Early modern Europe
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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.
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.
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:
- 1447: The invention of the first European movable type printing process by Johannes Gutenberg, a device that fundamentally changed the circulation of information. Movable type, which allowed individual characters to be arranged to form words and which is an invention separate from the printing press, had also been invented in, but not known outside of, China.
- 1453: The conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans signalled the end of the Byzantine empire; the Battle of Castillon concluded the Hundred Years War.
- 1485, England: The last Plantagenet king, Richard III, was killed at Bosworth and the medieval civil wars of aristocratic factions gave way to early modern Tudor monarchy, in the person of Henry VII.
- 1492, Spain and Portugal: The first documented European voyage to the Americas by the Italian-Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus; the end of the Reconquista, with the final expulsion of the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula; the Spanish government expels the Jews.
- 1494, France, Italy: French king Charles VIII invaded Italy, drastically altering the status quo and beginning a series of wars which would punctuate the Italian Renaissance.
- 1513: First formulation of modern politics with the publication of Machiavelli's The Prince.
- 1517: The Reformation begins with Martin Luther nailing his ninety-five theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany.
- 1545: The Council of Trent marks the end of the medieval Roman Catholic Church.
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.
- Habsburg Spain
- Habsburg Monarchy
- Dutch republic
- Early Modern Britain
- Early Modern France
- Early Modern Italy
- Early Modern Romania
- Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
- Witch trials in Early Modern Europe
- Venus in Early modern Europe
- Early Modernity
- Early modern literature
- Early modern art
- Early Modern English
- Early Modern warfare
- Tokugawa period - the period of Japanese history often called "early modern".