Updated December 20, 2022
Undeniably, getting across the facts on Modern World History is crucial for competitive exams. It is also important to keep you ahead in discussions and debates. However, the term ‘Modern History’ could be a bit intriguing for the first time to many. The circumstances surrounding the present age is modern world. But when we talk about Modern World history, it is the history of the world that begins after the Middle Ages.
Generally, the term “modern world history” refers to the history of the world since the advent of the Age of Reason and the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
The beginning of the modern world began with the industrial revolution that created a competition between USA, England, France, Austria, Germany, followed by Russia, Japan and Italy. The renaissance of the 17th century was the root that sparked a new era in the way humans will change the world from then on.
The Elaborate Facts on Modern World History
Here are Some Important and Interesting Points on Modern World History. The compilation includes: Renaissance, Reformation, Geographical Discoveries, Glorious Revolution, Industrial Revolution American Revolution, French Revolution, Unification of Italy, Unification of Germany, First World War, Russian Revolution, Chinese Revolution, Turkish Revolution, World Depression of 1929-34, Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany, Militarism in Japan, Second World War etc.
1.The beginning of the modern world began with the industrial revolution that created a competition between USA, England, France, Austria, Germany, followed by Russia, Japan and Italy.
2. The modern era is generally taken to be from around 1650 to around 1950.
3. The period from 1715 – 1789 is considered as the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution took place during 1760-1840.
4. Age of Enlightenment (1715 – 1789) and the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) are the events which took the world to modern era.
5. The 16th Century is commonly designated as ‘the Age of Renaissance’ also called the ‘Revival of learning’.
6. It is said to have started from the capture of Constantinople (now Istanbul) by the Turks in 1453 and the dispersal of the scholars throughout Europe, who sought asylum in Italy.
7. Italy practically became the home of the Renaissance and fundamental to the Renaissance were the revival of Classical learning, art and architecture and the concept of the dignity of the man, which characterized Humanism. It resulted in the emancipation of the mind of the man from the shackles of effete dogmatism. And in the creation of fresh intellectual atmosphere and ideals of life.
8. Great writers of the Italian Renaissance included Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio & Machiavelli. Great painters of Italian Renaissance included Leonardi da Vinci (famous painting: The Last Super & Monalisa). Michelangelo (The Last Judgement & The Fall of Man) & Raphel (Madona). Great astronomer of Italian Renaissance included Bruno
9. The Reformation was another movement that the 16th century witnessed.
10. It was started by Martin Luther in Wittenburg, Germany in 1517 by publicly protesting against the sale of Indulgence. (Indulgence: the letters which remitted punishment of the sinners who bought them and which began to be considered as passports to heaven.)
11. It was a revolt against the control of conscience by the priests.12. Thanks to the inborn spirit of revolt against the Catholic Church, Henry VIII of England could take the bold step of breaking away from the papacy i.e. authority of the Pope on the issue of his first divorce in 1534. Henry VIII declared himself the head of the Church when the Pope would not give him permission to divorce his wife, Catherine.
12. A great development which marked the beginning of the modern age in Europe was a series of geographical discoveries.
14. Helped by some remarkable inventions viz. the Compass and Astrolabe, daring sailors sailed from distant lands.
15. They were financed by rulers and merchants.
16. The main motivation behind these adventures was the profit that trade with the East would bring.
17. During 1289-93, Marco Polo (1256-1326), Venetian traveller, travelled from Venice to China and Japan. He was the ‘first European to visit China’. From his travelogue the European learned about all-round prosperity of the East.
Glorious Revolution (England: 1688)
18. James II was a Roman Catholic. His tactless attempt to secure freedom of worship for Catholics united the Whigs and Tories of the Anglican Church against him.
19. People tolerated the rule of James II, because they thought that he would be succeeded by his daughter Mary who was a Protestant. But a son was born to James II. The knowledge that James’ policies might be continued by the son to be brought up as a Catholic turned against him many Tories hitherto loyal.
20. So a few leading men-Whigs as well as Tories- dispatched an invitation to William of orange, ruler of Holland, to succeed to the English throne and save England from Catholic tyranny.
21. William accepted the invitation and came to England for his purpose.
23. The process of change that transformed Britain first and then other countries from agricultural to industrial economics.
