Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

Get access Subject: History

Executive editor of the English version: Andrew Colin Gow

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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(1,717 words)

Author(s): Klein, Ursula
1. GeneralToday laboratories are privileged places for experimentation in all the natural sciences. In the early modern period, by contrast, experiments were carried out in a variety of places: public assembly rooms, coffee houses, private salons, kitchens, and only in one specific area in laboratories as well.In the late 17th century, one of the most famous early modern experimentalists, Robert Hooke, did not work in a laboratory but in his private residence and in the assembly rooms of the Royal Society, which did not have its own labo…
Date: 2019-10-14

Labor, division of

(7 words)

See Work | Market
Date: 2019-10-14

Laborer, rural

(926 words)

Author(s): Ehmer, Josef
The term rural laborer (or  agricultural laborer; French  ouvrier agricole, German Landarbeiter, Italian  lavoratore agricolo) emerged as a specific social category in the socio-political and social-scientific debates of the late 19th century [3]; [6]. It denotes members of a social group who earned their living exclusively or primarily by wage labor in agriculture, often throughout the year and their entire working life. Rural laborers were employed at short notice as day laborers or with weekly or monthly labor contracts; …
Date: 2019-10-14

Laborer, unlanded

(1,017 words)

Author(s): Grüne, Niels
1. Basic characteristics and variant terminologyIn the sub-peasant spectrum of rural society, the unlanded laborers (German Einlieger) comprised those persons who, though they had no real assets, unlike the servants in husbandry rented living quarters (and sometimes commercial space) and were able establish an independent household and live in wedlock (Marriage; Family). In the social fabric, the fact that they did not own any buildings distinguished unlanded laborers from cottagers. In the sources, the term  Einlieger appears throughout the territory of northwes…
Date: 2019-10-14

Labor market

(4 words)

See Market
Date: 2019-10-14

Labor movement

(1,411 words)

Author(s): Sokoll, Thomas
1. Concept and terminologyThe term labor movement refers to the organised representation of the interests of workers in an industrial society by trade unions and by one or more political parties of their own. After emerging as a social mass movement in the second half of the 19th century the labor movement reached its political zenith in the 20th century, based on universal suffrage. In all the European countries (but not in the United States of America) workers’ parties repeatedly participated in …
Date: 2019-10-14

Labor unrest

(6 words)

See Strike | Protest
Date: 2019-10-14

Labor, withdrawal of

(10 words)

See Organized labor, prohibition of | Strike
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,022 words)

Author(s): Reith, Reinhold
1. Definition and manufactureLace (French  dentelles, Dutch kant, German  Spitze, Italian  merletto) is a collective term for decorative elements made of thread or thread and fabric (Textiles). In all its forms it is openwork: spaces of various sizes between the threads constitute a pattern. Lace must not be confused with embroidery (Textile technology). Its origins probably go back to the decorative treatment of hems by the darning, knotting, or braiding of warp threads.Technically there are two kinds of lace: needle lace and bobbin lace. In the former, threads a…
Date: 2019-10-14

Ladies’ court

(940 words)

Author(s): Kolk, Caroline zum
1. Definition and functionIn highly developed societies, women belonging to the elite were entitled to their own staff and attendants who saw to their physical and mental needs. The term ladies’ court denotes the group of ladies-in-waiting, dignitaries, and domestics (Servant) that were in service to a princess.The functions of the early modern ladies’ court were multifaceted and closely associated with the status of its mistress. Besides supplying material provisions to the princess and her retinue, especially in periods of medieval itine…
Date: 2019-10-14

Ladies’ foundation

(1,149 words)

Author(s): Koch, Lucia
1. Definition and organization In a broad sense, the term ladies’ foundation (also  house of canonesseswomen's conventsecular foundation) denotes a community of women who led a religious life without being tied to a monastic community [10] (Monasticism; Monastery). The question whether such foundations were reserved exclusively to the (high) nobility or included women from different estates (Estates, society of) is a matter of scholarly debate. Ladies’ foundations existed since the early Middle Ages, especially in Saxony, …
Date: 2019-10-14


(4 words)

See Jewish languages
Date: 2019-10-14


(7 words)

See Dame | Gender roles
Date: 2019-10-14


(7 words)

See Court | Ladies’ court
Date: 2019-10-14

Laesio enormis

(4 words)

See Usury
Date: 2019-10-14


(772 words)

Author(s): Köster, Roman
1. DefinitionThe maxim laissez-faire probably goes back to a French businessman named Legendre. Asked by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the finance minister of Louis XIV, what would be the best economic policy for the state to follow, he is said to have replied “Laissez-nous faire” (“Leave it to us”) [3. 211]. In 1734 the French writer René d’Argenson used the same formula in his unpublished memoirs and repeated it in 1751 in a contribution to the  Journal œconomique. But the maxim became popular primarily among the physiocrats (Physiocracy) in the form  laissez faire et laissez passer (“L…
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,337 words)

