Essays cover the world's most important events and developments - from 1701 through 1800 - in the century that witnessed the world's transition to a modern industrial and scientific society.
Great Events from History: The 18th Century begins with 105 core essays from Salem's acclaimed Chronology of European History (1997) and Great Events from History: North American Series (1997). The set adds 238 additional essays.
Scope and Coverage
The century receives worldwide coverage with a priority for meeting the needs of history students at the high school and undergraduate levels. Events covered include the obligatory geopolitical events of the era - from the War of the Spanish Succession through the American and French Revolutions, from the collapse of the South Sea Bubble to the rise of Napoleon. Also, however, the essays address key social and cultural developments in daily life: the expansion of the Atlantic slave trade; the "Enlightenment" in Europe; the excavation of Pompeii; the beginnings of the abolitionist movement in North America; the seeds of the woman suffrage movement; and the opening of Japan to foreign commerce and publications.
Scientific achievements boomed in this post-Newtonian age. Hence major advancements in astronomy, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics, biology, and genetics are thoroughly covered here - as are many of their practical applications. The 18th century gave rise to a wealth of inventions that would lay the groundwork for the Industrial Revolution: from Jethro Tull's seed drill to Kay's flying shuttle, Whitney's cotton gin, and Volta's battery. The first Arab printing press emerged during the 18th century. Watt's steam engine opened the door to the cross-continental railroad transportation, and so much more.
The emphasis of this collection, therefore, is on those turning points that redirected contemporary affairs and shaped the modern world - not only geopolitically but also in the experience of everyday life from its practical exigencies to its highest achievements.
Organization and Format
Each chronologically ordered essay:
- lists the events most precise date of occurrence;
- a capsule summary of the event's importance;
- the category or categories of the event (from arts to wars);
- the geographical locale (both contemporary and modern place-names);
- a list of Key Figures including name, birth and death years, dates and terms of office, and brief descriptors of their roles;
- a chronological Summary of Event;
- an assessment of the event's historical Significance;
- a fully annotated Further Reading section listing sources for additional study;
- and cross-references to other essays of interest.
The essays have an average length of 1,600 words (2-3 pages) and adhere to a uniform format, making it easy to locate key data points.
Finding Aids and Special Features
Bibliographies for the old essays have been expanded and updated. All essays are cross-referenced internally, to each other, and externally, to the companion essays in Great Lives from History: The 18th Century (simultaneous publication, 2006). A section containing maps of world regions in the18th century, new appendices, plus numerous sidebars, quotations from primary source documents, lists, maps and illustrations have been included.
A section of historical maps appears in the front matter of both volumes, displaying world regions in the 18th century to assist in placing the events' locales. Accompanying many of the essays are maps, quotations from primary source documents, lists, and time lines - as well as approximately 150 illustrations: images of artworks, battles, buildings, people, and other icons of the period.
Because the set is ordered chronologically, a Keyword List of Contents appears in the front matter to both volumes and alphabetically lists all essays, permuted by all keywords in the essay's title, to assist in locating events by name.