The Formation of NATO in 1949

In 1947–1948, a series of events caused the nations of Western Europe to become concerned about their physical and political security. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union. NATO was the first peacetime military alliance[…]

Batu Khan: Founder of the Mongol ‘Golden Horde’

Batu would serve as the kingmaker of the Mongol Empire. Introduction Batu Khan (l. 1205-1255 CE) was a grandson of Genghis Khan and the founder of the Golden Horde. Batu was a skilled Mongol military commander and won battles from China to Persia, although his most famous exploits involve the grand Mongol campaign into Europe[…]

An Introduction to the Northern Renaissance in the Fifteenth Century

Italian art and ideas migrated North from Italy. What Was the Renaissance and Where Did It Happen? The word Renaissance is generally defined as the rebirth of classical antiquity in Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  Seems simple enough, but the word “Renaissance” is actually fraught with complexity. Scholars argue about exactly when the Renaissance[…]

Religion in Medieval Europe

Christianity did not immediately win the hearts and minds of the people of Europe. Introduction Religion in the Middle Ages, though dominated by the Catholic Church, was far more varied than only orthodox Christianity. In the Early Middle Ages (c. 476-1000 CE), long-established pagan beliefs and practices entwined with those of the new religion so[…]

Visigoths: Ancient Germanic Tribes of Western Europe

After Alaric I, the Visigoths migrated to Spain where they established themselves and assimilated with the Romans. Introduction The Visigoths were the western tribe of the Goths (a Germanic people) who settled west of the Black Sea sometime in the 3rd century CE. According to the scholar Herwig Wolfram, the Roman writer Cassiodorus (c. 485-585 CE) coined the term Visigothi to[…]

Ostrogoths: Ancient Germanic Tribes of Eastern Europe

The designation, Ostrogoth, taken to mean ‘Eastern Goth’, actually means ‘Goths glorified by the rising sun’. Introduction The Ostrogoths were the eastern tribe of the Goths (a Germanic people) who rose in power in the area north of the Black Sea. The designation, Ostrogoth, taken to mean ‘Eastern Goth’, actually means ‘Goths glorified by the rising sun’ and was[…]

The Early Modern European Palaces of the Qianlong Emperor

These works represent an artistic encounter between East and West. A Controversial Auction In 2009, two eighteenth-century Chinese bronze sculptures — one representing a rat’s head and the other a rabbit’s — sold at a Christie’s auction in Paris for $40.4 million. Soon afterwards, the art world watched, stunned, as the winning bidder, Cai Mingchao,[…]

Devil’s Bargain: The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact 80 Years Later

On August 23rd, 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union stunned the world by announcing a nonaggression pact. By David Carlin Joseph Stalin cracks a smile. The dictator’s cold eyes even appear to twinkle. Next to him, the Nazi foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, beams with smug satisfaction. That night, Stalin will toast Hitler’s health.[…]

Abraham Lincoln in European Popular Culture

Lincoln has generally been absent as a model in European social and public life, rarely emphasized as an essential part of education or in the public forum. By Dr. John DeanMaître de Conférences 9° of Cultural History and American StudiesUniversity of Versailles Saint-Quentin en Yvelines Introduction This article argues that Lincoln is not a universal[…]

Statues and Status: Lincoln in Europe

The exponential growth of his popularity built into a memorial crescendo. Lincoln’s ascension to the status of icon was not smooth and steady. Journalist Horace Greeley predicted in April of 1865 that the sixteenth President’s reputation would grow proportionate to the distance from his own era, and it grew steadily from his death in 1865,[…]

African Art and the Effects of European Contact and Colonization

African cultures never existed in isolation—there was always movement, trade, and the exchange of ideas. Introduction Early encounters with Europeans were often recorded in African art. Look closely at the top of the mask above (and detail, left). Do you see faces? These represent Portuguese explorers with beards and hats (flanked by mudfish) who visited[…]

Religious Wars in Early Modern Europe

The splintering of the medieval church ushered in a volatile new era of increased anxiety, tension, and religious fervor during. Introduction For nearly 150 years, the battle for “true” Christianity tore early modern Europe apart. The spiritual divisions created by the Protestant Reformation led to a series of international and domestic conflicts that caused incalculable destruction and[…]

The Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Democratization of Magic in Post-Reformation England

How monks, friars and monastic sites became associated with magic in popular tradition, resulting in a lasting stereotype of medieval monks and friars as the masters of occult knowledge. Abstract The dissolution of the monasteries in England (1536–1540) forced hundreds of former inmates of religious houses to seek livelihoods outside the cloister to supplement meagre[…]

Creating French Culture Since the 8th Century: Treasures from the Bibliothèque nationale de France