Author(s): Wolff, Jens
1. TerminologyThe early modern terms laicism and  laicity, like laity itself, go back to Greek  laós (“people”), but belong to the context of the specifically early modern process of secularization. The English words translated the 19th-century French neologism laïcité and its negative variant  laïcisme [1]. In Romance countries,  laicity is synonymous with “secularization,” but in the English-, Scandinavian-, and German-speaking world it generally denotes its political aspect, namely the distinction between the secular and religious sp…
Date: 2019-10-14


(733 words)

Author(s): Theobald, Ulrich
Lamaism is a blend of original Buddhist ideals with rituals from Tantrism and practices of the ancient Tibetan Bön religion. Alongside the Mahayana (the “Great Vehicle”) and Theravada (Hinayana, the “Smaller Vehicle”), it is considered the third “vehicle” of Buddhism. The term  Lamaism derives from the outstanding status of the monastic abbot or teacher, the lama. Besides its homeland Tibet, Lamaism is also found today in the southern and western mountain valleys of the Himalaya, in Mongolia, and from there into eastern Siberia. Thro…
Date: 2019-10-14


(3 words)

See Lighting
Date: 2019-10-14

Land charge

(5 words)

See Land rights
Date: 2019-10-14

Land consolidation

(888 words)

Author(s): Konold, Werner
The German word Einöde, from Germanic ôd, OHG  uodil, means “property,” “allodium.” The Einöde is the realigned property, with clearly defined boundaries, of an individual outside the village;  Vereinödung (“land consolidation”) is the process that produced such an estate [6]. It went hand in hand with the elimination of mandatory cadastral districts (Cadastral area) and grazing easements, consolidation of plots, the expansion of farms outside the village into the open countryside, and the introduction of impartible inheritance (Rural inheritance practice) [7]. There…
Date: 2019-10-14


(6 words)

See Territorial sovereignty (Holy Roman Empire)
Date: 2019-10-14


(786 words)

Author(s): Kühn, Christoph
From the end of the Middle Ages, the Landesjudenschaften (“territorial Jewish organizations”; Hebrew bne medina or kehal medina) were Jewish organizations linking local communities in various regions of the Holy Roman Empire [5. 188–198]. A distinction must be made between the “territories” (Hebrew  medinot; sing. medina) formed by Jews, which to begin with at least were only loosely related to the political boundaries of the day, and the formation or resolution of Landesjudenschaften as territorial corporations [4. 53–58]. Assemblies of German Jews on territorial or…
Date: 2019-10-14


(737 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Bernd Christian
By the end of the 18th century, most of the territories of the Holy Roman Empire were homogeneous in confession and religion (excepting the toleration of the Jews in many places; cf. Ius reformandi; Confessionalization). So too were most of the Swiss cantons and European kingdoms (Protestant: Scandinavian kingdoms; Catholic: France, Spain). As a rule, civic rights depended on membership of the one official confession or “religion” of the territory, so these can be said to have been “established churches”.Besides the free imperial cities (Augsburg, Biberach) that were o…
Date: 2019-10-14


(6 words)

See Territorial law code
Date: 2019-10-14


(958 words)

Author(s): Behringer, Wolfgang
1. DefinitionThe Landespost (“territorial mail”) was a form of mail service, peculiar to the Holy Roman Empire, that unlike the empire-wide Reichspost was limited to a single princely territory or group of territories. Competition between the two institutions was a consequence of the dualistic structure of the Holy Roman Empire and the transfer of most regalities to the territorial princes. The contradiction did not arise in empires or monarchies with strong central authority, such as the Ottoman …
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,532 words)

Author(s): Ulbrich, Claudia
1. Concept Landjuden (“country Jews”) was the term used in the early modern German-speaking world to denote Jews living outside major urban centers. Because rural life was the predominant way of life for Jews in the Empire and the hereditary Habsburg lands from the urban expulsions of the late Middle Ages to emancipation in the early 19th century, German scholars sometimes refer to the Phase des Landjudentums (“Age of Country Jewry”). Besides the spatial and temporal dimension, there is also an inherent aspect here of equating Landjuden with non-elites as an indication of the …
Date: 2019-10-14

Land market

(970 words)

Author(s): Brakensiek, Stefan
A land market first emerged in the medieval towns; during the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, it also spread to the countryside. In many parts of Europe, this institution – together with enfeoffment (Feudalism), seigneurial tenure (Peasant property rights), mortgage, and lease – regulated the transfer of ownership of plots of ground and entire estates, even among the nobility and peasants [3]. As defined by economists, we cannot speak of a fully developed land market until supply and demand alone determined prices [4] (Market).After the high Middle Ages, suc…
Date: 2019-10-14

