Crash Course World History 1


  • Columbus, de Gama, and Zheng He! 15th Century Mariners | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about the beginning of the so-called Age of Discovery. You've probably heard of Christopher Columbus, who "discovered" America in 1492, but what about Vasco da Gama? How about Zheng He? Columbus gets a bad rap from many modern historians, but it turns out he was pretty important as far as the history of the world goes. That said, he wasn't the only pioneer plying the seas in the 1400s. In Portugal, Vasco da Gama was busy integrating Europe into the Indian Ocean Trade by sailing around Africa. Chinese admiral Zheng He was also traveling far and wide in the largest wooden ships ever built. Columbus, whether portrayed as hero or villain, is usually credited as the great sailor of the 15th century, but he definitely wasn't the only contender. What better way to settle this question than with a knock-down, drag-out, no holds barred, old-fashioned battle royal? We were going to make it a cage match, but welding is EXPENSIVE.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • The Renaissance: Was it a Thing? | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about the European Renaissance. European learning changed the world in the 15th and 16th century, but was it a cultural revolution, or an evolution? We'd argue that any cultural shift that occurs over a couple of hundred years isn't too overwhelming to the people who live through it. In retrospect though, the cultural bloom in Europe during this time was pretty impressive. In addition to investigating what caused the Renaissance and who benefitted from the changes that occurred, John will tell you just how the Ninja Turtles got mixed up in all this.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • The Columbian Exchange | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about the changes wrought by contact between the Old World and the New. John does this by exploring the totally awesome history book The Columbian Exchange by Alfred Crosby, Jr. After Columbus "discovered" the Americas, European conquerors, traders, and settlers brought all manner of changes to the formerly isolated continents. Disease and invasive plant and animal species remade the New World, usually in negative ways. While native people, plants, and animals were being displaced in the Americas, the rest of the world was benefitting from American imports, especially foods like maize, tomatoes, potatoes, pineapple, blueberries, sweet potatoes, and manioc. Was the Columbian Exchange a net positive? It's debatable. So debate.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • The Atlantic Slave Trade | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about one of the least funny subjects in history: slavery. John investigates when and where slavery originated, how it changed over the centuries, and how Europeans and colonists in the Americas arrived at the idea that people could own other people based on skin color.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • The Spanish Empire, Silver, and Runaway Inflation | Crash Course World History

    John Green explores how Spain went from being a middling European power to one of the most powerful empires on Earth, thanks to their plunder of the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries. Learn how Spain managed to destroy the two biggest pre-Columbian civilizations, mine a mountain made of silver, mishandle their economy, and lose it all by the mid-1700s. Come along for the roller coaster ride with Charles I (he was also Charles V), Philip II, Atahualpa, Moctezuma, Hernán Cortés, and Francisco Pizarro as Spain rises and falls, and takes two empires and China down with them.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • The Seven Years War | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about the Seven Years War, which may have lasted nine years. Or as many as 23. It was a very confusing war. The Seven Years War was a global war, fought on five continents, which is kind of a lot. John focuses on the war as it happened in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The "great" European powers were the primary combatants, but they fought just about everywhere. Of course, this being a history course, the outcomes of this war still resonate in our lives today. The Seven Years war determined the direction of the British Empire, and led pretty directly to the subject of Episode 28, the American Revolution.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • The Amazing Life and Strange Death of Captain Cook | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about the life and death of one of history's great explorers, Captain James Cook of the British Navy. He charted large swaths of the Pacific ocean, laid claim to Australia and New Zealand, and died a bizarre death in the Sandwich Islands, which are now called the Hawaiian Islands. Exactly how and why Captain Cook was killed in Hawaii is a long-running historical debate. John presents two interpretations of the event, and talks about what the differing interpretations say about history. It turns out how the story is told depends on who is doing the storytelling, and people from different backgrounds can interpret events in very different ways. Also, there is a celebration and a moustache involved in this episode, so you definitely don't want to miss it.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Tea, Taxes, and The American Revolution | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about the American Revolution and the American Revolutionary War, which it turns out were two different things. John goes over the issues and events that precipitated rebellion in Britain's American colonies, and he also explores the ideas that laid the groundwork for the new American democracy. Find out how the tax bill from the Seven Years War fomented an uprising, how the Enlightenment influenced the Founding Fathers, and who were the winners and losers in this conflict (hint: many of the people living in the Colonies ended up losers). The Revolution purportedly brought freedom and equality to the Thirteen Colonies, but they weren't equally distributed. Also, you'll learn about America's love affair with commemorative ceramics and what happens when rich white guys take the reins from rich white guys, and put together a society of, by, and for rich white guys.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • The French Revolution | Crash Course World History

