Skip to content Skip to navigation Skip to collection information


You are here: Home » Content » A Comprehensive Outline of World History (Organized by Region) » Europe: A.D. 1701 to 1800


Table of Contents


What is a lens?

Definition of a lens


A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

This content is ...

Affiliated with (What does "Affiliated with" mean?)

This content is either by members of the organizations listed or about topics related to the organizations listed. Click each link to see a list of all content affiliated with the organization.
  • OrangeGrove display tagshide tags

    This module is included inLens: Florida Orange Grove Textbooks
    By: Florida Orange GroveAs a part of collection: "A Comprehensive Outline of World History"

    Click the "OrangeGrove" link to see all content affiliated with them.

    Click the tag icon tag icon to display tags associated with this content.

  • JVLA Affiliated

    This module is included inLens: Jesuit Virtual Learning Academy Affiliated Material
    By: Jesuit Virtual Learning AcademyAs a part of collection: "A Comprehensive Outline of World History"

    Click the "JVLA Affiliated" link to see all content affiliated with them.

  • Bookshare

    This module is included inLens: Bookshare's Lens
    By: Bookshare - A Benetech InitiativeAs a part of collection: "A Comprehensive Outline of World History"


    "Accessible versions of this collection are available at Bookshare. DAISY and BRF provided."

    Click the "Bookshare" link to see all content affiliated with them.

Also in these lenses

  • future perfect curriculum display tagshide tags

    This collection is included inLens: Mark Dominic Kalil's Lens for general enquiry but focussed on a transformational curriculum
    By: Mark Dominic Kalil

    Click the "future perfect curriculum" link to see all content selected in this lens.

    Click the tag icon tag icon to display tags associated with this content.

Recently Viewed

This feature requires Javascript to be enabled.


(What is a tag?)

These tags come from the endorsement, affiliation, and other lenses that include this content.

Europe: A.D. 1701 to 1800

Module by: Jack E. Maxfield. E-mail the author

EUROPE (A "French Century", with a decline of religion in political affairs)

Back to Europe: A.D. 1601 to 1700

Even before the Industrial Revolution of the last quarter of this century, there was dramatic change in Europe. Spain and Italy were declining rapidly, while England, France, Sweden (exploiting mineral resources) were developing quickly. But it was a century of almost constant warfare, with conflict going on in some area all the time and in several localities at once most of the time. (Ref. 8) McNeill (Ref. 279) emphasizes that there were four limits to the existing military organizations:

  1. The difficulty of controlling the movements of an army of more than about 50,000 men. New forms of communication and more accurate terrain maps were needed
  2. Slow transport of supplies. Food for the men and fodder for thousands of horses made a bulky and awkward supply train. Living off the countryside destroyed the tax-base and allowed the soldiers to get out of control as they became immersed in plunder, so the rulers sought to supply armies from the rear
  3. Organizational and tactical problems. With the long history of mercenary contingents and patronage appointments, it was difficult to organize an effective, cohesive army based on training and ability, tempered with seniority
  4. Sociological and psychological restraints. Peasants were needed to produce the food and townsmen to provide the money, so that it was difficult to recruit enough men for a professional army without infringing on those two necessary groups

The answer to some of the above situations was in the development of new technology in weapons, such as mobile field artillery; development of accurate small-scale mapping; the break-down of the armies to divisions, units of about 12,000 men, but complete within themselves, with infantry, cavalry, artillery and all supportive elements; and better road-building .

At the same time, in spite of the warfare, the 18th century saw the heyday of wealthy merchants all over Europe. (Ref. 292) The philosophers were convinced that this was an age of enlightenment and progress, but it was a time of bungling politicians, greedy nobles, of immorality and corruption also. There were other paradoxes. In spite of great scientific advancements in physics and chemistry, the practice of medicine lagged far behind and may even have declined. Bleeding, cupping and purging remained prominent treatments. (Ref. 125) An estimated 60 million Europeans died of small-pox in the century and early there was an extensive famine, as frost killed crops as far south as the Mediterranean coast. The winter of 1709 was especially severe, with most northern rivers and even ocean coastal waters frozen. (Ref. 222) Typhus fever took its own toll, with a severe epidemic in Sweden and the loss of 30,000 people in France in mid-century. Yellow fever killed 10,000 in Cadiz, Spain. (Ref. 222)

The population of Europe went from 140 to 188 million from 1750 to 1800. The majority of the people were illiterate. In the f irst half of the century their civilization was based almost as much on wine as on wheat. Europe as a whole must have been burning 200 million tons of wood yearly up until about 1790 when coal came into more common usage. At the same time there were approximately 14 million horses, 24 million oxen, the equivalent of 4 to 5 million horsepower in the form of wood, 1.5 to 3 million horsepower potential in 600,000 watermills, 900,000 horsepower in the 50 million human workers and 233,000 horsepower in the form of sails, not counting war-fleets. (Ref. 211, 260)

A new business development was the concentration of trade and its profit to warehouses and storage depots. Raw cotton from Central America was stored in Cadiz, that from Brazil in Lisbon, Indian cotton was pooled in London, while Marseilles took that from the Levant. Mainz and Lille were great wine depots. By the end of the century, the Europe of fairs was turning into the Europe of warehouses. Exchange rates of silver and gold varied from time to time, seriously affecting the European economy. France over-valued silver and so that metal was attracted there, while Venice, Italy, Portugal, England and Holland put a high price on gold. (Ref. 292) Finally we must emphasize the tremendous effects from the extensive overseas colonies of multiple European nations. The map of the next page is well worth study in this regard.



The Ottoman Empire maintained its domination of the eastern Mediterranean islands with the exception of Malta, which remained independent under the Knights of Malta, until Napoleon's troops conquered it in 1798. (Ref. 38, 86)


Greece was still docile under the Ottomans but Greek sea-farers and traders became prosperous at the end of the century as blockade runners through Napoleon's overseas domains and through other waters. By the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainardji (see page 942) the Turks allowed Russian ships to sail on the Black Sea, but since they had no ships or seamen of their own in those waters, they accorded Greeks and other Christians the right to fly the Russian flag.


In 1711 Peter the Great of Russia vowed to free the Balkans from "the enemies of Christ". Both Moldavia (now a part of both Romania and the Soviet Union) and Wallachia pledged to help Peter, but only Moldavia actually supplied any troops and at the last minute Wallachia double-crossed the Russians so that Peter ended up pocketed with only 138,000 infantry, almost surrounded by 200,000 Turks and Tatars. The Russians surrendered, giving Azov and the Tagenrog harbor back to the sultan, abandoned their southern fleet and evacuated Poland. Russia did not give up any territory about the Baltic. Karl (Charles) XII of Sweden, who had just spent over three years in Moldavia, could now go back to Sweden. Meanwhile, Brancovo, the Hospodar of Wallachia, was beheaded by the Turks for his original thoughts of helping Czar Peter, even though in the end he had reneged. (Ref. 131)

As a result of a war of the Ottomans with Austria and Russia again in 1736 to 1739, northern Serbia and Belgrade were freed from Austrian domination. Again, in the First War of Catharine, Moldavia and Wallachia were both overrun by Russian troops and about 7 years later (17~1) by an Austrian-Russian Treaty the Austrians were to receive the whole western half of the Balkans. Af ter the Second War of Catharine, the Austrians gave up Belgrade in return for a strip of northern Bosnia, while Moldavia and Bessarabia were returned to Russia.

Maize from America had been grown in gardens in the Balkans under at least ten different names for many years, but it was not until this century that it began to be grown in the wide open fields, as in much of the rest of Europe. (Ref. 260)


Italy had a population of about 15,000,000, living under divided rule. The old noble families of Florence and Venice were shrinking and fresh blood had to be brought in. Titles were granted for money. (Ref. 292) The Habsburgs took over Tuscany in 1737 and except for Venetia, Genoa and Savoy, they soon controlled all of northern Italy. The Papal States and Kingdom of the Two Sicilies remained as previously, and the Genoese Republic remained independent but was constantly encroached on by Savoy, France and Austria. The forces which led to the revolution in France were also at work in Italy in the last of the century and when the French Revolution did break out, some Italian states tried to join in a coalition against France. As a result, Napoleon invaded the peninsula, crushed all resistance and once again Italy became a French dependency. At that time, General Napoleon was only a young army wizard, but that military conquest initiated his climb up the ladder of fame and power. The 1797 Treaty of Camp Formio, however, gave Venice to Austria1 and divided the rest of Italy into 5 republics: Cisalpine with Milan as capital; Liguria, with Genoa as capital; Roman, including Rome itself; Bologna; and Parthenopean, which included the entire southern third (except Sicily), with Naples as the capital. (Ref. 8, 213)

Naples, with perhaps 500,000 people, was the 4th largest city in Europe, although at the end of the century at least 100,000 were extremely poor, living like "filthy animals". (Ref. 260) All southern Italy had a feudal system, with powerful barons who were sovereigns on their own estates. In the Kingdom of Naples over 50% of the population were subject to feudal justice and in some provinces this was over 80%. As in the rest of Europe, food supplies in Italy frequently were short and unreliable. As an example, Florence experienced hunger in 111 years of the 400 leading up to 1791 and had had only 16 "very good" harvests in that same period. Maize, with its high yield, finally put an end to the recurrent famines in Venetia. All over Italy, soon the peasants ate maize and sold their wheat. Transportation and communications remained slow. With horses, coaches, ships and runners, messages could make at most 100 kilometers in 24 hours. (Ref. 260)

The islands bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea were in constant political turmoil throughout this century. In 1713 Spain ceded Sardinia (along with Naples) to Austria and Sicily to Savoy, but by 1720 the latter had exchanged Sicily for Sardinia. In 1732 Genoa recovered Corsica from insurgent forces, who had revolted two years previously, but French help was necessary to control the island. In the same spot local clans under Paoli again rebelled in 1755 against Genoese rule and established a democracy, but France bought the island from Genoa in 1768 and crushed Paoli, only to see him rise again in 1793. On the latter occasion he was defeated by Napoleon, himself a Corsican. In that same year, Sardinia tried to get autonomy within the combined kingdom of Piedmont-Sardina. Through this century Sardinia was a strong military state - the Prussia of Italy. Usually it was allied with Austria through Eugene of Savoy, a great military leader for the Habsburgs.

In spite of the turmoil, Italy continued to be a center for scientific and medical studies. Luigi Galvani started electro-physiology with electrical stimulation of nerves; Allessandro Volta developed a battery. Giovanni Morgagni, at the medical school at Padua for 56 years, is considered the "father" of pathological anatomy, describing the changes associated with such diseases as cirrhosis of the liver, kidney tuberculosis, syphilitic brain lesions and pneumonic consolidation of lungs. (Ref. 125)



After a long period of disorderly aftermath of the horrors of the Thirty Years War, the German-speaking people, with peace, stability and their natural strength, returned to add to the European civilization, particularly in music and Rococo style architecture. (Ref. 33) Germany was made up of 20,000,000 people divided into more than 300 practically independent states, each with its own sovereign prince, but all loosely subject to the head of the rather phantom Holy Roman Empire. The average east German village was still somewhat "servile" in 1750, however, and serfs still owed their masters heavy services and payments and they were not allowed to leave their estates in most German areas as late as 1788. (Ref. 213) In spite of considerable river traffic on the Rhine, Elbe and Oder rivers, overland transport still carried 5 times as much goods as waterways. It has been estimated that there were 40,000 horses used as dray animals, not including those on farms. (Ref. 292)

The story of this country f rom this time on was that of the power policies of two royal families - the Prussian Hohenzollerns, - represented by Frederick I, Frederick William I and Frederick 11 and their counter-parts, the Austrian Habsburgs. The complete power structure also involved Catherine II of Russia and to some extent, England. We shall try to clarify this situation by discussing some of the individual states, separately.


