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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(2,250 words)

Author(s): Herold-Schmidt, Hedwig
1. IntroductionThe term ultramontanism describes profound changes in 19th-century Catholicism, which effected a fundamental renewal of institutions and religious practices. The loss of status of the Roman Catholic Church after the French Revolution (1789) and the institutional break-up of the bond between church and state (Secularization, church) led to a heavy dependence (especially of the French church) on the papacy. Especially after the mid-century, the church became focused systematically on R…
Date: 2022-11-07


(908 words)

Author(s): Laube, Martin
1. DefinitionThe concept of unbelief is defined in its content and semantics by its opposite, the concept of belief or faith. The latter in turn comprises two structural elements. Ever since Augustine, it has been usual to distinguish between the content of faith (Latin  fides, quae creditur) and the act of accepting it ( fides, qua creditur) – in other words, between an element of objective content and an element of personal performance. This opens the possibility of analyzing the concept of unbelief similarly and distinguishing two forms: abstent…
Date: 2022-11-07


(2,240 words)

Author(s): Pfister, Ulrich | Bräuer, Helmut
1. DefinitionIn the early modern period, the first sign that a person was a member of the underclass was lack of the kind of rights that membership in an elite estate conferred: in towns, for example, the underclasses did not share in municipal shared governance or enjoy political rights such as access to the privileged craft guilds (see 3.1. below). In rural areas, their rights to use the common land w…
Date: 2022-11-07


(851 words)

Author(s): Sokoll, Thomas
1. Modern conception Under-employment (German Unterbeschäftigung, French  sous-emploi) is a modern term coined in the early 20th century. It is used in both a narrower and a wider sense, depending on whether someone is employed marginally or not at all (Unemployment). Historically, the narrow…
Date: 2022-11-07


(2,308 words)

Author(s): Kass, Rita
1. Terminology Understanding (Latin  intellectus, French  entendement, German Verstand) was a central term in the vocabulary of early modern philosophy; it denoted a special human cognitive faculty (Epistemology). Its meaning can be deduced by comparison with the broader term  reason. The checkered conceptual history of the term was shaped by the distinction between Greek 
Date: 2022-11-07


(1,036 words)

Author(s): Sokoll, Thomas
1. ConceptFrom the perspective of today, an endemic shortage of employment that becomes acute in times of crisis is virtually typical of pre-industrial societies, where the line between under-employment and unemployment is always fuzzy. This was also true of late medieval and early modern Europe, and to an increasing degree over time. Contributing causes include the brevity and irregularity of jobs, fluctuating demand in seasonal occupation…
Date: 2022-11-07

Unequal treaty

(2,597 words)

Author(s): Kuhfus, Peter
1. Definition and background In the Chinese image of the world around 1840, China was the Heavenly Kingdom, beyond which there were no independent states. China denied the equal rights of all other nations, and European merchants had been complaining for two centuries about “unequal commerce” (see Chinese world 6.). In the Opium Wars (see 2., 4. below), the English, who wanted to be treated “as civilized people” …
Date: 2022-11-07

Unierte Kirchen

(3 words)

See Unions, ecclesiastical
Date: 2022-11-07


(1,017 words)

Author(s): Hohrath, Daniel
1. TerminologyThe term uniform, denoting the standardized clothing of groups, appeared in the 18th century as a borrowing from French; initially it referred solely to the military, where it replaced the usual earlier term Montur or Montierung. It includes apparel and accessories from headgear to shoes, hairstyle, beard style, and sometimes pieces of equipment.…
Date: 2022-11-07

Unio mystica

(819 words)

Author(s): Laube, Martin
1. DefinitionThe phrase unio mystica (mystical union) denotes the ecstatic experience of the unification of the finite self with the divine. Although the expression itself derives from the Christian tradition, it describes a phenomenon that extends far beyond the boundaries of Christianity: the transient exceptional state of a unification with a transcendent divine (Transcendence/immanence), erasing the boundaries of the individual self, experienced as a passive, intuitive event despite all ascetic …
Date: 2022-11-07

