World History

Does history really repeat itself, or can we learn from the mistakes of those who came before us? History provides a chronological, statistical, and cultural record of the events, people, and movements that have made an impact on humankind and the world at large throughout the ages. Investigating the causes and results of past events is critically important in gaining a full understanding and perspective of present-day issues.

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Featured World History Articles
  • Seven Years' War: Battle of Zorndorf
    Seven Years' War
    Seven Years’ War, (1756–63), the last major conflict before the French Revolution to involve all the great powers of Europe. Generally, France, Austria, Saxony, Sweden, and Russia were aligned on one side against Prussia, Hanover, and Great Britain on the other. The war arose out of the attempt of…
  • A British soldier inside a trench on the Western Front during World War I, 1914–18.
    World War I
    World War I, an international conflict that in 1914–18 embroiled most of the nations of Europe along with Russia, the United States, the Middle East, and other regions. The war pitted the Central Powers—mainly Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey—against the Allies—mainly France, Great Britain,…
  • The Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child (centre), Justinian (left) holding a model of the Hagia Sophia, and Constantine (right) holding a model of the city of Constantinople; mosaic from the Hagia Sophia, 9th century.
    Byzantine Empire
    Byzantine Empire, the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which survived for a thousand years after the western half had crumbled into various feudal kingdoms and which finally fell to Ottoman Turkish onslaughts in 1453. The very name Byzantine illustrates the misconceptions to which the empire’s…
  • Lenin during the Russian Revolution, 1917.
    Russian Revolution
    Russian Revolution, two revolutions in 1917, the first of which, in February (March, New Style), overthrew the imperial government and the second of which, in October (November), placed the Bolsheviks in power. By 1917 the bond between the tsar and most of the Russian people had been broken.…
  • Petrarch
    Renaissance
    Renaissance, (French: “Rebirth”) period in European civilization immediately following the Middle Ages and conventionally held to have been characterized by a surge of interest in Classical scholarship and values. The Renaissance also witnessed the discovery and exploration of new continents, the…
  • Genghis Khan, ink and colour on silk; in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan.
    Genghis Khan
    Genghis Khan, Mongolian warrior-ruler, one of the most famous conquerors of history, who consolidated tribes into a unified Mongolia and then extended his empire across Asia to the Adriatic Sea. Genghis Khan was a warrior and ruler of genius who, starting from obscure and insignificant beginnings,…
  • The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis
    American Revolution
    American Revolution, (1775–83), insurrection by which 13 of Great Britain’s North American colonies won political independence and went on to form the United States of America. The war followed more than a decade of growing estrangement between the British crown and a large and influential segment…
  • World War II
    World War II
    World War II, conflict that involved virtually every part of the world during the years 1939–45. The principal belligerents were the Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan—and the Allies—France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser extent, China. The war was in many…
  • Boer troops lining up in battle against the British during the South African War (1899–1902).
    South African War
    South African War, war fought from October 11, 1899, to May 31, 1902, between Great Britain and the two Boer (Afrikaner) republics—the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State—resulting in British victory. Although it was the largest and most costly war in which the British…
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization
    Cold War
    Cold War, the open yet restricted rivalry that developed after World War II between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies. The Cold War was waged on political, economic, and propaganda fronts and had only limited recourse to weapons. The term was first used by the…
  • Mao Zedong
    Mao Zedong
    Mao Zedong, principal Chinese Marxist theorist, soldier, and statesman who led his country’s communist revolution. Mao was the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1935 until his death, and he was chairman (chief of state) of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1959 and chairman…
  • Caesar, Julius
    Julius Caesar
    Julius Caesar, celebrated Roman general and statesman, the conqueror of Gaul (58–50 bce), victor in the civil war of 49–45 bce, and dictator (46–44 bce), who was launching a series of political and social reforms when he was assassinated by a group of nobles in the Senate House on the Ides of…
  • Louis XVI: execution by guillotine
    French Revolution
    French Revolution, revolutionary movement that shook France between 1787 and 1799 and reached its first climax there in 1789—hence the conventional term “Revolution of 1789,” denoting the end of the ancien régime in France and serving also to distinguish that event from the later French revolutions…
  • Thirty Years' War
    Thirty Years' War
    Thirty Years’ War, (1618–48), in European history, a series of wars fought by various nations for various reasons, including religious, dynastic, territorial, and commercial rivalries. Its destructive campaigns and battles occurred over most of Europe, and, when it ended with the Treaty of…
  • Latin America.
    History of Latin America
    History of Latin America, history of the region from the pre-Columbian period and including colonization by the Spanish and Portuguese beginning in the 15th century, the 19th-century wars of independence, and developments to the end of the 20th century. Latin America is generally understood to…
  • Encyclopædia Britannica: first edition, map of Europe
    History of Europe
    History of Europe, history of European peoples and cultures from prehistoric times to the present. Europe is a more ambiguous term than most geographic expressions. Its etymology is doubtful, as is the physical extent of the area it designates. Its western frontiers seem clearly defined by its…
  • Industrial Revolution
    Industrial Revolution
    Industrial Revolution, in modern history, the process of change from an agrarian and handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacturing. This process began in Britain in the 18th century and from there spread to other parts of the world. Although used earlier by French…
  • Combatant in the Mexican Revolution, 1911.
    Mexican Revolution
    Mexican Revolution, (1910–20), a long and bloody struggle among several factions in constantly shifting alliances which resulted ultimately in the end of the 30-year dictatorship in Mexico and the establishment of a constitutional republic. The revolution began against a background of widespread…
  • Expansion of the Ottoman Empire.
    Ottoman Empire
    Ottoman Empire, empire created by Turkish tribes in Anatolia (Asia Minor) that grew to be one of the most powerful states in the world during the 15th and 16th centuries. The Ottoman period spanned more than 600 years and came to an end only in 1922, when it was replaced by the Turkish Republic and…
  • The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, oil on canvas by Jacques-Louis David, 1812; in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
    Napoleon I
    Napoleon I, French general, first consul (1799–1804), and emperor of the French (1804–1814/15), one of the most celebrated personages in the history of the West. He revolutionized military organization and training; sponsored the Napoleonic Code, the prototype of later civil-law codes; reorganized…
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