So when did Modern Europe begin?


The guys and I on twitter are in the middle of an extremely interesting discussion concerning the birth of Modern Europe. When I asked the question ‘what date marks the break and birth of Modern European History?’ I hadn’t realised the number of responses I would receive. And the number of questions it would bring up for me! (Fantastic discussion guys, let’s keep this going)…

Here are just a few of the suggestions I’ve received:

@GemmaHist 1815 – end of the Napoleonic wars.

@JamieMosley83 the moment we founded America, It changed everything I think trade routes, global politics to name a few!

@therealroos What is Modern Europe? – (A very interesting question. What would you class as Modern Europe? Power blocs? Alliances? Social changes? Industrialisation?)

@JoshProvan I agree with 1815. However I can’t forget that the road to 1815 began in 1793 with the French Revolution which changed so much.

@marksimner Ironically, it can be argued, the Napoleonic Wars led to the rise of Nationalism in 19th Century Europe.

@JamieMosley83 The Glorious Revolution? That is true maybe it influenced revolution to spread out across europe?

@Emperor_of_Elba 1919 and treaty of Versailles. industrialisation preceded! Most modern policy with 30s and 40s in mind, corollary of 1919.

@therealroos What’s the Middle Ages :P. Politically, 1789 and 1848 are important. WWI was a break in wartype and led to more rights for women etc. Economically, the Industrial Revolution led to a change in social class. I don’t think there is a definitive break.

@mr45144 1917 Russian Rev is prob the greater claim. Lead to new power blocs.

@marksimner Think of the revolutions of 1820s to 1840s plus unification of Germany and Italy etc.

@Nick_Britten 1756 the year of victories…firmly pushed Britain’s outlook to the rest of the world and separated us from Europe.

@mr45144 it’s the shift that I see significant. I suppose entente cordials could be seen as equally leading to mod Europe

@JamieMosley83 To be honest I feel the same as Gem that the change to Modern History is not so clear cut, it is defined by different contexts which occur all over the timeline. Modern Histories evolution is more staggered than anything. I think it should be seen as an ever changing thing.

@therealroos We can’t underestimate Westphalia in 1648 either. Wars ended, Europe was a mess, and standing armies were born.

@nick_britten just switched our attention to India and the east. The Victories in 1756 turned our face from Europe and would lead to 1793-1815

So what do you think about the history of Modern Europe? Is there a decisive break? When was it and why that date? Do you think a “Modern Europe” exists or is it a continuation of the past with no break at all? Or do you think there are a number of dates, differing when you look at political or social history etc?

We would love to hear your views so tweet me @GemmaHist or any of the guys I’ve mentioned! Otherwise write me a little comment 🙂


2 thoughts on “So when did Modern Europe begin?

  1. very interesting…. I hadn’t given much thought to it before. I would probably tend to lean towards the treaty of versailles and the two world wars… I think that changed so much globally. Everyones understanding of warfare and how societies interact on the global scale changed. I think that marks the modern era as much as our current ideas, understandings, and policies. Great thoughts though and it’s hard to argue against the Napoleonic wars.

    • Thank you very much for your comments! I completely agree with you, and the global change (I think) can certainly be attributed to the World Wars. Although whether it be 1918 or 1945 I can’t be so sure. Yes, the Napoleonic Wars were certainly a great time of change, and I think the introduction of a – more – modern system of warfare could be said to introduce a modern era. Something to think on anyway! Hope you are well, and let me know if you have any other ideas. Gem.

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