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AP European History Period 1 Review Questions and Discussion

Age of Exploration Source


Welcome to the first review section on AP European History. If you have taken AP World History before, some of the upcoming information may ring a bell. However, if it does not, it's ok, because we will explore European history in much greater depth. Let's begin!

This review post mainly concerns itself with Period 1 (1450 to 1648). In this time period, Europe finds itself entering the Renaissance, a cultural movement that produced timeless works of art and advancements in science. At the same time, we will also witness Europe's Religious wars. Although bloody and chaotic, this tumultuous period also begins the process of shifting away from religious doctrine towards secular policies. Moreover, we begin to see government become more and more centralized as time goes on. Catholicism no longer stands unchallenged, as other religions stem out to form their own beliefs and institutions. This is very different from the medieval times, where Christianity was a dominant force and power was extremely decentralized.

In addition to all of that, Period 1 also covers the Scientific revolution. This era also witnessed some of the most prominent scientific minds, such as Galileo, Newton, Kepler, and Copernicus. It is because of the Scientific Revolution that we observe a paradigm shift from mainstream belief in a geocentric model (everything revolves around the Earth) to a heliocentric model (all planets revolve around the sun). Period 1 even includes the Age of exploration, where the Europeans sailed out into the unknown and rediscovered the Americas. So much occurs in this time period that we almost do it injustice by relatively skimming through all of it. Fortunately, the show must go on!

Map of Europe Source

Stimulus 1

Mexico silver production

Population growth

Question 1A

The images above reflect the causes of

  • A. the Columbian Exchange.

  • B. rapid industrialization.

  • C. the decline of capitalism.

  • D. the Price Revolution.

Answer: D

Explanation: The Price Revolution was a period where prices across Europe (starting in Spain) begin to dramatically rise due to the influx of newfound silver in the Peruvian mines. Since silver was extracted at large quantities, it decreased in value, hence leading to a price inflation.

Why it's the right answer

Although this time period saw nations such as the Spanish Empire basing their economies on mercantilism, it most certainly sowed the seeds for capitalism. In fact, it is during this period where Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations (1776). Furthermore, how could there be a decline in capitalism if it was not even practiced at the time? We can cross out C. As for B, although we do see an increase in population in urban areas, rapid urbanization truly takes off in the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century (we will cover this in Period 2!) It is crucial to be mindful of the context the information provides. In this case, we can see that both charts record data from the late 1400s to the mid 1700s.

We are left with D and A. To be fair, we do see the Columbian exchange take place during this era. However, aside population growth, the chart also shows us silver production in Mexico. The fact that this question specifically focuses on silver production hints that it involved with the Price revolution, not the Columbian exchange. Remember that the influx of silver played a huge role in the rise of prices across Europe.

Question 1B

The forces portrayed by the images above contributed to a phenomenon that was most beneficial to

  • A. peasants

  • B. landowning gentry

  • C. tenant farmers

  • D. lower middle-class artisans

Answer: B

Explanation: The landowning gentry essentially owns parcels of land and rents them out to farmers, who in return pay in money or goods. Once prices began to rise, the gentry raise theirs, thus resulting in them profiting from receiving large amounts of crops

Why it's the right answer

As a rule of thumb in AP European history, peasants rarely win or see benefits. They were at the bottom rung of society and lived in poverty. Throughout European history peasants revolted and always lost. With this in mind, immediately scratch off A. Simply because the Renaissance took place and spiked an interest in the arts, the questions asks which group benefited the most. That leaves us with B and C. C may be tempting to pick, as tenant farmers grow crops, it is actually B that fits the mold. A Tenant farmer is the one who rents land to grow crops. They do not even own land. In fact,it is the gentry that own the land. With prices rising, the gentry raised their rental fee on their tenants

Stimulus 2

Urbanization ratios in Europe

Question 2A

The table provides evidence to support the argument that

  • A. urbanization occurred most rapidly in countries situated near the Mediterranean.

  • B. the most rapid 16th century urban expansion occurred along the Iberian Peninsula.

