History Teaching

The “European Dimension in History Teaching” (2002-2006)

Focus on key dates

The central idea was to focus on a relatively small number of years in the 19th and 20th century's history

  • which are taught in most European history syllabi
  • and which represent significant turning points for the development of contemporary Europe.

Clearly there were issues about the starting point (1789? 1815? 1848?) and also the end-point for such a project (1968? 1989? 1991?). The project finally considered the period, 1848 - 1989. And within that period, there are a number of key years when important events occurred, significant decisions were taken, regimes emerged or disappeared, borders changed, peoples migrated, and social and economic conditions changed, all in ways that had long term consequences and helped to shape the Europe we live in today.

Dates chosen

The project finally settled on five of these turning points, which were selected because of their political significance. It was nevertheless crucial within the project to focus not just on important political events, crises and conflicts, the key political actors and the significant political outcomes, but also on:

  • how ordinary people 'perceived' and experienced these events and developments and their impact on different ethnic, national, religious and linguistic groups;
  • the inter-relationships between economic, technological and political developments;
  • the involvement of political, ideological and social movements in these events and developments;
  • how cultural and artistic movements reflected, influenced and interpreted these events and developments.

Additional dates initially envisaged

  • 1871

the year in which, in David Thomson’s graphic phrase, “loosened several pieces in the kaleidoscope of European affairs and allowed them to drop into a new pattern”. The culmination of the Franco-Prussian War, the virtual completion of the unification of Italy and Germany, the undermining of the Vienna Settlement of 1815 and the re-emergence of war as an instrument of national policy and political reconstruction

  • 1929

the Great Crash, the implications for Europe of its growing economic dependence on the United State's economy, Europe in the Depression, the political and social ramifications