    John Green examines the French Revolution, and gets into how and why it differed from the American Revolution. Was it the serial authoritarian regimes? The guillotine? The Reign of Terror? All of this and more contributed to the French Revolution not being quite as revolutionary as it could have been. France endured multiple constitutions, the heads of heads of state literally rolled, and then they ended up with a megalomaniacal little emperor by the name of Napoleon. But how did all of this change the world, and how did it lead to other, more successful revolutions around the world? Watch this video and find out. Spoiler alert: Marie Antoinette never said, "Let them eat cake." Sorry.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Haitian Revolutions | Crash Course World History

    John Green examines how ideas like liberty, freedom, and self-determination were hot stuff in the late 18th century, as evidenced by our recent revolutionary videos. Although freedom was breaking out all over, many of the societies that were touting these ideas relied on slave labor. Few places in the world relied so heavily on slave labor as Saint-Domingue, France's most profitable colony. Slaves made up nearly 90% of Saint-Domingue's population, and in 1789 they couldn't help but hear about the revolution underway in France. All the talk of liberty, equality, and fraternity sounds pretty good to a person in bondage, and so the slaves rebelled. This led to not one but two revolutions, and ended up with France, the rebels, Britain, and Spain all fighting in the territory. Spoiler alert: the slaves won. So how did the slaves of what would become Haiti throw off the yoke of one of the world's great empires? John Green tells how they did it, and what it has meant in Haiti and in the rest of the world.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Latin American Revolutions | Crash Course World History

    John Green talks about the many revolutions of Latin America in the 19th century. At the beginning of the 1800s, Latin America was firmly under the control of Spain and Portugal. The revolutionary zeal that had recently created the United States and had taken off Louis XVI's head in France arrived in South America, and a racially diverse group of people who felt more South American than European took over. John covers the soft revolution of Brazil, in which Prince Pedro boldly seized power from his father, but promised to give it back if King João ever returned to Brazil. He also covers the decidedly more violent revolutions in Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina. Watch the video to see Simón Bolívar's dream of a United South America crushed, even as he manages to liberate a bunch of countries and get two currencies and about a thousand schools and parks named after him.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Coal, Steam, and The Industrial Revolution | Crash Course World History

    John Green wraps up revolutions month with what is arguably the most revolutionary of modern revolutions, the Industrial Revolution. While very few leaders were beheaded in the course of this one, it changed the lives of more people more dramatically than any of the political revolutions we've discussed. So, why did the Industrial Revolution happen around 1750 in the United Kingdom? Coal. Easily accessible coal, it turns out. All this, plus you'll finally learn the difference between James Watt and Thomas Newcomen, and will never again be caught telling people that your blender has a 900 Newcomen motor.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Capitalism and Socialism | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about capitalism and socialism in a way that is sure to please commenters from both sides of the debate. Learn how capitalism arose from the industrial revolution, and then gave rise to socialism. Learn about how we got from the British East India Company to iPhones and consumer culture in just a couple of hundred years. Stops along the way include the rise of industrial capitalism, mass production, disgruntled workers, Karl Marx, and the Socialist Beard. The socialist reactions to the ills of capitalism are covered as well, and John discusses some of the ideas of Karl Marx, and how they've been implemented or ignored in various socialist states. Plus, there are robots!

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Samurai, Daimyo, Matthew Perry, and Nationalism | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about Nationalism. Nationalism was everywhere in the 19th century, as people all over the world carved new nation-states out of old empires. Nationalist leaders changed the way people thought of themselves and the places they lived by reinventing education, military service, and the relationship between government and governed. In Japan, the traditional feudal society underwent a long transformation over the course of about 300 years to become a modern nation-state. John follows the course of Japanese history from the emergence of the Tokugawa Shogunate to the Meiji Restoration, and covers Nationalism in many other countries along the way. All this, plus a special guest appearance, the return of an old friend on a extra-special episode of Crash Course.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Imperialism | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about European Imperialism in the 19th century. European powers started to create colonial empires way back in the 16th century, but businesses really took off in the 19th century, especially in Asia and Africa. During the 1800s, European powers carved out spheres of influence in China, India, and pretty much all of Africa. While all of the major (and some minor) powers in Europe participated in this new imperialism, England was by far the most dominant, once able to claim that the "sun never set on the British Empire." Also, they went to war for the right to continue to sell opium to the people of China. Twice. John will teach you how these empires managed to leverage the advances of the Industrial Revolution to build vast, wealth-generating empires. As it turns out, improved medicine, steam engines, and better guns were crucial in the 19th century conquests. Also, the willingness to exploit and abuse the people and resources of so-called "primitive" nations was very helpful in the whole enterprise.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Archdukes, Cynicism, and World War I | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about the war that was supposed to end all wars. Instead, it solved nothing and set the stage for the world to be back at war just a couple of decades later. As an added bonus, World War I changed the way people look at the world, and normalized cynicism and irony. John will teach you how the assassination of an Austrian Archduke kicked off a new kind of war that involved more nations and more people than any war that came before. New technology like machine guns, airplanes, tanks, and poison gas made the killing more efficient than ever. Trench warfare and modern weapons led to battles in which tens of thousands of soldiers were killed in a day, with no ground gained for either side. World War I washed away the last vestiges of 19th century Romanticism and paved the way for the 20th century modernism that we all know and find to be cold and off-putting. While there may not be much upside to WWI, at least it inspired George M. Cohan to write the awesome song, "Over There."

