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    Why we need to learn about history

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    If, as we've been told, the longest journey begins with the first step, then the first step of our journey through time will place us at the threshold of an era known as the Renaissance and the year 1500, the date chosen by numerous scholars as the dividing line between modern and pre-modern times. It was a time when civilization, particularly European civilization, was emerging from the stagnation of the dark ages where life was often described as being, violent, brutal, and short. And it would be the scholars of the Renaissance who, seeing their own time and that of the ancient Greeks and Romans as eras of great enlightenment, would brand those centuries of the dark ages with the Latin "Medieval", from which we get "Middle Ages"

    What we will see as we move through these centuries are how the historical forces released by the Renaissance and the factious competition unleashed during the Reformation during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries affected not only the lives of those involved at the time, but our modern-day era as well. For this was a time not only of discovery and expansion, but also the first steps toward a global economy. It was an age unprecedented in human achievement, opportunity, exploration, danger, discovery, conquest and, many would argue, exploitation and destruction.

    Driven by ambition, the desire for empires and wealth, and aided by significant advances in military and maritime technology, Portuguese and then Spanish explorers navigated new seaways around Africa, India and the Far East eventually crossing the Atlantic and discovering the Americas. In short order, European empires would appear around the world as all of the nations of Europe were scrambling to compete for trade routes and foreign colonies. And by 1800, the Europeans had succeeded in dominating, both economically and culturally, much of the world.

    Initially the Europeans only sought wealth through very tightly controlled, and often brutally enforced, systems of colonial expansion where the colonies were required to trade only with the mother country. But over time, this system of mercantilism was superseded by global interdependencies that were still under European hegemony.

    European empires around the world where often established and maintained literally on the backs of the native peoples in Africa, Asia, and the Americas who would be subjugated, sometimes enslaved, and robbed of their culture. And even though the Europeans may have long departed their former colonies, our own time is still marked with the consequences of these first encounters with a wider world.

    Two interesting aspects of history should become readily apparent in our initial search of the past:

    1) Even though the players and costumes have changed, humankind itself has changed very little over the last 500 years?greed, avarice and lust for wealth and power still abound.

    2) There is a striking similarity between empires and human life. For much like life, empires are conceived, born, nurtured and grow in size and strength. And also like life, they reach that point where suddenly they their youth is long behind them and the period of collapse and deterioration begins. For some empires the process was slow, but irrevocable, as with the Romans.For others, such as the Aztecs, the end was swift but merciless.

    Before we begin our journey, we will first take a look at this thing we call "history" and discuss why study it in the first place.From there we will examine some historical characters and discuss what they did, and could they have done it differently.

    Details: The American Heritage College Dictionary tells us that history is "the discipline that records and analyzes past events" (Pickett, 2002). With this notion in mind and a careful reading of the Stearns essay, discuss what you think we can learn from history?

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    Solution Preview

    This question is asking to look at history and see what we can learn from the past and why we would do that in order to see what would happen in the future.

    From history, we can learn a lot in order to determine how to deal with different problems that can arise, but also to predict what will probably happen in the future and how it will shape future history. Events that happened in history have all gone in cycles. Civilizations are ...