The 20th Century -Europe and the World

The emphasis in this website is on Europe as the epicenter of cataclysmic world events in the 20th century including two world wars, the rise and fall of fascism, decolonization, and the origins of the modern political structures and divisions that continue to shape our interconnected world today. Europe's history became the world's history during this pivotal century.


Long 19th Century

The Long 19th Century, spanning from the French Revolution in 1789 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914, was a period of profound transformation and upheaval in Europe and beyond. The era witnessed the rise of industrialization, which brought about significant economic, social, and technological changes. Urbanization accelerated, and the shift from agrarian economies to industrial ones led to the emergence of new social classes.

Revolutionary movements and ideas were hallmark features of this era. The principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity were championed, leading to numerous revolutions and reform movements. Moreover, the concept of nationalism gained traction, contributing to the unification of Italy and Germany, among other significant geopolitical shifts.

Colonialism and imperialism were also prominent during the Long 19th Century. European powers expanded their overseas empires, which led to a scramble for Africa and parts of Asia, marking a period of intense colonial rivalry.

The Long 19th Century set the stage for many of the political, social, and economic dynamics that would shape the 20th century, making it a pivotal era in modern history.







Ottoman Empire/Turkey



  • The Treaty of Versailles (1919) - The post-WWI treaty imposed punitive reparations on Germany after its defeat, fueling nationalist sentiments that would later rise to power under the Nazis.
  • The Roaring Twenties (1920s) - A period of economic prosperity, flapper culture, and social liberalism in the US and Western Europe, though crises lurked beneath the surface.
  • The Rise of Fascism (1920s-1930s) - Right-wing authoritarian nationalist movements led by Benito Mussolini in Italy and later Adolf Hitler in Germany took hold amid economic and political instability remaining after WWI.
  • The Great Depression (1929-1933) - The global economic crisis that began with the US stock market crash of 1929 had devastating effects worldwide and further strengthened radical ideologies across Europe.
  • The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) - A three-year conflict that pitted a democratically elected leftist government against right-wing Nationalist forces led by Francisco Franco, also becoming a proving ground for German and Italian forces.
  • World War II (1939-1945) - The second global war within a generation engulfed Europe and saw the rise and fall of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, with the continent left in ruins at war's end.
  • The Cold War Emerges (1945-1953) - Tensions between capitalist Western Europe and communist Eastern Europe escalated as the Soviet Union and US emerged as superpowers following WWII.
  • Decolonization Begins (1945-1960s) - European empires dismantled as colonized nations in Africa and Asia pushed for independence in the aftermath of WWII's exposed vulnerabilities.
  • The European Union Forms (1950s-Present) - West European states increasingly integrated economically and politically through organizations like the European Economic Community with goals of preventing future wars.
  • Additional Resources

    Ancient and Medieval Periods

    Renaissance and Early Modern Period

    20th Century

    Books and Articles