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Communists, Nationalists, and China's Revolutions | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about China's Revolutions. While the rest of the world was off having a couple of World Wars, China was busily uprooting the dynastic system that had ruled there for millennia. Most revolutions have some degree of tumult associated with them, but China's 20th century revolutions were REALLY disruptive. In 1911 and 1912, Chinese nationalists brought 3000 years of dynastic rule to an end. China plunged into chaos as warlords staked out regions of the country for themselves. The nationalists and communists joined forces briefly to bring the nation back together under the Chinese Republic, and then they quickly split and started fighting the Chinese Civil War. The fight between nationalists and communists went on for decades, and was interrupted by an alliance to fight the invading Japanese during World War II. After World War II ended, the Chinese Civil War was back on. Mao and the communists were ultimately victorious, and Chiang Kai-Shek ended up in Taiwan. And then it got weird. Mao spent years repeatedly trying to purify the Communist Party and build up the new People's Republic of China with Rectifications, Anti Campaigns, Five Year Plans, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. These had mixed results, to say the least. John will cover all this and more in this week's Crash Course World History.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • World War II | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about World War II, aka The Great Patriotic War, aka The Big One. So how did this war happen? And what does it mean? We've all learned the facts about World War II many times over, thanks to repeated classroom coverage, the History channel, and your grandfather (or maybe great-grandfather) showing you that Nazi bayonet he used to keep in his sock drawer and telling you a bunch of age-inappropriate stories about his harrowing war experiences. So, why did the Axis powers think forceful expansion was a good idea? (they were hungry). So why did this thing shake out in favor of the Allies? HInt: it has to do with the fact that it was a world war. Germany and Japan made some pretty serious strategic errors, such as invading Russia and attacking the United States, and those errors meant that pretty much the whole world was against them. So, find out how this worldwide alliance came together to stop the Axis expansion. All this, plus Canada finally gets the respectful treatment it deserves.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • USA vs USSR Fight! The Cold War | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about the Cold War, which was occasionally hot, but on average, it was cool. In the sense of its temperature, it was by no means cool, man. After World War II, there were basically two big geopolitical powers left to divide up the world. And divide they did. The United States and the Soviet Union divvied up Europe in the aftermath of the war, and then proceeded to spend the next 45 years fighting over the rest of the world. It was the great ideological struggle, with the US on the side of capitalism and profit, and the USSR pushing Communism, so-called. While both sides presented themselves as the good guy in this situation, the reality is that there are no good guys. Both parties to the Cold War engaged in forcible regime changes, built up vast nuclear arsenals, and basically got up to dirty tricks. If you had to pick a bad guy though, I would point out that the USSR had no intention of brining Laika the Cosmonaut Dog home alive. That poor dog never had a shot.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Decolonization and Nationalism Triumphant | Crash Course World History

    John Green teaches you about the post-World War II breakup of most of the European empires. As you'll remember from previous installments of Crash Course, Europeans spent several centuries sailing around the world creating empires, despite the fact that most of the places they conquered were perfectly happy to carry on alone. After World War II, most of these empires collapsed. This is the story of those collapses. In most places, the end of empire was not orderly, and violence often ensued. While India was a (sort of) shining example of non-violent change, in places like The Congo, Egypt, Rwanda, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, things didn't go smoothly at all. John brings you all this, plus pictures of Sea Monkeys. Sadly, they don't look anything like those awesome commercials in the comic books.

    Grades: 9-13+

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