“Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love….The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.” – Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (2007)
Mother Teresa (1910–1997) was a Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to serving the poor and destitute around the world.
She was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on 26 August 1910.
In Albanian Gonxhe means “rosebud” or “little flower”.
She considered 27 August to be her real birthday as it was the day she was baptized.
Memorial house of Mother Teresa in Macedonia.
She was born in the town Uskup (now Skopje). Her family were Kosovan-Albanians. In 1910 Skopje was part of the Ottoman Empire. It is now in the Republic of Macedonia.
Her mother was known for her charity to the poor, often inviting the poor to share food with the family. As she counselled her daughter. “My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others,’
In 1928, At the age of 18 Teresa, left home with the aim of becoming a Catholic missionary. She went first to the Loretto sisters in Ireland. She never saw her family again.
In 1929, she travelled to India, where she learnt Bengali. She arrived with the equivalent of 5 Rupees.
Mother Teresa learned and spoke five languages fluently. She spoke English, Albanian, Serbo-Croat, Bengali, and Hindi
She taught History and Geography at St Mary’s High School in Kolkata for 15 years and became its headmistress. Many of first to join her in her missionary work were former students.
Distressed by the sight of poverty and suffering, in 1946, she felt an inner call to serve the poor.
“I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve Him among the poorest of the poor.” – Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa gave up her traditional nun habit and adopted an Indian Sari – white with a blue edge.
The symbolism of her sari was that it was practical and in harmony with Indian culture. The colour blue is associated with the Mother Mary. White is associated with truth and purity. The three blue bands represent the three main vows of the order.
In Calcutta, Mother Teresa began an open-air school and established a home for the destitute. She persuaded the local city government to donate a dilapidated building she could use.
Over the next two decades, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic and a string of mobile health clinics
In 1971, she opened her first house of charity in the west – in New York, US.
Mother Teresa often commented that the spiritual poverty of the west was harder to remove than the material poverty of the east.
“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” – Mother Teresa (1989)
She eventually suffered a heart attack and had a pacemaker surgically fitted to her chest. Even after this devastating blow to her health, she continued her work for another eight years.
In 1958, the trademark white and blue saris were specially made in Titagarh by the Gandhiji Prem Niwas for leprosy patients.
In 1950 Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity. A religious order within the Roman Catholic church. It has over 4,000 nuns who take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and service to the poor. Its mission statement was to serve.
“The hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”
The life and work of Mother Teresa were brought to the wider attention of the world through a film (1969) and a book (1972), Something Beautiful for God, by Malcolm Muggeridge.
Teresa did not seek to convert those she encountered to Catholicism. She wished to bring people closer to God, however they understood God.
“‘Yes, I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu, or a better Muslim, or a better Protestant, or a better Catholic, or a better Parsee, or a better Sikh, or a better Buddhist. And after you have found God, it is for you to do what God wants you to do.”
Teresa saw herself as a spokesperson for the Vatican; she upheld the conservative teachings of the Catholic church on contraception, abortion and opposition to the death penalty.
Despite her apparent faith in dedicating her life to the poor, she also experienced periods of spiritual dryness.
“Where is my Faith—even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness—My God—how painful is this unknown pain.” Mother Teresa ‘Come be my Light‘
Prizes and honours
In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
She turned down the Nobel honour banquet and requested the $192,000 prize money to be used to help the poor in India.
After receiving the prize, she was asked: “What can we do to promote world peace?” Mother Teresa answered, “Go home and love your family.”
In 1985, President Ronald Reagan awarded her the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 1972 she was awarded the Indian ‘Nehru Prize’ –“for the promotion of international peace and understanding”.
Mother Teresa holding Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run. October 1st 1994. Church of San Gregorio in Rome, Italy
Mother Teresa, died of heart failure on September 5, 1997 age 87 – just five days after Princess Diana. Whom she had recently met.
In 2016, Mother Teresa was declared a saint by Pope Francis.
Women who changed the world – Famous women who changed the world. Features female Prime Ministers, scientists, cultural figures, authors and royalty. Includes Princess Diana, Marie Curie, Queen Victoria, and Catherine the Great.
Christians – Famous Christians from Jesus Christ and the early Apostles to Catholic Popes and saints. Includes St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Sienna and St Teresa.
Spiritual figures – Famous saints, mystics and religious figures. Including Jesus Christ, The Buddha, Lord Krishna.
A selection of famous spiritual/religious figures and leaders. Many of these religious personalities have founded a new religion or new religious movement. In other cases, they helped to revitalise a particular religion or spiritual movement.
Sri Ramachandra (c. 7th century BC) A principal figure of the Ramayana – an important spiritual classic of Hinduism. Rama is considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu and the supreme teacher of dharma – the devotion to duty, self-control and virtue.
Sri Krishna (3/4th Century BC) – Within Hinduism, Krishna is recognised as an Avatar of Vishnu. Krishna’s teachings to Arjuna form the basis of the Bhagavad Gita, which is considered one of the most sacred texts of Hinduism. Devotion to Krishna is a major aspect of Hinduism in the Vaishnava tradition.
Moses (1391 BC – 1271 BC) Moses was a key prophet of the Old Testament. He received the Torah (law) on Mount Sinai, which includes the Ten Commandments. Moses is a prophet within Judaism, but also Christianity and Islam.
