Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

Get access Subject: History

Executive editor of the English version: Graeme Dunphy

The Encyclopedia of Early Modern History is the English edition of the German-language Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. This 15-volume reference work, published in print between 2005 and 2012 and here available online, offers a multi-faceted view on the decisive era in European history stretching from ca. 1450 to ca. 1850 ce. in over 4,000 entries.
The perspective of this work is European. This is not to say that the rest of the World is ignored – on the contrary, the interaction between European and other cultures receives extensive attention.

New articles will be added on a regular basis during the period of translation, for the complete German version see Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit Online.

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Gaffeln (Cologne guilds)

(6 words)

See Council (administrative)
Date: 2019-03-20

Galant literature

(1,270 words)

Author(s): Niefanger, Dirk
1. Galantry as a European concept Within the cultural history of the early modern period, the term  galant literature denotes an important European literary movement (Literature) of the 17th and early 18th centuries; in Germany it dominated poetry between the Baroque and the Enlightenment. It reduced the Baroque rhetoricality of texts, decreased learned allusions, and thus focused on increased intelligibility of poetic language. For music, see galant style.Fundamental to galant literature is galantry, an ideal of conduct and converse (Communication) based o…
Date: 2019-03-20

Galant style

(715 words)

Author(s): Waczkat, Andreas
Historiographers of music (Music, historiography of) use the term  galant style to describe compositions from the transitional period between Baroque and Classical (Classics, European). It is characterized by its rejection of the academic Baroque style with its strict contrapuntal forms (Counterpoint), exemplified by Christian Friedrich Hunold’s statement that contrivance spoils all galantry [1. 157]. An outward characteristic is a graceful and elegant facility, which establishes a relationship between the galant style and Rococo (1720–1780). …
Date: 2019-03-20


(952 words)

Author(s): Hoppe, Stephan
1. Introduction The gallery as an early modern type of space in European castle and palace architecture was an elongated promenade and display room. In contrast to the typologically and functionally related loggia in Italy (e.g. the Vatican loggias, c. 1518), a gallery is enclosed. At least one long side is heavily fenestrated and can provide well-designed landscape vistas. Although a gallery can serve as a corridor linking two areas of the palace, its primary function is to invite visitors to lin…
Date: 2019-03-20

Galley slave

(4 words)

See Penalty
Date: 2019-03-20


(729 words)

Author(s): Wassilowsky, Günther
1. Definition The term Gallicanism (from Middle Latin gallicanus, hence French  gallicanisme) was coined by 19th-century Ultramontanism. It encapsulates a variety of theories and practices intended to justify and realize the freedom and independence of the French church vis-à-vis the papacy’s claim of universal jurisdiction. There were two basic types of Gallicanism: a more theologically based  “episcopal Gallicanism” (Episcopalianism), which derived the independence of the territorial church from the dignity of the episcopate, an…
Date: 2019-03-20


(4 words)

See Death penalty
Date: 2019-03-20


(732 words)

Author(s): Hochadel, Oliver
The term galvanism denotes a group of phenomena, experiments, and tentative explanations that emerged around 1780 and split after c. 1800 into the fields of electrochemistry and electrophysiology. Beginning in the 1740s, natural scientists began inquiring into the significance of electricity for organisms. In electrical medicine, attempts were made to employ this remarkable “fluid” therapeutically. Experiments on human beings and animals initially left the question whether electricity was somethin…
Date: 2019-03-20


(1,054 words)

Author(s): Fenske, Michaela
1. Definition Gambling is participation in a game in which assets are won or lost depending on chance. The contrast between the everyday world and the world of play and games (Play, game) posited in current theories of play by writers like Johan Huizinga [4] and Victor Turner [8] appears to be particularly true for games of chance, since in them social and economic rules are abrogated: neither birth (Estates of the realm) and possessions (Possession [law]; Feudal society) nor diligence and success (Bourgeois society) decides whether the …
Date: 2019-03-20

Ganzes Haus

(890 words)

Author(s): Gestrich, Andreas
1. Term and concept As a scholarly term, the phrase  Ganzes Haus (literally “whole house/household”) goes back to the cultural scientist and conservative social critic W.H. Riehl (1823–1897) [10. 164]. Riehl interpreted the two-generation nuclear family as a symptom of the decline of modern civilization and distinguished it from the earlier term  Haus (Eng. household, French  maisonnée, Ital . casa), where not only several generations of blood relatives but also farmhands (Servants in husbandry) and other lodgers lived and worked together under a …
Date: 2019-03-20


