Cambridge Modern History

Cambridge Modern History
Atlas title page, 1912

The Cambridge Modern History is a comprehensive modern history of the world, beginning with the 15th century age of Discovery, published by the Cambridge University Press in the United Kingdom and also in the United States.

The first series, planned by Lord Acton and edited by him with Stanley Leathes, Sir Adolphus William Ward and G. W. Prothero, was launched in 1902 and totalled fourteen volumes, the last of them being an historical atlas which appeared in 1912. The period covered was from 1450 to 1910.[1]

A second series, The New Cambridge Modern History, now covering the years 1450 to 1945, appeared in fourteen volumes between 1957 and 1979, again concluding with an atlas.


The Cambridge Modern History, 1902–1912

A map of the dominions of Charles V, from the 1912 atlas

The original Cambridge Modern History was planned by Lord Acton, who during 1899 and 1900 gave much of his time to coordinating the project, intended to be a monument of objective, detailed, and collaborative scholarship.[2] Acton was Regius professor of modern history at Cambridge, and a fellow of All Souls, Oxford. He had previously established the English Historical Review in 1886 and had an exalted reputation.[3]

The new work was published in fourteen volumes between 1902 and 1912, in the British Isles by the Cambridge University Press and in the USA by Macmillan & Co. of New York. Written mostly by English scholars, the first twelve volumes dealt with the history of the world from 1450 up to 1910.[1] The final volume, numbered 12, was The Latest Age and appeared in 1910.[4] There then followed two supplemental volumes.[1]

The history was later followed by similar multi-volume works for the earlier ages, namely the Cambridge Ancient History and the Cambridge Medieval History.[5] As the first of such histories, it later came to be seen as establishing a tradition of collaborative scholarship.[6]

A second edition of the atlas (volume XIV) was published in 1924.[7]

Volumes published

I. The Renaissance (1902)

  • Mandell Creighton, 'Introductory Note'
  • E. J. Payne, chapter 1, 'The Age of Discovery'; chapter 2, 'The New World'
  • J. B. Bury, chapter 3, 'The Ottoman Conquest'
  • Stanley Leathes, chapter 4, 'Italy and her Invaders'
  • Edward Armstrong, chapter 5, 'Florence (I): Savonarola'
  • L. Arthur Burd, chapter 6, 'Florence (II): Macchiavelli'
  • Richard Garnett, chapter 7, 'Rome and the Temporal Power'
  • Horatio Brown, chapter 8, 'Venice'
  • Thomas Frederick Tout, chapter 9, 'Germany and the Empire'
  • Emil Reich, chapter 10, 'Hungary and the Slavonic Kingdoms'
  • H. Butler Clarke, chapter 11, 'The Catholic Kings'
  • Stanley Leathes, chapter 12, 'France'
  • Adolphus William Ward, chapter 13, 'The Netherlands'
  • James Gairdner, chapter 14, 'The Early Tudors'
  • William Cunningham, chapter 15, 'Economic Change'
  • Richard Claverhouse Jebb, chapter 16, 'Classical Renaissance'
  • M. R. James, chapter 17, 'The Christian Renaissance'
  • William Barry, DD, chapter 18, 'Catholic Europe'
  • Henry Charles Lea, chapter 19, 'The Eve of the Reformation'

II. The Reformation: The end of the Middle Ages (1903)[8]

  • Franz Xaver Kraus, chapter 1, 'Medicean Rome', pp. 1-35
  • Stanley Leathes, chapter 2, 'Habsburg and Valois (I)'; chapter 3, 'Habsburg and Valois (II)'
  • A. F. Pollard, chapter 5, 'National Opposition to Rome in Germany'; chapter 6, 'Social Revolution and Catholic Reaction in Germany'; chapter 7, 'The Conflict of Creeds and Parties in Germany'; chapter 8, 'Religious War in Germany'; chapter 14, 'The Reformation under Edward VI'
  • A. A. Tilley, chapter 9, 'The Reformation in France'
  • James Pounder Whitney, chapter 10, 'The Helvetic Reformation'
  • Andrew Martin Fairbairn, chapter 11, 'Calvin and the Reformed Church'; chapter 19, 'Tendencies of European Thought in the Age of the Reformation'
  • W. E. Collins, chapter 12, 'The Catholic South'; chapter 17, 'The Scandinavian North'
  • James Gairdner, chapter 13, 'Henry VIII'
  • James Bass Mullinger, chapter 15, 'Philip and Mary'#
  • Frederic William Maitland, chapter 16, 'The Anglican Settlement and the Scottish Reformation'
  • R. V. Laurence, chapter 18, 'The Church and Reform'

