The scientific theories that were first discovered and made public in the years 1700-1900 are some of the most pivotal in history. Landmark theories of planetary motion, the workings of nature, and the speed of light were all ideas that took the world by storm.
In the period 1700-1900, kings and empires rose and fell, but science conquered all, taking the world by storm. Yet, as the 1700s began, the mysteries of the universe were pondered by "natural philosophers"—the term "scientist" didn't even exist until the mid 19th century—whose explanations couldn't help but be influenced by the religious thought and political and social contexts that shaped their world.
For much of the past five centuries, the history of the European continent has been a history of chaos, its civilization thrown into turmoil by ferocious wars or bitter religious conflicts—sometimes in combination—that have made and remade borders, created and eliminated entire nations, and left a legacy that is still influencing our world.
Money truly does make the world go ‘round. And yet, when it comes to the study of world history, most of us focus on politics, society, and culture. We often overlook the vital importance of economics.
Even though you might never stop to think about it, the ancient world and the civilizations it produced are with you in almost everything you do. The ancient world has influenced our customs and religious beliefs, our laws, and the form of our governments. It has taught us when and how we make war or pursue peace. It has shaped the buildings we live and work in and the art we hang on our walls. It has given us the calendar that organizes our year and has left its mark on the games we play.
Sixteen centuries ago a wave of settlers from northern Europe came to the British Isles speaking a mix of Germanic dialects thick with consonants and complex grammatical forms. Today we call that dialect Old English, the ancestor of the language nearly one in five people in the world speaks every day.