(12 words)

See Refuse | Sanitation | Sewage, disposal of | Urban sanitation
Date: 2019-03-20


(5,586 words)

Author(s): Bischoff, Harald | Kalusok, Michaela | Wiener, Jürgen
1. Kitchen gardens and ornamental gardens 1.1. General developmentThe English term “garden” is is a medieval borrowing from French, which in turn takes the word from Old Frankish. Like the native English equivalent, “yard”, it ultimately derives from Proto-Germanic *gardaz, which denotes an enclosed courtyard.. Gardens provide space for crop plants and ornamental plants (Plants, ornamental) that are in need of special protection, for example non-native plants or cultivated forms that are competitively weak. Gardens can be designed in a more or less artistic way.In the Middle A…
Date: 2019-03-20


(3 words)

See Textiles
Date: 2019-03-20

Garrison town

(802 words)

Author(s): Kroll, Stefan
The word  garrison a French loanword. In the 18th century, Krünitz defined it as “the squad or body of soldiers stationed in a town to defend it against enemies or to guard it and at the same to keep the people obedient” [1. 143 f.]. During the Thirty Years’ War, numerous European states and territories began to create permanent troop formations that were no longer demobilized at the end of a campaign (Standing army). Strategically important sites, normally towns, were assigned a permanent body of hired mercenaries or conscripted soldiers, i.e. a garrison.In the 17th and 18th …
Date: 2019-03-20


(2,751 words)

Author(s): Meinel, Christoph | Bleidick, Dietmar
1. From vital chaos to the gas of chemists The concept that air is a weighable substance consisting of various gases gained acceptance only in the course of the 18th century. Until then it had been considered one of the four Aristotelian elements and was neither heavy nor light, as long as it remained in its natural place. In his  Ortus Medicinae (Amsterdam 1648; Ger. Aufgang der Artzney-Kunst, Sulzbach 1683), the Flemish Paracelsist Jan Baptista van Helmont conceived an alternative, vitalistic theory of matter (Vitalism), according to which all substances …
Date: 2019-03-20


(693 words)

Author(s): Wenzel, Silke
The word  Gassenhauer is attested as a proper name around 1413 and was common in the 16th century as a pejorative term for “worthless vagrants” [2]. Its earliest use in a musical sense was in 1517 in the Latin grammar of J.A. Turmair. In the first centuries of the early modern period,  Gassenhauer was a neutral term for a simple secular song popular among the urban population. In 1535, for example, a collection of secular multi-part songs with the title  Gassenhawerlin und Reutterliedlin was published in Frankfurt am Main; essentially it was addressed to the bourgeois…
Date: 2019-03-20


(4 words)

See Public house
Date: 2019-03-20

Gauntlet, running the

(7 words)

See Military jurisdiction
Date: 2019-03-20


(4 words)

See Recycling | Second-hand trade
Date: 2019-03-20


(2,302 words)

Author(s): Salatowsky, Sascha
1. Roots of the term The German word  Geist (translated in English most commonly as  spirit or  mind) is one of the most polyvalent terms in the history of science, not least because it translates two different ancient Greek words: pneúma (Lat. spiritus, “spirit, breath, Geist”) and nus/nous (Lat. intellectus, mens, “intellect, mind, Geist”). In ancient medicine, p neúma denoted the vital spirits (Lat.  spiritus vitalis et animalis), which as aerial, material instruments of the soul produce the physiological activities of living beings. In the Old Testament,…
Date: 2019-03-20

Geistliches Konzert

(1,433 words)

Author(s): Groote, Inga Mai
1. Concept and terminological history The geistliches Konzert, generally rendered in English as “chorale concerto”, is a term derived from the compositional principle of the concerto to denote certain types of 17th-century motets, although it implies no strict definition of a genre. It serves either to denote motets for few voices and accompanied by figured bass, or works on a larger scale, sometimes involving several choirs. From the 18th century, the term was also used to mean a concert (see below, 3.).The term geistliches Konzert is derived from the concept of the concer…
Date: 2019-03-20


(4 words)

See Peregrinatio academica
Date: 2018-02-14


(1,064 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept Ancient engraved gems (from the Latin gemma, “precious stone”) are small reliefs inscribed into semiprecious stones (generally chalcedony, carnelian, agate, onyx, or hematite), rock crystal, or glass, depicting portraits, mythological figures and scenes, and often inscriptions or magical symbols (Character). Because they often show the legendary creature known from gnosticism, the so-called Abraxas (or Abrasax), with armored body and a cockerel's head, they were sometimes called “Abraxas ston…
Date: 2019-03-20


