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35 Frequently Tested AP European History Terms & Concepts | Albert.io 2

35 Frequently Tested AP European History Terms & Concepts

So you want to know what it takes to get a 5 on the AP European History Exam? I’m going to tell you that it’s going to take time and dedication, but in the end it will be worth it. When you hold that 5 in your hands after you’ve finally taken the test then you will know that it will have paid off. Still it won’t be easy; there is a large amount of time that the AP European History covers. Don’t worry though; lucky for you we’ve compiled key terms and concepts that frequently appear on the exam.

But we will do even better. Not only have we listed the top 35 frequently tested history terms for the AP Euro exam, but we’ve also included a description of how they apply to the larger themes and concepts that the College Board wants you to know for the whole AP Euro History course. Right next to each flashcard item, we will define which Key Concept each term hits for AP Europe course. AP Euro teachers use these Learning Objectives, so shy not use them in your studying, right?  Let’s get started on these AP Euro flashcards and get you that much closer to a 5 on your upcoming exam!

Medieval Period to Age of Exploration

Columbian Exchange

(Key Concept 1.4 Europeans explored and settled overseas territories, encountering and interacting with indigenous populations)

This was the period of “Ages.” These include The Age of Enlightenment, the Industrial Age, and also importantly, the Age of Exploration. The Columbian Exchange played a massive role in the spread of European culture, goods, disease, and people across the globe. Named after…you guessed it, Christopher Columbus, this term refers specifically to the increased transportation of all of these things between the newly “discovered” Americas with Europe and Africa. For the AP Euro exam, you’re going to want to remember that this process hugely changed both sides of the Atlantic. Take two instances. First, Europeans brought parasites and disease to the New World, like smallpox, which decimated the indigenous populations. Second, the slave trade pops up after exchange routes are established, completely altering labor and production in both Africa and the Americas. This process defines the Age of Exploration to the T, and hits 

Conquistadors

(Key Concept 1.4 Europeans explored and settled overseas territories, encountering and interacting with indigenous populations)

The Conquistadores of Spain and Portugal brought Western Europe face-to-face with the New World and beyond. During the Age of Exploration it was they who opened up Europe to what lay beyond the horizon. They opened trade routes and conquered natives, from which they got their name, and started colonies wherever they went. They essentially made Spain and Portugal into sea-faring empires during the Age of Exploration. Conquistadors also decimated the native populations of the New World through slavery and genocide, but mostly through the proliferation of diseases that were foreign to the New World. Diseases like smallpox and typhus spread from Europe to the rest of the world and killed millions of people. In fact, you could say that the Conquistadors jumpstarted the Age of Exploration from which stemmed the Colonial Era. But remember your AP Euro history—not all empires were created equally. This was a very Spanish and Portuguese way of doing things. The conquistadors were the military and dominated in the name of religion and the monarchy. Domination was the central theme to this imperial vision, not quite the colonialization which the Dutch and British would excel at a few years down the line. 

Council of Trent

(Key Concept 1.2 The struggle for sovereignty within and among states resulted in varying degrees of political centralization.)

The council was basically meeting was called together by Pope Paul III. The Council of Trent was one of the major movements of the Counter-Reformation which was a reaction of the Catholic Church to fight against the growth of the Protestant Reformation. The Council re-affirmed the teachings of the Catholic Church, clarified doctrine, and decried the heresy of Martin Luther. One of the main sticking points between the Catholic Church and the Protestants was the concept of transubstantiation. Catholics truly believed that the Eucharist was transformed in the body and blood of Christ and Protestants believed that it was a transformation of spirit. This council failed to bring the Protestants back into the fold of the Catholic Church and only exacerbated the growth of Protestantism in Europe. The Council of Trent was a defining moment for the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation and the Protestant Reformation is something you must know for your exam. Distrust towards the Catholic not only lead to new forms of religion, but the spread of those religions during the Age of Exploration as many tried to flee persecution.

Defenestration of Prague

(Key Concept 1.3 Religious Pluralism challenged the concept of a unified Europe.)

