A Belle Epoque or Gilded Age

Topics: Europe, World War II, World War I Pages: 4 (1575 words) Published: April 5, 2006
A Belle Époque or a Gilded Age
In the decades that led up to World War I, Europe experienced what some scholars believed to be a Golden Age. However, beneath the gilded surface of prosperity and exponential advancements, the countries of Europe were stricken with an unseen, developing menace. While technological improvements and an influx of industrial developments were making way for the dawn of an age never before dreamt of, there were deep rooted problems that would plague the seemingly ideal society between the years of 1860 and 1914, culminating with a war that engulfed the whole of the continent and the lands beyond. Not all aspects of life during those years were negative however, there were many grand accomplishments that occurred and many people lived in luxury. Was that time in European history considered a Belle Époque, where culture flourished and the populace was content or was it a Gilded Age, with a cosmetic front hiding darker problems? Three aspects of life that helped that time in history to be considered a Belle Époque were: industrialization, rapid technological advancements and a rebirth of culture. The three aspects of life that led to the nickname Gilded Age were: militarism, class distinction and alliances between countries. Even deeper than all of these aspects that led to war was a sole driving force that fueled the continent to its ultimate destiny. This force was stronger than any army and it inspired a generation of people. That was the spirit of nationalism.

Although there were deep conflicts during that time, very often, said age in history is often considered a Belle Époque. The three keys to the success of this age were: industrialization, rapid technological advancements and a rebirth of culture. Industrialization, the development of factories and railroads to increase efficiency and decrease cost, was integral to the advancement of the European society. With industrialization came mass production and extensive railroad...

Cited: Levack, Brian, Edward Muir, Michael Maas, and Meredith Veldman. The West:
Encounters & Transformations: Volume II. New York: Pearson, 2004.
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