15 major historical events that changed the world forever (2023)

History Matters: Every day we are reminded of the power of the past to shape our lives and the society in which we live, whether it be a family, nation, culture, religion, or other historically based community. The way we understand history shapes our present and how we see the world, and affects the way we understand reality and our own future. A proper understanding of how history shapes the present and the future is critical to engaging with and understanding the world around us.

We have tried to compile an unbiased list that touches on the most influential and important events in world history that shaped the world more than any other. Some of the events only last a few years, while others last centuries. Some affected a single country or continent, while others spread out and touched every continent on Earth. Some are violent conflicts, like wars or revolutions, while others were scientific revolutions of the mind that led people to think and live in entirely new ways. But regardless of their differences, each of these events left a brave new world in its wake. For reasons of objectivity and historical and scholarly accuracy, this list excludes mythological events such as the Trojan War. This list will also exclude religious topics such as the life of Muhammad or Jesus of Nazareth.

To that end, here is our humble attempt to list the 15 most important historical events that shaped our modern world.


15On the Black Sea (1346-53)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (1)

The "Black Death" epidemic, also known as the Black Death or the Bubonic Plague, in 14th century Europe and Asia became one of the most notorious events in history. The plague killed 30 to 60 percent of the entire population of Europe and claimed between 75 and 200 million lives in total. Population growth did not resume until a century later, and the world population did not recover until the 17th century. The profound religious, social, and economic upheavals caused by the Black Death were permanent.

The massive death toll created an extreme labor shortage, which meant higher wages for farmers and more options to work. Land was plentiful and the lords were forced to try to make conditions more attractive to the peasants. As a result, serfdom all but disappeared, and this "golden age" of prosperity was not to be soon forgotten. Decades later, when feudal lords tried to reverse these advantages and return to their old ways, widespread peasant revolts ensued. The Black Death also helped break the absolute authority of the Catholic Church.

14Pax Romana (27 v. Cr. - 180 n. Cr.)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (2)

Translated from the Latin as "Roman Peace," the Pax Romana was a two-hundred-year period of relative peace within the Roman Empire. It was a remarkable change for an empire famous for its many wars and militarism. While the Pax Romana was not entirely peaceful and still involved wars of expansion by Roman forces, these were minimal and need to be seen in historical context: bloodshed was part of everyday life in ancient times and in ancient times. of crisis before and after the Pax. Romana were very useful in the most frequent wars.

The Pax Romana period was the height of the hegemony of the Roman Empire; it was the largest that ever existed or ever would exist, trade and industry were highly developed, the infrastructure prospered, and the various nationalities of the empire found relative peace as Rome functioned as a single vast nation and acted as a forerunner of the modern concept of the nation state. Many innovations were developed that are still in use today, such as a postal system, plumbing, improved road engineering, a new legal system, and various cultural advances.

At the time, the Pax Romana was considered a miracle because never before in history had there been such a long period of uninterrupted peace. The concept was highly influential, and historians have coined different terms such as Pax Americana, Pax Mongolica, or Pax Britannica for other periods of hegemonic, or imperial, superpower peace.

13Remains of Constantinople (1453)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (3)

The fall of Constantinople came after a 53-day siege by the then-21-year-old Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, who appropriately assumed the title Mehmed the Conqueror. Constantinople was not just any city; It was the world's preeminent city and imperial capital for sixteen centuries. From the year 330 AD it was the capital of the Roman Empire.

The fall of the city was seen as a boon to Islam and a blow to Christianity. Once considered pivotal in the spread of Christianity and even named after the Roman Emperor Constantine, the city became a stronghold of Islam after the Ottoman conquest. The conquest of Constantinople became the harbinger of further Ottoman expansion into Europe. Mehmed could even claim the title "Caesar" for himself, since whoever owned the imperial capital controlled the empire. The siege was also one of the first times artillery was used in combat, and the recapture of Constantinople remained a Christian dream for many years, despite the end of the Crusades. Waves of Byzantine scholars and refugees after the sack of Constantinople impacted the Renaissance, bringing the accumulated knowledge of the Greeks and Romans to Western Europe.

The conquest of Constantinople not only heralded the collapse of the Byzantine Empire and thus the "final" end of the Roman Empire after 1,500 years and the rise of the Ottoman Empire, but also marked the end of the Middle Ages. Constantinople was renamed Istanbul and was the capital of Turkey until 1923.

12US Civil War (1861-65)

Many people think that the American Civil War between the Union and the Confederacy only had an impact on the continental United States, but the success of a slave Confederacy encompassing a larger territory than a European power would be a major setback for the anti-slavery movement of world power, not to mention republican democracy. Keep in mind that the world wasn't exactly safe for Enlightenment ideas in the mid-18th century.