(950 words)

Author(s): Nowosadtko, Jutta
1. Introduction The term gendarmerie (French, from  gens d'armes, “armed people”) has undergone a drastic change in meaning over the course of its history. At first, in the Late Middle Ages, it referred in Burgundy to royal and princely life guards, but during the French Revolution, it was transferred by law to refer to the so-called  Maréchaussée (soldiers stationed in administrative centers to support the royal courts), which from 1791 became officially known as the Gendarmerie  nationale. Since the 19th century, gendarmeries have generally been understood on the Frenc…
Date: 2019-03-20


(2,798 words)

Author(s): Ulbrich, Claudia
1. Gender as a key category Gender is a category of social differentiation and an instrument that helps us explore the political, legal, and social meanings of gender identity and gender orders in historical and present-day societies.  While the English terminology distinguishes between sex as a biological and gender as a social denominator, the German word Geschlecht combines both elements. Gender studies explore how ideas of gender are culturally created and corroborated and how gender is associated with power. Difference, social hierarchy, and f…
Date: 2019-03-20

Gender roles

(7,057 words)

Author(s): Ulbrich, Claudia
1. Concept and terminology Gender roles are social constructs, and their nature and significance varies according to historical context. While normative systems and scholarly, legal, and theological discourses of the early modern period tended to emphasize the hierarchy of the genders, and to ascribe different obligations and qualities to women and men, it was only in the final third of the 18th century that psychological characteristics derived from biological gender acquired greater significance i…
Date: 2019-03-20


(2,589 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit | Graf, Klaus
1. Concept and forms Ever since Hecataeus of Miletus collected genealogíai (“information about [noble] families”) in the 6th century BCE, the term ‘genealogy’ has denoted the art of ascertaining the place of a subject within his or her biological kin (Latin genus or  gens), or of reconstructing and portraying the succession of generations within a family. The genealogical perspective may be the world's oldest and most widespread method for determining the class (Estates of the realm) and rank of a person in society and for recalling, recording, and presenting the past.In the e…
Date: 2019-03-20

Genera dicendi

(903 words)

Author(s): Andres, Jan
The system of three  genera dicendi (Lat. also  elocutionis genera, “types of linguistic expression”) is also called the  Dreistillehre or three-style system. The term comes from classical rhetoric and governs the distinction between the stylistic levels of texts based on historically variable criteria. The term denotes the stylistic levels that identify each text. Alternative stylistic definitions were always possible, but the three-style system was the best known.Greco-Roman rhetoric called the three different levels of discourse  genus subtile/humile (“low styl…
Date: 2019-03-20


(1,823 words)

Author(s): Kondratowitz, Hans-Joachim von
1. Ambiguity: natural or social perspective? In the early modern period, the differentiation of a distinct concept of (a) generation was defined by a characteristic dichotomy and conceptual ambiguity: the division between a semantic space defined by biologically based natural criteria and another defined by social relationships, which became increasingly dominant beginning in the late 18th century.The natural perspective can be seen in a usage hardly remembered today, according to which  generation (cf. Latin  generare: “create,” “generate”) denotes primarily the gen…
Date: 2019-03-20

Generational consciousness

(871 words)

Author(s): Kondratowitz, Hans-Joachim von
The emergence of a generational consciousness in the early modern period went hand in hand with epoch-making experiences of crisis resulting from the breakdown of traditional predictabilities. This was certainly true of the cultural crisis associated with the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), whose processing found expression especially in literary and biographical witnesses [4]; [5]. These sources compassed new realms of experience, previously unknown, characterized by unending violence and the immediate threat of death [8].This new quality of existential insecurity…
Date: 2019-03-20

Generational transfer

(1,117 words)

Author(s): Kondratowitz, Hans-Joachim von
1. Frame of reference The guarantee of a transfer of properties, aptitudes, and qualities of various kinds was central to the concept of generations in the early modern period. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the meaning of  generation typically oscillated between the still powerful dominance of genealogical usage (Genealogy) and the increasing prominence of a sociocultural perspective. This oscillation allowed for a wide range of concepts that cluster about the metaphor of transfer.This ambiguity in the understanding of  generation appears in the terminology used by c…
Date: 2019-03-20

Generations, conflict of

(695 words)

