Turning points in world history



Otázka: Turning points in world history

Jazyk: Angličtina

Přidal(a): Kůra



1492 – the “discovery” of America

  • it’s a common misconception that America was discovered by Christopher Columbus (who was actually looking for a shorter route to India) – he was preceded in the 11th century by Leif Eriksson, a Viking explorer from Iceland
  • even though Christopher Columbus was not the first person to discover the New World, his discovery is one of the most important milestones in the history of the world:
    • cross continental interchange of plants + animals:
      • brought to Europe: potatoes, corn, peanuts, tomatoes, peppers, cocoa, turkey
      • brought to America: coffee beans, honeybees, onion, crops – wheat + rice + oats, livestock – cattle + sheep + pigs + horses
    • European settlers left Europe for America looking for more freedom and opportunities
    • on the downside: bloody conquest – atrocities committed against the native inhabitants + the remaining Indians eventually adopted the European traditions and languages + the
    • European settlers brought new diseases the Indians were completely unimmune to (influenza, smallpox, typhus, measles, malaria, tuberculosis)


1648 – the end of the 30 years war

  • the last religious conflict in Europe
  • initiated by the Third Defenestration of Prague – in protest against the absolute rule of Ferdinand II., the Czech nobility hired people to throw his representatives out of a window at Prague Castle in 1618 → the begging of the Bohemian Revolt – ended by the defeat in the Battle of White Mountain Old Town Square Execution of 27 Bohemian noblemen
  • Catholics (Holy Roman Empire, Spain) x  Protestants (protestant German states, Denmark, Sweden)
  • soon the war turned into an economic conflict
  • Prague plundered by the Swedes before the end of the war + in some areas as much as 2/3 of the soldiers and civilians died in the war, of hunger and disease (the Czech population declined by a third)


1918 – the end of the WW1

  • one of the most deadly conflicts in the history, the unofficial end of the 19th century – the beginning of a new era (establishment of nation states, modern artistic movements, emancipation of women…)
  • initiated by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo by a Bosnian – successor to the throne → Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia
  • Central Powers (Austria-Hungary + Germany + Ottoman Empire + Bulgaria) x  Allies (Serbia + France + British Empire + Russia + Italy + US)
  • German troops entered France through neutral Belgium → Britain declared war on Germany → advanced weapons introduced – trench-warfare on the Western front (lengthy, millions of soldiers died of hunger, exhaustion, disease, struck by gunfire/grenades/war gases) → American intervention in 1917 (Woodrow Wilson) → Central Powers defeated + surrendered on the 11th of November 1918 → Treaty of Versailles – the Allies dictated harsh terms of peace → cause of economic + political turmoil in postwar Germany → WW2


1968 – the Prague Spring and Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia

  • a period of political liberalization (loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel) after Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
  • the reforms were not received well by the Soviets → on the 21st of August the Soviet Union + Warsaw Pact members invaded CSR (people were switching street signs to confuse the invading armies)
  • massive wave of emmigration (80,000 people) – Karel Kryl, Miloš Forman…
  • Jan Palach committed protest suicide by self-immolation to provoke mass uprising (1969)
  • 70s – the period of normalization in which new leaders attempted to restore the communist values – Gustáv Husák replaced Dubček as First Secretary and also became president


1989 – the Velvet Revolution

  • a non-violent transition of power – started with student demonstrations on 17th November suppressed by the police → the number of protesters was growing → in December Gustáv Husák was forced to nominate the first non-communist government since 1948 + he resigned → at the end of the year, Václav Havel former dissident + leader of the Civic Forum – was elected president of CSR
  • preceded by the fall of the Berlin War (a symbol of the Cold War) + revolutions in Poland and Hungary
  • the Chernobyl nuclear accident might have been the real cause of the collapse of the Eastern Bloc according to Mikhail Gorbachev – the Soviet Union proved to be dysfunctional – the failed cover-up exposed the hypocrisy of the regime


9/11 2001

  • a series of terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda against the United States – planes hijacked and used as suicide weapons
  • outcome: the Twin Towers in NY destroyed + almost 3000 casualties + strict airport security checks
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