Since the failed revolutions of 1848, the monarchy had been on the rise in Europe and democratic ideals on the decline. Napoleon III reigned as Emperor in France. Slavery still existed in countries like Cuba and Brazil, and the European imperial project begun in 1492 was still going on in the Western Hemisphere.

That all changed when the Union won, the Republic was restored, and slavery was outlawed, dealing a devastating blow to the global slave trade and absolute monarchies. To date, it remains the deadliest war the United States has ever fought. It's hard to understand how the last 150 years would have been different if the Union hadn't won.

11Protestant Reformation (1517-1750)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (5)

You've probably heard the Protestant Reformation portrayed as being as simple as Martin Luther nailing his "95 Theses" to a church door, rather than the great European sociopolitical movement that it was. Not to mention the profound ideological, political and religious implications for future societies. The Reformation began as a religious struggle to challenge the absolute authority and practice of the Roman Catholic Church, but quickly spread as an anti-feudal movement throughout western and central Europe.

The Reformation led to the division between Protestants and Catholics, the loss of the religious monopoly of the Catholic Church, and the implementation of Protestant reforms. In a broader historical sense, the Reformation was important in the fight against feudalism. Spirit and culture were freed from Catholic rule, and the subservience of the church to the state ushered in the age of science and secularism. The Reformers' move to the New World would have a tremendous impact on the founding of the United States, culminating in the Thirty Years' War. Neither the Enlightenment nor the Industrial Revolution would have been possible without the Protestant Reformation.

10Medical revolution (19th-20th centuries)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (6)

Imagine a world without doctors or modern medicine. Go ahead, we are waiting for you. Yes, it's very scary, isn't it? It's hard to believe that just a few centuries ago, despite our best understanding of human anatomy, disease was caused by evil spirits or divine punishment for sinners.

The work of Louis Pasteur led to the widespread acceptance of the germ theory of disease, which enabled the development of cures for many infectious diseases in the 19th century. The invention of vaccines eliminated terrible diseases like smallpox and immunized children against polio and rabies. Public health measures were adopted because the growing population in the cities required systematic sanitation. Alexander Fleming invented penicillin in 1928 as the first true antibiotic, which proved effective against many deadly bacterial infections. These developments, along with advances in technology, chemistry, and biology, led to the era of modern medicine.

9Industrial and Technological Revolution (1760-1914)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (7)

We've all heard the name before: it conjures up images of the great machine industry, the explosion of new inventions, and the dawn of modernity. In 1760, the Industrial Revolution first began in Great Britain as a natural outgrowth and progression of the Renaissance, but it soon spread to all other parts of Europe after the French Revolution. As a result, the last remaining vestiges of feudalism were swept away, giving rise to modern capitalism.

New production machines gave rise to the factory system, mainly in the cotton industry, where the demand for cotton increased rapidly. The mule spindle and cotton gin pioneered productivity, and soon all cotton yarn was made in mills. Increasing the productivity of labor in one industry became necessary in other industries, and machine technology emerged everywhere from the steam engine to the hydraulic press. Agriculture and industry separated, and cities grew rapidly.

The industrial revolution wasn't just about smog-producing stacks or new production methods; it meant abrupt and profound changes in all social relations. New ideas based on science, logic, and reason began to spread. Fragmented work has become a single collaborative work process, leading to the modern workplace and unprecedented social mobility. All of the modern conveniences we enjoy today, from healthcare to transportation to technology, date back to the Industrial Revolution. However, it would also lead to an increase in slavery in the American South, exploitation, child labor, pollution, and many other injustices. However, the modern world simply could not have existed without the Industrial Revolution.

8American Revolution (1765-1783)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (8)

Some might think that the American Revolution only affected the United States, but the shock waves of the war are still being felt today. The revolutionaries who fought for the independence of the Thirteen Colonies fought for the ideas of the Enlightenment against the British monarchy and became a symbol of rebellion against authority to eventually forge a nation that in our modern times is the only superpower and is unified. affecting most of the world.

The war not only created the United States, but also propagated the idea that everyone is born equal and should be treated fairly. While the lofty democratic rhetoric of the American Revolution failed for many, primarily due to property restrictions for office and elections, the inability of women to hold office or vote, the maintenance of slavery, etc., the American Revolution shaped the next two centuries. . . . It paved the way for the French Revolution and revolutionary movements around the world. Jeffersonian ideas of democracy and republicanism continue to be read and studied. The lasting impact of the American Revolution lends credence to the idea that it is one of the most influential events in our history.

7Gutenberg Charts (1440)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (9)

The printing press is perhaps the most important invention of the last 2,000 years. The invention of the printing press by German printer Johannes Gutenberg introduced movable type printing to Europe, revolutionized literacy, and acted as a catalyst for the spread of knowledge around the world. His invention was one of the main engines of the Renaissance. Before Gutenberg's printing press, books were copied by hand and were very expensive. Monks, scribes, and scholars worked long hours at oil lamps to make copies of literature, religious texts, official documents, etc. In some cases, the process can take years.

