AP Euro Period 2 Review (1648-1815)

7 min readdecember 20, 2021

AP European History 🇪🇺

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Period 2: Absolutism, Enlightenment, & Revolution (1648-1815)

In AP® European History, period 2 spans from 1648 to 1815 CE. The following guide will be updated periodically with hyperlinks to excellent resources. As you are reviewing for this era, focus on the key concepts!


STUDY TIP: You will never be asked specifically to identify a date. However, knowing the order of events will help immensely with cause and effect. For this reason, we have identified the most important dates to know.
1651 - Hobbes’ Leviathan published
1687 - Newton publishes Principia Mathematica
1688 - Glorious Revolution
1688 - English Bill of Rights
1689 - Locke publishes Two Treatises on Government
1763 - Treaty of Paris ends Seven Years’ War
1776 - American Revolutionary War begins
1776 - Adam Smith published Wealth of Nations
1789-1799 - French Revolution
1799 - Napoleon comes to power
1815 - Congress of Vienna / Age of Metternich

Past Essay Questions from Period 2

STUDY TIP: Content from the this era has appeared on the essays twenty times since 2010. Take a look at these questions before you review the key concepts & vocabulary below to get a sense of how you will be assessed. Then, come back to these later and practice writing as many as you can!
*The AP European History exam was significantly revised in 2016, so any questions from before then are not representative of the current exam format. You can still use prior questions to practice, however DBQs will have more than 7 documents, the LEQ prompts are worded differently, and the rubrics are completely different. All prompts from 1999-2015 can be found here.


*The following outline was adapted from the AP® European History Course Description as published by College Board in 2019 found here. This outline reflects the most recent revisions to the course.

2.1. Shifting models of political sovereignty

1. Absolute monarchy was established in the 17th and 18th centuries
  1. Absolute monarchs (James I, Peter the Great, Philip II, III, and IV)
  2. Power over France extended by Louis XIV and his finance minister Colbert.
  3. Enlightened absolutism appeared in central Europe (Frederick II, Joseph II).
  4. Poland was partitioned because they could not consolidate authority.
  5. Peter the Great westernized Russia, Catherine the Great continued process.
2. Challenges to absolutism led to alternative systems.
  1. English Civil War and Glorious Revolution asserted the rights of Parliament.
  2. The Dutch Republic established an oligarchy of urban gentry.
3. War was common because of expanding colonial empires.
  1. Prussia rose to power and the Habsburgs shifted their empire eastward.
  2. Ottoman expansion west ceased after defeat by Austria at Battle of Vienna.
  3. Louis XIV almost always at war - Dutch War, 9 Years’ War, War of Spanish Succession
  4. Britain and France rivalry resulted in world wars - 7 Years’ War, American Revolution
4. The French Revolution challenged Europe’s existing political and social orders.
  1. Causes of the French Rev. = peasant & bourgeois grievances, bread shortage, Enlightenment ideas, and the French involvement in the American Revolution.
  2. First phase established constitutional monarchy, increased popular participation, nationalized the Catholic Church, and abolished hereditary privileges.
  3. Second phase was dominated by the Reign of Terror, led by Robespierre.
  4. Revolutionary ideas spread from France to the rest of Europe.
  5. Women were a major part of the revolution (March on Versailles, Olympe de Gouges)
  6. Revolutionary ideas spread to Haiti, led by l’Ouverture.
  7. Many were inspired by emphasis on equality and human rights, but others were upset by violence and disregard for traditional authority.
5. Napoleon imposed French control over Europe, which sparked nationalistic reactions.
  1. As emperor, Napoleon initiated domestic reforms and curtailed other rights.
  2. New military tactics allowed him to expand control over much of Europe.
  3. Nationalistic responses to Napoleon included student protests in Germany, Russian scorched earth policy, and guerilla war in Spain.
  4. Napoleon was defeated by a coalition of states and the balance of power was restored through the Congress of Vienna.

2.2. Global economy expanded through European commerce.

1. The market economy was developed in early modern Europe.
  1. Labor and trade became more free.
  2. Agricultural Revolution increased productivity and supply.
  3. Putting-out system increased number of laborers.
  4. Development of the market economy led to new financial practices.
2. Europeans dominated the global economy.
  1. Mercantilist policies drove states to find new resources and new markets.
  2. Transatlantic slave trade expanded as the demand for American products increased.
  3. Consumer culture developed in Europe because of overseas products
  4. Food supply in Europe increased because of trade with the Americas.
  5. Raw materials, laborers, and markets abroad influenced European enterprises.
3. Commercial rivalries influenced diplomacy and warfare between states.
  1. Sea powers vied for influence in the Atlantic.
  2. The British dominated control of India and the Dutch controlled of the East Indies.