Laozi (Lao Tsu) (c 571 BC) Laozi was a Chinese poet and philosopher. He was the author of the Tao Te Ching and the founder of philosophical Taoism. Also important figure in traditional Chinese religions.
Pythagoras (c. 570 BC – c 495 BC) Greek philosopher, spiritual leader and mathematician. Pythagoras was credited by Plato with many key ideas in maths, science, ethics and philosophy. Pythagoras was a religious leader of a secret mystical school.
Confucius (551–479 BC) Chinese philosopher and author of The Analects. Confucius shaped Chinese culture, writing about family, loyalty, virtue and respect for elders. His philosophy created Confucianism.
Zoroaster/ Zarathustra (c 550-523 BC) A prophet and spiritual teacher who founded the religion of Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster was a religious reformer teaching a monotheistic religion based on choosing between light and darkness/truth and falsehood.
Mahavira (540 BCE–468 BCE) Mahavira was an important propagator and reformer of Jainism. He helped to spread the Jain religion of non-violence across India.
Buddha (c 560BC – c 460BC) Siddharta the Buddha attained nirvana after years of meditation and spent many years teaching his philosophy of enlightenment. His teachings led to the creation of Buddhism.
Jesus Christ (around 0 AD – 32 AD) Jesus Christ was a spiritual teacher who taught a gospel of love and forgiveness. His message was spread by his disciples and it led to the birth of Christianity.
St Paul (c.5 – c. 67) – Missionary and influential early Christian. The letters of St Paul form a significant part of the New Testament. St Paul is responsible for the growth and development of Christianity as a modern religion.
Mani (216–274 AD) founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion of Late Antiquity. Mani taught a form of Gnostic Christianity fused with elements of Buddhism and Hinduism. Manichaeism, like Zoroastrianism, stressed the battle between good and evil and the necessity for individuals to strive for purification and greater devotion.
Bodhidharma (5th or 6th century AD) Buddhist spiritual teacher who travelled from India to China and founded the branch of Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism, which focuses on meditation as a path to enlightenment.
Muhammad (c. 570 – 8 June 632) Prophet and messenger of God. The revelations he shared became the foundation of the Qu’ran and the Muslim religion. His main spiritual teachings were centred on the complete “surrender” (lit. Islam) to the One God.
Adi Shankara (9th Century AD) Shankaracharya was a noted spiritual teacher and philosopher. He spread a philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, which stresses the underlying unity of creation. He also founded the Dashanami monastic order
St Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) St Francis devoted his life to poverty, chastity and living the truth of the Gospels. He successfully persuaded the Pope to allow the creation of a new religious order. (The Franciscans) – devoted to the spirit of the gospels.
John Wycliffe (1330 -1384) Translated some of the first versions of Bible into English. Wycliffe was an early critic of the Papacy and clerical power. His followers became known as Lollards and were precursors to the Protestant Reformation.
Guru Nanak (1469-1539) Spiritual Guru and founder of Sikhism. Nanak was born in a Hindu family but taught God was beyond religious distinction and sought to teach that God was in all.
Sri Chaitanya (1486–1534) a devotee of Lord Krishna, Sri Chaitanya’s followers saw him as an incarnation of Vishnu. Sri Chaitanya taught the path of bhakti – devotional love for Sri Krishna. Chaitanya played a significant role in the revitalisation of Vaishnavism in India and Bengal in particular.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) – Sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church which he felt had been corrupted and lost its original focus. Luther was a principal figure in the Protestant Reformation and growth of the Protestant tradition.
Ignatius of Loyola (1491– 1556) Basque Spanish Priest and theologian. Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) during the Counter-Reformation – emphasising absolute loyalty to the Pope and Catholic Church.
Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515 – 1582) – Spanish mystic, writer and reformer. St Terese of Avila was an influential and pivotal figure of her generation. She reformed and helped to expand the Carmelite order.
George Fox (1624 – 1691 ) Founder of the Quaker movement – known as the Religious Society of Friends. Fox was a radical religious reformer who spoke against rituals and outer prestige, developing a religion which encouraged equality, the importance of silence and using meditation as well as scripture.
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772) Christian mystic who wrote a volume on the afterlife, Heaven and Hell (1758). He advocated a version of Christianity where works count as much as faith.
Baal Shem Tov (1698–1760) Polish Jewish mystic. Founder of Hasidic Judaism. Baal Shem taught the importance of immanent spiritual experience and rejected some of the more legalistic aspects of Judaism.
John Wesley (1703-1791) – Anglican preacher and evangelist. Wesley is credited with founding the Anglican tradition of Methodism. Methodism stresses the role of social service to cultivate love of one’s fellow man.
Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) American Christian revivalist preacher. Edwards was a leading figure in the Reformed movement of Christian evangelism which swept America in the Eighteenth Century. He gave a classic sermon – “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (1741)
Raja Rammohun Roy (1772 – 1833) Influential political and cultural activist who helped found the Brahmo Samaj. – A social/religious organisation dedicated to the revival of rational/modern Hinduism.
Brigham Young (1801 – 1877) was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement. He led his early Mormon followers to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Joseph Smith (1805 – 1844) Founder of Mormonism / Latter Day Saint movement. Smith published the Book of Mormon which is an important text to the Latter Day Saint Movement.
Bahá’u’lláh (1817 – 1892) Bahá’u’lláh was the founder of the Bahai Faith. Bahaism is a monotheistic faith which has roots with Shia Islam. Bahaullah is seen as the last in a line of prophets stretching from Moses, to Jesus, Muhammad and also Krishna and Buddha.
