Core Curriculum

World History Lessons


Early River Valley Civilizations
Early Empires
Classical Greece
The Roman Empire
Empires Develop in India and China
African Civilizations
The Americas
The Rise of Islam
The Byzantine Empire
East Asia on the Rise
The Middle Ages
Western Europe Forms
William the Conqueror...During his life, William was a feared leader and a respected adversary. Yet, late in his life when he was struggling to keep control of both England and the lands he possessed in France, William seemed alone. His half-brother Odo was in prison for treason; even William's son Robert had turned treasonous and joined the King of France against William. Engaged in yet another battle, William suffered an injury from which he was not to recover, and he died in September of 1087. He left behind a legacy that many (especially those in the lower castes of the feudal system) considered cruel and savage. Despite these claims, though, William's reign had more numerous and longer lasting effects on the land than any monarch before him and any monarch for centuries after him. Both England and France suffered the good and the bad that the enormous breadth of William's power brought about. Feudalism would continue in Britain for centuries, as would the taxation practices and Royal Forests that originated under William's reign. France would continue to fight wars with its more powerful dukes before finally uniting the country under a powerful monarchy. In both countries, lords and nobles continued to build stone castles and change both the architectural style and the defensive and fighting styles to suit them. Yet, William would be the last foreigner to wage a successful invasion of England. From his rule onward, the centralized monarchy would stand, as would so many of the changes and evolutions that were a product of William's reign.
African Societies and Empires
American Empires
Renaissance and Reformation
South Asia and Middle East Expansion
The East Limits and the West Explores
Europe Invades the Americas
European Monarchs
Enlightenment and Revolution
The French Revolution
The Lavish Throne... In 1774, the sudden death of Louis XV from smallpox catapulted nineteen-year-old Louis XVI and eighteen-year-old Marie Antoinette into the role of king and queen of France. The two inherited a France in turmoil. The excessive spending of Louis XIV and Louis XV on royal extravagances and wars decimated the French economy. In addition to the horrible state of the French economy, the three estates, particularly the third estate, were very upset with the status quo. For hundreds of years, French society had been divided into three estates. The First Estate, the clergy, was about one percent of the French population. The Second Estate, about two percent of the population, consisted of the aristocrats or nobles. The Third Estate, approximately ninety-seven percent of the French population, included everyone else, from the very poor to the Bourgeoisie. The Third Estate had become increasingly disgruntled with their lack of political power and high tax burden. They began to demand change. Tradition dictated that the new king and queen rule as their predecessors. Louis XIV and Louis XV had ruled with absolute authority and in complete luxury. Following this legacy, Marie Antoinette became notorious for her extravagant spending on clothes, hairstyles, and gambling, while Louis XVI was adamant about keeping his political power. Unfortunately for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the Third Estate was no longer willing to watch the monarch squander their taxes or sit idly without a voice in the government. The time for change was near.
Nationalism Emerges
The Industrial Revolution
Democracy Develops
Democratic Reform and Activism...England at the beginning of the 19th century was experiencing vast changes in the industrial, social, military, and political arenas. Much of Europe was dabbling in democratic ideologies and England was deeply involved in debate about how parliament and society was to function. Improvement in living conditions and focus on better lifestyles grew at a steady rate. Mechanization sped up production and people began to focus more on their government proceedings. Two primary political parties evolved: the Whigs and the Tories. The liberal-minded Whigs sought reform and yearned for a more democratic nation while the Tories desired a traditional monarchy with limited power to the citizens. William IV, son of the powerful king, George III came to reign upon the death of his brother, George III right in the thick of a national debate on democratic reform. Vast turmoil erupted and both parties held strong convictions that were not in sync. Would England become a democratic nation where the ruling powers were freely elected by all citizens or would the age-old tradition of hierarchal royalty continue to thrive? William IV finally settled this with the Great Reform Act of 1832. The Reform Act essentially was a pacifying law that quelled the uprisings of the working and middle classes. It was the minimum amount that the aristocratic-minded officials were willing to concede. The act increased the voting electorate by 217,000 people. By lowering the property requirement, voting rights were opened to more men in the middle class. It also transferred a number of Parliament seats from the wealthy countrymen to the underrepresented industrial faction. While these changes greatly expanded democratic philosophy of England, much of the poor rural and urban classes were still underrepresented. However, this was the first of many reform acts that would further transform Britain into a more democratic nation over the next century.
