history map of Europe 3500BC

- 3500BC


For the past two thousand years or so, farming has slowly been spreading throughout Europe, and now covers most of the continent. People live in small village communities, mostly practicing a mixed economy of agriculture and hunting and gathering. To the north the hunting and gathering elements predominate.

Next map, Europe 2500 BC

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history map of Europe 2500BC

3500BC - 2500BC

The previous centuries has seen nomadic peoples from the central Asian steppes, speaking Indo-European languages, coming into eastern and central Europe. Their domestication of horses has given them a military edge, and they seem to have imposed themselves upon the earlier populations as a ruling class.

Material progress has continued for the past thousand years. Long-range trade networks are becoming established throughout the continent, and linking Europe to the Middle East. Copper is coming into use, starting in southern Europe and spreading into eastern and central areas of the continent.

Next map, Europe 1500 BC

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history map of Europe 1500BC

2500BC - 1500BC

Over the past thousand years Europe has become coverd by a network of Bronze Age farming cultures, ruled for the most part by powerful chiefs and warrior elites. Much of eastern and central Europe is home to Indo-European speakers, ancestors of the Celts, Germans, Italians and Illyrians.

In the south east corner of the continent, in Greece, an important development in world history has taken place. Civilization has arrived from the Middle East, with its already ancient cities and empires, by way of Crete and the Aegean.

Next map, Europe 1000 BC

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history map of Europe 1000BC

1500BC - 1000BC

Over the past few centuries the peoples of Europe have experienced widespread disruption as the peoples of the Tumulus cultures have expanded out from their central Europe homelands, just before 1200 BC. The train of migrations and invasions that this set in motion has had a huge impact on the wider world. It probably caused the fall of the first civilization on the European mainland, that of the Mycenaeans in Greece, and led to the violent eruption of the “Sea Peoples” from southern Europe into Middle Eastern history.

However, at around this time, civilizing influences from the Middle East begin again to be felt by the peoples of south-eastern Europe. Phoenician merchants are developing new trading networks across the Mediterranean Sea. They bring with them knowledge of the great civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt - and also an important new tool, alphabetic writing.

Within Europe itself, the peoples of the old Tumulus cultures are now distributed around western, central and southern parts of the continent. Over the next few centuries they will become Celts, Germans, Slavs and Italians.

Next map, Europe 500 BC

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  • Greece and the Balkans

    Greece and the Balkans

    The Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations have vanished, and Greece is now home to illiterate tribal societies

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  • Turkey


    The Hittite empire has suffered catastrophe at the hands of barbarian invaders

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  • Middle East

    Middle East

    Invasions have devastated the old centres of civilization, but important new developments, such as the use of iron, the appearance of the alphabet and the rise of Israel, with its monotheistic religion, have taken place

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history map of Europe 500BC

1000BC - 500BC

Over the last few centuries the coming of the Iron Age to Europe has led to a large growth in populations throughout the continent, as well as great advances in culture. On the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean Sea - of Greece and the Aegean, southern Italy and Sicily, the southern coasts of France and Spain, and north Africa - hundreds of city-states now flourish.

The emergence of the Classical city-state in the Mediterranean world has allowed one of the most brilliant civilizations in all human history to develop, that of ancient Greece. Their small, fiercely competitive republics provide a fruitful environment for advances in many branches of endeavour, artistic, intellectual and political.

To the north, the Celts now cover western Europe from Spain in the west to Britain in the north. Peoples closely related to them, both ethnically and culturally, dominate central Europe.

Next map, Europe 200 BC

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history map of Europe 200BC

500BC - 200BC

In the Mediterranean world, the city-states of Greece, where immense cultural achievements have been registered over the past three centuries, are now overshadowed by powerful new kingdoms to the north and east, carved out of the conquests of Alexander the Great. These kingdoms are home to a new cosmopolitan civilization, which modern scholars label "Hellenistic".

To the west, a new power has made its appearance in history, Rome. She has risen to control Italy and, having defeated Carthage, that ancient and wealthy city on the north coast of Africa, now dominates the western Mediterranean and eastern Spain.

In northern Europe,  Celtic tribes have continued to spread out from Gaul to cover much of the continent, and have thrown out offshoots into northern Italy, the Balkans and even Asia Minor.

Next map, Europe 30 BC


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history map of Europe 30BC

200BC - 30BC

The past two centuries have seen Rome come to dominate western Europe and the Mediterranean; its empire now covers Italy, Spain, Gaul, parts of North Africa, Greece and other parts of the Balkans, as well as large parts of the Middle East.

