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Europe is the second smallest of the seven continents covering roughly 2% of the earth's surface. The name 'Europe' has long been thought to have been derived from the ancient myth of Zeus and Europa. According to this tale, the great god Zeus, seeing the lovely Phoenician princess Europa bathing (or, according to other versions, playing with her handmaidens) by the seashore, transformed himself into a magnificent white bull and slowly approached her from the sea. So gentle and sweet was this bull that Europa placed garlands of flowers around his neck, petted him and then climbed onto his back when, much to her surprise, the bull ran off across the surface of the seas, abducting her to the isle of Crete. On Crete Zeus and Europa became lovers and she bore him three famous sons. Her family back in Phonecia, distraught at her disappearance, sent her brothers in search of her, each one finally being unsuccessful in his quest but each founding important cities and lending their names to various regions around the Aegean (Thebes being one example, originally known as Cadmea after Europa's brother Cadmus).
Herodotus, however, does not believe the tale of the Phoenician princess had anything to do with the naming of the continent, writing in Book Four of his Histories, “Another thing that puzzles me is why three distinct women's names should have been given to what is really a single land-mass…nobody knows where it got its name from, or who gave it, unless we are to say that it came from Europa, the Tyrian woman, and before that was nameless like the rest. This, however, is unlikely; for Europa was an Asiatic and never visited the country which we now call Europe.”
Theories regarding the origin of the name 'Europe' range from it being of Greek origin meaning “wide gazing”, a reference to the breadth of the shoreline as seen from the sea or from the Phoenician for “evening”, as in the place where the sun would set. Today, as it was in Herodotus' time, no one can say for certain where the name 'Europe' originated. To the ancient Greeks, the Aegean sea and environs were the center of the world. The Phonecians regularly sailed across and up the Atlantic to harvest tin from Europe at Cornwall but, to the Greeks, Europe was a dark continent (in the same way that 19th and early 20th century CE Europeans would later view Africa).
Culture, on even the most basic level, had been ongoing in Europe since at least 20,000 BCE as evidenced by cave paintings (the most famous being the Cave of Lascaux complex in modern-day France) and by 5000 BCE hierarchical societies had begun to emerge and peas were cultivated, evidence of a sturdy agricultural society. Even so, to the Greeks, the people of Europe, more so than any other non-Greeks, were barbarians (from the Greek barbarophonos, “of incomprehensible speech”, a word first coined by Homer in his Iliad, Book II) who banded together diverse tribes such as the Balts, Slavs, Albanians, Italics and, best known, the Celts (who included the Gauls and the Germanic tribes).
In his The Gallic Wars he devotes as much space to a description of the Alces (elks) of Europe as he does to the Ubii in any important way writing of the elk that “their shape and dappled coat are like those of goats but they are rather larger, have stunted horns and legs without joints” and then goes on to give the earliest narrative we have of what would come to be known as “cow tipping” as the Romans would hunt the elk by pushing them over while they slept standing up and killing them easily because they were too large to raise themselves back up. Even so, it is impossible to argue that Caesar brought nothing of consequence to the people of Gaul and, by extension, Europe. The historian Durant writes,
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For three hundred years Gaul remained a Roman province, prospered under the Roman peace, learned and transformed the Latin language, and became the channel through which the culture of classic antiquity passed into northern Europe. Doubtless neither Caesar nor his contemporaries foresaw the immense consequences of his bloody triumph. He thought he had saved Italy, won a province and forged an army; he did not suspect that he was the creator of French civilization.
The Romans brought their civilization, not just to Gaul (later France and part of Italy) but to the whole of Europe, providing innovations such as paved roads, indoor plumbing, fortified cities of great administrative efficiency and culture and, of course, their language, slowly 'civilizing' the disparate tribes of the various European regions. Tacitus writes of the efforts of Agricola in Britain to establish schools to spread the knowledge of Latin and his encouragement of the populace to build temples and to regard personal hygiene as a matter of importance in the use of public baths. Tacitus continues, “By degrees the charms of vice gained admission to British hearts; baths, porticoes and elegant banquets grew into vogue; and the new manners, which in reality only served to sweeten slavery, were by the unsuspecting Britons called the arts of polished humanity.”
Even so, not every Briton appreciated Roman culture equally nor accepted its civilizing touch easily as evidenced by the rebellion of Queen Boudicca of the Iceni tribe (only the most famous among many) in 60/61 CE which resulted in over 70,000 Romans slain by Britons before she was defeated by Paulinus. Still, for over three hundred years, Roman rule obtained in Europe and, without doubt, contributed greatly to what the various countries of the continent are today.
The stock market crash of October 1929 led directly to the Great Depression in Europe. When stocks plummeted on the New York Stock Exchange, the world noticed immediately. Although financial leaders in England, as in the United States, vastly underestimated the extent of the crisis that would ensue, it soon became clear that the world's economies were more interconnected then ever. The effects of the disruption to the global system of financing, trade, and production and the subsequent meltdown of the American economy were soon felt throughout Europe.
Europe’s Hypocritical History of Cannibalism
In 2001, a lonely computer technician living in the countryside in Northern Germany advertised online for a well-built man willing to participate in a mutually satisfying sexual act. Armin Meiwes’ notice was similar to many others on the Internet except for a rather important detail: The requested man must be willing to be killed and eaten.
Meiwes didn’t have to look far. Two hundred and thirty miles away in Berlin, an engineer called Bernd Brandes agreed to travel to Meiwes’ farmhouse. There, a gory video later found by police documented Brandes’ consensual participation in the deadly dinner. The cannibalism was both a shock to the German public and a conundrum to German prosecutors wanting to charge Meiwes with a crime.
Cannibalism might be humanity’s most sacred taboo, but consent of a victim typically eliminates a crime, explains Emilia Musumeci, a criminologist at the University of Catania, in Italy, who studies cannibalism and serial killers.
More technically, cannibalism is not designated as illegal in Germany’s extensive criminal code: Until that point, laws against murder had sufficed to cover cannibalism. If Brandes had volunteered his own life, how could Meiwes be accused of murder?
Because of his victim’s consent, Meiwes was initially found guilty of something akin to assisted suicide, and sentenced to eight years in jail. Had there not been widespread uproar about the seemingly lenient penalty, Meiwes would be out of jail by now. Instead, the uproar led to a subsequent retrial, where Meiwes was found guilty of killing for sexual pleasure. He will likely spend the rest of his life in jail.
The unusual Meiwes case is just one of the topics to be discussed this weekend at an interdisciplinary cannibal conference to be held at the Manchester Museum—the world’s first, say many attending the meeting.
The idea of a cannibalism conference might sound like the basis for a macabre joke about coffee-break finger food. However, there’s serious cannibal scholarship taking place in many disciplines, says conference organizer Hannah Priest, a lecturer at Manchester University, who has previously hosted other academic meetings on werewolves and monsters under the banner of her publishing company Hic Dragones. “From contemporary horror film to medieval Eucharistic devotions, from Freudian theory to science fiction, cannibals and cannibalism continue to repel and intrigue us in equal measure,” advertises the conference’s website.