24. The Industrial revolution began about 1750 when the agricultural revolution was well under way. Inventions were made in the textile industry by such men as James Hargreaves (spinning Jenny), 1764), Richard Arkwright (water Frame, 1769), which made the production of cloth much faster and the yarn produced of better quality.
25. These new machines required factories to house them, at first near rivers for water power and then, when the steam engine was invented by James watt in 1769), near coalfields.
26. England an agricultural country was now turned into a manufacturing country. The production increased manifold. Things were available at cheaper rates. Improved methods of communication followed.
American Revolution (1775-83)
27. American Revolution/ American War of Independence is the name given to the struggle by which England’s 13 colonies in North America declared their Independence from England and fought a war to make it a reality.
28. By the middle of the 18th Century, differences in thought and interest had developed between the colonies and the mother country (England).
29. Attempts to collect new taxes such as the Stamps Act (1765) and Tax on tea (1767) angered the colonist who maintained that the British government was imposing ‘taxation without representation’ and that only the colonial representative assemblies would rightfully tax Americans.
30. Boston Tea Party (1773): Tax on tea led to trouble. In 1773, several colonies refused to unload the tea coming in English ships. In Boston when the governor ordered a ship to be unloaded, a group of citizens dressed as American Indians, boarded the ship and dumped the crates of tea into the water. This incident is known as the ‘Boston Tea Party’.
31. The American Revolution started in 1775 and lasted until 1781.
French Revolution (1789-93)
32. The French Revolution was a great event in the history not only of France & Europe but also of mankind. It gave to humanity new ideas of ‘Liberty, equality & Fraternity’.
33. The French Revolution is the name given to the struggle which swept away Old Regime in France as well as the Fundamental changes which resulted from the struggle.
34. This Political upheaval began in 1789. King Louis XIV and his successor had bought divine-right absolutism to peak. French King, in the 18th century, had unlimited powers. Opponents were put in prison without trial.
35. French society consisted of three estates or classes. The first estate (clergy) and second estate (nobility) were privileged in many ways. Members of third estate-commoners (middle class, workers &Peasants) were the ‘under dogs’. They made 90% of the populations. Almost the entire tax burden fell on third estate. But the privileged classes were exempted from these taxes.
36. These undemocratic features of French society were sharply criticized by able writers and thinkers like Montesquieu (1689-1775), Voltaire (1694-1778) and Rousseau (1712-1778).
37. The immediate cause of the French Revolutions was the bankrupt condition of the French treasury brought about in part by the extravagant expenditure and inefficiency of Louis XV &Louis XVI.
Unification of Italy (1848-70)
38. One of the major features of the 19th Century history of Europe was the struggle for national unification and independence. Italy & Germany were two important Nations which emerged as united, independent states in 19th century.
39. in the early 19th Century, Italy was divided into a number of states in which the kingdom of Sardinia was the most powerful.
40. The struggle for Italian independence and unification was organized by the two famous revolutionaries-Mazzini & Garibaldi. The movement led by them is known as the ‘Young Italy’ movement.
41. After the revolution of 1848, Count Cavour, the prime minister of Sardinia, took the initiative of uniting Italy under the leadership of Sardinia.
42. By the year of 1861, the entire states (except Rome) had been united and then Victor Emmanuel II, the King of Sardinia took the title of ‘King of Italy’.
Unification of Germany (1848-71)
43. Like Italy, Germany was also divided into numbers of states. At the end of the Napoleonic wars (1792-1815) there were 38 independent states in Germany in which Prussia was the most powerful.
44. in 1815, the German states along with Russia were organized into a Germanic confederation.
45. In 1848 revolts occurred in every German state and the rulers were forced to grant democratic constitutions. To unite Germany and to frame a constitution for the United Germany, a constituent assembly met in Frankfurt.
46. The Frankfurt assembly proposed the unification of Germany as a constitutional monarchy under the king of Prussia who would become the emperor of Germany. However, the king of Prussia declined the offer. Repression soon followed.
47. With the failure of the revolution of 1848 to unify Germany, one phase in the struggle for unification come to an end.
48. Now Germany was to be unified not into a democratic country by the efforts of revolutionaries but by the rulers into militaristic empire. The leader of this policy was Bismarck who belonged to a Prussian aristocratic family. He wanted to achieve the unification of Germany under the leadership of the Prussian monarchy.
First World War (Aug 4, 1914- Nov, 1918)
49. Different causes and factors were involved for the First World War to start. These causes for the beginning of the First World War are mentioned below along with its course and effects.