Imperialism around the Globe
Western Powers Rule Southeast Asia...Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and the United States each had an interest in controlling territory in Southeast Asia. Two of the major reasons were trade and the need for naval supplying stations. Of the four countries, the British had the largest empire. In fact, a common phrase was that “the sun never set on the British Empire.” Indeed, with territories all over the world including the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, the sun was always shinning somewhere in their vast lands. Controlling territory in Southeast Asia such as Australia and New Zealand would just add strength and prestige to their empire. The British had competitors in their quest to control territory in Southeast Asia, however. The Dutch and the French also sought territory there. The trade-driven and powerful Dutch East India Company had given Holland a claim to numerous territories in Indonesia, while the French claimed territory in Indo-China and desired more. As the nineteenth century ended, the United States entered the race for territories. The 1898 victory over the Spanish during the Spanish American War not only destroyed the once-grand and powerful Spanish Empire, but gave the United States the opportunity to gain control of some of Spain’s former colonies. By the turn of the century, the United States emerged as a strong imperialist nation. As you learn more about roles of Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and the United States in the colonization of Southeast Asia, consider this.
Growth and Transformation
World War I
Communism, Nationalism, and Revolution
The Interim Years
World War II
The World after War
Colonies Become New Nations
Africa Claims Its Independence...Africa has long had a problematic relationship with the rest of the world. While the era of exploration alerted the nations of Europe to the bountiful lands of Africa, it also ushered in reprehensible views about race and domination, leading to the widespread practice of buying and selling Africans as slaves. During the nineteenth century, European nations swarmed across the continent and claimed colonial control of a number of areas, especially along the coastlines. Ignorant of the complex relationships among the vast numbers of tribes living in Africa, Western powers such as Great Britain, Germany, France, and Belgium created arbitrary divisions throughout the region as they claimed colonial rights. By the end of the century, these imperial powers had carved virtually the entire continent into pieces. As the twentieth century dawned, calls for sovereignty grew around the world, but even as imperialism retreated in other regions of the world, many European nations retained their holdings in Africa: the continent boasted rich natural resources, beautiful sights, and plentiful exotic game. Moreover, the contributions of African natives to the European powers during both the First and Second World Wars proved significant, and the fierce rivalries among ethnic groups and tribes created weaknesses that many imperial powers worked to exploit. By the early 1950s, however, the change had begun to ripple across the so-called “Dark Continent.” India’s successful bid for independence from the British, in 1947, inspired similar movements across the developing world, many of which came to fruition in Africa.
Exercising Democracy
The Global World
Terrorism in the Modern World...Since September 11, 2001, "terrorism" has become a common word both in the United States and around the world. However, terrorist activities did not begin in the twenty-first century or in the United States. Technically, terrorism has been occurring around the world for millennia. Seemingly, some group has always desired to perpetrate harmful acts against people and property. Often, terrorism has been motivated by politics or religion. Regardless of motivation, however, terrorism is almost always performed by a minority group who is dissatisfied with the way in which current governments or laws are structured. Since 2001, people have largely begun associating terrorism with people of Middle Eastern descent, specifically with fanatical Muslims. However, this is a stereotype that ignores the number of terrorist organizations around the world of virtually every nationality. Terrorist groups exist in South America, Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and even in the United States. Therefore, race is not a determining factor in terrorist activity. With the increasing globalization of the world, terrorism has taken different faces. While the intent of the actions is nothing new, the methods—everything from attack to propaganda dissemination—have evolved with globalization and technology. Computers and the Internet have not only given terrorists means of spreading their ideology and broadcasting their message, but they have also provided new targets for attack. In addition, as globalization has made the world smaller, it has also been partly responsible for instigating terrorist activity. Indeed, many terrorist groups fear the loss of tribal or personal identity that accompanies the globalization of the world.