Advanced Placement European History Theme

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Advanced Placement European History

Theme The study of European history introduces students to cultural, economic, political, and social developments that played a fundamental role in shaping the world in which they live. Without this knowledge, we would lack the context for understanding the development of contemporary institutions, the role of continuity and change in present-day society and politics, and the evolution of current forms of artistic expression and intellectual discourse. In addition to providing a basic narrative of events and movements, the goals of AP European History are to develop (a) an understanding of some of the principal themes in modern European history, (b) an ability to analyze historical evidence and historical interpretation, and (c) an ability to express historical understanding in writing.

Strand History

Topic The Masses: Unleashed and Restrained

During the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, the masses exhibited their power in the political and military realms and in the early Industrial Revolution in the economic realm as well. The violence and instability that resulted was mitigated by the forces of conservatism established in the Congress of Vienna. The masses responded to this attempt to restrain them by continuing their struggle to force their governments to acknowledge the end of the era of absolutism and the beginning of an era of popular government.


Weeks 19-21

Content Statement

1. In the wake of Napoléon’s defeat, the forces of conservatism attempted to restore the social/political status quo, but economic and social developments in the United Kingdom, along with the British liberal tradition, allowed a reform movement to emerge that eventually spread across Europe.

Learning Targets:

 I can describe the arrangements made at the Congress of Vienna that were designed to suppress the political power of the masses.

 I can explain how the power of the masses was being unleashed in manufacturing during the ongoing Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom.

 I can explain the problems that factory work presented to laborers.

 I can explain the problems that rapid urbanization presented to city dwellers.

 I can describe working-class responses to the unsatisfactory conditions in British factories and cities and the British government’s reaction.

 I can evaluate the reform movement led by Parliament and its effect on the quality of life for working class people in the United Kingdom.
2. Elsewhere in Western Europe, where no liberal tradition existed, more radical movements and philosophies emerged to create pressure for political change.

Learning Targets:

 I can explain the instability in France’s government during the period following Napoléon’s defeat.

 I can explain the Marxist/communist perspective on class struggle and exploitation.

 I can describe and evaluate the Marxist/communist call to action and assess to what extent this call to action “played out” during the 19th Century.

Content Elaborations

The French Revolution had demonstrated the political power of the common masses, and it terrified Europe’s monarchs. In the wake of Napoléon’s defeat, the monarchs gathered at Vienna in an attempt to “turn back the clock” and create a system to suppress future revolts before they could flower into revolutions.

In the meantime, the Industrial Revolution was continuing in Britain, unleashing the economic power of the masses. Machine tools that could be “programmed” to do exactly one task had removed the last of skill from the manufacturing process, which was now power by steam. Anyone, regardless of skill, could serve as factory labor, and while this produced an increase in manufacturing output, it created problems for the working class. It put skilled laborers out of work and forced wages to below survival level for the unskilled. Because they were so easily replaceable, workers faced unsafe working conditions and long hours with no basis to negotiate. Unions and striking were outlawed, which forced the working class into political movements. Here they joined reformers who were seeking to improve conditions in the cities that had grown up around the factories. Here, overcrowding begat shortages of safe housing, spread of fire and disease, and poverty produced high crime rates.
Despite a few violent outbursts of working class dissatisfaction, Britain’s liberal tradition offered a basis for redress of grievances through Parliamentary action, and the Whig Party now framed itself as advocates for the working class. Parliament as an institution was the first to be reformed, then laws were passed to protect women and children in the workplace. Gradually additional reforms brought some relief to Britain’s crowded cities.
France had so such liberal basis for reform, and as a result the working class of Paris convulsed throughout the first half of the 19th Century, unseating monarchs in 1830 and 1848. The rest of continental Europe threatened to move in the same direction, while Metternich’s System established at Vienna sought to restrain the masses in their dissatisfaction.
In response to what appeared to be a lack of progress for the working class, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels authored The Communist Manifesto, proclaiming history to be an ongoing class struggle which would inevitably result in the overthrow of the bourgeois (ownership) by the proletariat (working class). Max proclaimed that labor was entitled to all of the value they created, whereas surplus value was instead held by the bourgeoisie. He called for a proletarian revolution to end this.

Content Vocabulary

 Congress of Vienna  underground sewers

 legitimacy  Public Health Act

 containment  Chamber of Deputies

 Quadruple/Holy Alliance  July Ordinances

 “Metternich System”  July Revolution

 Carlsbad Decrees  “Citizen King”/

 prior restraint (censorship) “Bourgeois Monarch”

 secret societies  February 1848 Revolution

 secret police  Bonapartists

 Industrial Revolution  Legitimatists

 steam engine  republicans

 condenser  socialists

 machine tools  National Workshops

 railroads  Bloody June Days

 “The Rocket”  Second French Republic

 Liverpool—Manchester Railway  Second French Empire

 Portsmouth Dockyards  economic determinism

 production line  class struggle

 deskilling  bourgeoisie

 interchangeable parts  proletariat

 Factory (“American”) System  Labor Theory of Value

 “Iron Law of Wages”  Theory of Surplus Value

 survival wage  means of production

 unequal pay  private property/property rights

 child labor  religion as “opiate of the masses”

 worker safety  “Battle of Democracy”

 chronic injuries/deformities  “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”