The Defenestration of Prague may sound silly but it directly led to the Thirty Years’ War in Europe. A calm had recently settled over the land as the Holy Roman Empire came to the decision, cuius regio, eius religio, meaning that whoever owned the land decided what religion would be practiced there. The Kingdom of Bohemia, which was part of the Holy Roman Empire at the time, was ruled by the Habsburg Dynasty who was primarily Catholic. The Habsburgs however did not force Catholicism on their Protestant subjects. Then Ferdinand of Styria, a hardline Catholic, was elected King of Bohemia. He began taking away Protestant rights and dissolved primarily Protestant assemblies who objected to this infringement upon their rights. Ferdinand sent several of his Catholic lords to announce his intent at the Bohemian Chancellery and the lords, angry at their mistreatment, unceremoniously threw them out the window. This is so massively important because the thirty years after this incident the Holy Roman Empire would be embroiled in conflict that would eventually drag the rest of Europe into fighting as well. The fall of the Roman Empire allowed for the rise of other empires, like those of the English and Spanish which spread their visions of the world across the globe. 

Diet of Worms

(Key Concept 1.2 The struggle for sovereignty within and among states resulted in varying degrees of political centralization.)

Basically, the Diet of Worms was a deliberative assembly called by Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. He convened the diet in order to figure out what they would do with Martin Luther. Historically the Holy Roman Empire had been Catholic, granted their name from the pope himself. But most people remember the one in 1521 after Martin Luther’s writings had begun the Protestant Reformation and the subjects of the Holy Roman Empire found themselves questioning the reliability of papal interpretation of Scripture. Martin Luther was then summoned to Worms, Germany in order to either explain his perceived heresy or recant them and return power back to the Catholic Church. Martin Luther did none of these things and merely stated that he would not take back anything he said for he could not do so in good conscience and that in itself would be sacrilegious in God’s eyes. After he had finished speaking he simply said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Luther’s actions would further fan the flames of the Protestant Reformation and act as a sign of things to come. The College Board loves this kind of event for two reasons. First, the diet was a kind of institutional power, very specific to the Roman Empire—but that power was fading and in transition. Second, it showed that the western world was looking for alternatives to the Catholic Church. Religious and state authorities were clashing in historically significant ways, sparking the Protestant Reformation.

Edict of Nantes

(Key Concept 1.3 Religious pluralism challenged the concept of a unified Europe.) 

The French Wars of Religion had torn France apart for decades and left it wracked by disunity. On one side of battle were the Huguenots, Calvinist Protestants living in France, and on the other side were the Catholics, the majority religion at the time. Henry IV saw the damage done to his country by the French Wars of Religion and tried to broker a peace between both belligerents. This came in the form of the Edict of Nantes. The Edict made clear that French Huguenots were no longer to be treated as second-class citizens or heretics. They were to have the same rights as Catholics and tolerated as a separate religion from the majority. The Edict freed France from the wars that had ravaged it for the second half of the 16th century and eventually allow for the growth of secularism in later periods. Once again, this is the era of religious reformation and the College Board knows this. This edict serves as another example of religious disunity under an absolutist monarchy; it also shows how a social/religious group like the Huguenots fought for a place in the French monarchical system.

Feudalism

(Key Concept 2.1 Different models of political sovereignty affected the relationship among states and between states and individuals.)

When you think of Feudalism you probably think of knights and the middle ages, but it goes so much further than that. Feudalism was a means of social order during the turmoil and uncertainty of the middle ages. It was an institution that affected the political, cultural, and military spheres. Within feudalism serfs, lords, and kings were bound to each other. Lords owned the land and serfs were bound to them, they were to raise crops and provide food and goods for the lord who would in turn protect them from harm. The lords owed allegiance to the king and the king was in charge of marshaling the army in times of war and providing justice. Feudalism was the primary form of society for centuries.  And because AP Euro history is a fan of connectivity and transition: the feudal system declined due to a variety of complex reasons. One, economics were shifting as exploration led to commercial contacts, the religious authority of the pope was being challenged, and peasants began revolting for personal and social rights.

