A Video Timeline of Western Civilization (History 112)

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A Brief History

This article presents a video timeline for students of Western Civilization (History 112) at Ashland University.

For each date below, please click on the date to be taken to a video covering that date’s event.  After watching that video, please write a one or two sentence comment that demonstrates that you watched the video.

These comments or “thesis statements” are 1-2 sentence summaries of the video. They should include the most important aspects of each video. In other words, the thesis statement should include the individuals involved, the time period, and significance of the event.

For example, if you watched a video on the Declaration of Independence, your comment could be something like the following: “The Declaration of Independence of 1776, originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson, formally declared the American colonies independent from Great Britain.  The Declaration also argued that all men are created equal with natural-born rights and that the government exists to secure said rights.”

I prefer that you turn in a list of your comments.  For each comment, please be sure to include a footnote indicating what video your comment corresponds with.  To cite a YouTube video in a footnote, you should follow the following format:

AuthorFirstName AuthorLastName, “Title of Video,” YouTube video, running time, publication date, URL.

Here is an example:

Matthew Zarzeczny, “July 3, 1863: 5 Valiant but Failed Attacks (Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg),” YouTube Video, 8:22, July 6, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-x3gb11YlE.

Your comments on each unit’s videos should be completed by the date on the syllabus for when we finish that unit.

Digging Deeper

I.  Introduction

  1. In the mid-2010s, Dr. Zar and his students gave a public presentation on the history of various sites in Ohio.
  2. On March 29, 2019, Dr. Zar and a group of his students visited the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.
  3. On November 10, 2017, the audio-book version of Simply Napoleon was published.
  4. On December 24, 2018, a cute dachshund got, played with, and defended her 2018 Christmas present!

II.  The First Civilizations

  1. On November 4, 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter found the entrance to Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.
  2. On February 16, 1923, King Tut’s burial chamber was entered for the first time in over 3,000 years!
  3. In the 17th Century BC, Israelites settled in what is now modern Israel.
  4. On December 29, Catholics and Lutherans celebrate the feast day of David, a man from the Bible perhaps most famous for slaying the giant Goliath.
  5. In 550 BC, the first dynasty of the Persian Empire was created by the Achaemenids, established by Cyrus the Great with the conquest of the Median, Lydian and Babylonian empires.
  6. In December 530 BC, a few hundred years after the life and death of the historical inspiration for the legendary Asian Queen Semiramis, another amazing Ancient Asian queen reigned.
  7. This video briefly summarizes the history of Afghanistan from ancient history to just prior to the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842).

III.  Ancient Slaves and Women

IV.  Early Greece

  1. On an unknown date, about the mid 2nd Millennium BC, the ancient world was rocked by one of the largest volcanic eruptions and explosions in Human history.
  2. On April 24, 1184 B.C., at least according to traditionalists, the city of Troy fell to Greek invaders, thus bringing about the end of the epic Trojan War that began some ten years earlier in 1194 B.C.

V.  Classical and Hellenistic Greece

  1. On September 12, 490 BC, an epic battle was fought between the Greeks (primarily Athenians) and the Persian Empire at the plains of Marathon, Greece, about 26 miles from Athens, with the result being a great victory for the outnumbered Greeks and giving rise to the legend of Pheidippides running the long distance to bring news of the victory to Athens, giving the happy word with his dying breaths.
  2. In 326 BC, Alexander III of Macedon, known more familiarly as Alexander the Great, having conquered the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, the largest empire within the ken of the Greeks of the time, turned his attention to the next great conquest, that of the fabled but little known land of India.
  3. On June 11, 323 BC, one of History’s greatest conquerors and generals died at the age of 32, not on the battlefield where he had spent so much time putting his life in danger, but in bed in the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon.

VI.  The Fall of Macedon and the Rise of Rome

  1. On January 10, 49 B.C., Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River as he marched toward the city of Rome with his legions.

VII.  The Pax Romana

  1. On January 16, 27 BC, the Roman Senate conferred upon Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus the title “Augustus,” effectively making Augustus Caesar the first Roman Emperor, marking the beginning of the Roman Empire.
  2. On July 18, 64 AD, the center of Western Civilization, city of Rome, capital of the Roman Empire, suffered an enormous fire that devastated the city and burned for 6 days.
  3. On December 22, 69 AD, the reigning Emperor of Rome, Vitellius, was captured and murdered on the Gemonian Stairs in Rome, proving once again how dangerous it was to be a Roman Emperor.
  4. On August 4, 70 A.D., the Romans punished the rebellious Jews by destroying the Second Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
  5. On Friday, August 6, 2021, the popular YouTube channel UsefulCharts published a video counting down the top ten greatest ancient dynasties of all time.

VIII.  The Transformation of the Roman Empire

  1. It is January 6th, Merry Christmas! Or wait, is it just Christmas Eve?
  2. On January 14, medieval Christians celebrated Feast of the Ass Day, although perhaps not the type of “ass” you may be thinking of!
  3. On Good Friday, somewhere around 33 AD, Jesus of Nazareth, prophet to Islam and Judaism, the Christ and Savior to Christians, was crucified by the Romans in Jerusalem.
  4. On August 24, 410, the city of Rome fell to foreign invaders for the first time in 800 years.
  5. On May 31, 455, Western Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus was stoned to death by an angry mob, an ignoble end to a world leader.
  6. On October 4, 610 A.D., Heraclius arrived by ship from Africa at Constantinople, overthrew Byzantine Emperor Phocas in one of the most badass coups in history, and became Emperor.