After Gutenberg made his printing press, books could be printed in a small fraction of the time. It's hard to overestimate the impact of this: suddenly people can have their own books and read them for themselves. Education was no longer restricted to a few. Books weren't just for the rich and rich; As their price fell, they could also be sold to the lower classes. Political pamphlets could be printed by the thousands, affecting social movements like never before. Gutenberg's printing changed the world and people's daily lives.

6Renaissance (14th-17th centuries)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (10)

Name characters like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael, and you'll get an idea of ​​how much the Renaissance contributed to the world. As one of the most culturally and architecturally rich eras in world history, it marked the final transition from the Middle Ages to modern times. The Renaissance caused the rebirth of civilization after the Black Death, supplanting ignorance and generating the development of mathematics and astronomy. Books were first printed, giving the common man the ability to read at will (formerly the domain of priests and monks). Science, art and literature reached new heights. Maps of the world were created and new civilizations discovered when we finally discarded the idea that Earth was the center of the universe.

The Renaissance was a time of great minds that challenged established traditions and beliefs. The most distinctive features of Renaissance culture were its anti-feudal, secular, and humanist character and worldview. It was an awakening of the world and the beginning of modern times.

5Colonialism (16th-20th centuries)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (11)

The historical impact of the colonial era spans centuries and on every continent in the world. Beginning in the 16th century, various European powers established colonies in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The Spanish and Portuguese were the first empires, closely followed by the British, French, Dutch, and Russian empires, and finally by Belgium, Germany, and Italy. The era of colonialism led to the division of the world between them and the exploitation of third world countries.

On many continents, colonialism caused changes in culture, language, society, and the economy; it also caused the deaths of millions when European nations brutalized the natives, mostly by private corporations with the blessings of their monarchs for their "civilizing" missions. Anti-colonial movements gained strength after the two world wars, and many of these countries gained independence. But the colonial era officially ended when Portugal ceded Macau to China in 1999.

44, World War II (1939-45)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (12)

The global conflict in which the Allies defeated the Axis powers affected almost every nation on Earth and became the deadliest war in human history, killing between 50 and 80 million people. There were fronts in Europe, Africa and Asia and it destroyed all races, religions, cultures and nations. Men, women, and children were killed or exterminated by the millions, including in the Holocaust, which killed 11 million people.

There is some debate as to when World War II began, beginning with the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, or when Britain and France declared war on Germany after invading Poland. in 1939. Whatever phase is considered to have started it, World War II changed the face of the earth forever, leading to the end of the age of European empires, the founding of the United Nations, and the beginning of the Cold War.

3October Revolution (1917)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (13)

The first successful socialist revolution began when the revolutionary movement in the Russian Empire overthrew the autocracy under the Tsar, and then Vladimir Lenin's Bolsheviks led a second revolution that overthrew the Provisional Government. The fall immediately led to the establishment of the world's first self-proclaimed socialist state, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, followed by the outbreak of the Russian Civil War. In 1922, after the socialist Red Army defeated the royalist and capitalist White Army, they established the government of what would later become the USSR or Soviet Union.

The October Revolution changed the course of World War I, laid the foundation for World War II, the rise and fall of fascism, the rise and eventual fall of communism, the Cold War and decolonization, and became the inspiration for many other uprisings over the years, such as the communist revolutions in Germany, Hungary, Mongolia. Cuba, Vietnam, China and many other countries.

2Assassination attempt on Archduke Ferdinand II (1914)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (14)

Historians now say that all roads in the 20th century led to World War I (1914-1918), sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in June 1914. In August of that year, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Germany declared war on France and Russia, and Britain declared war on Germany, setting off a chain reaction of events that eventually involved all the major powers in that year. moment.

The Great War marked the first use of modern lethal weapons in conventional warfare, including chemical weapons and tanks. More than 9 million people were killed and entire empires like those of Russia, Germany, the Ottomans and Austria were dismantled. The origins of World War II go back to the tenuous peace forged after World War I, then known as the Great War. Nobody could imagine anything worse until a few decades later when the world was faced with World War II.

1French Revolution (1789-94)

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (15)

The importance of the French Revolution for world history cannot be underestimated. It not only shaped the entire modern world as we know it and paved the way for capitalism to defeat feudalism, but it also laid the groundwork for uprisings and revolutionary change in all parts of the world. The period of radical social and political upheaval during the French Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic Wars had a lasting impact not only in France or Europe, but throughout the world. It will always be remembered as the event that put an end to feudalism and whose shock waves caused a total transformation of the social fabric of all countries.

