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In history, the early modern era of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Historians refer to the period beginning from approximately 1500 AD and lasting to around 1800 AD. The events include the first European colonies, the rise of strong centralized governments, and the beginnings of recognizable nation states that are the direct antecedents of today's states. This timeframe in western Europe is referred to as the early modern European period.

Early modern period studies

Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, it is generally agreed as spanning the period between the late portions of the Middle Ages (Renaissance) and the beginning of the Age of Revolutions. From a global standpoint, the most important feature of the early modern period was its globalizing character — it witnessed the exploration and colonization of the Americas and the rise of sustained contacts between previously isolated parts of the globe.

Other notable trends of the early modern period include the development of experimental science, the shrinkage of relative distances through improvements in transportation and communications, increasingly rapid technological progress, secularized civic politics and the early authoritarian nation states.

Further, capitalist economies and institutions became more sophisticated and globally articulated. This process began in the medieval North Italian city-states, particularly Genoamarker,Venicemarker, and Milanmarker. The early modern period also saw the rise and beginning of the dominance of the economic theory of mercantilism.

Insomuch as these trends represented a shift away from medieval modes of political and economic organization, the early modern period witnessed the decline of Christian theocracy, feudalism and serfdom.

The period includes the Reformation, the disastrous Thirty Years' War, the Commercial Revolution, the European colonization of the Americas, the Golden Age of Piracy and the peak of the European witch-hunt craze.

Renaissance and 'Early modern'

The expression "early modern" is sometimes incorrectly used as a substitute for the term Renaissance. However, "Renaissance" is properly used in relation to a diverse series of cultural developments that occurred over several hundred years in many different parts of Europe — especially central and northern Italymarker — and spans the transition from late medieval civilization to the opening of the early modern period. This important time in europe lasted through the 1600's 1700's and 1800's.

In the visual arts and architecture, the term early modern is not a common designation as the Renaissance period is clearly distinct from what came later. Only in the study of literature is the early modern period a standard designation. European music of the period is generally divided between Renaissance and 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.

Europe and the West

European kingdoms and movements

European events and dates
The beginning of the early modern period is not clear-cut but is generally accepted to be in the late 15th century or early 16th century. Significant dates in this transitional phase from medieval to early modern Europe can be noted:
In the early modern period, the Holy Roman Empire was a union of territories in Central Europe under a Holy Roman Emperor. The first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was Otto I. The last was Francis II, who abdicated and dissolved the Empire in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. Despite its name, for much of its history the Empire did not include Romemarker within its borders.

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historic era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not uniform across Europe, this is a general use of the term. As a cultural movement, it encompassed a rebellion of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform.

Notable individuals

Artwork of Gutenberg reviewing a press proof.
This image is a colored engraving created in about the 19th century.

Johannes Gutenberg is credited with being the first European to use movable type printing, in around 1439, and the global inventor of the mechanical printing press. Nicolaus Copernicus formulated a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe. His book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) began modern astronomy and was an epiphany that sparked the Scientific Revolution. Another notable individual was Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher politician. He is considered a founders of modern political science. Machiavelli is most famous for a short political treatise, The Prince, a work of realist political theory.

Among the royalty of the time that were notable, Charles the Bold, known as Charles the Terrible to his enemies, he was the last Valois Duke of Burgundy and his early death was a pivotal, if under-recognized, moment in European history. Charles has often been regarded as the last representative of the feudal spirit — a man who possessed no other quality than a blind bravery. Upon his death, Charles left an unmarried nineteen year-old daughter, Mary of Burgundy, as his heir; her marriage would have enormous implications for the political balance of Europe. The Habsburg Emperor secured the match for his son, the future Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, with the aid of Mary's stepmother, Margaret. In 1477, the territory of the Duchy of Burgundy was annexed by France. In the same year, Mary married Maximilian, Archduke of Austria, giving the Habsburgs control of the remainder of the Burgundian Inheritance.

Claude de Lorraine was the first Duke of Guise from 1528 to his death. Claude distinguished himself at the battle of Marignano (1515), and was long in recovering from the twenty-two wounds he received in the battle. In 1521 he fought at Fuenterrabia, and Louise of Savoy ascribed the capture of the place to his efforts. In 1523 he became governor of Champagne and Burgundy, after defeating at Neufchâteaumarker the imperial troops who had invaded this province. In 1525 he destroyed the Anabaptist peasant army, which was overrunning Lorraine, at Lupsteinmarker, near Savernemarker (Zabern). On the return of Francis I from captivity in 1528, Claude was made Duke of Guise in the peerage of France, though up to this time only princes of the royal house had held the title of duke and peer of France. The Guises, as cadets of the sovereign house of Lorraine and descendants of the house of Anjou, claimed precedence of the Bourbon princes of Condé and Conti.