The Junker landlords of Prussia distinguished themselves by competent management and their quick adoption of improved agricultural techniques. (Ref. 8) On the political side, the Prussian Elector Frederick III2, son of the Great Elector, had himself crowned King Frederick I of Prussia in 1701, but his extravagancies merely hastened bankruptcy of the state. Some 300,000 deaths from plague in 1709 did not help the situation. (Ref. 222) Then came Frederick Wilhelm I (1713-1740), an austere king who hammered out a military power. At his death Prussia had the 4th largest army in Europe and strong financial resources. He was a friend and ally of Peter the Great of Russia, but in his personal life he was eccentric and unfortunate3. He suffered from a severe, combined form of porphoryhia, a genetic disease which can affect skin and visceral organs at times, along with great abdominal pain. He was subject to sudden, uncontrollable attacks of rage at which times he might even beat his own children. His eccentricities included hatred of everything French and he had a hobby of collecting giants from all over the world, some 1,200 of them, whom he formed into two battalions of grenadiers. On his death in 1740, his son Frederick II became king and initiated the Francophile tradition.

At the end of the Great Northern War, which will be discussed again later, Prussia had acquired the city of Stettin and some Baltic islands. Having been raised as a warrior prince, Frederick II, later to be called Frederick the Great, hastened to put the Prussian war machine to work by invading Silesia and provoking war with the Habsburg Empire. (Ref. 131) He gained not only Silesia but after three wars with the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, also gained a part of Poland. The Seven Years War (1756-1763), the last one with the Habsburgs, involved Prussia, Hanover and England on one side and France, Austria and Russia on the other. After initial- victories through Saxony and Bohemia, Frederick began to meet def eat and was pushed back so that at one time the Russians even occupied Berlin. In the f inal Peace of Hubertusburg, Saxony was restored to its pre-war size, Silesia was retained by Prussia and Frederick agreed to vote f or Maria Theresa's son Joseph for emperor when the occasion developed. Frederick estimated that that war alone cost him 853,000 troop casualties and 33,000 civilian deaths. (Ref. 222) Furthermore, he had developed a great fear of Russia and started a campaign of vilification while at the same time plotting that future relations with that country should be based on friendship. Thus, in 1770 he made an alliance with Catherine the Great. In the newly gained Silesia, the government combined with land owners to invest in mining, iron and textiles. In Prussia proper Berlin had 140,000 people by 1777. (Ref. 8) Imported techniques, including artificial drainage and canalization particularly, allowed considerable new land to be brought under cultivation and thus added wealth. (Ref. 279)

Frederick the Great actually hated the German language and thought that anything French was great. He had a long and close relationship with Voltaire, as fellow philosopher, poet and confidant. At one and the same time he had a great mind, while being a benevolent king and a great general. But he was also an untrustworthy ally and a power-mad monarch.

The advancement of Prussia as the dominant northern Germanic state did not occur by accident. Frederick William II came to the throne in 1786 and when France declared a new war on Austria in April of 1792 Prussia and most German states sided with the new Emperor Francis II. Austro-Prussian forces met severe defeat at Valmy, allowing the French to take the offensive on all fronts. Russia invaded Poland and in spite of the deterioration of the Prussian armies, in the resulting last partition of unfortunate Poland, Warsaw and environs with its 1,000,000 people fell to Prussia. In the Peace of Basel of 1795 Prussia recognized the legal status of the republican government of France, while the latter promised neutrality of the German states north of the Main. (Ref. 184)

But Prussia was not all militarism. In 1717 Frederick William I had made primary education compulsory and in 20 years he founded 1,700 schools. German universities became excellent, although German literature suffered some from lack of national consciousness and the influence of French among the aristocracy. German intellectuals remained cosmopolitan and considered nationalism as a "political monstrosity". The development of science and philosophy shared with powerful secularizing forces in weakening the influence of religion on German life. Art and architecture was not at its best, but music was supreme, with Handel and Bach. Bach's works are said to be the Reformation put to music and he is accepted as the "greatest musical poet that has ever existed". (Ref. 8) Christian Thomasius furthered the cause of the German language by lecturing at the university in German, rather than Latin. A literary revival was initiated near the end of the century as the works of the great Johann Wolfgang von Goethe began to appear. Frederick von Schiller contributed some fine dramas. Gottfried Leibniz, scientist and mathematician, founded the Academy of Sciences.

Map taken from Reference 97


Bavaria continued to be ruled by the Wittelsbach family. In 1777 the Elector of Bavaria, Joseph Maximilian, died childless and the nearest heir, another Wittelbach concluded a pact with Emperor Joseph of the Habsburgs whereby most of Palatinate and northern Bavaria went to Austria. Other Wittelbachs, along with Frederick II of Prussia, anxious to keep things in balance, protested Austria's aggrandizements and opened the War of the Bavarian Succession. In a year Bavaria had regained her territory. At the end of the century, however, Bavaria became the chief battlef ield of the Spanish War of Succession and Austrian troops devastated the land. In 1799 Elector Maximilian I united all Wittelsbach lands and allied himself with Napoleon, as a protection against Austria.

It is interesting that in spite of some food shortages, the potato was slow to be adopted in middle Europe. In 1795 the poor of Munich refused to eat a supposedly scientific soup containing potatoes. (Ref. 211) At the end of the century there was one market in Bavaria for every 7,300 inhabitants. (Ref. 292)


The young Elector of Saxony, Augustus II, had also been elected King of Poland in 1697. In August of 1706, as part of the Great Northern War, the Swedish army crossed the Silesian frontier to march on Saxony itself, to permanently dispose of the Elector Augustus. The Saxon governing council, having already sacrificed 36,000 troops, 800 cannon and 8,000,000 lives in an effort to keep Augustus on the throne of Poland, wanted no more trouble and signed the Treaty of Altranstadt, which disavowed Augustus and agreed to supply the Swedish army during the coming winter and to turn over all Swedish "traitors" harbored in Saxony, a feature which finally resulted in the horrible death of the Livonian patriot, Patkul - first tortured on the wheel, then beheaded and quartered. While resting in Saxony in 1707 the Swedish King Karl XII was visited by John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, who already had Louis XIV more or less "on the ropes" and then wanted to scout the Swedish king's intentions and get a look at his troops.

Elector Augustus II eventually did return to his people and then he and Karl XII got along well. Actually they were first cousins, as their mothers were sisters as Danish princesses. (Ref. 131)

In spite of all the warfare, Elector Augustus II continued the policies of his predecessors and collected fabulous works of art, so that Dresden eventually became known as Florence on the Elbe. His son and successor Augustus III carried on the same tradition. (Ref. 47) Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz specialized in porcelain, silk, armaments and textiles, but the first cotton spinning mill was not started until 1794. Only 5 of Saxony's 200 towns had over 10,000 people. The Swiss Albrecht von Haller, a disciple of the Dutch Boerhaaves settled in Saxony and helped to create the University of Goettingen. He became a great physician, physiologist, botanist and neurologist. (Ref. 8, 125)

Saxony served as a battleground for many of the Prussian campaigns and in the Second Silesian War of 1744 Frederick II took 80,000 men through Saxony to invade Bohemia.

Shortly thereafter Saxony joined an alliance with Austria, England and Holland against Prussia, again on the wrong side, so that at the Treaty of Dresden, Saxony was forced to pay Prussia 1,000,000 rix dollars. Once again in the Third Silesian War (the Seven Years War) Frederick invaded Saxony with 67,000 men and defeated the combined Austrians and Saxons, taking 18,000 of the latter as prisoners. At the final peace, however, the original status of Saxony was preserved. In the War of the Bavarian Succession (1778) Saxony even joined Prussia, with Prince Henry joining Frederick in another invasion of Bohemia, but no real battles with the Austrians developed. For the remainder of the century, Saxony continued to oppose the grandiose schemes of Emperor Joseph.


In this century Hanover, in northern Germany, had about as much power as Denmark, Prussia or Saxony. Its status was helped when George, the Elector of Hanover, became George I of England. He never did like the English, nor they him, although they would take any sovereign Protestant over a Catholic. George spent most of his time in Hanover and used the English navy and money to try to make Sweden negotiate peace with Denmark and the German states on the Baltic. (Ref. 131)


Like Bavaria, Baden and Wuerttenberg became battlefields at the end of the century as the French forces fought Austria. Throughout these years, although their princes had difficulty acknowledging it, these lesser states of Germany lost more and more power and influence. The Rhineland of west Germany became the first industrial area, with the first steam engine installed in a lead mine near Duesseldorf in the Duchy of Berg in 1751. (Ref. 8)


Although all German states were nominally subject to the Holy Roman Empire, the real heart was the Austro-Hungary-Bohemia region, ruled by the Habsburgs in Vienna. In 1711 Austria lost 300,000 people to the Black Death and another Turkish army was near their border. The latter were put to rout by Prince Eugene of Savoy, who had become a great militarist for the Habsburgs. His success at this time was in part due to Austrian cavalry using fine Arabian horses. (Ref. 260) Emperor Joseph I, the elder son of Leopold, had a premature death and Karl (Charles), trained to become king of Spain, now had to be Austria's emperor as Karl (Charles) VI. Raised as a Spaniard, he remained such. The Spanische Reitschule (Spanish Riding Academy) is a remnant of his Spanish court. His death in 1740 marked the end of the male line of the Austrian Habsburgs, but it was the beginning of Austria's greatest era. (Ref. 181) Interpreting Karl's death as indicating a coming weakness in the empire, Frederick II of Prussia was tempted to move on Silesia for the First Silesian War4. (Ref. 8)

When Karl VI's daughter became Empress Maria Theresa, the Austro-Hungarian Empire included all of present day Austria except Salzburg, Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia5, Transylvania, Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Istria with Fiume and Treiste, parts of southwestern Germany, Belgium, Lombardy, Tuscany, Sardinia, Peacenza and Parma. The intrigues and power politics of this empress involved not only Frederick the Great but Catherine II and Peter of Russia. Their wars for prestige and for portions of Poland seemed almost without end. Austria's part in the Seven Years War, which exhausted the country, is more fully explained in the sections on GERMANY, FRANCE AND ENGLAND. In 1772 Maria Theresa shared with Prussia and Russia in the first partition of Poland.

Austria, itself, with 6,000,000 people was prosperous. All land was owned by nobles or clergy and tilled by serfs. The nobles were not particularly religious, but worked to promote the Catholicism, which helped their serfs to accept their earthly lot. Industry was initiated as Maria Theresa founded a woolen manufactory in Linz, employing no less than 15,600 workers (26,000 by 1775) although about 2/3 were spinners and weavers working at home. (Ref. 292) The empress was a great patron of Mozart and he played for her at Schoenbrunn Castle. The Dutchman Gerhard van Swieten, another pupil of Boerhaave, was called to Vienna by the empress to be her personal physician and he started a medical school which drew flocks of students from all over Europe. Incident to this was the building of the famous Allgemeines Krankenhaus in 1784 as a hospital for teaching and caring for the underprivileged. (Ref. 125)

After 1765 Maria Theresa6 shared her power with her son Joseph II until her death in 1780. Joseph anticipated the welfare state by 150 years. The spate of reforms was torrential. He abolished serfdom and torture and eliminated heresy as a crime. He made German the official overall language, and antagonized his nobles, his mother, and even the pope. Joseph was followed by Francis II, who engaged in a constant and losing war with the advancing French. At the Peace of Basel, Austria agreed to French control of almost the entire left bank of the Rhine and gave up Belgium.

