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European history

  • Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party and Führer of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945, is widely viewed as one of the most evil men in history. Driven by rabid anti-Semitism and a belief in the inherent superiority of the Aryan race, Hitler was directly responsible for the outbreak of the Second World War and masterminded the Holocaust,...
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  • In 1492, three ships captained by the Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World. Although the Viking explorer Leif Eriksson had first discovered the Americas almost 500 years earlier, Columbus and his men were the first to establish sustained contact with the continent's indigenous populations. While his expedition brought immense wealth to the Spanish Crown and made it...
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  • John Calvin was a French preacher who was one of the major figures of the Reformation that swept across 16th-century Europe. Known in particular for setting up the Reformed Church and restructuring the educational system in Geneva, Calvin dedicated his life to establishing a way of living in accordance with the Scriptures. In just 50 minutes, you will find out...
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  • Leif Eriksson is a crucial figure in maritime exploration: this Viking navigator is believed to have discovered the Americas at the turn of the first millennium AD, over 500 years before Christopher Columbus. Indeed, at this point in history the Vikings were far better explorers than other Europeans due to their more technologically advanced ships and excellent navigation skills, which allowed...
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  • The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was a crucial episode of the Napoleonic Wars and is widely seen as one of Napoleon Bonaparte's greatest successes. On 2 December 1805, Napoleon's Grande Armée showed its tactical and technological superiority over its enemies, inflicting a crushing defeat on the forces of the Russian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. However, the battle...
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  • The Battle of Lepanto was a struggle for control of the Mediterranean between the Holy League, bringing together the Papal States, Spain and the Republic of Venice, and the mighty Ottoman Empire. This 1571 conflict remains one of the largest naval battles of all time, and was a decisive moment in European history. The unexpected victory of the Holy League put an end to...
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  • The Battle of Tours (also known as the Battle of Poitiers) in 732 marked a definitive end to Muslim expansion in the West and symbolized the decline of the powerful Umayyad Caliphate, which had come to dominate much of the Mediterranean over the course of the previous century. Forces under the control of the celebrated miltary leader Charles Martel were able to...
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  • The decisive victory of the forces of the Seventh Coalition at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 put a stop to Napoleon Bonaparte's military ambitions, marked the end of the Hundred Days and saw the French emperor exiled to the island of Saint Helena, where he died in 1821. The battle had major consequences across Europe: it marked a significant decline of French...
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  • On 26 April 1986, the No. 4 reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded, becoming the epicenter of a vast radioactive cloud which affected large swathes of Europe. The Chernobyl disaster remains the worst nuclear disaster in history: in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, hundreds of people suffered from acute radiation sickness, and in the decades that followed many...
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  • It is impossible to understand modern European history without first understanding the Cold War. Indeed, the tensions between the USA and the USSR, the two great powers to emerge from the Second World War, dominated the second half of the 20th century, resulted in a series of brutal proxy wars and brought the planet to the brink of nuclear war. The clash...
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  • The Crusades were a religious, political and miltary conflict between the three great powers of the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries: Catholic Europe, the Muslim world and the Orthodox Byzantine Empire. The birth of Islam had a profound effect on the beginning of the Crusades, as the Muslim faith began to spread to the West and Muslim troops began to invade...
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  • In 79 AD, the Italian city of Pompeii was destroyed by the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. This remains one of the largest volcanic eruptions in European history, and claimed between 10 000 and 20 000 victims. However, this tragedy has also provided archaeologists and researchers with an incredibly valuable historical source: the ash which covered Pompeii preserved organic matter that...
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