After the French treasury was emptied (exacerbated by the funding and supply of the American Revolution), this caused much misery and famine, leading to anger against the monarchy. Images of the revolution, such as the storming of the Bastille, the guillotine, and the imposing figure of Robespierre, are iconic today. The French Revolution introduced the concept of the republic to the world, and revolutionary France soon had to fight for its survival in wars across Europe. It laid the groundwork for Napoleon Bonaparte's coup and subsequent wars that spanned all continents, and introduced the modern concept of corps systems (rather than mercenary armies) and the Napoleonic code, not to mention the idea of the all out war

Because of its very existence and the worldwide historical and social changes it caused, the French Revolution can easily be seen as the most monumental historical event of modern times and more than any other as the fundamental historical event that changed the world. forever.

to shareburningEmail

The 8 Best Shark Tank Deals Of All Time, Ranked

Related topics

  • most influential
About the Author

15 major historical events that changed the world forever (17)

Andreas Galbreath(31 articles published)

Writer, editor, dreamer, media freak, total geek, and future corpse. A morally ambiguous protagonist with a large beard.

More from Andrew Galbreath


What event changed the world forever? ›

World War II changed the world forever. It ended European empires, created the United Nations, and saw the beginning of the Cold War.

What are 5 important dates in history? ›

Famous Dates in History
December 8, 1941U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan
December 11, 1620103 pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock
December 12, 1800Washington, D.C. is established as the U.S. capital
January 1, 1863Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery
182 more rows

What was the biggest change in human history? ›

In the history of human progress, a few events have stood out as especially revolutionary: the intentional use of fire, the invention of agriculture, the industrial revolution, possibly the invention of computers and the Internet.

What historical figure changed the world the most? ›

The 100 Most Significant Figures in History
  • Jesus.
  • Napoleon.
  • Muhammad.
  • William Shakespeare.
  • Abraham Lincoln.
  • George Washington.
  • Adolf Hitler.
  • Aristotle.
Dec 10, 2013

What are the 7 important things about history? ›

Why Studying History is Important (and Why It Is Fun)
  • History helps us understand other cultures. ...
  • History helps us understand our own society. ...
  • History helps us understand our own identities. ...
  • History builds citizenship. ...
  • History gives us insight into present-day problems. ...
  • History builds reading and writing skills.
Nov 21, 2016

What are the 6 major time periods world history? ›

The College Board has broken down the History of the World into six distinct periods (FOUNDATIONS, CLASSICAL, POST-CLASSICAL, EARLY-MODERN, MODERN, CONTEMPORARY.

What are the 10 key events that impact life on Earth? ›

10 important events in Earth's history
  • works cited.
  • #3. oxygen levels rise.
  • #4. the cambrian explosion.
  • #10. modern humans are born.
  • #9. pleistocene ice age.
  • #2. first life on earth.
  • #5. pangaea forms.
  • #6. permian extinction.

What are some examples of history changing over time? ›

Examples of large-scale historical change include epochal change (feudalism to capitalism); the development of modern states in Europe; scientific and technological revolutions; evolution of institutional rules and systems of law; longterm demographic transition; and other noteworthy examples.

What are the major events in US history? ›

U.S. History Primary Source Timeline
  • Colonial Settlement, 1600s - 1763.
  • The American Revolution, 1763 - 1783.
  • The New Nation, 1783 - 1815.
  • National Expansion and Reform, 1815 - 1880.
  • Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877.
  • Rise of Industrial America, 1876-1900.
  • Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929.

What were 3 major world events in the 1960s? ›

The Sixties dominated by the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Protests, the 60s also saw the assassinations of US President John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Cuban Missile Crisis, and finally ended on a good note when the first man is landed on the moon .

What event happens every 2 years? ›

Did you know? Biennial conventions, celebrations, competitions, and sports events come every two years. Biennials are plants that live two years, bearing flowers and fruit only in the second year.

What day most changed the course of history? ›

The day Johannes Gutenberg finished his wooden printing press in 1440, Western civilization turned onto a path toward more efficient, accessible communication of knowledge. The ensuing democratization of ideas had a profound impact on societies in the second half of the second millennium. Don't miss what matters.

How did ww1 change the world? ›

The First World War destroyed empires, created numerous new nation-states, encouraged independence movements in Europe's colonies, forced the United States to become a world power and led directly to Soviet communism and the rise of Hitler.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Otha Schamberger

Last Updated: 20/12/2023

Views: 5724

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Otha Schamberger

Birthday: 1999-08-15

Address: Suite 490 606 Hammes Ferry, Carterhaven, IL 62290

Phone: +8557035444877

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: Fishing, Flying, Jewelry making, Digital arts, Sand art, Parkour, tabletop games

Introduction: My name is Otha Schamberger, I am a vast, good, healthy, cheerful, energetic, gorgeous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.