History of the Western world

The term “western world” can be confusing because it covers different realities according to the times and according to political, cultural, ideological, religious or philosophical considerations. It is therefore interesting to study it in a historical perspective. The Western world or, more simply, the West means, in a classical vision, a cultural area inheriting from ancient Greece (thought, science) and ancient Rome (right) and later imbued with Judeo-Christian Catholic and Protestant culture. In this sense, the roots of the West go back to ancient times. It finds its origin in the establishment of colonies by the cities of Ancient Greece which diffused little by little their civilization on all the Mediterranean rim. It was under this influence that the city of Rome gradually developed to the point of forming a vast empire. In 296, Diocletian administratively divided the Roman Empire into two parts: the East and the West, establishing a first boundary between what will long be the Eastern world and the Western world. After a period of relative decline during the Middle Ages, the West developed more strongly than the rest of the world with the Renaissance and then with the Enlightenment in freeing itself from the influence of the Church, before reaching its culminating with the Industrial Revolution of, the European colonization of the world and finally with the political revolutions of the, which established secularism and parliamentary democracy.

The East-West opposition (Europe-Asia) has its roots in classical antiquity, with the medical wars in which the Greek city-states opposed the expansion of the Achaemenid Empire. The biblical opposition between Israel and Assyria transposed into a European perspective was reformulated in these terms by early Christian writers such as Jerome de Stridon who compared it to the great invasions of his time. “The East” in the Hellenistic period designated the Seleucid Empire, while the Greek influence extended to the Greco-Bactrian kingdom and the Indo-Greek kingdom to the east and to the borders of Scythia in the Pontic steppe to the north. At that time, there were important cultural contacts between the Mediterranean and the East, giving birth to syncretisms like Greco-Buddhism. It was only with the evangelization of the Roman Empire from that the Mediterranean world lost interest in oriental cultures. The division of Europe into a Western (Latin) and an Eastern (Greek) part was prefigured by the division of the Roman Empire under the reign of Diocletian in 285. The evolution of Christianity followed divergent paths in these two regions, from the earliest times, but the Great Schism consecrating the final separation of Christianity between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church occurred only at. In 476 the Western Roman Empire which will be, centuries later, at the origin of the modern states of Europe, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and England, collapsed for reasons resulting from the combination of an economic decline and a considerable reduction in its military power that allowed invasion by barbarian tribes from southern Scandinavia and what is now northern modern Germany . According to many authors, the main causes of the fall of an empire are internal, like racial, religious or political conflicts responsible for divisions within the country. The war and the economic crisis can also contribute to the collapse of the empire. England has been invaded by several Germanic peoples, including the Angles and Saxons. Gaul (whose territory covered what now forms France, Belgium and part of Switzerland) and Lower Germany (the Netherlands), were occupied by the Franks, the Iberian Peninsula was invaded by the Visigoths and Italy conquered by the Ostrogoths.

Around the year 500, Clovis, king of the Franks, became a Christian and unified Gaul under his authority. Later during, the Eastern Roman Empire restored its authority in most of Italy and Spain. Missionaries sent from Ireland and the Pope helped to convert England to Christianity in, and thus, to establish the Christian faith as the dominant religion in Western Europe. To Islam was founded in Arabia. An Islamic empire was established shortly afterwards and quickly spread to the Middle East and North Africa. At the beginning of the eighth century, the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily fell into the hands of Muslims. It was not until 732 that the Muslim advance in Europe was stopped by the king of the Franks, Charles Martel, avoiding to Gaul and the rest of the West to be conquered by Islam. Since that time, “the West” has become synonymous withChristendom, the territory ruled by the Christian powers, since Eastern Christianity was reduced to the rank of Dhimmi under the authority of the Muslim Caliphate. The cause of the liberation of the “holy land” remained a major theme of all medieval history, which fueled many successive crusades, of which only the first was successful. Charlemagne (“Charles the Great” in French), became king of the Franks. He conquered the lowlands (now Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), Germany and northern and central Italy. In 800 Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Under his rule, his subjects from non-Christian lands like Germany, were converted to Christianity. After his reign, the empire he had created broke apart and was divided into two kingdoms, France (meaning Francia) and the Holy Roman Empire. From the end of the eighth century, the Vikings began to attack the towns and villages of Europe. Finally, they went from plunder to conquest and invaded Ireland, most of England and northern France (Normandy). These occupations, however, were not long-lasting. In 954, Alfred the Great chased the Vikings from England, a kingdom he reunited under his rule, and the reign of the Vikings in Ireland ended. In Normandy, the Vikings adopted French culture and language, became Christians and were absorbed by the native population. At the beginning of Scandinavia was divided into three kingdoms, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, all of which were Christian states. To the Norman explorers reached Iceland, Greenland, and even North America, however, only Iceland was occupied permanently by the Scandinavians. In the 900s another group of warrior nomads ravaged Europe, the Magyars who eventually settled in what is now Hungary. Converted to Christianity, they became the ancestors of the Hungarian people. The Poles, a Slavic people from the west, formed a unified state in the course of and also adopted Christianity at the same time but most Poles only converted to it. From the beginning of the second millennium AD, the West was linguistically divided into three major groups. The group of Romance languages, derived from Latin, the language of the Romans, that of the Germanic languages ​​and that of the Celtic languages. The most spoken Roman languages ​​were French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The four most spoken Germanic languages ​​were English, German, Dutch and Danish. Irish and Scottish Gaelic were two of the most widely spoken Celtic languages ​​in the British Isles.

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