Mary Baker Eddy (1821 – 1910) Founder of Christian science – a new religious movement which believes physical illness is a mental illusion that can only be corrected through prayer.
William Booth (1829 – 1912) Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army. This was a Christian humanitarian charity which sought to help and evangelise the underprivileged sections of society.
Helena Blavatsky (1831 – 1891) Co-founder of the Theosophical movement. Blavatsky was a medium and mystic who helped develop the esoteric and philosophical society.
Sri Ramakrishna(1836 – 1886) An influential Bengali mystic and spiritual Guru. Ramakrishna followed the practices of all religions and came to the conclusion that all religions and sects could lead a man to God. The Ramakrishna Math was founded by his disciple Vivekananda.
Swami Vivekananda (1863 – 1902 ) A disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda helped bring yoga to the West and spoke about the underlying unity of world religions at the Parliament of World Religions (1893). Vivekananda also founded the Ramakrishna Movement or Vedanta Movement.
Sri Aurobindo(1872 – 1950 ) A spiritual Teacher, philosopher and poet. He taught an integral yoga – a yoga of world acceptance and divine surrender. His spiritual philosophy was expressed in works such as The Life Divine and Savitri.
Pope Saint John XXIII (1881 – 1963) Pope of the Roman Catholic Church (1958-63). He instigated the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–65) which introduced many new reforms for the Catholic church.
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: (1896-1977) Founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the “Hare Krishna Movement”. His mission was to spread a form of Vaishnavism in the West.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997) – Albanian Catholic nun. Mother Teresa devoted her life to the care and service of the poor, especially in India where she founded her Missionaries of Charity organisation.
L Ron Hubbard (1911–1986) American science fiction writer and creator of Scientology religion.
Abbe Pierre (1912-2007) – French Catholic priest who found the Emmaüs movement, which has the goal of helping the poor, homeless and refugees.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918- 2008) Indian spiritual Teacher, who founded the popular Transcendental meditation movement.
Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005) Polish Pope of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II was an influential pope who helped define the role of the Catholic church in modern society.
Thich Nhat Hanh(1926 – ) Vietnamese monk who inspired the movement of engaged Buddhism. Hanh has been a prominent peace activist and has written extensively on incorporating Buddhist teachings into everyday life.
Dalai Lama (14th) (1950 – ) The leader of Tibetans both politically and spiritually. The Dalai Lama taught the importance of loving kindness and a practical Buddhism for both Easterners and Westerners.
Pope Francis (1936 – ) The first Jesuit Pope and the first Pope from the Americas. Pope Francis has been credited with revitalising the Catholic Church by concentrating on the basic message of the Gospels, ‘selflessness, humility, charity and faith.’
This is a list of the major periods in world history. It includes broad global eras, such as the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. It also includes modern eras, which have lasted only a few decades, such as the Gilded Age, Progressive Age and the Information Age.
Stone Age (50,000–3000 BCE) The Stone Age refers to the broad range of ‘pre-history’ which lasted from approx 30,000 BC to 6,000BC where the first metals started to be used. In the stone age, use of metals was scarce, and the most common building materials and weapons were wood and stone. Much of this history is undocumented, though some archaeological evidence persists.
Bronze Age (3000–1300 BCE) The Bronze age refers to the broad period of history when cultures in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world made the first uses of bronze, from mining copper and tin. Bronze enabled more powerful tools and weapons. It was an age where the first writing systems became devised and used.
Iron Age (1200–230 BCE) The iron age was a period of economic development, where iron and steel enabled a greater use of metal tools which were stronger than previous Bronze Age items. The era led to developments in agricultural production, and we see the first evidence of written manuscripts, which includes great religious texts such as the Indian Vedas, (Sanskrit), and the Hebrew Bible.
Ancient Egypt (3000–300 BCE) Ancient Egypt was a civilisation which inhabited the banks of the Nile. Egypt was successful in using technology to increase agricultural production, giving spare labour for other pursuits, such as cultural, religious and military. Egypt was ruled by powerful Pharaohs, though there began a slow decline after being invaded by foreign powers. By 30 BC Egypt fell under the rule of the Roman Empire.
Ancient India (7000 BCE or earlier to c. 500CE) Ancient India refers to a long period of history which includes the Vedic ages and the development of Indus and Aryan; it. Ancient India includes the period from the earliest Vedic sages and Vedas, and the great Indian epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata are said to have occurred. See: Famous Indians
Ancient Greece (8th Century BCE–0 CE) Ancient Greece is considered the birthplace of modern democracy and representative government. Ancient Greece also produced some of the earliest Western philosophy, with great thinkers such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Ancient Greece also was an important source of early Western literature, with epic poets such as Homer. Other contributions of Ancient Greece include modern sports (Olympics) and scientific innovations. See: Famous Greeks
Ancient Rome (8th Century BCE–476 CE) The Roman Empire was centred on the city of Rome and the Italian peninsula. Rome went through different phases, from classical Republic government to autocratic Emperors. At its peak, the power of Rome extended throughout the majority of Europe, laying many foundations of Western civilisations. Towards the end of the Roman Empire, it adopted Christianity as its official religion; this helped the religion to spread across Europe. See: Famous Italians
Middle Ages (Europe, 4CE–1500CE) Also known as the post-classical era. The Middle Ages stretches from the end of the Roman Empire and classical period and the Renaissance of the 15th Century. It includes the rise of Islam in the Middle East. The Middle Ages is often considered a period of relative cultural ‘darkness’, with severe wars (e.g. 100-year war, crusades), plagues, religious persecution and a relative lack of learning.
