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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(7 words)

See Heroic poetry | Religious epic
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,474 words)

Author(s): Eckart, Wolfgang Uwe
1. Diseases and plaguesThe correct identification of early modern plagues and epidemics in terms of modern pathology is highly problematical. Even evidence of symptom correlation is open to doubt. This is true of the plethora of pestilential fevers, but no less true in the case of illnesses that are apparently identifiable without difficulty, but behind which may lurk in principle any infection with epidemic propensity. The learned world of the 15th and 16th centuries certainly knew of the ominous …
Date: 2019-10-14


(880 words)

Author(s): Eckart, Wolfgang Uwe
1. ConceptEpidemiology (from the Greek  epídemos, “spread among the people”, and   lógos, “doctrine”) describes the occurrence, causes, and distribution of health-related conditions, events, and risks in populations, and seeks ways of using this information to restore and promote health and to avert illness by prevention. Epidemiological knowledge is generally applied to keep health problems under control in the population. The first work on epidemiology in the scientific sense took place in the 17th century.Wolfgang Uwe Eckart 2. Demographic epidemiology …
Date: 2019-10-14


(920 words)

Author(s): Althaus, Thomas
1. Concept The epigram, as a small-scale poetical work on the margins of the generic spectrum of lyric poetry, in the early modern period became the classic format for the concise evocation and analysis of experiences. According to its original meaning, the epigram in Greco-Roman Antiquity was “inscribed” (Greek  epígramma) on tombstones or votive gifts. The book epigram recalls this only as its foundation myth, imitating the brevity of such inscriptions in the abbreviated structure of its usually two-lined (“distichon”) or four-lined text.…
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,093 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and functionThe term “epigraphy” (from the Greek epigraphḗ; “inscription”) first occurred in German in the 18th century, and in French not until 1838. Yet the recording, collecting, and classifying of ancient inscriptions on stone and metal is among the oldest, most widespread, and most highly regarded forms of early modern antiquarianism and archaeology. The reasons vary. When Friedrich August Wolf declared in 1807 that epigraphy “is not important in terms of beauty of form, but by virtue of …
Date: 2019-10-14


(823 words)

Author(s): Wassilowsky, Günther
1. DefinitionA broad concept of episcopalism embraces all models of church polity and ecclesiological theories (theories of the church) in which the episcopate is understood as the fundamental principle of church polity. In contrast to Protestantism, theoretical episcopalism in the medieval and Roman Catholic Church does not include constitutional legitimation of church governance by the secular sovereign (cf. Episcopal system) but rather theological and canonistic arguments justifying the episcopal structure of the church.The broad spectrum of practical fo…
Date: 2019-10-14

Episcopal system

(815 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Bernd Christian
The term  episcopal system denotes a legal theory explaining why Protestant German princes governed the churches in their territories episcopally (Latin  episcopale). In the Germany of the Reformation period (1517–1555), hardly any incumbent bishops aligned themselves with the Reformation. At the same time, the Protestant estates of the realm insisted that the incumbent bishops were no longer allowed to exercise jurisdiction over Protestant citizens (Jurisdiction). Instead the Protestant political elites themselve…
Date: 2019-10-14

Episcopal town

(806 words)

Author(s): Keller, Katrin
In the high Middle Ages, when this type of town achieved its greatest importance, episcopal towns in the narrower sense were towns with an episcopal see in which all official powers derived from the bishop [2. 239] (Episcopate). They constituted the focus of their dioceses, to which they gave their name, even though in Western Europe (and large parts of Central Europe, roughly as far as the Elbe) the see was older than the town. Episcopal towns acquired their special significance precisely because in Western and Central Europe…
Date: 2019-10-14


(2,112 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Wendebourg, Dorothea
1. Catholicism 1.1. The Catholic episcopateThe word bishop (from Greek  epískopos, “overseer”) denotes (1) in the New Testament a member of a community’s governing body; (2) beginning in the 2nd century, the head of an urban Christian congregation, who governs it with the help of presbyters and deacons; (3) from late antiquity to the present, the head of a sizable district (Diocese), the diocesan bishop. Besides governance of their own dioceses, bishops in the third sense also have responsibilities withi…
Date: 2019-10-14


(4,229 words)

Author(s): Faragó-Szabó, Istvan | Wilson, Catherine | Lehmann-Brauns, Sicco
1. Knowledge in the 16th centuryThe questions of where the boundaries of knowledge lie and how far it can extend were amongst the most commonly debated in early modern philosophy. They arose in connection with the intellectual crises that were shaking Europe beginning in the 16th century.As a result of the discoveries of lands previously unknown, theological division, the proliferation of texts in print, and later the invention of the telescope and the microscope, the  Weltanschauung of the late Medieval Ages gradually eroded. Images of humanity (Humankind), the …
Date: 2019-10-14