After a long period of civil war and conquests, under such famous generals as Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar (who briefly invaded the island of Britain), peace now prevails across its empire.

Graeco-Roman civilization is rapidly spreading throughout the Roman world. Along its northern frontiers the legions confront hostile German tribes, who will soon (AD 6) inflict on them a crushing defeat. Nevertheless the Roman state is now amongst the most populous, prosperous and stable empires of ancient history.

Next map, Europe 200 AD


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history map of Europe 200AD

30BC - 200AD

The Roman empire has expanded considerably over the past couple of hundred years. As well as covering Italy, Spain and Portugal, Gaul, and Greece, it now takes in Britain, all the Balkans, all of North Africa, and reaches far into central Europe.

The empire has brought long-lasting peace to this vast region to its fifty-million or so inhabitants. With peace and commerce, cities have prospered.

Beyond the imperial frontiers, the German peoples have been experiencing a period of major upheaval, which affects the Romans through a much increased pressure on their frontiers. Roman emperors are having to spend more and more of their time on campaign. This trend will only continue, and shortly the empire – and with it the Graeco-Roman civilization it shelters - will enter its long period of decline.

New religious cults have been spreading throughout the Roman empire - Mithraism, Manichaeism and above all Christianity. The latter's spread, beginning in the Jewish homeland of Judaea, has been helped by the presence of many Jewish communities in the cities of the empire, and indeed it starts life as a sect within Judaism. By this date, however, it is clearly a religion in its own right, winning converts right around the empire from Jews and non-Jews alike.

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history map of Europe 500AD

200AD - 500AD

The past three centuries have seen the Roman empire experience a long decline. During this, the empire experiences major transformations, none more momentous than the adoption of Christianity as it official religion.

Since the start of the 5th century the empire's western provinces have been overrun by German tribes, who have established a number of kingdoms here: the Visigoths, Burgundians, Suebi and Franks divide Gaul and the Iberian Peninsula between them, North Africa has been occupied by the Vandals, and southern Britain is being settled by north German peoples, the Angles and Saxons. Even Italy, the heartand of the old Roman empire, is now under barbarian rule. In these regions the literate, urban civilization of the Classical world has taken a major hit, and society is experiencing huge changes. The city-based way of life enjoyed by the Romans is severely diminished, long-distance trade has been gravely disrupted, and society has become simpler, more rural, and more local in its horizons. The major continuity from Roman times is that Christianity is the dominant religion in all these kingdoms.

The Roman empire itself has become restricted to its eastern provinces, centred on its capital, Constantinople. In this empire urban civilization remains very much alive, and the economy is enjoying something of a revival. Here too Christianity is the official religion, with the pagan culture of the Graeco-Roman world in steep decline.

Next map, Europe 750 AD

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history map of Europe 750AD

500AD - 750AD

The past two and a half centuries have seen the continued decline of literacy and urban life in western Europe, with the further dislocation of long-distance trade. Society is based firmly on self-sufficient country estates supporting an illiterate warrior aristocracy. The shrunken towns are dominated by bishops and their clergy (the only literate group in society).

The Franks, one of the original German invaders of Roman territory, have conquered other Germanic kingdoms and tribes to rule most of modern-day France and much of Germany. Their kings are active supporters of the Catholic church and its leaders, the popes (based in Rome).

Pagan tribes still inhabit central, eastern and northern Europe. England is now divided amongst a group of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, with Celtic kingdoms to their north and west: both Anglo-Saxons and Celts have converted to Christianity. Most of Spain has been conquered by the vast Muslim Caliphate.

The Roman empire (or Byzantine empire, as we should now call it) has also been battered by Muslim armies, who have taken its wealthiest provinces, Egypt and Syria, from it. Other enemies, pagan Slav tribes from central Europe, have occupied most of the Balkans. In both the Balkans and Asia Minor urban life has been badly affected, with many famous cities reduced to mere villages. In the core of the Byzantine empire itself, the capital, Constantinople, and a handful of other cities remain sizeable urban settlements. They house a civilization that is sophisticated and vigorous, but no longer recognizable as Classical in the Graeco-Roman tradition: Christian from top to toe, it is far removed from the old pagan culture of Greece and Rome. 

