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date: 13 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the emergence of the idea of ‘early modern’ history during the 1960s and 1970s, and explains its origins, particularly in modernization theory and in the expansion of the university system at that period. It focuses particularly upon developments in the Anglophone scholarly world (primarily Britain and the United States) and in West Germany. It then explores the important contribution of the Annales school to this evolution. The chapter goes on to consider the validity of the established periodization (1450/1500–1800) for the ‘early modern’ era, and suggests reasons why the centuries from 1350 to 1750 constitute a more satisfactory chronology. Finally, it outlines the structure of the Handbook and its wider aim of restoring a unitary view of the period.

Keywords: Annales school, early modern history, modernization theory, periodization, European historiography, social science history

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