The 3rd Duke of Alba was a noble of interest at the early modern period, nicknamed "the Iron Duke" by the Protestants of the Low Countries because of his harsh rule and cruelty. Tales of atrocities committed during his military operations in Flanders became part of Dutch and English folklore, forming a central component of the Black Legend.

In the England, Henry VIII was the King of England and a significant figure in the history of the English monarchy. Although in the great part of his reign he brutally suppressed the influence of the Protestant Reformation in England, a movement having some roots with John Wycliffe in the 14th century, he is more popularly known for his political struggles with Rome. These struggles ultimately led to the separation of the Church of England from papal authority, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and establishing himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Though Henry reportedly became a Protestant on his death-bed, he advocated Catholic ceremony and doctrine throughout his life. Royal support for the English Reformation began with his heirs, the devout Edward VI and the renowned Elizabeth I, whilst daughter Mary I temporarily reinstated papal authority over England. Henry also oversaw the legal union of England and Walesmarker with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542. He is also noted for his six wives, two of whom were beheaded.

Christians and Christendom

Christianity at the beginning of the modern period saw the fall of Constantinople, the end of the Hundred Years War, the discovery of the New World, and thereafter various reformations.

End of the Crusades and Unity

The Hussite Crusades involved the military actions against and amongst the followers of Jan Hus in Bohemia ending ultimately with the Battle of Grotniki. Also know as the Hussite Wars, they were arguably the first European war in which hand-held gunpowder weapons such as muskets made a decisive contribution. The Taborite faction of the Hussite warriors were basically infantry, and their many defeats of larger armies with heavily armored knights helped affect the infantry revolution. In totality, the Hussite Crusades were inconclusive.

The last crusade, the Crusade of 1456 was organized to counter the expanding Ottoman Empire and lift the Siege of Belgrade led by John Hunyadi and Giovanni da Capistrano. The siege eventually escalated into a major battle, during which Hunyadi led a sudden counterattack that overran the Turkish camp, ultimately compelling the wounded Sultan Mehmet II to lift the siege and retreat. The siege of Belgrade has been characterized as having "decided the fate of Christendom". The noon bell ordered by Pope Callixtus III commemorates the victory throughout the Christian world to this day.

Nearly a hundred years later, the Peace of Augsburg officially ended the idea that all Christians could be united under one church. The principle of cuius regio, eius religio ("whose the region is, his religion") established the religious, political and geographic divisions of Christianity, and this was established in international law with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which legally ended the concept of a single Christian hegemony, i.e. the "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" of the Nicene Creed. Each government determined the religion of their own state. Christians living in states where their denomination was not the established church were guaranteed the right to practice their faith in public during allotted hours and in private at their will. With the Treaty of Westphalia, the Wars of Religion came to an end, and in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 the concept of the sovereign national state was born. The Corpus Christianum has since existed with the modern idea of a tolerant and diverse society consisting of many different communities.

Inquisitions and Reformations

The modern Inquisition refers to any one of several institutions charged with trying and convicting heretics (or other offenders against canon law) within the Catholic Church. In the modern era, the first manifestation was the Spanish Inquisition of 1478 to 1834. The Inquisition prosecuted individuals accused of a wide array of crimes related to heresy, including sorcery, blasphemy, Judaizing and witchcraft, as well for censorship of printed literature. Because of its objective — combating heresy — the Inquisition had jurisdiction only over baptized members of the Church (which, however, encompassed the vast majority of the population in Catholic countries). Secular courts could still try non-Christians for blasphemy. (Most of the witch trials went through secular courts.)

