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Introducing the Modern Europe
Classical Library

The Library     Electronic Texts    Curriculum Choices     Modern European History    

Prussian cavalry cuts off the retreating French at Mars-la-Tour

Welcome to the Heritage Modern Europe Classical Library. If you have never used a Heritage History Library before, this page will help explain how the information included in the Modern Europe library is organized and how it may be used for independent study.

The Library

The page you are looking at appears to be a website, but it is not. It uses the same software that you are accustomed to using when you browse the internet, but instead of going over the network to access data files, it is reading them directly from the Classical Library on your computer.

What this means is that all of the books that you link to in this environment are available for you to view, print, or download to another device. You don't need to pay any additional fees to copy these books to a Kindle, iPad or other e-reader device, and you don't need to have access to the internet to view them on your own computer. Best of all, you don't need to worry about copyright violations if you choose to print or copy anything from the Modern Europe Library for your personal use.

The Modern European Classical Library contains over fifty traditional history books written especially for young people. It includes books at reading levels from fourth grade to high school and each book is presented in three different formats so students can read them on their home computer, make printed copies, or download them to their e-reader device. Instructions for using electronic books in various formats are provided in the Electronic Texts User Guide.

The contents of the Modern European Library can be referenced by subject, genre, or reading level. Each entry includes the book’s title, author, size, and links to three electronic formats. Software that "reads" electronic books is required to view these files, but the Adobe Reader, which displays the PDF version of each book, already exists on almost all personal computers, and other electronic reader software can be downloaded for free from the internet.

All of the books in the Modern European Library deal with 18th through 20th century European history, but the By Subject page organizes them into more specific topics. France, Prussia and Germany, Italy and Austria, Russia, Overall European, and the Great War are subject categories that focus primarily on regions or specific topics rather than providing a broad overview of all modern European history.

In addition to subject, the collection of Modern European history books can also be referenced By Genre. Heritage History genres include Comprehensive histories, which cover national histories chronologically, Episodic histories, which treat a particular incident or era, Military histories, which focus on battles and military heroes, Biographies, which include both collections of short character sketches, and longer individual life stories. Finally, the Adapted Literature category includes fiction as well as classical legends.

Lastly, the Modern European library provides lists of its books sorted By Reading Level. Books intended for grammar school students are listed in Green, books appropriate for middle schoolers are listed in Brown, and those recommended for more mature audiences are listed in Red. This color scheme is used throughout the Library to reflect reading level.

In addition to providing book lists organized by subject, genre, and reading level, the Modern European Library contains several additional reference pages intended to help students and instructors identify books of particular interest. The Book Summaries page includes a short description of each book in the library. The Series Descriptions page, which features descriptions of overall series rather than individual books, may be helpful to those readers who enjoy a particular book and would like to locate similar volumes. Finally, the Recommendations page provides specific reading recommendations for core reading assignments for various age groups.

Using Electronic Texts

In order to make our entire library of traditional history books available at an affordable price, Heritage History provides low-cost versions of all of our books in both electronic reader and printable format. By doing so, we can provide a large library of high quality texts at an affordable price.

Unfortunately, not all users of the Heritage libraries are up-to-date regarding the most recent advances in electronic books technology. In order to help our users make informed decisions about usage and purchases of electronic readers and desktop publishing tools, we have provided an Electronic Text User Guide. It is divided into three main sections that deal with issues related to electronic readers, self-publishing, and copyright restrictions.

The Heritage guide to Electronic Readers discusses the differences between various e-reader technologies and gives detailed instructions for downloading Heritage e-books from a Classical Library CD to an e-reader device such as Kindle or Apple iPad. For those who prefer reading hard-copies rather than e-books, the Heritage guide to Self-publishing provides tips for printing and binding the books from the Heritage library at home in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Finally, the terms and conditions of using the electronic texts are discussed in the Copyright Terms section.

A printable copy of the Heritage Electronic Texts User Guide is available, and we recommend that anyone who is not already familiar with e-reader technology, laser printers, and binding equipment read the guide before deciding how to use the Heritage e-book library. Even technologically advanced readers should familiarize themselves with the copyright status of the Heritage books before beginning the program. If you still have questions after reading the Electronic Text User Guide, refer to the Electronic Texts Frequently Asked Questions.

Curriculum Choices

Heritage History offers two different versions of its Compact Libraries. The Classical Curricula, which include Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, and others, are composed of both a library of books and an organized collection of proprietary study materials. Each Classical Curriculum CD can be used as a self-contained, reading-based curriculum since it covers all aspects of its subject civilization, complete with maps, timelines, and recommended reading lists.

The Classical Libraries, on the other hand, include only a collection of books but no additional study materials, Curriculum Guide, or Study Guide. Although we do not promote the Classical Libraries as self-contained curriculums, they can be used as a basis for a complete course of study by instructors who are satisfied with a reading-only approach or who are willing to augment with their own study materials. Alternatively, the Classical Libraries can provide books to students of any age who would like to read for personal enrichment.

