A Video Timeline of Western Civilization (History 113)

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A Brief History

This article presents a video timeline for students of Western Civilization (History 113) 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 post a one or two sentence comment in the comments section for the video 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.”

Although I would prefer that you post your comments directly on the videos (every time anyone comments on one of my videos, I receive an email notification), if you are uncomfortable posting public comments on YouTube, you may instead email to me a list of your comments sent as a Word attachment.  If you email me 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

0.  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 December 24, 2018, a cute dachshund got, played with, and defended her 2018 Christmas present!

1. The Spanish Golden Age

  1. On January 3, 1521, Roman Catholic (Augustinian) priest and reformer Martin Luther was ex-communicated from the church by Pope Leo X.
  2. On July 7, 1550, chocolate is thought to have been introduced to Europe from the Americas.
  3. On December 21, 2012, people across the globe waited for the end of the world!

2. The Experiences of Life in Early Modern Europe and North America

  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.

3. The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century

  1. On June 23, 1611, the ship appropriately named Discovery, captained by explorer Henry Hudson, was in what is now called Hudson Bay and was the scene of a mutiny.

4. Constitutionalism versus Absolutism

  1. On June 23, 1534, Oda Nobunaga drew his first breath in a culture overflowing with violence.
  2. On May 23, 1701, Scottish Captain William Kidd was hanged in London for piracy and murder.
  3. On January 30, 1703, 47 Japanese samurai avenged the forced suicide of their feudal lord.
  4. The 22nd of November is indelibly etched in the public’s mind with the death of a revered hero! (And John F. Kennedy also died on November 22nd.) Yes, pirate aficionados everywhere mourn the 1718 loss of one of the most colorful pirates of all time, Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.

5. The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment

  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 January 31, 1747, the London Lock Hospital opened, the first clinic specifically for the treatment of venereal diseases!

6. The American and French Revolutions

  1. March 14, 1757, was a sad, black day in the annals of the Royal Navy for on that day, Admiral Sir John Byng was executed by firing squad on the deck of HMS Monarch.
  2. On April 14, 1772, the building tension toward open rebellion of Americans against the British erupted in New Hampshire in an incident known as The Pine Tree Riot.
  3. On October 5, 1789, the women of Paris marched to Versailles to confront King Louis XVI about his refusal to abolish feudalism, to demand bread, and to force the King and his court to move to Paris.

7. Napoleon

  1. On January 7, 1797, the first use of the Green, White, and Red tricolor Italian flag was seen in use by the Cisalpine Republic (formerly Milan) after Napoleon Bonaparte’s conquering of that region in 1796.
  2. On March 23, 1801, some of the Russian nobility and military officers that had been fired expressed their discontent in the time honored tradition of killing the monarch!
  3. On May 20, 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul (later Emperor) of France, made a mistake he later regretted the rest of his life when he reinstated slavery in the French colonies.
  4. On June 1, 1813, the commander of the USS Chesapeake, James Lawrence, lay dying, and uttered the immortal words, “Don’t give up the ship!”
  5. On July 15, 1815, Emperor Napoleon I of France surrendered to the British aboard the HMS Bellerophon.
  6. On November 10, 2017, the audio-book version of Simply Napoleon was published.

