What were the effects of the Atlantic revolutions?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2021

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In 1775, the Atlantic world was utterly dominated by four monarchies: those of Great Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal. Between them, they largely controlled the seaways. They laid claim to vast territories, including most of the two American continents. They mustered the region’s strongest land armies. Their subjects carried out nearly all of its most dynamic economic activity, much of which was supported by slave labor. Only a tiny percentage of these subjects had a voice in how they were governed.




Revolutionary World

Global Upheaval in the Modern Age

, pp. 38 - 65

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Print publication year: 2021

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Political revolutions, including an independence movement, had occurred in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Western Europe developed a common political culture in the Middle Ages. This chapter discusses the conflict among the monarchies, and the revolutions that took place in America, France and Haiti. During the eighteenth century, the British monarchy waged war against the Spanish and French monarchies for control of the Atlantic world. The US war of independence, with few exceptions, was characterized by traditional military engagements. The American Revolution was a limited revolution that really fully applied, immediately, only to adult white men. The French Revolution abolished seigniorial institutions and was characterized by mass politics, and influenced the nature and process of the Haitian Revolution. At the end of the eighteenth century, the Spanish monarchy's possessions in America constituted one of the world's most imposing political structures. Regional economic variations in Spanish America contributed to social diversity.


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How did the Atlantic revolutions change society?

In long-term perspective, the revolutions were mostly successful. They spread widely the ideals of liberalism, republicanism, the overthrow of aristocracies, kings and established churches.

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Nationalism, perhaps the most potent ideology of the modern era, was nurtured in the Atlantic revolutions and shaped much of nineteenth- and twentieth-century world history. The ideas of equality that were artic- ulated in these revolutions later found expression in socialist and communist move- ments.

How did the Atlantic revolutions inspired change in the rest of the world?

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