Little Ice Age

(Key Concept 1.5 European society and the experiences of everyday life were increasingly shaped by commercial and agricultural capitalism, notwithstanding the persistence of medieval social and economic structures.)

Believe it or not, but it’s not just the history of humans that change over time. Weather patterns shift in large and small ways as well, ultimately affecting human history. The Little Ice Age refers to the cooling off of general temperatures in Europe from 127 -1455 and also 1770-1850. The fact that there was a cooling off period between these two sets of years is in itself not important for any Learning Objective for the AP Euro course, but you are going to want to remember the repercussions. Because of the shifting weather crops died off, leading to severe famines in 1315-1375 and throughout the late 17th century. The cold, the lack of food, and shifting ice patterns all affected European history. People started having less children because they couldn’t feed them, nutrition went down, bread riots occurred, and communities became isolated.   

Mercantilism

(Key Concept 1.4 Europeans explored and settled overseas territories, encountering and interacting with indigenous populations)

The dominant economic theory in Europe during the period lasting from the 16th to the 18th century was known as Mercantilism. The key requirements of mercantilism came from a nation’s drive to establish colonies quickly and efficiently, anything the colony produced was to be shipped and sold only in the home country, all efforts must be made for a nation’s exports to be greater than its imports, and all gold and silver that the nation encounters must be hoarded and kept within the domestic money supply. This policy was the framework of the English, Spanish, and French when forming colonies in the New World. It’s important to note here that this was an extremely profitable system, helping to push Europe out of the Middle Ages and into the dominant region of world affairs. It’s also the predecessor to capitalism, which is a topic too huge to not remember.

The Ninety-Five Theses

(Key Concept 1.2 The struggle for sovereignty within and among states resulted in varying degrees of political centralization.) 

That’s probably how many thesis statements you’ve written for your AP European History class thus far, huh? Anyways, this is Martin Luther’s (not Martin Luther King, Jr.) famous arguments against the Catholic Church that helped to spark the Protestant Revolution. In 1517, Luther published this tract in what is now Germany, listing a series of complaints about the abuses of Catholic power, including the use of indulgences, the intimacy between the Church and state, and corruption that was taking place across Europe. It’s important to remember that without Gutenberg’s printing press, this may not have been that big of a deal, but because printing made the document much easier to spread, it caught on across Europe, which was growing tired of the Catholic Church.

Peace of Westphalia

(Key Concept 1.3 Religious pluralism challenged the concept of a unified Europe.)

Through the Peace of Westphalia the Thirty Years’ War in the Holy Roman Empire was brought to an end and Spain could no longer deny the authority and freedom of the Dutch Republic. The Peace of Westphalia fundamentally changed Europe in that it forced the acceptance of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church would no longer be able to bully Catholic monarchs to interfere in the domain of Protestant rulers and effectively allowed religious freedom and tolerance for all Europeans. It also forever changed the power dynamics of Europe. Formerly might made right but with the Peace of Westphalia balance was maintained in Europe through a complicated set of alliances, if one nation went to war it brought the strength of its entire alliance to bear. This shift in power led to growth of nationalism in Europe as nations solidified and contributed to the impending First World War. Just seeing the word “nationalism” should sound off your AP Euro alarms. This is need-to-know subject, so this event in European history is essential.

Spanish Inquisition

(Key Concept 1.3 Religious pluralism challenged the concept of a unified Europe.)

Did you know that the Spanish Inquisition was actually only one of several? Inquisitions were set up in order to enforce orthodoxy of Catholic subjects. The Spanish one began in 1478 by the Spanish monarchy in order to take a certain amount of control away from the papacy. It consisted of a Grand Inquisitor (the most famous being Torquemada) who headed a council that was meant to guarantee that Catholic practices were being done by all subjects, including newly converted Jews and Muslims. The entire process led to mass censorship, the expulsion of Jews, and trials of heresy across Spanish territories. But remember, this is about the enforcement of religious and political authority at a time when religious pluralism did exist. 

