Early Modern Europe

Historical Timeline

Medieval Transition Modern
Early Medieval: 9th-11th Century
High: 12th-13th
Late: 14th
15th-16th
Early Modern: 17th-18th
19th-20th

Political Evolution:

Feudalism:
1. Nobility
2. Middle class
3. Peasants

Feudal Monarchy

Republic

National Monarchy:
1. Absolute Monarchy
2. Constitutional Monarchy

Republic

Nation-State

Religious and Intellectual Evolution:
Roman Catholic Church Renaissance
Reformation
Science
Enlightenment

Romanticism Realism


Cultural Evolution:
Inheritance Elections

An economic surplus creates the possibility for specialization and trade. That makes possible the develpment of a middle class of merchants and craftsmen, who are literate because literacy is required for their economic activity. They are concentrated in the cities and larger towns, which gives them access to trade routes.

Feudal lords who rule over the cities and towns recruit members of the middle class as officials and advisors, thus rendering their rule more effective, and helping them to rise to prominence in the feudal hierarchy. The middle class depends upon the feudal monarchy for protection. As the size of the middle class increases, they are increasingly important to the monarch, who can improve his governance and begin to become independent of the lesser feudal nobility. In this way the feudal monarchy evolves into a national monarchy. If the middle class is employed by the king and loyally serve the king, there can be an absolute monarchy. Unlike members of the nobility, they have no claim to top political positions in a system based on inheritance.

The middle class, if sufficiently influential and able to meet together, may gain independent political power through election to a legislature. If this case, the middle class allied with elements of the lesser nobility, can demand a sharing of power with the king. The result is the creation of a constitutional monarchy, where elections have begun to replace inheritance as the principle that legitimizes political power.

Should the middle class become so dominant as to remove the king from power, the result is the creation of a republic.