Epistolary novel

(776 words)

Author(s): Vellusig, Robert
Epistolary novels present a story in a sequence of letters. The term (French roman épistolaire; German  Briefroman) became established in place of the expression “novel in letters” ( roman par lettres, German Roman in Briefen), which was more common even in the 18th century.An epistolary novel is driven by the complementarity of two perspectives - that of the letter writer who is living through the events in an open horizon as they unfold, and that of the publisher, presenting the letter record as elements of a story. This interplay of e…
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,842 words)

Author(s): Csuk, Siglinde | Gersmann, Gudrun
1. Art 1.1. ConceptThe word “epitaph” (Greek  epitáphios, “pertaining to the tomb") in Antiquity meant the funerary laudation of the deceased. It came into use in Europe during the Middle Ages to denote both the funerary inscription and the literary commemoration and the monument placed on the church or churchyard wall in memory of a deceased person [6]; [7]. Epitaphs might be painted or sculpted, and might consist of an inscription plaque alone, or an inscription and an image. The defining feature of an epitaph was the inscription. It gave biogra…
Date: 2019-10-14


(874 words)

Author(s): Schöller, Rainer G.
Epizootics are outbreaks of infectious disease that are epidemic in spread and duration and that, as pandemics, can threaten domestic and wild animals. Examples include rinderpest, foot and mouth disease, glanders, sheep mange and sheeppox, and swine erisypelas. Some epizootic pathogens can be transmitted directly or indirectly to humans (zoonotic diseases such as bovine tuberculosis, anthrax, rabies). The history of veterinary medicine still lacks a study of epizootics and attempts to control them in the early modern period [3. 6, 14 f.]. Publications on the subject of…
Date: 2019-10-14


(3,730 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit | Kanz, Roland | Riedl, Peter Philipp
1. History 0-1.1. ConceptThe Greek word epochḗ (“suspension, pause”) in everyday speech in Antiquity meant a lull in a speech or a movement, in astronomy the conjunction of two celestial bodies, and in philosophy the suspension of judgment (Skepticism). In the early modern period, the latter two senses were at first dominant. The term only gradually took on a historical sense. As it did so, even until the 18th century, it did not denote a particular span of time, but the event that heralded one. Even …
Date: 2019-10-14

Equal birth, principle of

(799 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. DefinitionEqual birth means that the parties to certain legal relationships must have equal status. Failure to satisfy this precondition either completely invalidates the legal transaction in question or at the very least causes the legal relations thereby created to follow different rules than would be the case between equals. Thus the principle of equal birth is indicative of a legal order that is not marked by the concept of general equal rights, but rather one that draws legal distinctions…
Date: 2019-10-14


(4,379 words)

Author(s): Reulecke, Martin | Hering Torres, Max Sebastián
1. DefinitionEquality is generally understood as the partial conformity of several objects, persons, or circumstances. In contrast to “identity,” which indicates complete agreement, equality describes the relationship of different objects to one another that agree in at least one respect. In ancient Greece, equality ( isonomía, “equality before the law”; isotimía, “equal right to hold public office”; isegoría, “free speech for all”) was considered the epitome of democracy, although the concept of natural inequality prevailed in the ideal states propos…
Date: 2019-10-14

Equal rights for women

(731 words)

Author(s): Koch, Elisabeth
In Germany, the word for equal rights, Gleichberechtigung, was used as a concrete legal term since the mid-19th century. In the dictionary of the Brothers Grimm, it is defined as follows: “In the context of legal and political orders, an equal degree of rights or claims and the equal status derived therefrom” [1]. In this sense, the term characterized the relationship between peoples, religions and confessions, and citizens, as well as the relationship between the sexes (Gender). Today, this point has become its only signification; at the beginn…
Date: 2019-10-14


(841 words)

Author(s): Epple, Moritz
1. BeginningsEven though the equality of quantities and figures or numbers and ratios is a relationship that had been in use in the mathematical sciences since their beginnings, solving equations, that is, the symbolically expressed equality of two algebraic expressions containing known and unknown quantities, did not become a focus of mathematical problem solving until around 1600 – with the advent of symbolic algebra and the analytic geometry dependent on it. Even earlier, though (building on s…
Date: 2019-10-14

Equestrian statue

(7 words)

See Sculpture (modeling) | Statue
Date: 2019-10-14


(767 words)

Author(s): Henrich, Dieter
In English law, equity has a meaning that goes beyond the etymological sense of the word (“justness,” “fairness”). Equity is, according to the definition of the English legal historian Frederic William Maitland, “that body of rules administered by our English courts of justice which, were it not for the operation of the Judicature Acts, would be administered only by those courts which would be known as Courts of Equity” [3. 1]. The Courts of Equity and the legal rules they applied came about during the Middle Ages as a corrective to Common law, the case law crea…
Date: 2019-10-14
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