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history map of Europe 979AD

750AD - 979AD

The past two hundred years have seen the Frankish kingdom expand over much of Europe under its vigorous ruler, Charlemagne; but then, after his death, swiftly break up. The kingdom of the West Franks (France) and the Holy Roman Empire have emerged as successor states. Endemic civil war and destructive raids by Vikings from Scandinavia, Magyars from central Europe and Arabs from the south, however, have brought about the sacking of many towns in western Europe and the plundering of their churches and monasteries. In the widespread disorder a new, "feudal", society is taking shape in which the weakened kings devolve much of their authority to local magnates in return for their allegiance.

The Byzantine empire, meanwhile, has begun to take back territory from the enemies that surround, though now it is bounded to its north by a powerful Bulgarian state. Byzantine missionary activity is creating a wide cultural area of "Orthodox" Christianity in central and eastern Europe (where the Rus state will shortly convert to Christianity), which looks to the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, for spiritual and cultural leadership. 

To the west, the Christian kingdoms of northern Spain have been able to chip away at Muslim power.

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history map of Europe 1215AD

979AD - 1215AD

The previous centuries have seen the rise of the "feudal" system in western Europe, in which a hierarchy of monarchs, nobles and knights form a military aristocracy which, based on its castles and fortified manor houses, has brought a measure of order to society. This has enabled populations to grow, trade to expand, and new land to be brought under the plough. New towns and villages dot the landscape. 

In the same period the Catholic Church has gained more power under the leadership of the popes in Rome. Few kingdoms in western Europe have escaped its impact. In some places (for example, France) the Church's influence has strengthened royal authority; in others (Germany and Italy) it has gravely weakened it, leading to the rise of powerful magnates and self-governing cities. In yet others (England) the clash between royal and church power has been dramatic but indecisive. The Church's wealth leaves its mark in the many great cathedrals, churches and monasteries that are now present in the towns and cities of the region.

Christendom has continued to expand in northern, central and eastern Europe. In Spain, too, the Christian kingdoms have won territory from the Muslims.

The combination of an aggressive military aristocracy and an assertive Church has led to the launching of several great military expeditions called "Crusades" against the Muslim states in the Middle East. These initially carved out several Christian states in Syria and Palestine, but these have now been reduced to a narrow strip of territory along the east Mediterranean coast. One of their main results has been to weaken the Byzantine empire, and indeed this empire has temporarily been occupied by Crusader forces from the west.

There have been other outcomes of the crusades, however. The maritime trade of the eastern Mediterranean has passed largely from Muslim to Christian hands, with the Italian city-states of Venice, Genoa and Pisa to the fore. Even more important, close contacts between the European and Islamic worlds have resulted in Muslim knowledge - and with it much Greek and Roman learning long since lost in the west - passing to Europe.

Next map, Europe 1453

history map of Europe 1453AD

1215AD - 1453AD

The previous two centuries have been a difficult time for Europe. The Mongol conquest of Russia in the mid-13th century, plus a very destrcutive raid into central Europe; the continuous warfare involving England, France and the Low Countries; continued political fragmentation in Germany and Italy as magnates became princes and self-governing cities became fully-fledged republics; the terrible Black Death; widespread religious unrest, especially in central Europe; and in this year, 1453, the fall of the historic city of Constantinople to the Muslim Turks whose power is now reaching far up into the Balkans, and the effective end to the Byzantine empire, have all sapped Europeans' self-confidence.

On the other hand, the Christian kingdoms of Spain have all but completed their conquests of Muslim territory; Portuguese sailors have begun their voyages of discovery; the great revival of learning known as the Italian Renaissance (which is largely based on knowledge which came from the Islamic world in the 12th and 13th centuries) is now under way; and the first European printing presses (probably based on innovations originating in China) will soon be spreading new information and ideas across the continent.

Next map, Europe 1648

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history map of Europe 1648AD

1453AD - 1648AD

The past two centuries have seen the Ottoman empire conquer far up into Europe. At the same time, however, explorers have opened up South and North America. to European colonization, and Africa and Asia to European trade. Meanwhile the Renaissance spread around Europe, and the great religious movement known as the Reformation convulsed the continent. Fierce wars of religion have left Europeans divided into two hostile camps: Scandinavia, the Low Countries and Britain are Protestant, while Spain and Portugal, Italy and central Europe have remained Catholic. Germany and (to a lesser extent) France are split between the two.

Paralleling the Renaissance and the Reformation has been the rise of powerful, centralized nation-states in Europe. Despite the upheavals, this period has laid the foundations for astonishing economic expansion over the coming centuries, as well as for the rise of modern science.