Islamic Golden Age(Middle East, 750CE–1300CE) This refers to a period in the Islamic World which saw a flourishing of science, mathematics, and preservation of classical writings, such as Aristotle. The Islamic Golden Age saw the creation of centres of learning, science, and culture, beginning with the House of Wisdom in Baghdad.
Age of Discovery(or Exploration)(Europe, 1400CE–1700CE) The Age of Discovery refers to a period in the late Middle Ages/Renaissance where foreign travel and discovery was an influential part of European societies. In the Age of Discovery, European powers discovered and settled in different continents, changing the fate of the Americas, Africa and Asia. It led to a global spread of Christianity and ideas of Western civilisation; it also marked the growth of the global slave trade. See: Famous explorers
The Protestant Reformation(Europe, 16th century) The Protestant Reformation was a Christian movement, which criticised the excesses of the Catholic Church and promoted a new branch of Protestant Christianity which emphasised the pre-eminence of the Bible over the priesthood and the church. The Protestant Reformation began with Martin Luther pinning 95 theses to the church door of Wittenburg, Saxony. The ideas of the Reformation were spread with the help of the newly developed printing press. See: People of the Protestant Reformation
The Enlightenment(1650s–1780s) The Enlightenment is a period which saw the growth of intellectual reason, individualism and a challenge to existing religious and political structures. Enlightenment ideas influenced the American and French revolutions and also limited the power of religious authority. See: Famous People of The Enlightenment
Age of Revolution(1750–1917) The Age of Revolution is a period in which the Western world underwent several major revolutions, changing society from autocratic monarchies to more democratic republics. Major revolutions of this era, include the American and French revolution, European-political revolts of 1848, nationalist revolutions of Italy, Greece and Latin America. It also includes the Haitian revolution against slavery. See: Famous Revolutionaries
The Romantic Era(1790s–1850s) Romantic poets (Blake, Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Shelley) and Romantic artists, composers and writers. The Romantic era was partly a reaction against faith in reason alone. It was also a reaction to the industrial revolution, emphasising a faith in nature and man’s spiritual needs.
Industrial Revolution (1750s–1900) The industrial revolution is a phase of social development which saw the growth of mass industrial production and the shift from a largely agrarian economy to an industrial economy based on coal, steel, railways and specialisation of labour.
Age of Imperialism(c. 1700–1950s) The Age of Imperialism refers to the process of (mostly) European powers conquering and annexing other countries. Imperial powers ruled dominion countries directly. The most widely spread Empire was the British Empire, which at its peak covered 25% of the globe, in countries, such as India, the West Indies and parts of Australasia.
The First World War(1914–1918) The First World War was a devastating global war, mostly centred on Europe and the battlefields of France and Belgium. It featured troops from across the world and later involved the US. See: People of The First World War
Inter-war era(1918–1939) A period of peace in between the two world wars. It was characterised by economic boom and bust, and the growth of polarising ideologies, in particular, Fascism and Communism.
Roaring Twenties(1919–1929) The roaring twenties refers to the period of rapid economic expansion and rise in US living standards. It also saw an emergence of new music and a decline in strict morality. The ‘Roaring Twenties’ was associated particularly with the East coast of the US and major European cities, such as Paris and London.
Great Depression (1929–39) The 1930s were a period of global economic downturn. Major economies experienced mass unemployment and stark poverty. It also led to the rise of political extremism, e.g. Nazi Party in Germany.
The Cold War(1948–1990) The Cold War refers to the period of ideological conflict between the Communist East, and Western democracies. The cold war saw a period of rising tension, especially over the proliferation of nuclear weapons. There was no direct war between the US and the Soviet Union, but both sides gave support to ideologically similar regimes in minor conflicts around the world. See: People of The Cold War
Information Age (1971–present) The Information age refers to the new modern technologies which have shaped the modern world. These technologies include computers, the Internet and mobile phones. Key figures include business entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
Periods of American history
American Revolution(1765–1783) The American Revolution was the period of political upheaval in which the American colonies declared their independence from British rule.
American Civil War(1861–1865) The American civil war was the intense fighting between the Federal army, led by President Abraham Lincoln and the Confederate armies of the South, who wished to break away from the union to defend slavery.
Reconstruction Era(1865–1877) The period of rebuilding in the south after the civil war.
The Gilded Age (1870–1900) The Gilded Age refers to the last part of the US industrial revolution. The Gilded Age included rapid economic growth, but also refers to the immorality behind the accumulation of great wealth by a few leading industrialists, such as J.D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, who came to define the Gilded Age.
Progressive Era (1890–1920) The progressive era was a period of political activism which included causes such as votes for women, labour and trade unions movements and civil rights. It also included movements to regulate aspects of Capitalism and big business.
Civil rights movement (1950–1960) The civil rights movement is principally aimed at supporting rights of African Americans and ending segregation. The wider civil rights movement has spread over the whole of American history, but the 1950s and 60s saw some of the most intense activism. Further reading: Civil rights activists
Periods of British history
Elizabethan period(England, 1558–1603) A period in English history marked by the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. It saw Britain emerge as a major world power. It also saw the English Renaissance, with figures, such as Shakespeare and William Byrd.
