbarian invasions and migratory period in Europe which followed ancient Rome's collapse in 476 C.E.
The Byzantine Empire, or Eastern Roman Empire, grew in prominence as its sister empire to the west fell into ruin. Particular emphasis is given to the famous Emperor Justinian. This empire lasted until it succumbed to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, with the fall of Constantinople.
Mohammed felt his religious calling, and proceeded to spread the ideas of Islam throughout the Arabian peninsula. Within a few centuries, Islamic beliefs, along with powerful Muslim empires, had spread throughout the Middle East and northern Africa, and into parts of Europe.
Medieval Europe is most commonly associated with knights, armor, chivalry, poverty, and ignorance. Barbarian tribes, such as the Franks in Gaul (France) and Visigoths in Spain, forged new kingdoms on the ruins of the Roman Empire. The marvels of Roman engineering were lost, only to be rediscovered during the Crusades, preserved and built upon by scholars of the Islamic world.
The Renaissance lifted Europe out of the Middle Ages, socially, economically, intellectually, and politically. The Medici and other powerful families dominated the city-states of Italy. They and others throughout Europe patronized artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Albrecht Dürer.
The Scientific Revolution encompasses the explosion in scientific research and knowledge which grew out of the European Renaissance. The sun was made the center of the galaxy, and the human body was explored to discover the workings of the circulatory system. Major scientists of this movement range from Copernicus and Galileo to Newton and Descartes.
Global absolutism ruled the Western world. "I am the state," though wrongly attributed to France's Louis XIV, defined the vision which European monarchs had of their role in governing their kingdoms. The sun king and other world leaders ruled by divine right. Questioning the monarchy was blasphemy. How dare anyone question the person put into power by God.
From the Magna Carta through the development of the monarch as a figurehead, England (later Great Britain, then the United Kingdom) has, despite ups and downs and flaws, led the leading nations of the world in establishing participatory democracy. The laws of England greatly impacted both the common and constitutional law of the United States and other former colonies.
The European Enlightenment saw the nature and structure of human societies called into question. Rather than kings ruling by divine right, natural laws prevailed. Human beings engaged in a social contract, exchanging rights for societal protections. Major thinkers included John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Rene Descartes.
The French Revolution led to the ultimate destruction of Europe's Old Regime. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette met their ends on the guillotine, and Rouget de Lisle's "Marseillaise" rang out in the streets.
As the French Revolution teetered on collapse, Napoleon Bonaparte took control of the fledgling French Republic through coup d'état. Although ultimately defeated at Waterloo, Napoleon I inspired nationalistic fervor around the world. He was easily the most influential figure of the nineteenth century.
The success of Napoleon I in spreading the ideals of the French Revolution across the globe led the monarchs of Europe to panic. Leaders such as Metternich sought to combine European efforts to restore and maintain the Old Regime, quashing democratic reform movements.
The age of European exploration did not end with European settlement of the Americas. In Asia, Portuguese ships established trading posts. TheSeven Years' War saw the British oust the French as the dominant European force in the region. India became the jewel in the British crown, China festered under the opium trade, and Africa found itself carved up by the leading European powers. The raw materials and markets opened through imperialism made possible the Industrial Revolution which followed.
The Industrial Revolution, more than anything else, created modern life as we know it. Manufacturing centered in factories, leading to an exodus of rural-to-urban migration. Items were mass produced, creating a vast increase in the production and consumption of goods. One invention sparked another.
The ideals sparked by Napoleon I could not be held back. Large and small European ethnic minorities refused to be controlled and suppressed any longer by vast empires, leading to events such as the independence of Greece and the unification of Italy. The revolutionary efforts of European nationalists would eventually light the spark which set off the First World War.
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand sparked the Great War. The possession of vast worldwide empires guaranteed that the conflict would spread across the globe. Woodrow Wilson vowed to make the world safe for democracy. Unresolved issues from the First World War would fuel the flames of the even more devastating global war to follow only a generation later.
World War II in many ways defined the twentieth century. Nationalism reached its darkest peak in the rise of Adolf HItler, whose Final Solution caused the deaths of millions of innocent civilians. The maps of Europe and Asia were rewritten. The world would emerge dominated by the victors, embattled in the Cold War which pitted communism against capitalism.
The aftermath of World War II included the large-scale dismantling of empires which had spanned the globe. Nations of Africa and Asia gained independence, only to find themselves often suffering economic problems, and being torn between East and West in the Cold War.
The nations of the world find themselves linked through not only the United Nations, but numerous regional and other organizations. Within entities like the European Union, nationalities blur as citizens freely travel in search of new opportunities. Issues such as women's rights, terrorism, and regional political instability, affect everyone on the planet.
The economies of the world's nations are today intricately interconnected through international agencies. A financial crisis in one region threatens the globe. From busting counterfeiters in Shanghai, to allocating funds from the World Bank to develop the Third World, to imports and exports, each resident of Earth has a stake in the global economy.