Which century saw the most change?

Life in the west has been utterly transformed over the past millennium. Here, taking in everything from the rise of the castle in the 11th century to the dropping of the atomic bomb in the 20th, Ian Mortimer considers when that change was most profound...

The ruins of 11th-century Corfe Castle in Dorset, England

This article was first published in the November 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine

At the end of 1999, I heard a BBC newsreader remark that we were approaching “the end of the century that has seen more change than any other”. As soon as I heard those words I started asking questions. What made her think that the 20th century was more remarkable than the 19th, when railways changed the world? Or the 15th, when the printing press was invented and Columbus crossed the Atlantic? What, indeed, was her definition of change?

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