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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(972 words)

Author(s): Kosman, Admiel
1. Concept and history prior to the early modern periodThe Hebrew term  rabbi (my master) is derived from the root  rav (great, many, important). Although it does not occur in the Hebrew Bible as a title or form of address, it does appear in Greek transliteration in the Gospels of the New Testament and in rabbinical literature (e.g. Mishna, Talmud; Judaic law). Following the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (70 CE), the rabbis assumed spiritual leadership of Judaism as Torah teachers and judges. Palestinian scholars received the title of rabbi, while Babylonians were called ra…
Date: 2021-03-15


(861 words)

Author(s): Müller-Wille, Staffan
The roots of the term “race” can be traced back to the Middle Ages, although the etymology is disputed. The earliest attestations are found in Italian ( razza), French ( race), and Spanish ( raza) texts of the early 15th century, and refer initially to domesticated animals (Animal breeding), and later to agnatic (i.e. recognizing only legitimate male descendants) lineages of the nobility. While some trace the word back to the Latin ratio (reckoning, cause), others suggest the MHG reiƺ (line) or the Arabic râz (origin, leading, head) [1]. The term acquired increasing scientific …
Date: 2021-03-15


(4,532 words)

Author(s): Hering Torres, Max Sebastián | Bley, Helmut
1. Concept Race in anthropology is far more of a socially imagined category than a biological reality [12. 71]. “Races are the result, not the premises of racialist arguments” [8. 10]; [12]. They thus arise from imagined human worlds and are ultimately topical constructs of meaning. Racism is both a social practice and a discursive construction that is freighted with power [18. 176]. It is polymorphic and flexible to the point that scholars offer different definitions of it, hence the plea to operate with the plural “racisms” [2]. In terms of history, it is suggested that rac…
Date: 2021-03-15


(1,213 words)

Author(s): Dougherty, Carolyn | Popplow, Marcus
1. General Rails are long, thin pieces of wood, and later (late 18th century on) cast or wrought iron, that were laid longitudinally along roadways to facilitate the movement of vehicles like carts by reducing friction on their wheels. A horse pulling a wagon full of coal on wooden rails could replace 24 packhorses or two or three four-horse wains (Cart).The first wooden rails were used in the German and Austrian territories of central Europe in the 15th century to transport metal ores in small hand-propelled carts inside mines (see Railway, fig. 1).…
Date: 2021-03-15


(3,952 words)

Author(s): Dougherty, Carolyn | Popplow, Marcus
1. Introduction The technical forerunners of the railways were the early modern pit railways installed from the 15th and 16th centuries onwards in Central European mines (Mining). Railways began developing into a widespread means of transporting goods and people only in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, initially in Britain. Even before the construction of the first long-distance lines for passenger traffic operated by steam locomotive, Britain already had a dense network of packhorse lines,…
Date: 2021-03-15

Railway station

(992 words)

Author(s): Beyrer, Klaus
1. Introduction Railway stations began to be built along tracks and at their termini to accompany the introduction of steam railways for passenger transportation (1830 in Britain, 1835 in Germany). In the first years, simple wooden buildings sufficed to fulfill their main purpose, the processing of passengers. However, stations soon developed into prestigious reception buildings at the heart of urban public life and communication. They offered a shining example of order and discipline, and communicated a precise concept of modern, industrial timekeeping (Chronometry).Klaus …
Date: 2021-03-15

Raison d’état

(2,238 words)

Author(s): Weber, Wolfgang E.J.
1. Definition Raison d’état (French “reason of state”; German  Staatsräson) was the maxim that arose in conjunction with the emergence of the early modern state and that made the securing of the state’s existence the priority, especially in critical situations (Necessitas). This applied not only to politics  per se, but also to norms of religion and law and ethics. State interests, then, were whatever the state declared them to be. The maxim can also be applied by extension to other institutions, such as the church ( raison d’église).Where “state” is understood not as an ins…
Date: 2021-03-15


(732 words)

Author(s): Mährle, Wolfgang
The term Ramism is derived from the name of the French philosopher Petrus Ramus (Pierre de la Ramée, 1515-1572). It was originally an epithet wielded by Ramus’ contemporary opponents to decry his scholarly disciples. In modern-day philosophical usage, the word is used with a neutral connotation. Sometimes, early modern scholars who invoked Ramus along with other scholarly traditions are called Semi-Ramists.Petrus Ramus was one of the most influential logicians of the 16th century. The Picard philosopher saw logic in the Humanist tradition as an  ars disserendi (art of argume…
Date: 2021-03-15


(2,835 words)

Author(s): Griesebner, Andrea | Lorenz, Maren
1. ConceptThe word “rape” is derived from the Latin  rapere, meaning “to seize by force,” and until well into the early modern period, it referred to the kidnapping of a woman with or without a sexual element, but with violence. Physical violence was also the connotation of equivalent terms in other European languages until the 20th century (e.g. French  rapt, after 1791  viol; Spanish  violación, from Latin  violentia, “violence”; German  Vergewaltigung, from  Gewalt, “violence”) [12]. From the early Germanic law codes on, the sexual crime denoted by these words to…
Date: 2021-03-15


(4 words)

See Quickness
Date: 2021-03-15

Rarities, cabinet of

(7 words)

See Cabinet of curiosities
Date: 2021-03-15


(5 words)

See Public debate
Date: 2021-03-15

Rat, gelehrter

(1,592 words)

Author(s): Wieland, Christian
1. Terminology Gelehrte Räte (learned counselors) in the early modern period were academically (mostly legally) trained royal civil servants and officeholders (Office) working in central bureaucracies (not so much in local administration) and collegial committees as legal and governmental specialists (Government). Most were of non-noble background. Their individual and collective position as members of the ruling elite was rooted in their scholarly expertise (Bildung) and the view of their professi…
Date: 2021-03-15


(925 words)

Author(s): Miller, Jon
1. DefinitionThe term rationalism (from Latin  ratio, “reason”) denotes an early modern school of epistemology. It holds that pure reason is the best means for knowledge acquisition, whether of facts or norms, and that sensations and feelings (Emotion) are inferior to it as sources of information. In its extreme form, rationalism postulated that rational inquiry can reveal the true nature of all that really exists and that in principle all knowledge can be expressed in a coherent and logically consis…
Date: 2021-03-15

Rationalism, theological

(5 words)

See Theological tendencies
Date: 2021-03-15


(3 words)

See Reason
Date: 2021-03-15

Rational religion

(3,999 words)

Author(s): Voigt-Goy, Christopher | Grözinger, Karl Erich
1. General remarks The terms  rational religion and  natural religion refer to the notion of a knowledge of God and consequent worship of God given to every human being solely by virtue of his or her intellectual capacity (Reason). Its substance is identified with a general commandment of obedience to God’s will realized concretely in an obligation to lead a moral life (Ethics). The roots of this idea go back to antiquity via the natural law of the Middle Ages (Natural theology); in Christianity, it has…
Date: 2021-03-15

Raw materials

(6 words)

See Resources, use of
Date: 2021-03-15


(1,205 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Ute
1. To 1800In the first centuries after Gutenberg’s invention of printing with movable metal type (c. 1450), we can assume that only in the cities and towns was there a European color::Lesenreading public that read regularly or even habitually, other than the small circle of scholars and clerics who read for professional or contemplative reasons (Literacy and illiteracy). The reading habits of scholars and the “illiterate” (as people who did not know Latin were called in the Middle Ages and early modern period) differed …
Date: 2021-03-15

Reader (book)

(4 words)

See Textbook
Date: 2021-03-15
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