The relationship between power—or politics—and culture in French history is an ambivalent one, defined as much by conflict and censorship as by cooperation and patronage. Introduction Throughout French history the powerful have sought to harness culture to their own ends. They understood that the representation of power—what today we call “image”—is a form of power[…]

Wives and Wenches, Sinners and Saints: Women in Medieval Europe

What did medieval Christians believe about women’s nature and social roles? How did they express these beliefs in illustrations, poetry, and religious writings? Introduction The medieval period can seem very distant from our own time, and the study of medieval women may appear particularly elusive. But feminist historians have found medieval Europe a rich subject[…]

Witch Hunt! How Europe’s Witch Mania Came to the New World

Witch hunts in the New World began in Virginia, though Virginia’s alleged witches were imprisoned rather than executed. When I decided to write Poison in the Colony, a historical novel about the Jamestown colony, I was up against a problem. It was 2014 and young readers had made their desires clear: if a book didn’t contain[…]

European Explorations in the 18th and 19th Centuries

An introduction to the development, sponsorship, and goals of European expeditions from the eighteenth to the nineteenth centuries. By Christopher Lawrence Introduction In David Livingstone’s overland expeditions in Africa, as in most nineteenth-century expeditions, science and medicine played a key role in geographic exploration. In fact, many expeditions deliberately set out to acquire new scientific[…]

Gypsies, Roma, Travelers: An Animated History

The “Roma” and Travelers are not a single, homogeneous group of people. The terms Gypsies, Roma, and Travellers are broad titles which describe diverse and different communities and are used in this article and film as general descriptors for the purpose of clarity. Europe is home to 10–12 million Roma and Travellers, yet many Europeans[…]

European Immigration to America and Colonization

Eventually, the entire Western Hemisphere would come under the domination of European nations, leading to profound changes to its landscape, indigenous population, and plant and animal life. Introduction The start of the European Colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492, although there was at least one earlier colonization effort. The first known Europeans[…]

Artillery in Medieval Europe

Artillery machines were used to good effect throughout antiquity and the medieval era. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Artillery weapons in medieval Europe included the mounted crossbow (ballista) and single-arm torsion catapult (mangonel), both similar to ancient Roman machines. As armies battled further afield such as in the Byzantine Empire and against the Arab caliphates, in[…]

Muhammad: An Anticlerical Hero of the European Enlightenment

During the European Enlightenment, a number of authors presented Muhammad as an anticlerical hero. Publishing the Quran and making it available in translation was a dangerous enterprise in the 16th century, apt to confuse or seduce the faithful Christian. This, at least, was the opinion of the Protestant city councillors of Basel in 1542, when[…]

Trade in Medieval Europe

The full range of consumer goods of the period was set out to tempt the shopper and small retailer. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Trade and commerce in the medieval world developed to such an extent that even relatively small communities had access to weekly markets and, perhaps a day’s travel away, larger but less frequent[…]

Culture Shock: An Analysis of Early Modern Europe through Arts and Literature

Examining the cultural heritage of Early Modern Europe and its influence in contemporary thought. By Angel Solis, Mariah Radue, and Nora Katz Introduction The content included here is directly related to the strong influence of the cultural heritage of Early Modern Europe in the Western world and the importance of these documents and works as[…]

The Spread of Knowledge via Print in Early Modern Europe

By the end of the fifteenth century, the majority of Western European cities had a printing press. By Richelle McDaniel Introduction While printing had already existed for several centuries, Johannes Gutenberg turned the printing world upside down and brought on a new era of print with his revolutionary innovation of movable type in 1445.[1] Movable[…]

A Genetic History of Modern Europe

Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe. The study, published today in Nature Communications, reveals a dramatic series of events including major migrations from both Western Europe and Eurasia, and signs of an unexplained[…]

A History of Hasidism: A Mystical Movement within Eastern European Judaism

Hasidism was called into existence by the charismatic figure Israel ben Eliezer (ca. 1700–1760), who was active in Poland. Introduction Hasidism is a mystical religious revival movement within Judaism, which draws from the Kabbalist tradition. It was called into existence by the charismatic figure Israel ben Eliezer (ca. 1700–1760), who was active in Poland. With[…]

Friedrich Haberlandt’s Failed Vision: Soy in European Food Cultures, 1873–1945

The “age of extremes” from 1914 to 1945 created renewed demand for cheap supplies of protein. One of the attractions at the 1873 Viennese World’s Fair was the exhibition of the Japanese Empire. The exhibits included Japanese flora, among them soybean plants. The soybean had been part of Japanese and other East Asian food cultures[…]

Border Theories in Early Modern Europe

The issue of inter-state relations illustrates the political relevance of changing concepts of borders in early modern Europe. Abstract This article discusses concepts and realities of “borders” in early modern Europe. It outlines the basic shifts in the relevant terminology with particular emphasis on juridical and political discourses. It focuses on the relative importance of[…]