Author(s): Kondratowitz, Hans-Joachim von
1. Frame of reference The early modern understanding of generations is characterized by vacillation between a primarily genealogical interpretation and a synchronic culturalization, which began to transform the concept of generation around 1800, opening up to it new levels of meaning (see Generation). We would expect that such a realignment would also lead to a clearer awareness of and greater emphasis on all those changes that became recognizable in intergenerational relationships. Conflicts betwee…
Date: 2019-03-20


(2,231 words)

Author(s): Aurnhammer, Achim
1. Definition The term ‘genius’, a key aesthetic category in the 18th century, has a long prior history that has yet to be adequately researched. Early modern poetics already moved away from strict adherence to the postulate of “imitation” (Latin  imitatio; cf. Mimesis), also valuing original artistic creativity in its complementary demand for a creative “contest” with models of classical Antiquity (Latin  aemulatio). The creative disposition, in particular the divine gift of a Mustergeist (“model spirit”) in poetry and art, came to be invoked in early modern aesthet…
Date: 2019-03-20


(12 words)

See American indigenous peoples, policy towards | Colonialism | Demographic Catastrophe
Date: 2019-03-20


(8,328 words)

Author(s): Huber, Martin | Kirchner, Thomas | Edler, Arnfried
1. Definition Generic terms are abstract conceptual fictions, that is, concepts derived from particular phenomena, that serve to organize and communicate knowledge. In the organization of knowledge in science, genus (Latin  genus, Greek génos) is the collective term for the individuals belonging to a species by virtue of common characteristics. In zoology, botany and mineralogy, genus is further divided in systematic nomenclature into groups, families, orders, and classes. Derived from the Latin, the French genre was adopted into English in the 18th century to d…
Date: 2019-03-20

Genre painting

(2,013 words)

Author(s): Kepetzis, Ekaterini
1. Introduction Genre paintings depict scenes from the everyday world, usually of the present: scenes of the farm, kitchen, or inn, of leisure pursuits and children's games, or from the general contexts of middle-class life. Until the 18th century, they tended to display erotic and moralizing tendencies, not infrequently combined with techniques of caricature. Genre painting is also distinguished from history painting (Historical painting) and the portrait by its usually generic figures [6. 13–46]; [10. 2].The term “genre” derives from the Latin genus (“kind”; “sort”), an…
Date: 2019-03-20


(926 words)

Author(s): Heyl, Christoph
The term “gentleman” (ME gentilman), attested from the 13th century, originally meant a man of noble birth entitled to a coat of arms but not an aristocrat. From the outset, therefore, the term did not fit with the categories of continental Europe. In function, the concept of “gentleman” overlapped with the (especially lesser) nobility of continental Europe, but it also differed in a number of respects. The gentleman was above the sphere of gainful work, especially manual labor, for he had property,…
Date: 2019-03-20

Geocentric model

(1,552 words)

Author(s): Beuttler, Ulrich
1. Introduction The replacement of the geocentric with the heliocentric model was not a “Scientific Revolution” (Kant), but a slow and hesitant process of alteration and assimilation that began with Nicolaus Copernicus [7]; [20] and continued with Isaac Newton and Pierre-Simon de Laplace (cf. Copernican Revolution). By 1600, there were a handful of Copernicans (Rheticus, Michael Maestlin, Johannes Kepler, Galileo). By the end of the 17th century the geocentric model was being discussed as equally astronomically valid. Only …
Date: 2019-03-20


(1,134 words)

Author(s): Epple, Moritz
1. Traditions and beginnings in the 16th century The process of measuring of the earth, supported by optical, astronomical and mathematical tools and procedures, was an important component of the new European natural sciences of the 16th and 17th century. This practise was closely tied to maritime navigation and was of economic, military and political significance. As such it served both as a field of application and a driver for innovation in the natural sciences.Modern geodesy had its origins in the manufacturing of maps and globes (Cartography). This practise was k…
Date: 2019-03-20


(2,090 words)

Author(s): Schröder, Iris
1. Concept Geography literally means “description of the Earth” (Greek  geographía). With astronomy, it forms part of cosmography, the science of the cosmos. Since Antiquity, geography in the stricter sense has denoted a learned tradition of knowledge related to the description of the Earth as a whole, in particular its physical surface. In a wider sense, geographical knowledge comprises a popular and practical sphere of knowledge that in the early modern period was closely associated with the emergence of modern territorial states and European colonial rule.Iris Schröder …
Date: 2019-03-20


(2,057 words)

