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18th Century History

Engage with the history of the world in the eighteenth century, which was a period of empire building and revolutions as well as advances in science and the arts. The European nations competed amongst themselves for global domination in exploration, trade, and colonization, with Great Britain becoming the leading world power. Even as these nations expanded their reach, they found their rule challenged by supporters of Enlightenment ideas, based on the ideals of liberty, progress, and the separation of church and state. The American Revolution (1775–1783), the French Revolution (1789–1799), and the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) would be the most successful of these uprisings, which shook the power of European monarchies.

Political revolutions weren’t the only kind of revolution, however. The Industrial Revolution that began in the mid-eighteenth century resulted in the transition of Europe from agriculture to manufacturing, and its population from rural to urban. Important inventions included the steam engine (1712), the spinning jenny (1764), the power loom (1785), and the threshing machine (1786). Cultural achievements included the musical compositions of Bach and Mozart, while this century also saw the development of the novel as a literary genre. The Industrial Revolution ushered in a period of economic and population growth that cemented Europe’s domination over much of the world.

One important rival to European dominance was the Ottoman Empire, although this Muslim power in the Middle East began to weaken under European encroachment during this century—particularly at the hands of Russia, in a series of Russo-Turkish wars. The Durrani dynasty, founded in present-day Afghanistan, would become the second-largest Muslim empire in the world, following military victories in Persia and India starting in 1747. The Mughal and Maratha empires in India would be severely weakened as a result, opening up India to subjugation by the British East India Company. Farther east, the Qing dynasty ruled China. In Africa, the Ashanti Empire dominated trade in the interior of the continent, becoming an important supplier of slaves to European traders.

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18th Century History Resources

Gale provides scholarly resources, including databasesprimary source archives, and eBooks, to advance researchers’ studies.


Gale databases offer researchers access to credible historical articles from 18th century collections, including full-text articles covering many history topics, from newspapers, 18th century journals, and more, aligned with lesson plans for teaching and guides for additional research.

Primary Source Archives

Gale Primary Sources contains full-text archives and digitized literature that provide researchers with firsthand articles from 18th century journals and 18th century primary sources to drive research at your university.

Gale eBooks

Gale offers a variety of publications covering a wide range of 18th century history studies topics, including literature, daily life, and more. Users can add Gale eBooks to a customized collection and cross-search to pinpoint relevant content. Workflow tools help users easily share, save, and download articles.

  • The Britannica Guide to World Literature: English Literature from the Restoration through the Romantic Period, 1st Edition

    The Britannica Guide to World Literature: English Literature from the Restoration through the Romantic Period, 1st Edition

    Britannica Digital Learning  |  2011  |  ISBN-13: 9781615302314

    Both the form and content of literature today owes much to the developments that took place in England between the Restoration and Romantic periods. The emergence of the novel triggered the creation of new genres and accompanied a rise in literacy throughout the country. This volume examines the English writers who helped shape the social, political, and religious climate of the age, and immerses students in the history of narratives that continue to enchant audiences today.

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  • Constitutions of the World from the late 18th Century to the Middle of the 19th Century: Europe: Constitutional Documents of the United Kingdom 1782-1835, 1st Edition

    Constitutions of the World from the late 18th Century to the Middle of the 19th Century: Europe: Constitutional Documents of the United Kingdom 1782-1835, 1st Edition

     K.G. Saur  |  2005  |  ISBN-13: 9783598440526

    Constitutions of the World from the Late 18th Century to the Middle of the 19th Century is the most complete and academically thorough collection of its kind. It contains constitutional documents from all over the world, written from 1776 to the end of the year 1849. This collection includes about 1,000 constitutions, human rights declarations, and drafts of constitutions that never came into force from this period. These early constitutional documents were collected and examined in archives and libraries all over the world, as part of a project by the Deutsche Forschungs-gemeinschaft (German Research Foundation).

    Using the original documents, experts from American and European universities reconstructed the authentic constitution texts for each country and annotated them in their respective original languages. Each volume contains a short introduction, a main part with the edited constitution documents of a country, comments, and an index.

    The unique value of the complete edition lies in its making all constitutions, from the early phase of modern constitutionalism, accessible in a reliable, authentic text version for the first time. These constitutions were widely scattered until now and, in many cases, unknown. In all, constitutional documents from about 50 countries in Europe and the Americas will be published in volumes for each country. Constitutions of the World from the Late 18th Century to the Middle of the 19th Century is a unique and fundamental source edition and an extensive documentation of constitutional history.

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  • Daily Life in 18th-Century England, 2nd Edition

    Daily Life in 18th-Century England, 2nd Edition

    Greenwood Publishing Group  |  2017  |  ISBN-13: 9781440855047

    Informative, richly detailed, and entertaining, this book portrays daily life in England from 1700 to 1800, embracing all levels of society—from the aristocracy to the very poor—to describe a nation grappling with modernity.

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  • Defining Documents in World History: The 18th Century (1701‒1800), 1st Edition

    Defining Documents in World History: The 18th Century (1701‒1800), 1st Edition

    Salem Press  |  2018  |  ISBN-13: 9781682175828

    This established series includes Ancient World (2700 B.C.E.‒c.500 C.E.), Middle Ages (476‒1500), Renaissance & Early Modern Era (1308‒1600), and the 17th Century (1601‒1700), in addition to the newest volume, The 18th Century (1701‒1800). The 18th Century offers in-depth analysis of a broad range of historical documents and historic events that make up the story of a century marked by revolution and calls for a broader perspective on human rights and dignity.

    The volume begins with King George III’s Proclamation of 1783, which had the consequence of turning colonists in America against the crown and culminated in such significant documents as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The new nation continued its struggles, not least of which was the fight over slavery, resulting in such important speeches and addresses as Prince Hall’s Petition and the Pennsylvania Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery. Revolution was in the air during the 18th century.

    In France, two pivotal documents, Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, adopted by the National Constituent Assembly in 1789, and Declaration of the Rights of Woman, by Olympe de Gouges, remain fundamental to an understanding of the history of human and civil rights. Meanwhile, Britain continued its efforts of extending its influence in India and China, with mixed results, as shown in Qianlong’s Letter to King George III.

    The 32 articles in this volume are organized into five sections: The American Colonies in Resistance and Revolution, The Founding of a New Democratic Republic, Slavery and Democracy?, Rights and Revolution in France, The British Abroad. Historical documents provide a compelling view of this pivotal century and its influence on world history. 

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