2.3. Scientific Revolution & Enlightenment

1. Enlightenment thought challenged traditional norms.
  1. Intellectuals applied principles of Scientific Rev to society (Voltaire, Diderot).
  2. Locke & Rousseau developed new political models based on natural rights.
  3. Women were still excluded from political life.
2. Enlightenment ideas were popularized through public venues and print media.
  1. Salons, coffeehouses, and academies were centers of public discourse.
  2. Expansion of literacy and printed materials, despite censorship, spread ideas.
  3. Europeans were increasingly exposed to cultures of peoples outside of Europe.
3. Absolutism and mercantilism were challenged by new theories.
  1. John Locke argued that the state was driven by consent of the governed.
  2. Adam Smith argued for free trade and a free market.
4. Religious practices were challenged by rationalism and toleration.
  1. Voltaire and Diderot developed new philosophies of deism, skepticism, and atheism.
  2. Religion became more private rather than public.
  3. Religious toleration of all Christians and, sometimes Jews, became common.
5. Art shifted to emphasize private life rather than religious themes.
  1. Baroque art promoted religious feelings until about 1750.
  2. Neoclassicism expressed Enlightenment ideas.
6. Public expression of emotions and feeling challenged Enlightenment ideas.
  1. Rousseau questioned reliance on reason and emphasized moral improvements.
  2. Romanticism challenged rationality.
  3. Religious revival occurred in Europe including movements such as Methodism.
  4. The power of mass politics and nationalism were embodied in rebellion.

2.4. Everyday life was shaped by innovation.

1. Agricultural Revolution stabilized population growth.
  1. Food supply increased because of improved productivity and transportation.
  2. Innovations in disease control limited plagues and epidemic diseases.
2. Consumer Revolution encouraged purchases and created new venues for leisure.
  1. New concerns for privacy, new goods for homes, new leisure venues
3. Commercial Revolution affected family and private life.
  1. Birth rates stabilized because of new marriage patterns and birth control.
  2. Infant and child mortality rates declined, which led to more emphasis on childhood.
4. Cities attracted migrants because of opportunities.
  1. More food could be produced using fewer people, so many migrated to the cities.
  2. Growth of cities created new issues in sanitation and health.
  3. Poor communities in cities led to greater awareness of poverty, crime, and prostitution, which expanded the efforts of policing.


STUDY TIP: These are the concepts and vocabulary from period 2 that most commonly appear on the exam. Create a quizlet deck to make sure you are familiar with these terms!
  • absolute monarchy
  • Adam Smith
  • Agricultural Revolution
  • American Revolution
  • Atheism
  • Baron de Montesquieu
  • Baroque nationalism
  • Battle of Vienna
  • Catherine the Great
  • chattel slavery
  • classical liberalism
  • Concordat of 1801
  • Congress of Vienna
  • consumer culture
  • Consumer Revolution
  • cottage industry
  • Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen
  • Deism
  • Denis Diderot
  • Empiricism
  • English Bill of Rights
  • Enlightened Absolutism
  • Enlightenment
  • Frederick II of Prussia
  • Frederick William I of Prussia
  • free trade
  • French Revolution
  • Georges Danton
  • Glorious Revolution
  • Haitian Revolution
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Industrial Revolution
  • inoculation
  • Jacobin Republic
  • Jean-Baptiste Colbert
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • John Locke
  • laissez faire
  • Levee en Masse
  • Louis XVI of France
  • March on Versailles
  • market economy
  • Maximilien Robespierre
  • Middle Passage
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Napoleonic Code
  • nationalism
  • natural rights
  • neoclassicism
  • Nine Years' War
  • Olympe de Gouges
  • Partition of Poland
  • Peter the Great of Russia
  • plantation economy
  • Reign of Terror
  • religious toleration
  • Revolutionary Army
  • Rococo
  • Romanticism
  • salons
  • Seven Years' War
  • Skepticism
  • social contract
  • Toussaint l'Ouverture
  • Tycho Brahe
  • Voltaire
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