AP European History Period 2 Review Questions and Discussion

AP European History Period 2 Review Questions and Discussion

Feature image source Nearly bankrupting France in the process, King Louis XIV, or the "Sun King", commissioned the Palace of Versailles to be built. This iconic palace serves as a reminder of the power and wealth of the Bourbon dynasty.


Too much occurs during this timeline to give it a simple definition. Sentimentality aside, it would not do justice to this Period 2 to simply say that this period witnessed unique ideas and events never before seen in European history. Seriously, where does one even begin? We have the Enlightenment, Agricultural revolution, new forms of Art, struggles between protecting the Old order from new political ideas (coughs France!), shifts in imperial power, new approaches to diplomacy, booming populations across the European continent, more continental wars and last but not least, revolutions!

The famous painting by Delacroix showing liberty carrying the French flag

Here's a fun fact. Contrary to what it seems, this painting has nothing to do with the French Revolution. Eugène Delacroix painted this piece to pay tribute to the July revolution

Even picking a single topic in Period 2 and taking a deep dive provides more than enough information for a higher level college history course. Luckily for us, we don't have to go into that much depth. Let's start with the population. Famine and disease have always been an issue for Europeans. Plagues are contagious and were mysterious at the time, especially since Germ Theory (that diseases can be spread through germs, coughing, sneezing, etc.) was not widely accepted at the time. Additionally, fluctuating weather slowed down food production, which in turn negatively affects the masses. Nonetheless, Period 2 witnessed a shift from this bleak pattern as new  innovative farming techniques were implemented. Thanks to their relatively recent contact with the New World, new crops were introduced into the typical European diet. This, along with other factors, led to another Agricultural revolution. With more food widely available, the population would begin to grow.

Crops aside, let's not leave out the Enlightenment! In Period 1, Europe went through the Scientific revolution, which saw scientists use empirical and rational methods to understand the world around them. This is crucial because before this happened, religion was traditionally used to explain our surrounding environment. One could say the Scientific Revolution unintentionally inspired new thinkers to borrow ideas and method from the Scientific Revolution and utilize it to challenge traditional thoughts and practices. In contrast to using religion to justify social norms, institutions and governments, Enlightenment thinkers used rational and secular thought instead.

And finally, governments and international relations began to undergo transformations. England, for instance, shifted power from the monarchy to parliament. Due to the established limitations of the Peace of Westphalia, the Holy Roman Empire could no longer wield as much control over its domains as it used to. In fact, it found itself with a new neighbor up north: the Prussians. The Prussians will gradually grow more powerful and eventually they will become what is now Germany.

With change, there is resistance. The Russians, Austrians and French still had absolute monarchs. The Bourbon Dynasty of France is an excellent example of this. They had an iron grip over power and France's wealth. However, this narrow and ambitious mindset would blind the Bourbons to the grim realities the grand majority of the French endured. Doing nothing to address this unresolved issue would lead to their demise, or more commonly known as the French Revolution. Notoriously violent and bloody, the revolution sought to do away with anyone who had ties with the Ancien Régime (nobility and royalists) and those who posed a threat to the new Enlightenment based ideals the French revolutions tried to implement and spread all around.

This chaotic period in France's history would make the surrounding countries nervous because 1) a powerful country like France is currently volatile and 2) revolutions are contagious. Both fears were soon realized once revolutions began to breakout worldwide, eventually leading to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon reestablished order in France and began a military campaign that nearly brought all of Europe on its knees. In the end, a coalition of various European armies managed to defeat him. We conclude this period with multiple European nations participating in the Congress of Vienna in order to ensure stability in Europe.