8. Industrialism, Nationalism, and Imperialism

  1. On May 15, 1718, James Puckle of England patented the first machine gun.
  2. On May 5, 1809, Mary Kies became the first woman granted a US patent.
  3. On July 19, 1814, Samuel Colt was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and though he lived only to the age of 47 became rich and famous as the man that made the repeating firearm a practical reality.
  4. On February 9, 1825, the United States of America had the only incident (so far) of no presidential candidate winning a majority of the Electoral votes in a presidential election, forcing the House of Representatives to elect our next president.
  5. On June 5, 1829, the British ship, HMS Pickle, a 5 gun schooner, captured an armed slave ship, the Voladora, off the coast of Cuba.
  6. On January 13, 1842, the lone survivor of a British army in Afghanistan staggered into Jalalabad!
  7. On June 4, 1855, Major Henry C. Wayne got on board the USS Supply in New York Harbor and headed to the Mediterranean Sea to procure camels (29 of the Dromedary or one-hump variety and 2 of the Bactrian or two-hump kind) for use by the US Army in the Western United States.
  8. On June 3, 1861, in the first organized land battle (barely a battle in reality) of the American Civil War, the Union Army with 3000 men routed an untrained force of 800 Confederate volunteers in what it now West Virginia at Philippi, a small town that today has only about 3000 residents.
  9. On July 1, 1863, the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania began, perhaps the most important battle of the US Civil War.
  10. On July 3, 1863, the Army of the Potomac fought a defensive battle against the Army of Northern Virginia at the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg.
  11. On May 31, 1866, Irish nationalists known as Fenian Brotherhood invaded Canada in an attempt to force Britain into granting Ireland independence.
  12. On December 25, 1868, much maligned and embattled President of the United States Andrew Johnson issued a blanket pardon for all Confederate veterans of the US Civil War.
  13. On February 5, 1869, prospectors Richard Oates and John Deason of Australia found the incredibly large alluvial gold nugget known as “Welcome Stranger,” a rock weighing almost 300 pounds!
  14. On January 9, 1873, Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, died after ruling France for a longer reign than any other leader since the French Revolution.
  15. On July 14, 1881, the outlaw known as Billy the Kid was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garret in New Mexico.
  16. On April 3, 1882, notorious Wild West train and bank robber Jesse James was gunned down in his own house by a new member of his reconstituted gang, Bob Ford.
  17. On August 12, 1883, the last known living specimen of the Quagga died, and the species became extinct.
  18. On January 20, 1885, LaMarcus A. Thompson patented his version of the modern roller coaster, and Coney Island, New York became ground zero for it!
  19. On September 4, 1886, after almost 30 years of raiding Mexican and white settlers and battling the U.S. Army, Apache war leader Geronimo finally surrendered in Arizona to U.S. Army General Nelson Miles.
  20. On February 2, 1887 (or 1886), the first Groundhog Day celebration took place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and such celebrations have been taking place over and over again ever since (on each February 2nd)!
  21. On June 13, 1893, President Grover Cleveland was only a few months into his second term when he went to his doctor to complain of soreness and a rough patch in his mouth. 
  22. On January 23, 1897, Elva Zona Heaster, about 24 years old, was found dead, later proven to have been murdered by her husband through her own ghost’s testimony!
  23. On May 26, 1908, the first major commercial oil strike in the Middle East was made when the Masjed Soleyman strike was made in Southwest Persia, the country now known as Iran.

9. World War I

  1. On June 22, 1893, the British battleship HMS Camperdown accidentally collided with the British battleship HMS Victoria off the coast of Lebanon.
  2. On January 5, 1895, French Army officer Alfred Dreyfus was falsely convicted of treason for allegedly having passed along secret information to the Germans in what famously became known as the Dreyfus Affair and was sentenced to live at the dreaded Devil’s Island prison in French Guiana.
  3. On July 8, 1898, gangster and con artist Jefferson R. “Soapy” Smith was killed in a shootout with a vigilance committee on the Juneau, Alaska wharves.
  4. On May 23, 1901, the Attorney General of Paris, France, received an anonymous note that a woman was being kept prisoner by her own mother.
  5. On August 10, 1901, Charlotte Anne Moberly (1846–1937) and Eleanor Jourdain (1863–1924) traveled by train to Versailles to visit the Royal Palace and grounds located there about 12 miles from the city center of Paris.
  6. On February 27, 1902, a British firing squad carried out the execution of convicted war criminal, Australian Lt. Harry “Breaker” Morant.
  7. On May 27, 1907, in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the city by the bay came down with an epidemic of Bubonic Plague, the same plague responsible for the infamous “Black Death” in earlier centuries.
  8. On March 29, 1911, the US Army made the Colt M1911 .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol its official sidearm.
  9. On January 19, 1913, the Holly Hotel in Holly, Michigan burned for the first time!
  10. On July 11, 1914, the major league career of George Herman Ruth began, with Ruth pitching for the victory of the Red Sox over the Cleveland Naps.
  11. On August 2, 1916, Austrian saboteurs managed to sink the Italian battleship, Leonardo da Vinci as the great ship lay in Taranto harbor.
  12. On November 20, 1917, a combined Allied offensive (British and French) stepped off against the Germans at Cambrai, France (Nord Department).
  13. On June 1, 1918, the Battle of Belleau Wood began in France near the River Marne.
  14. On July 19, 1919, England celebrated Peace Day in honor of winning World War I.
  15. On August 18, 1920, the United States ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

10. The Russian Revolution

  1. On December 29, 1916, possibly the most cracked clergyman of all time finally met his doom, having been poisoned, shot, and drowned, thereby rivaling Blackbeard for the claim of bearded bad-ass who most went out “like a boss”!