The Reformation and rise of modernity in the early 16th century entailed the start of a series of changes in the Corpus Christianum. Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church to begin the Reformation. The Protestant Reformation was a Christian reform movement in Europe which is generally deemed to have begun with Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses although a number of precursors such as Johannes Hus predate that event. The Protestant movement of the 16th century was effected under the protection of the electors of Saxony. The Electorate of Saxony was an independent hereditary electorate of the Holy Roman Empire. The Elector Frederick III established a university at Wittenbergmarker in 1502, at which the Augustinian monk Martin Luther was made professor of philosophy in 1508; at the same time he became one of the preachers at the castle church of Wittenberg. On 31 October 1517, he posted up the Ninety-Five Theses against the sale indulgences on the door of the All Saints' Churchmarker, which served as a notice board for university-related announcements. These were points for debate that criticized the Church and the Pope. The most controversial points centered on the practice of selling indulgences and the Church's policy on purgatory. The reform movement soon split along certain doctrinal lines. Spiritual disagreements between various leading figures led to the emergence of rival Protestant churches. The most important denomination to emerge directly from the Reformation were the Lutherans, and the Reformed/Calvinists/Presbyterians. The process of reform had decidedly different causes and effects in other countries. In England, where it gave rise to Anglicanism, the period became known as the English Reformation. Subsequent Protestant denominations generally trace their roots back to the initial reforming movements.

Of the late Inquisitions in the modern era, there were two different manifestations:
  1. the Portuguese Inquisition (1536–1821)
  2. the Roman Inquisition (1542 – c.1860)
This Portuguese inquisition was a local analogue of the more famous Spanish Inquisition. The Roman Inquisition covered most of the Italian peninsula as well as Maltamarker and also existed in isolated pockets of papal jurisdiction in other parts of Europe, including Avignonmarker.

The Catholic Reformation began in 1545 when the Council of Trent was called in reaction to the "Protestant Rebellion". The idea was to reform the state of worldliness and disarray which had befallen some of the clergy of the Church, while reaffirming the Catholic Church's spiritual authority and position as the sole true Church of Christ on Earth, as well as preventing further damage to the Church and her faithful at the hands of the newly formed Protestant denominations.

Discovery and trade

The Age of Discovery was a period from the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century, during which European ships traveled around the world to search for new trading routes and partners to feed burgeoning capitalism in Europe. They also were in search of trading goods such as gold, silver and spices. In the process, Europeans encountered peoples and mapped lands previously unknown to them. This factor in the early European modern period was a globalizing character; the 'discovery' of the Americas and the rise of sustained contacts between previously isolated parts of the globe was a important historical event..

The search for new routes was based on the fact that the Silk Road was controlled by the Ottoman Empire, which was an impediment to European commercial interests, and other Eastern trade routes were not available to the Europeans due to Muslim control. The ability to outflank the Muslim states of North Africa was seen as crucial to European survival. At the same time, the Iberians learnt much from their Arab neighbors. The northwestern region of Eurasia has a very long coastline, and has arguably been influenced more by its maritime history than any other continent. Europe is uniquely situated between several navigable seas and intersected by navigable rivers running into them in a way which greatly facilitated the influence of maritime traffic and commerce. In the maritime history of Europe, the carrack and caravel both incorporated the lateen sail that made ships far more maneuverable. By translating the Arab versions of lost ancient Greek geographical works into Latin, European navigators acquired a deeper knowledge of the shape of Africa and Asia.

Mercantile Capitalism

Mercantilism was the dominant school of thought throughout the early modern period (from the 16th to the 18th century). This led to some of the first instances of significant government intervention and control over the economy, and it was during this period that much of the modern capitalist system was established. Internationally, mercantilism encouraged the many European wars of the period and fueled European imperialism. Belief in mercantilism began to fade in the late 18th century, as the arguments of Adam Smith and the other classical economists won out.

The Commercial Revolution was a period of economic expansion, colonialism, and mercantilism which lasted from approximately the sixteenth century until the early eighteenth century. Beginning with the Crusades, Europeans rediscovered spices, silks, and other commodities rare in Europe. This development created a new desire for trade, and trade expanded in the second half of the Middle Ages. European nations, through voyages of discovery, were looking for new trade routes in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which allowed the European powers to build vast, new international trade networks. Nations also sought new sources of wealth. To deal with this new-found wealth, new economic theories and practices were created. Because of competing national interest, nations had the desire for increased world power through their colonial empires. The Commercial Revolution is marked by an increase in general commerce, and in the growth of non-manufacturing pursuits, such as banking, insurance, and investing.