Although a part of the great empire, Hungary did not lie quietly. The Rakoczi rebellion from 1703 until 1711 was a Hungarian revolt against the Imperial Crown of Austria. In the end it only resulted in more disunion among the people. By that time Karl (Charles)VI was emperor and he sincerely wanted the Hungarians to be treated generously. The reign of Maria Theresa is considered by some Hungarian historians as a period of rest and recuperation, but by others as one of stagnation. Population and immigration both increased rapidly during the period of peace. The wealth of the Catholic Church and the size of the mansions and estates of the great nobles also increased, while the economy was still agricultural and industry was kept down by the Austrian rulers. The Protestant Church was suppressed and no Protestant could enter public service. By the end of the century only half of the magnate class was Hungarian and even they spent much time in Vienna and Paris, intermarried with German-Austrian and Bohemian aristocracy and often forgot or didn't even learn their Magyar language. The middle nobles were the ones who remained home and kept the national spirit and the language alive. The immigrants were from all the surrounding states but the greatest number were from south Germany and, in general, classed together as "Swabians". In the 1760s and 1770s there were 50,000 German immigrants and another 25,000 in the 1780s. (Ref. 8) By the end of Maria Theresa's reign the 3,350,000 Magyars made up 35% of the total population and were chiefly in the central part of the country. There were 1,500,000 Romanians, 1,250,000 Slovaks, 1,000,000 Germans and 750,000 each of Croats and Serbs. The latter were always a thorn in the Hungarians' flesh. Although Joseph II replaced Latin with German as the language of administration and schools, when his brother Leopold II became emperor in 1790 he reversed this decree.

Bohemia's fate was similar to Hungary's. Subject to the Habsburg autocratic rule the life of both Bohemian and Moravian peasants was hard, with compulsory labor accepted. Persecution of Jews began in 1744, with some fleeing to England. (Ref. 260) Near the end of the century the Czechs began to feel a spirit of national unity and started ideas of freedom. Leopold II tried to conciliate them, but he was the last Austrian ruler to be crowned King of Bohemia.

To complete our story of the 18th century Habsburg Empire, we must relate that upon Joseph II's death, his brother, who had succeeded their father as grand duke of Tuscany, became Emperor Leopold II. The state was in some disarray and he had to repeal most of Joseph's radical reforms. After reaching an agreement with Frederick William II of Prussia, he negated the old alliance with Catherine of Russia and concluded a separate peace treaty with Turkey at Sistova in 1791. He also marched troops into the Austrian Netherlands and suppressed the Belgian Republic. He was succeeded in 1792 by his son, Francis II, who was soon confronted by the French Revolution. His armies were defeated by Napoleon and by the Treaty of Campo Formio of 1797 he ceded the left bank of the Rhine to France, but obtained Venetia and Dalmatia. In 1798 he joined the Second Coalition against France and was defeated again.


In 1715 the Swiss Federation was made up of 13 Cantons, a complex of three peoples, four languages and two faiths. Most of the Cantons were oligarchies, with very limited suffrage, but serfdom had almost completely disappeared. Bern was the largest canton, embracing approximately 1/3 of Switzerland. Religion was half the government and half the strife. (Ref. 54) The two rival religions - Calvinist and Catholic – exuded hatred and shackled the mind. Some Cantons prohibited any but Catholic worship and some forbade any but Protestant. Geneva was not a Canton, but a separate republic with French speech and Calvinist faith. The emigration of Huguenots to this city was a great boon.

Map taken from Reference 97

In 1789 Switzerland was overrun by the armies of Napoleon and he set up a centralized Helvettic Republic, which was in close alliance with France and all the old liberties of the Cantons were wiped out. The most famous Swiss of the century were Jean Jacques Rousseau, philosopher, author and political theorist, who developed a persecution mania, living some in Switzerland, some in England and some in France and Albrecht von Haller, who did most of his medical work in Saxony.


In Western Europe this was a century of warfare, at first involving Spain, France and England primarily and then the latter two especially near the end of the century.

The War of the Spanish Succession lasted from 1701 to 1714, beginning with the death of the last Spanish Habsburg, when Leopold of the Austrian branch of the family opened the struggle trying to get the Spanish inheritance of Carlos II, by invading Italy. The idea was to keep Louis XIV's grandson Philip off the Spanish throne and in his effort he was encouraged by England and the Dutch Republic. The Holy Roman Empire, Portugal and Savoy also declared war on France, while Spain, itself and France were backed by the Electors of Bavaria and Cologne. The antagonists fought most of the battles in the beautiful countryside of Bavaria. At the end, the compromise Peace of Utrecht allowed Spain to keep Philip, but the Spanish Netherlands went to the Austrian Habsburgs and Spain's previous Italian territories went to Savoy. (Ref. 8)

The new luxury of the 18th century meant a change in the living conditions of both rich and poor. Of primary importance was the separation of living quarters from the workshop or business. Up until this time merchants' and artisans' houses had the shop on the lower floor, the master's dwelling above and the workmen's or apprentices' rooms above that. (Ref. 260) Industrial activity was widespread so that there was not a town or City without its own looms, forges, brick or tile works or sawmill. In some areas there were huge concentrations of workers: 30,000 in the coal industry in Newcastle; 450,000 weavers in Languedoc; 1,500,000 textile workers in five northern French provinces. But commerce and its accompanying wealth were in the hands of but a few, 4 or 5 merchants in Seville, 8 or 9 in Le Mans and less than 1% of the population of Marseilles. Similarly, the nobility of Lombardy made up 1% of the population, but possessed about 1/2 of all landed property. (Ref. 292)


We have mentioned Spain's problem of establishing a new ruler after the death of the imbecile king Carlos (Charles) II in the remarks just above. Practically no battles were fought on Spanish soil. Although both the English King William and the Emperor Leopold died during the war, it dragged on with Eugene of Savoy handling the Habsburg war machine and the great Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill) handling English policy. Spain did lose Naples, Parma, Sardinia and Milan to Austria, while Sicily went to Savoy and Gibraltar and Minorca went to England. In the last 3/4 of the century Spain was more or less involved in continuous wars with various European alliances over various territories and successions - the War of the Polish Succession, the War of Jenkins Ear with England, the War of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years War, then war with France, then with France against England again. At the end of that last one, at the 2nd Treaty of Ildefonso, France obtained Louisiana from Spain. In spite of all, the Spanish overseas empire brought wealth and prosperity throughout the century. Spain made war on American gold.

Map taken from Reference 97.

Philip V, grandson of Louis XIV was the first Bourbon on the Spanish throne. A melancholy man, he was dominated by women, first the princesse des Ursins, lady in waiting to his first consort, Maria Luisa of Savoy, then by his wife Elizabeth Farnese, who in turn was dominated by the chief minister, Cardinal Alberoni. In the War of the Polish Succession Naples and Sicily passed to Don Carlos (later Carlos III), son of Philip and Elizabeth. In the War of the Austrian Succession Spain obtained Parma and Piacenze for Charles' younger brother, Philip. Philip V was succeeded by Ferdinand VI, his son by Maria Luisa. In the years before the Seven Years War both France and England had sought a Spanish alliance, but Ferdinand, by manipulating his ministers, kept Spain out of that war during his lifetime. He died in 1759 and was followed by his half brother, Carlos (Charles) III, who finally succumbed to pressure from France and got involved in the war, which drained Spanish revenues and resulted in England receiving Florida, although he did obtain Louisiana from France. Because he helped the Americans some in their revolution, Carlos re-obtained Florida and picked up Minorca from England at the Treaty of Paris of 1783. Carlos III is regarded as the greatest Bourbon king of Spain, but Carlos IV, who followed, was ineffective.

The best silk in Europe was grown in Valencia, where there were 5,000 looms by 1787. By 1790 there were a hundred cotton factories in Catalonia, with some 80,000 workers, chiefly women. Trading, even in slaves, was generally farmed out to Genoese contractors and French merchants dominated Seville. (Ref. 213) Galacia had 5,243 watermills and 12 windmills in an area of 2,000 square leagues and a population of 2,000,000. (Ref. 260) The Basque country was tending to become a national market. In the end, even Church property and estates went on sale and overall, land ownership became concentrated in a few hands and the poor became still poorer. (Ref. 292)


Portugal had now practically abandoned the Indian Ocean, except for its colony at Goa, India to which it occasionally sent a boatload of convicts. This was a century of Portuguese alliance with England. The Methuen Treaty of 17037 established Portugal's wine trade and admitted English manufactured products without duty. Many of the vineyards in the Oporto area were English owned and England admitted the wines at markedly reduced duties, much less than for French wines. (Ref. 222) The English penetration of the country was such that some Europeans referred to Portugal as an English colony, and it caused some warfare with Spain again and again. Lisbon had expanded into a huge city, with the rich becoming excessively so and the poor-more wretched. Shanty towns grew up around the margins where once there had been fields. There were as many as 10,000 vagrants in that city. (Ref. 292) But Lisbon was destroyed by a great earthquake in 1755, followed by a seismic wave with the flooding of the Tagus River basin and a great fire, so that all the city's treasures disappeared, along with the thousands-of deaths. (Ref. 222) The Jesuits were expelled from Portugal in 1759. Later, at the time of the French Revolution the nation was drawn into the war through its English alliance.


Like the 17th, this was a French century and French culture was as encompassing as French power. (Ref. 74) In the last years of his reign, Louis XIV drifted to the propitiation of the papacy, with continued and aggravated religious persecution. Great numbers of most valuable Protestant subjects left France, taking arts and industries with them, leaving mainly Catholic believers or Catholic atheists behind. Other serious troubles accumulated at the same time. The year 1709 was perhaps the worst year France had known. All the rivers and the Atlantic coastal waters froze, with the winter wheat, vines and fruit trees killed. Children starved to death and both public and private finances were in desperate ways. Then in 1711 the Grand Dauphin, Louis' only legitimate heir, died of small-pox and within 11 months the Dauphine and 2 of her 3 sons died of measles, leaving only the youngest grandson Berri. Even he died in 1714 after an accident on a horse, leaving only his nephew as heir to the throne. Thus, when Louis XIV died with a gangrenous leg in 1715, this great grandson became Louis XV, with a great uncle, Philippe Duc d'Orleans as regent. (Ref. 147) There resulted much unrest among the common people and a tumultous workers' strike of 1716 in Abbeville had to be put down with armed troops. (Ref. 292) During that interim Regency, a transplanted Scot, John Law, attempted to redeem the bankrupt finances of France by issuing paper money on the credit of the state, up to twice the value of the national reserves in precious metals and land. A central banking system was necessary and eventually established. The idea was basically sound, but in the end the entire system collapsed because of overspeculation by all of the people in Law's additional scheme of establishing a company to develop the Mississippi basin in America. In 1721 France had perhaps the world's worst stock market crash, as the leading value of stock in that Mississippi development company fell from 12,000 livres to 200. Durant (Ref. 54) says that the Regency was, morally, the most shameful period in the history of France. Religion disgraced itself by having immoral men at the top; government was corrupt by having immoral men throughout.