III. The Wars of Religion (1904)

  • A. J. Butler, chapter 1, 'The Wars of Religion in France'
  • A. A. Tilley, chapter 2, 'French Humanism and Montaigne'
  • R. Nisbet Bain, chapter 3, 'The Catholic Reaction, and the Valois and Baethory elections, in Poland'
  • Moritz Brosch, chapter 4, 'The height of the Ottoman power'
  • Adolphus William Ward, chapter 5, 'The Empire under Ferdinand I and Maximilian II'
  • George Edmundson, chapter 6, 'The Revolt of the Netherlands'; chapter 7, 'William the Silent'; chapter 19, 'The Dutch Republic'
  • Thomas Graves Law, chapter 8, 'Mary Stewart'
  • John Knox Laughton, chapter 9, 'The Elizabethan Naval War with Spain'
  • Sidney Lee, chapter 10, 'The Last Years of Elizabeth'; chapter 11, 'The Elizabethan Age of English Literature'
  • Edward Armstrong, chapter 12, 'Tuscany and Savoy'
  • Ugo Balzani, chapter 13, 'Rome under Sixtus V', pp. 422-455
  • A. J. Butler, chapter 14, 'The End of the Italian Renaissance'
  • Martin Hume, chapter 15, 'Spain under Philip II'; chapter 16, 'Spain under Philip III'
  • Samuel Rawson Gardiner, chapter 17, Britain under James I'
  • Robert Dunlop, chapter 18, 'Ireland to the Settlement of Ulster'
  • Stanley Leathes, chapter 20, 'Henry IV of France'
  • Adolphus William Ward, chapter 21, 'The Empire under Rudolf II'
  • J. Neville Figgis, chapter 22, 'Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century'

IV. The Thirty Years War (1906)

  • Adolphus William Ward, chapter 1, 'The Outbreak of the Thirty Years' War'; chapter 3, 'The Protestant Collapse'; chapter 6, 'Gustavus Adolphus (1630–2)'; chapter 7, 'Wallenstein and Bernard of Weimar (1632–5)'
  • Horatio Brown, chapter 2, 'The Valtelline (1603–39)'
  • Stanley Leathes, chapter 4, 'Richelieu'
  • W. F. Reddaway, chapter 5, 'The Vasa in Sweden and Poland (1560–1630)'
  • George Walter Prothero, chapter 8, 'The Constitutional Struggle in England (1625–40)'; chapter 9, 'The First Two Years of the Long Parliament (1640–2)'
  • George Walter Prothero and Colonel E. M. Lloyd, chapter 10, 'The First Civil War, 1642–7'; chapter 11, 'Presbyterians and Independents (1645–9)'
  • W. A. Shaw, chapter 12, 'The Westminster Assembly'
  • Charles Harding Firth, chapter 19, 'Anarchy and the Restoration (1659–60)'

V. The Age of Louis XIV (1908)

  • A. J. Grant, chapter 1, 'The Government of Louis XIV (1661–1715)'
  • Arthur Hassall, chapter 2, 'The Foreign Policy of Louis XIV (1661–1697)'
  • Emile Faguet, chapter 3, 'French Seventeenth Century Literature and its European Influence'
  • Viscount St Cyres, chapter 4, 'The Gallican Church'
  • C. H. Firth, chapter 5, 'The Stewart Restoration'
  • Harold H. Child, chapter 6, 'The Literature of the English Restoration, including Milton'
  • George Edmundson, chapter 7, 'The Administrations of John de Witt and William of Orange' (1651–88)'
  • J. R. Tanner, chapter 8, 'The Anglo-Dutch Wars'
  • John Pollock, chapter 9, 'The Policy of Charles II and James II (1667–87)
  • H. W. V. Temperley, chapter 10, 'The Revolution and the Revolution Settlement in Great Britain'
  • Henry Melvill Gwatkin, chapter 11, 'Religious Toleration in England'
  • Richard Lodge, chapter 12, 'Austria, Poland, and Turkey'
  • Wolfgang Michael, chapter 13, 'The Treaties of Partition and the Spanish Succession'
  • C. T. Atkinson, chapter 14 (1), 'The War of the Spanish Succession: Campaigns and Negotiations'
  • A. W. Ward, chapter 14 (2), 'The War of the Spanish Succession: the Peace of Utrecht and the Supplementary Pacifications'
  • H. W. V. Temperley, chapter 15, 'Party Government under Queen Anne'
  • J. B. Bury, chapter 16, 'Russia (1462–1682)'
  • R. Nisbet Bain, chapter 17, 'Peter the Great and His Pupils (1689–1730)'
  • W. F. Reddaway, chapter 18, 'The Scandinavian Kingdoms'

VI. The Eighteenth Century (1909)[9]

  • A. W. Ward, chapter 1 (1), 'Great Britain under George I: The Hanoverian Succession
  • J. F. Chance, chapter 1 (2), 'Great Britain under George I: The Foreign Policy of George I (1714-21)'
  • R. Nisbet Bain, chapter 7, 'Poland under the Saxon Kings'
  • C. T. Atkinson, chapter 8 (1), 'The War of the Austrian Succession: The Pragmatic Sanction'
  • Emil Daniels, chapter 8 (2), 'Prussia under Frederick William I'
  • C. T. Atkinson, chapter 8 (3), 'The War'

