Understanding Your ...

Understanding Your Western European Ancestors:
A Few Important Dates

Becoming aware of some of the important dates in the history of your ancestors’ home country can be very helpful for genealogists. Not only can you gain a glimpse into your ancestors’ lives, you can also better understand changes in records. The events of history effected boundaries (some areas belonged to one country in one period and another country in another period), the way records were kept (changes in laws or rulers meant different formats and types of information were recorded), the preservation of records (war or other catastrophes sometimes destroyed records), as well as demographics (life spans and birth rates were influenced by outside events such as disease epidemics or birth control norms). These are only a few examples.

This list below is very subjective. I’ve included only a few of the dates that I believe most impacted the common people living in Western Europe from the Thirty Years War until the end of the 1800s. This is intended for reference purpose only and is still under construction. For more information, check out the Useful Sources and Links section of this website. Try back in the future for more complete information.

In addition, for information specific to Mecklenburg, Germany; Skåne, Sweden; and Buckinghamshire, England follow the links to their separate pages which contain much more historical information. Some of the details in these sections apply not just to the specific locality but to the entire country of which they were a part.

1618-1648   Thirty Years’ War
1688 Glorious Revolution in England
1700-1721 Great Northern War involving Sweden, Russia, Denmark, and Poland
1756-1763 Seven Years’ War involving much of Western Europe (and beyond)
1780 Industrial Revolution begins in England
1789 French Revolution begins
1793 Reign of Terror in France
1799-1815 Napoleon becomes first consul of France and wages war on much of Europe until his abdication in 1814
1814-1815 Congress of Vienna established peace in Europe
1815 Rise of Metternich in Austria and the period of conservatism
1830 Waves of unrest sweep much of Western Europe, but result in little substantial change
1832 Reform Act in England extends more rights to some groups of the population, defusing unrest
1833-1839 First Carlist War (civil war in Spain)
1848 The common people rise up against their rulers again, toppling governments across Europe, but again are ultimately defeated
1861 Italian Unification
1871 Three wars of unification lead to Germany being united into one country at last
1871 Second Carlist War in Spain

The following website has a chronology for European history: http://www.historycentral.com/WH1400-1900/Europe/Europe/Index.html