From the point of view of historical development, European civilization was one of the most influential forces in the history of humankind. Of course, in order to estimate the influences of Europe as a force in world events, it is important to consider social, political, cultural, economic, and ideological aspects. To start with, Europe in general and West European region, in particular, appeared to be the triggers of major societal changes.
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For example, during the period of the European colonization, the model of a typical Western European society spread across the world. It included, of course, the form of political structure, as well as some aspects of culture and traditions. In relation to the cultural life, some of the most significant movements and ideas in the sphere of art originated in Europe. It is also important to point out the fact that, in European countries, the major currents of Christianity were originally shaped, and they spread throughout the world in the process of colonization (Johnston 67).
Alongside religious and cultural influences, it is hard to deny that some major ideological and societal movements also developed in Europe. Changes in political regimes and agenda often began on the European soil. On one hand, both World War I and World War II started from aggression and ideological conflicts in Europe. However, on the other hand, many West European philosophers, such as Jean-Jacque Rousseau, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and political figures, including Maximilian Robespierre and Charles-Louis Montesquieu, contributed to the formation of the concepts of liberalism and democratic society.
For example, the works of John Locke were an inspiration for the Federalist Papers. In such a way, events in West European countries affected the modern society in many areas. Not only some of the major events that bear a global meaning started in Europe, but also some of the ideas and beliefs that are important for humanity as a whole were shaped and nurtured in Europe. Therefore, Europe still plays a significant role as a center of ideas.
It is necessary not to forget that society can change over the years quite drastically. European history is not an exception, and Early Modern Europe differs from Modern Europe in terms of ideas, political institution, counties that constitute the region, etc. Early Modern Europe refers to the epoch between the Middle Ages and industrialization and formation of industrial society. First of all, it is important to note that historical context predetermined the way how radically Europe changed between its Early Modern period and nowadays.
In Early Modern Europe, different countries went through different stages of their development unequally. In terms of social and cultural development, while Italy stepped into the epoch of Renaissance in the 14th century, some of other West European countries faced various challenges. For example, Early Modern period of European history was the peak of religious changes, development of Protestant religion, and its opposition to the High Inquisition.
Alongside the rapid development of art and culture, especially with the introduction of book printing, there were a number of social and political challenges. For Modern history of Europe, it is more typical to face similar problems because West European countries became more interdependent. However, in Early Modern Europe, there was a larger number of differences in the political, economic, and social life of different countries.
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For example, in England, Queen Mary I of England was executed, and Protestant Christians became a dominant religion, while countries like Portugal or Poland did not encounter major changes in the religious atmosphere. Thus, on one hand, Europe between the Middle Ages and Industrial Revolution developed unevenly. Such globally significant events as Renaissance and Industrial Revolution started in different countries at different times. On the other hand, it is also important to note that there were some common themes in social, cultural, and economic development. Such feature is common for all the historical epochs in Europe.
One of the most important cultural movements to Europe during its Early Modern and Modern history was Renaissance. After the period of the Middle Ages, when art and artistic self-expression were, in many ways, suppressed, Renaissance liberated human potential to express ideas in the artistic ways. Although it started earlier in some countries than the others, the majority of European culture was reformed by it.
Renaissance diminished the dominance of scholastic doctrine over the art. Another cultural and ideological movement that reshaped the map of Europe during that period was the Protestant Reformation. In a certain sense, it has similar roots with Renaissance. During that time, Roman Catholic Church dominated in almost every sphere of life. It was challenging for the Protestant Christians to make opposition to it and protect their beliefs.
Thus, one of the major events reflecting that period is the invention of printing. Overall, it changed the outlook of both economic and cultural life. More people could have access to reading materials, and education in Western Europe became more available. It had political and economic effects because it reduced the difference between classes. Another important set of events is the voyages of Christopher Columbus. It changed the political situation not only in Europe but also at the global scale. In addition, economically, it played an important role because of new resources and supply markets for Europe during that period.
Johnston, Andrew. The Protestant Reformation in Europe. New York, New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.