Stimulus 1

“...the Bank of Amsterdam, known in Dutch as the Wisselbank, [was] founded in 1609 [and] became the preeminent financial institution of the 17th and 18th centuries.... Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations praised the money of the Wisselbank for “its intrinsic superiority to currency.” If not currency, then what was Wisselbank money? Much like modern, electronic, central-bank money, Wisselbank deposits were used to operate a large-value, book-entry payment system. Wisselbank customers could use their account balance to discharge obligations to other account holders, by instructing the bank to transfer funds to their creditors... The exchange bank was a central bank because its liabilities were ultimately an outside money that formed the monetary base for large scale commerce moving through Amsterdam. Instead of regulating or supporting a private deposit banking system, the Wisselbank replaced such a system. Conceptually, the Wisselbank was like everyone having payment accounts with one bank instead of having currency or a number of banks. Over time, the Wisselbank learned to use this position to act as a central bank by stabilizing the value of its liabilities by means of open market operations in bullion.”

-- "the Big Problem of Foreign Bills: the Bank of Amsterdam and the Origins of Central Banking,” Stephen Quinn and William Roberds, 2005

Question 1A

The excerpt provides evidence to support the argument that

A. the influx of precious metals from the Americas was causing a significant rise in the cost of goods and services.

B. mercantilist economic practices led governments to promote the use of bullion over bills of exchange.

C. family-based banking houses centered around the Mediterranean continued to control the European financial market.

D. European society was becoming increasingly shaped by the forces of commercial capitalism.

Answer: D

Explanation: Banks such as the Bank of Amsterdam demonstrated the driving force capitalism had on the economy. Adam Smith, author of Wealth of Nations and father of Capitalism praised said banks, as seen above. Furthermore, the passage mentions that the bank operated on "open market operations". For our case and purposes, whenever you see "open market", that capitalism is somehow involved.

Why it's the right answer

Although it may seem obvious, do not ever forget that the answer must relate to what the passage is saying or showing. It is true that renewed contact with the Americas brought upon a large influx of goods and materials to the European continent. Prices were indeed affected by this sudden surge of goods into the market. However, this passage is talking about the new innovative methods the Bank of Amsterdam implemented into their infrastructure, not rising costs or new goods and materials. We can cross off A.

When the European first flocked over to claim territories and materials in the Americas, the dominant economic policy they (Europeans) followed was mercantilism. The goal of mercantilism, in essence, was to enrich the state, reduce reliance on foreign suppliers and maximize output (within their own borders). Capitalism turns this policy on its head by advocating an open market driven economy. Given that the passage explains how the Bank of Amsterdam relies on the open market to drive their business, we can discard B.

If you felt nervous reading "family-based banking houses centered around the Mediterranean", don't worry because you have heard of it before. While there were multiple family-based banking houses, the main one you should remember is the Medici family. They were a prominent banking family in Florence that wielded a significant amount of influence from the 15th century to the end of the 17th century. The passage talks about the bank of Amsterdam which is a) not in the Mediterranean, b) not family owned and c) had a superior form of infrastructure as it was similar, if not identical, to modern banking today (liabilities, transfer funds, central bank, etc). Cross off C.

And with that, we are left with D. Circle this and go on to the next question.

Question 1B

What historical development would have led to a large influx of foreign currency into the Netherlands in the late 16th and early 17th centuries?

A. The Dutch were able to wrest control of the East Asian spice trade from the Portuguese.

B. As a result of its defeat in the Thirty Years’ War, France owed large indemnity payments to the Netherlands.

C. The Dutch won the right to tax some areas of Mughal India after the Battle of Plassey.

D. The North American colony of New Netherlands paid massive amounts of excise taxes to the mother country in Europe.

Answer: A

Explanation: For more than the first half of the 17th century, the Dutch and Portuguese were at war against each other, mainly as both sought to assert control over territories across the globe. Ultimately, the Dutch were able to gain territories in East Asia and were able to cement their trading routes and control India's spice trade. With new assets, the Netherlands gained more business and financial profit, hence bringing a large influx of currency into the country.

Why it's the right answer

We will start with why B, C, and D are the inappropriate answers. Right off the bat we can eliminate B because the French did not lose the Thirty Years war. If anything, it merely strengthened the state. As for C, the Battle of Plassey was actually a conflict between the British and Mughal Empire. It concluded with Britain gaining territory (and power) in India. Due to growing British presence in the subcontinent, the Dutch were gradually being kicked out, thus resulting in lost business for the Dutch. In regards to D, the Dutch West India Company invested a considerable amount of capital and resources into this short lived colony. This colony, however, was not subject to heavy taxation.