 “Black Lung”/”White Lung”  classless society

 abuse  historical inevitability

 urbanization  scientific vs. utopian socialism

 “multiplier effect”  Klemens von Metternich

 overcrowding/housing shortage  Thomas Newcomen

 sanitation/disease  James Watt

 open sewer/cesspit  Henry Maudsley

 cholera/typhus  George Stephenson

 crime  Marc Brunel

 fire  David Ricardo, “On Wages”

 Luddites  Benjamin D’Israeli, “Sybil”

 Corn Law  “King Ned Ludd”

 “Peterloo Massacre”  William Pitt “the Younger”

 Six Acts  Charles James Fox

 Anti-Corn Law League  John Russell

 trade unions  William IV

 Combination Act  Jeremy Bentham, “Principles

 Glasgow strike of Morals and Legislation”

 political liberalism/conservatism  John Stuart Mill

 “classical” economic liberalism  Michael Sadler

 Tories vs. Whigs  Robert Peel

 Reform Bill of 1831-32  Edwin Chadwick

 boroughs (“rotten boroughs”)  John Snow

 Chartist Movement  Joseph Bazalgette

 People’s Charter  Charles X

 universal male suffrage  Marquis de Lafayette

 Utilitarianism  Louis-Philippe

 Poor Law  Louis Blanc

 Sadler Commission  Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte

 Factory Act/Mines Act (Napoléon III)

 Ten Hours Act  Karl Max and Friedrich Engels

 Metropolitan Police Act  The Communist Manifesto

 Metropolitan Fire Brigade  Capital (Max only)

Metropolitan Railway

 “Big Stink”

Academic Vocabulary

 describe

 evaluate

 examine

 explain

Formative Assessments

Students are required to create a chapter outline or synopsis weekly that measures their comprehension of the major people, events, and trends that characterize the era or theme being studied during that portion of the unit. They may be quizzed or required to produce a written response to prompt. Evidence of students’ miscomprehension or lack of comprehension is addressed by the teacher in subsequent lessons.

Summative Assessments

Students are required to complete a series of multiple choice questions modeled after those which will appear on the AP European History Exam. In these, more than one plausible response is provided, and the student must distinguish the correct response from among the merely plausible. Students are also required to complete an essay that integrates content and concepts from throughout the unit into a coherent written argument. In the case of a document-based question, the student is required to also integrate evidence from a series of provided primary sources.


 Palmer, R. R., Colton, Joel, and Kramer, Lloyd, A History of the Modern World Tenth Edition

 Caldwell, Amy, Beeler, John, and Clark, Charles, ed., Sources of Western Society

 Davies, Norman, Europe: A History

 Davison, Michael Worth, ed., Everyday Life Through the Ages

 Fordham University, The Internet Modern History Sourcebook

 Lualdi, Katharine, ed., Sources of The Making of the West

 Sherman, Dennis, Western Civilization: Sources, Images, and Interpretations

 Tierney, Brian, Kagan, Donald, and Williams, L. Pearce, eds., Great Issues in Western Civilization

 Burke, James, Connections

Churchill, Winston, History of the English-Speaking Peoples (Vol. IV)

 de Tocqueville, Alexis, Recollections: The French Revolution of 1848

 Durant, William, The Story of Philosophy

 Kissinger, Henry, Diplomacy

 Marx, Karl, Das Kapital (Capital)

 Marx, Karl and Engels, Freidrick, The Communist Manifesto

 Mill, John Stuart, On Liberty

 Ozment, Stephen, A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People

 Ricardo, David, Principles of Political Economy and Taxation

Enrichment Strategies

Due to the nature of the AP European History curriculum, it is difficult to envision an approach to enrichment. The course is taught with the expectation that its content and standards for performance are equivalent to those of a first-year college survey course, and students who choose to enroll in this course do so in anticipation that the course, in and of itself, is an enrichment of their education in history. Students may choose to read the complete versions of texts referenced during the course, with the encouragement and support of the instructor.


 ELA: Historical background for works of literature; writing analytical essays

 Economics: Introduction to classical versus Marxist economics

 Geography: Geographic context and influences on culture

 Government: Role of citizens in seeking reforms

 Science/Engineering: Technologies that allowed for conquest; technologies of manufacturing and their social consequences

 Sociology: Urbanization, its impact on the individual and society

Intervention Strategies

The most common deficiency of students who take AP European History is in writing. For these students, it is necessary to: (1) review the process of creating a coherent historical written argument; (2) break down the process into its constituent parts and have the students practice those parts individually; (3) meet individually with those students to consult with them about their progress.

Another area of struggle for students is with exams. For these students, it is important to: (1) develop daily skills that will allow them to summarize and organize the information they will need to be successful on exams; (2) teach them to develop a systematic approach to exam preparation; (3) provide extra assistance with exam preparation in the form of student- or teacher-led study groups/review sessions.
For students who struggle to read, it is advised that an alternative text be provided that the student may read prior to reading the chronologically similar sections of the main text.

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