Renaissance to Industrial Age

Absolutism

(Key Concept 2.1 Different models of political sovereignty affected the relationship among states and between states and individuals.)

Absolutism was a style of governance in Europe that lasted from the early 17th century to the late 18th century. It was characterized with a monarch that sat at the top of the government. Primarily male, he wielded his unrestricted authority over the state and the people. Power within an absolutist government was hereditary usually passing from father to son. All political, cultural, and economic activities stemmed from the will of Louis the XIV. In reality however the absolutist ruler was offset by the power of the clergy, aristocracy, and eventually the middle class. Why exactly is this important? Europe was dominated by absolutist governments for centuries that were eventually torn down by fiery revolutionaries fighting for democracy.

Bourgeoisie

(Key Concept 3.2 The experiences of everyday life were shaped by industrialization, depending on the level of industrial development in a particular location.) 

From the end of the Middle Ages and up to the French Revolution there were three social classes that one could be a part of: the aristocracy, the clergy, or the commoners. During the middle ages there was normally a wealth disparity along with the titles associated with the first two classes that separated the commoners from the aristocracy and the clergy. However within the commoners rose a different class of people, these were the bourgeoisie. They were characterized as merchants who made their livelihood from business as opposed to hard labor. They would often amass wealth that rivaled that of the aristocracy and the clergy and began to search for ways to improve their social status as well. It is the bourgeoisie that would act as the main instigator of the French Revolution and inspired others throughout Europe. Since, Karl Marx is a favorite on the AP Euro exam, remember that Marx applied these events to argue that Bourgeois revolutions led to the creation of capitalism (they were merchants, after all).

Deism

(Key Concept 2.3 The popularization and dissemination of the Scientific Revolution and the application of its methods to political social, and ethical issues led to an increased, although not unchallenged, emphasis on reason in European culture.) 

The Age of Enlightenment saw the rise of rationalism and a trust in empiricism. This also coincided with the effects of the Protestant Revolution and specifically a scrutiny of organized religion that left many disenchanted. This resulted in the growth of Deism. Deism is the belief that you don’t need religion to see that the universe was designed by a single omnipotent creator; instead you just have to study and observe the natural world to see that its complexity must have been designed by an all-powerful being. Deism became a prominent belief system among French philosophers like Rousseau and Montesquieu whose writings would contribute to the expansion of the French Revolution. And even more, political philosophers that helped to spark the French and American revolutions were hugely influenced by deist thinkers, since they believed that religion no longer had to be the center of politics.

Industrialization

(Key Concept 3.2 The experiences of everyday life were shaped by industrialization, depending on the level of industrial development in a particular location.)

Industrialization heralded the beginning of the pre-modern age. Many new inventions appeared as a result of industrialization that would change the economies of many countries in Europe. Industrialization was the process of incorporating machines to produce goods especially textiles. Also industrialization brought about the growth of steam power to transport goods and power these new machines this came about with the transition from wood to coal as a fuel source. Industrialization affected all levels of society as income levels for all people rose as well as quality of life. Also many things came to be produced in mass with all the new technological advances. But even though incomes rose and products increased, there would still be discontent. Socialism sprouted up in the 19th century in an effort to take on the industrial system, where money disparity between the wealthy and the poor appeared to be increasing. This economic system became an institution of power in itself sparking instances of class warfare.

Laissez-faire

(Key Concept 3.2 The problems of industrialization provoked a range of ideological, governmental, and collective responses.)

Laissez-faire was an economic policy in which the government took a hands-off approach. Prior to laissez-faire most of Europe’s governments took control of the economy, especially during times of famine or war. However laissez-faire preached against the intervention of the government. Originating in France laissez-faire as economic policies were tested during the reign of Louis XV and the policies worked for ten years. However when a food shortage hit France merchants would distribute and sell their grain abroad for a better price. Laissez-faire was one of the many policies that contributed to the proliferation of hatred for the aristocracy and the clergy and would help bring about the French Revolution.

