World History

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India's Caste System

Many Westerners have heard of India's caste system, but a thorough understanding of its ins and outs is still relatively uncommon. The following sections reveal the nitty-gritty of the caste system. [more…]

Understanding the Origin of the Greek Gods

The most complete version of the Greek creation myths that survives is a poem called the Theogony ("Birth of the Gods") by a poet named Hesiod, who lived in the late eighth or early seventh century B.C [more…]

Napoleon's Josephine: A Rose by Any Other Name

Napoleon's greatest love would come from the Caribbean island of Martinique. Napoleon never went there, but this woman's father, Joseph Gaspard Tascher de la Pagerie, owned a sugar plantation, complete [more…]

India: From Ancient Economy to British Colony

India can lay claim to one of the world's oldest civilizations, and its economic history is truly long and complicated. [more…]

Understanding the Disputed Areas of the Middle East

Disputed areas may be the greatest threat to stability in the Middle East and the world. Disputed areas are, well . . . disputed because, in order to secure peace in the here and now, warring parties decided [more…]

Exploring the Ancient Pyramids

From the ancient civilizations of the Near East to the native peoples of Central America, pyramid building has been a common architectural design for thousands of years. [more…]

Adding Firepower with the Invention of Gunpowder

Between the twelfth and the eighteenth centuries, guns spread from China to western Asia, to Europe, and then around the world. They advanced from primitive experiments to precision technology. Warriors [more…]

How the Enlightenment Affected Politics and Government

The Enlightenment, or Age of Enlightenment, rearranged politics and government in earthshaking ways. This cultural movement embraced several types of philosophies, or approaches to thinking and exploring [more…]

Discovering Italian High Renaissance Artists

If you are familiar with any Renaissance, it is with the Italian High Renaissance. In this article, you encounter names of master artists that have become household words. Now you can put those names in [more…]

Language, Ethnicity, and Tradition in the Middle East

A great tension exists between different ethnic groups in the Middle East. In South Asia, for example, Pashtuns, Punjabis, Sindhis, Hazaras, Tajiks, and other groups are in constant conflict. In 1988, [more…]

Surviving the Black Death

Europeans in the fourteenth century were looking at the world in a new way, seeing far-off places as desirable, worth finding out about, maybe worth acquiring. Yet before Europeans really got out and started [more…]

Napoleon's Waterloo

Waterloo is a small town a few miles south of Brussels, Belgium. It's an unassuming place, with a church, a few inns, and some homes surrounded by old stone farmhouses and lots of open fields. Those farms [more…]

The Birth of Impressionism: Manet and Monet

Impressionism began to take shape in the 1860s on the canvases of Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. But the actual birth of Impressionism was probably the summer of 1869, when Monet [more…]

Discovering the Baroque Masters: Caravaggio and His Followers

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, known more simply as Caravaggio (1571–1610), was the greatest and most influential painter of the Baroque style. He was also a quick-tempered Bohemian who was often jailed [more…]

Napoleon: Educating a Genius

Napoleon's family was not impoverished, but it was by no means wealthy. During Napoleon's childhood, the Bonapartes owned only a few rooms of a large house [more…]

Figuring Out How Roman Mythology Got So Darned Mixed Up

Roman religion and, therefore, Roman mythology, was a long, drawn-out process of bringing together the gods, stories, and rituals of various cultures and making them Roman. People who study religion or [more…]

Barbarian Invasions: Lightening Up the Dark Ages

Everyone talks about the barbarian invasions during the Dark Ages, but barbarian is rather unfair. These "barbarians" had a well-developed culture, with their own laws and forms of art and codes of ethics [more…]

Napoleon: Being a Hero in a Troubled Nation

After military successes in Egypt, Napoleon was treated as a returning hero of mythic proportions in 1799. To the French people, he was Caesar and Alexander rolled into one. The streets were full of his [more…]

Battles in the Sky: Nostradamus Predicts World War I

Oh, the irony of naming things. World War I was originally called The Great War because no one imagined that all the nations would fight at once — never mind the idea they'd do it again later. No one imagined [more…]

Armageddon and the Book of Revelation

The events written in the biblical Book of Revelation go by a number of names — Armaggedon, Apocalypse, The End Times — and for thousands of years, people have been seeing the signs of Armaggedon in the [more…]

Revising the Code of Canon Law (1983)

For Roman Catholics, canon law is another term for Church or ecclesiastical law. The word canon comes from the Greek word kanon, which is a "measuring reed. [more…]

Setting the Stage for the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

Throughout history, foreign armies who happened to be in the neighborhood of Central Asia often stopped by Afghanistan for an invasion or two. The Greeks and Persians in ancient times and the Arabs and [more…]

Examining the (Re)Birth of the Renaissance

A 19th-century Swiss historian named Jacob Burckhardt coined the term Renaissance (rebirth) for the big changes in thinking and the arts that took place in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. The rebirth [more…]

Running Hot and Cold Following World War II

The years after World War II weren't peaceful. But they didn't erupt into World War III either (cross your fingers). For much of the time after World War II, the major world powers were preoccupied with [more…]

Unlocking the Secrets of Symbolism in Nostradamus's Writings

People around the world have always searched for signs and omens that tell what the future brings, and they've looked just about everywhere. Since 1555 or so, people have looked to Nostradamus's writings [more…]

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