Land, mortgage on

(5 words)

See Mortgage
Date: 2019-10-14


(4 words)

See Manorialism
Date: 2019-10-14

Land ownership

(2,171 words)

Author(s): Flügel, Axel
1. GeneralIn the early modern period, rural land ownership stands at the intersection of several semantic fields. In this era, the catchword  land ownership belonged at least as much to the history of discourse regarding the social order as to actual economic and social history. Historically, rural land ownership occupied a key position in the transition from an agrarian society to the industrial world, from the domination of the nobility to the legal equality of 19th-century civil society (Bourgeois society) and from…
Date: 2019-10-14

Land ownership, large scale

(1,596 words)

Author(s): Flügel, Axel
1. Preliminary remarksThe German phrase  Großgrundbesitz (large-scale land ownership)  combines descriptive elements  with notions of social order. It both denotes the largest agricultural operations and suggests normative ideas of a proper, politically desirable, or supposedly “healthy” allocation of land ownership. Such assessments point to the conception of social order presupposed by contemporaries, especially the social and political role of land ownership in 19th-century civil society (Bourgeois society).Axel Flügel2. Definition by agricultural statisti…
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,021 words)

Author(s): Göse, Frank
1. OriginsIn general the Landrat was a mid-level government official ( Kreis, “district”; Local administration; Territorial authorities [Holy Roman Empire]). From the historical perspective, in the public mind this office – besides its continuation in today’s government – is associated primarily with 18th- and 19th-century Prussia. Nevertheless there were  Landräte long before this “classical” phase of early Prussian history – and not just in the territories of the Hohenzollern monarchy.In the 16th century, in several German principalities officials bore…
Date: 2019-10-14


(5 words)

See Territorial law
Date: 2019-10-14

Land register

(886 words)

Author(s): Neschwara, Christian
1. IntroductionA land register consists of the records kept by an official in which all legal transactions are entered so as to ensure that the legal status of land is kept clear and well ordered (Land ownership). The fact that these records are kept officially ensures public confidence in them, whereby they enjoy advantages as evidence in litigation (Trial procedure) and protect those who acquire property in good faith, trusting in the correctness of the records.Christian Neschwara2. Medieval originsThe idea of keeping track of property transactions in generally accessib…
Date: 2019-10-14

Land rights

(991 words)

Author(s): Pahlow, Louis
1. IntroductionThe origins, transfer, and lapse of land rights in early modern Europe, that is rights pertaining to real estate – such as ownership (Property), easements, and mortgages – were shaped by Roman legal models (Ius commune). With respect to their formal nature, however, early modern influences can be increasingly identified. Two groups of rights, which may be summarized as rights of use and rights of exploitation, were the most important land rights across Europe.Louis Pahlow2. Rights of useUnder ius commune, so-called servitudes (Latin, servitutes, easements),…
Date: 2019-10-14


(2,554 words)

Author(s): Lüsebrink, Hans-Jürgen | Sieglerschmidt, Jörn | Blickle, Peter
1. Cultural phenomenonAs a cultural phenomenon, the landscape is a complex “integral system” [2. 14], in which looking at, depicting, and feeling the landscape are as important as its design and ecology (see below, 2.). Landscape in the early modern period (the word “landscape” itself was originally borrowed into English from Dutch  landschap in its artistic sense, extending to the wider sense in the 19th century; Landscape painting) was closely related to the concepts of garden and nature, which together reflect two different ideas and structura…
Date: 2019-10-14

Landscape painting

(2,225 words)

Author(s): Büttner, Nils
1. Concept Landscape paintings are pictures or pictorial fantasies of the diverse manifestations of nature as it surrounds people. As the designation of a specific form of picture, the term landscape was a late coinage. In his handwritten diary, Albrecht Dürer in 1521 called his Antwerp colleague Joachim Patinir a “good landscape painter” ( gut landschafft mahler). In Venice in the same period, Marcantonio Michiel described the “many small landscapes” ( molte tauolette de paesi) in the collection of Cardinal Grimani. In 1606, the Englishman Henry Peacham the Younger…
Date: 2019-10-14

Landschaft (Holy Roman Empire)

(798 words)

Author(s): Blickle, Peter
Landschaft (German, “territoriality”) in the Holy Roman Empire was a correlate of political authority, the term being attested in this sense from the 14th century until the abolition of the Empire in 1806. The  Landschaft was corporative in character, and as such it denoted the totality of the  Landstände (“territorial estates”) of a territory immediate to the Empire. Additionally, where a territory lacked nobility and clergy as estates of the realm, Landschaft could also denote the representatives (Representation) of subjects, in this case those in towns and…
Date: 2019-10-14


