Europe, Early modern period

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Europe ( or ) is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally divided from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting the Black and Aegean Seas. "Europe" (pp. 68–9); "Asia" (pp. 90–1): "A commonly accepted division between Asia and Europe ... is formed by the Ural Mountains, Ural River, Caspian Sea, Caucasus Mountains, and the Black Sea with its outlets, the Bosporus and Dardanelles."


The Renaissance was a period of cultural change originating in Florence and later spreading to the rest of Europe. in the 14th century. The rise of a new humanism was accompanied by the recovery of forgotten classical Greek and Arabic knowledge from monastic libraries, often translated from Arabic into Latin. The Renaissance spread across Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries: it saw the flowering of art, philosophy, music, and the sciences, under the joint patronage of royalty, the nobility, the Roman Catholic Church, and an emerging merchant class.National Geographic, 254. Patrons in Italy, including the Medici family of Florentine bankers and the Popes in Rome, funded prolific quattrocento and cinquecento artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.National Geographic, 292.

Political intrigue within the Church in the mid-14th century caused the Western Schism. During this forty-year period, two popes—one in Avignon and one in Rome—claimed rulership over the Church. Although the schism was eventually healed in 1417, the papacy's spiritual authority had suffered greatly.National Geographic, 193.

The Church's power was further weakened by the Protestant Reformation (1517–1648), initially sparked by the works of German theologian Martin Luther, a res


ult of the lack of reform within the Church. The Reformation also damaged the Holy Roman Empire's power, as German princes became divided between Protestant and Roman Catholic faiths.National Geographic, 256–257. This eventually led to the Thirty Years War (1618–1648), which crippled the Holy Roman Empire and devastated much of Germany, killing between 25 and 40 percent of its population. In the aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia, France rose to predominance within Europe.National Geographic, 269.

The 17th century in southern, central and eastern Europe was a period of general decline. Central and Eastern Europe experienced more than 150 famines in a 200-year period between 1501 to 1700. From the 15th to 18th centuries, when the disintegrating khanates of the Golden Horde were conquered by Russia, Tatars from the Crimean Khanate frequently raided Eastern Slavic lands to capture slaves. The Battle of Vienna in 1683 broke the advance of the Ottoman Turks into Europe, and marked the political hegemony of the Habsburg dynasty in central Europe. The Nogai Horde and Kazakh Khanate had frequently raided the Slavic-speaking areas of Russia, Ukraine and Poland for at least a hundred years until the Russian expansion and conquest of most of northern Eurasia (i.e. Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Siberia).

The Renaissance and the New Monarchs marked the start of an Age of Discovery, a period of exploration, invention, and scientific development. Among the great figures of the Western scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries were Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Isaac Newton. According to Peter Barrett, "It is widely accepted that 'modern science' arose in the Europe of the 17th century (towards the end of the Renaissance), introducing a new understanding of the natural world."Peter Barrett (2004), Science and Theology Since Copernicus: The Search for UnderstandingCopyright: Attribute—Share Alike

External Links

  • WikipediaCouncil of EuropeEuropean UnionThe Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online"Introducing Europe"

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