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The history of Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe generally had more freedom than Western Europe. The language barriers of the area did not coincide with the governmental boundries. The two most important governments in Eastern Europe were Austria and Prussia. They conquered most of the Middle East. In 1453 they wiped out the last remnants of the Roman Empire. The Turkish government was very autocratic. At the time they were a major military threat to Austria. Austria struggled with the Turks back and forth an eventually won. Austria ended up taking over a large majority of the Turkish Empire.

Austria’s government tried to be “absolutist” but was to diversified to do so. Armies would simply march over them in an effort to reach some parts of Eastern Europe. Prussia was split up into two chunks of land ruled by one man. The ruler of Prussia was Frederick William the Great Elector. Frederick went to the Estates and said he needed money to keep the armies from marching over him. The Estates granted him the money and he began forming an army. Soon enough Frederick’s army became so great that he used it to force tax collection among the people.

This tactic of collecting taxes led to and dramatic increase in Prussia’s power. Soon it became a major power in Eastern Europe. Frederick then was given the title “King. ” In Prussia, the King and the Nobles banded together and ground the common people into the dirt for money and power. The first leaders of Russia were the Princes of Moscow. They were kept restricted by the already present Mongols. In the early 1500’s the title Tzar or Czar came about. The first man to receive this title was Ivan the Terrible. He was called that because of his ruthless ways of collecting taxes and treating all the people under him.

After Ivan died the people rebelled and demanded fair rule. Later in 1682, Peter the Great come to power. He decided Russia needed to be Westernized and he set forth a great campaign to collect technologies from the West. Peter also built St. Petersburg (the new capitol of Russia) The Westernizaton of Russia made it considerably stronger. Most people in the time were agricultural. Many starved to death in bad-winter weather. There simply was not enough food to go around. Sometimes towns lost 1/3 or 1/4 of their population. The most common system was the Three-field system.

Later the better Open-field system was introduced. A field that did not yield a crop during that year was considered fallow. The potatoe was a great crop to be introduced to society in this time. It had more vitamins and minerals and also gave more back to the soil in comparison to the previous wheat. The plague or “black death” ran rampant throughout this time period. It originated in small woodland animals from Northeast Asia. Later the disease ran its course and began to die off. The small pox vaccine was discovered adn the disease tapered off.

The population was continuing to grow and eventually became a problem. The Putting-out system was a way of letting people work in industry while staying at home. This allowed employers to focus more on the product and not having to constantly worry about the employees. Merchantalism meant that the people did not import from outside countries but rather they focused all their attention to exporting and making money from foreign countries. Adam Smith said that the governemnt should back off and let the people decide what should be made and exported.

This allowed for the government to make less mistakes in deciding what the best export would be. After the Germans had decidedly defeated the Russians in World War One they successfully moved their troops over to the western front of Germany to fight the French and British. The Germans made some very impressive advances into the western front on in to France and Belgium. However, the Germans had a hard time getting reinforcements and supplies to the front line seeing as how they had to travel across the previously defeated enemy territory known as nomad’s land.

The other side, France, had well-developed roads and railroad to help transport their war needs. Later on in the war the Germans forces tapered off and began to die as the American Army finally decided to join in on the war. With newly replenished troops on a monthly basis, the allied forces were able to begin pushing Germany back to where it came from. By late summer of 1918 Germany was pushed back significantly, and they decided that they had ultimately lost the war. Now the Germans needed to make peace and make peace fast.

The allied forces would soon topple Germany over its own border and Germany would have no room with which to negotiate. A revolution broke out in Germany and the former Kaiser was overthrown. A new democratic government formed and they made peace with the allies promptly. However, peace put a large handicap on the democrats of Germany. The right Winged conservatives exclaimed to all that Germany had won the war based on the current territorial map of Germany. It did in fact look as though they won, they did have more land than what they started with.

But, the conservatives also went on to say it was the fault of the democrats in Germany that the German army was being forced to stop fighting and discontinue territorial gain. The people chose to believe this fairy tale and went on with shady feelings toward the democracy of Germany. In November 1918, a cease-fire was issued called the Armistice that required all sides to stop fighting. It also required that Germany give up most of its weapons in order to make sure that they did not start the war again without any notice. After negotiations, the Treaty of Versailles was written and put Germany in some very tough situations.

It required that Germany pay a very high rate of repartitions so that it would indefinitely be economically crippled. It also took away some territory from eastern Germany that split the country in two. Also, Germany was not allowed to have an Airforce, submarines, battle ships tanks or large amounts of infantry. With these hindrances and a new policy on peace the League of Nations was born. Some European powers grew so strong that they could spread their influence across many nations. In the 19th century Western Europe spread wildly into Africa and Asia (India).

There were only two countries in Africa that escaped the colonization of Europeans. One was Libya. It was home to many black Americans that were ancestors of the first slaves brought over by American ships, which were sent back to the coast of Africa. The other was Ethiopia. It simply was too hard to conquer due to its location in the highest mountains of Africa. There was not often serious resistance to the colonization by the Europeans. However there was a group of Africans who was very difficult to colonize. They were known as the Boers or Afrikaners.

They were Dutch settlers who had blended in with the society but stayed in close contact with European ideas of politics and technology. With the technology of modern Europe the Boers stood a very good chance at preventing the Europeans from colonizing. However, the wealth of the gold and diamond mines in the area they lived kept the moral and spirits of the Europeans high, which was enough to lead them to victory ver the Boers. This was known as the Boer War 1899-1902 India was a more unified target than Africa. It had a structured government and was beginning to develop.

But circumstances led to the fall of India’s central rule and the nation fell apart. The British turned the Indian’s against eachother. India became a very divided society. This was the concept that held nations together in times of struggle. India had not developed a sense of Nationalism yet. They implemented a caste system in which society was split up into the wealthy and the no so wealthy. Within the two groups there was intermarriage or sometimes-even interaction. Europeans conquered this entire area. The Vietnamese put up the strongest fight with the French.

There was a tradition of anti-foreign rule that the Vietnamese followed. This was the closest to Nationalism that they ever saw. Napoleon III kept putting French soldiers into Vietnam to gain the support of the people back home in France. In 1916 the Vietnamese revolted. They charged up to the enemy but had only swords and spears and the French dominated the radicals with their firepower. There was no single motive for imperialistic expansion. Some did it for the money. Some did it for the glory. But all over, practically everyone in Europe had a colony elsewhere in a foreign land.

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