Early modern Europe
From Academic Kids
The early modern period is a term used by historians to refer to the period in Western Europe and its first colonies, that spans the time between the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution that has created modern society. The early modern period is characterized by the rise to importance of science, cumulative and increasingly rapid technological progress, secularized civic politics and capitalist economics, all monitored by the nation state. As such it represents the diminution and/or abolition of Christian theocracy, feudalism and serfdom. When the economic historian Fernand Braudel covered the early modern world in Civilization and Capitalism, the span of time he covered was the 15th through the 18th centuries.
Spanning the transition at the opening of the early modern period, the European Renaissance is being seen by historians now as much as the culmination of late Medieval civilization (especially north of the Alps) as an earlier generation saw in it a revolutionary rebirth of classical culture (especially in Central and Northern Italy).
The beginning of the Early Modern period receives differing conventional dates in different nations. Common start dates include 1453, the fall of Constantinople, but Spain and Portugal entered the early modern age with the first documented European voyage to the Americas, by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and Vasco da Gama's voyage to India (1498) set off the Age of Discovery. The year 1492 also marked the end of the Reconquista with the capitulation of Moorish Granada; simultaneously Spain expelled its Jews. In England, the early modern period opened decisively in 1485, when the last Plantagenet king, Richard III, was killed at Bosworth and the medieval civil wars of aristocratic factions gave way to early modern Tudor monarchy, in the person of Henry VII. France and Italy initiated one another to early modern politics and warfare in 1494, when the French king Charles VIII invaded Italy. Finally, Germany entered the new epoch in 1519, when Holy Roman Emperor Charles V united the imperial throne with the crown of Spain and the Indies. However, by the time these events took place, the cultural Renaissance initiated in Florence had already moved from its early phase to what art historians term the High Renaissance, its culmination, cut short with the Sack of Rome by German troops in 1527. At that time, the early modern religious movement, the Reformation was well under way: its opening is conventionally dated from Martin Luther's act in nailing his ninety-five theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg in 1517.
The period saw the rise of all of the key characteristics of capitalist economies, beginning in northern Italian republics such as Genoa. It also saw the rise and dominance of the economic theory of mercantilism, and books of political and social philosophy such as Machiavelli's The Prince (1513) and Thomas More's Utopia (1515).
Therefore the term "early modern" usually applies to the period from the late 15th to the late 18th Century during which these developments were at a formative stage. The end date is most often placed at 1789, the end of the Ancien Regime in France, with the Industrial Revolution already transforming British society. The Napoleonic Era forms a transitional cap at the end of the early modern era. When Europe emerged, it was to a world-economy becoming distinctly modern. There is no agreement and the early modern period can be said to start and stop in different parts of Europe at different times.
The expression "early modern" is often, and incorrectly, used as a substitute for the term Renaissance. Renaissance is properly used in relation to a diverse series of cultural developments; which occurred over several hundred years in many different parts of Europe.
Artistically the early modern is not a common designation as the Renaissance is clearly distinct from what came later. Only in the study of literature is the early modern period a standard period. Music is generally divided between Renaissance, Baroque. Similarly philosophy is divided between Renaissance philosophy and the Enlightenment. In other fields there is far more continuity through the period such as warfare and science.