Modern History/Introduction

Wikibooks Modern History
Population, Governance, Philosophy, Invention, Weapons, Combat, Trade, Exploration

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What is Modern History?


For the purpose of this book, modern history starts in 1490 and continues until some end point after Beaconsfield mine collapse in 2006, but before the US Presidential Election of 2008.

Existing free texts on this topic include Wikibooks World History, and Wikipedia. This book takes a different approach from both texts. The intention is to provide features:

  • This book contains external links, especially to other Wikibooks and wikis such as Wikisource, Wikipedia, and the Alternate History Wikicity.
  • This book presents questions based on a short list of themes and answers them.
  • This book can be read as a chronological narrative, unlike Wikipedia which requires much jumping between articles.

To start creating this book, create stubs that link to Wikisource and Wikipedia.

Start of this book


By our measurement, this book began 13 November 2004 when User:DorianGray created the first page. A year later, at 23 November 2005, User:Kernigh posted the first of the themes and began expansion of this book. On 9 May 2006, the Front Cover was posted



For consistency, this book will follow the same themes through the text. The themes are Population, Governance, Philosophy, Invention, Combat, and Trade.

  • Population [P] refers to groups of persons, such as ethnic or social groups.
  • Governance [G] refers to rule over a population or populations. Many empires expanded in modern history until several states gained independence.
  • Philosophy [Ph] refers to the ideas of a thinkers that came up with ideas that radically changed thought as we know it today.
  • Invention [I] refers especially to new or recovered technology. Modern history was the time of the industrial revolution and eventually the computer revolution.
  • Weapons [W] refers to the tools of war used in battle, be it knives, guns or bombs
  • Combat [C] refers to wars, battles, and other destructive competition. In modern history, wars became more deadly until the largest war so far, World War II.
  • Trade [T] refers to any exchange of goods or services, from the exchange of some money for a slice of bread to the many ships crossing the Pacific.
  • Exploration [E] refers either to unknown lands being discovered or to not well known lands being explored.

Overview of modern history


History may be divided into many categories (Ancient History, The Dark Ages, Medieval History, Age of Empires, Space Age, etc). Modern history relates to events that have occurred in the timeframe roughly starting around the American and French Revolutions. Many textbooks date the 'beginning' of Modern History at the Industrial Revolution (the 18th-19th centuries).

Events from around the turn of the 20th century to the present day are usually described as Contemporary History. This book includes events from this time, except that it is not meant to provide a commentary on current events. Thus, this book will cover Beaconsfield mine collapse in 2006, but not yet the US Presidential Election of 2008.

15th century


(currently begins in 1490)

16th century



17th century



18th century



19th century


(1801 to 1900) This period of history saw much change in world history. The end of the Napolenic wars, the crowning of Queen Victoria, this was one of the greatest periods of world history. Thinkers during this time include Karl Marx, Benjamin Disraeli and Charles Darwin. We also have the 2nd French Revolution, Revolutions in South America, the unification of Italy and Germany and the American Civil War, all important events in world history.


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20th century


The century from 1901 to 2000 saw perhaps the greatest changes in humanity's culture and technology in history. It saw the decline of the great houses of Europe. The great empires of Russia, Britain, the Ottomans and Austria were destroyed by conquest or weakened structure. The United States came from being a relatively insignificant country with an isolationist policy to one of the major players on the international stage.

The manipulation of electricity having become easier and cheaper, electronic products became more and more widespread, especially the Digital Computer. The internal combustion engine was refined and improved. The wholesale embracing of the mass-production line increased the industrial output of countries per capita to a level never seen before.

The 20th century also saw the way warfare was conducted turned upside down. The first fifty years were host to the first truly 'World Wars'. The First World War was the bloodiest war in history on a casualty-to-combatant ratio, and also forced the armies of the world to adapt to new tactics and the countries to amend their strategies. The economic and military restrictions placed on the losing powers lead to the Second World War, which was the bloodiest war in the world in terms of sheer casualties. The creation of the Atomic bomb proved for the first time that humanity was capable of fully destroying itself. The concentration of Petroleum in the Gulf of Arabia led to vast changes in this region. The ideological struggle between Capitalism and Stalinism led to a prolonged cold war.

21st Century


The 21st century began on the 1st January 2001. However, most people alive then considered the 1st January 2000 as the beginning of the century, with large celebrations and the infamous Y2K scare, followed by an Election (E2K) in the US. In 2001, on the infamous Eleventh of September, the US was attacked. This resulted in the War on Terrorism.