When the call for abstracts went out last fall, “our first response was one from anthropology, another one was on heavy metal music and the third was on 18th-century literature,” Priest says. “Academics will quite happily discuss very disturbing things in quite polite terms and forget that not everybody talks about this stuff all the time.”
It is perhaps fitting that the conference should take place in Europe because the region has a long chronicle of cannibalism, from prehistory through the Renaissance, right up to the 21st-century Meiwes case. In addition, the area has bequeathed us a bounty of fictional cannibals, including Dracula, who is arguably the world’s most famous consumer of human blood and a gory harbinger of the current pop culture fascination with vampires and zombies.
Europe boasts the oldest fossil evidence of cannibalism. In a 1999 Science article, French paleontologists reported that 100,000-year-old bones from six Neanderthal victims found in a French cave called Moula-Guercy had been broken by other Neanderthals in such a way as to extract marrow and brains. In addition, tool marks on the mandible and femur suggested that tongue and thigh meat had been cut off for consumption.
The cannibalism at Moula-Guercy wasn’t an isolated incident in prehistory. In the past decade, researchers have reported other evidence that Neanderthals continued eating each other until just before their disappearance. In one particularly grisly discovery at the El Sidrón cave in Spain, paleontologists discovered that an extended family of 12 individuals had been dismembered, skinned and then eaten by other Neanderthals about 50,000 years ago.
When early Homo sapiens began engaging in cannibalism is a topic of debate, although it is clear they eventually did, says Sandra Bowdler, an emeritus professor of archeology at the University of Western Australia. Evidence is scant that this happened in early human hunter-gatherer communities, she says, although in 2009 Fernando Rozzi, at the Centre National de la Récherche Scientifique, in Paris, reported finding a Neanderthal jaw bone that may have been butchered by early humans.
Even if Europe’s Homo sapiens didn’t consume each other in prehistory, they certainly did in more modern times. References to acts of cannibalism are sprinkled throughout many religious and historical documents, such as the reports that cooked human flesh was being sold in 11th-century English markets during times of famine, says Jay Rubenstein, a historian at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
However, the world’s first cannibal incident reported by multiple, independent, first-hand accounts took place during the Crusades by European soldiers, Rubenstein says.
These first-hand stories agree that in 1098, after a successful siege and capture of the Syrian city Ma’arra, Christian soldiers ate the flesh of local Muslims. Thereafter the facts get murky, Rubenstein says. Some chroniclers report that the bodies were secretly consumed in “wicked banquets” borne out of famine and without the authorization of military leaders, Rubenstein says. Other reports suggest the cannibalism was done with tacit approval of military superiors who wished to use stories of the barbaric act as a psychological fear tactic in future Crusade battles.
Either way, post-Crusade European society was not comfortable with what happened at Ma’arra, Rubenstein says. “Everybody who wrote about it was disturbed,” he says. “The First Crusade is the first great European epic. It was a story people wanted to celebrate.” But first they had to deal with the embarrassing stain.
Part of the problem was that cannibalism at Ma’arra simply didn’t fit in with the European self-image. In medieval times, cultural enemies—not military or religious heroes—were commonly depicted as cannibals or giants, “especially in narratives of territorial invasion and conquest,” argues Geradine Heng, in Cannibalism, The First Crusade and the Genesis of Medieval Romance. “Witches, Jews, savages, Orientals, and pagans are conceivable as—indeed, must be—cannibals but in the 12th-century medieval imaginary, the Christian European subject cannot.”
By the 16th century, cannibalism was not just part of the mental furniture of Europeans it was a common part of everyday medicine from Spain to England.
Initially, little bits of pulverized mummies imported from Egypt were used in prescriptions against disease, but the practice soon expanded to include the flesh, skin, bone, blood, fat and urine of local cadavers, such as recently executed criminals and bodies dug up illegally from graveyards, says University of Durham’s Richard Sugg, who published a book in 2011 called Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians.
Medicinal cannibalism reached a feverish pitch around 1680, Sugg says. But the practice can be traced back to the Greek doctor Galen, who recommended human blood as part of some remedies in the 2nd century A.D., and it continued all the way into the 20th century. In 1910, a German pharmaceutical catalog was still selling mummy, says Louise Noble, who also wrote a book on the topic called Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture.
While Europeans ate “mummy” to cure their physical ailments, the same culture sent missionaries and colonists to the New World to cure New World indigenous people of their purported barbaric cannibalism, some of which was entirely fabricated as a rationale for conquest, Bowdler says. “It’s certainly possible that Europeans were consuming more human flesh at the time than people in the New World,” Sugg says.
“It’s a big paradox,” Noble adds. The term cannibal was being used to describe someone inferior while the “civilized in Europe were also eating bits of the human body,” she says.
The word cannibal first entered the English language in the mid-16th century by means of Spanish explorers, says Carmen Nocentelli, a 16th-century comparative literature and culture scholar at the University of New Mexico. It derives from the Spanish word Canibales, which was used by Columbus in his diaries to describe indigenous people of the Caribbean islands who were rumored to be eaters of human flesh, Nocentelli says. In his diaries, it is clear Columbus didn’t initially believe the rumors, she adds.
But the name stuck: Cannibal became a popular term used to describe people in the New World. It was certainly sexier than the Greek and then Latin word “anthropophagi,” which a 1538 dictionary defines as “people in Asia, which eate [sic] men,” Nocentelli says.
Because there’s evidence that colonists exaggerated accounts of cannibalism in the New World, some scholars have argued that all cannibalism reports in the colonies were fictitious. But the balance of evidence suggest some reports were certainly true, Bowdler says, namely, from human blood proteins found in fossilized feces at American Southwest sites to first-hand reports from reliable sources about cannibal practices among Mesoamerican Aztecs and Brazilian Tupinambá. “One of the reasons cannibalism is so controversial is because we have few detailed accounts of how it worked in society,” Bowdler adds.
Bowdler has been compiling a list of well-documented accounts of worldwide cannibalism that she will present at the conference this weekend. In particular, she’ll discuss categories of cannibalism where consuming human flesh is “not considered out-and-out bad” in the society where it is practiced, she says.
One such category is survival cannibalism, where people consume each other out of absolute necessity, such as the 16 survivors of a 1972 plane crash in the Andes mountains or the members of Sir John Franklin’s failed 1845 expedition to the Arctic.
Another category is mortuary cannibalism, the consumption of the dead during their funeral rites, practiced through the 20th century in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea and the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon. “This is not, as we may instinctively imagine, morbid and repulsive,” notes the University of Manchester’s Sarah-Louise Flowers in her conference abstract, “but is instead an act of affection and respect for the dead person, as a well as being a means of helping survivors to cope with their grief.”
As some conference attendees compare culturally acceptable categories of human consumption with nefarious cases of cannibal serial killers, other conference presenters will pick apart the presence of cannibals in pop culture, such as the episode of revenge cannibalism in the animated sitcom South Park, the blockbuster popularity of the vampire romance novel series Twilight and the emergence of the Call Of Duty: Zombies video game.