Trade and the New Economy
In the Old World, the most desired trading goods were gold, silver and spices. Western Europeans used the compass, new sailing ship technologies, new maps, and advances in astronomy to seek a viable trade route to Asia for valuable spices which would be uncontested by Mediterranean powers.
Desired trading goods
File:Native gold nuggets.jpg|Gold fueled European exploration of the Americas. Explorers reported Native American in Central America, Perumarker, Ecuadormarker and Colombiamarker were to have had large amounts.File:SilverUSGOV.jpg|Silver, valued as a precious metal, has been used to make expensive ornaments, fine jewelry, high-value tableware and utensils (silverware), and currency coins.File:Indianspicesherbs.jpg|Spices were among the most luxurious products, the most common being black pepper, cinnamon (and the cheaper alternative cassia), cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves
In terms of shipping advances, the most important developments were the creation of the carrack and caravel designs in Portugalmarker. These vessels evolved from medieval European designs from the North Sea and both the Christian and Islamic Mediterranean. They were the first ships that could leave the relatively placid and calm Mediterraneanmarker, Balticmarker or North Seamarker and sail safely on the open Atlanticmarker.

When the carrack and then the caravel were developed in Iberiamarker that European thoughts returned to the fabled East. These explorations have a number of causes. Monetarists believe the main reason the Age of Exploration began was because of a severe shortage of bullion in Europe. The European economy was dependent on gold and silver currency, but low domestic supplies had plunged much of Europe into a recession. Another factor was the centuries long conflict between the Iberians and the Muslims to the south.

Piracy's Golden Age
The Golden Age of Piracy is a designation given to one or more outbursts of piracy in the early modern period. In its broadest accepted definition, this Age of Piracy spans from the mid-17th century to the mid-18th century. The buccaneering period covers approximately the late 17th century. The period is characterized by Anglo-French seamen based on Jamaica and Tortuga attacking Spanish colonies and shipping in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific. The turn of 18th century saw the Pirate Round. They associated with long-distance voyages from Bermuda and the Americas to rob Muslim and East India Company targets in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. The post-Spanish Succession period extending into the early 18th century, when Anglo-American sailors and privateers left unemployed by the end of the War of the Spanish Succession turned en masse to piracy in the Caribbean, the American eastern seaboard, the West African coast, and the Indian Ocean.

European states and politics

The 15th to 18th century period is marked by the first European colonies, the rise of strong centralized governments, and the beginnings of recognizable European nation states that are the direct antecedents of today's states. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for European artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renaissance man".

The Baroque period saw the Thirty Years' War in Central Europe which decimated the population by up to 20%. The treaties in 1648 ended several wars in Europe and established the beginning of sovereign states. The Peace of Westphalia refers to the two peace treaties of Osnabrückmarker and Münstermarker, signed on May 15 and October 24, 1648, respectively, and written in French, that ended both the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire (today mostly Germanymarker) and the Eighty Years' War between Spainmarker and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The treaties involved the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand III (Habsburg), the Kingdoms of Spain, Francemarker and Swedenmarker, the Netherlands and their respective allies among the princes and the Republican Imperial States of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Peace of Westphalia resulted from the first modern diplomatic congress. Until 1806, the regulations became part of the constitutional laws of the Holy Roman Empire. The Treaty of the Pyrenees, signed in 1659, ended the war between France and Spain and is often considered part of the overall accord.

The Age of Absolutism describes the monarchical power that was unrestrained by any other institutions, such as churches, legislatures, or social elites of the European monarchs during the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Monarchs described as absolute can especially be found in the 17th century through the 19th century. Absolutism is characterized by the ending of feudal partitioning, consolidation of power with the monarch, rise of state power, unification of the state laws, and a decrease in the influence of nobility.

French power
For much of the reign of Louis XIV, who was known as the Sun King (French: le Roi Soleil), France stood as the leading power in Europe, engaging in three major wars—the Franco-Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and the War of the Spanish Succession—and two minor conflicts—the War of Devolution, and the War of the Reunions. Louis believed in the Divine Right of Kings, the theory that the King was crowned by God and accountable to him alone. Consequently, he has long been considered the archetypal absolute monarch. Louis XIV continued the work of his predecessor to create a centralized state governed from the capital in order to sweep away the remnants of feudalism which had persisted in parts of France. He succeeded in breaking the power of the provincial nobility, much of which had risen in revolt during his minority called the Fronde, and forced many leading nobles to live with him in his lavish Palace of Versaillesmarker.

