As with all periodizations in historical science, no exactly dateable epoch boundaries can be drawn. From a humanistic point of view, the changed image of man in humanism and the period of the Renaissance (rebirth of antiquity) shaped by it, as well as the development of book printing by Johannes Gutenberg, are considered the beginning of the turning point between the Middle Ages and modern times. Historically and politically significant turning points were the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the “discovery” of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the end of the Reconquista in the same year, the beginning of the Italian Wars in 1494 and the imperial reform in the Holy Roman Empire in 1495 and the beginning of the Reformation 1517.
The end of the early modern period is largely agreed with the French Revolution (1789-1799), which also closes the Age of Enlightenment. The Ancien Régime collapsed after 1789, first in France and as a result of the revolutionary wars in almost all of Europe. In the German-speaking world, the early modern period ended in 1806 with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire under pressure from Napoleon. The early modern period is followed as part of the modern period by modernity, which continues to the present day.
late early modern period
The end of the epoch and the beginning of the modern age are largely agreed in historical studies with the French Revolution from 1789 onwards. The French Revolution was a consequence of the Enlightenment that had already carried the American Revolution of 1776. Due to the events of 1789, the Ancien Régime collapsed, first in France and, as a result of the Revolutionary Wars, in almost all of Europe. In Germany, this was expressed primarily by the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. Despite the restoration of the old regime after Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat in 1814/15, Europe had changed fundamentally politically. The historian Reinhart Koselleck assumes that further processes of change took place from around 1750 to 1850/70. He coined the term “saddle period” for this transitional period from the early modern period to modern times.
epochs in the early modern period
As a historiographer, Christoph Cellarius (1638–1707) was the first to use the term “modern times” to classify universal history. Gerhard Oestreich is considered one of the co-creators of the “Early Modern Age” as a separate discipline within history. In general, the concept of an epoch is associated with the appearance of humanism on the one hand and the end of the Ancien Régime on the other.
Depending on how you look at it, the early modern period can be divided into the following periods:
Dawn of the Renaissance (ca. 1350–1450) (often still attributed to the late Middle Ages) Age of Discoveries (1415–1531) Age of Reformation and schisms (1517–1648) (confessionalization) Period of the Baroque (“Absolutism”) and the Enlightenment (ca. 1650–1789) End of the Ancien Régime or beginning of the French Revolution (1789–1815) In Anglo-Saxon scientific terminology, on the other hand, one speaks of “Early Modern History” or, in relation to Europe, of “Early modern Europe” and thus usually describes a period from the 15th century to the late 18th century. This concept of periodization is based on the idea that the period “between the Reformation and the French Revolution” can be understood as an epoch of cultural transformation, which can be distinguished from both the Middle Ages and the modern age due to specific structures and processes.