Important Historical Figures, Term 1 (Important points)

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Kenneth Bartlett

When did this happen, when did this event occur (place in time), where did it happen More precise = better Why is this significant (how, what, why, etc) how did this event, person, book etc contribute to the significance of European history? (Term 2) Napoleon: Napoleon was an artillery officer in the French army. Ten years following the French Revolution (c. 1799), Napoleon would come to power in a coup. The revolution made possible not only his rise in the army first, but to supreme power in France in which he called himself the ‘Son of the Revolution.’ Remembered as one of the greatest administrators in Europe, Napoleon dominated both French and European history from 1799 to 1815. He created the face of a modern France by using the ideals of the French Revolution. Napoleon codified laws for the entire nation through the creation of the Code Napoleon, 1804, which ensured the preservation of most of the revolutionary gains. Lastly, the Code Napoleon would influence other European nations, as well as provide a basis for modern lawmaking. Congress of Vienna: The Congress of Vienna, held in September 1814 is considered to be one of Europe’s greatest diplomatic events following the upheaval unleashed during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Orders. Rulers that attended the Congress sought to restore stability by establishing much of the old order to a Europe that was ravaged by war. Compensation was given to the victors who fought France for 25 years, the principal of legitimacy was restored in which old ruling families were recognized as having claim to the throne, had to have a mechanism for the balance of power, and lastly France was not punished but rather integrated as a part of the new order. Moreover, rulers agreed not to deal with abstract principals, and national self-determination was completely ignored. Governments were secularized, and there was separation between religion and politics, and most anti-French states adopted the Code Napoleon that was highly centralized and gave much power to governments. Lastly, the world was restored but along clear, practical lines, and a workable world was created. Metternich: Metternich was the foreign minister of Austria who played a major role at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, as the chief exponent of the principle of legitimacy. In order to re-establish peace and stability in Europe, he considered it necessary to restore legitimate monarchs who would preserve traditional institutions. Czar Alexander I: Czar Alexander I was a Russian Tsar (1801-25) raised in the ideals of the French Revolution. Censorship was relaxed in Russia, political prisoners were freed, and the educational system was reformed. Initially he seemed to be willing to make reforms, however he refused to grant a constitution or free the serfs in the face of opposition to the nobility. Alexander I became a reactionary, and his government reverted to strict and arbitrary censorship following the defeat of Napoleon, and thus an autocracy. Adam Smith: Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations in 1776, known as the bible of laissez faire capitalism. He attacked mercantilism, instead favoring free trade and the invisible hand of the government. In order for productive efficiency, Smith suggested that the government not manipulate the market. The government instead should only serve 3 basic functions: 1) protect society from invasion, 2) defend individuals from injustice and oppression, and 3) keep up certain public works. Smith laid the foundations for economic liberalism. David Ricardo, 1823: Ricardo wrote the Principles of Economy in 1823 in which he developed his famous ‘iron law of wages.’ He argued that an increase in population means more workers; and more workers in turn cause wages to fall below the subsistence level. The result is misery and starvation, which then reduce the population. When there is a decline in the number of workers, and wages rise above the subsistence level again, in turn encourages workers to have larger families as the cycle is repeated. According to Ricardo, raising wages arbitrarily would be pointless since it would accomplish little but perpetuate this vicious circle. Lastly, any widespread intervention would disrupt the natural operation of the law of wages, and those that who meant to be helped would suffer terribly. Louis Blanc: Blanc offered yet another early socialist approach to a better society. He had a plan in place that mediated the goods of society and the needs of the industrial poor for a better life. Blanc maintained that social problems could be solved by government assistance. He denounced competition as the main cause of the economic evils of his day. Moreover, he believed that factories should be run by the state, but the workers would own and operate them. He wanted a republic in which all men and women were equal, a tax system in which people that would be able to live comfortably. Blanc also believed that socialism was compatible with democracy and that you don’t need a revolution or violence just a mechanism by which the wealth of society could be fairly distributed. Lastly, Blanc was identified as one that would coop the working class into the revolution. Thomas Malthus: Malthus wrote the Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798 in which he argued that population increases at a geometric rate while the food supply increases at a much slower arithmetic rate – resulting in severe overpopulation and starvation for the human race if not left unchecked. According to Malthus, nature imposes a major restraint in which misery and poverty were inevitable and thus no government or individual should interfere with it. Lastly, the significance of this document is that it contributed to economic liberalism. Benjamin Disraeli, 1804-81: Disraeli was the Tory leader in Parliament in 1868. Disraeli and his Conservative Party introduced the Reform Act of 1867, which was an important step toward the democratization of Britain. The Act lowered the monetary requirements for voting (taxes paid or income earned), and it increased the number of voters. Moreover, the extension of the right to vote had an important by-product as it forced the Liberal & Conservative Parties to organize carefully in order to manipulate the electorate. John Bright, 1811-89: Bright formed the Anti-Corn Law League in 1883 to help workers by lowering bread prices, and abolished the Corn Laws that aided the industrial middle class who as economic liberals, who favoured the principles of free trade. He also believed that the government had the responsibility to intervene for change. William Ewart Gladstone, 1809-98: Gladstone led the first Liberal Administration from 1868 to 1874, which was responsible for a series of impressive reforms. Legislation and government orders opened civil service positions to competitive exams rather than patronage, introduced the secret ballot for voting, and abolished the practice of purchasing military commissions. The Education Act of 1870 attempted to make elementary schools available for all children. These reforms were typically liberal. By eliminating abuses and enabling people with talent to compete fairly, they sought to strengthen the nation and its institutions. Louis Pasteur: Pasteur proposed the germ theory of disease. In 1857, he conducted experiments in which he proved that microorganisms of various kinds were responsible for the process of fermentation, thereby launching the science of bacteriology. In 1863 he developed the process of pasteurization – the heating of a product to destroy the organisms causing spoilage. Moreover, his desire to do more than simply identify disease-producing organisms led him to a preventative vaccination against rabies. He later extended the principle of vaccination to other diseases creating a modern immunological science. Most importantly, his discoveries made the health of Europeans infinitely better. Charles Darwin (1809-82): Darwin wrote the Origin of Species in 1859 in which he proposed the idea of natural selection the idea that nature or the environment will select variants among offspring that will allow them to reproduce and thus pass on these variants to their offspring. The most advantaged would survive because they were the fittest, and the less advantaged will be singled out. However, Darwin’s work had implications seeing as his theory of natural variation challenged any abstract principal of the church, and the belief that the universe is in order was all gone. In other words, God becomes irrelevant, and nature works at random through natural selection. Moreover, Darwin’s theories were misinterpreted by some thus leading to the rise of Nazism and racial superiority, as well to imperialism and business competition. Robert Owen (d.1859): Owen was a British cotton manufacturer who developed a guilt complex because he became so rich. He believed that humans would reveal their natural true goodness if they lived in a cooperative environment. He was successful in transforming a squalid factory town into a flourishing, healthy community. However, when he attempted to create a self-contained cooperative community in the United States it was not successful. Charles Fourier (d. 1837): Fourier proposed the creation of small model communities called phalansteries. These were self-contained cooperatives, each consisting ideally of 1620 people. Communally housed, the
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