50. Causes: Militarism, Narrow Nationalism, Economic Imperialism, Anglo-German, Lack of International Organization.
51. Immediate Cause: The immediate cause of the war was the murder Archduke Ferdinand who was the heir to the Austrian throne. He and his wife Sophie were killed at Serajevo, the capital of Bosnia, an annexed territory of Austria, by a Serbian. The Austrian held Government of Serbia responsible for the murder and ultimately attacked Serbia. There was strong rivalry already between Austria-Hungry and Serbia in the Balkans.
52. Course of War: To begin with, Austria was in favour of local war but as time passed, the situation became more grave. Other countries jumped into the fray. Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey & Bulgaria were on one side and they were called the Central power. On other side were England, France, Serbia, Belgium, Japan and Russia and they were called the Allied power. The Allied powers joined by Italy in 1915 and USA in 1917. The war started on Aug. 4, 1914 and ended on Nov. 11, 1998.
53. Peace Settlement (1919-20): The Central Powers were completely defeated by the Allied Powers and an armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918, followed by a Peace Conference at Paris. After prolonged discussion, the Treaty of Versailles (Versailles- City of France) was signed between the Allies and Allies & Germany on June 28, 1919. This Treaty rearranged the boundaries of Europe, and many new states like, Poland, Czechoslovakiya, Yugoslavia, Estonia, Lithuania, etc. were formed. William II, the German Emperor, abdicated and took asylum in the Netherland (Holland). The Treaty of Versailles was followed by the Treaty of Neuilly (1919), the Treaty of Trianon (1920) and the Treaty of Severes (1920).
The peace settlement of 1919-20 has been severely criticized. The terms of the Treaty of Versailles were harsh and humiliating for Germany. The peace settlement was based on the principle ‘to the Victor belongs the spoils and Allies are the victor’. During the many suggestions were made from time to time for the creation of an international organization which could check war in the future. At the instance of Woodrow Wilson, the President of America, the League of Nations came into existence of Jan. 10, 1920. Its headquarter was fixed at Geneva in Switzerland.
Russian Revolution (1917)
54. The Russian Revolution of 1917 was one of the most significant events of 20th century. It established the ideology of Marxism. It was a great revolution after French Revolution which was not limited Russia but affected several countries of the world.
55. The great revolution in Russia took place in two stages. The first stage of Russian Revolution began in March 1917 with the overthrow of the Czar Nicholas II. The second stage in Nov. of the same year led to the establishment of the world’s first communist state by Bolsheviks under Lenin.
56. The basic causes of the revolution were deep-seated. The government was autocratic. The Czar was the source of all authority and his powers were vigorously exercised by corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy. The general standard of living of the people was tragically low. There was little social freedom. All Russians were forced to support the orthodox church.
57. The immediate cause of the event was however the suffering and confusion caused by Russian disastrous defeats during world war I. Her armies lacked arms and ammunition. Prices soared high and the economy was in shambles.
58. Russian Revolution began with March Revolution (February revolution, according to old Russian Calendar). Disorders broke out in Petrograd (Leningrad), the Russian capital, in March 1917. Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate. (He and his family later killed by the revolutionaries).
Chinese Revolution (1911: Republican Revolution, 1949: Communist Revolution)
59. In Oct. 1911, a revolution under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen ousted the Manchu or Ch’ing Dynasty and republic was set up.
60. However, first President San Yat-sen resigned in 1912, in favour of strongman Yuan Shik-kai (1912-16).
61. The period 1916-18, known as the Warlord Era, was one of the great chaos, as a number of generals seized control of different provinces.
62. A party known as the Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalist (formed by Sun Yat-sen in 1912) was trying to govern China and control the generals who were busy fighting each other. The KMT leaders were Sun Yat-sen and after his death in 1925, General Chiang Kai-shek.
63. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was founded in 1921, and at first it co-operated with KMT in its struggle against the warlords.
64. As the KMT gradually established control over more and more of China, it felt strong enough to do without the help of the communist, and it tried to destroy them.
65. The communist under their leader Mao Tse-tunge (Mao Zedong), reacted vigorously, and after escaping from surrounding KMT forces, embarked on the 6000 mile Long March (Oct. 1934-Oct. 1935) to form a new power base in northern China.