In 1707 almost 70,000 cattle were sold annually in Paris and later in the century there were some 21,000 horses in the city. By 1717 the capital h-ad about 500,000 people, the third largest city in Europe, but the streets were narrow and crowded, the noise deafening and the smells from human excrement dumped from windows and piles of manure and slaughtered animal carcasses were unbelievable. When the Swiss guards prevented Parisians from relieving themselves under a row of yews in the Tuileries, they simply went to the banks of the Seine, which was just as bad. Straw was put daily on the streets and the old straw pulled up and simply dumped in the river. Af ter midnight, when the candle lamps on the streets went out they became very dangerous. The same situation could be found in all towns, large and small. A bathroom in a house was a rare luxury. Fleas, lice and bugs conquered Paris as well as London and other European cities. (Ref. 260) High society was consumed with gambling - pharaoh, dominoes, checkers and chess were all played for high stakes. (Ref. 292) An average of 20,000 people died in Paris every year, even after the 1780s, some 4,000 of them ending their days in the poor-house. 7,000 to 8,000 children out of about 30,000 births were abandoned and depositing these at the poor-house became an occupation in itself. Hardly anyone in Paris took baths and those that did confined them to one or two a year. (Ref. 260)

Mass consumption of low quality wine became commonplace, even at the times of famine and drunkenness was everywhere. In the country the peasants were poverty stricken and there were a series of disastrous harvests between 1773 and 1789. Overall there were at least 16 general famines during the century as well as numerous local ones. The last great western European plague epidemic occurred in Marseilles in 1720 (but it continued in eastern Europe). (Ref. 131, 260) While glass was used in window-panes in Paris, oiled paper was still used for windows in Lyons and various provinces. But even in the midst of relative squalor, France began to set the fashion for dress for the whole of Europe. Dressed French mannequin dolls were sent far and wide for dressmakers to copy and one aspect of progress was the extension of decently surfaced highways. (Ref. 260)

The larger towns continued to have fairs and sometimes the latter simply took over the former. The modern day "rock" concerts may have been foreshadowed by some of these. At times 50,000 people would invade a town and it took all the police available to keep a semblance of order. "Fairs meant noise, tumult, music, popular rejoicing, the world turned upside down, disorder”8. At about the same time there were allegedly 91,000 persons without homes, except temporary shacks, and without visible means of support. (Ref. 292) There was a huge volume of road transport as well as canal traffic. The waterway network was incomplete, requiring many portages. Between the Lyons and the Rhone rivers alone some 400 to 500 oxen teams were employed permanently.

But to return to government affairs, when Louis XV matured he was more concerned with chasing women than government and continued the "Grand Monarchy", oblivious to the restless ideas developing in the populous. For at least a decade of his tenure, France was in essence ruled by his mistress, Mme. de Pompadour, born Jeanne Poisson and one of the most remarkable women of history. She had an extensive influence on French and European art as well as government and it was the period when French influence reached the peak of its effect on European civilization. Pompadour helped pave the way for the ultimate expulsion of the Jesuits from France and played a part in the Seven Years War. In that encounter, France helped Austria, on the losing side, and due to its extension in North America, France lost Canada to England and also lost territory in India. That was the time of the Swiss Rousseau, who did much of his writing in France, eulogizing the life of primitive man and it was also the period of Voltaire, the great Mocker, born Francois Marie Arouet, playwright, poet, historian, philosopher and confidant of kings and Voltaire actually spent some time in the Bastille because of a poem he wrote about the Regent and his daughter, the Duchess de Berri, But there is much misconception about the Bastille. It was actually a luxurious prison and incarceration there carried no particular dishonor. Most prisoners were aristocrats or gentlemen, who were treated there according to their rank. (Ref. 131) Other famous men of the century included Boucher, known for his nude paintings, Chardin, who depicted a still healthy France in labor and family life and Quentin de La Tour, who painted the leading personalities of the age. Charles Louis de Montesquieu was a powerful novelist, influencing religion and government. Denis Diderot and D'Alembert published Encyclopedie, in 1750. This taught Europe the meaning of such things as "rights", authority", "liberty", "equality", etc., and gave a tremendous storehouse of knowledge.

From the military standpoint perhaps nothing was more important to France than the development in the middle of the century, by Jean Maritz and his son, of the technique of casting cannon as a solid piece of metal and then boring out the barrel. The advantages of these guns, with straight and uniform bores, were enormous; Safety, accuracy, lightness (less thickness and thus more maneuverability) and reliability were all enhanced. The closer fit of cannonball to gun tube also meant less "windage" allowance and a smaller powder charge could be used to obtain even greater velocity. Using these features, Jean Baptiste Vacquette de Gribeaval created a powerful field artillary previously unknown in Europe. (Ref. 279)

A thumb-nail sketch of life in France before the revolution may be of value. One basic conflict involved the effort of philosophers and others to end ecclesiastical control over education. The great majority of the peasants could not read and even in the colleges the curriculum paid little attention to advances of knowledge; studies were almost entirely religious. The French Revolution can be traced back to the ambitious absurdities of Monarchy, but also to the revolt of reason against Catholic Christianity as it existed then in the nation. Although the lower classes, still dominated by the church, led moral lives for the most part, this was not true in the aristocracy. Adultery was usual, as a substitute for divorce. Children were seldom seen by their aristocratic parents; men were slaves to women, women to fashion, and fashion was determined by couturiers. The French language had now become the second language of every educated European. Frederick the Great used it regularly, except to his troops. Gibbon wrote his first books in French. (Ref. 54) Between 1715 and 1771, French foreign trade, previously very low, increased eightfold. (Ref. 8) By the end of the century there was no shortage of money, at least in some parts of France. In Marseilles, for example, men who offered money at 5% found few takers. Of course in France, even at this late period, merchants who borrowed money were looked at with some suspicion. (Ref. 292)

In the reign of Louis XVI, in 1789, the king's treasury was empty, however, in spite of high taxes, which were born by the middle class and peasants and the king found it necessary to call a National Assembly in an effort to find new sources of money. The Assembly traditionally was composed of nobles, clergy and the "third estate" (middle class), each group to have, in effect, one vote. Since it was apparent that the non-tax paying nobles and clergy could thus dominate the assembly, the third estate withdrew, held their own meeting and vowed to give France a constitution and a reform administration. Mobs in Paris took up the new cause and storming the Bastille to obtain arms, originally just to protect themselves, they more or less inadvertently started the French Revolution - a revolution of the "common man" against the monarchy, the nobles and the clergy. From 1789 to 1791 the revolution held its own and France was a limited monarchy with the king kept virtually a prisoner in a diminished state in the Tuileries, while the National Assembly, now reorganized as to voting privileges, ruled the country with relative peace. The Assembly instituted reforms in the penal code, stopped heresy persecutions, opened the army ranks to all, while arranging a state administration for the church. The heads of the church were prohibited from being members of the Assembly, however, and this actually weakened the central government. One of the great, farsighted statesmen of that period was Mirabeau, but unfortunately he died in 1791 and extremists then began to take control.

In that same year of 1791 the royal family escaped and tried to join a loyal army on the east border, but they were identified and returned to Paris under guard. The extremist Jacobins - Robespierre, Danton and Marat - now began to dominate French affairs, with their advanced ideas. Robespierre was a disciple of Rousseau and himself a lawyer; Danton was a lawyer; and Marat was a scientist and medical man of sorts. The mobs of the streets absorbed their radical ideas. At the same time, France declared war on Austria for a strange mixture of reasons and then Prussia declared war on France "to restore the monarchy". The Jacobin "commune" imprisoned King Louis XVI and reconvened the Assembly to frame a constitution. With the Prussians advancing, however, the mobs took over, emptied the prisons and a general slaughter began. A French army stopped the Prussians at Valmy, but the bloody fighting on the streets of Paris continued. The National Convention proclaimed France a republic and in a few months Louis was beheaded. Wild with success the mobs formed armies dedicated to "republicanizing" all Europe and while singing the Marseillaise they spread out to Brussels, Holland, Savoy, Switzerland and south Germany and they declared war on England. Under their new general, Napoleon Bonaparte, a brilliant young artillery officer, the republican armies fought forces of Savoy and Austria in 1796 and won most of northern Italy. In addition, however, war continued at home between the republicans and the loyalists and the double war provided the fear and panic that made it easy for the Jacobins9 to institute the reign of terror. While the Constituent Assembly had been discussing the Declaration of the rights of man, food crises and food riots occupied most of the common people. While a construction laborer earned 18 sous a day, his wife had to pay 14 1/2 sous for a 4 pound loaf of bread. This has ever been perhaps both the cause and the result of revolution. (Ref. 211) Attempts of the monarchy to use government troops against civilian crowds created an awkward situation, as a volley of muskets at close range was murderous and there was yet no other method of crowd control. The French custom of having aristocratic officers, who traditionally kept considerable distance from their men made it easy for the non-coms and regular soldiers to rebel and support the new regime against the old. After Napoleon took control, enlistment in the army was an escape from the very high unemployment which was part of the over-population problem of the country. (Ref. 273)

All royalists were eventually slaughtered and Robespierre ruled with blood, consumed by a passion for a new order of life. He attempted to equalize property and abolish profit. Divorce was made easy and illegitimacy was approved. A new calendar was made. But somewhere in all this Robespierre became insane and was finally killed by his own group. The terror came to an end after 4,000 people had been executed. A new constitution of 1795 provided that France should be ruled by a two-house legislature and five executives known as Directors. A rapid recovery of market-regulated economic activity took place.

After his Italian victories, Bonaparte took an army to the Mediterranean, invaded and initially conquered a part of Egypt. He did this by making the Directory believe that he was indirectly attacking England by breaking their lifeline, but it is probable that the real reason for that peculiar move was locked into Napoleon's own dream of empire. He took scholars and scientists with him and these men did start the science of Egyptology, initiate the breaking of the old hieroglyphics' code and made some striking reforms in Egyptian public health. A combination of some reinforcement Turkish armies and a British fleet under Lord Nelson cut off Napoleon's ships and forces, however, and only he managed to escape to France at the end of 1799. In spite of leaving his men behind, he still managed to arrive as a hero, took over the Directory and conferred the administrative power to three consuls.

The French Revolution brought down the European Old Regime. Neither the previously existing radical ideas nor new technical processes could have transformed European society so rapidly and so fundamentally. In the last decades of the old regime, Russia and eastern Europe were drawing abreast of the political organization of other European states and were on the verge of tipping the scales eastward. The revolution changed this drift. Of course it was costly. Approximately 600,000 French soldiers died between 1792 and 1799, the survivors remaining outside France, living on plunder.