Men who featured prominently in the political and military life of France during this period include Mazarin,Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Turenne, Vauban. French culture likewise flourished during this era, producing a number of figures of great renown, including Molière, Racine, Boileau, La Fontaine, Lully, Le Brun, Rigaud, Louis Le Vau, Jules Hardouin Mansart, Claude Perrault and Le Nôtre.

Early English revolutions
Before the Age of Revolution, the English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists. The first and second civil wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third war saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The Civil War ended with the Parliamentary victory at the Battle of Worcester. The monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship in England ended with the victors consolidating the established Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. Constitutionally, the wars established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without Parliament's consent. The English Restoration, or simply put as the Restoration, began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Commonwealth of England that followed the English Civil War. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 establishes modern parliamentary democracy in England.

International balance of power
The War of the Spanish Succession was a war fought between 1701 to 1714, in which several European powers combined to stop a possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under a single Bourbon monarch, upsetting the European balance of power. It was fought mostly in Europe, but it included Queen Anne's War in North America. The war was marked by the military leadership of notable generals like the duc de Villars, the Jacobite Duke of Berwick, the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy.

The Peace of Utrecht established after a series of individual peace treaties signed in the Dutch city of Utrechtmarker concluded between various European states helped end the War of the Spanish Succession. The representatives who met were Louis XIV of France and Philip V of Spain on the one hand, and representatives of Queen Anne of Great Britainmarker, the Duke of Savoy, and the United Provinces on the other. he treaty enregistred the defeat of French ambitions expressed in the wars of Louis XIV and preserved the European system based on the balance of power. The Treaty of Utrecht marked the change from Spanish to Britishmarker naval supremacy.

Colonial expansion and possessions

The historical phenomenon of colonization in the modern era centers on the British empire, although the term colonialism is normally used with reference to discontiguous overseas empires rather than contiguous land-based empires, European or otherwise. European colonisation during the 15th to 19th centuries resulted in the spread of Christianity to Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Australia and the Philippinesmarker.

Conquest and Americas exploitation

Christopher Columbus "discovered" the Americas in 1492. Subsequently, the major sea powers in Europe sent expeditions to the New World to build trade networks and colonies and to convert the native peoples to Christianity. Pope Alexander VI divided "newly discovered" lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a north-south meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands (off the west coast of Africa). This division was never accepted by the rulers of England or France. (See also the Treaty of Tordesillas that followed the papal decree.)

Colonial North America

Great Britain held several colonies in North America and the West Indies. The colonies in North America were founded between 1607 (Virginia), and 1733 (Georgia). The British colonies in North America rebelled against British rule in 1775, largely due to the taxation that Great Britain was imposing on the colonies. The Thirteen Colonies were part of what became known as British America, a name that was used by Great Britain until the Treaty of Paris recognized the independence of the original thirteen United States of America in 1783. A provisional government was formed which proclaimed their independence, which is now celebrated as having occurred on July 4, 1776, and subsequently became the original thirteen United States of America.

Colonial Latin America

Spain concentrated building its empire on the central and southern parts of the Americas allotted to it by the Treaty of Tordesillas, because of presence of indigenous states whose human and material resources it could exploit, and large concentrations of silver and gold. The Portuguese built its empire in Brazil, which fell in its sphere of influence per the Treaty of Tordesillas, by developing the land for sugar production since there was a lack of a large, complex society or mineral resources.

Asia and Africa

The Ottoman Empire and Africa

In this period, the growth of the Ottoman Empire is the period followed after the rise of the Ottoman Empire in which the Ottoman state reached the Pax Ottomana. This era was perhaps the golden age for the Ottoman Empire.

North and East Africa

In North Africa, the Ottomans expanded southwestwards into North Africa and battled with the re-emergent Persianmarker Shi'ia Safavid Empire to the east.
Ottoman empire 1481-1683
In the Saracen sphere of power, the Ottoman Empire, who had conquered Constantinoplemarker in 1453, and had seized Egypt in 1517, established the regencies of Algeriamarker, Tunisia and Tripoli (between 1519 and 1551), Moroccomarker remaining an independent Arabized Berber state under the Sharifan dynasty, which had its beginnings at the end of the 13th century.

In East Africa, the Solomonic dynasty came to rule in the 13th century and claimed direct descent from the old Axumitemarker royal house. The Solomonics continued to rule their area of East Africa with few interruptions well into modern history. In the 16th century, Shewamarker and the rest of Abyssinia was conquered by the forces of Ahmed Gragn of Adal, and Shewa became under Muslim rule; the region then came under pressure from the Oromo, who succeeded during the first decades of the next century in settling the areas around Shewa.