  • C. population shifts and the growth of commerce caused the expansion of cities predominantly in Northwestern Europe.

  • D. from the 15th to 17th centuries, urbanization was widespread and fairly even throughout Europe.

Answer: C

Explanation: Look at the table

Why it's the right answer

This question simply requires you to look at the data and see which answer could be describe it. In this case, we are looking for population patterns across European countries. Answer A says that urbanization grew the fastest in countries near the Mediterranean. When you hear Mediterranean, think Italy, Sicily, Greece, etc. The only Mediterranean country we see in the chart is Italy, who although has a substantial population increase, it was not the most rapid. With A out of the way, we move on to B. Now B argues that the most rapid 16th century urban expansion took place in the Iberian Peninsula. In other words, shift your attention to 16th century Portugal and Spain. When compared to other countries, we notice that it did not have the fastest population rate in that century. Cross B off.

We are left with C and D. C asks you to focus on Northwestern Europe. This chart has a handful of Northwestern European countries and we can see that there is a consistent population growth for the most part. Keep C for now. Then there is D. D says that urbanization was fairly consistent across Europe. However, this is false because we could see notable differences in urbanization rates (Ireland vs. Netherlands for instance). And with that we are left with C.

A word of advice: Although the AP exam does not conduct a map quiz, it is helpful to have a good understanding of a European map. By knowing where countries are, it is easier to understand population shifts and geopolitical rivalry.

Question 2B

The growth of cities in the early modern period often resulted in all of the following EXCEPT

A. price fluctuations which led to social unrest.

B. sanitation issues and crime.

C. legal codes regulating the activities of the poor.

D. the forced relocation of excess inhabitants to rural settings.

Answer: D

Explanation: Urbanization brought large populations to concentrated areas. With so many people packed into one area, sanitation and crime were frequently issues. Also, there were virtually no laws in place to protect the poor. Around this time period, Europe experiences the Price Revolution, which saw an overall increase in prices across Europe. Unfortunately, this did not translate into higher wages, meaning that social unrest was not uncommon. This question asked which option was not a consequence. It was matter of selecting which answer did not fit.

Why it's the right answer

Besides what was earlier said, European governments never forced excess inhabitants to relocate to the rural areas. In fact, rapid urbanization brought plenty of challenges, such as sustaining a large population in a relatively small concentrated area. This population problem was never truly addressed by European leaders, and it would only get much worse once the Industrial Revolution takes place.

Question 2C

What would best explain the data trend for Germany between 1600 and 1700?

  • A. economic devastation of the Thirty Years’ War

  • B. cultural influence of the Romantic literary movement

  • C. strict political centralization of the Hapsburgs

  • D. social effects of the Peace of Augsburg

Answer: A

Explanation: The Thirty Years War saw multiple European Powers battle it out as a result of religious tension. Over time, however, this war was fought out of power struggle. This was one of Europe's longest and most destructive wars to ever be fought. It should be noted that a majority of the fighting itself took place on German territory. All this frequent conflict eventually took a toll on Germany and her population.

Why it's the right answer

Thirty years of fighting can be very bloody, destructive and tiresome. The Thirty Years war took place from 1618 to 1648 and mainly partook in Germany. All this fighting result in cities and lands being destroyed, which in turn can hinder- if not ruin- economies. Weak economies don't necessarily attract people, which is why we see a dip in Germany's population trend from 1600 to 1700. As for the other answers, let's go over why they are incorrect/irrelevant in regards to this question. B is wrong as the Romantic literary movement would not take place until the 19th century. C says that the decline in population growth is because of Hapsburgs centralized their political power. This is not the case as the Hapsburg were a decentralized power. As for D, the Peace of Augsburg occurred approximately six decades prior and may have played a role in the events leading up to the Thirty years war.

Stimulus 3

“Concerning the sovereign’s peasants and landless peasants of court villages and rural taxpaying districts who, hav[e] fled from the sovereign’s court villages and from the rural taxpaying districts... hunt... down those fugitive peasants and landless peasants of the sovereign, cart them [back] to the sovereign’s court villages and to the rural taxpaying districts, to their old allotments as [registered in] the cadastral books, with their wives, and with their children, and with all their movable peasant property, without any statute of limitations.