It is not necessary to choose between a Heritage Classical Library and a more conventional curriculum. In addition to promoting our own program, Heritage History provides inexpensive resources than can be used with other traditional curriculums such as Ambleside, Charlotte Mason, or Tapestry of Grace. Heritage History was first conceived of as a library rather than a curriculum. Our original intent was to provide elective resources that motivated students might read for depth and interest, rather than a core series. For this reason, we believe that the Heritage Libraries can complement, rather than compete with other high quality curriculums.

Although Heritage History emphasizes a "living books" rather than a textbook approach to history, the Classical Libraries can be used to supplement traditional, textbook-based history programs. Textbooks sometimes do a thorough job of presenting all of the major topics related to a particular history in a systematic fashion, but omit most of the interesting stories from history. The Classical Libraries correct this deficiency by providing engaging stories that highlight the most famous characters and episodes from history.

The Heritage Classical Libraries were designed to be flexible. They are intended to appeal to students with a wide range of interests and to instructors with a wide range of teaching styles. Each library contains many more books than any student is likely to read during a single academic term, but this is because the Heritage libraries were designed for lifelong learning rather than a brief survey. The reading recommendations included with most libraries provide for a comprehensive overview of the subject civilization sufficient for intermediate students. But each library also includes many books that offer in depth treatment of particular historical episodes for more advanced students. Learning the basic stories of history is essential, but the Heritage Classical Libraries offer far more than the fundamentals.

Most of the Heritage Classical Libraries will eventually be upgraded to full Curriculums. A printable version of the Curriculum User Guide has been provided for families who are interested in the independent study program associated with the Heritage Classical Curriculum.

Modern European History

The history covered by the Modern Europe library begins with the effects of the Enlightenment on the Christian kingdoms of continental Europe and ends with the cataclysmic World Wars of the early 20th century. The growing influence of Prussia; the Revolution and political turmoil in France; the Unification of Italy; and the rise of Russia are four of the major topics covered in this period, but in the story of all four nations one sees the conflict between degenerate Christian monarchies and the movement for representative government.

The nineteenth century was a period of enormous political upheavals and technological change. By the eighteenth century the British government had already moved from an autocratic monarchy to a parliamentary system and had established civil liberties unknown in other parts of Europe. Many sincere patriots looked to Britain's freedoms and prosperity and sought to reform their own governments according to constitutional principles.

Unfortunately, the relative peace with which Britain evolved towards a more liberal government was not easily duplicated. The forces in favor of "reform" on the continent were no longer primarily Christian in worldview. The political object of the Reformation in England was simply to oppose Roman interference in national government—not to dismantle the church, overtake its educational and charitable functions, and upend traditional Christian civilization. Not all Republicans or reformers on the continent were anti-Christian, but even those who did not want to overthrow the church altogether sought to make it subservient to the state. For this, and many other reasons, Europe's path to constitutional government was far bloodier than that of England or America, and involved a series of revolutions, massacres, anarchies, cataclysmic wars, dictatorships, and totalitarian regimes, all promulgated in the name of liberty. As Madame Roland, a great French patriot said as she was sent to the guillotine: "O Liberty! What Crimes are committed in thy name."

Because much of the conflict in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries was driven by political ideology, technological evolution, and humanist philosophy, it is a difficult period for young readers to understand. To make complex matters more confusing, most historical accounts produced during the late 19th and early twentieth century were blind to the dangers posed by the secular, ambitious governments and give optimistic accounts of events. In the name of reform many pillars of Christian civilization were tossed aside as impediments to "social progress". It wasn't until the modern, secularized states of Europe unleashed the full range of their destructive powers upon each other, that the world began to see the inevitable results of the loss of Christian restraints on national governments.

It is impossible for advanced students to really understand this period of history without some knowledge of 19th century philosophy, but that is beyond the scope of this library. What it can provide, however, is an excellent introduction to some of the most dramatic stories in all of world history. Among these are the French Revolution and Reign of Terror; the Napoleonic Wars; the Rise of Prussia and the formation of the German Empire; the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune; the rise of the Russian Empire; Garibaldi and the Unification of Italy; and finally the Great War and Bolshevik Revolution. Behind each of these events, of course, was a complicated web of intrigue, secret societies, and anti-clerical activism whose significance was not generally understood. The disastrous wars, revolutions, and totalitarian regimes of the 20th century caught many people in the West unaware, in spite of the fact that the political, philosophical, and military groundwork for these catastrophes was laid over a long period of time.

The catastrophes in "Modern Europe" are still ongoing. The "debt" crisis, the "euro" crisis, an unsustainable welfare-state, and most significantly, the "demographic" crisis threaten to undermine the very foundations of European civilization. The secular, materialist philosophies that overtook Christian Europe in the 18th century have been propagated for generations by compulsory, secular state-education, and are still doing their civilization-destroying work. As Americans, we owe much of our cultural heritage to Europe, but if modern European civilization can no longer serve as an inspiration to us, then let it be studied as a warning.

"It is the great paradox of the modern world that at the very time when the world decided that people should not be coerced about their form of religion, it also decided that they should be coerced about their form of education."
G. K. Chesterton