Early modern Europe  

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Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda. (La Joconde), is a 16th century oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci, and is one of the most famous paintings in the world.
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Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda. (La Joconde), is a 16th century oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci, and is one of the most famous paintings in the world.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The early modern period is a term used by historians to refer to the period in Western Europe and its first colonies which spans the two centuries between the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution. The early modern period is characterized by the rise to importance of science, technology and movable type, secularized civic politics and the nation state. Capitalist economies began their rise, beginning in northern Italian republics such as Genoa. The early modern period also saw the rise and dominance of the economic theory of mercantilism. As such, the early modern period represents the decline and eventual disappearance, in much of the European sphere, of Christian theocracy, feudalism and serfdom.

The period includes the Reformation, the disastrous Thirty Years' War, the European colonization of the Americas and the peak of the European witch-hunt craze.

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Difference between 'early modern' and the Renaissance

The expression "early modern" is sometimes, and incorrectly, used as a substitute for the term Renaissance. However, "Renaissance" is properly used in relation to a diverse series of cultural developments; which occurred over several hundred years in many different parts of Europe — especially central and northern Italy — and span the transition from late Medieval civilization and the opening of the early modern period.

Artistically, the early modern is not a common designation as the Renaissance is clearly distinct from what came later. Only in the study of literature is the early modern period a standard period. Music is generally divided between Renaissance and Baroque. Similarly philosophy is divided between Renaissance philosophy and the Enlightenment. In other fields there is far more continuity through the period such as warfare and science.

The term early modern is most often applied to Europe, and its overseas empire. However, in Japan, the Edo period from 1590 to 1868 is also sometimes referred to as the early modern period.

When was the early modern period?

The beginning of the early modern period is not clear-cut, but is generally accepted to be in the late 15th century or early 16th century. Significant dates in this transitional phase from medieval to early modern Europe can be noted:

The end date of the early modern period is usually associated with the Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in about 1750. Another significant date is 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution, which drastically transformed the state of European politics and ushered in the Napoleonic Era and modern Europe.

Political Powers

See also

history of Western Europe




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Early modern Europe" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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