In the year 378 at Adrianople, the Visigoths defeated the Roman legions of the Eastern emperor Valens, who was killed in battle. More and more Goths now freely entered the Empire. Unable to take Constantinople or other fortified towns, they proceeded south through the Balkans, under their chieftain Alaric, ravaging Greece and then marching around the Adriatic into Italy. In 410 they sacked Rome itself. Marie died soon afterward, and his successors led the Visigoths across Gaul and into Spain.
Columbus (1451-1506), born in Genoa, was an experienced sailor and had gone at least once to the Gold Coast of Africa; he may also have sailed to Iceland. His central obsession, that the Far East (“the Indies”) could be reached by sailing westward from Spain, was not unique. No educated person in 1492 seriously doubted that the earth was round, but as it turned out most scholars had greatly underestimated its size.
The union of Belgium and the Netherlands, decreed by the peacemakers of 1815, worked well only in economics. The commerce and colonies of Holland supplied raw materials and markets for the textile, glass, and other manufactures of Belgium.
Pope Leo XIII was concerned with issues of liberty and political power. He was sympathetic to the plight of the workers and felt that the Church should recognize their concerns, though he did not believe in the inevitable clash of labor and capital.
Thus in Rerum novarum he wrote that it was a “great mistake” to believe that class is naturally hostile to class, and that the wealthy and the workingmen are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict…. Each needs the other: Capital cannot do without Labor, nor Labor without Capital… .
The Germans had not really worked out a plan for dealing with Britain. Hitler seems to have believed that with France out of the war, Britain would make a separate, compromise peace in which Germany would dominate the Continent of Europe and Britain would retain its overseas empire.
In a new work, The City of God, written between 413 and 425, Augustine combated the pagan argument that it was Christianity that had been responsible for the catastrophic sack of Rome. It was easy to show why many pagan empires had fallen in the past, and Augustine quickly moved beyond his original subject. He attacked traditional pagan worship and of pagan interpretations of Roman history, systematically demolishing pagan philosophy.
The year 1543 marked the publication of Copernicus’s De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (Concerning the Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies). Born in Poland of German extraction, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) studied law and medicine at Padua and other Italian universities and spent thirty years as canon of a cathedral near Danzig.
His work in mathematics and astronomy led him to attack the hypothesis of the geocentric (earth- centered) universe. In its place he advanced the revolutionary new hypothesis of the heliocentric (sun-centered) universe.
The industrial revolution transformed people’s lives in western Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. Most historians agree that from the 1820s to the 1890s industrialization proceeded in four stages mechanization of the textile industry, metals, chemicals, and finally electricity. Each stage led to the next.
Britain held the lead in the early industrial revolution from the 1760s to the 1850s. It had developed an efficient agriculture system, accumulated capital from foreign and colonial trade, had extensive iron and coal deposits, and was favored by geographic compactness.
The Low Countries shared the general European prosperity and the common problems. In Belgium, which enjoyed great material well-being, the chronic difficulties between the minority of French-speaking Walloons and the majority of Dutch-speaking Flemings continued to worsen and to threaten stability.
Though the territory was wide and the imperial rule absolute, ignorance, illiteracy, and inefficiency weakened Russian society. Though the old nobility had been weakened, the new gentry was not firmly in control of the machinery of government.
Ivan’s son and heir, Feauedor (r. 1584-1598), was an imbecile, and with his death the Moscow dynasty, descended from the rulers of Kiev, died out. Cliques of rival nobles intrigued for power. Feauedor’s brother-in-law, Boris Godunov (r. 15981605), emerged as the dominant figure.