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Conclusion: Making Sense of Early Modernity


  • What was the single most significant change in European politics or society in this period?
  • How ‘modern’ was early modern Europe by 1750?
  • Was there such a thing as an early modern ‘world’?
  • Was this period characterised by continuity as much as change?



Humfrey Butters, ‘Europe in 1800’, in Beat Kümin (ed.), The European World (3rd ed, 2018), pp. 403-11



Jerry Bentley, ‘Early Modern Europe and the Early Modern World’ in Charles Parker and Jerry Bentley (eds), Between the Middle Ages and Modernity (2007)

Bonney, ‘Conclusion’, in his European Dynastic States (1991) (digital scan)

J.H. Elliott, ‘Revolution and Continuity in Early Modern Europe’, Past and Present, 42 (1969)

P.S. Gorski, ‘Historicizing the secularisation debate: Church, state and society in late medieval and early modern Europe’, American Sociological Review 65 (2000)

Wolfgang Reinhard, ‘The Idea of Early Modern History’ in Michael Bentley (ed.), Companion to Historiography (1997)

Hamish Scott, 'Early Modern History: Its Present and its Past', in: Canadian Journal of History 57 (2/2022), 280-92 (reviews a number of recent reflections on the state of the field)

Randolph Starn, ‘The Early Modern Muddle’, Journal of Early Modern History, 6 (3/2002)

Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789 (Cambridge, 2006), chap. 13, ‘Europe in the World, 1600-1789’