11. Fascism and Nazism

  1. On May 21, 1924, a pair of well to do college students from the University of Chicago kidnapped and murdered a random 14-year-old boy, just for the thrill of committing murder and getting away with it.
  2. On August 16, 1927, the Dole Air Race began, with 8 airplanes taking off from Oakland, California and heading to Honolulu, Hawaii.
  3. On July 7, 1928, bread that was presliced, wrapped in paper or cellophane, and sold like that to the consumer in bakeries and grocery stores first made its debut.
  4. On August 27, 1928, countries that were bitter enemies in World War I signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact to renounce war as a means to resolve disputes and conflicts between nations.
  5. On June 17, 1932, 17,000 United States military veterans of World War I and 25,000 of their friends and family gathered in Washington, D.C. to demand early payment of their service certificate war bonuses.
  6. On February 10, 1933, Primo Carnera, a heavyweight boxer called “The Monster” by Time Magazine, dealt Ernie Schaaf fatal blows during a boxing match in New York City.

12. World War II and the Holocaust

  1. On December 27, 1922, the Imperial Japanese Navy commissioned the first aircraft carrier in the world that was designed and built as an aircraft carrier, the Hōshō.
  2. On June 15, 1936, the Vickers Wellington twin engine bomber made its maiden flight.
  3. On June 26, 1936, the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 made its first flight as the world’s first practical helicopter. Introduced into service with the Luftwaffe soon afterwards, the Fw 61 only had 2 copies built, but was a harbinger of things to come.
  4. On April 9, 1937, a Japanese aircraft made the first ever flight by a Japanese built airplane to London, England, when the Mitsubishi Ki-15 Karigane nick named “Kamikaze” made the nearly 4 day flight.
  5. On January 27, 1939, one of the great American fighter planes of World War II, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, made its first flight.
  6. On February 11, 1939, a prototype Lockheed P-38 Lighting twin engine fighter plane flew from California to New York in a then record 7 hours and 2 minutes.
  7. On March 30, 1939, the Heinkel 100 single engine piston powered fighter prototype set a new World Speed Record at 463 mph (745 kph).
  8. On March 12, 1940, an epic battle of a David against a Goliath ended in a draw!
  9. On May 10, 1940, the United Kingdom invaded Iceland without the permission of the government of Iceland.
  10. On May 29, 1940, the F-4U Corsair made its first flight.
  11. On January 9, 1941, the premier British bomber of World War II, the Avro Lancaster, made its maiden flight.
  12. On January 17, 1941, French colonial naval forces engaged the naval forces of Siam (Thailand after 1948) during the Franco-Thai War, a smaller war within the larger conflagration that was World War II.
  13. On March 19, 1941, the U.S. Army Air Corps activated the famed African-American aviation unit known as the Tuskegee Airmen.
  14. On April 6, 1941, German forces commenced the invasions of Greece and Yugoslavia.
  15. On May 10, 1941, Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess, third in command of Nazi Germany to Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring, some of history’s most evil people, parachuted into Scotland in an attempt to get Britain to make peace with Germany.
  16. On July 18, 1942, the Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow in English) made its first test flight using its jet engines.
  17. On May 17, 1943, RAF Squadron 617, later known as The Dambusters, embarked on Operation Chastise, a plan to bomb and destroy 2 dams to flood the Ruhr Valley in Germany.
  18. On June 3, 1943, US Navy sailors and US Marines tangle with Latino young men in what is known as The Zoot Suit Riots.
  19. On June 13, 1944, during the Battle of Villers-Bocage, German tank ace Obersturmführer Michael Wittmann proved what could be accomplished by proper use of a superior weapon system when he directed his Tiger I tank against British armor (armour for you Brits), destroying an amazing 2 anti-tank guns, 15 armored personnel carriers, and 14 tanks!
  20. On February 13, 1945, bombers from the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the American Air Force (USAAF) struck the eastern German city of Dresden, a city so beautiful it was once known as the “Florence on the Elbe,” incinerating tens of thousands of people.
  21. On March 14, 1945, a British Lancaster heavy bomber dropped a bomb known as the “Grand Slam,” a 22,000 lb behemoth that was the largest and most powerful bomb ever used up to that time.
  22. On April 27, 1945, Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini was captured by Italian partisans and shot the next day, his body hung up in public and pelted with stones, spat upon, and generally scorned, an inglorious end to a strutting peacock of an egomaniac.
  23. On July 16, 1945, Manhattan Project scientists held their breath as the clock ticked down to the first man-made nuclear blast in history.
  24. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz, Israel, to be known as the State of Israel, a state independent upon the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine on May 15, 1948.
  25. On March 24, 1976, Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount of Alamein, hero of World War II, died at home in England.
  26. On June 20, 1991, the German Bundestag moved the capital of the newly reunified Germany back to Berlin from Bonn.

