Human Geography of Europe: Diversity, Conflict, Union
Over the millennia, Europe’s diverse landscape, waterways, and climate have hosted great civilizations, empires, and a variety of peoples.
People enter Balkan Peninsula around 2000 B.C. They create city-states—a political unit made up of a city, surrounding lands (usually 50-500 miles) These loosely connected people are known as the Greeks. The rugged terrain divides them and they are constantly at war with one another.
Fortified city of Mycenae The first city-state
Sparta creates a powerful warrior society. - 300 Spartans In Athens, democracy is born—a government in which the people rule.
In Sparta, boys were taken from their mothers at age 7 and entered into military training called the agoge. They would be trained in fighting but also beaten, starved, forced to fend for themselves to make them stronger. They were taught to put Sparta before their family.
Greece is united under the young Alexander the Great in 338 BC. Alexander is very ambitious and does not stop with Greece. He invades Persia, Egypt and pushes farther and farther east conquering one land after the other. By the time he was 26 years old, he had conquered most of the known world. "I would rather live a short life of glory than a long one of obscurity."
Alexander the Great reached as far east as India before his army grew tired and decided to turn back. On the way home to Greece, he became ill and died. He was only 32 years old. Because of his conquests, Greek influence would be very important in many cultures.
Alexander’s conquest took 11 years and over 11,000 miles!
The city of Rome emerges around 500 BC and controls the Italian peninsula. The city is founded on the basis of a republic - where elected representatives rule in the citizens’ name Roman’s place a great emphasis on their military and soon, their power spreads into other parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. Senatus Populusque Romanus
An ambitious leader named Julius Caesar comes to power around 50 BC. He starts a civil war and eventually becomes dictator. Despite his many popular reforms and changes, Caesar is murdered by Senators who thought he was becoming too powerful. Following his death, Rome would become an Empire rather than a Republic.
Many rulers following Julius Caesar would take on the name and Kaiser Wilhelm title of “Caesar”. This does not only apply to Roman emperors. In fact, the word “Kaiser” is German for Czar Nicholas II Caesar, as is the word “Czar” in Russian.
Rome experienced many strange emperors following Julius Casear. Take Emperor Caligula for example: - Caligula was reportedly clinically insane - He claimed to be a God and insisted people worship him as such - He killed or had people killed because he would get bored - He reportedly had incestuous relationships with 3 of his sisters - He would throw lavish birthday parties and dinners for his horse and forced Rome’s elite and wealthy to attend - He also made his horse an official senator of Rome and even tried to make him consul - He once made his army march all the way from Rome to the English Channel, just to pick up seashells. - He had Alexander the Great’s body dug up so he could wear his armor - He was finally assassinated by his own guards
Around the this same time, a new religion emerges known as Christianity which follows the teachings of Jesus Christ (Christos is Greek word for Messiah). Jesus performed miracles, taught ethical concepts such as humility, charity and love towards others, not strict adherence to Roman law. Many Romans saw Jesus as a revolutionary who stirred controversy and might lead a revolt against Rome. Because of this, Jesus is put to death by crucifixion.
Despite Jesus’ death, Christianity continues to grow. Christianity was attractive for people of every class – poor, rich, men, women, slaves, aristocrats – for it promised eternal life for all. Although it did not call for revolution, it stressed spiritual equality, which was a revolutionary idea. By year 400 AD, it was the official religion of Rome.
Rome is eventually split into Western and Eastern Empires by Emperor Constantine.
The Western Roman Empire became very weak and started to be attacked by Germanic tribes. Due to these invasions, the Western Empire falls in 476 AD.
Led by Attila, a group of Mongol nomads known as the Huns, moved into Europe from Asia. Attila led an army of 100,000 and terrorized both Eastern and Western Roman empires. Although he did not attack Rome itself, it can be said that Attila is indirectly responsible for the Germanic tribes fleeing and invading Rome and thus the fall.
Following the fall of Rome, the continent is divided among many warring states for the next few hundred years. France, Germany are the region’s largest, most productive countries. They strongly influence the cultures of many nearby, smaller nations.
In the late 700’s a powerful leader emerges from the Kingdom of the Franks. His name is Charlemagne. Charlemagne is very ambitious and dedicated to strengthening his realm. For thirty years, he conquers most of Europe and establishes a large kingdom. He is crowned the first “Holy Roman Emperor”, the first since the fall of Rome.
Charlemagne is a great and powerful ruler. He unites most of Western Europe as one. Because of his actions as a ruler, Charlemagne is considered the “Father of Europe”
After Charlemagne’s death, his empire falls into small, competing kingdoms. Without a powerful central government, Europe starts to experience waves of invasions from foreign people. The most far reaching of these invasions came from the Vikings; who raided, pillaged, destroyed cities and even defeated armies.
Invaders posed a threat to the safety of the people, especially in the absence of a strong central government. People began to turn to local landed aristocrats or nobles to protect them. This change led to the new political and social system called feudalism.
Landowners would give pieces of their land to others in exchange for military service. A man person who served a lord militarily was known as a vassal. During this time period, Europe would see the introduction of a new warrior class called knights.
