Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Executive editor of the English version: Andrew Colin Gow

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The Encyclopedia of Early Modern History is the English edition of the German-language Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. This 15-volume reference work, published in print between 2005 and 2012 and here available online, offers a multi-faceted view on the decisive era in European history stretching from ca. 1450 to ca. 1850 ce. in over 4,000 entries.
The perspective of this work is European. This is not to say that the rest of the World is ignored – on the contrary, the interaction between European and other cultures receives extensive attention.

New articles will be added on a regular basis during the period of translation, for the complete German version see Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit Online.

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Early modern period

(8,922 words)

Author(s): Jaeger, Friedrich
1. Historical periodization and terminological history 1.1. Epochs in historical thoughtTerms of periodization are of great importance to processes of historical understanding, for they lend temporal order and structure to sequences of events and developments that in immediate experience lack definition. As methodical instruments of research, they provide historical processes with chronological and thematic contexts, and with these, cultural meaning (Epoch). As the example of “early modern period” illustr…
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,842 words)

Author(s): Sieglerschmidt, Jörn
1. Key concepts and their history Prehistoric and ancient terminological categories pervaded early modern concepts of earth. Like other elements (fire, air, water), earth was part of creation myths, coming about through the overcoming of chaos by separation and the ordering (Order [system]) of the elements (often also the separation of heaven and earth, light and darkness). Gender allocations also played an important part in the binary tetradic structure of the premodern doctrines of elements, substan…
Date: 2019-10-14

Earth, history of

(982 words)

Author(s): Kempe, Michael
In his commentary on Genesis (1535-1545), Martin Luther touched upon a process of decay of the earth in the context of salvation history. In this view, the growing incidences of erosion and natural catastrophe corresponded with the accumulation of human sin, so that the earth had now become “an aged man” ( ein alter greys) [1. 619]. Similar views are expounded, echoing the classical topos of the mundus senescens (Latin “ageing world”), in many geogonies (stories of the formation of the earth) and earth histories of the Renaissance, and in many Genesis comm…
Date: 2019-10-14


(2,649 words)

Author(s): Glaser, Rüdiger | Rohr, Christian
1. Introduction 1.1. The geotectonic causes of earthquakesEarthquakes are expressions of ongoing tectonic processes that are caused by sudden releases of pressure. They can be classified by location, either as intraplate disturbances on faults like the Rhine Rift Valley, or as interplate earthquakes, where two tectonic plates meet and subduct, or by depth, as shallow-focus or deep-focus quakes. Most damage is done by relatively weak but shallow earthquakes. Along faults, visible slippages of several meters can occur.The so-called mainshock is often preceded by smaller f…
Date: 2019-10-14

Earth sciences

(12 words)

See Earth, history of | Geography | Geology | Mineralogy
Date: 2019-10-14


(4 words)

See Land rights
Date: 2019-10-14

East Asian art

(4,048 words)

Author(s): Chang, Sheng-Ching | Mittag, Achim | Trede, Melanie | Jungmann, Burglind | Wahlen, Kyu-Hee
1. Introduction Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquerware, Korean ceramics - the influences of East Asian motifs, forms of artistic expression, uses of material, and ornamentation on the development of European art in the early modern period were many and varied, and often powerfully inspiring (Chinoiserie). However, the impact of European works on the arts in China, Japan, and Korea is less well-known.The most visible manifestation of European art in East Asia was in architecture. Striking examples of Jesuit sacred architecture included the Church of St.…
Date: 2019-10-14

East Asian economy

(6,801 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim | Schottenhammer, Angela | Mathias, Regine
1. IntroductionEver since Marco Polo's travel journal in the Late Middle Ages, China has been seen in Europe as a land of flourishing trade and great wealth. Even in the mid-18th century, it was still characterized as an “earthly paradise” [1. vi]: “Trade in China is done in gold, silver, precious stones, porcelain, silk, calico, spices, rhubarb and other apothecaries' wares, tea, lacquered objects, and the like. The trade among the provinces is so great that they have no need of selling their wares outside” (“Der Handel in China bes…
Date: 2019-10-14

East Asian religions

(3,267 words)

Author(s): Gentz, Joachim
1. East Asia as part of the “Orient” As yet, there was no such category as “East Asian religions” in the early modern period. Nor were perceptions of the phenomena that would come under such a category today unanimous. For one thing, early modern Europe had a range of world views and underlying anthropological assumptions that informed the understanding of non-European cultures and religions, and for another, there were variegated interpretations of the diverse empirical findings of those who traveled i…
Date: 2019-10-14

East Asian societies

(8,545 words)

Author(s): Mittag, Achim | Mathias, Regine | Eggert, Marion
1. IntroductionThe term for “society” now (and in this specific sense only since the second half of the 19th century) current in  China, Japan, andKorea (pronounced in Chinese shehui, Japanese shakai, Korean sahoe), consists of the two Chinese characters for “earth altar” ( she) and “meeting” ( hui). The reference to the “earth altar” where the local deity of a village was venerated [35] signals the great importance of religious ideas and practices to the social cohesion of the family, associations, neighborhood networks, municipalities, secret societies…
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,513 words)