Unions, ecclesiastical

(4,564 words)

Author(s): Schäufele, Wolf-Friedrich | Lis, Julia Anna
1. TerminologyEcclesiastical unions are institutional mergers of confessionally distinct churches involving rapprochement (of various kinds) in doctrine, polity, and worship. They represent a contrary movement to the early modern tendency to confessional diversification of Christianity (Confessionalization) and are part of the prehistory of the comprehensive 20th century efforts to…
Date: 2022-11-07


(1,963 words)

Author(s): Daugirdas, Kęstutis
1. TerminologyThe term Unitarians (“advocates of the unity of God”) originated in Transylvania; it is attested at the latest since the  Complanatio Deesiana, a document of the Diet of Deés (Dej) in 1638 [9. 118]. It denotes the adherents of a Reformation sect that rejected the Trinitarian form of Christianity (see Trinity) as unbiblical and irrational. In the last third of the 16th century, these Christians organized eccesiastical structures in Transylvania and in the Poli…
Date: 2022-11-07

Unitas fratrum

(861 words)

Author(s): Vogt, Peter
1. DefinitionThe Unitas fratrum or Moravians, German  Herrnhuter or Brüdergemeine, date from the 1720s as a collective and revivalist movement (Revivalist movements) within Pietism. In the second half of the 18th century, they developed into an independent Christian denomination, which spread throughout many areas of Protestant Europe as well as in numerous non-European countries and colonial territories, thanks to their missionary work (Mission) and evangelism.Peter Vogt2. HerrnhutTheir nucleus was in the village of Herrnhut in Upper Lusatia, fo…
Date: 2022-11-07

Universal bank

(793 words)

Author(s): North, Michael
Universal banks are institutions that combine short-term credit and deposit transactions with long-term transactions on the capital market or – in contrast to specialized banks (e.g. deposit banks and mortgage banks [Hypothekenbank]) – offer all current banking services. They came into being in the course of industrialization.The first universal bank was founded in Belgium in 1822 (when it had been united with the Netherlands after the Congress of Vienna). At the instigation of King Will…
Date: 2022-11-07

Universal dictionary

(964 words)

Author(s): Rosenke, Stephan
1. Definition; beginnings to early 18th centuryA universal dictionary is an alphabetically arranged dictionary that is not limited to one area of knowledge but meets scholarly standards across the board in its presentation. It does not constitute a sharply defined genre, but can be used synonymously with 
Date: 2022-11-07

Universal history

(6 words)

See World history
Date: 2022-11-07

Universal monarchy

(1,171 words)

Author(s): Bosbach, Franz
1. Definition and significanceAt the beginning of the early modern period, the term  universal monarchy meant the notion of a supreme authority in Europe that was entitled (or claimed to be) to intervene in the interests of all states and relationships between them, regulating them by force if necessary. Like the term arbiter [5],  universal monarchy was used as a central concept in many contexts with positive or negative connotations  – in political bargaining, in rulers’ manifestos, and in propaganda. It served primarily as an interpretive guid…
Date: 2022-11-07


(8 words)

See Cosmos | World | World view
Date: 2022-11-07


(806 words)

Author(s): Tischer, Matthias
1. HistoryThe instruction provided in medieval universities in the  artes liberales included neither the practice nor the history of music, but only a mathematical theory of music (see Mathematics, musical) [3]. This  musica speculativa
Date: 2022-11-07


(9,108 words)

Author(s): Asche, Matthias | Gerber, Stefan
1. Foundations of the university in Old EuropeWorldwide phenomenon though it may be today, the university was a creation of the Latin West in the high Middle Ages. Although as an institution it initially grew within ecclesiastical and monastic ways of life, the idea of the university was also an expression of a process of secularization, which in this form was necessarily a unique development of the Latin intellectual world, given that institutions of higher education in the Orthodox, Muslim, and Jewish cultural spheres in particular remain…
Date: 2022-11-07
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