Victorian age (1837–1901) The Victorian Age co-coincided with the latter part of the Industrial Revolution. In Britain, it also saw the growing strength and extent of the British Empire. The Victorian Age is associated with a stricter type of morality.
Edwardian Age(1901–1914) A period of growth in science, technology and also rising tensions between the major European powers. Also saw the ‘heroic age’ of exploration.
People of the Seventeenth Century(1601–1700) Famous people of the 17th century, which included the emerging European Enlightenment. Including; Shakespeare, Charles I, Louis XIV, Rene Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Locke and Galileo.
People of the Eighteenth Century (1701–1800) Famous leaders, statesmen, scientists, philosophers and authors. Including; Louis XIV, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
The Nineteenth Century(1801–1900) The Nineteenth Century saw the economic boom of the industrial revolution and worldwide movements for political change, which included the suffrage movement for women, growing nationalist movements and also the emergence of workers movements in response to the inequality of the industrial revolution.
The British military commander at the start of Revolution was Sir William Howe, though he was later replaced due to failures in the British war effort.
King George III led British resistance to American independence. The British Prime Minister was Lord North (a Tory)
Not all British MPs supported military action against the American Patriots. The ‘Whig’ faction, e.g. Edmund Burke criticised military action to resolve the issue.
During the war, African-American slaves served on both sides of the war. The British offered freedom to slaves who escaped their masters and served with loyalist forces. After 1776, George Washington raised a small number of black only units.
During the chaos of war, many slaves were able to escape. In South Carolina, 30% of slaves escaped, migrated or died during the conflict.
Approx 25,000 American Patriots died during military service – the biggest cause of death was disease – often in unsanitary prisoner of warships.
Compared to the ratio of the population, The War of Independence was the second-deadliest American conflict after the Civil War.
In 1776, the population of the 13 American colonies was estimated at 2.4 million. 85% of the white population was of British descent, with 9% of German origin and 4% Dutch.
Approx 42,000 British sailors deserted in the war. American colonies also had difficulties raising troops due to the economic need to stay on a farm. 90% of the American population worked on farms.
The British army was weakened by needing to also fight in the Caribbean.
The Industrial Revolution was a period between the late 18th Century and early 20th Century, which saw rapid growth in mechanisation, industrial production and change in society.
Two stages of Industrial Revolution
The first stage of the Industrial Revolution (1770-1870) – Centred on steam, water, iron and shift from agriculture.
The second stage of Industrial Revolution (1870-1914) – New technologies of electricity, development of petrol engine, oil, and greater use of cheap steel.
Key features of the Industrial Revolution
Population shift – moving from rural agriculture to work in factories in cities.
Mass production of goods, increased efficiency, reduced average costs and enabled more to be produced.
The rise of steam power, e.g. steam trains, railways and steam-powered machines.
Industrial and scientific discoveries enabled a revolution in our understanding of the material world.
Rapid industrialisation had a cost in terms of pollution and poor working conditions for labour.
Reasons for the Industrial Revolution
Birmingham New Street station
New technologies dramatically improved speed of transporting people and goods. The first Intercity railway was built in 1830 between Liverpool and Manchester. The railways enabled more freight to be transported cheaply and quickly.
In 1700, it took four days to travel from London to Manchester, by 1870, it took four hours.
Application of steam engines. The development of the steam engine was critical for the Industrial Revolution. It enables steam trains, but also steam-powered pumps and machines, which increased the productivity of labour.
Agricultural revolution enabled higher food output from fewer farm workers, leading to surplus workers who could go and work in factories. This revolution in agriculture was due to new techniques like crop rotation, selective breeding, economies of scale from bigger farms and better transport.
Growth in global trade. Helped by Britain’s effective shipping capacity and Empire, which was a source of raw materials.
The Renaissance was a period in history between the 14th and 17th Centuries, associated with a wave of new artistic, scientific and cultural achievements.
The French word renaissance literally means ‘rebirth’, and was first seen in English in the 1830s.
The first quote of Renaissance in English: “A style possessing many points of rude resemblance with the more elegant and refined character of the art of the Renaissance in Italy.” – W Dyce and C H Wilson’s Letter to Lord Meadowbank (1837)
The Renaissance is seen as a period of rebirth from the Dark Ages of Europe to the more enlightened and progressive ages of Europe.
The century before the Renaissance was particularly dark with the Hundred Years war (1337–1453) devastating much of Europe, the failed Crusades and also the Black Death (1346–1353) killing about 25 million people, 33% of the population at the time.
However, some academic scholars feel the term ‘Renaissance’ is too vague and the ‘Renaissance years’ were not particularly enlightened. Some scholars feel that the Renaissance was more accurately part of a ‘Longue Duree’ of European history.
The Renaissance period still saw real problems, such as religious wars, political corruption, inequality, witch-hunts and corrupt Borgia Popes. Most people who lived through the Renaissance did not view it as a ‘Golden Era’!
The Renaissance was a period of groundbreaking explorations, with the discovery of new lands outside Europe by famous explorers, such as Christopher Columbus and Vespucci.
The Renaissance was also a period of scientific discovery. Galileo Galilei and René Descartes (1596–1650) promoted a new view of astrology and mathematics, which challenged old Aristotelian ideas.