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history map of Europe 1789AD

1648AD - 1789AD

In the past century and a half, a movement known as the Enlightenment has gathered pace. The Enlightenment's emphasis on reason has acted as a powerful stimulus to science, as well as to new thinking on politics and society. It has had a deep influence on events across the Atlantic, where the founders of the new USA have designed an entire political system around Enlightenment principles.

The countries of Europe have continued to wage major wars amongst themselves from time to time. France, Holland and Britain compete with each other for overseas empires, while those of Spain and Portugal are in decline. Prussia and Austria jostle for influence in Germany, and Russia's presence is increasingly being felt in central and northern Europe. Italy remains weak and divided, and the Balkans are still ruled by the Ottoman empire.

Europe's expanding overseas trade has greatly increased the continent's wealth. By this time, indeed, the Industrial Revolution has started in Britain. This year, though, another revolution breaks out, which will shake the politics of Europe to their very core. This is the French Revolution.

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history map of Europe 1837AD

1789AD - 1837AD

Following the French Revolution, Europe experienced more than twenty years of war. These saw the rise and fall of one of the great military commanders in world history, Napoleon Bonaparte. His attempts to impose his will on Europe only ended with his defeat in 1815, at the battle of Waterloo.

After the wars, the victorious powers cooperated in imposing order on Europe. Russia, Prussia and Austria divided central Europe between them; Prussia and Austria shared the leadership of Germany; and Austria dominated Italy. France, although vanquished in 1815, remained a major European nation.

Great Britain is now the leading naval power in the world. Under her protection, European (especially British) commerce now dominates the oceans. The Industrial Revolution is now spreading from Britain to the rest of Europe.

Next map, Europe 1871


history map of Europe 1871AD

1837AD - 1871AD

The forces of nationalism have been at work in Europe over the past decades. They have created two major new countries, Germany and Italy. On the other hand they are threatening the stability of multi-national states, the Austrian (or Austro-Hungarian), Russian and Ottoman empires.

European society is being reshaped by the quickening pace of industrialization. By this date, Britain and Germany can properly be described as industrial nations, and other Europeans are not far behind. European domination of the rest of the world is entering a new phase, as a handful of powers, especially Britain, France and Holland - have started to use their industrialized military capacity to acquire extensive overseas territories in Africa, SE Asia and the Pacific.

Next map, Europe 1914


history map of Europe 1914AD

1871AD - 1914AD

The industrialization of European nations over the past decades has given their armed forces unmatched capability, and they have indulged in a frenzy of competition for overseas territory. Most of the world has become carved up amongst their empires. Britain and France have taken the lion's share, but Holland, Belgium, Germany and Italy also have substantial overseas possessions. The Russian empire has pushed out its borders in central Asia.

Expansion abroad has fuelled nationalist tensions at home. This has led to mutual fear building up between European powers, especially between Austria and Russia, both wanting to grab as much power and influence in the Balkans at the expense of a weakened Ottoman empire, and of each other. This year, 1914, sees these tensions spill over into full scale war.

Next map, Europe 1960


history map of Europe 1960AD

1914AD - 1960AD

The past decades have seen the continent torn apart - and its map radically redrawn - by World War 1 (1914-18), World War 2 (1939-45), and now the Cold War. An American-led Western Europe includes Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Benelux countries, Norway, Denmark, Greece and Turkey; and a Communist-controlled East covers Russia (now the Soviet Union), the central European countries of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania; and the Balkan nations of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. The front line runs through Germany, which is now divided into a West and East. Austria, Switzerland and Sweden remain neutral.

The USA has poured economic aid into western Europe, which has set the nations here on a path to recovery, and indeed to unparalleled prosperity. Overseas, the years since World War 2 have seen the withdrawal of European nations from most of their empires in Africa, India, SE Asia and the Pacific well underway. Within Europe, a group of countries - France, West Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries - have formed the Common Market.

Next map, Europe 2005


history map of Europe 2005AD

1960AD - 2005AD

The decades since 1960 have seen the collapse of communism in Europe (from 1989), the expansion of the Common Market - now called the European Union - and with it, the spread of democratic government to cover most European countries. Germany has been reunited, whilst the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia have fragmented amongst multiple nationalities. In the latter's case, this process was accompanied by violent ethnic cleansing and a short, sharp war involving NATO (1999).



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