(764 words)

Author(s): Rogg, Matthias
In the course of the military revolution that began in the late Middle Ages, a long-term structural change began within the military, which gradually shifted the focus of combat from the mounted knights in armor to the infantry [2. 13–38]. This transformation took place most successfully in the Swiss Confederation: in the 14th and 15th centuries, the drafting of masses of foot-soldiers and the simple but effective tactic of fighting in a closed formation (a square armed with long pikes) enabled the Swiss mercenaries (Reisläufer)…
Date: 2019-10-14


(21 words)

See Constitution of territorial estates | Estates of the realm | Landscape | Landtag | Territorial sovereignty (Holy Roman Empire)
Date: 2019-10-14


(4 words)

See Itinerancy | Vagabond
Date: 2019-10-14


(788 words)

Author(s): Neu, Tim
Sources using the term  Landtag go back to the 13th century. Originally it denoted the convening of what were originally comital regional courts; from the 15th century on, however, it meant the assembly of the estates (Estates, assembly of) in the territories of the Holy Roman Empire. Since the early 19th century, the new parliaments of the German states have also been called  Landtage.The old Landtag of the estates (Latin  comitia provincialia or conventus provincialis) was the central institution of the constitution of territorial estates, as an assembly of …
Date: 2019-10-14

Land transport

(2,221 words)

Author(s): Popplow, Marcus
1. Definition Land transport is defined as distinct from transport (Traffic and transport) by water or air, particularly referring to the transportation of goods or passengers over longer distances (Passenger transportation). Flight was of no significant practical value before the 20th century, despite the development of balloon flight from the 1770s. Water transport, on the other hand, played a key role in European trade from ancient times (cf. Inland navigation; Deep sea navigation; C…
Date: 2019-10-14

Land use system

(1,215 words)

Author(s): Pfister, Ulrich
1. DefinitionThe phrase  land use system denotes the manner in which productive land is used for agriculture. It includes the way an area is used, for example for timber production (Wood), pasture, meadow, or agricultural cropland. For cropland, the land use system includes the spatial disposition of the plants and crop rotation. In combination with the agrarian constitution and agricultural technology, the land use system determines the parameters of agricultural production.Early modern land use systems are studied in the borderland between history and historic…
Date: 2019-10-14


(6 words)

See Conscription | Military
Date: 2019-10-14


(2,188 words)

Author(s): Schwarze, Sabine
1. ConceptNatural language is a typically human and also a social phenomenon. It is the most important and species-specific human means of communication. Language facilitates the exchange of information, and fulfills cognitive (regarding knowledge), epistemic (regarding the organization of thought), and affective (regarding feelings) functions. The innate capacity to acquire a language (the native or primary language), that is, to understand and appropriately produce linguistic utterances, develo…
Date: 2019-10-14

Language, history of

(1,857 words)

Author(s): Reichmann, Oskar | Wiedner, Saskia
1. ConceptThe term “history of language” has two meanings: (1) the evolution of a language over time; (2) the discipline investigating these processes: the study of language history.The units of a language (phonemes/graphemes, morphemes, lexemes, syntactic patterns, text forms), ordered hierarchically with fluid boundaries, are also a subject of language history research. Accordingly there is a species of language history that primarily consists in the history of phonemes, morphemes, lexemes, syntax, or text. This is de…
Date: 2019-10-14

Language, literary

(18,024 words)

Author(s): Lüsebrink, Hans-Jürgen | Reichmuth, Stefan | Schwarze, Sabine | Gil, Alberto | Rothmund, Elisabeth | Et al.
1. Introduction 1.1. PrinciplesA literary language, also known as an official, high, standard, cultural, or art language, language of literature, etcetera, is a language used in literature shaped by aesthetic considerations. The development of literary languages in the early modern period displays two fundamental dimensions. First, in the transition from the Middle Ages to the early modern period there was an increasing use of the vernacular in place of Latin in literary texts, and secondly specifi…
Date: 2019-10-14

Language, manners of

(3,088 words)

Author(s): Krampl, Ulrike
1. Definition Manners of language (German Sprachstile; Spanish  maneras de hablar; Italian  questione della lingua; French  façons de parler et d'escrire) as a concept encompasses the spoken, written, and printed word and the “eloquence of the body” (body language) [22], and denotes individual and collective styles of expression within transregionally valid verbal and non-verbal sense systems, which may be regional languages or vernaculars, or, later, national languages (cf. Language). The term style also references styles of behavi…
Date: 2019-10-14
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