West Africa

The Songhai Empire took control of the trans-Saharan trade at the beginning of the modern era. It seized Timbuktumarker in 1468 and Jenne in 1473, building the regime on trade revenues and the cooperation of Muslim merchants. The empire eventually made Islam the official religion, built mosques, and brought Muslim scholars to Gaomarker.

Around the beginning of the modern era, the Benin Empire was an independent trading power West Africa, blocking other inland nations access to the coastal ports. Benin, which may have housed 100,000 inhabitants at its height, spread over twenty-five square kilometres, and was enclosed by three concentric rings of earthworks. By the late 15th century Benin was in contact with Portugalmarker. At its apogee in the 16th and 17th centuries, Benin encompassed parts of southeastern Yorubaland and the western Igbo.

Persia and Central Asia


The Safavid Empire was a great Shia Persianate empire after the Islamic conquest of Persia and established of Islam, marking an important points in the history of Islam in the east. The Safavid dynasty was founded about 1501. From their base in Ardabil, the Safavids established control over all of Persia and reasserted the Iranian identity of the region, thus becoming the first native dynasty since the Sassanids to establish a unified Iranian state. Problematic for the Safavids was the powerful Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans, a Sunni dynasty, fought several campaigns against the Safavids.

What fueled the growth of Safavid economy was it's position between the burgeoning civilizations of Europe to its west and Islamic Central Asia to its east and north. The Silk Road which led through northern lands to the eastern lands revived in the 16th century. Leaders also supported direct trade with Europe, particularly England and The Netherlands which sought Persian carpet, silk and textiles. Other exports were horses, goat hair, pearls and an inedible bitter almond hadam-talka used as a spice in India. The main imports were spice, textiles (woolens from Europe, cottons from Gujarat), metals, coffee, and sugar. Despite their demise in 1722, the Safavids have left their mark down to the present era by establishing and spreading Shi'a Islam in major parts of the Caucasus and West Asia.

Uzbeks and Afghan Pashtuns

In the 16th to the early 18th centuries, areas north were under the Uzbeks and the far eastern portions were ruled by the local Pashtun. Between the 15th and 16th centuries, various nomadic tribes arrived from the steppes including the Kipchaks, Naymans, Kanglis, Kungrats, Manġits and others and these tribes were led by Muhammad Shaybani who was the Khan of the Uzbeks.

The Afghan Pashtuns' lineage stretches back to the Hotaki dynasty. Following Muslim Arab and Turkic conquests, Pashtun ghazis (warriors for the faith) invaded and conquered much of northern India during the Lodhi dynasty and Suri dynasty. Pashtun forces would also invade Persia and the opposing forces were defeated in the Battle of Gulnabad. The Pashstuns would form the Durrani Empire.

Indian Empires and Southeast Asia

Indian subcontinent empires

Historical map of the Mughal Empire.
The rise of the Great Mughal Empire usually dated to have begun in 1526, corresponds nicely with the end of the Middle Ages. The culture which began then included a markedly orderly government, widespread economic prosperity and religious tolerance, and great achievements in the arts in architecture, miniature painting, and literature. The empire dominated south and south-western Asia, rivaling all other empires in history for both population and area held.

On the Indian subcontinent, the Lodhi Dynasty ruled over the Delhi Sultanate during its last phase. The dynasty founded by Bhalul Lodhi ruled from 1451 to 1526. The last ruler of this dynasty, Ibrahim Lodhi was defeated and killed by Babur in the first Battle of Panipat. The Mughal Empire was an Islamic Persianate imperial power which began in 1526, ruled most of the area as Hindustan by the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The Vijayanagara Empire was based in the Deccan Plateaumarker but with diminished power after a major military defeat in 1565 by the Deccan sultanates. The empire is named after its capital city of Vijayanagaramarker.

Archipelagic empires

At the start of the modern era, the Spice Route between India and China crossed Majapahit. This was an archipelagic empire based on the island of Javamarker. The Majapahit empire was the last of the major Hindu empires of the Malay archipelago and is considered one of the greatest states in Indonesian history. Its influence extended to states on Sumatramarker, the Malay Peninsula, Borneomarker and eastern Indonesia, though the effectiveness of the influence is the subject of debate.