At the end of the century several great scientists emerged in spite of the turmoil. Laennec developed the stethoscope, Pierre Simon Laplace was a great astronomer and statesman and Lavoisier worked out a new theory of combustion and conservation of matter in chemical reactions while repeating many of Priestley's oxygen experiments with a better understanding of their meaning. Theophile de Bordeu held that the stomach, heart and brain each secreted a material to the blood stream necessary for health and thus became known as a pioneer in endocrinology. Dentistry became a separate, true profession with the work of Pierre Fauchard. His publication The Surgeon Dentist became a standard text for generations. (Ref. 125)


At the beginning of the century Holland built ships for all of Europe and we have seen how Peter the Great of Russia not only went there to personally learn shipbuilding but then transported a number of Hollanders to Russia to establish shipyards there. In 1717 with 600,000 people10, Amsterdam was the second largest city in Europe. (Ref. 131) It was a beautiful city but had one bad district, the Jordaan in the southwest, where foundations were poor and canals too narrow. Jewish immigrants (Marranos from Portugal and Spain) and French Huguenots all congregated there. (Ref. 260) The great Amsterdam Exchange Building was finished in the preceding century and now up to 4,500 people were said to "crush" inside about noon every day. It was the busiest exchange in Europe, while the city, itself, was the center of the Amsterdam-London-Paris-Geneva banking supremacy. (Ref. 292)

William of Orange, also king of England, died in 1702 without children and that ended the direct line of the House of Orange. The office of stadtholder and commander-in chief was allowed to pass into obeyance and Marlborough of England was appointed Deputy Captain-General of Holland. In 1704, with Holland's consent, that Duke of Marlborough penetrated Germany clear to the Danube just north of Munich, with British paid soldiers. At that point he joined forces with armies of Eugene of Savoy and Austria. The purpose was to strike at Bavaria, which was then an ally of France, and then take Vienna. In the great battle of Blenheim, the French lost 40,000 men and the terror of the French armies was broken. At home the Dutch Republic finally succumbed under the financial burden of protecting itself during the coalition wars against Louis XIV. Bearing the lion's share of the Anglo-Dutch army between 1689 and 1713, it had to abandon naval superiority to the English. After the Peace of Utrecht (1713) England reaped the profits of the opening up of Spanish America and the Dutch sank to the level of a second rate power. Again in 1743, however, the Hollanders had to join England and Austria against Russia and France, because of direct threats by France in the Austrian Netherlands. Holland's small population and scant natural resources were inadequate to support the status of a great power for long. By 1784 there was a three-way struggle going on in Holland for control. The middle class and the patrician families, who controlled the Estates General, were trying to eliminate a great part of the traditional powers of the stadtholder. In 1787 Prussian troops intervened and restored the stadtholder to even greater powers than before. (Ref. 8)

When the French revolutionists moved into Holland, however, Dutch independence was lost as the French took Amsterdam (1795) while the Dutch fleet was captured while it lay frozen in harbor ice.

The greatest intellectual achievement in Holland in this century was probably in medicine. The medical school at Leiden had two of the great teachers of the times in Hermann Boerhaave and the anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus. Their students became the leaders in the profession all over Europe. (Ref. 125)

The Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713 also ended a long series of Spanish-French wars over Belgium and that country then went under Austrian Habsburg rule as part of the Holy Roman Empire. Economic recovery followed so that by 1787 the people felt strong enough to revolt against Emperor Joseph II and the Republic of the United Belgian Provinces was formed in 1790. In the same year, however, the emperor re-conquered the country. After the French Revolution, Belgium was incorporated into France (1799) in spite of resistance of Hanoverian, Prussian, Austrian, and Hessian forces.



The population of England and Wales grew to over 9 million by the end of this century. (Ref. 279) With the death of King William in 1702, Mary's sister Anne reigned until 1714 in a time known as the Augustan Age of England, because of the literature of Pope, Swift, Addison and others. This was also the time when the Duke of Marlborough defeated a French army in part of the War of the Spanish Succession, in which England gained Gibralter, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Parliament became the supreme power in the state and on Anne's death, decided to pick a less competent monarch, choosing the Elector of Hanover, George I, who could speak no English and would not learn to do so. He spent most of his time in Hanover and there was no love shared between him and the English people. The Great Northern War was in progress and George I decided that Sweden must make peace with Denmark and the German states so that then they could drive Russia from the Baltic. After English money and the Royal Navy had induced a Swedish-Danish peace treaty on July 3, 1720, a large armada was sent into the Baltic, but never did actually engage in battle. The British involvement faded when the South Sea Company and its stock collapsed, as will be described in a later paragraph. It was at that time that Sir Robert Walpole, the Whig leader and the first prime minister and master politician, used adroit maneuvers to solve the financial crisis. (Ref. 131) The monarchy and the House of Commons both lost power at that time as the House of Lords ruled England.

There was a period of increased overseas expansion in America (Canada) and India as the result of England's participation and France's losses in the Seven Years War. Winston Churchill (Ref. 31) insists on calling this the First World War because there were sea battles with France in all parts of the globe, as well as land battles in Germany and in America. Although George II had taken over the throne in 1727 and was more active in British affairs than his father had been, England's leader was William Pitt the Elder, Secretary of State, who ran the war from his office in London. Although having initial losses in America to the combined forces of the French and their Indian allies, by 1759 the British navy had captured Guadeloupe, the richest island in the west Indies, the army of Amherst had taken Ticonderoga and Fort Niagra and the combined services had obtained the key fortress of Quebec. In another year, the French were out of North America. King George II died in 1760 and George III preferred the minister Bute over Pitt. France, seeing that Pitt was losing influence, made a new alliance with Spain, hoping to again have a chance in America. Upon Pitt's resignation, England declared war on Spain and further victories resulted, including the taking of Manila. At the Peace of Paris in 1763, British acquisitions were considerable, although the naval power of France had been left untouched and she retained bases in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (Ref. 31)

At home important changes took place in agriculture, farming and transportation. Rural life in England up to about 1715 was very much as it had been for a thousand years, each household being a self -contained economic unit. But things changed as a factory system made England the workshop of the world and machines began to take the place of workers. The steam engine, invented by James Watts of Glasgow in 1760, was of new design, having the piston driven by live steam. That, with the use of coke in the steel industry and the development of steamships and railways, all had a part in the Industrial Revolution. Wood had up to that time been the major fuel, but by the end of the century only four of the original 69 great forests of England remained and there was great need of a newer and cheaper fuel. Coal was the answer and new mining methods could be developed which in turn led to better production of steel. Iron smelting was changed by Abraham Darby, who mixed sulfur with Shropshire valley coal, making coke and it was this that let England become the world's leading iron manufacturer after 1760. (Ref. 213) These changes had not come overnight. For example, a blast furnace built in Dolgyne in Wales in 1717 was not fired until 5 years later when enough charcoal had been accumulated for 361/2 weeks work. Newcommen invented the atmospheric steam engine in 1711, but only one was in operation in England 30 years later. Thousands of factors hindered progress. What would happen to the labor force when machines took over? (Ref. 260) In 1728 the first steel rolling mill was set up and in 1740 Benjamin Huntsman invented the crucible process for making high-grade steel. This union of coal and iron made the great machines of the Industrial Revolution possible. (Ref. 54) Similarly in textile production, there was John Kay's "flying shuttle" (1733) and Lewis Paul's spinning machine (1738) which in this era revolutionized that field. The Industrial Revolution began in England and occurred only in England in this century. In the reign of George III the structure of British economy and society in general underwent profound change, manifested first by the tremendous output of coal, pig-iron, engineering products and textiles, as already noted. But the economic growth was furthered by the fortunate availability of cheap water transport in inland waterways11 for the newly manufactured heavy, bulky goods and a shipping fleet of 658,000 tons, which was to triple within the next 50 years. (Ref. 213) McNeill (Ref. 279) reminds us of a fact of ten overlooked in that the iron and steel production in Great Britain was basically stimulated by the governments' need for naval cannon and other military hardware. In the decade after 1794 the British government purchased about 1/5 of the ironmasters' products12. In essentially the same period, the Royal Navy made two important technical advancements - copper sheathing for ships' bottoms and the use of short-barreled, large caliber guns called "carronades", which were extremely effective at short ranges. Another plus for England was that except for two minor revolts (Jacobite), she fought her 18th century wars abroad and left the homeland free for industrial development. Her foreign trade trebled between 1702 and 1772. (Ref. 8)

Perhaps the most fundamental difference between social patterns of Britain and the continent was the greater prestige and autonomy which merchants and financiers enjoyed in the former. The interpenetration of the landed nobility and the merchant class in England resulted in availability of large amounts of capital and a remarkable economic growth. Toleration of religious nonconformity also helped. The liberties of Englishmen, expressed in chronic effervescence of parliamentary (and extraneous) debate, confirmed by economic and imperial success, contrasted the deferential obedience demanded by European monarchs. (Ref. 213)

One must not assume, however, that there were no troubles. England created two societies, remote from each other. The first was the society made up of modest country gentlemen and the other was the urban conglomerate, with plenty of animal spirits and not much civilization. (Ref. 33) With somewhere between 750,000 and 860,000 inhabitants London was the largest city in Europe13 but a considerable part of the population was packed into slums filthy with garbage and offal, breeding a hundred diseases. In some sections nearly 50% lived by charity, theft or prostitution. 64% of the children died before reaching 10 years of age. There was not a single bathing establishment in London, even in 1800. Education was very spotty and the great majority of Englishmen could not read or write. Drinking and gambling were rampant with the typical London man consuming a quart of beer or ale a day. 5 1/2 million gallons of gin were consumed in Britain in 1735. Soldiers were all given alcohol before battle and became habitual drinkers. An English military doctor of 1763 even felt that wine and alcohol helped to suppress certain diseases and were indispensable for the good health of the troops. In spite of that, improved farming machinery and methods such as fallowing led to improved diets and then to a population increase. (Ref. 140) In the 1770s some 8,000,000 pounds14 of tea were consumed in England and by the end of the century the English were consuming 2 pounds per person, per annum. Catsup (or ketchup) came to England via India from Chinese immigrants to Southeast Asia. The word comes from the Siamese Kachiap. (Ref. 211)

On the government level piracy was still tolerated and the slave trade by English ships still flourished. And even as now, the lawmakers of England had been so eager to protect the individual from the state that many worried that they were failing to protect society from the individual. The machinery of enforcement broke down before the spread and organization of crime. As in France, a stock exchange in London was established at the turn of the century and again, as in France, there was a market crash in 1720, as the South Sea Company went into bankruptcy.

In some degree history does repeat itself. Just as today labor fears the increase in automation, so in the 18th century the development of machines led to serious labor reactions. We have mentioned John Kay's invention of the "flying shuttle" which doubled the weaving output and increased quality, but now we must add that angry mobs broke up his house and he died in poverty, in France. Similarly, James Hargreaves of the spinning jenny fame, had his house sacked, his first machine burned and he also had to flee. (Ref. 213) Still another phenomenon appeared that remains with us today - bitter arguments over the mounting national debt. The entire economic system depended on the "credit-worthiness" of the state and it could continue to exist only if Parliament created new sources of revenue earmarked for regular payment of the interest on the debt. As a result certain people, land-owners particularly, had high taxes levied, while others, money lenders, renters, and business men, whose incomes were not taxed, gained whenever the state borrowed more money and the interest rate was raised. Braudel (Ref. 292) says that this latter group actually promoted the 1739 war with Spain.

As to philosophy and religion, Britain preceded continental Europe both in the collapse of the old feudal system and the near collapse of the Christian religion. The Established Church was rent by all varieties of dissenting sects and perhaps hit hardest of all by the campaign of the Deists to reduce Christianity to a belief in God and immortality only.

Thomas Woolston, Matthew Tendal, Conyers Middleton and others wrote, spoke and ridiculed. The upper classes were predominately counter-religious and the lower classes in great part had no religion at all, even though there were state penalties for being absent from church, a statute seldom enforced. Not more than 5 or 6 members of the House of Commons went to church. The Anglican clergy seldom mentioned heaven or hell and stressed social virtues rather than other-worldliness. In this setting flowered Methodism, founded by John and Charles Wesley, with a few friends, especially George Whitefield, as they organized a little group of 15 students and teachers at Oxford, resolved to practice Christianity with "Methodical" thoroughness. All were devout Anglicans and most became Anglican clergy. On a trip to Georgia as a missionary, John was impressed by the piety and creed of some Moravian Brothers and soon adopted some of their intensity and ideas. In the next few years, Whitefield's and John Wesley's emotional oratory and preaching and Charles' hymns took over lower class England for Methodism. They preached essentially the old Puritan Creed with the message of sin and repentance, a faith based on fear, not love, but they gave an ethical code that shared in the moral rehabilitation of England in the 2nd half of the century. By the time of John Wesley's death there were 79,000 followers in England and 40,000 in the United States. By 1957 there were 40,000,000 Methodists all over the world. Methodism placed all hopes on faith in the great conflict between reason and faith. (Ref. 54) By the end of the 18th century there were 20,000 Jews in London, hated and given little or no opportunities. (Ref. 260)

Literature and music continued to flourish. In addition to the early century writers mentioned at the beginning of this section, there were Henry Fielding, who wrote the well known Tom Jones in 1730, Thomas Gray, known particularly for his "Elegy in a Country Courtyard", the caustic Samuel Johnson, and the transplanted Scottish philosopher and historian, David Hume. We should not omit mention of Handel's music15.