With talk titles like “Flesh-Eaters in London: Cosmopolitan Cannibals in Late 19th-Century Fiction and the Press,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Inside the Mind of the Cannibal Serial Killer,” and “Bon Appetit! A Concise Defense of Cannibalism,” one can only hope the conference canapés are vegetarian.
9. Europe’s Most Famous and Active Volcanoes
Etna is Europe’s largest active volcano. With a maximum elevation of about 3350 m, Mount Etna is a stratovolcano situated in Sicily, southern Italy.
The tallest European volcano is actually one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Etna erupted again this year and one of the most recent eruptions occurred at the end of July. You can look for updates on this topic browsing the website of Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia. An English version is available. The volcano’s eruptions have been documented since ancient times, more exactly since 1500 BC. It’s the longest period of documented eruptions in the world.
Stromboli is also one of the planet’s most active volcanoes. It is one of the eight Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie), a volcanic archipelago off the coast. According to specialists, Stromboli is the only active volcano on the European mainland.
Mount Vesuvius, best known for its eruption that completely destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, last erupted 67 years ago, in 1944.
Vatnajökull (Iceland) is the largest European glacier in volume and underneath its ice-cap are at least seven volcanoes located.
AP EUROPEAN HISTORY The Course
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Following the eradication of smallpox, scientists and public health officials determined there was still a need to perform research using the variola virus. They agreed to reduce the number of laboratories holding stocks of variola virus to only four locations. In 1981, the four countries that either served as a WHO collaborating center or were actively working with variola virus were the United States, England, Russia, and South Africa. By 1984, England and South Africa had either destroyed their stocks or transferred them to other approved labs. There are now only two locations that officially store and handle variola virus under WHO supervision: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, and the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR Institute) in Koltsovo, Russia.
Three-year-old Rahima Banu with her mother in Bangladesh. Rahima was the last known person to have had naturally acquired smallpox in the world. An 8-year-old girl named Bilkisunnessa reported the case to the local Smallpox Eradication Program team and received a 250 Taka reward. Source: CDC/World Health Organization Stanley O. Foster M.D., M.P.H.
WHO poster commemorating the eradication of smallpox in October 1979, which was officially endorsed by the 33rd World Health Assembly on May 8, 1980. Courtesy of WHO.
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Modern Royalty and Aristocracy
The Great Survivors: How Monarchy Made It Into the Twenty-First Century by Peter Conradi. Tells the story of seven European reigning dynasties: the personalities, the history, their role in politics and society.
The Role of Monarchy in Modern Democracy: European Monarchies Compared edited by Robert Hazell and Bob Morris. Written by experts from Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK, this book consider monarchy's role, powers and functions, the laws of succession, royal finances, and more.
Realms of Royalty: New Directions in Researching Contemporary European Monarchies edited by Christina Jordan and Imke Polland. Theoretical approaches to recent developments (such as pop concerts during royal celebrations) and royal families' interactions with their subjects.
Aristocracy and the Modern World by Ellis Wasson. The first comprehensive study of the traditional European ruling class during the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics include wealth, family, recreation, gender, local authority and national power.
Princely Treasures by Geza Von Habsburg-Lothringen. European royal treasures from the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods, including ceramics, paintings, sculptures, and silver.
Symbols of Power in Art by Paola Rapelli. Examines not only regal paraphernalia such as crowns, scepters, thrones, and orbs, but also the painted portraits, sculptures, tapestries, carved ivories, jewelry, coins, armor, and photographs created to display power.
The Royal Families of Europe by Geoffrey Hindley is about modern royal families, both reigning and deposed. Published in 2001.
Sex, Marriage, and Divorce
Sex With Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman. A history of royal mistresses. You can read my review of the book here.
Sex With the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics by Eleanor Herman. How did queens find happiness? Many had love affairs. This book discusses Anne Boleyn, Catherine the Great, Marie Antoinette, Princess Diana, and other royal women.
Royal Romances: Titillating Tales of Passion and Power in the Palaces of Europe by Leslie Carroll. Includes the love stories of Louis XIV and Madame de Maintenon, Catherine the Great and Grigory Potemkin, Marie Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen, and today's Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire by Leslie Carroll. A "funny, raucous, and delightfully dirty" 900-year history of European royal marriages.
Inglorious Royal Marriages: A Demi-Millennium of Unholy Mismatrimony by Leslie Carroll. Outrageous real-life stories of royal marriages gone wrong, including Margaret Tudor and Mary I, who were desperately in love with unfaithful husbands two Medici princesses who were murdered by their husbands and Charles II's sister Minette, whose husband wore more makeup than she did.
Royal Love Stories by Gill Paul. The tales behind the real-life romances of Europe's kings and queens.
Dissolving Royal Marriages: A Documentary History, 860-1600 edited by David d'Avray. Drawing from original translations of key source documents, the book sheds new light on elite divorces and annulments. Topics include Eleanor of Aquitaine, King John of England, Plaisance of Cyprus, Alfonso III of Portugal, Margaret Tudor of Scotland, and Henri IV of France.
Scandal, Folly, Mystery, Murder
Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds by Leslie Carroll. Looks at some of European history's boldest, baddest, and bawdiest royals.
Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty by Karl Shaw. Presents European royals as "a collection of madmen, philanderers, sexual misfits, sociopaths, and tragic emotional cripples."
Royal Blunders by Geoffrey Regan. Learn about the Hapsburg emperor who ate himself to death, the medieval French monarch who was utterly convinced that he was made of glass, and more.
Murder and Monarchy: Regicide in European History, 1300-1800 edited by Robert von Friedeburg. Fifteen leading scholars examine case studies of physical assaults on kings and on members of royal families.
Royal Murders: Hatred, Revenge, and the Seizing of Power by Dulcie M. Ashdown discusses murders of and by European royals over the past 1,000 years.
The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul by Eleanor Herman. A work of pop history that traces the use of poison as a political tool in the royal courts of Western Europe.
Royalty & Disease
Royal Maladies: Inherited Diseases in the Royal Houses of Europe by Alan R. Rushton, M.D., Ph.D. A study of the hereditary diseases hemophilia and porphyria in the personal and political lives of the European royal families.
Queen Victoria's Gene by D. M. Potts and W. T. W. Potts. About the hemophilia gene Queen Victoria passed down to her descendants and how it affected modern European history.
Medicine at the Courts of Europe: 1500-1837 edited by Vivian Nutton. Essays examining medical activities in a courts from the Rome of the Borgias to the Catherine the Great's Russia.
Premodern Rulers and Postmodern Viewers: Gender, Sex, and Power in Popular Culture edited by Janice North, Karl C. Alvestad, and Elena Woodacre. How the lives of European monarchs have been mythologized on-screen to appeal to today's audiences.
Europe: A History by Norman Davies. The first major history of Europe to give equal weight to both East and West, from the Ice Age to the Atomic Age.
Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations by Norman Davies. An account of 14 European kingdoms -- their rise, maturity, and eventual disappearance. Includes Aragon, Etruria, and the Kingdom of the Two Burgundies.