N.Copernicus began the process of changing the whole view of the world. He argued the Sun was the centre of the galaxy rather than the Earth. This heliocentric view of the world was controversial because it challenged the existing teaching of the church. But, during the Renaissance, this heliocentric view gradually came to be accepted.
The Renaissance was most strongly associated with Italy and Florence in particular. But most other European countries had their own Renaissance.
For example, The Netherlands developed its own Renaissance revival of painting, including Jan van Eyck. The artistic style of the Netherlands later had an influence on Italy.
The English Renaissance began later, in the late 15th Century, and was focused more on literature and music – less on art.
Leonardo’s famous portrait of the perfect man was based on Vitruvius’ De Architectura (1st century BCE) – mostly a treatise on architecture, but also the human body.
The ceiling of Sistine Chapel was commissioned by Pope Julius II, and painted by Michelangelo.
“Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving.”
— Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 23 August 1787
‘David’ by Michelangelo is one of the great masterpieces of the Renaissance. It symbolises the defence of the civil liberties of Florence, with the eyes of David turned towards Rome.
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps the world’s most famous painting. Da Vinci worked on the painting continuously for over 20 years – striving to attain perfection.
‘Sfumare‘ was a new painting technique of the Renaissance; it means to evaporate or to fade out. It was developed by da Vinci and enabled greater depth and realism to be given to a painting.
The term chiaroscuro refers to the fine art painting modelling effect of using a strong contrast between light and dark.
Reasons for the Renaissance
Sandro Botticelli portrays the family of Piero de’ Medici in Madonna del Magnificat.
The Black Death decimated the population of Europe in the 14th Century but left survivors with relatively more wealth and ability to climb social/political structures. It led to a decline of feudalism.
New political structures – with new men in positions of power, patronage of the arts was a way to secure greater status and prestige.
This new political order led to the patronage of the powerful and wealthy Medici family in Florence, who could afford to give commissions to artists.
Migration of Greek scholars and texts from Constantinople to Europe after the conquest by the Ottoman Turks (1453).
Creation of the printing press by J.Gutenberg c.1440 allowed greater printing of books and the spread of knowledge to a wider range of the population. This was particularly important for printing of Bibles, including for the first time Bibles in English and not Latin.
New secular/humanist ideas. Thinkers like Plutarch (1304–1374) and Erasmus (1466–1536) helped make classical texts and humanistic ideas more relevant and popular to a Christian society.
Artistic genius of people such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
Greater openness of the Church. In response to a decline in the temporal power of the Catholic Church, the Vatican sponsored more arts and reforms as part of the Counter-Reformation in response to the criticism of Luther. Pope Nicholas V and Leo X sponsored many Renaissance art projects as a way to bolster the church.
Greater trade between Italy and the rest of Europe. Also, ironically, the wars between Italy and France helped spread Renaissance ideas.
The Crusades led to the exposure of many European scholars to Eastern ideas; it also facilitated the growth of trade and commerce.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan “Facts of the Renaissance”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, 12th February 2016. Updated 26 June 2017.
People of the Renaissance (1350s to 1650s) The Renaissance covers the flowering of art and culture in Europe. Primarily in art, but also in science. Includes Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
People of the Enlightenment (1650s to 1780s) The Enlightenment is a period which saw the growth in intellectual reason, individualism and a challenge to existing religious and political structures.
People of the Romantic Era (1790s to 1850s) Romantic poets (Blake, Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Shelley) and Romantic artists, composers and writers.
Scientific Renaissance – The key people involved in the Scientific Renaissance of 1450-1687, including Copernicus, Galileo, Francis Bacon, Newton and Sir Robert Boyle.
Despite a population of less than 10 million, Sweden has produced many famous people. Of particular note, despite a small population, Sweden is in the top 10 list of countries regarding the total number of Olympic medals (including Summer and Winter Games) – This makes Sweden have one of the highest (4th) ‘medal to population ratios’ in the world.
Gustav II Adolf (1594 – 1632) King of Sweden who helped establish Sweden as major European power during the Thirty Years War. Gustav was a pioneering military leader and also a skilled administrator. He reformed Swedish society, creating a strong system of government and administration. His success helped strengthen the influence of Protestantism in Europe. He died in battle in 1632.
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772) Born Stockholm, Swedenborg was a noted mining engineer, innovator, scientist, philosopher and Christian mystic. He wrote an influential volume on the afterlife, Heaven and Hell (1758). He advocated a version of Christianity where works count as much as faith.
Alfred Nobel (1833 – 1896) Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer. Nobel invented dynamite and held 350 other patents. He left a legacy to fund prizes for key sciences, and most notably the Nobel Peace Prize – which is one of the most prestigious awards in the world.
Tage Erlander (1901 – 1985) Sweden’s longest serving Prime Minister from (1946 – 69). Erlander was a moderate who expanded social welfare and maintained Sweden’s strict neutrality and remaining nuclear-free.
Dag Hammarskjöld (1905–1961), Second Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1953-61. Hammarskjold played a key role in the development of the embryonic United Nations in the difficult Cold War years of the 1950s.
Raoul Wallenberg (1912 – 1945) Swedish architect, businessman and diplomat. While serving as special envoy to Hungary during Second World War, Wallenberg saved tens of thousands of Jews from persecution by offering them Swedish nationality and protection in Swedish buildings. He was taken by Soviet agents in Jan 1945 and died in Soviet custody.