Author(s): Fritscher, Bernhard
1. Mineralogy and meteorology Geology, the study of the structure and history of the Earth, is an invention of the early modern period. As an independent discipline, it was a product of middle-class culture and national aspirations in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nevertheless, many of its issues were already discussed in antiquity. Before the middle of the 18th century, such matters as the origins of rocks and mountains, changes in the distribution of land and sea, erosion and sedimentation, and the…
Date: 2019-03-20


(3,551 words)

Author(s): Epple, Moritz
1. Historical development: overview From Greek antiquity onwards, the cultures of the Mediterranean considered geometry - the study of figures on the plane and in space - to be the epitome of an exact science, relying on strict proofs based on precisely formulated assumptions. Geometry moreover represented science’s most powerful language for expressing relations of size, trumping the arithmetica universalis. Its domain extended from direct measurement of spatial proportions through astronomy and optics to the art of construction.The early modern era witnessed a remar…
Date: 2019-03-20


(945 words)

Author(s): Neschwara, Christian
1. Medieval originsThe German word Gerichtsbote, widespread since the mid-14th century, indicates lower-level court personnel (Judiciary); it derives from the terms Büttel (Beadle )and Fronbote (assistants a judge might call upon during certain judicial proceedings), which were used as synonyms in sources such as the Sachsenspiegel (ca. 1225). The tasks performed by the Gerichtsbote included announcing ( fürbieten) the convening of court (Trial procedure), serving notice of lawsuits, issuing summons and delivering the explanations and rulings of t…
Date: 2019-03-20


(5 words)

See Judicial authority
Date: 2019-03-20

German Confederation

(2,331 words)

Author(s): Kohl, Gerald
1. Concept The German Confederation (German Deutscher Bund) was “an association in international law of the sovereign German princes and free cities” (“ ein völkerrechtlicher Verein der deutschen souveränen Fürsten und freien Städte” (Art. 1 WSA = Wiener Schlussakte). Between 1815 and 1866, it joined together essentially the same territories that had until 1806 formed the Holy Roman Empire (Imperial constitution). Major territorial changes occurred in 1839, with the loss of the western part of Luxembourg and the addition of Limbur…
Date: 2019-03-20

German Customs Union

(6 words)

See Zollverein
Date: 2019-03-20

German Dualism

(1,884 words)

Author(s): Derndarsky, Michael
1. Definition Disregarding all other bipolar power constellations in the medieval and early modern Holy Roman Empire, German Dualism primarily denotes the rivalry between the Habsburgs and Hohenzollerns (or simply Austria and Prussia), the duration and political intensity of which, after the Habsburgs established themselves as the early modern Imperial dynasty, far exceeded those of early differences between the House of Austria and, for instance, Saxony or Bavaria.Michael Derndarsky 2. German Dualism in the Holy Roman Empire German Dualism dates back to the changes…
Date: 2019-03-20

German Historical School

(2,131 words)

Author(s): Haferkamp, Hans-Peter
1. Definition The German Historical School – which owes its name to Friedrich Carl von Savigny’s call for the establishment of a “historical school” of law in 1814/1815 [5]; [4] – exercised a formative intellectual influence on 19th-century German jurisprudence; despite its specific goals in legal historiography, it is frequently also considered a representative of historicism. Opposing philosophical systems based on natural law, the “arbitrariness” of a legislature, but also “common sense,” Savigny called for the estab…
Date: 2019-03-20

Germania illustrata

(822 words)

Author(s): Müller, Gernot Michael
The phrase Germania illustrata is the title of a publishing project (never realized) of the German humanist K. Celtis; had it been realized, it would have been the earliest humanist presentation of the geography and history of Germany. But as a plan that Celtis pursued from 1495 until his death in 1508 and worked on at length within the circle of German humanists, the Germania illustrata documents his sustained interest in discussions of the German nation, which pioneered a specifically humanistic nationalism (Nation, nationalism) [1. 251–379].The primary sources for the …
Date: 2019-03-20

Germani, myth of

(1,272 words)

Author(s): Hirschi, Caspar
1. Tacitus and his Humanist readers The various cultural regions of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages still had very different origin myths. The Latin term Germani was accordingly used in a variety of senses, without referring to any particular ethnic entity [1. 326 f.]. This changed with the rediscovery of Tacitus’ Germania (mid-15th century) and its export to Germany via Italian Humanism. Tacitus described the Germani as aboriginal inhabitants of pure descent. From around 1500, German Humanists drew on this to construct, within a shor…
Date: 2019-03-20
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