Napoleonic Code

(Key Concept 3.4 European states struggled to maintain international stability in an age of nationalism and revolution.)

Although Napoleon spread his French empire across Europe in the early years of the nineteenth century, he also spread some rather revolutionary laws as well. The Napoleonic Code refers to the French laws that Napoleon’s empire enforced upon their own citizens and those that they conquered. Revolutionary for the time, the laws created a uniform system that spread throughout Europe, replacing the patchwork of feudal laws that dominated Europe from several generations. It was revolutionary because it did not allow for class-based privileges (everyone was basically equal), the state could not force religion, and that the government should not be created by the most powerful politician, but it should be filled with people who were actually qualified for their jobs. As countries throughout the 19th and 20th centuries increasingly tried to get rid of colonization and feudalism, they turned to these ideas for a model on how to do that.

Realpolitik

(Key Concept 3.4 European states struggled to maintain international stability in an age of nationalism and revolution.)

Realpolitik is a German word that means a practice of international relations that focused on what is practical for the nation instead of making decisions based on ideological lines. The most famous practitioner of Realpolitik was the statesman Otto von Bismarck. Through Realpolitik Otto von Bismarck was able to leverage Prussia into a position of power while simultaneously keeping the rest of the European nations aggressive against one another thus maintaining a balance of power in Europe. Realpolitik would bring the Prussian state to the forefront of European politics and would allow it to dominate for decades with Otto von Bismarck at the helm. This pragmatic view of politics led Bismarck to adopt several socialist policies in order to prevent uprisings from the working classes, even though many in the government at the time didn’t agree with the policy on an ideological level. Decisions like these would help to create a number of modern nation-states like Germany, Italy, etc. 

Reign of Terror

(Key Concept 2.1 Different models of political sovereignty affected the relationship among states and between states and individuals.)

The Reign of Terror was the bloodiest portion of the French Revolution. During the Reign of Terror as many as 30,000 French citizens were executed by the Committee of Public Safety led by Maximilien Robespierre. The reason for the Reign of Terror was because the leaders of the French Revolution had promised the commoners and sans-culottes equality for all under the law and no more economic abuse by the government. When these promises were reneged upon the masses felt cheated and there was a cry for blood. No one was safe from the National Razor, or the guillotine, which had come to symbolize the might of the French Revolution. No one was safe from the National Razor whether you were an aristocrat, clergyman, or commoner. The significance of the event lies in that the rest of Europe’s aristocrats began to fear a revolution within their own country and began to tighten the restrictions on their own people which ironically would lead to more revolutions.

Social Darwinism

(Key Concept 3.6 European ideas and culture expressed a tension between objectivity and scientific realism on one hand, and subjectivity and induvial expression on the other.) 

Ever heard of the phrase, “survival of the fittest?” Well, it originates from the evolutionary arguments made by naturalist Charles Darwin in the late 19th century. It originally applied to the natural world, after Darwin (an Englishmen) spent some time around the Galapagos Islands off the West coast of South America observing the variations of animal species between the islands. Social Darwinism came into play when people across Western Europe (the United Kingdom and the United States, in particular) began applying Darwin’s theories to human society. Those who supported it claimed that the strongest people inherit the most wealth, while those who are weak will stay weak and poor, eventually to die off. They also believed in specific ways to reward strength and discipline weakness. It became a particularly popular theory in the first half of the twentieth century, as fascism, eugenics, and imperialist racism took hold throughout Europe.

The Three Estates

(Key Concept 1.5 European society and the experiences of everyday life were increasingly shaped by commercial and agricultural capitalism, notwithstanding the persistence of medieval social and economic structures.)