13. Conclusion

  1. On January 1, 1950, a new method of designating what year it is (or was) went into effect with the BP system, meaning “Before Present.”
  2. On January 14, 1950, the MiG-17 Soviet jet fighter made its first flight, a plane that would go on to become the 3rd most produced jet fighter in aviation history.
  3. On March 1, 1953, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin suffered an alleged stroke that led to his death on March 5, 1953 at the age of 74.
  4. On January 7, 1960, the United States first successfully test launched the Polaris Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) from their launching facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  5. On August 31, 1965, fans of super-different airplanes could add another oddity to their list when the Aero Spacelines Super Guppy made its first flight.
  6. On January 29, 1967, the “hippie” counterculture scene melded with Hare Krishna at the Mantra-Rock Dance in San Francisco, later referred to as “the ultimate high.”
  7. On July 31, 1970, the British Royal Navy experienced one of the darkest days in their long and glorious history, Black Tot Day.
  8. On March 27, 1975, work began on the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
  9. On January 8, 1981, a close encounter with a UFO left actual physical evidence!
  10. On January 28, 1986, the U.S. space shuttle Challenger took off right on schedule, only to explode 74 seconds later, killing all seven crew members on board in front of a horrified live television audience.
  11. On August 14, 1994, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, Venezuelan terrorist and one of the most wanted men in the world, was finally arrested by authorities in the Sudan and turned over to French law enforcement.
  12. On February 3, 1995, Space Shuttle mission STS-63 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral Florida for space with a woman pilot for the first time.
  13. On January 12, 1998, 19 European nations agreed to prohibit the cloning of humans.
  14. On November 20, 1998, a huge step in the history of space exploration took place when the Zarya segment of the International Space Station (ISS) was launched, the first part of the largest man-made object to orbit the Earth.
  15. On March 27, 1999, Lieutenant Colonel Dale Zelko of the US Air Force became the first pilot of a stealth fighter or bomber ever shot down, in fact, the only time a warplane with stealth capabilities has been shot down.
  16. On January 24, 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began its operations.
  17. On February 1, 2003, the United States suffered the second loss of a space shuttle, this time the Columbia.
  18. On May 29, 2004, President George W. Bush dedicated the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C..
  19. On December 22, 2001, Richard Colvin Reid, age 28, of London, England, attempted to destroy an airliner in flight on its way to Miami, Florida by the use of explosives hidden in his shoe.
  20. On June 29, 2007, Apple Inc. sold the first of 500 million iPhones, the company’s first mobile phone.
  21. On July 4, 2018, 242 years after Americans declared their independence from Great Britain’s King George III, Dr. Zar and Major Dan journeyed to the Community Stadium in Ashland, Ohio to celebrate.
  22. On August 18, 2018, Dr. Zar visited the Lexington Blueberry Festival in Ohio for food, fun, music, and fireworks!

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

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

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

The featured image in this article, a detail from the oil painting (1806–7) titled Sacre de l’empereur Napoléon Ier et couronnement de l’impératrice Joséphine dans la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, le 2 décembre 1804 (Coronation of Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine in Notre-Dame de Paris, December 2, 1804) by Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825) and Georges Rouget (1783–1869) of Joséphine kneeling before Napoleon during his coronation at Notre Dame, is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or less.  The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project.  The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.


About Author

Dr. Zar

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.