The Expansion of Europe: A History of the Foundations of the Modern World - Vol. 2

The Expansion of Europe: A History of the Foundations of the Modern World - Vol. 2

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The Expansion of Europe: A History of the Foundations of the Modern World - Vol. 2

The Expansion of Europe: A History of the Foundations of the Modern World - Vol. 2

Read FREE!

Excerpt

THFRE are few periods of European history which can be compared with the mid-decades of the seventeenth century for dramatic events in the world of politics. The attempt of the Cossack Khmelnitzki to establish a new state in eastern Europe; the effort of the Amalfi fishermen, Masaniello, to seize the ruling power in Naples; and the rise of the English country gentleman, Cromwell, to the headship of affairs in the British Isles and a commanding place in European politics, would alone make these years memorable. But beside these extraordinary events, the mad fantasy of the Fronde in France, and the tragic failure of William II to secure the power of the house of Orange in the Netherlands, with the consequent rise of a republic there under the guidance of another great exponent of the popular principle, John de Witt, -- these circumstances combine to form an unparalleled chapter in Europe's history. Never in her whole career had she seen at one time so many and such diverse attempts to change the forms of government. Nor was the least significant feature of the situation the fact that most of these activities were connected with the progress of the middle and even the lower classes into a place in public affairs. Thenceforth the so-called bourgeois or middle class, which had long been dominant in the private concerns of commerce and finance, took an increasing part in those affairs of state, long monopolized by the aristocratic element.

Yet neither the conflicts within their own borders, nor the tumults which accompanied or resulted from them, nor the struggles between opposing principles and interests within their various states, exhausted the energies of Europeans in . . .

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