With those responses out of the way, we can return to why A is the correct choice. First, it is crucial to remember that some, but not all, European nations scrambled across the globe to claim territories to make a generous profit. With this in mind, conflict will surely arise, as European countries often set its eyes on the same land. The Dutch and Portuguese are not exempt from this. They already had tense relations (Portugal was allied with Spain and Spain was not very kind to the Netherlands) and both set their ambitions to establish a global empire and trading route. The Dutch managed to control several of Portugal's former holdings in East Asia. Now that the Dutch had clear access to new market in the East, it is safe to assume that the financial influx into the Netherlands derived from foreigners.

Stimulus 2
A painting by Francois Boucher from 1739 called le dejeuner (the breakfast) showing two ladies having breakfast and feeding two girls while a third lady gets the milk ready for pouring from a jug

--le Dejeuner (the Breakfast), Francois Boucher, 1739


Question 2A

The painting provides evidence to support the argument that, in the 18th century,

A. mercantilist policies forced Europeans to rely on commodities that could be produced by local artisans.

B. luxury items such as coffee and tea became widely available to all social classes across Europe.

C. upper-class women continued the medieval and early modern practice of hiring wet-nurses to raise babies and very young children.

D. families dedicated more space and resources to children and child-rearing, as well as private life and comfort.

Answer: D

Explanation: This work was painted by a French painter in the 18th century. Furthermore, this painting is an excellent example of the Rococo art style. An important tip about art is that it typically reflects relevant topics of that era. In this case, this piece is rather simple and intimate, as we see a family gathered together enjoying each others company.

Why it's the right answer

The trick to art questions is to examine the work itself and come up with information pertaining to the question and work itself. For this question, for instance, we can come up with the following:

1. The artist is Francois Boucher (it does not hurt to know he is French)

2. This painting is from the 18th century, and the major, or growing, art movement of the time was Late Baroque, AKA Rococo

3. This painting merely depicts a family gathered in a room together

As stated earlier, themes are reflected on the art itself. Instead of art dedicated to gods, mythology, or monarchs, we have a piece that shows a simple home setting. This is a painting that middle class folk can relate to, not just upper class socialites. If anything, this painting shows that family is important, and judging from the way the characters interact with each other (child is being fed, everyone has nice clothes, children are given attention, adults are socializing and drinking tea from fine china, etc), one can deduce that time and resources are invested into the family life. This is why D is the right answer.

As for the other options, B argues that luxury items became accessible to all classes. To begin with, although this family (in the painting) does not come from royalty, it is likely that they are financially secure (comfortable even). Luxury items are not very accessible items to the poor, who struggle to obtain basic needs. The problem with C is that it talks about upper class women, and this painting does not depict any type of upper class lifestyle in any shape or form. Although the women in the painting have nice clothes, it does not compare to what upper class women would wear. As for A, in spite of Rococo originating from France, it did mean it was solely restricted to the French. Other countries eventually followed suit. Moreover, people did not always buy from local artisans. Sometimes they would seek outside artisans for their work. This contradicts mercantilism, thus making A invalid.

Question 2B

The painting most directly shows the demographic effects of

A. the Consumer Revolution.

B. Malthusian population imbalance.

C. European migration.

D. the Agricultural Revolution.

Answer: A

Explanation: The Consumer revolution brought about a new mindset when it came to material consumption. Before the Consumer revolution, most people stresses over goods and materials they needed to survive. However, with massive amounts of goods arriving from the Americas and Far East, new items suddenly began to flood the market. The Consumer revolution basically established the notion of mass consumption. With more income available to the middle class, they could now spend money on items they wanted, but not needed. In the painting we can see a family using a fine porcelain tea set. Again, the family does not actually need it, but they have the income to buy themselves nice commodities.

Why it's the right answer

Have you ever heard how people nowadays are too "materialistic" and the "dangers of mass consumption". Well, none of that is new. In fact, people have always wanted/acquired items for their pure enjoyment/fulfillment, not necessarily out of necessity. However, before the Consumer revolution, the European population mainly focused on what they truly needed (basic necessity). However, with new items and wealth appearing, folks could obtain material items they wanted.

