Friday, June 17, 2011

36 Events that Changed the World

History is philosophy teaching by examples. 
~Thucydides (460 and 400 BC), The History of the Peloponnesian War
It's been awhile since I've talked about one of the lecture series that I listen to while commuting to work. Many fade in to oblivion. But the latest has been interesting: The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History by Professor J. Rufus Fears of the University of Oklahoma. He tells a good tale but I worry that it's more historical fiction than history. The dry facts of history are enlivened with speculative background details and colored with personal opinions and spin. He has selected 36 events that changed the world.
  1. He begins with Law and Civilization as represented by the the Law of Hammurabi (1750 BC)
  2. Then a second law code and birth of a new religion - the law of Moses (1220 BC)

    The "Axial Aga" where great teachers of religion and philosophy arose around the world:
  3. Buddha (526 BC)
  4. Confucius (553-479 BC)

    Democracy!
  5. He mentions Socrates as one of the great teachers of the Axial Age but does not credit him with changing the world. Instead the honor goes to Solon of Athens for the birth of Democracy (594 BC) followed by
  6. The Battle of Marathon (490 BC) where Democracy is triumphant against the Persian Empire
  7. Still in Greece, the Oath of Hippocrates and the birth of scientific medicine
  8. Caesar crosses the Rubicon (49 BC) and Democracy dies until resurrected 1800 years later in America.

    New Religions
  9. Back to great religions again: The Trial of Jesus (36 AD)
  10. Constantine Victorious - and Rome converts to Christianity (312 AD)
  11. Muhammad moves to Median (622 AD)

    The Renaissance
  12. Jump 400 years to the first university in Bologna, Italy (1088) and the Age of Learning
  13. Dante's Divine Comedy & the birth of the Renaissance (1283)
  14. The Black Death (1348)
  15. Columbus Discovers a New World (1492)
  16. Michelangelo paints the Sistine Chapel (1508)  - world changing how? (have not reached this point yet)

    The Reformation
  17. Erasmus retranslates the Bible from Latin back to Greek (1516) paving the way for
  18. Luther and the Protestant Reformation (1517)

    Perhaps not so well known is that the Reformation led to centuries of vicious warfare over religion and over empire building once the domination of Rome was broken

    An Age of Empires
  19. The Defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588) - Britannia Rules the Waves
  20. The Battle of Vienna (1683) - I was not familiar with this one so I looked it up. The Islamic Ottoman Empire failed to capture Vienna in 1529; the first failure after almost a century of unchecked conquest throughout eastern and central Europe. For the next 150 years Europeans battled the Ottomans for control of Austria culminating in 1683 with victory at Vienna. This marked a turning point where Islam was halted and the start of the Great Turkish War to push the Ottomans out of all of Europe.
  21. The Battle of Lexington (1775) - Birth of America
  22. Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg (1863) - The US Civil War and how dedicated individuals are defeated by technology.

    The Industrial Age
  23. Adam Smith (1776) versus Karl Marx (1867) - Capitalism vs Socialism
  24. Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution (1831)
  25. Louis Pasteur and the Germ theory of medicine (1885)
  26. The Wright Brothers achieve Flight (1903)

    The end of the Age of Empires?
  27. The death of an Archduke begins WWI (1914)
  28. The Birth of the Soviet Union and Communism (1917)

    Who will rule the 20th century?
  29. The Stock Market Crash (1929) - a Great Depression changes the world...
  30. ...Hitler Becomes Chancellor of Germany (1933)
  31. ...Franklin Roosevelt Becomes President (1933) - restoring hope in a disillusioned world
  32. ...Mao Zedong and Communist China (1934)
  33. The Atomic Bomb (1945)

    Dreams and Ideals
  34. John F. Kennedy Is Assassinated (1963) - end of American Innocence
  35. Dr. King Leads a March (1963) - I have a Dream
  36. September 11, 2001 - Islam vs the modern world
Bottom Line

Do you agree with these events? Which ones are missing? I'll present my list of 36 on Monday.

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