Author(s): Noller, Matthias | Stichler, Thomas
1. Concept and subjectThe Christian festival of Easter commemorates the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important and the oldest festival of Christendom, and the key one in terms of the constitution of the faith. Its origins are entwined with the Jewish Passover or Pesach, an annual festival week: firstly in historical terms, for according to the New Testament the events of Easter took place during Passover, and secondly theologically and typologically (Jewish Passover lamb; Chr…
Date: 2019-10-14

Eastern African world

(4,517 words)

Author(s): Bley, Helmut
1. The diversity of Africa 1.1. The view from outside Africa is generally seen as one entity [21]; [16], but from two different perspectives. Since the 1960s, historical study of Africa has focused on the subsaharan part of the continent. Afrocentric positions, represented for instance by the Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Diop, object to this as a racist construct, particularly because it excludes Egypt, with its high culture of Antiquity [8].The term “Africa” itself, which dates from Roman times and has a similar history in Arabic usage, referred at the beg…
Date: 2019-10-14

Eastern Europe

(9,352 words)

Author(s): Nolte, Hans-Heinrich
1. Methodological introductionTo a large extent, the present-day subdivision of the European continent dates back to the 18th century. Concepts of the European Enlightenment are often only of limited value in the 21st century. The explanatory value of the very word “continent” is contested [37]; [40]. In spite of all confessional divisions, the foundation of early modern Europe was Christianity, and it was not until 1856 and the Treaty of Paris that a non-Christian realm, the Ottoman Empire, was admitted “to the advantages of general law and the European compact” [3. 100].To exp…
Date: 2019-10-14

Eastern European economy

(7,912 words)

Author(s): Adamczyk, Dariusz
1. Introduction 1.1. Demographics Eastern Europe was in a state of economic growth from the 15th century. Forests were being cleared and new villages and towns established. Clearance farmers pushed steadily farther northeast in the 16th century. The population of the Christian states of Eastern Europe thus rose from 21.6 million in 1500 to 31.5 million in 1600. Some 6-7 million people lived in Poland-Lithuania in the 16th century, around 6.5 million in the Russian Em…
Date: 2019-10-14

Eastern European religious cultures

(3,815 words)

Author(s): Nolte, Hans-Heinrich
1. Religious diversityAlthough none of the three great Abrahamic revealed religions originated in Eastern Europe, all three had many millions of devotees here (until the eradication of the Jews by a western power, Germany), and as shamanism survived alongside them, there were also even Lamaist groups (Lamaism; cf. fig. 1). In early modern Eastern Europe, then, people followed the teachers of Jerusalem, Constantinople, Rome, Mecca, Wittenberg, and Lhasa, but did not systematically “cleanse” the sta…
Date: 2019-10-14

East India companies

(2,686 words)

Author(s): Nagel, Jürgen G.
1. European perspectivesAt the turn of the 17th century, the European trade with Asia was placed on a new footing (China trade, India trade, Japan trade). The monopoly previously held by the Portuguese crown was dissolved by privileged capital companies from Western Europe, and these subsequently proved a more efficient form of organization [3]; [14]. Their mercantile orientation in combination with state protection (national monopoly status) and rights of overseas sovereignty (the overseas companies operated their own armies and navies on behalf …
Date: 2019-10-14

Ecclesiastical historiography

(1,747 words)

Author(s): Beutel, Albrecht
1. Humanism and ReformationWhereas late medieval ecclesiastical historians [13] preferred the genres of chronicles, annals, and vitae (Biography; Hagiography), Humanism brought epoch-making changes of direction with its new critical and philological erudition and its programmatic turn to the texts of Antiquity ( ad fontes, “to the sources”). The invention of printing also led to the production of a wide range of reliable editions in Christian historiography, including first Latin, later Greek sources, culminating in the recovery o…
Date: 2019-10-14

Ecclesiastical law

(5,792 words)

Author(s): Weitzel, Jürgen | Klippel, Diethelm | Synek, Eva
1. Foundations of Catholic and Protestant ecclesiastical lawThe ecclesiastical law of the early modern period is characterized by the loss of the religious unity that shaped the Middle Ages. In a revolutionary departure [2. 503] following the Lutheran Reformation in 1517, alongside the law of the Roman Catholic Church, summarized in the  Corpus Iuris Canonici, there now stood a different basic understanding of the role of law in the church. The recognition of Protestant teaching as having equal rights (in the 1555 Peace of Augsburg, 1555) and the…
Date: 2019-10-14

Ecclesiastical sociology

(5 words)

See Ecclesiastical statistics
Date: 2019-10-14

Ecclesiastical statistics

(864 words)

Author(s): Christophersen, Alf
Attempts to record mass phenomena in numbers, that is, statistically, go all the way back to the high cultures of the 3rd millennium BCE. In the modern period statistics developed in various areas (e.g. in university statistics in the 17th century, then political arithmetic). Basic to this were efforts to record legal structures - a concern which, under Enlightenment influence, was to lead in the theological field to proofs of the existence of God [3].The medieval administrations of a communal and ecclesiastical character provide comprehensive material for historic…
Date: 2019-10-14
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