66. Civil War dragged on, complicated by Japanese interference with culminated in a full-scale invasion in 1937.
67. when the Second World War ended with defeat for Japan and their withdrawl from China, KMT and the CCP continued to fight it out.
Turkish Revolution (1923)
68. Turkey was called ‘Sickman of Europe’
69. The disintegration of Ottoman empire began in the 19th century and was completed after Turkey’s defeat in the First World War.
70. The Allies wanted to establish their domination over Turkey itself and to give away parts of Turkey to Greece and Italy.
71. The treatment meted out to Turkey by the Allies had led to mass upsurge in India directed against Britain. This upsurge is known as the Khilafat Movement.
72. The nationalist movement in Turkey was organized to prevent the domination of the country by the Allied powers and the annexation of the parts of Turkey agreed to the terms dictated by the Allied Powers.
73. However, even before the treaty was signed by the Sultan, a national government had been established under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha with its headquarter in Ankara.
74. Following the treaty with the Sultan, Turkey had been invaded by Greece.
75. The Turks under Kemal’s leadership were able to repel the invasion and the Allies were forced to repudiate the earlier treaty. The Allied troops were withdrawn from Turkish territory and the areas which were to be annexed by European countries remained in Turkey. Thus, Turkey was able to win her complete independence.
76. The success of the Turks in winning the complete independence of their country was followed by a programme to modernize Turkey and to end the influence of backward-looking feudal elements.
77. Turkey was proclaimed a republic in Oct. 29, 1923 and Kemal became the first President of Turkey. He ruled the new republic for 15 years (1923-38). The Turkish Sultan had carried the title of Caliph (Khalifa), the new government abolished the institution of Caliph (Khalifa) in 1924. The education was taken out of the hands of the religious leaders. Religion was separated from the state.
78. Mustafa Kemal Pasha is known as the ‘founder of modern Turkey’ and ‘Ataturk’ (the father of the Turks).
World Depression of (1929-34)
79. In Economic terms, a decline in trade and general prosperity is called Depression.
80. The Great Depression of 1929-34 was worldwide, starting with an agricultural recession followed by financial panic and collapse, known as the Wall Street Crash (Oct. 1929), in the USA.
81. The effects on the USA were catastrophic, by 1933 almost 14 million people were out of work and American President Hoover’s efforts failed to make any impression on crisis. Nobody was surprised when the Republicans lost the presidential election of Nov. 1932. The new democrat President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, introduced policies known as the New Deal to try and put the country on the road to recovery.
82. The Great Depression is turn financial institution and money markets in other parts of the world and caused a run on the pound in the UK. The result was a decline in internal consumption and exports in industrialized countries, factory closures and massive unemployment.
Fascism in Italy
83. The unification of Italy was completed in 1870, and the new state suffered from economic and political weaknesses.
84. The First world War (1914-18) was a great strain on her economy, and there was bitter disappointment at her treatment by the Versailles settlement.
85. Between 1919 and 1922 there were five different governments, all of which were incapable of taking the decisive action that the situation demanded.
86. In 1919 Benito Mussolini founded the Italian Fascist Party, which won 35 seats in the 1921 elections.
87. At the same there seemed to be a real danger of a left-wing revolution. In an atmosphere of strikes and riots, the fascist staged a ‘March on Rome’ which culminated in King Victor Emmanuel inviting Mussolini to form a government (Oct. 1922), he remained in power until July 1943.
88. Gradually Mussolini took on the powers of a dictator and attempted to control the entire way of life of the Italian people.
Nazism in Germany
89. A Germany moved towards defeat in 1918, public opinion turned against the government, and in Oct., the Kaiser, in a desperate bid to hang on to the power, appointed Prince Max as Chancellor. He was known to be in favour of more democratic form of government in which parliyament had more power.
90. But it was too late, in Nov. revolution broke out, the Kaiser escaped to holland and abdicated, and Prince Max resigned. Friedrich Elbert, leader of the left-wing Social Democrat Party, became head of the government.
91. In Jan, 1919, a general election was held, the first complete democratic one ever to take place in Germany. The social Democrats emerged as the largest single party and Elbert became first President of the Republic. They had some Marxist ideas but believed that the way to achieve socialism was through parliamentary democracy.
92. The new government was by no means popular with all German, even before the elections the communist had attempted to seize power in the Spartacist Rising (Jan., 1919).