The idea of feudalism worked and for a brief period of time, the invasions of foreign peoples ceased. Trained as warriors but with no adult responsibilities, young knights began to hold tournaments (mock battles) in the twelfth century.• These were contests for knights to show their fighting skills.• The joust became the main attraction.
With a combination of peace and good weather, Europe started to see an increase in production in agriculture as well as an increase in population. Europe nearly doubled in population from 1000- 1300 AD from 38 million to around 75 million.
As population grew, so did cities. Many large cities started to sprout up across the land. Italian cities were especially large as they very vibrant and prosperous, especially with trade.
With the increased population, came cramped and filthy living conditions. It was not uncommon for many people to be living together in small, one bedroom houses. Disposal of trash was very crude and made a perfect environment for rats to breed and thus, disease. Enter, the Black Death.
Coming out of the East, the Black Death reached the shores of Italy in the spring of 1347 unleashing a rampage of death across Europe unprecedented in recorded history. By the time the epidemic played itself out four years later, anywhere between one and twothirds of Europes population had fallen victim to the pestilence.
The Black Death is categorized into three specific types of plague caused by the same bacteria, yersinia pestis:- Bubonic Plague (infection in the lymph nodes, or buboes)- Pneumonic Plague (the infection in the lungs)- Septicemic Plague (the infection in the blood [also the
It is difficult to accurately estimate the number of people killed by the Black Death. Many times, the Church and monks kept records of the census and populations, but as the sick poured into their monasteries, monks themselves were infected andtheir records were also lost or destroyed. At best, it can be estimated that between 1/3 and 2/3 ofEuropean population were decimated by the disease. (25-50 million people out of 75 million)
How did the Black Death effect European civilization? It not only affected Europes population, but also its economy as well. Changes in the size of civilization led tochanges in trade, the church, music and art,and many other things which would pave the way for the Renaissance.
Partially due to the lack ofchildrens skills to provide forthemselves, the childrensuffered greatly. A commonnursery rhyme is proof.Ring a-round the rosyPocket full of posiesAshes, ashes!We all fall down!
Ring around the rosy : rosary beads give you Gods help orpossibly the round, bruising marks left on the bodies. A pocket full of posies : used to stop the odor of rottingbodies which was at one point was thought to cause the plague,it was also used widely by doctors to protect them from theinfected plague patients.Ashes, ashes : the church burned the dead when buryingthem became to laborious.We all fall down : dead.
As the economy and society changed, new ideas and events began to transform the way people lived. This period of interest and developments in art, literature, religion, science and learning is known as the Renaissance, French for “rebirth.”
Renaissance men such asLeonardo da Vinci andMichelangelo wereimportant in the arts,especially painting andsculpture.Da Vinci was also andinventor and mathematicianand made many strides inthose areas as well.
Machiavelli wrote many views on politics. He spoke of how to get power and keep it. His notes are still read today and influence politicians. Martin Luther infamously defied the Catholic Church and argued that salvation could be achieved by leading a life of good deeds and faith in Jesus Christ.
Copernicus made strides in astronomy and came up with the theory that the sun was the center of the universe and not the earth. William Shakespeare is known for his works in literature and as a playwright. His unique writing style is still studied today.
Many of the ideas, invention and events from the Renaissance still effect our society today. Examples include; inventions and art from Da Vinci and Michelangelo, Machiavellis view on politics, Martin Luther’s reform in the Church and the writings of William Shakespeare.
The Renaissance also gives way to a new interest in exploration, especially in finding a sea passage to Asia. Portugal takes the lead with Spain, the Netherlands, England and France also putting together expeditions. Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, sets sail on a westward passage and discovers the “New World” in 1492.
By the 1700’s, major colonies are established in the new world.
In the late 1700’s, revolutions abound. In 1776, British colonists in America revolt and win their independence. In 1789, the French also experience a revolution within their country. The people storm the Bastille and later depose their king.
Following the French Revolution, a young military general assumes control of the country. His name is Napoleon Bonaparte. Like many leaders before him, Napoleon is very ambitious and goes on a conquest of Europe.
Napoleon’s fall began with his invasion of Russia, which had refused to remain in the French control. In 1812, a Grand Army of over six hundred thousand men entered Russia. Napoleon was hoping for a quick and decisive victory. Instead, this was a complete failure. Napoleon invaded during winter. A fatal flaw. Only 40,000 soldiers survived the fighting and the cold. This is one of the greatest military disasters in history.
When performing his autopsy, Napoleon’s height was marked as 5’2. This; however, was the old French measurement, which slightly differed from the English measurement which is widely used today. Converting this measurement would actually mean that Napoleon was about 5’6, and while not the tallest person, this was about average height in that day and age. Napoleon usually surrounded himself by tall, physically imposing guards which may have led to the belief that he was extremely short.
In the 1800s, Europe becomes industrialized. New technologies are developed and machines are introduced. Railroads, factories, assembly lines, etc.
Also during the 1800’s nationalism develops — belief people should be loyal to their nation - a nation is people who share land, culture, history France, Germany, Great Britain and Austria- Hungary emerge as the strongest. European nations become rivals - wars break out repeatedly
Nationalistic rivalries and conflict over territory leads to the outbreak of WWI, aka “The Great War”.