Top 10 Major Historical Events That Completely Changed the World

Death toll of Hiroshima Nagasaki bombings
Some are sudden and unseen, some planned and manipulated, but certain historical events have a long-lasting impact on the entire world. Here is brief information on events of historical importance and their effect on the world.
A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. -- Mahatma Gandhi
History is very interesting and fascinating. It is said that the events in history alter the lives of mankind, and human civilization never remains the same after that, and things change permanently, for better or for worse. World Wars I and II were such events that had a significant effect on the entire world. Millions of people died, and the world faced a major economic crises after these wars ended. Buzzle provides you interesting information on some major historical events in the world.

10 Major Events in the World History

Narrowing down to a mere ten major events in world history, from the beginning of time, is difficult. But we have managed to provide the most significant events that have had a great impact in world history.

The events mentioned below are in the order of their occurrence, and not according to their degree of importance.

1. Deposition of Romulus Augustulus (476)

Abdication of the last Roman Emperor Romulus Augustulus began the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. It was one of the largest, most powerful, and vast empires, comprising most of present day Europe, North African plains, and the Nile river valley. The empire was at its peak in the first two centuries. However, it began its gradual decline after the crisis of the 3rd century (also known as Military Anarchy). The actual cause of the fall of the Roman Empire is not known. However, a series of events, like internal crisis and unrest, external invasions, etc., lead to the downfall. The last Western Roman Emperor abdicated, and with it, ended the western Roman Empire.

Effect on the world: The medieval period (or Middle Ages or Dark Age) began in Europe, that were to last for a thousand years. The Dark Age led to a complete deterioration of the Roman culture. The progressed and developed culture (law, architecture, literature, government, etc.) of the Roman Empire was lost forever.

2. Christopher Columbus Reached the Americas (1492)

Christopher Columbus' expedition is believed to mark the beginning of European colonization. Colonialism and imperialism refers to the era where major European powers like Great Britain, France, Rome, Spain, Greece, Portugal, the Netherlands, etc., occupied parts of the continents of Asia, America, and Africa, thus establishing their colonies everywhere. Initially, the colonies were formed for trade purposes. However, gradually, the rulers gained absolute control over the colonies and exploited them.

Effect on the World: There is no doubt that colonialism had a major effect on the entire world. The rulers exploited the natural resources of the colonies, thus, manipulating them to their advantage. In most of the cases, the natives were treated ruthlessly or forced out, eventually losing their identity. Many wars broke out in the colonies between the European powers for acquisition of territories; or between the natives and the rulers. It is debatable whether the rulers brought radical changes in the administration, society, language, and education in the colonies, or imposed their ideas and culture forcefully.

3. Martin Luther Published His 95 Theses (1517)

The writings and publication of the 95 Theses led to the Protestant Reformation. It was originally a movement that was aimed to challenge and reform the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. However, it became a major European movement, and affected the politics of Europe. Although the movement was not to form a new religion, ultimately, a new rival Protestant Church was formed.

Effect on the world: The reformers migrated to the New World, and Protestant Churches were formed all over the world. The Roman Catholic Church lost its power, the Pope no longer held the ultimate power, and absolute monarchy prevailed in Europe. The reformation of the Anglican Church, the Thirty Years' War (1618 - 1648), development of a modern scientific approach, decentralization of power, etc., are the major effects of this movement.

4. Boston Tea Party (1773)

Although not the initial catalyst, the Boston Tea Party was the climax movement in the protest of the native Americans against the British rule. It triggered off the American Revolutionary War. This was one of the first major wars in history to overthrow a tyrannical rule of the monarchy. The Thirteen Colonies revolted against the British rule (Kingdom of Great Britain) for complete independence. The French sided with the colonies, and therefore, it turned into a major war between the powerful nations in Europe. The Congress declared independence and a new nation of the United States of America was formed in July 1776.

Effect on the World: The outcome of the war shocked the world, as the thirteen colonies defeated one of the greatest empires in the world. Great Britain lost one of its most important colony, and all the participating nations suffered economic losses. The American Revolution influenced the French Revolution to a great extent.

5. The Tennis Court Oath (1789)

The Tennis Court Oath was a major event in the French Revolution, as it signified the revolt of the people against monarchy. What was initially an internal revolution, became a major event in the world history, and indirectly inspired many other countries in the world. The French Revolution was an upheaval of the people against absolute monarchy, aristocracy, and feudalism. The monarch King Louis XVI was overthrown and executed, while the old concepts of aristocracy and hierarchy were uprooted. The Tennis Court Oath, the storming of the Bastille, the execution of Louis XVI, and the Reign of Terror, are the significant events of the revolution.

Effect on the world: There was an end to feudalism, and France became a republic. Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power and became one of the most powerful rulers of Europe. The revolution was a source of inspiration to other countries and colonies under imperial rule, as it promoted nationalism. The Napoleonic Code (a source of inspiration for many countries in the world) is arguably an effect or impact of the revolution.

6. Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (1914)

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria resulted in a chain of events that led to World War I. In already looming tension in the Balkans, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after the assassination of the Archduke. Before being succeeded by World War II, this was known as the Great War, because it was the first major battle among various nations in the world. Initially the Allies (United Kingdom, France, and Russia) fought against the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy). Later on, other nations like Japan, the United States (Allies), and the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria (Central Powers) joined the war.

Effect on the world: The use of modern lethal weapons like tanks, chemical weapons, etc., was first seen during the First World War, which resulted in the deaths of a large number of people (approximately 9 million). Empires in some countries like Russia, Austria-Hungary collapsed, and nearly all the participating nations suffered severe losses. The League of Nations was formed. Indirectly, the First World War gave rise to the Russian Revolution and the Second World War.

7. Bolshevik (October) Revolution (1917)

Similar to the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution took place in Russia to overthrow the autocracy of the monarch (or Tsar). In a single year (1917), there were two revolutions: one in February, that overthrew the Tsar and formed the provisional government, and one in October, that replaced the provisional government with the Communist (Bolshevik) government. The October Revolution (also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution or Bolshevik Revolution) was specifically a prominent one, as it had a major impact on Russia and the entire world for many decades later. Russia became an entirely Marxist state, with Lenin as its leader.

Effect on the world: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or the Soviet Union) was formed, which emerged as a superpower after World War II. Communism was spread in many parts of the world, and the world was divided into communists and capitalists. The world witnessed an arms race, global tensions, and the Cold War, during this communist era.

8. Invasion of Poland by Germany (1939)

The expansion policies of Adolf Hitler (Chancellor of Germany) led to the invasion of Poland in 1945. Immediately, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany, leading to a major war in Europe. World War II was the deadliest war in human history, with over 75 million deaths all over the world. The belligerent nations were Allies (France, Poland, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, USA, and the British Commonwealth) against the Axis (Germany, Italy, and Japan). Nearly 30 nations participated in the Second World War, which had a devastating effect on the entire world. When talking about the Second World War, two other events are the most significant and noteworthy in our history.

* 30 January 1933 - Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany. It was an event which would have several consequences, including the Holocaust and World War II

* 6th and 9th August, 1945 - Atom bombs are dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The event contributed to ending the World War II, caused deaths of 200,000 people, made America the superpower, but most importantly, changed the world as it fueled a global nuclear arms race that continues to this day.

Effect on the world: The immediate effect of the war was that the USA and the Soviet Union emerged as major superpowers in the world, and remained so for many decades later. Germany was divided into East and West Germany, and was occupied by the Soviets and Allies respectively. Secondly, many empires in Europe dissolved, and the borders of many European nations were redefined. Another significant effect was that many British and French colonies gained independence, and the United Nations was formed. The Cold War and the arms race were the indirect effects of the war, that were to define world politics for many years to come.

9. Fall of the Berlin Wall (German Reunification) (1989 - 1990)

The Berlin Wall, built by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1961, was a symbol of the division between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc, the division between communism and capitalism, and the tyrannical rule of the Eastern Bloc. The wall completely cut West Berlin from entire Eastern Germany. After the Second World War, Germany was occupied by the Allies and the Soviet army. However, the failing relations of the Soviet Union with the other Allies ultimately resulted in the division of Germany, and building of the Wall (also a symbol of the 'Iron Curtain')

Effect on the World: The immediate effect of the fall of the wall was, of course, the unification of Germany. East Germans could now enjoy freedom of movement and look forward to development. The conflict between communism (Soviet Union) and capitalism (USA) had reached such a point, that the world was almost on the brink of another major war. The fall of the Berlin Wall and Reunification of Germany marked the end of the Cold War, and the ultimate fall of the Soviet Union.

10. September 11 Attacks (September 11, 2001)

The September 11 attacks were a series of terrorist airline hijackings and attacks launched on the United States of America. Four planes were hijacked by terrorists, with an intention of suicide attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Two planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, one into The Pentagon, while one, intended at United States Capitol, crashed into a field. It was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the history of the United States. Along with enormous destruction of property, around 3,000 people died in these attacks.

Effect on the World: The effect triggered off the Global War on Terrorism. Anti-terrorism laws were introduced in many parts of the world. The Stock Exchange in the USA remained closed for 6 days, leading to financial loses. Hate crimes against Muslims all over the world were observed in a counter-action against the September attacks. The USA invaded Afghanistan (2001) to depose the Taliban. It also triggered the Iraq war in 2003. The Allies of the US joined in the military operations. A large amount of money was and still is being spent in these operations.

Apart from those mentioned above, many other events like rise of prominent religions and sects (notably Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.), freedom movements (like the Indian independence movement, the American Civil War, abolition of slavery, etc.), formation of new nations (like Israel, Pakistan, etc.), some inventions and discoveries, or the rise of dictators and other important leaders, also altered the course of history.

*The list of important historical events does not end here. Those mentioned above are the top 10 world events as considered by the author. In case you have any ideas or views, you can express them in the comments section below.
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