The first medical school in London was founded by William Hunter, interested primarily in dentistry and obstetrics. His delivery of various members of the royal family helped to raise obstetrics from its medieval obscurity. William's brother, John Hunter, was even more famous as a surgeon and was a student of two other famous surgeons, William Cheselden and Percival Pott. John Hunter developed a method of closing off an aneurysm, thus preventing the necessity for amputation of limbs of thousands of soldiers and civilians. The surgeons finally achieved equality with their traditional rivals, the physicians. Most prominent among the latter was William Heberden, who described angina pectoris and nodules of osteoarthritis of the fingers, which still bear his name. The most important drug development was digitalis, used for "dropsy" by William Withering in 1785. James Lind, a British naval surgeon, proved the efficacy of fresh lemons and oranges in curing scurvy in 1753, but the Admiralty did not act until 1795 and even then used cheap, West Indies' limes (rather than the Mediterranean variety), and these lacked the necessary Vitamin C. Thus, scurvy outbreaks continued on British ships for another 100 years, although the mortality rate did decrease. (Ref. 125, 211)

In spite of the medical advances small-pox remained widespread and highly virulent, with mortality ranging from 15 to 30%. Throughout this century there were only 9 years in which small-pox deaths in London did not exceed 1,000 and in 1759 they reached 3,296. One-third of the inhabitants of England bore pit marks of that disease. The idea of inoculation by pus from a true small-pox lesion was brought from Turkey by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and was used for a short time, but was then dropped as too dangerous. It was at the end of the century in 1798 that Edward Jenner published his famous paper on the use of cow-pox for vaccination. Typhus fever occurred sporadically in mild epidemics. Scarlet fever increased in incidence and by 1750 one out of every 30 cases died. A severe epidemic of that occurred in 1777-1778. In spite of all this, life expectancy of 35 years in England was much better than the overall world expectancy of 25 to 30 years. (Ref. 214, 140, 125, 213)

The War of American Independence was precipitated by the poor policies of ministers such as Grenville and Charles Townshend, but George III's responsibility for the final breach is not to be denied. (Ref. 31) Simple in tastes and unpretentious in manner, his mind was still Hanoverian, with an inveterate obstinacy and stubbornness. He could not understand those who feared the consequences of a policy of coercion. Edmund Burke, Secretary to the Marquis of Rockingham, brought the Whig party to stand for conciliation of the colonies as well as relaxation of restraints on the trade of his native Ireland, but the king was not convinced and after 13 months he got rid of Rockingham's government. William Pitt, now ill, went along with the king and Townshend returned to power, with the final result being war. As it progressed the British General Burgoyne's defeat in October of 1777 at Saratoga influenced France, supposedly neutral up until that time, to ally itself with the colonists. The French brought their intact navy up to the line and started a war of revenge against Britain to overcome the sting of the recent Seven Years War. (Ref. 31) The revolt of the colonies had shattered England's complacency and the word "reform" was in the air. William Pitt the Younger came to power at age 24 in 1783 and in the next 10 years he tried mightily to stay clear of Europe's upheavals, while he improved the financial, administrative and supply organization of the Royal Navy.


The death of the widowed King William left the crowns of both England and Scotland to his sister-in-law Anne. Under some duress by restrictive trade decrees against Scotland, in 1707 a treaty was concluded producing a formal union of the two countries, with a common parliament. But the English continued to harass the Scots.

A Scots proposal to build roads into the Highlands to exploit their great timber resources was rejected by the English, as they continued to import wood from America. English coal could be exported duty free to Ireland, but not to Scotland. Poverty remained endemic but cultivation of the potato on the Stirling plain after 1739 and an increase in the breeding of black cattle began to offer hope for recovery. In the Highlands a warrior society still existed, tribal at the bottom, almost feudal at the top, all using their ancient Gaelic language and existing on the black cattle economy.

The Act of Union joining the two countries did not prevent an occasional resurgence of Scottish national pride and attempts at forcing a new Stuart king on to the throne of Britain. Bonnie Prince Charlie, Catholic son of James III, spent his life trying, with interval help from France and various Scot clans, and he even invaded England with an army of about 10,000 in 1745 - the Jacobite Rebellion. It all came to naught and after the Highlanders' defeat at Culloden, Gaelic Scotland was broken, as the clans were dissolved, the bagpipe banned in war and the kilt outlawed. At the end of that f inal battle, the English killed all the wounded on the field, shot and hung fugitives and burned houses. Many Celtic Scots emigrated to Nova Scotia (New Scotland). (Ref. 194) In spite of that bloodbath, it is amazing that trade, industry and arts made a rapid and substantial recovery. At the end of the century the economy was helped as iron foundries started up, with contracts from the British navy. (Ref. 279)

Every parish in Scotland tried to set up a school for its children and 4 universities offered the best education in the British Isles. Another student of Boerhaave of Leiden (see page 969), Alexander Monro, returned to his native Scotland to give new life to the ancient University of Edinburgh, which became the center of medical instruction for the English speaking world. (Ref. 125) This century has been called the era of "Scottish Enlightenment", with the philosophers David Hume and Thomas Reid, historian William Robertson, political economist Adam Smith, novelist Sir Walter Scott, who was born and educated in Edinburgh, and finally Robert Burns (1759-1796), who wrote some in English, but whose poems in Scottish have brought him everlasting fame. (Ref. 170)


Ireland had a far different situation from Scotland. As a result of repeated victories by English armies over native revolts, a code of laws had been set up that chained the Irish in body and soul. (Ref. 54) The landowners were almost all Protestants, most of them actually living in England and those who resided locally isolated themselves from the hostility of their surroundings with drink, quarreling, dueling and gambling. The Established (Anglican) Church in Ireland included only about 1/7 of the people, but was supported by tithes from the peasantry, almost all Catholics. The latter were excluded from public office, from all professions except medicine, could purchase no land or hold any valuable lease. Emigration continued with about 8,000 Irish going to America each year in the 8th decade. (Ref. 260)

At the end of the century in 1798 a revolt broke out again in the country, which was put down by Lord Cornwallis, in spite of French assistance to the Irish. (Ref. 110) The

British leaders then decided to make Ireland- a part of the United Kingdom. An Act of Union was passed in 1800, which made all of the British Isles a single entity of Great Britain. The social pattern in Ireland resembled that of eastern Europe and the southern American colonies, in having a privileged body of landowners, who shared European civilization and a culturally deprived, psychologically alienated mass of agricultural laborers. (Ref. 139) One helpful feature at the century end was a rise in grain prices in England, which made the Irish potato culture more profitable and necessary. (Ref. 140)


Coming from England, the potato reached Scandinavia in this century. (Ref. 8)


Still under Danish rule, Norway was rapidly developing a sea trade and shipping industry, with particularly close commercial ties with England. Norway's chief contribution to the literature of the period was Ludvig Holberg, who wrote a number of comedies to be played in the first theater in Denmark.


Since Sweden was occupied almost entirely in the early century with war, we shall first continue our special section on that war.

After termination of the Great Northern War, political power in Sweden shifted to the lower nobility and the rich merchants, who were prospering in trade and industry, exploiting the mineral resources of the country. The parliament became the center of political life, but it soon took on dishonest ways and fell in prestige so that Gustavus III became an absolute ruler once more in a golden interlude of intellectualism and art (1771-1792). In the meantime the Hats, a political party under French influence, had provoked another war against Russia, but after two years Sweden was again the loser and had lost still more territory in Finland.

Great men of Sweden in this century were Karl von Linn (Linnaeus), who established the modern binomial system of naming plants and animals and Anders Celsius, astronomer at the University of Uppsala. He also devised the centigrade scale thermometer.


Some repetition of the material concerning the Great Northern War will be apparent, in this section. In 1699 Frederick IV, aged 28 years, had ascended to the throne of Denmark and with Peter the Great of Russia, aged 27 years and Augustus of Poland, 29, formed an alliance to obtain revenge for the actions of Sweden's 17 year old king, Karl XII. On the alliance's declaration of war, however, Karl immediately attacked Denmark, starting the Great Northern War. Sweden easily won those initial battles and continued conquering throughout eastern Europe for the next 10 years, as we have noted above.

After Karl was defeated at Poltava, however,-Frederick once more led Denmark and Norway into war on land and sea and the final peace did not come until 1721. The European powers at the peace table would not return both sides of the Sound to Denmark, because of the old grievance of the Sound Dues and they let Sweden keep Scania.

Frederick IV encouraged intellectual life, subsidizing the Norwegian poet and playwright, Ludvig Holberg. With budding intellectual life, industry also developed, including the still famous Royal Copenhagen Porcelain factory. After Frederick's death in 1728, a great fire swept Copenhagen in the reign of Christian VI. The latter was followed by Frederick V, who married the daughter of Britain's George II. Upon Frederick V's death in 1765 his mentally ill son became Christian VII, married to Caroline Matilda, sister of George III of England. Christian's physician, Struensee, became an all-powerful minister for a short period, but Andreas Peter Bernstorff replaced him as chief minister in 1773. After 1784 Christian's son and successor Frederick VI acted as regent and put through wide reforms, including the liberation of peasants from serfdom, clearing the way for the breaking up of large land-holdings and allowing improvements in farming methods. In 1792 Denmark became the first European country to prohibit the slave trade. Of interest is the fact that it was a Dane, Vitus Bering, who explored the northern seas and oceans for the Russian navy in the first half of the century. (Ref. 117, 38)


Sweden continued to rule Finland, but in 1713-1714, as a part of the Great Northern War, Russians conquered the entire south coast of Finland, using newly made galleys some 80 to 100 feet long with a single mast and sail and numerous benches for oarsmen. They moved in and out along the shore, out of reach of the Swedish men-of-war. Occasionally, when necessary, the galleys would grapple and use hand to hand battle on the decks of the great ships of the line. During this short period much of the Finnish population fled to the Aland Islands, lying between Finland and Sweden. Those islands, however, were soon also infiltrated by the Russian galleys. In the end, as noted above, Finland proper was returned to the control of Sweden. The Finns themselves were basically poor peasant farmers. Their houses and other farm buildings were wooden huts with little in the way of accessories. At the end of the century Russia's continued push against its frontiers resulted in a recurrent invasion into Finland (1790) at the expense of the Swedes. (Ref. 131, 279)


In Norway's "colony" of Iceland, there was a severe cold period, with glaciers covering more of the land so that depopulation occurred. It was mentioned in the introductory material in Chapter 3 (FIFTH AND FOURTH MILLENIA B.C.) that Iceland sat on the mid-Atlantic ridge, which marks the junction of two crustal tectonic plates. Beginning in 1724 volcanic fissures opened and spewed the spectacular "Myvatn Fires" over a period of 5 years, pouring lava and destruction over a large area. (Ref. 105)


The 18th century European surge in population did not put as much strain on the food supply system in eastern Europe as it did in the west, where easily used land had already been under cultivation for some time. In the east there was still much untilled expanse which could be converted to crops without costly capital improvements. As men became more abundant it was also easier for Poland and Russia16 to recruit more soldiers. Russia, as a state on the margin of Europe, like Great Britain, was able to increase control of resources more rapidly than was possible in the more crowded center of Europe. (Ref. 279)


It will be recalled that the close of the last century saw almost the entire southern shore of the Baltic in Swedish hands, with a debilitated Swedish army in Livonia, after defeating the Russians at Narva and Poland as an independent kingdom, ruled by the Saxon Elector, Augustus. Having put what remained of his army in Livonia in winter quarters, Karl XII of Sweden obtained 10,000 fresh recruits from the mother country in the spring of 1701 and then marched with a total of 24,000 men south across the West Divina River, near Riga, to defeat a Saxon army of 9,000 plus an additional cadre of 4,000 Russians. Because Karl could not move his cavalry across the river, which was some 650 yards wide, the Saxons, although badly beaten and battered, retreated and got away. Karl then decided on total defeat of Augustus, before invading Russia. Up to that time Augustus had fought only as a Saxon and not as King- of Poland. Karl wanted the Polish Diet to depose Augustus II and elect a new king, so he waited patiently for that action. But it did not come and by that time it was too late in the year for war in that cold climate, so he wintered his troops in Courland. In January the Swedish army shif ted south into Lithuania and in the spring of 1702 started the fight against Poland and Augustus II, which was to last for 6 years. Behind the Swedes, Russian soldiers with Calmuck and Cossack horsemen eventually completely overran and devastated Livonia and the peasants were being bought and sold as serf s. Among the prisoners taken was Martha Skavronskaya, a 17 year old, illiterate girl who would join the house of Prince Menshikov, become Peter I's mistress, then wife and finally the ruler of Russia as Catherine I.