The Three Estates refers to the socioeconomic classes of France up till their abolishment during the French Revolution. They consisted of the French clergy which made of the first estate. The second estate was the French nobility, and the third estate was the French commoners. The importance of the Three Estate sociopolitical system lies in how the estates were taxed. The first and second estates were exempt from the corvée, gabelle, and the taille. All of these terms respectively refer to mandatory labor on state roads, a salt tax, and a direct land tax. As a result the burden of taxation mainly fell on the third estate. This unfair taxation policy irritated the French commoners and especially the growing French bourgeoisie who had comparable wealth to the first and second estates but simply did not have the social rank. This aggravation would in turn lead the people to revolt and begin the French Revolution.

World War I to Cold War

“Balkan Powder Keg”

(Key Concept 3.4 European states struggled to maintain international stability in an age of nationalism and revolution.)

The Balkan Powder Keg was the name given to the Balkans during the early 20th century. The reason for this title was because it had become a major point of contention between the preeminent powers of the time. In addition to this, the local people of the Balkans had an upsurge in nationalism and eventually felt they should govern themselves instead of either the western or eastern imperial powers which lay on either side of them. Examples of Balkan states at the time were Greece, Serbia, and Montenegro. The Balkan Powder Keg would explode forcing western and Eastern Europe against each other and lead to one of the bloodiest conflicts the world had seen up to that point, World War I. In other words, this was the world of empires coming towards its eventual demise. This is one of the most significant series of events in modern European history because it indicates the shift away from the imperial system and towards the systems of sovereign nation-states that we are familiar with today.

Berlin Wall

(Key Concept 4.4 Demographic changes, economic growth, total war, disruptions of traditional social patterns, and competing definitions of freedom and justice altered the experiences of everyday life.)

The Berlin Wall was the iconic representation of the ideological struggle between Western Europe and the Soviet Union. It came to represent the clear divide between Western Europe and the Soviet Union because you could see clearly through the checkpoint to either side of the wall. The Berlin Wall divided East and West Berlin from each other and was originally designed to prevent illegal immigration from the Soviet Union into Western Europe. However the wall began to grow in size and took extreme measures in the form of guard towers along its length and anti-vehicle trenches when people kept crossing over into Europe illegally. The Berlin Wall became a tangible manifestation of a continent divided and stood for decades after World War II until the late 80’s and early 90’s. 

Containment

(Key Concept 4.1 Total war and political instability in the first half of the 20th century gave way to a polarized state order during the Cold War and eventually efforts at transnational unity.) 

Containment was a policy coined by U.S. Diplomat George F. Keenan during the presidency of Harry Truman during the Cold War in an attempt to contain communism’s sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and Asia. This was in response to a series of actions on the part of the Soviet Union to enhance its influence in Eastern Europe, China, Vietnam and Korea. Containment is a middle ground between the mild policy of détente and the hostile policy of rollback.  The Truman Doctrine, which vowed to support people who were resisting communism, marked the beginning of the implementation of containment as the official U.S. policy. In terms of European history, this is important due to the vast amounts of money and aid coming from the United States into regions that fought against the Soviet Union. US support meant that rebels in countries like Greece, Romania, etc. would have economic support in their efforts to overthrow Soviet power. This would only serve to fan the flames of the Cold War.

Decolonization

(Key Concept 4.1 Total war and political instability in the first half of the 20th century gave way to a polarized state order during the Cold War and eventually efforts at transnational unity.)

This is a must know word and concept. Decolonization basically describes the post-WWII era in global history. The World Wars proved devastating to the imperial system. Empires were out, while liberal democracies were in. Europe could no longer rely on their system of international empire (after all, imperialism really sparked WWI and WWII, right?), so they increasingly relied on decolonization efforts, which led to increased national self-determination and sovereignty to Europe’s former imperial and colonial holdings. But this also played into the Cold War hysteria. Using the ideas about the spread of democracy, leaders across the world appealed to either the United States or the Soviet Union to help them break away from their imperial overlords and become independent nations. This turned into a massive global tug of war, but still decolonization took place. Egypt, Greece, Vietnam, Israel, Iceland, and most countries around today are around toady because of this process. For that reason, this is a must-know process for the AP Euro exam.