93. In 1920 right-wing enemies of the republic occupied Berlin (the Kapp Putsch). The government managed to survive these threats and several later ones, including Hitler’s Munich Beer Hall Putsch (1923).
94. By the end of 1919 a new constitution had been agreed by the National Assembly (Parliament), which was meeting at Weimer because Berlin was still torn by political unrest. This Weimer constitution, gave its name to the Weimar Republic lasted until 1933, when it was destroyed by Hitler. The Great Depression, beginning with the Wall Street Crash in Oct., 1929, had disastrous effects on Germany, producing massive 6.5 million unemployed. The government was unable to cope with the situation and by the end of 1932 the Weimer Republic seemed on the Verge of Collapse.
95. Meanwhile Adolf Hitler and his Nationalist Socialist (Nazis) had been carrying out a propaganda campaign blaming the government for all the ills of Germany, and setting out Nazi Solutions to the problems.
Militarism in Japan
96. During the 20 years after Mussolini’s March on Rome (1922), many other countries, faced with severe economic problems, followed the examples of Italy and Germany and turned to fascism on right-wing nationalism.
97. In Japan the democratically elected government, increasingly embarrassed by economic, financial and political problems, fell under the influence of the army in the early 1930s.
98. The military soon involved Japan in war with China, and later took the country into the Second World War with its attack on Peral Harbor (1941).
99. After a brilliant start, the Japanese eventually suffered defeat and devastation when the two atomic bombs were dropped.
100. After the Second World War, Japan returned to democracy and made a remarkable recovery, soon becoming one of the world’s most powerful states economically.
Second world War (Sep. 3, 1939- Aug. 14, 1945)
101. Different causes were involved for the Second world War to start. These causes for the beginning of the Second world War are mentioned below along with its course and effects.
102. Treaty of Versailles (1919), Nationalist Movement of Germany & Italy, Conflicts of Ideology between Dictatorship & Democracy, Inefficient of League of Nations, Colonial & Commercial Rivalry and Aggressiveness of Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis were the causes for the World War II to start.
103. Immediate Cause: The Immediate cause of the war was the refuse of Poland to surrender. Germany gave an ultimatum to Poland regarding: (i). surrender the port of Dazing, (ii). the right of establishing a rail link between Germany and Prussia through the Polish corridor. These two demands were rejected by Poland. So, Germany invaded Poland on Sep. 1, 1939. Britain and France as they were under treaty obligations to aid Poland, declared war against Germany on Sep. 3, 1939.
104. Course of War: On one side were Germany, Italy and Japan, called the Axis Powers (Central Powers), and on the other were Great Britain, France, USSR, USA, China etc. called the Allied Powers (Allies). Germany had to face once again. Hitler, Goebbels & Himmler committed suicide (April 30, 1945) and their successors surrendered unconditionally on May 7, 1945.
After the fall of Germany, USA and UK concentrated their focus against Japan on Aug. 6, 1945, an atom bomb ‘Little Boy’ was dropped on the City of Hiroshima. Japan was asked to surrendered and when she refused another atom bomb, ‘Fat Man’ was dropped on Aug.9, 1945 on Nagasaki. It is estimated that more than one lakh persons were killed and leaving thousands more slowly dying of radiation poisoning. On Aug. 14, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally, and the Second World war came to an end.
105. Effects of WWW II: (i). After about 15 months of preparatory work, the peace treaties were given a final shape by the 21 participating countries and they were signed on Feb. 10, 1947, in Paris by the representatives of five enemy states and Allied Powers. As regards Germany she was occupied by the Big Four. After its fail in May, 1945, it was divided into four zones, each of one was administered separated by one of the occupying powers. Berlin came under joint occupation. Ultimately out of one Germany came two countries- West Germany and East Germany. Italy was also deprived of her colonies. As regards Japan, a peace treaty was signed with her at San Francisco in 1951.
(ii) The United Nations Organizations (UNO) was established in Oct. 24, 1945. (iii) The USA and USSR emerged as the two most powerful nations in the world. (iv) The emergence of Russia (USSR) gave rise to the desire for freedom in colonies under European control in Asia. (v) The British empire thus rapidly lost its leadership as more and more colonies won independence. (vi) France also lost much of their past glory. (vii) Nearly all the East European countries embraced communism and communist rule was established in the Chinese mainland also.
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