By the end of 1704, after taking the Swedish held fort at the junction of Lake Lagoda with the Neva, the Russians had taken both Narva in Estonia and Dorpat in Livonia, giving Russia an entrance to the Baltic. (Ref. 131) Meanwhile Karl XII had finally convinced the Polish to dethrone the Saxon, Augustus, and under Swedish guns Stanislaus Leszczynski was crowned King of Poland at Warsaw (not at Cracow, as tradionally). The Swedish army then turned toward Russia (1705) while Augustus, disguised, went by a circuitous route through Hungary to join Czar Peter and the Russian forces. In the first battle at Grodno Karl forced the Russians to retreat in disarray, but he could not follow because of a spring thaw and its mud. The eventual defeat of the Swedish forces at Poltava, however, has been described above in the special section on THE GREAT NORTHERN WAR.

We have also previously reported that Karl Xll obtained a new army of 18,000 men in 1712, landing in Swedish Pomerania with the intent to again attack Russia. A Danish fleet caught a convoy of supply ships, sending 30 of them to the bottom of the Baltic.

The Swedish General Stenbock wheeled and attacked the Danes on the west, winning the battle but losing 6,000 fighting men. He then marched on west toward Hamburg. At Altona he demanded 100,000 thalers for expenses and when the town could raise only 42,000, his men burned the community to the ground.

At what might be called the half-way point of the Great Northern War, after the Swedish defeat at Poltava in Russia, Poland became in effect a possession of Russia and Augustus II was put back on the throne. Peter I also arranged a marriage between Duke Frederick William, of Courland (a nephew of Frederick of Prussia) to his niece Anna (daughter of his half-brother Ivan). She soon became Duchess of Courland, as her young husband died. We shall note later that she was also called back to Russia in 1730 to be Empress Anna Ivanovna. Also, in this interim, Peter's son Alexis married the daughter of the Duke of Wolfenbuettel at the castle of the Queen of Poland in 1711. (Ref. 131)

In about 1733 Russian and Saxon troops put young Augustus III on the Polish throne. He had Austrian backing, but France, Spain and Sardinia took up arms in the so-called War of the Polish Succession, in favor of the deposed Stanislas Lesczynski. By 1738 Stanislas announced a renunciation of the throne and Poland had reached a point of real political decay. (Ref. 119) Rich nobles still wielded much power, however, and Prince Radziwill single-handedly raised his own army, equipped with artillery, in 1750. (Ref. 292) The body politic pulled itself together enough by 1764 upon the death of Augustus III, to elect Stanislas II Poniatowski as king, but Catherine II of Russia used religious divisions as a lever to foment more civil strife. In the resulting war of 1768-1774, the Turks decided to help Poland, but Russia still dominated and sliced off a portion of Poland (part of the first Polish partition) and destroyed the Turkish Mediterranean fleet at Chesme. In the midst of this was a Jewish persecution with thousands having to flee, some to England. (Ref. 260) To complete that first partition Prussia took an area of Poland between Danzig and Thorn, while Austria helped herself to a large area just south of Cracow. A second partition of Poland took place in 1787-92 and finally in 1795 all of Poland was gobbled up, with Austria taking Cracow, Prussia getting Warsaw and Russia occupying Vilna. On that occasion Catherine II of Russia was invited in by the greater nobles of Poland. Life in that country was bad and superstition great. The starving citizens of Kolberg would not touch a wagon load of potatoes sent to them by Frederick the Great in 1774. (Ref. 211) The peasants were subjected to the worst kind of serfdom. In Lower Silesia in 1.798 compulsory labor by peasants was unlimited - that is, they could be forced to work 7 days a week for an unlimited number of hours. Later in the century there was a tremendous "floating" population of runaway serfs, impoverished noblemen, indigent Jews and urban paupers, forming a sort of "anti-society". (Ref. 292)

The unfortunate history of Poland through the ages seems due to multiple factors, not the least of which was the constant antagonism between the nobility and the crown, often subjected to various foreign pressures. The Polish territory overlapped an area containing Russians in the east and an area containing Germans in the west. The country was still abundant in Jews but the majority of the people were Catholic. There were no great cities and little trade and actually very little central authority. An arm of Poland reached out to the sea at Danzig and this separated Prussia into two halves, annoying Frederick II. Internal weakness was caused by obsolete institutions and religious antagonism brought about by central intolerance to both Protestantism on the western borders and orthodoxy in the great Ukraine.

Map from Reference 97

The other Baltic states suffered about the same ultimate f ate as Poland. Latvia and Lithuania were divided along with Poland in the various partitions between 1772 and 1795. Estonia, devastated by Peter's armies was then ruled by Russia for the next 200 years, although the culture of the country remained Germanic. (Ref. 61, 225)

RUSSIA (Please see map in RUSSIA section, next chapter)

After his defeat by Swedish forces at Narva, Peter I immediately started to rebuild his army and equipment. When he had been in England, he had bought about 40,000 modern flintlocks with bayonets and he used those remaining after the Narva battle as models, constructing 6,000 in 1701 and turning out 40,000 a year by 1711. One-fourth of all the church bells in Russia were melted down to make new cannons, with 20 new ones available by May, 1701. In the next three years seven new iron works were developed beyond the Urals, using good ore, perhaps even better than Sweden's17. Peter received no help from Holland or the Habsburgs in this period, because they were involved with most of the rest of Europe in the War of the Spanish Succession. He did get some reassurance from his old ally, Augustus II of Poland. However, when the allies defeated Sweden, Russia got only Ingria and had to supply 15,000 to 20,000 infantrymen for the Saxons, besides paying Augustus a war subsidy of 100,000 rubles a year for 3 years.

During the 6 years that Karl XII of Sweden was fighting in Poland, Peter had some small military successes, including the standing off of a Swedish naval expedition at Archangel and some victories against the 7,800 Swedes left to hold Livonia, taking some Swedish prisoners back to Moscow and eventually completely destroying the rest of that Swedish army, using savage Kalmuch and Cossack horsemen. In 1702, with a fleet of small gun- boats built on the south shore of Lake Lagoda, the czar attacked a Swedish squadron of three brigantines and three galleys, forcing the Swedes to withdraw down the Neva River, leaving the great lake to the Russians. After similar attacks the Swedes also had to with- draw from Lake Peipus, only to return in 1703 and again be run out by the Russians.

Peter had gained his opening to the Baltic by taking Fort Noeteborg (renamed Schluesselburg) and he soon controlled the ancient area of Ingria, along with the area where he was soon to build a city, St. Petersburg, at the mouth of the Neva. That city is at the same latitude as Hudson's Bay and when built, New York was already 77 years old and Boston 73. The first digging for the new city was in May, 1702 on Hare Island. Although still occasionally under attack by Swedes, the new city received its f irst merchant ships for trade in 1703. The hardships of building a fortress and a city on the swamps were stupendous, requiring thousands of laborers, who were drafted from all parts of the empire

Cossacks, Siberians, Tatars, Finns and Russians. Scurvy, dysentery, malaria, etc. cut them down by the hundreds, perhaps overall some 30,000 dying. All the stone and most of the timber and all food was imported from inland. People, from nobles and merchants down to peasants, were forced there to live. Fires were common and the czar himself of ten led the firefighters. Floods were also frequent and devastating, with the entire town sometimes under water. In the area around St. Petersburg, most of the original Finns had been eliminated by war and plague18 and Peter gave their land to noblemen and officers who often then brought whole villages of peasants to live there.

The czar had to control Livonia and Estonia to safeguard his new city and to accomplish this while still administering the entire country meant that he had to travel constantly.

Except in winter, travel was extremely difficult and hazardous,- with rutted or muddy roads, worn out bridges, crude ferries and fords and few fresh horses. His whole concern was war and taxes to support war. The money came from an increasing number of state monopolies, with the state taking control of production and sale of innumerable commodities from alcohol to chessmen, salt and furs19. Many people revolted, some escaping to the north and east to join the "old Believers", others even organized true revolts, including a rebellion at Astrakhan and the uprising of the Bashkir (semi-orientals between the Volga and the Urals), as well as the Don Cossack revolt under Kondraty Bulavin. All were put down in one way or another, the latter one with the help of other loyal Cossacks under Hetman Maximov. For that, Maximov was later executed by Bulavin.

In the interval af ter Peter defeated the Swedish king at Narva and after the cessation of the War of the Spanish Succession, Peter tried to make deals with any and every European power for help against further Swedish advances, but he had no luck. And then Karl XII struck again with 26,000 of his own men and almost 42,000 men from Saxony, leaving the latter country in August of 1707, going through Protestant Silesia. Ahead of that army, however, in western Poland, Cossacks and Kalmuks had ridden, laying waste the countryside and poisoning the wells with dead, uncooperative Poles. All Russian soldiers were withdrawn from western Poland to a line near Minsk. Then, while waiting for Karl's forces, Peter married his Lithuanian, low-born mistress of many years, Martha Skavronskaya, who had taken the name Ekaterina (Catherine). Karl came relentlessly on through the winter over the frozen Vistula and soon captured Grodno, leaving Poland and entering Lithuania. Then the tides of war wavered toward one side and then the other, but gradually the battle lines shifted more southward towards the Ukraine and away from Moscow.