The Penguin History of Europe by J. M. Roberts. The tale of the European continent, from its Neolithic origins and early civilizations of the Aegean to the 21st century.
The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe by Barry Cunliffe. A comprehensive account of prehistoric Europe from the coming of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire.
European History for Dummies by Dr. Seán Lang. The disasters, triumphs, power struggles and politics that have shaped Europe from the Stone Age to the 21st century.
The European Nobilities: Western and Southern Europe edited by Hamish Scott. A collection of essays about nobility in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.
In the Manner of the Franks: Hunting, Kingship, and Masculinity in Early Medieval Europe by Eric J. Goldberg. Royal hunting from the late Roman Empire to the death of the last Carolingian king, Louis V, in a hunting accident in 987.
The Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe by Michael Pye. Saints and spies, pirates and philosophers, artists and intellectuals criss-crossed the North Sea during the Dark Ages.
The Mighty Warrior Kings: From the Ashes of the Roman Empire to the New Ruling Order by Philip J. Potter. Traces the history of early Europe through the biographies of nine kings, from Charlemagne to Robert the Bruce.
Blood Royal: Dynastic Politics in Medieval Europe by Robert Bartlett. Explores the role played by family in the politics of royal and imperial dynasties.
Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230 by Sara McDougall. Well into the late 12th century, being a legitimate heir depended on social status and lineage, not parents' marital status. Includes genealogical charts of the House of Jerusalem and Iberian royal houses.
Royal and Elite Households in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: More Than Just a Castle edited by Theresa Earenfight. Topics include the nuclear and extended royal family, their household attendants, noblemen and noblewomen as courtiers, and physicians.
Magnificence and Princely Splendour in the Middle Ages by Richard Barber. In medieval Europe, magnificence was seen as the king's duty, and it applied to his garments, courtiers, artists, feasts and ceremonies. This wide-ranging survey centers on France.
Rebel Barons: Resisting Royal Power in Medieval Culture by Luke Sunderland. Epic poems, prose, and chronicles reflected aristocratic concerns about tyranny and were models of violent opposition to sovereigns.
The Book of Emperors: A Translation of the Middle High German Kaiserchronik edited and translated by Henry A. Myers. The Kaiserchronik (c.1152-1165) is a verse chronicle of the exploits of the Roman, Byzantine, Carolingian, and Holy Roman kings and rulers, from the establishment of Rome to the start of the Second Crusade.
The King's Body: Sacred Rituals of Power in Medieval and Early Modern Europe by Sergio Bertelli, translated by R. Burr Litchfield. Looks at kingship in the Middle Ages, when the distinction between the political and the religious did not exist.
Kings and Warriors in Early North-West Europe edited by Jan Erik Rekdaland Charles Doherty. Essays examine how medieval Norse, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon writers highlighted the role of the warrior in relation to kings and society.
Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses by Gabor Klaniczay is about dynastic cults in medieval central Europe.
The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe by George Holmes. An account of life in medieval Europe between the fall of the Roman Empire and the coming of the Renaissance.
Atlas of Medieval Europe edited by Angus MacKay and David Ditchburn. Covers the period from the fall of the Roman Empire through the beginnings of the Renaissance.
Renaissance & Early Modern
Princes and Princely Culture 1450-1650 by Martin Gosman. Thirteen essays on European princes of the medieval and Renaissance eras.
The Renaissance Monarchies, 1469-1558 by Catherine Mulgan. Discusses Ferdinand and Isabella, their grandson Charles V, and Francis I.
Monarchs of the Renaissance by Philip J. Potter. The lives and reigns of 42 European kings and queens.
Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions That Forged Modern Europe by John Julius Norwich. About 16th century rulers of England, France, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire who changed European history.
Unexpected Heirs in Early Modern Europe: Potential Kings and Queens edited by Valerie Schutte. There were many surprising accessions in the early modern period, including Mary I of England and Henry III of France. This book evaluates their lives and the repercussions of their reigns.
Monarchy Transformed: Princes and Their Elites in Early Modern Western Europe edited by Robert von Friedeburg and John Morrill. Argues that the new monarchies that emerged during the 'long 17th century' were not states in a modern sense, but princely dynasties.
Kings, Nobles and Commoners: States and Societies in Early Modern Europe by Jeremy Black. Tackles questions vital for understanding of early modern Europe. What was the nature of the state? Did Protestantism lead to progress and Catholicism to absolutism?
Early Modern Europe: An Oxford History by Euan Cameron. From the Renaissance and the Reformation to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.
Perceiving Power in Early Modern Europe edited by Francis So. This collection discusses forms of kingship such as client-kingship, monarchy, queen consort and regnant queenship.
The 18th & 19th Centuries
Life in the Georgian Court by Catherine Curzon. Peep behind the shutters of the opulent courts of 18th century Europe at royal scandals, tragedies, and romance.
Phantom Terror: Political Paranoia and the Creation of the Modern State, 1789-1848 by Adam Zamoyski. After the French Revolution, monarchs and their courtiers lived in constant fear of rebellion.
The 'Sailor Prince' in the Age of Empire: Creating a Monarchical Brand in Nineteenth-Century Europe by Miriam Magdalena Schneider. Traces the careers and travels of Prince Alfred of Britain, Prince Heinrich of Prussia, Prince Valdemar of Denmark, and Prince Georgios of Greece.
Sons and Heirs: Succession and Political Culture in Nineteenth-Century Europe edited by Frank Lorenz Müller and Heidi Mehrkens. Focuses on the role of royal heirs, including their education and accommodation, their ability to overcome succession crises, the consequences of the death of an heir, and their roles during the First World War.
Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe edited by Frank Muller and Heidi Mehrkens. Studies exploring the role played by royal heirs in Britain, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Greece, Sweden, Norway and Prussia.
Courts and Courtiers
The Princely Court by Malcolm Vale is about medieval courts and culture in North-West Europe, 1270-1380.
The Age of the Favourite, edited by J.H. Elliott and Laurence Brockliss, is about European royal favorites in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Politics of Female Households: Ladies-in-Waiting Across Early Modern Europe edited by Nadine Akkerman and Birgit Houben. Essays about the ways in which women influenced the politics and culture of their times.
Monarchy and Religion: The Transformation of Royal Culture in Eighteenth-Century Europe edited by Michael Schaich. Essays investigate the role of clergymen, religious observances, and religious images and ceremonies at British, French, Russian, and German royal courts.
Royal Life and Food
Childhood at Court, 1819-1914 by John Van Der Kiste. What was childhood like for European princes and princesses in the Victorian and Edwardian periods? Here their education, recreation, and general upbringing is discussed.
Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting by Carolyn Harris. How European royal parents dealt with raising their children, from keeping Vikings at bay to fending off paparazzi.
Dressed to Rule: Royal and Court Costume From Louis XIV to Elizabeth II by Philip Mansel. Explores how rulers have sought to control their image through their appearance. Individual styles of dress throw light on the personalities of particular monarchs, their court system, and their ambitions.
Royal Taste: Food, Power and Status at the European Courts After 1789 edited by Danielle De Vooght. Contributors consider the way royals and aristocrats wined and dined. Topics include the role of sherry at the court of Queen Victoria, the use of the truffle as a promotional gift at the Savoy court, and the influence of Europe on banqueting at the Ottoman palace.
Eating With Emperors: 150 Years of Dining With Emperors, Kings, Queens. and the Occasional Maharajah by Jake Smith. Based on menu cards from the tables of world leaders, this book offers recipes along with anecdotes about Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, Prince Rainier III, Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria-Hungary, Emperor Wilhelm II, Queen Victoria, and other European royals.
Monarchy, Politics and Law
The Prince and the Law, 1200-1600 by Kenneth Pennington is about sovereignty and rights in the western legal tradition.
Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages: Studies by Fritz Kern, translated by S. B. Chrimes. The history of the idea of Western monarchy, law, and constitution from the fifth century to the early 14th century.
Monarchy, Aristocracy, and the State in Europe 1300-1800 by Hillay Zmora. A survey of the relationship between the monarchy and the state in early modern Europe.
Royal and Republican Sovereignty in Early Modern Europe edited by Robert Oresko, G. C. Gibbs, H. M. Scott. Illustrated collection of essays by leading scholars on the theme of sovereignty and political power in 17th- and 18th-century Europe.
The Royal Remains: The People's Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty by Eric L. Santner. In early modern Europe, the king's body was literally sovereign. This book demonstrates the ways in which democratic societies have continued practices associated with kingship in distorted forms.
The Zenith of European Monarchy and Its Elites: The Politics of Culture, 1650-1750 by Nicholas Henshall. By the mid-17th century, several European monarchies were collapsing. This book shows how monarchs tried to work with, rather than against, their elites.
Monarchy and Exile: The Politics of Legitimacy From Marie de Medicis to Wilhelm II edited by Philip Mansel and Torsten Riotte. Detailed studies of 15 exiled royal figures from the 16th to 20th century, including the Jacobite court and the exiled kings of Hanover.
Monarchy and Power
A Clash of Thrones: The Power-Crazed Medieval Kings, Popes and Emperors of Europe by Andrew Rawson. An account of 450 years of treachery, triumph, and disaster, starting with the Great Schism in 1054 and ending with the discovery of the New World in 1492.
Peaceful Kings: Peace, Power and the Early Medieval Political Imagination by Paul Kershaw. The relationship between kingship and peace was explored in writing across Europe in the early Middle Ages.
Visual Power and Fame in Rene d'Anjou, Geoffrey Chaucer, and the Black Prince by SunHee Kim Gertz. How Naples king René d'Anjou (1409-1480) and England's Edward the Black Prince (1330-1376) communicated with audiences in order to secure fame.
Premodern Rulership and Contemporary Political Power: The King's Body Never Dies edited by Karolina Mroziewicz and Aleksander Sroczynski. In the medieval period, the monarch was seen as the embodiment of his kingdom, the body politic. This book offers 13 case studies from premodern and contemporary Europe on how bodies politic were, and continue to be, constructed and challenged.
The Myth of Absolutism: Change & Continuity in Early Modern European Monarchy by Nicholas Henshall. Examines the various definitions of "absolute monarchy" and the amount of real power monarchs wielded.
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna and Its Legacy: War and Great Power Diplomacy After Napoleon by Mark Jarrett. In September 1814, the rulers of Europe descended upon Vienna to reconstruct Europe after two decades of revolution and war, leading to a bold experiment in international cooperation known as the Congress System.
The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics After Napoleon by Brian E. Vick. Considers both the pageantry of the royals and elites who gathered after Napoleon's defeat and the landmark diplomatic agreements they brokered.
Crowns and Colonies: European Monarchies and Overseas Empires edited by Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery. This collection of essays explores the connections between monarchy and colonialism, with case studies drawn from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.
Royals on Tour: Politics, Pageantry and Colonialism edited by Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery. Explores visits by European monarchs and princes to colonies, and by indigenous royals to Europe in the 1800s and early 1900s.
The Impossible Bourbons: Europe's Most Ambitious Dynasty by Oliver Thomson. Traces the rise of the family that won the the crowns first of France, then Spain and finally Naples and Sicily, including the Spanish Bourbons right up to the present day King Juan Carlos.
Secrets of the Seven Smallest States of Europe by Thomas M. Eccardt. An illustrated look at the history, culture and inner workings of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.
Daughter of Venice: Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus and Woman of the Renaissance by Holly S. Hurlburt. Catherine Cornaro, a Venetian noblewoman, married King James II of Cyprus. After his death, she became regent and then monarch. This study considers the strategies of her reign until her forced abdication in 1489.
The Murder of Charles the Good by Galbert of Bruges, translated by James Bruce Ross. Charles the Good, count of Flanders, was the son of Denmark's King Canute IV. This is an account of his murder in 1127 and its profound effects on medieval Flemish society and the balance of power in Europe.
I, Jacqueline by Hilda Lewis. Novel about Jacqueline of Hainaut, thrice married, thrice imprisoned the extraordinary 15th-century life of a woman who endured the power politics of England, Burgundy, and France.
Making a Great Ruler: Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania by Giedre Michunaite. How does a ruler become "the Great"? This study suggests that Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania (r.1392-1430) was the main engineer of his image as a great ruler.
Historical Dictionary of Lithuania by Saulius Suziedelis. Includes lists of Lithuanian rulers from 1251-1795, four maps, and a detailed chronology.
Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295-1345 by S.C. Rowell. From 1250 to 1795 Lithuania covered a vast area of eastern and central Europe. This book examines how Lithuania expanded, defended itself against western European crusaders, and played a conspicuous part in European life.
Kingdom of Navarre
The Queens Regnant of Navarre: Succession, Politics, and Partnership, 1274-1512 by Elena Woodacre. There were five reigning queens of Navarre during the Middle Ages. This book examines female succession, power-sharing between the queens and their male consorts, and the queens' connections to other female rulers, including Isabel of Castile and Giovanna II of Naples.
Marguerite of Navarre
Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549): Mother of the Renaissance by Patricia Francis Cholakian and Rouben C. Cholakian. Biography. Sister to the king of France, queen of Navarre, gifted writer, religious reformer, and patron of the arts -- Marguerite was one of the most important figures of the French Renaissance.
The Pleasure of Discernment: Marguerite de Navarre as Theologian by Carol Thysell. Margaret of Navarre, sister of French king Francis I and the wife of Henry II of Navarre, was a writer and the patron of Rabelais and other literary figures.
The Heptameron by Marguerite De Navarre. Believed to be the work of Margaret of Navarre, this book is located in the tradition of the Decameron : a collection of bawdy, romantic, and spiritual stories that offer a surprisingly immediate picture of life in sophisticated 16th century France.
The Humor of Marguerite De Navarre in the Heptameron: A Feminist Author Before Her Time by John Parkin. Marguerite's satiric short-story collection, the Heptameron, used stock medieval comic patterns.
The Gypsies by Angus Fraser. Opens with an investigation of gypsy origins in India, then traces gypsy migration from the early Middle Ages to the present, through the Middle East, Europe, and the world.
A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia by David M. Crowe. Draws from previously untapped East European, Russian, and traditional sources to explore the life, history, and culture of the Roma from the Middle Ages until the present.
We Are the Romani People by Ian F. Hancock. The author, who is himself a Romani, speaks directly to the gadze (non-Gypsy) reader about his people and their history since leaving India one thousand years ago.
Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey by Isabel Fonseca. Describes the four years the author spent with Gypsies from Albania to Poland, listening to their stories and deciphering their taboos.
A Concise History of Switzerland by Clive Church and Randolph Head. Traces the historical and cultural development of the country from the end of the Dark Ages to the modern era.
Ukraine: A History by Orest Subtelny. Looks at the region's history from ancient times to the modern day.
A History of the Ukraine by Paul Robert Magocsi. Traces some 3,000 years of political, economic, and cultural history of the Ukraine, up until the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991.
The Dynasty of Chernigov, 1146-1246 by Martin Dimnik. Examines the Ukrainian princedom of Chernigov, including succession and inheritance, marriage alliances, and princely relations with the church.
First World War
The Emperors: How Europe's Greatest Rulers Were Destroyed by World War I by Gareth Russell. Tells the story of the Austrian, German and Russian imperial families during the First World War, and the political and personal struggles that brought about their ruin.
George, Nicholas and Wilhelm by Miranda Carter. The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review. It examines the family ties and friendships between European royals, including out-of-touch Russian tsar Nicholas II and bombastic German kaiser Wilhelm II, before the First World War. Although Britain's King George V is mentioned in the title, the book focuses more on his grandmother, Queen Victoria, and his father, King Edward VII. The writer has an eye for colorful anecdotes that help bring history to life.
Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War by Robert K. Massie. Vividly describes turn-of-the-century European royal families and their role in the First World War.
Crowns in Conflict by Theo Aronson. The triumph and tragedy of European monarchy, 1910-1918.
Royalty and Diplomacy in Europe, 1890-1914 by Roderick R. McLean. Examines the role of royal families in European diplomacy before the outbreak of the First World War.
Between Two Emperors edited by John Van der Kiste. Between 1894 and 1914, German emperor William II and his cousin Tsar Nicholas II of Russia exchanged a series of telegrams and letters. These are now published for the first time in one volume.
Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes To War by Max Hastings. A history of the outbreak of World War I: the dramatic stretch from the breakdown of diplomacy to the battles -- the Marne, Ypres, Tannenberg -- that marked the frenzied first year.
A Mad Catastrophe by Geoffrey Wawro. The outbreak of World War I and the collapse of the Habsburg empire.
Imperial Requiem: Four Royal Women and the Fall of the Age of Empires by Justin C. Vovk. About Augusta Victoria, Germany's empress Queen Mary, whose strength made her the soul of the British monarchy Alexandra, the tsarina who helped topple the Russian monarchy and Zita, the resolute empress of Austria.
The Raucous Royals: Test Your Royal Wits - Crack Codes, Solve Mysteries, and Deduce Which Royal Rumors Are True by Carlyn Beccia. Looks at rumors and how the truth can become twisted over time. For children ages 4 to 8.
Rulers of the Middle Ages by Rafael Tilton. About Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, Genghis Khan, Frederick Barbarossa, Louis IX, Edward III, and Charles VII. For young adult readers.
Princes & Princesses: Art for Kids from Parkstone Press. Colorful jigsaw puzzles created from well-known paintings of princes and princesses. For children ages 4 to 8.
Roma (Gypsies) in Prewar Europe
Roma (Gypsies) originated in the Punjab region of northern India as a nomadic people and entered Europe between the eighth and tenth centuries C.E. They were called "Gypsies" because Europeans mistakenly believed they came from Egypt. This minority is made up of distinct groups called "tribes" or "nations."
Most of the Roma in Germany and the countries occupied by Germany during World War II belonged to the Sinti and Roma family groupings. Both groups spoke dialects of a common language called Romani, based on Sanskrit (the classical language of India). The term "Roma" has come to include both the Sinti and Roma groupings, though some Roma prefer being known as "Gypsies." Some Roma are Christian and some are Muslim, having converted during the course of their migrations through Persia, Asia Minor, and the Balkans.
For centuries, Roma were scorned and persecuted across Europe. Zigeuner, the German word for Gypsy, derives from a Greek root meaning untouchable.
Many Roma traditionally worked as craftsmen and were blacksmiths, cobblers, tinsmiths, horse dealers, and toolmakers. Others were performers such as musicians, circus animal trainers, and dancers. By the 1920s, there were also a number of Romani shopkeepers. Some Roma, such as those employed in the German postal service, were civil servants. The number of truly nomadic Roma was on the decline in many places by the early 1900s, although many so-called sedentary Roma often moved seasonally, depending on their occupations.
In 1939, about 1 to 1.5 million Roma lived in Europe. About half of all European Roma lived in eastern Europe, especially in the Soviet Union and Romania. Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria also had large Romani communities. In prewar Germany there were at most 35,000 Roma, most of whom held German citizenship. In Austria, there were approximately 11,000 Roma. Relatively few Roma lived in western Europe.
Europe - History
Timeline with Photos and Text
July 29 - Adolf Hitler becomes leader of National Socialist (Nazi) Party.
September 8 - Germany admitted to League of Nations.
October 29 - Stock Market on Wall Street crashes.
September 14 - Germans elect Nazis making them the 2nd largest political party in Germany.
November 8 - Franklin Roosevelt elected President of the United States.
1933January 30 - Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany.
February 27 - The German Reichstag burns.
March 12 - First concentration camp opened at Oranienburg outside Berlin.
March 23 - Enabling Act gives Hitler dictatorial power.
April 1 - Nazi boycott of Jewish owned shops.
May 10 - Nazis burn books in Germany.
In June - Nazis open Dachau concentration camp.
July 14 - Nazi Party declared Germany's only political party.
October 14 - Germany quits the League of Nations.
June 30 - The Nazi "Night of the Long Knives."
July 25 - Nazis murder Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss.
August 2 - German President Hindenburg dies.
August 19 - Adolf Hitler becomes Führer of Germany.
March 16 - Hitler violates the Treaty of Versailles by introducing military conscription.
September 15 - German Jews stripped of rights by Nuremberg Race Laws.
February 10 - The German Gestapo is placed above the law.
March 7 - German troops occupy the Rhineland.
May 9 - Mussolini's Italian forces take Ethiopia.
July 18 - Civil war erupts in Spain.
August 1 - Olympic games begin in Berlin.
October 1 - Franco declared head of Spanish State.
June 11 - Soviet leader Josef Stalin begins a purge of Red Army generals.
November 5 - Hitler reveals war plans during Hossbach Conference.
March 12/13 - Germany announces 'Anschluss' (union) with Austria.
August 12 - German military mobilizes.
September 30 - British Prime Minister Chamberlain appeases Hitler at Munich.
October 15 - German troops occupy the Sudetenland Czech government resigns.
November 9/10 - Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass.