With the answer established, let's go over the wrong answers. B and D contradict each other as Malthus explained how the population;s size depends on food outgrowth, which at the time appeared bleak. However, the Agriculture Revolution changes this as more food than ever could be produced. Now that food is not a problem anymore, the population can continue to grow without worry. C, on the other hand, argues that the painting reflects immigrants leaving Europe. If one closely examines the work, it does not mention anything about European immigrants.

Stimulus 3
a black and white picture of an engraving showing several people in a medieval European street being blockaded by a fallen carriage

--William Hogarth, ‘Four Times of the Day: Night’ engraving, 1738


Question 3A

Which development directly led to increased urbanization in the 18th century?

A. government tax incentives

B. corporate recruitment programs

C. easy availability of public welfare

D. the Agricultural Revolution

Answer: D

Explanation: The Agricultural Revolution brought about innovative farming techniques that dramatically brought up food production. Now that more food is available, the population begins swell up. With populations exploding, urban centers would also begin to grow exponentially as well.

Why it's the right answer

Britain was actually the first country to industrialized. They began their head start in the mid 18th century, as the British learned to upgrade their manufacturing techniques and machinery. This brought about thousands of jobs. Although they paid a meager salary, it was still enough to attract the masses to growing cities. This, coupled with the Agricultural revolution, caused a population explosion within cities.

C is wrong as Parliament did not invest enough in public welfare. We could even see that in the depiction above, where we are presented with a grim and gloomy looking city. A is completely false as taxation in Britain during the Industrial Revolution were insanely high, even by today standards. As for B, there was no real corporate recruitment program per say. Instead we had people packed in factories working long hours for low wages. Workers were easily expendable, as they could easily be replaced as people frequently looked for some type of employment.

Question 3B

The image suggests that 18th century cities

A. lacked sanitation systems, zoning, or disaster management plans.

B. were patrolled by professional police forces.

C. were planned by educated engineers and city managers.

D. featured strict enforcement of laws against loitering, vagrancy, and public revelry.

Answer: A

Explanation: Eighteenth century European cities, particularly cities such as London and Paris, were constantly growing as the urban population increased. Rapidly constructed buildings were not the safest and the government did not invest enough in public services.

Why it's the right answer

When we look at the image, we can see a chaotic, filthy and gloomy city. The sky is polluted by smog, there are families sleeping on the streets, there is an unattended fire in the middle of the road and there is even a fight breaking out as well. With that in mind, B, C and D cannot possibly be the answer. If B were true, there would not be people fighting on the street. If D were true, there would not be people loitering or sleeping on the streets. And finally, if C were true, the streets would wider and better kept.

Stimulus 4

“The strictness of the relative duties of the two sexes is not and cannot be the same. When woman complains on this score about unjust man-made inequality, she is wrong. This inequality is not a human institution—or at least, it is the work not of prejudice, but of reason. It is up to the sex that nature has charged with the bearing of children to be responsible for them to the other sex....

Once it is demonstrated that man and woman are not and ought not to be constituted in the same way in either character or temperament, it follows that they ought not to have the same education. In following nature’s directions, man and woman ought to act in concert, but they ought not to do the same things. The goal of their labors is common, but their labors themselves are different, and consequently so are the tastes directing them...

The good constitution of children initially depends on that of their mothers. The first education of men depends on the care of women. Men’s morals, their passions, their tastes, their pleasures, their very happiness, also depend on women. Thus, the whole education of women ought to relate to men. To please men, to be useful to them, to make herself loved and honored by them, to raise them when young, to care for them when grown, to counsel them, to console them, to make their lives agreeable and sweet—these are the duties of women at all times, and they ought to be taught from childhood. So long as one does not return to this principle, one will deviate from the goal, and all the precepts taught to women will be of no use for their happiness or for ours.”

-- Emile, 1762

Question 4A

Which individual did NOT challenge ideas such as that represented in the excerpt?

