Interpreting Early Modern Europe  book cover
1st Edition

Interpreting Early Modern Europe

ISBN 9781138799011
Published October 1, 2019 by Routledge
526 Pages

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Book Description

Interpreting Early Modern Europe is a comprehensive collection of essays on the historiography of the early modern period (circa 1450-1800).

Concerned with the principles, priorities, theories, and narratives behind the writing of early modern history, the book places particular emphasis on developments in recent scholarship. Each chapter, written by a prominent historian caught up in the debates, is devoted to the varieties of interpretation relating to a specific theme or field considered integral to understanding the age, providing readers with a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at how historians have worked, and still work, within these fields. At one level the emphasis is historiographical, with the essays engaged in a direct dialogue with the influential theories, methods, assumptions, and conclusions in each of the fields. At another level the contributions emphasise the historical dimensions of interpretation, providing readers with surveys of the component parts that make up the modern narratives.

Supported by extensive bibliographies, primary materials, and appendices with extracts from key secondary debates, Interpreting Early Modern Europe provides a systematic exploration of how historians have shaped the study of the early modern past. It is essential reading for students of early modern history.


For a comprehensive overview of the history of early modern Europe see the partnering volume The European World 3ed Edited by Beat Kumin -

Table of Contents

Introduction: Interpreting Early Modern Europe

C. Scott Dixon and Beat Kümin

Chapter 1: Medieval and Modern

Euan Cameron

Chapter 2: Identities and Encounters

Charles H Parker

Chapter 3: Gender and Social Structures

Merry Wiesner-Hanks

Chapter 4: Renaissance

Edward Muir

Chapter 5: Reformations

C. Scott Dixon

Chapter 6: Media and Communication

Mark Greengrass

Chapter 7: Material Cultures

Bruno Blondé and Wouter Ryckboch

Chapter 8: The State

James Collins

Chapter 9: War and the Military Revolution

Christopher Storrs

Chapter 10: Expansion, Space and People

Dagmar Freist

Chapter 11: Commerce and Industry

Maarten Prak

Chapter 12: Science and Reason

John Henry

Chapter 13: Popular Cultures and Witchcraft

Kathryn Edwards

Chapter 14: Political Thought

Noah Dauber

Chapter 15: Enlightenment Struggles

Dorinda Outram

Chaper 16: French Revolution

Paul Hanson

Chapter 17: Turns and Perspectives

Beat Kümin






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C. Scott Dixon is Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast. His previous books include Protestants: A History from Wittenberg to Pennsylvania, 1517-1740 (2010), Contesting the Reformation (2012), and The Church in the Early Modern Age (2016).

Beat Kümin is Professor of Early Modern European History at the University of Warwick, U.K. Publications include Drinking Matters: Public Houses and Social Exchange in Early Modern Central Europe (2007), Imperial Villages (2019) and the edited collection The European World 1500-1800: An Introduction to Early Modern History (3rd edn, 2018).


Interpreting Early Modern Europe will provide generations of students with a secure guide to how their subject has evolved and is evolving. Its value is enhanced by the inclusion of extracts from important sources and from the writings of key historians.’ 

Hamish Scott, Canadian Journal of History, 2022


‘[M]any [of the authors] are themselves responsible for the current shape of important fields in the discipline of history. […] No contribution merely dishes up a standard story; many offer strikingly imaginative rethinkings of the subject at hand. […] In the end, readers will find themselves struck by the ways in which a larger, more original picture of early modern Europe, as a whole, has emerged.’

Mary Lindemann, Renaissance Quarterly, 2022