Ingvar Kamprad (1926 – ) Business entrepreneur, Kamprad is the founder of the furniture chain IKEA. It has made him one of the richest self-made businessmen in the world. Based on a philosophy of simplicity, frugality and enthusiasm for the product.
Olof Palme (1927 – 1986) Two-term Prime Minister for the Social Democrat party – from 1969-76 and 1982-86. Palme was a pivotal figure in Swedish politics. He also committed Sweden to a policy of non-alignment with the major blocs (US / Soviet). He also supported Third World Liberation movements. Assassinated on the street in 1986.
Film / Music
Greta Garbo (1905–1990) actress. One of the greatest female actresses. Garbo was a star of both silent film and early talkies. She was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 1954.
Ingrid Bergman (1915 – 1982) Swedish actress who was highly regarded for her roles in influential films, such as Casablanca (1942), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) and Anastasia (1956). She is the second most decorated Hollywood actress, with three Oscars.
Ingmar Bergman (1918 – 2007) Swedish film director who was highly influential in shaping a new strand of films addressing issues of faith, death and sex. Famous films include; The Virgin Spring (1960), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Fanny and Alexander (1983) and The Magician (Ansiktet) (1960).
Abba (1972 -82) Hugely successful pop group from Stockholm. Comprising Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad they sold 300 million-plus records worldwide.
Famous Sports Persons
Bjorn Borg (1956 – ) (Sweden, tennis) During a relatively short career, he won 11 Grand Slam titles. Borg won 89% of Grand Slam games he participated in – a record today.
Jan Ingemar Stenmark (1956 – ) Widely considered the greatest Slalom skier of all time. Stenmark won a record 86 Slalom World Cups over a career of 16 seasons. Double Olympic medallist and three World Championships.
Jan-Ove Waldner (1965 – ) (Sweden, table tennis). Waldner has been at the pinnacle of table tennis for over two decades. He won a medal at every World Championship from 1983 to 2001. Olympic gold medallist in 1992.
Magdalena “Magda” Forsberg (1967 – ) Forsberg was the dominant biathlete during her career of 1997 to 2002. She was World Champion six consecutive times and
Annika Sörenstam (1970 – ) (Sweden, golf) Most successful female golfer. Sorenstam has won 72 official LPGA titles.
Zlatan Ibrahimović (1971- ) Swedish striker who has played for Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, A.C. Milan Paris St Germain and Sweden national team. For Sweden, he scored 51 goals from 100 games. He is also known for his acerbic charismatic personality.
Anja Sofia Tess Pärson (1981 – ) Olympic gold medallist and seven times World Champion. The versatile Alpine Skier has won 42 World Cup meetings, including Giant Slalom, Downhill, Slalom and Super G.
The Gilded Age is a period in American society (1870-1900) with rapid economic growth but also characterised by corruption, materialism, monopoly businesses and growing inequality.
The Gilded Age was a time of unbridled capitalism, with some business leaders becoming very wealthy through the consolidation of key industries into powerful monopolies.
Cartoon by Joseph Keppler entitled ‘The Bosses of the Senate’ – suggestion US Congress effectively owned by wealthy industrial bosses.
The term ‘Gilded Age’ implies outer wealth was a mask for the inner corruption and inner poverty. ‘Gilded Age’ is a satire on the rich monopolists, who were accused of gaining wealth through monopoly practices, mistreatment of workers and corruption of the political process.
One of the defining elements of the Gilded Age was the railroad industry. Americans developed a love/hate relationship with the railroads. They transformed society enabling greater travel and economic growth, but they were also run by business magnates who wielded enormous power and could set high prices to farmers, suppliers and travellers. While the owners grew very wealthy, the industrial work was also very dangerous, with numerous accidents and relatively low pay. Read On…
The Indian independence movement encompasses the efforts to free India from British rule from the Nineteenth Century until the granting of Independence in 1947. The Independence Movement involved a range of different strategies from revolutionary acts of violence, to peaceful non-violent protests.
Leaders of the Independence movement
Gopal Krishna Gokhale 1866 – 1915 Gokhale was an early leader of the Indian National Congress. Gokhale supported social and political reform which would give India greater autonomy. He was considered a moderate – working with British institutions and opposing more direct approaches to independence. Gokhale was an important mentor to Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) The foremost political leader of the Indian independence movement. For over two decades, Gandhi led a peaceful independence movement, characterised by non-violent protests, such as boycotts and the Salt March. He commanded respect from both Hindus and Muslim, but, despite seeking a united India, was unable to avoid the partition of 1947. He was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in 1948.
Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950) One of the key figures in the early Indian Independence movement, Aurobindo initiated early efforts at full independence and was sympathetic to armed resistance. After his retreat to a spiritual ashram, he rarely spoke on political matters apart from in 1942, where he urged Congress and Gandhi to accept the Cripps proposal to give Indian Dominion status. Sri Aurobindo became a noted philosopher, poet and Spiritual Teacher.
Ali Jinnah (1876 – 1948) Jinnah was leader of the All-India Muslim league from 1913 to 1947 and then as Pakistan’s first Governor. Initially, Jinnah advocated Hindu-Muslim unity and supported the All-India Home Rule League. But from 1940, he rejected the idea of a united India and advocated an independent Muslim state of Pakistan.
