European society began with the first settlements somewhere between 45,000 and 25,000 BC. From there, Greco-Roman society dominated with its start in ancient Greece, an area generally considered to be the seed from which Western civilization grew. The fact that modern-day Greece is experiencing financial difficulties underscores the cycles of prominence that sift through civilizations. No one area/culture/people have claimed supremacy for more than brief periods of time.

The history of Europe is vast, therefore few scholars attempt to cover the entire story with a single book. Norman Davies is one of the successful exceptions to the rule. Similarly, college classes in European history tend to focus on certain periods, a common one being "modern" European history which begins with the Renaissance and continues through the following periods:

  • Medieval Legacies
  • The Renaissance
  • The Two Reformations
  • The Wars of Religion
  • The Rise of the Atlantic Economy: Spain and England
  • England and the Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century
  • The Age of Absolutism, 1650-1720
  • The New Philosophy of Science
  • Eighteenth-Century Economic and Social Change
  • Enlightened Thought and the Republic of Letters
  • Eighteenth-Century Dynastic Rivalries and Politics
  • The French Revolution
  • Napoleon and Europe
  • Challenges to Restoration of Europe
  • The Middle Classes in the Age of Liberalism
  • The Industrial Revolution, 1800-1850
  • The Revolutions of 1848
  • The Era of National Unification
  • The Dominant Powers in the Age of Liberalism: Britain, France, and Russia
  • Rapid Industrialization and Its Challenges, 1870-1914
  • Mass Politics and Nationalism
  • The Age of European Imperialism
  • The Great War
  • Revolutionary Russia and the Soviet Union
  • The Elusive Search for Stability in the 1920s
  • The Europe of Depression and Dictatorship
  • World War II
  • Rebuilding Divided Europe
  • The Emergence of Contemporary Europe and the Collapse of Communism


One book on this subject which all students should investigate is Europe: A History, written by Norman Davies of Wolfson College, Oxford. For conducting research on European history, a good place to start would be the European History Research Guide made available by the Yale University Library. Another excellent source would be European History Primary Sources, made available from Google Books. 

 

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