See also: The History Place - Holocaust Timeline
1939 Return to Top of Page
January 30, 1939 - Hitler threatens Jews during Reichstag speech.
March 15/16 - Nazis take Czechoslovakia.
March 28, 1939 - Spanish Civil war ends.
May 22, 1939 - Nazis sign 'Pact of Steel' with Italy.
August 23, 1939 - Nazis and Soviets sign Pact.
August 25, 1939 - Britain and Poland sign a Mutual Assistance Treaty.
August 31, 1939 - British fleet mobilizes Civilian evacuations begin from London.
September 1, 1939 - Nazis invade Poland.
September 3, 1939 - Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Germany.
September 4, 1939 - British Royal Air Force attacks the German Navy.
September 5, 1939 - United States proclaims its neutrality German troops cross the Vistula River in Poland.
September 10, 1939 - Canada declares war on Germany Battle of the Atlantic begins.
September 17, 1939 - Soviets invade Poland.
September 27, 1939 - Warsaw surrenders to Nazis Reinhard Heydrich becomes the leader of new Reich Main Security Office (RSHA).
See also: The History Place - Biography of Reinhard Heydrich.
September 29, 1939 - Nazis and Soviets divide up Poland.
In October - Nazis begin euthanasia on sick and disabled in Germany.
November 8, 1939 - Assassination attempt on Hitler fails.
November 30, 1939 - Soviets attack Finland.
December 14, 1939 - Soviet Union expelled from the League of Nations.
1940 Return to Top of Page
January 8, 1940 - Rationing begins in Britain.
March 12, 1940 - Finland signs a peace treaty with Soviets.
March 16, 1940 - Germans bomb Scapa Flow naval base near Scotland.
April 9, 1940 - Nazis invade Denmark and Norway.
May 10, 1940 - Nazis invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister.
May 15, 1940 - Holland surrenders to the Nazis.
May 26, 1940 - Evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk begins.
May 28, 1940 - Belgium surrenders to the Nazis.
June 3, 1940 - Germans bomb Paris Dunkirk evacuation ends.
June 10, 1940 - Norway surrenders to the Nazis Italy declares war on Britain and France.
June 14, 1940 - Germans enter Paris.
June 16, 1940 - Marshal Pétain becomes French Prime Minister.
June 18, 1940 - Hitler and Mussolini meet in Munich Soviets begin occupation of the Baltic States.
June 22, 1940 - France signs an armistice with Nazi Germany.
June 23, 1940 - Hitler tours Paris.
June 28, 1940 - Britain recognizes General Charles de Gaulle as the Free French leader.
July 1, 1940 - German U-boats attack merchant ships in the Atlantic.
July 5, 1940 - French Vichy government breaks off relations with Britain.
July 10, 1940 - Battle of Britain begins.
July 23, 1940 - Soviets take Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
August 3-19 - Italians occupy British Somaliland in East Africa.
August 13, 1940 - German bombing offensive against airfields and factories in England.
August 15, 1940 - Air battles and daylight raids over Britain.
August 17, 1940 - Hitler declares a blockade of the British Isles.
August 23/24 - First German air raids on Central London.
August 25/26 - First British air raid on Berlin.
September 3, 1940 - Hitler plans Operation Sea Lion (the invasion of Britain).
September 7, 1940 - German Blitz against Britain begins.
September 13, 1940 - Italians invade Egypt.
September 15, 1940 - Massive German air raids on London, Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester.
September 16, 1940 - United States military conscription bill passed.
September 27, 1940 - Tripartite (Axis) Pact signed by Germany, Italy and Japan.
October 7, 1940 - German troops enter Romania.
October 12, 1940 - Germans postpone Operation Sea Lion until Spring of 1941.
October 28, 1940 - Italy invades Greece.
November 5, 1940 - Roosevelt re-elected as U.S. president.
November 10/11 - Torpedo bomber raid cripples the Italian fleet at Taranto, Italy.
November 14/15 - Germans bomb Coventry, England.
November 20, 1940 - Hungary joins the Axis Powers.
November 22, 1940 - Greeks defeat the Italian 9th Army.
November 23, 1940 - Romania joins the Axis Powers.
December 9/10 - British begin a western desert offensive in North Africa against the Italians.
December 29/30 - Massive German air raid on London.
1941 Return to Top of Page
1942 Return to Top of Page
January 1, 1942 - Declaration of the United Nations signed by 26 Allied nations.
January 13, 1942 - Germans begin a U-boat offensive along east coast of USA.
January 20, 1942 - SS Leader Heydrich holds the Wannsee Conference to coordinate the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question."
January 21, 1942 - Rommel's counter-offensive from El Agheila begins.
January 26, 1942 - First American forces arrive in Great Britain.
In April - Japanese-Americans sent to relocation centers.
April 23, 1942 - German air raids begin against cathedral cities in Britain.
May 8, 1942 - German summer offensive begins in the Crimea.
May 26, 1942 - Rommel begins an offensive against the Gazala Line.
May 27, 1942 - SS Leader Heydrich attacked in Prague.
May 30, 1942 - First thousand-bomber British air raid (against Cologne).
In June - Mass murder of Jews by gassing begins at Auschwitz.
June 4, 1942 - Heydrich dies of wounds.
June 5, 1942 - Germans besiege Sevastopol.
June 10, 1942 - Nazis liquidate Lidice in reprisal for Heydrich's assassination.
June 21, 1942 - Rommel captures Tobruk.
June 25, 1942 - General Dwight D. Eisenhower arrives in London.
June 30, 1942 - Rommel reaches El Alamein near Cairo, Egypt.
July 1-30 - First Battle of El Alamein.
July 3, 1942 - Germans take Sevastopol.
July 5, 1942 - Soviet resistance in the Crimea ends.
July 9, 1942 - Germans begin a drive toward Stalingrad in the USSR.
July 22, 1942 - First deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to concentration camps Treblinka extermination camp opened.
August 7, 1942 - British General Bernard Montgomery takes command of Eighth Army in North Africa.
August 12, 1942 - Stalin and Churchill meet in Moscow.
August 17, 1942 - First all-American air attack in Europe.
August 23, 1942 - Massive German air raid on Stalingrad.
September 2, 1942 - Rommel driven back by Montgomery in the Battle of Alam Halfa.
September 13, 1942 - Battle of Stalingrad begins.
October 5, 1942 - A German eyewitness observes SS mass murder.
October 18, 1942 - Hitler orders the execution of all captured British commandos.
November 1, 1942 - Operation Supercharge (Allies break Axis lines at El Alamein).
November 8, 1942 - Operation Torch begins (U.S. invasion of North Africa).
November 11, 1942 - Germans and Italians invade unoccupied Vichy France.
November 19, 1942 - Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad begins.
December 2, 1942 - Professor Enrico Fermi sets up an atomic reactor in Chicago.
December 13, 1942 - Rommel withdraws from El Agheila.
December 16, 1942 - Soviets defeat Italian troops on the River Don in the USSR.
December 17, 1942 - British Foreign Secretary Eden tells the British House of Commons of mass executions of Jews by Nazis U.S. declares those crimes will be avenged.