Majapahit found itself unable to control the rising power of the Sultanate of Malacca. The Sultanate of Malacca stretched from Muslim Malay settlements of Bukit (Phuket),Setol (Satun), Pantai ni (Pattani) bodering Ayutthaya Kingdom of Siam(Thailand) in the north to Sumatra in the southwest. The Portuguese invaded its capital in 1511 and, in 1528, the Sultanate of Johor was established by a Malaccan prince to succeed Malacca.

Asian dynasties and politics

Chinese dynasties

In Chinese history around the 16th century the Ming Dynastymarker's economy was stimulated by maritime trade with the Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch. China became involved in a new global trade of goods, plants, animals, and food crops known as the Columbian Exchange. Trade with European powers and the Japanesemarker brought in massive amounts of silver, which then replaced copper and paper banknotes as the common medium of exchange in China.

During the last decades of the Ming the flow of silver into China was greatly diminished, thereby undermining state revenues and indeed the entire Ming economy. This damage to the economy was compounded by the effects on agriculture of the incipient Little Ice Age, natural calamities, crop failure, and sudden epidemics. The ensuing breakdown of authority and people's livelihoods allowed rebel leaders such as Li Zicheng to challenge Ming authority.

The Ming Dynasty fell around 1644 to the Qing Dynastymarker which was the last ruling dynasty of Chinamarker, ruling from 1644 to 1912 (with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917). During its reign, the Qing Dynasty became highly integrated with Chinese culture.

Japanese shogunates

In Japanmarker, the Edo period from 1600 to 1868 is the early modern period. The Tokugawa shogunate was a feudal regime of Japanmarker established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which now is called Tokyomarker. The Tokugawa shogunate ruled from Edo Castlemarker from 1603 until 1868, when it was abolished during the Meiji Restoration around the late Edo period (often called Late Tokugawa shogunate).

Korea Dynasties

In Koreamarker, the rising of Joseon Dynastymarker took place in 1392. The enthronement of King Gojong occurred in 1863. Later in 1876, the Treaty of Ganghwa was initiated.

Religious trends and philosophy

Eastern philosophies

Concerning the development of Eastern philosophies, much of the Eastern philosophies had been in in an advance state of development from study in the previous centuries. The various philosophies include Indian philosophy, Chinese philosophy, Iranian philosophy, Japanese philosophy, and Korean philosophy.

Muslims and the Muslim world

Islamic theological questions and Islamic philosophy, including Falsafa, were decided in the "Islamic Golden Age". There were attempts by later philosopher-theologians at harmonizing both trends, notably by Avicenna who founded the school of Avicennism, Averroes who founded the school of Averroism, and others such as Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen), Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī.

In the 15th and 16th centuries three major Muslim empires were created: the aforementioned Ottoman Empire in much of the Middle East, the Balkans and Northern Africa; the Safavid Empire in Greater Iran; and the Mughul Empire in South Asia. These powers were made possible by the discovery and exploitation of gunpowder and through the system of Islamic administration. By the end of the 19th century, all three had declined significantly, and by the early 20th century, with the Ottomans' defeat in World War I, the last Muslim empire collapsed.

The Mughal Empire was a product of various Central Asian invasions into the Indian subcontinent. It was founded by the Timurid prince Babur in 1526 with the destruction of the Delhi sultanate, with its capital in Agramarker. The empire ruled for several centuries, before it declined in the early 18th century, which led to India being divided into smaller kingdoms and princely states. The Mughal dynasty was eventually dissolved by the British Empire after the Indian rebellion of 1857.

The Safavids were an Iranianmarker dynasty ruled from 1501 to 1736, and which established Twelver Shi'a Islam as Iran's official religion and united its provinces under a single Iranian sovereignty, thereby reigniting the Persian identity. Although claiming to be the descendants of Ali, the Safavids were originally Sunni (the name "Safavid" comes from a Sufi order called Safavi). Their origins go back to Firuz Shah Zarrinkolah, an Iranian local dignitary from Iran's north. During their rule, the Safavids recognized Twelver Shi'a Islam as the State religion, thus giving Iranmarker a separate identity from its Sunni neighbors.