This brought up again the thorny question of the shif ting allegiances of the various Cossack and Ukranian peoples. The Hetman of one large group of Cossacks was Ivan Stepanovich Mazeppa, born in the then Polish sector of the Ukraine, well educated in Jesuit academies but orthodox in religion and at one time a page at the court of King Jan Casimir of Poland. Mazeppa had mixed loyalties, part to the new czar and part to his people, who had wanted full Ukrainian independence in order to avoid Russian taxes, conscription and requisitions. Finally the Hetman did betray Peter and went over to the side of the invading Swedes, whom he thought would win. But while Mazeppa was gone, Peter's forces slipped into the former's home city of Baturin and completely destroyed it, slaughtering 7,000 inhabitants, soldiers and civilians alike. Most of the Ukrainians then stood by the czar and the worst winter of history, which followed, dealt a devastating blow to the invading Swedes, with sentries freezing to death at their posts and overall, some 3,000 Swedes freezing to death, with many more seriously incapacitated by frost-bite. Still Karl XII would not give up, hoping to receive reinforcements and supplies from Poland and the Turks and/or the Crimean Tatars. None of this materialized although he did gain support through the dealings of Mazeppa, of the wild Zaporozhsky Cossacks, who lived on 13 fortified islands below the rapids of the vast Dnieper River, under their Hetman Gordeenko. These Cossacks had sufficient boats to transport 3,000 men across the great river in a single trip, but once again Peter got there first and destroyed all the boats and razed their island base.

As noted in previous sections, the decisive battle of the Great Northern War was fought in the summer of 1709 at Poltava in the Ukraine, in which an original army of 19,000 Swedes left 6,900 dead and wounded and had 2,760 taken prisoner, including some 560 officers in both groups. Russian losses were light. In that single battle, the Swedish invasion of Russia was terminated and the political axis of Europe was shifted, with a new balance of power, which carried over for the next three centuries. The last of the Swedish army was caught and surrendered some days later as it attempted a southern escape and Czar Peter then had 17,000 Scandinavian prisoners. They were treated well, with the officers given the same rank in the Russian army, where some served Russia on other fronts. Of the regular soldier prisoners, in time some 1,000 became painters, goldsmiths, tailors, shoemakers, woodsmen and teachers. When the final peace came in 1721, only 5,000 Swedes could be found who wanted to return to Sweden. In the meantime, King Karl XII escaped to Turkey.

St Petersburg continued to flourish, with Italian, French and German architects all leaving their marks, but it never escaped entirely from the sea, from which it was snatched, suffering complete flooding in 1715 and again in 1775. The common people in and about St. Petersburg were chief ly Finnish and while the women were chambermaids or cooks, the men were sledge drivers or snow and ice shovelers and ice-breakers on the Neva. Ice blocks supplied ice-houses on the ground floor of every large home. Even the lowest servant spoke Russian, German and Finnish, while the educated often spoke 8 or 9 languages. There were endless supply problems. While fish could be obtained from lakes Ladoga and Onega, sheep and cattle had to be brought from the Ukraine, the Don and the Volga regions or even from Turkey. (Ref. 260)

Peter, like other sovereigns of his day, had his many eccentricities, including the collection of giants and dwarf s. The Russian people of that time were crude, with continual drinking and fighting being their greatest entertainments, all under most unsanitary conditions. When they did bathe, they then ran out into the snow, like many Finns do yet today. Under Peter, Russia's past traditions disappeared; there were no more beards, caftans or female seclusions at the court; the Julian calendar was adopted and the alphabet simplified. Like Ivan the Terrible before him and Stalin afterwards, Peter's individual will effectually transformed Russian society and institutions within one quarter of a century. He transposed the serf system to new industries, with everyone working directly or indirectly for the state. (Ref. 139) Besides the westernization and naval development, men were elevated by merit and although old noble titles were not abolished, they no longer carried special privileges. He promoted mining and industry and an Academy of Science. One of his greatest accomplishments was a continuous waterway from the Caspian Sea via the Volga, Volga tributary, a small canal at Vyshny-Volochok20 to Lake Ladoga, the Neva River and then the Baltic. But Lake Ladoga weather and waves were of ten too much for flat-bottomed river barges, so later Peter started another canal at the south end in the marches of Ladoga, which was to be 70' wide, 16' deep and 66 miles long. It was not completed in Peter's life time.

Even after the Great Northern War was settled Peter's drive for conquest was not stilled and he started for the Caspian Sea, Persia and India as well as north and east to the Pacific. In 1724 the Danish born sea captain Vitus Bering, in Russian employ, led an expedition to what was subsequently called the Bering Strait, then 53 miles wide and only 144' deep. East of the Caspian, Peter did not have much luck, as he was soon met by the army of the Khan of Khiva. The Russians won the initial engagement and were invited into the city where they were divided up for billeting and then were systematically slaughtered, group by group. West of the Caspian in the area of Christian Georgia, Peter had better fortune, eventually winning the city of Derbent from then decadent Persia, along with three seaboard provinces of the eastern Caucasus Persia continued to fight, however, and later in 1732 Empress Anna, losing 15,000 Russian soldiers a year to disease, gave those Caucasian provinces back to Persia, where they remained until the time of Czar Alexander I, in the next century. (Ref. 139, 53, 131)

On the bad side of Peter's ledger was the creation of a bureau of official informers called "fiscals" and as today, when Russians sold goods to foreigners, they could receive only foreign money. He also started an internal passport system, still in use today, which binds a Russian to a f arm or a factory. Of Peter's 12 children by Catherine, only Anna and Elizabeth lived beyond the age of seven. Catherine was made officially Empress of all Russia in 1722 and when Peter died in January, 1725 she continued to rule. Peter's death had to do with a chronic urinary tract problem (he had passed numerous stones) and apparently he developed an obstruction in his bladder from stone or cancer of the prostate, along with infection. At autopsy he had gangrene of the bladder and adjacent tissues. There was no evidence of syphilis, as has been intimated by a few authors in the past. (Ref. 131) The real ruler during Catherine I's short reign was Peter's old, close friend Menshikov, also of very humble origins. Catherine died in 1727, succeeded by Peter II (Peter's son by Eudoxia, his first wife) and Menshikov was exiled. But Peter II died of small-pox in 1730 and Anna, daughter of Ivan V, and the widowed Duchess of Courland, became Empress for the next 10 years. On her death the infant Ivan VI, grandson of her elder sister, Catherine of Mecklenburg, inherited the throne, only to be shortly imprisoned for 22 years, while Elizabeth, Peter's daughter, helped by the guards regiment became Empress from 1741 to 1762. Although never married officially she may have secretly married her lover, Alexis Razhumovsky, whom she raised from commoner to count. Following Elizabeth came a short reign of Peter III (another of Peter the Great's grandsons) and then his grandson's German wife, Catherine II the Great21. (Ref. 131) This Catherine had assumed power when she schemed with her lover, the guard, the army and the navy to force her weak husband to resign as czar. Shortly thereafter the poor husband was either murdered or just died. (Ref. 135) Superficially she was a sophisticated ruler, carrying on correspondence with Voltaire and other European intellectuals, but at home she let social reforms die and was actually concerned only with increasing her territories. She preserved her power by cultivating the Imperial Guard and satisfying the noble class. The urban population rose to about 2,000,000, while the serfs' lives became more degraded. In 1773 Emelian Pugachev, a Don Cossack, led an uprising of peasants, Cossacks of southeastern Russia and minority groups of Kalmuks and Bushkirsalls along the Ural and Volga rivers. The stage had been set by the long history of serfdom and the attachment of peasants to factories, intolerance and discrimination toward the various tribes in the Volga region, administration corruption, abuse of power by the gentry, crushing tax burdens and intolerable conditions in the army. Religion also became a factor when most of the Cossacks, who were "old Believers", were forced to shave upon conscription. At the time of that rebellion Russia was at war with Turkey and busy with the partitions of Poland but when that was settled government troops put down the rebellion (1775) and then executed Pugachev. But the primary causes of the movement remained. (Ref. 135, 8)

We have mentioned Catherine's participation in the partitions of Poland in section III, E, I, above. At the end of the century Catherine II had finally defeated the Tatar Khanate of the Crimea, getting control of the north shore of the Black Sea. That portion of the steppe, which included the Ukraine and the grasslands to the east, was far more valuable than the territories which ended up under the control of Austria and Turkey. (Ref. 279) It was Dutch money, loaned to Catherine 11 by Henry Hope and Company in the amount of 57,000,000 francs that made that conquering expedition to the Black Sea possible. (Ref. 292) Iron and copper ores, along with plenty of charcoal, all from the Urals, allowed great expansion of armament industries and general industrialization. (Ref. 8) In 1771 plague killed 56,672 people in Moscow alone, but an enlarged food supply through the use of the plow overcame those losses so that the population actually increased from about 12,500,000 in 1724 to 21,000,000 by 1796. Catherine introduced smallpox inoculation through an English physician in 1768. (Ref. 140)

A little more about the Russian science at this period is of interest. M.V. Lomonosov was the father of Russian science, doing fine work in molecular physics, chemistry, optics, electricity and in the development of a law of the conservation of matter. He founded the Russian Academy of Science. It was I.I. Shuvalov who founded the University of Moscow in 1755. Leonard Euler, born in Switzerland, did most of his work at the Academy in St. Petersburg. He was the greatest mathematician of the century, developing calculus and some aspects of astronomy. He was the first to develop algorithmic devices and use the concepts of "e", "Pi", and "i" for various constants and an imaginary number, respectively. (Ref .135)

Forward to Europe: A.D. 1801 to 1900


  1. Up until this date Venice had preserved its own constitution and closed citizenship throughout the centuries. (Ref. 260)
  2. One must distinguish between the Fredericks I, II, and III of Germany in the 12th to the 15th centuries and these Fredericks, who were electors and kings of Prussia
  3. Frederick Wilhelm I married his Hanoverian first cousin, Sophia Dorothea, daughter of the future king George I of England
  4. The Silesian wars between 1740 and 1745 were actually part of what is often called the War of the Austrian Succession, as a coalition of European powers tried to block the accession of Maria Theresa
  5. Actually, as Maria Theresa officially came to power at the Treaty of Aix-la-chapelle of 1748, ending the War of the Austrian Succession, Silesia was temporarily given to Prussia. (Ref. 38)
  6. The husband of Maria Theresa, duke of Lorraine and grand duke of Tuscany, was given the title of Emperor Francis I, although he had very limited authority
  7. Negotiated by John Methuen actually to better encircle Spain, which was loyal to the Duke of Anjou, Philip V and the French. (Ref. 272)
  8. Quotation from Braudel (Ref. 292), page 85
  9. The Jacobins were a political club named after their meeting place, a Dominican monastery. Jacobin was the Parisian name for Dominican. (Ref. 38)
  10. Braudel (Ref. 260) says that Amsterdam had only 200,000 at the end of this century. This only demonstrates the uncertainty of population estimates
  11. There were 4,250 miles of inland waterways, all developed privately or by stock companies. (Ref. 213)
  12. 50% of E1ritish iron was used for horseshoes. (Ref. 8)
  13. England's total population was at about 8,000,000. (Ref. 213)
  14. One pound of tea makes almost 300 cups. (Ref. 211)
  15. George Frederic Handel was born in Halle, Germany, but moved to England in 1712 at age 27
  16. This was also true of Prussia and Austria
  17. By 1715 these iron works had produced some 13,000 cannons and by 1720 there was an annual output of 20,000 muskets. (Ref. 279)
  18. Moscow also suffered severely from the plague later in 1770 and 1790. (Ref. 213)
  19. Thus, the later communism was not exactly new to the Russian people
  20. This canal took 20,000 men four years to build. (Ref. 131)
  21. Born Sophia-Augusta of Anhalt Zerbst. (Ref. 222)

Collection Navigation

Content actions


Collection as:

PDF | EPUB (?)

What is an EPUB file?

EPUB is an electronic book format that can be read on a variety of mobile devices.

Downloading to a reading device

For detailed instructions on how to download this content's EPUB to your specific device, click the "(?)" link.

| More downloads ...

Module as:

PDF | More downloads ...


Collection to:

My Favorites (?)

'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens


A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks

Module to:

My Favorites (?)

'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens


A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks