This chapter deals with the vast territories east of the Elbe river, including Poland–Lithuania, the Czech lands, Brandenburg–Prussia, and Russia. There are two primary and interlocking themes, first the westernization of these lands, secondly, the origins and development of the ‘second serfdom’ in the agrarian East. Westernization of the agrarian East came largely through the introduction and expansion of the ‘Frankish agrarian system’, which began around 1200 with Western colonization east of the Elbe. Westernization was essentially a repetition of basic agrarian developments that had already taken place in much of north-west Europe in the period 600–1000 AD. One of the most important of these developments was manorialism, and the so-called ‘second serfdom’ in Eastern Europe was thus not a deviation from westernization, but rather an integral part of it.
The main developments in western European agrarian society and economy are surveyed at the outset in a regional analysis which stresses the degree of variety within quite small areas and by the same token the irrelevance of national boundaries. The survey considers employment and production beyond tillage and pastoralism: fishing, hunting, mining, or local crafts and manufacturing are treated as part of the rural economy. There follows a detailed thematic analysis which examines crop yields, credit, share-cropping, landholding, labour, and total factor productivity. The conclusion briefly takes up the debate over the transition from feudalism to capitalism, initiated by Robert Brenner, to argue that the regional variations in landholding and inheritance practices which might emerge from an initially similar environment, while casting doubt on aspects of Brenner’s general thesis, nevertheless were shaped as much by power or class relations as by natural endowment, ecology, or technological innovations.
T. K. Rabb
This chapter traces the revolution in style and taste that swept over the visual arts as a result of the movement we call the Renaissance. Not only was there a transformation in subject matter, which was almost entirely religious at our starting-point, around 1450, but also in style, in the status of the artist, in the types of art that were produced, in patronage, and in the market for paintings and engravings. To follow these changes, the period has been divided into four broad periods: 1350–1520, the age of the Renaissance; 1520–1600, the age of Mannerism; 1600–70, the age of Baroque; and 1670–1759, the age of Rococo. In each segment the main developments in painting, sculpture, and architecture are outlined; the principal figures are identified; and changes discussed.
R. Bin Wong
Many of early modern Europe’s connections to Asia were commercial in nature, in contrast to the colonial relations forged by Europeans in the Americas. This chapter considers the ways in which the connections that Europe had with Asia and the Americas provide a context for comparing the early modern political economies of China and Europe. Similarities and differences highlighted by this exercise help make clear both the dynamics of economic change common within both world regions as well as the character of their connections, illustrating important differences between them. The intellectual limitations of identifying historical parallels according to traits first observed in Europe is suggested by noting features of early modern Chinese political rule that are not observed in Europe until a later historical era. These topics illustrate various ways in which comparisons and connections to other world regions helps to place early modern Europe in a global history perspective.
Samuel K. Cohn, Jr
Divisions between Marxist and non-Marxist historians have fuelled debate of late medieval and early modern popular protest over the past fifty years. Yet, an underlying consensus has arisen with two broad forms of popular revolt, a ‘pre-modern’ (encompassing the Middle Ages to as late as the mid-nineteenth century) and a ‘modern’ one. Supposedly, high bread prices sparked the former, women filled their ranks, the leaders came from the elites and not the rank-and-file of peasants or artisans, their ideologies were primitive and backward looking, and these revolts ended in repression, not revolution. With modernity the characteristics changed. This chapter challenges this ‘pre-modern’/’modern’ divide, arguing that late medieval popular revolts differed profoundly from those of the early modern period across all of these characteristics. The changes depended on a growing gap in power between rulers and the ruled that had begun in places by the closing decades of the fourteenth century.
Mack P. Holt
‘Belief and its Limits’ outlines five major themes: (1) the transformation started by the Protestant and Catholic reformations of the sixteenth century that refashioned the way most people understood Christianity; (2) the slow emergence of peaceful co-existence among rival confessional churches after the violence of the Reformation that accompanied the disintegration of the Roman Church into dozens of different Christian churches; (3) the growing and protracted efforts of both church and state to control and regulate popular beliefs, practices, and behaviours, albeit with only limited success, with a particular focus on confessionalization, witchcraft beliefs, and printing; (4) the emergence of new ideas and belief systems by 1800 that historians have traditionally referred to as Enlightenment, that ultimately challenged the beliefs of the past; and (5) the continuation and even strengthening of belief in gender hierarchy and patriarchy in European cultures.
The article examines religious changes in Bohemia and Moravia from the age of Emperor Charles IV (1346–1378) through the first half of the seventeenth century. It begins by considering the vibrant ecclesiastical landscape in the generation before Hus. After reviewing the tumultuous events of the Hussite era, it evaluates both the radical and more conservative legacy of this movement with the development of the Utraquist Church and the Unity of Brethren. Entering the sixteenth century, the article analyzes the impact of Luther and Calvin on the Bohemian churches, the dynamics of confessional cooperation and conflict. The essay closes with an investigation of the early seventeenth century, events leading to the outbreak of the Thirty Years War, the re-Catholization of the region, the exile generation of John Comenius, and the survival of Protestant enclaves within the kingdom.
Valerie A. Kivelson
Like any human construct, Europe had to be imagined into being. It emerged gradually as an idea, a place, a people, and a culture, from its first appearance in ancient texts through its triumphalist self-assertion as Queen of Continents in the early modern era. This chapter opens with a chronological survey of ancient, medieval, and early modern understandings of Europe, and then turns to the difficulties posed by the blurry margins where Europe set itself apart from others. Oceans set clear boundaries around three sides of Europe, but establishing the eastern limits, especially in the region we now call Russia, raised persistent challenges. In a final section, the chapter explores some views from outside, from those who occupied grey zones of potential membership in the European club and from places definitively categorized as non-European.
David J. Collins S.J.
This chapter reviews major themes in the history of Western Christianity from the onset of the Western Schism (1378) to the opening of the Council of Trent (1345). Topics include late medieval reform movements, trends in lay religious belief and activity, the papacy and conciliarism, the dominant schools of philosophical and theological thought, heresy and orthodoxy, Renaissance humanism, the early Protestant Reformation and contemporaneous Catholic renewal, and the relationship between Church and state. The scope of the chapter encompasses developments within Western Christianity as well as in its relationship to Eastern Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as well as its expansion into Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The chapter also considers the effects of general historiographical developments over the last century on church history, such as overarching trends within intellectual and institutional history on the one hand and social and cultural history on the other.
This chapter traces the development of European colonial societies in the extra-European world c. 1500–1800, chiefly in the Americas. It examines the factors affecting the growth and stabilization of those societies, including: the impact of disease; the establishment of coercive labour regimes; European interactions with indigenous peoples; the genesis of complex economies based on precious metals and agricultural commodities for export to Europe; and the formation of a creolized cultural life and identity. The chapter’s overarching theme is the transformation of European overseas settlements from mere dependent appendages of Europe into distinctive colonial societies with strong identities of their own, increasingly in conflict with the European states that governed them. Special attention is paid to the hybridity of colonial societies, which emerged from the sustained interactions between those of European, Amerindian, and African descent, as well as to the legal and cultural regimes discouraging such cross-cultural and inter-racial encounters.