IX.  Unity and Diversity in Three Heirs of the Roman Empire

  1. On December 11, 629, the Prophet of Allah and founder of the Muslim religion, Muhammad, led an army of 10,000 converts to Islam into Mecca and conquered the city with minimal casualties.
  2. On May 30, 727, we mourn the passing of one of the great characters in history, one of our favorite Saints, Saint Hubert, also known as Hubertus, the first bishop of Liège in what is now Belgium.
  3. On April 25, 799, Pope Leo III was leading a procession honoring St. Mark in Rome, chanting prayers and responses with the crowd, a practice called the Greater Litanies.
  4. On December 23, 962, Christian forces under Byzantine commander Nikephoros II Phokas stormed into the city of Aleppo in the Levant, earning the future Byzantine Emperor the title “Pale Death of the Saracens.”

X.  Renewal and Reform

  1. On January 23, 971, with deadly fire from their crossbows, troops of the Chinese Song Dynasty managed to defeat the War Elephant Corps of the Southern Han Kingdom.
  2. On February 15, 1113, the reigning Pope of the Catholic Church, Pope Paschal II, issued a Papal Bull titled “Pie Postulatio Voluntatis,” recognizing the Order of Hospitallers, a military order of Catholic knights that had existed in the Holy Land since about 1099.
  3. On June 10, 1190, during the Third Crusade, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (r. 1155-1190) drowned in the river Saleph while leading an army to Jerusalem.
  4. On September 24, 1272, Prince Edward of England, leader of the Ninth Crusade, left Acre (Syria) for Sicily to recover from wounds.

XI.  An Age of Confidence

  1. On October 14, 1066, the Normans under William the Conqueror defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings.
  2. St. Albertus Magnus died on November 15, 1280, after having reportedly built an android and discovered the philosopher’s stone, but according to the faithful his body did not deteriorate and according to Mary Shelley, his writings influenced mad scientist Victor Frankenstein!

XII.  Crisis

  1. On July 20, 1304, the forces of King Edward I of England successfully took Stirling Castle during the First War of Scottish Independence.
  2. On November 18, 1307, Swiss archer William Tell split an apple into two pieces  on his son’s head with a well-aimed arrow.
  3. On November 24, 1326, Hugh Despenser, 1st Lord Despenser, became a victim of Isabella the She-wolf n in one of history’s all-time most brutal executions, because as they say, well, sort of, “Hell hath no fury like a she-wolf scorned!”
  4. On May 26, 1328, William of Ockham, a Franciscan Friar, snuck out of Avignon fearing his execution would be ordered by the Pope.
  5. Today, as the United States and the rest of the world continues to be ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, we look back to a previous pandemic of enormously greater proportions, the infamous Black Death of Bubonic Plague that ravaged much of the world in the 14th Century.
  6. On April 23, 1348, King Edward III of England proclaimed The Order of the Garter on the feast day of St. George, the Patron Saint of England.
  7. On August 29, 1350, the English naval fleet under King Edward III defeated the Castilian fleet at the Battle of Winchelsea in the English Channel after the Castilian fleet had previously attacked and captured English trade ships.
  8. On May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) was put to death by being burned alive at the stake for the alleged crime of heresy.
  9. On April 10, 2018, adherents of the Anglican Church celebrate the Feast Day of St. William of Ockham, the Franciscan theologian and philosopher that gave us the logical tool known as Occam’s Razor, an idea oversimplified as ‘the briefest, most likely explanation is the best.’

XIII.  Renaissance

  1. On February 7, 1497, the followers of Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola of Florence, Italy, gathered and burned a large quantity of objects they referred to as “vanities,” objects such as cosmetics, books, artwork, mirrors, fancy clothes, playing cards, and musical instruments, any objects these religious zealots thought could lead people to sin.
  2. On April 28, 1503, the armies of Spain and France fought in Southern Italy at a place called Cerignola (near Bari), a battle decided by the small arms fire of muskets and arquebuses, one of the first European battles where small arms fire from firearms decided the battle.
  3. On November 8, 1520, the Stockholm Bloodbath began in which a successful invasion of Sweden by Danish forces resulted in the execution of around 100 people.

XIV.  Conclusion

  1. On April 11, 2019, Dr. Zar took a group of students taking his course on the Supernatural in Western History to The Cleveland Museum of Art to examine some examples of the supernatural in art.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Markham, J. David and Matthew Zarzeczny.  Simply Napoleon.  Simply Charly, 2017.

Zarzeczny, Matthew D.  Meteors That Enlighten the Earth: Napoleon and the Cult of Great Men.  Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013.

The featured image in this article, a detail of Late Gothic carving on the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, has been released into the public domain by its author, AYArktos.  This release applies worldwide.


About Author

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history in Ohio.