French National Front

(Key Concept 4.4 Demographic changes, economic growth, total war, disruptions of traditional social patterns, and competing definitions of freedom and justice altered the experiences of everyday life.)

The National Front was a conservative, right-wing party that emerged in France during the 1970s. National Fronters argued for strict legal rulings and lawbreakers, they were anti-immigrant, favored French nationalism over European unionism, and favored economic protectionism. The National Front remains active to this day in French politics, although it hasn’t gained significant political control. It was founded as a response to the increasingly diverse populations that immigrated into Europe and France during the 1960’s and 1970’s, the trend towards decolonization, and increased financial instability due to deindustrialization. France was not alone. Similar groups emerged throughout Europe and the Western world at this time, indicating a social and political trend that responded to the issues of modernity, increased globalization, and market instability.

Glasnost

(Key Concept 4.2 The stresses of economic collapse and total war engendered internal conflicts within European states and created conflicting conceptions of the relationships between the individual and the sate, as demonstrated In the ideological battle between liberal democracy, communism, and fascism.) 

Have you ever wondered why the Cold War began to thaw? Well you should! Glasnost was a governmental policy instituted by President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union. It entailed a more transparent approach to government decisions and policies which contrasted the more restrictive policies of Stalinism. These policies called for less censorship within the Soviet Union. The reduction in censorship allowed Soviet media to tell the public exactly how the Soviet Union was doing and it showed that the nation was suffering from food shortages, pollution, and many other problems. While glasnost was a step in the right direction for a freer Eastern Europe it contributed to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union as its past history and current failure was brought to light.

Leninism

(Key Concept 3.5 A variety of motives and methods led to the intensification of European global control and increased tensions among the Great Powers.)

Is it too obvious to say that this term has something to do with the politics of Russian revolutionary figure, Vladimir Lenin? Well, it does. Lenin helped to found a radical group, called Bolsheviks, to overthrow the tsarist system in Russia and create what he believed would be a proletarian dictatorship peppered in with some Marxist ideology. Interestingly, as Lenin struggled to hold onto power in the 1920’s, he created his New Economic Policy, which betrayed Marx, and encouraged a little bit of capitalist enterprise in Soviet Russia. He even allowed some people to own private businesses. After Lenin died, however, Joseph Stalin reversed this policy by forcing a process of state-sponsored modernization. Industry would become a central concern under Stalin’s strict, state-powered thumb. This Leninism, especially viewed alongside Stalinism, shows a dynamic Soviet history. And the College Board loves dynamism. It shows that even something as rock hard as the Soviet Union had to transition over time in order to deal with the economic realities of the world. 

Marshall Plan

(Key Concept 4.1 Total war and political instability in the first half of the 20th century gave way to a polarized state order during the Cold War and eventually efforts at transnational unity.)

After the end of World War II the continent of Europe was war-torn and the population distraught at the damage done by the conflict. Many of the Allied forces wished to force Germany to pay war reparations that would contribute to the rebuilding of Europe while simultaneously punishing them. The Marshall Plan was suggested by Secretary of State George Marshall. The purpose of the Marshall Plan was to prevent another outbreak of war in the sense that because Germany had been forced to pay war reparations for World War I they had been unable to sustain themselves and fell prey to the lunacy of Adolph Hitler. The Marshall Plan effectively helped Europe get back to its feet after the end of World War II. But the Marshall Plan also did two other things to the geopolitical situation. One, it guaranteed US participation in European affairs for several years to come. American dominance of the global marketplace would emerge from these types of decisions made in the post-WWII years. And second, it split global affairs into two. The US had their vision, but so did the Russians, who created their own assistance plan, called the Molotov Plan. Geopolitics was split into two competing factions after WWII and the Marshall Plan helped to make that split even bigger.

