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Important Concepts & Movements

  • Balance of Power: Topic Page
    In politics, the theory that the best way of ensuring international order is to have power so distributed among states that no single state is able to achieve a dominant position.
  • Black Death: Topic Page
    Great epidemic of plague, mainly the bubonic variant, that ravaged Europe in the mid-14th century. Contemporary estimates that it killed between one-third and half of the population (about 75 million people) are probably accurate.
  • Child labor: Topic Page
    Use of the young as workers in factories, farms, and mines. Child labor was first recognized as a social problem with the introduction of the factory system in late 18th-century Great Britain.



  • Colonization: Topic Page
    Extension of political and economic control over an area by a state whose nationals have occupied the area and usually possess organizational or technological superiority over the native population.
  • Continental System: Topic Page
    Scheme of action adopted by Napoleon I in his economic warfare with England from 1806 to 1812.
  • Crusades: Topic Page
    Series of wars undertaken by European Christians between the 11th and 14th cent. to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims.
  • Enlightenment: Topic Page
    The Enlightenment, a philosophical movement in eighteenth-century Europe, rejected traditional social, religious, and political ideas and adopted rational thinking as a way to develop new theories accounting for human behavior and feelings. These new explanations were then applied to the social and political spheres, changing the way people viewed and thought about government, and directly influencing the development of the modern world.
  • Industrial revolution: Topic Page
    Acceleration of technical and economic development that took place in Britain and the United States in the second half of the 18th century.
  • Inquisition: Topic Page
    Tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church established for the investigation of heresy.
  • Nation-State
    From Encyclopedia of Human Geography
    The development of supranational political entities such as the European Union, as well as the diffusion of common cultural practices by the processes of globalization, offers substance to the argument that identity is being negotiated at a higher geographic scale, and in a less territorialized form, than the nation-state.
  • Nationalism: Topic Page
    Political or social philosophy in which the welfare of the nation-state as an entity is considered paramount.
  • Renaissance: Topic Page
    Period in European cultural history that began in Italy around 1400 and lasted there until the end of the 1500s. Elsewhere in Europe it began later, and lasted until the 1600s.
  • States-General: Topic Page
    Diet or national assembly in which the chief estates (see estate) of a nation—usually clergy, nobles, and towns (or commons)—were represented as separate bodies.

The Holy Roman Empire

  • Austria: Topic Page
    Republic of Austria, federal republic (2005 est. pop. 8,185,000), 32,374 sq mi (83,849 sq km), central Europe. It is bounded by Slovenia and Italy (S), Switzerland and Liechtenstein (W), Germany and the Czech Republic (N), and Slovakia and Hungary (E). Its capital and by far its largest city is Vienna.
  • Bohemia: Topic Page
    Bohemia, Czech Čechy, historic region (20,368 sq mi/52,753 sq km) and former kingdom, in W and central Czech Republic. Bohemia is bounded by Austria in the southeast, by Germany in the west and northwest, by Poland in the north and northeast, and by Moravia in the east. Its natural boundaries are the Bohemian Forest, the Erzgebirge ("ore mountains") chain, the Sudetes, and the Bohemian-Moravian heights.
  • Holy League: Topic Page
    The name given to a number of European alliances formed during the 15th Century , 16th Century , and 17th Century.
  • Hungary: Topic Page
    Country in central Europe, bounded north by the Slovak Republic, northeast by Ukraine, east by Romania, south by Serbia and Croatia, and west by Austria and Slovenia.
  • Joseph II: Topic Page
    Holy Roman emperor (1765-90), king of Bohemia and Hungary (1780-90), son of Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, whom he succeeded. He was the first emperor of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine (see Hapsburg).
  • Maria Theresa: Topic Page
    Austrian archduchess, queen of Bohemia and Hungary (1740-80), consort of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and dowager empress after the accession (1765) of her son, Joseph II.
  • Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor, 1557-1619: Topic Page
    Holy Roman emperor (1612-19), king of Bohemia (1611-17) and of Hungary (1608-18), son of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II.
  • Sigismund: Topic Page
    Holy Roman emperor (1433-37), German king (1410-37), king of Hungary (1387-1437) and of Bohemia (1419-37), elector of Brandenburg (1376-1415), son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.
  • Thirty Years' War: Topic Page
    From 1618-48, a general European war fought mainly in Germany.
  • War of the Austrian Succession: Topic Page
    The war broke out when, on the strength of the pragmatic sanction of 1713, the Austrian archduchess Maria Theresa succeeded her father, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, as ruler of the Hapsburg lands. The elector of Bavaria, Charles Albert, advanced counterclaims to the succession while Philip V of Spain and Augustus III of Poland and Saxony advanced weak claims of their own. Frederick II of Prussia, on even less tenable grounds claimed part of the province of Silesia.
 

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The Renaissance

  • Renaissance: Topic Page
    As increasingly urban, educated, and secular populations became dissatisfied with medieval values—first (circa 1350) in the Italian republics and principalities and then later north of the Alps—they sought to recover the knowledge and wisdom of the ancient world. A new and remarkable self-confidence in human agency resulted, and it sparked an intellectual, cultural, and artistic revolution known as the Renaissance.
  • Donatello: Topic Page
    Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi was the greatest sculptor of the early Renaissance in Italy and one of the most versatile of all time, unmatched in his technical and expressive range.
  • Galileo Galilei: Topic Page
    Galileo’s fame rests partly on the discoveries he made with the telescope, an instrument which he did not invent but was certainly the first to exploit successfully. His discovery of heavenly bodies that were so demonstrably not circling Earth, together with his open public support for the Copernican heliocentric cosmology, was to bring him into conflict with the Church.
  • Leonardo da Vinci: Topic Page
    The mass of notes and drawings in which da Vinci recorded his ideas and experiments are not just revealing of the workings of his own mind, but vital for any understanding of the meaning of the Renaissance.
  • Michelangelo Buonarroti: Topic Page
    Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni is universally recognized as one of the greatest artists in history, perhaps the greatest. He excelled as a sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the Italian High Renaissance. During his long life, Michelangelo created some of the world's most recognizable works of art.
  • Moliere: Topic Page
    French Actor and Dramatist of the Renaissance era.
  • Raphael, 1483-1520: Topic Page
    Major artist and painter of the Renaissance era.

The Enlightenment

  • Enlightenment: Topic Page
    Term applied to the mainstream of thought of 18th-century Europe and America. The scientific and intellectual developments of the 17th century.
  • Encyclopédie: Topic Page
    The work of the French Encyclopedists, or philosophes.
  • Epistemology: Topic Page
    Modern epistemology is the theory of how knowledge is possible, and is especially important in the history of science, where different paradigms of knowledge (Kuhn 1970) correspond to different scientific epoques: the age of Newton, the age of Einstein and quantum mechanics.
  • John Locke: Topic Page
    An epistemologist and political philosopher.
  • Rationalism: Topic Page
    In philosophy, a theory that holds that reason alone, unaided by experience, can arrive at basic truth regarding the world.
  • René Descartes: Topic Page
    With enough modest inherited wealth to live as he chose, he spent his life in travel, on his work in philosophy, mathematics, physics and physiology and as a soldier serving in Holland, Bohemia and Hungary.
  • Sir Francis Bacon: Topic Page
    Viscount St. Albans, politician, author, and natural historian.
  • Sir Isaac Newton: Topic Page
    English physicist and mathematician who is regarded as one of the greatest scientists ever to have lived.
  • Voltaire: Topic Page
    French philosopher and writer who won early fame as a playwright and poet and later was an influential popularizer of Newtonian natural philosophy.
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