Opening at the height of the Renaissance, the book chronicles the dawning of a new age on the European continent. Koenigsberger paints a detailed picture of the Reformation and its significance as increasingly powerful nations began to intrude on their subjects’ public and private lives. He gives account of the Counter-Reformation and the political and economic crisis that accompanied it, and an in-depth discussion of the age of Louis XIV and the balance of power in Europe. A full chapter addresses the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, and throughout attention is given to social, cultural and intellectual developments.
The book concludes with a summary of the situation throughout Europe on the eve of the French Revolution, and the dramatic changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution and the beginnings of a consumer society.