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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Loan for consumption (mutuum)

(811 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. DefinitionThe loan for consumption was a central legal form of contract credit transactions in the early modern period. In a typical loan for consumption, one person (the borrower) receives a certain amount or weight of a certain object (e.g. grain, cloth, oil) from the lender on the understanding that he will later return objects of the same kind, quantity, and quality. Already in the early modern period, loans of money were the most common. A loan for consumption (Latin  mutuum) differed from a loan for use ( commodatum) insofar as the borrower received ownership and there…
Date: 2019-10-14

Loan for use (commodatum)

(960 words)

Author(s): Schlinker, Steffen
1. Definition Until well into the 19th century, the German word for “loan,” Leihe, was used as a comprehensive term for all kinds of transfers of goods, including loans for consumption ( mutuum), safekeeping, usufruct, rent, and leases [3. 1421]; [5. vol. 1, 503]. Only in the wake of the reception of ius commune in the 16th century did the specific type of loan contract emerge for the gratuitous use of a specific object (Res) with the obligation to return it. It thus is necessary to distinguish between a German and a Roman understanding of loans for consumption.In German legal source…
Date: 2019-10-14

Local administration

(2,129 words)

Author(s): Brakensiek, Stefan
1. ConceptIn most of early modern Europe, there was no independent local administration, for this function, which at the time would have been thought of as the implementation of gute Policey (“good policy”; Police [political order]), was almost everywhere interwoven in terms of organization and personnel with other “official” functions, especially lower jurisdiction, sometimes the raising of taxes or the administration of public land (Demesne). A multitude of institutional arrangements is therefore found in the early modern …
Date: 2019-10-14

Local authority

(1,125 words)

Author(s): Simon, Thomas
In German-speaking territory, the word for local authorities and officials,  Behörden, appears in its modern sense toward the end of the 17th century. It reflected the growing institutionalization of government business, for which the state constructed an administrative apparatus constantly growing in size and complexity in the early modern period. With the rise of this apparatus, authority and the administration of government were separated from the person of the prince; the administrative apparatus grad…
Date: 2019-10-14

Local time

(808 words)

Author(s): Behringer, Wolfgang
Local time is the time related to the meridian of the place of observation, the same for all places of the same geographical longitude. “True local time,” as shown for instance by a sundial, is dictated daily by the culmination of the sun, and fluctuates with the rhythm of the equation of time. “Mean solar time,” that is, the solar time calculated in reference to the ecliptic and the elliptical shape of the Earth's orbit, as yet had no practical role, but the social acceleration in communication…
Date: 2019-10-14

Loci communes

(677 words)

Author(s): Töpfer, Thomas
1. Concept Loci communes (Latin; literally “commonplaces,” i.e. “finding places,” “key references,” corresponding to the Greek tópoi) were a universal method of scholarly classification developed within the educational movement of Humanism that contributed to replacing the formal logic nurtured in scholasticism with a new kind of practical dialectics. Called by Philipp Melanchthon the “Urbilder und Normen aller Dinge” (“archetypes and norms of all things”), they were used to classify texts and bodies of knowle…
Date: 2019-10-14


(888 words)

Author(s): Reith, Reinhold
1. OccupationThe metalworking craft (Crafts and trades) of the locksmith (Neolatin  serator/ serifex, Dutch  slotenmaker, German  Schlosser, Kleinschmied, Kunstschmied, French  serrurier, Italian chiavaio), developed from the 14th century within the sphere of activity of the smithy. Guilds were formed, sometimes jointly with winchmakers, spurriers, gunsmiths, or clockmakers, specialties that had also developed out of smithing. The work of the locksmith included in particular making padlocks, door locks, locks for c…
Date: 2019-10-14


(941 words)

