The Expansion of Europe

The Expansion of Europe

The Expansion of Europe

The Expansion of Europe

Excerpt

In presenting what is, in effect, a new synthesis of modern history it seems necessary to define, as well as possible, the reasons for such an undertaking. These lie chiefly in the point of view from which such history is to be considered in the light of the demands of the present and the oncoming generation. It is obvious that we are in a stage of development to which many of the older formulas do not apply, and that we are entering an era in which it seems necessary to take a wider if not a deeper view of the past and of the forces which have gone to the making of the modern world.

There are, from this standpoint, three elements which need correlation to provide a proper basis for the understanding of what has happened during the past five hundred years, and of the situation which confronts us to-day. The first is the connection of the social, economic, and intellectual development of European peoples with their political affairs. The second is the inclusion of the progress of events among the peoples of eastern Europe, and of the activities of Europeans beyond the sea. The third is the relation of the past to the present--the way in which the various factors of modern life came into the current of European thought and practice, and how they developed into the forms with which we are familiar. And it has been the purpose of these volumes to combine these elements so far as possible, to infuse a sense of unity into the narrative of European activities wherever and however they have been manifested, and to draw from these the story of the development of modern civilization in its manifold aspects.

History, wrote Gibbon, is little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind, and that pessimistic judgment has too often been accepted by its students and perhaps too often confirmed by its makers. Such a judgment was natural to one who, like Gibbon, devoted his . . .

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