VII. The United States (1903)

VIII. The French Revolution (1904)

IX. Napoleon (1906)

  • Charles Oman, 'The Peninsular War, 1808-14' & 'The Hundred Days, 1815'

X. The Restoration (1907)

  • Walter Alison Phillips, chapters 1 and 6

XI. The Growth of Nationalities (1909)

XII. The Latest Age (1910)

XIII. Tables and General Index (1911)

XIV. Atlas (1912, 2nd ed. 1924)[7]

The New Cambridge Modern History, 1957–1979

A map of the Franco-Prussian War from the 1912 atlas

A new version of the history appeared in fourteen volumes between the 1950s and the 1970s.[5] It introduced a wide range of new scholarship and with The Shifting Balance of World Forces 1898–1945 it brought the period covered up to the end of the Second World War. Its preface is by Sir George Norman Clark.[10]

The New Cambridge Modern History has been described as "a comprehensive examination of the political, economic, social, and cultural development of the world from 1493 to 1945".[11]

As with the first series, the final volume is an atlas. Some volumes have appeared in revised editions.

Volumes published

I. The Renaissance, 1493-1520 (1957)[12]

George Richard Potter[13] & Denys Hay, eds.

  • Hans Baron, chapter 3, 'Fifteenth-century civilisation and the Renaissance'
  • Rudolf Wittkower, 'The Arts in Western Europe: Italy' (pp. 127-153)
  • Leopold Ettlinger, 'The Arts in Western Europe: Northern Europe' (pp. 153-165)
  • Harold Lawton, 'The Arts in Western Europe: Vernacular Literature in Western Europe'

II. The Reformation, 1520-1559 (1958, new ed. 1990)

Geoffrey Rudolph Elton, ed.

III. The Counter-Reformation and price revolution, 1559-1610 (1968)[14]

R. B. Wernham, ed.

IV. The Decline of Spain and the Thirty Years War 1609-48/59 (1970)

J. P. Cooper, ed.

V. The Ascendancy of France 1648-88 (1961)

F. L. Carsten

VI. The rise of Great Britain and Russia, 1688-1715/25 (1970)[15]

J. S. Bromley, ed.

VII. The Old Regime, 1713-1763 (1957, new ed. 1996)[16]

J. O. Lindsay, ed.

VIII. The American and French Revolutions 1763-93 (1965)

A. Goodwin

IX. War and peace in an age of upheaval, 1793-1830 (1965)[17]

Charles William Crawley, ed.

X. The zenith of European power 1830-70 (1960)[18]

J. P. T. Bury, ed.

XI. Material Progress and World-Wide Problems 1870-1898 (1962)

F. H. Hinsley

XII. The Shifting Balance of World Forces 1898-1945 (second edition, The Era of Violence (1968)

C. L. Mowat

XIII. Companion Volume (1979)

Peter Burke

XIV. Atlas (1970)

H. C. Darby & Harold Fullard,

External links


  • G. N. Clark, 'The Origins of the Cambridge Modern History', in Cambridge Historical Journal, VIII, 2 (1945), pp. 57-64


  1. ^ a b c Huntley Hayes, Carlton Joseph (1922). A political and social history of modern Europe. 1. Kessinger. p. 11. 
  2. ^ 'John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, 1st Baron Acton (English historian and moralist)', in Encyclopaedia Britannica
  3. ^ R. C. S. Trahair, From Aristotelian to Reaganomics: a dictionary of eponyms with biographies in the social sciences (1994), p. 5
  4. ^ "The Cambridge Modern History. Planned by the late LORD ACTON, LL.D. Edited by A. W. WARD, Litt.D., G. W. PROTHERO, Litt.D., STANLEY LEATHES, M.A. Volume XII: 'The Latest Age.' Cambridge: University Press, 1910.) Review". The English Historical Review 26 (103): 612–614. July 1911. 
  5. ^ a b Leslie Bethell, The Cambridge history of Latin America: Latin America since 1930 (vol. 6), p. 11
  6. ^ Roberto González Echevarría, Enrique Pupo-Walker, 'Introduction', in The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature vol. 2 (1996), p. xvii: "The Cambridge history of Latin American literature draws upon a long tradition of collaborative scholarship that began with the Cambridge modern history (1902- 1912)..."
  7. ^ a b William Robert Shepherd, Historical Atlas (1964), p. iv
  8. ^ vol. II summary
  9. ^ vol VI summary
  10. ^ Sir George Norman Clark, 'Preface', in New Cambridge Modern History: vol. I The Renaissance, 1493-1520 (1957)
  11. ^ Peter Burke, The new Cambridge modern history: Companion volume (1979), summary at
  12. ^ The New Cambridge Modern History, vol. 1, Prefatory Note
  13. ^ Head of the Department of History at the University of Sheffield from 1931 to 1965
  14. ^ vol. III summary
  15. ^ vol. XI summary
  16. ^ vol. VII summary
  17. ^ vol. IX summary
  18. ^ vol. X summary

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