NATO

(Key Concept 4.1 Total war and political instability in the first half of the 20th century gave way to a polarized state order during the Cold War and eventually efforts at transnational unity.)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was signed into effect on April 4, 1949. It was an alliance which promised that one country would defend the other if one was attacked by a third country. The agreement was preceded by the Treaty of Brussels in 1948. This treaty set up a “consultative council” amongst the Western European nations in an attempt to stop the spread of communism. Europe had recognized that it was divided into a western and communism bloc. The communist Soviet Union was a much greater threat than the reemergence of Germany. NATO is still important to this day because of the combination of forces between Europe and North America.

Panslavism

(Key Concept 3.5 A variety of motives and methods led to the intensification of European global control and increased tensions among the Great Powers.)

Panslavism was the ideology that all the Slavic nations, especially those within the Balkans should be united into one nation. During this period the Balkans were a particularly volatile area in Europe, the Austria-Hungarian Empire was collapsing as was the Ottoman Empire and many of the regions that would become future Balkan states were gaining their independence. The importance of Panslavism comes from the ultra-nationalism that it bred among Balkan nations. Nationalism flourished in the Balkans because of Panslavism and gave rise to groups like the Black Hand who were willing to bring about Panslavism by any means necessary. Gavrilo Princip was a member of the Black Hand and assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand leading to World War I. This is all about the individual and his/her relationship to society and the government. Remember, this was a time when empires had flourished, but were starting to decline. Ideas about nationalism and sovereignty were popping up and challenging the imperial system, leading to WWI.

Perestroika

(Key Concept 4.2 The stresses of economic collapse and total war engendered internal conflicts within European states and created conflicting conceptions of the relationships between the individual and the sate, as demonstrated In the ideological battle between liberal democracy, communism, and fascism.)

Perestroika was a policy initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, often associated with the glasnost reform during the 1980’s. Gorbachev’s motive behind this was that he recognized that the Soviet Union’s technology, as well as Communism was falling behind the capitalist economic systems of the West. Improving situations at home would then, lead to better relation with the West.  It involved a restructuring of the Soviet Union’s political and economic system from a communist society to a more democratic market-based economy. This policy is often attributed to the termination of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

Warsaw Pact

(Key Concept 4.1 Total war and political instability in the first half of the 20th century gave way to a polarized state order during the Cold War and eventually efforts at transnational unity.)

The Warsaw Pact was the Soviet response to the formation of NATO. It was an alliance between all the central and eastern bloc nations of the Soviet Union that was structured similarly to North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In the event that one of the nations of the Warsaw Pact was attacked by an aggressor all other treaty members were to mobilize their forces in their ally’s defense. The main difference between the Warsaw Pact and NATO however was that NATO was an alliance of sovereign nations who cooperated willingly. The eastern bloc nations were mostly coerced by the Soviet Union into the treaty so that the Soviet Union could maintain control of all armed forces within its dominion. The Warsaw Pact virtually placed Russia at the head of the new Soviet Union that stretched all across eastern and central Europe and acted as the opposition to NATO during the Cold War.

Wilsonian Idealism

(Key Concept 4.1 Total war and political instability in the first half of the 20th century gave way to a polarized state order during the Cold War and eventually efforts at transnational unity.)

Wait, wasn’t Woodrow Wilson a US president? Yes, but his political thoughts had a hugely important influence on European affairs following WWI. Ultimately, “Wilsonian Idealism” refers to a certain ideological perspective on foreign policy, a perspective that Wilson argued for following the end of WWI. Ironically, it didn’t take off in the US, but it totally exploded throughout the world, literally and metaphorically. Ultimately, proponents believe in the spread of democracy, capitalism, and the intervention of democratic states on the behalf of yet-to-e democracies in order to speed up the process of democratization. Many leaders like Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh used Wilson’s ideas about democracy and intervention to argue for help in removing the French empire from the region and asserting Vietnamese sovereignty.

Based on this list you can see that European history was long, rich, and bloody. You could study volumes of literature on the subject and still only scratch the surface. Fortunately this list contains the key points and concepts you need to get that 5 on the AP European History Exam. Once you’ve studied and are able to explain every term on this list you will be unstoppable and not only will you have gained a better understanding of European History but there will be no doubt in your mind that you will ace the exam.

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