Signaling the end of the Byzantine Empire, the Ottomans captured Constantinople. A decisive factor in this siege was the use of firearms and large cannons introduced by the Ottomans (adapted from Europe and improved upon), against which the Byzantines were unable to compete. The Byzantine fortress finally succumbed to the Ottoman invasion in 1453, 54 days into the siege. Mehmed II, entering the city victorious, renamed it Istanbulmarker. With its capital conceded to the Ottomans, the rest of the Byzantine Empire quickly disintegrated.The future successes of the Ottomans and later empires would depend heavily upon the exploitation of gunpowder.

In the early 16th century, the Shi'ite Safavid dynasty assumed control in Persia under the leadership of Shah Ismail I, upon the defeat of the ruling Turcoman federation Aq Qoyunlu (also called the "White Sheep Turkomans") in 1501. The Ottoman sultan Selim I quickly sought to repel Safavid expansion, challenging and defeating them at the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514. Selim I also deposed the ruling Mamluks in Egypt, absorbing their territories into the Ottoman Empire in 1517. Suleiman I (also known as Suleiman the Magnificent), Selim I's successor, took advantage of the diversion of Safavid focus to the Uzbeks on the eastern frontier and recaptured Baghdad, which had previously fallen under Safavid control. Despite this, Safavid power remained substantial, with their empire rivalling the Ottomans'. Suleiman I also advanced deep into Hungarymarker following the Battle of Mohácsmarker in 1526 — reaching as far as the gates of Vienna thereafter, and signed a Franco-Ottoman alliance with Francis I of France against Charles V of the Roman Empire 10 years later. Suleiman I's rule (1520 — 1566) signified the height of the Ottoman Empire, after which it fell into a relative decline with the rapid industrialization other nations.

End of the early period

In modern history, the end of the early period falls in the late eighteenth century, as an Age of Revolutions dawns, beginning with those in America and France. Subsequent important political changes occurred throughout Europe, including upheavals following the Napoleonic Wars, the redrawing of the map of Europe through the Second Treaty of Paris, the rise of new concepts of nationalism and reorganization in military forces. The end of the early modern period is usually also associated with the Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the mid eighteenth century.

See also

General concepts: Renaissance, Early Modern English, Early Modern warfare, Periodization, Proto-globalization, Atlantic history

Political powers: Habsburg Spain, Habsburg Monarchy, Portuguese Empire, Dutch Republic, Early Modern Britain, Early Modern France, Early Modern Italy, Early Modern Romania, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Ottoman Empire, Mughal Empire, Safavid Empire

European history:


General information

  1. Renaissance, Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. A Greek mathematician, Aristarchus of Samos, had already discussed heliocentric hypotheses as early as the third century BCE. However, there is little evidence that he ever developed his ideas beyond a very basic outline (Dreyer, 1953, pp.135–48; Linton, 2004, p. 39).
  3. The title was derived from his savage behavior against his enemies, and particularly from a war with France in late 1471: frustrated by the refusal of the French to engage in open battle, and angered by French attacks on his unprotected borders in Hainault and Flanders, Charles marched his army back from the Ile-de-France to Burgundian territory, burning over two thousand towns, villages and castles on his way - Taylor, Aline S, Isabel of Burgundy, pp.212-213
  4. See "Martyrdom of William Tyndale".
  5. Pope Calixtus III account from 1456 to the Burgundian bishop talking about the saviour of Christianity at Belgrade
  6. Medieval Sourcebook: Inquisition - Introduction
  7. this also includes black magic .
  8. BBC Science & Nature, Leonardo da Vinci (Retrieved on May 12, 2007)
  9. BBC History, Michelangelo (Retrieved on May 12, 2007)
  10. R.R. Palmer, A History of the Modern World 2nd ed. 1961, p. 234.
  11. Ira M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies, Cambridge 1988
  12. Afghanistan: History, U.S. Department of State (retrieved 10 October 2006).
  13. ; p. 20;
  14. "The Mughal Empire"
  15. M.C. Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1300, 2nd ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991. page 19
  16. Prapantja, Rakawi, trans. by Theodore Gauthier Pigeaud, Java in the 14th Century, A Study in Cultural History: The Negara-Kertagama by Pakawi Parakanca of Majapahit, 1365 AD (The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1962), vol. 4, p. 29. 34; G.J. Resink, Indonesia’s History Between the Myths: Essays in Legal History and Historical Theory (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1968), p. 21.
  17. Of note in modern Indian philosophy are the philosophers which gave contemporary meaning to traditional philosophy, such as Swami Vivekananda.

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