SirMuhammad Iqbal (1877 – 21 April 1938) Iqbal was an Islamic poet, philosopher and politician. As President of the All-Muslim League, Iqbal was influential in promoting the idea of separate Muslim provinces and ultimately was influential in encouraging Jinnah to embrace the idea of a separate nation of Pakistan
Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) – Nehru was an influential nationalist from the 1910s. With the backing of Gandhi, he came to lead Congress, moving the party to the left and seeking a united independent India. After Congress was politically diminished after the British crackdown on the ‘Quit India’ movement of 1942, Congress was unable to prevent the partition of India. Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945) Indian nationalist leader. Netaji raised a united Indian army (INA) of all religious faiths in an attempt to gain independence for India through military means.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856 – 1920) Prominent early leader of the Indian nationalist cause. Tilak was an early proponent of Swaraj and was imprisoned for sedition. Despite his radical stance, Gandhi saw Tilak as one of his political mentors.
Bipin Chandra Pal (1858–1932) One of the early Indian nationalist leaders, who like Lala Rai and Tilak, proposed direct action to secure Indian freedom.
Lala Lajpat Rai (1865 – 1928) Punjabi author and politician, Lal was a leader of the Indian independence movement. Lal died after sustaining injuries in a protest against British rule. This led to major demonstrations across India.
Chitta Ranjan Das (1870-1925) Lawyer and politician – Das represented Sri Aurobindo at the Alipore bomb trial and founded the Bengali Swaraj ‘Independence’ Party in Bengal.
Surya Sen (1894 – 1934) Surya Sen was an Indian revolutionary who was elected President of the Chittagong Indian National Congress. In 1930, he led a group of revolutionaries in the Chittagong Armoury raid, and three years later was captured and executed.
Bhagat Singh (1907 – 1931) Singh was a leader of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). Born a Sikh he became influenced by Marxist and Anarchist philosophies and was committed to gaining independence for India, through violence if necessary. He was executed in 1931 for his part in killing a British officer.
Women in the Independence movement
Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) Influential Indian author and poet. Also Indian independence activist and poet.
Sister Nivedita (1867 – 1911) Born in Ireland, Sister Nivedita moved to India after meeting Swami Vivekananda in London, 1895. In India, she was involved in social work and the cause of Indian independence.
Annie Besant (1847 – 1933) Besant came to India because of her interest in Theosophy. She also campaigned for Indian independence and for a year was the leader of the fledgeling Indian National Congress in 1917.
Matangini Hazra (1870 – 1942) Hazra popularly known as “Gandhi Buri” was an Indian protester shot dead by the British Indian police in 1942. Hazra played a long role in the Indian independence movement. In 1942 the Quit India movement sought to take a police station in Midnapore district when she was shot carrying an Indian flag.
People of the Indian Renaissance
Raja Rammohun Roy (1772 – 1833) Considered the father of the Indian Renaissance for his attempts to promote reform and also protect Indian rights. He helped to found the influential Brahmo Samaj which was a reforming Hindu organisation dedicated to both modernisations and also promoting Hindu values.
Sri Ramakrishna (1836 – 1886) An illiterate mystic. Ramakrishna inspired many influential people in both India and the West. His spiritual sadhana offered a synthesis of all the main religious and spiritual strands.
Sri Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858 – 1937) Bengali polymath. Bose took an interest in a wide range of sciences. He made contributions to plant physiology, microwave optics and radio waves. Bose was part of the Indian scientific renaissance.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) The Seer-Poet of modern India. Tagore was the first Indian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Tagore was influential in creating a new genre of songs and wrote the national anthem adopted by both India and later Bangladesh.
Swami Vivekananda (1863 – 1902 ) – Vivekananda played an important role in revitalising pride in India and Hinduism as a source of universal tolerance. Many leaders acknowledged their debt to Vivekananda for his inspiration, dynamism and motivation to uplift India – both materially and spiritually.
Dwijendra Lal Roy (1863 – 1913) – Bengali poet and playwright. Wrote over 500 Bengali songs. Influential Indian nationalist, who opposed the partition of Bengal, and helped to raise the political awareness of Bengal.
Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899 – 1976) Bengali poet, writer, musician and revolutionary. Islam was a committed revolutionary often jailed for his protests against British rule. Also, a noted composer and considered National Poet of Bangladesh.
Founding Fathers of India
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (1838 – 1894) Bengali poet, author and journalist. Bankim composed Vande Mataram – which became the national song of India and played a pivotal role in the Indian nationalist movement.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875 – 1950) Indian barrister and politician. Patel was a leading figure in the leadership of the Indian Congress and played a leading role in the Independence struggle. He was deputy Prime Minister 1947-50 and is considered one of India’s founding fathers for helping to integrate the Indian states after independence.
Dr S. Radhakrishnan (1888 – 1975) Radhakrishnan was the foremost philosopher of modern Indian thought. He defended Hinduism and sought to make it relevant to the modern age. 2nd President of India.
Dr B.R. Ambedkar (1891 – 1956) – Political activist and social reformer who campaigned for greater equality for ‘untouchable castes’ and women. Ambedkar played a key role in drafting the Indian constitution.
President R Venkataraman (1910 – 2009) Indian lawyer, Indian independence activist and Eighth President of India.
Famous Indians – A list of Indian men and women throughout the ages. Categories include politicians, scientists, sports people, spiritual figures and cultural figures. Includes Mahatma Gandhi, Akbar, Swami Vivekananda and Indira Gandhi.
Famous Revolutionaries – People who inspired or began revolutions. Including Spartacus, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Karl Marx.