Reforms & Movements in World History

French Revolution: It was brought about in 1789 by the revolutionary teachings of French philosophers namely, Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu. In those days in France, the Clergy enjoyed privileges at the expense of the people. Rousseau preached the gospel of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”. The revolt spread when a mob stormed the Bastille Prison in Paris. King Louis XVI was executed in 1793 and the Queen Marie Antoinette also suffered death later. Napoleon emerged as Emperor of France.

Russian Revolution: It came about in 1917 during Czar Nicholas’s regime. The people in his time were very poor and the Czar suppressed them ruthlessly. A full-scale revolt broke out in 1917 when the Soviet Council of Workers sprang into action. The army refused to fire at the revolutionaries and rather sided with them. Bolsheviks came to power. Czar Nicholas was executed and Lenin emerged as the strong man of Russia.

Magna Carta: It was the Charter of Liberties which King John II was forced to sign in 1215. It meant to put a check upon the arbitrary Powers of the King. The most important principle that it laid down was that Englishmen should be governed by definite laws and not by the whims or the will of a despotic ruler. Magna Carta was said to be “the foundation-stone of the rights and liberties of the English people”.

Renaissance: It was a transitional movement in Europe between the mediaeval and the modern which brought back the classic ideals in literature, painting and architecture. It began in the 14th century and attained its highest glory in the 15th and 16th century.

Glorious Revolution (England): It is so called due to its bloodless character and far-reaching consequences. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 ended the despotic rule of the Stuarts in England, reduced monarchy to a sort of crowned Presidency in a free state, vested sovereignty in the Parliament and led to far-reaching and permanent changes in the English system of Government.

The Bill of Rights: was the name given to a law declaring the rights and liberties of British subjects and settling the question of succession to the British Crown, passed by Parliament in 1689. The significance of the bill lies in that it not only clarified the existing law but also placed monarchy in England on a constitutional basis. It liberated British subjects from arbitrary government.

Industrial Revolution, England: Period beginning in the second half of the eighteenth century, during which power-driven machines replaced handwork as a result of rapid growth of applied science—watt and steam power.

American Civil War: Fought by the settlers in America against the sovereignty of British Empire under the leadership of George Washington in 1776-83. America became independent.

Crusades, The: Military expeditions undertaken by some Christian Nations to ensure the safety to pilgrims visiting the Holy sepulchre and to retain in Christian hands the Holy Places (1095-1217). First Crusade was undertaken by Godfrey of Bouillon.

Reformation Movement in Germany: A great religious movement of the 16th century, under the leadership of Martin Luther; resulted in the establishment of protestantism. From Germany it spread to other European countries.

Human Rights Charter: The General Assembly of the U.N. adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Declaration recognised the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. The work of drafting the Human Rights Charter was mostly done by Rene Cassin, Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1968.

Nazism: the cult of the Nazis or of the National Socialism of Hitler in pre-war Germany, which believed in the superiority of the German or Nordic race and treated the peoples of other races, particularly the Jews, in a cruel manner.

The Spanish Armada: was a great fleet sent by Philip II of Spain, leader of Catholic Europe, to invade England in 1588. The British defeated the Armada and thus established their supremacy over the seas.