Similarly, if [landowners] proceed to petition the sovereign about their fugitive peasants and about landless peasants; and they testify that their peasants and landless peasants, having fled from them, are living [elsewhere]... return fugitive peasants and landless peasants from flight on the basis of the cadastral books to people of all ranks, without any statute of limitations.

If it becomes necessary to return fugitive peasants and landless peasants to someone after trial and investigation: return those peasants with their wives, and with their children, and with all their movable property, with their standing grain and with their threshed grain. Do not impose a fine for those peasants [on their current lords] for the years prior to this present law code.”

-- Sobornoe Ulozhenie , Russian legal code

Question 3A

The excerpt provides evidence to support all of the following statements EXCEPT that

  • A. nobles and monarchs continued to dominate economic life in the East.

  • B. the enclosure movement facilitated the commercialization of agriculture.

  • C. eastern European nations attempted to codify serfdom.

  • D. most Europeans derived their livelihoods from agriculture.

Answer: C

Explanation: The given passage demonstrates the strong hold the Russian monarchs held over the peasants. Although they were technically not slaves, they were not that different from one either. As it is shown, peasants were basically immobile in their class status as their was little hope for social mobility.

Why it's the right answer

This question is basically asking for which statement does not belong. As a result, we can immediately discard A as monarchs did indeed have total control over economic life. B supports the passage by explaining how landlords wielded so much power over their tenants (tenants could not leave ad if they wished to do so, they would be hunted down and returned to them). These agricultural enclosures were maintained by the tenants while providing income for landlords.

This statement immediately leads us to D, which states that agriculture provided most Europeans with their income, ranging from peasants all the way to kings and queens. We are now left with C, which states that this passage is evidence that European monarchs attempted to codify serfdom. The key word in this statement is attempted. In relations to the Russian monarchs, there was no attempt as it was successfully implemented.

Question 3B

Which of the following conflicts is most illustrative of a reaction to the system represented by the excerpt?

  • A. Thirty Years’ War

  • B. German Peasants’ Revolt

  • C. the Fronde

  • D. Spanish Netherlands Revolt (Dutch Revolt)

Answer: B

Explanation: Peasant revolts typically broke out due to the oppressive laws opposed on them. In essence, although some were technically not slaves, they were not much different from being one either. Looking at the passage, one can see that peasants, or at least according to this Russian legal code, were treated as property.

Why it's the right answer

In spite of this passage pertaining to Russian peasants, it can also be applicable to other European peasants as they themselves lacked rights, or protection, to begin with. In response to such mistreatment and abuse, there were revolts. Unfortunately for the peasants, revolts rarely, if ever, ended in their favor. The Thirty years war (A), Fronde (C) and Spanish Netherlands revolt (D) occurred out conflict between the nobles (i.e not the peasants)


In closing, although we were not able to cover all major events of this time period, we do get a glimpse of what life was like back in the 15th century. European economics changes forever as new goods and resources from the New World flood into European markets. The atrocities of war leaves a deep impact in European societies as we saw in population trends earlier. Nonetheless, Period 1 begins to sow the seeds for greater urbanization now that major cities were growing exponentially. But more importantly, we got an idea of what life was like for people at both extremes of the social ladder: the poor and wealthy. In spite of generating decent income for their landlords, it would be insufficient for the tenants to have a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

The upcoming period we will review spans from 1648 to 1815. During this era, Europe's longstanding political order will be challenged as power starts to be stripped away from absolute monarchies. Think of the Bourbon Dynasty, whose reign over France is interrupted by the French Revolution. Britain itself was not spared from such political alterations as Parliament began to have a say on how government should be mandated. Furthermore, we will learn about the Enlightenment, an era that brought forth new political, philosophical and cultural ideals into European society. There is much more to add to the list of topics covered in Period 2, but we will go over that in the next post!