Author(s): Dougherty, Carolyn | Popplow, Markus
1. OriginsA locomotive is a mechanically-powered vehicle that travels on rails. After one was first tested in 1804, locomotives became ubiquitous in Britain, then from the 1830s, as railway technologies were exported, worldwide (Traffic and transport). Until the 20th century, propulsion was generally provided by high-pressure steam engines, usually fueled by coal, sometimes with wood, and later with heavy oil. The speeds attained by locomotives led to the triumph of the railways and brought a substantial increase in goods and passenger traffic in land transport.At least fo…
Date: 2019-10-14

Locust plage

(4 words)

See Insects
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,538 words)

Author(s): Henrich, Jörn
1. General remarks Aristotle’s six works on logic, collectively known as the  órganon (Greek, “instrument,” “method”), largely determined the logic of the early modern era. These works included the key doctrine in the  Prior Analytics (also called syllogistic, “The Art of Closure”); the general methodology and doctrine of proofs in the  Posterior Analytics; the theory of concept formation and application (Topos); the doctrine of propositions; the doctrine of categories; and the refutations of the sophists. The enormous fertility, relevance, and g…
Date: 2019-10-14


(10 words)

See Dispatch | Military administration | Transport network
Date: 2019-10-14


(708 words)

Author(s): Baten, Jörg | Schwekendiek, Daniel
Longevity refers to the length of the life span of humans, animals and plants.  Although with regard to humans there are neither biological nor demographic criteria for the time when an individual has reached an exceptional point of old age, in demographic research such persons are generally considered long-lived who have reached the age of  100 years or more (centenarians). Men and women at least 110 years of age are called supercentenarians.Accounts of extremely long life spans are already to be found in the Bible, which served as a reference point for longevity …
Date: 2019-10-14


(11 words)

See Cartography | Chronometry | Clock | World time
Date: 2019-10-14


(7 words)

See Weaving industry | Weaving technology
Date: 2019-10-14

Loom, Jacquard

(6 words)

See Sample weaving
Date: 2019-10-14

Lotharian Legend

(853 words)

Author(s): Oestmann, Peter
The Lotharian Legend is an early modern theory that explained the validity of Roman law (Ius commune) in Germany. It claimed that, in 1137, Emperor Lothair III of Supplinburg had decreed by law that Roman law was applicable in the Holy Roman Empire.The Lotharian Legend emerged against the background of questions by late medieval and early modern jurists as to why Justinian’s  Corpus Iuris Civilis, the great sixth-century codification of ancient (late antique) Roman law created in the eastern Roman Empire was still regarded as valid law in large parts of Eu…
Date: 2019-10-14


(891 words)

Author(s): North, Michael
1. Concept and origins The lottery (from Italian lotto, French  lot, “share,” “lot”) developed as a game of chance (Gambling) in the early modern period. Before this, it was customary in cities of northern Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries for public offices to be awarded by sortition, with lots drawn from a leather bag. The method of casting lots was also used to decide which subscribers to the municipal debt should profit from the distribution of interest, if there was insufficient for all to benefit…
Date: 2019-10-14

Louis d'or

(6 words)

See Crown (coin)
Date: 2019-10-14


(3,770 words)

Author(s): Jarzebowski, Claudia
1. Concept and principlesLove is one of the most complex historical concepts, deeply rooted in both philosophy and the history of religion. Throughout the course of European history, love connoted key relationships in the exercise of power and in the interpersonal sphere. Until the 18th century, love for God and the love of God formed the constitutive and legimatory reference point for all relationships of secular love. The very different meanings and qualities of the concept are well suited to rev…
Date: 2019-10-14

Love letter

(891 words)

Author(s): Gestrich, Andreas
The text genre of the love letter (Latin  littera amatoria, German Liebesbrief, French  lettre d'amour or billet doux; the latter also entering German and English as a loanword from the 18th century) has existed as both an everyday text and a literary genre since Greco-Roman antiquity. The most famous literary work, Ovid's collection of fictional love letters by renowned heroines of Greek mythology (Latin Heroides) was a lasting influence on the European tradition of the artistic love letter [4]. Some medieval manuscripts contain rhymed love letters as an artistic form [15]. In 17t…
Date: 2019-10-14
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