A. Marquis de Condorcet

B. John Knox

C. Mary Wollstonecraft

D. Olympe de Gouges

Answer: B

Explanation: This excerpt demonstrates that the writer did not view women and men as equals. In fact, it seems that this passage advocates that women's abilities ought to be tailored to serve men. John Know, a Scottish theologian, was a notorious anti-feminist

Why it's the right answer

Again, this question asks for the answer that best fits with the ideas of the passage. In this case, we are looking for the person that would most likely agree with the author. De Condorcet, Wollstonecraft and De Gouge were prominent feminists in their time who would have certainly disagreed with the author of this work.

Question 4B

The main argument of the excerpt represents

A. a continuity over time between the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods with regard to mainstream attitudes regarding laissez-faire.

B. a change over time between the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods with regard to mainstream attitudes regarding gender roles.

C. a change over time between the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods with regard to mainstream attitudes regarding the social contract.

D. a continuity over time between the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods with regard to mainstream attitudes regarding the concept of separate spheres.

Answer: D

Explanation: The excerpt provides evidence that the underlying message, or belief of the author, of the passage is that women are not equal to men. It advocates for women to receive a domestic-related education (cleaning, cooking, nursing, etc) instead of a regular education men were entitled to. Given that the passage shares similar attitudes towards women from the Renaissance period, we can see that such beliefs have transitioned into the Enlightenment period as well.

Why it's the right answer

I would like to start off by saying that although the general mainstream beliefs towards women did not change much between the Renaissance period and Enlightenment period, there were major thinkers of the Enlightenment who advocated for gender equality. However, this question ask what this excerpt represents. We can immediately cross off A and C as economics or social contracts are not mentioned in the excerpt. Although B tries to trick you by mentioning gender roles, you must remember that B says "change over time". There is not evidence of "change over time" in regards to this passage.

Question 4C

The specific arguments presented in the excerpt were most directly associated with

A. Jean Paul Sartre.

B. Daniel Defoe.

C. John-Jacques Rousseau.

D. John Locke.

Answer: C

Explanation: John-Jacques Rousseau authored Emile

Why it's the right answer

To successfully answer this question, one must understand what the Enlightenment based philosophers stood for. Voltaire, for instance, would disagree with Emile, as it is made clear in Voltaire's litarary satire Candide that he is a feminist. John Locke, who had progressive ideas for his time, is a potential answer for this question. Nonetheless, Locke shares similar views with Rousseau in regards to how women should be treated. However, given that Rousseau wrote Emile, Locke cannot be the correct answer. As for Daniel DeFoe, he would diagree with Rousseau's view on women. Defoe wrote Moll Flanders, which tells a tale of an independent woman successfully working towards becoming self reliant and sufficient. Such ideas are radical during this time period.


In closing, plenty is going on Europe during Period 2. With power structures realigning and political shifts in governments, Europe underwent major changes. It is imperative to keep the Congress of Vienna in mind as it is yet another reminder of the balance of power Europe carefully sought to maintain. Keep in mind that Europe has had its fair share of bloody continental wars and conflicts. In essence, the Congress of Vienna was an attempt to establish peace (albeit, fragile), redraw borders, and keep another "Napoleon" from happening ever again. In spite of these attempts, more conflicts would inevitably arise. We have yet to see a fully formed Germany or Italy. The Ottomans and Hapsburgs, age old empires, are declining in power. European nations have not begun to scramble to colonize Africa and parts of Asia. Plus, we have an ambitious Russia that will make several of her neighbors nervous. In Period 3, we will discuss how European nations struggle to maintain the balance of power, their impact on the world due to their global colonization, new ideas, and the demand for change in the status quo. I'll see you next time!

a map of Europe in 1814 showing the empire of Austria, kingdom of France, Spain and the Ottoman Empire in the east

Just to put some things into perspective, this is Europe in 1815 (end of Period 2). Fearful of future conflict, the Congress of Vienna set new borders to lessen tensions. Unfortunately, this attempt for peace would not last, as several years after warring conflicts would arise between European powers. Although period 3 (1815-1914) covers the rise and fall of several European nations, it ultimately culminates with World War I.