December 31, 1942 - Battle of the Barents Sea between German and British ships.
1943 Return to Top of Page
January 2/3 - Germans begin a withdrawal from the Caucasus.
January 10, 1943 - Soviets begin an offensive against the Germans in Stalingrad.
January 14-24 - Casablanca conference between Churchill and Roosevelt. During the conference, Roosevelt announces the war can end only with "unconditional German surrender."
January 23, 1943 - Montgomery's Eighth Army takes Tripoli.
January 27, 1943 - First bombing raid by Americans on Germany (at Wilhelmshaven).
February 2, 1943 - Germans surrender at Stalingrad in the first big defeat of Hitler's armies.
February 8, 1943 - Soviet troops take Kursk.
February 14-25 - Battle of Kasserine Pass between the U.S. 1st Armored Division and German Panzers in North Africa.
February 16, 1943 - Soviets re-take Kharkov.
February 18, 1943 - Nazis arrest White Rose resistance leaders in Munich.
March 2, 1943 - Germans begin a withdrawal from Tunisia, Africa.
March 15, 1943 - Germans re-capture Kharkov.
March 16-20 - Battle of Atlantic climaxes with 27 merchant ships sunk by German U-boats.
March 20-28 - Montgomery's Eighth Army breaks through the Mareth Line in Tunisia.
April 6/7 - Axis forces in Tunisia begin a withdrawal toward Enfidaville as American and British forces link.
April 19, 1943 - Waffen-SS attacks Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto.
May 7, 1943 - Allies take Tunisia.
May 13, 1943 - German and Italian troops surrender in North Africa.
May 16, 1943 - Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto ends.
May 16/17 - British air raid on the Ruhr.
May 22, 1943 - Dönitz suspends U-boat operations in the North Atlantic.
June 10, 1943 - ' Pointblank' directive to improve Allied bombing strategy issued.
June 11, 1943 - Himmler orders the liquidation of all Jewish ghettos in Poland.
July 5, 1943 - Germans begin their last offensive against Kursk.
July 9/10 - Allies land in Sicily.
July 19, 1943 - Allies bomb Rome.
July 22, 1943 - Americans capture Palermo, Sicily.
July 24, 1943 - British bombing raid on Hamburg.
July 25/26 - Mussolini arrested and the Italian Fascist government falls Marshal Pietro Badoglio takes over and negotiates with Allies.
July 27/28 - Allied air raid causes a firestorm in Hamburg.
August 12-17 - Germans evacuate Sicily.
August 17, 1943 - American daylight air raids on Regensburg and Schweinfurt in Germany Allies reach Messina, Sicily.
August 23, 1943 - Soviet troops recapture Kharkov.
September 8, 1943 - Italian surrender to Allies is announced.
September 9, 1943 - Allied landings at Salerno and Taranto.
September 11, 1943 - Germans occupy Rome.
September 12, 1943 - Germans rescue Mussolini.
September 23, 1943 - Mussolini re-establishes a Fascist government.
October 1, 1943 - Allies enter Naples, Italy.
October 4, 1943 - SS-Reichsführer Himmler gives speech at Posen.
October 13, 1943 - Italy declares war on Germany Second American air raid on Schweinfurt.
November 6, 1943 - Russians recapture Kiev in the Ukraine.
November 18, 1943 - Large British air raid on Berlin.
November 28, 1943 - Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin meet at Teheran.
December 24-26 - Soviets launch offensives on the Ukrainian front.
1944 Return to Top of Page
1945 Return to Top of Page
January 1-17 - Germans withdraw from the Ardennes.
January 16, 1945 - U.S. 1st and 3rd Armies link up after a month long separation during the Battle of the Bulge.
January 17, 1945 - Soviet troops capture Warsaw, Poland.
January 26, 1945 - Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz.
February 4-11 - Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin meet at Yalta.
February 13/14 - Dresden is destroyed by a firestorm after Allied bombing raids.
March 6, 1945 - Last German offensive of the war begins to defend oil fields in Hungary.
March 7, 1945 - Allies take Cologne and establish a bridge across the Rhine at Remagen.
March 30, 1945 - Soviet troops capture Danzig.
In April - Allies discover stolen Nazi art and wealth hidden in German salt mines.
April 1, 1945 - U.S. troops encircle Germans in the Ruhr Allied offensive in northern Italy.
April 12, 1945 - Allies liberate Buchenwald and Belsen concentration camps President Roosevelt dies. Harry Truman becomes President.
April 16, 1945 - Soviet troops begin their final attack on Berlin Americans enter Nuremberg.
April 18, 1945 - German forces in the Ruhr surrender.
April 21, 1945 - Soviets reach Berlin.
April 28, 1945 - Mussolini is captured and hanged by Italian partisans Allies take Venice.
April 29, 1945 - U.S. 7th Army liberates Dachau.
April 30, 1945 - Adolf Hitler commits suicide.
May 2, 1945 - German troops in Italy surrender.
May 7, 1945 - Unconditional surrender of all German forces to Allies.
May 8, 1945 - V-E (Victory in Europe) Day.
May 9, 1945 - Hermann Göring is captured by members of the U.S. 7th Army.
May 23, 1945 - SS-Reichsführer Himmler commits suicide German High Command and Provisional Government imprisoned.
June 5, 1945 - Allies divide up Germany and Berlin and take over the government.
June 26, 1945 - United Nations Charter is signed in San Francisco.
July 1, 1945 - American, British, and French troops move into Berlin.
July 16, 1945 - First U.S. atomic bomb test Potsdam Conference begins.
July 26, 1945 - Atlee succeeds Churchill as British Prime Minister.
August 6, 1945 - First atomic bomb dropped, on Hiroshima, Japan.
August 8, 1945 - Soviets declares war on Japan and invade Manchuria.
August 9, 1945 - Second atomic bomb dropped, on Nagasaki, Japan.
August 14, 1945 - Japanese agree to unconditional surrender.
September 2, 1945 - Japanese sign the surrender agreement V-J (Victory over Japan) Day.
October 24, 1945 - United Nations is born.
November 20, 1945 - Nuremberg war crimes trials begin.
October 16 - Hermann Göring commits suicide two hours before his scheduled execution.
Statistics of World War II
Copyright © 1996 The History Place All Rights Reserved
See also: The History Place three-part narrative history of Adolf Hitler (62 chapters)
I. The Rise of Hitler - from unknown to dictator of Germany.
II. The Triumph of Hitler - the prewar years of Nazi Germany.
III. The Defeat of Hitler - the quest for a Nazi empire.
Western Europe In The Future
Western Europe has always formed the core of today’s European Union, and will probably continue to do so, even as the EU enlarges. Accompanying European economic and political integration has come a growing sense among Europeans, especially in Western Europe, that they all share a common European identity. There is, however, pushback from some in Western Europe and the rest of the EU who resent the effects of European integration and would like a return to former days when European countries were separate. These people are often called Eurosceptics. Nevertheless, the future of Europe, and Western Europe in particular, is most likely one in which the differences between countries continue becoming less important than ensuring the prosperity of the entire continent.