The worldview of European intellectuals shifted from one based on ecclesiastical and classical authority to one based primarily on inquiry and observation of the natural world.
- A revival of classical texts led to new methods of scholarship and new values in both society and religion.
- The invention of printing promoted the dissemination of new ideas.
- The visual arts incorporated the new ideas of the Renaissance and were used to promote personal, political, and religious goals.
- New ideas in science based on observation, experimentation, and mathematics challenged classical views of the cosmos, nature, and the human body, though folk traditions of knowledge and the universe persisted.
Religious pluralism challenged the concept of a unified Europe.
- The Protestant and Catholic Reformations fundamentally changed theology, religious institutions, and culture.
- Religious reform both increased state control of religious institutions and provided justifications for challenging state authority.
- Conflicts among religious groups overlapped with political and economic competition within and among states.
Europeans explored and settled overseas territories, encountering and interacting with indigenous populations.
- European nations were driven by commercial and religious motives to explore overseas territories and establish colonies.
- Advances in navigation, cartography, and military technology allowed Europeans to establish overseas colonies and empires.
- Europeans established overseas empires and trade networks through coercion and negotiation.
- Europe’s colonial expansion led to a global exchange of goods, flora, fauna, cultural practices, and diseases, resulting in the destruction of some indigenous civilizations, a shift toward European dominance, and the expansion of the slave trade.
European society and the experiences of everyday life were increasingly shaped by commercial and agricultural capitalism, notwithstanding the persistence of medieval social and economic structures.
- Economic change produced new social patterns, while traditions of hierarchy and status persisted.
- Most Europeans derived their livelihood from agriculture and oriented their lives around the seasons, the village, or the manor, although economic changes began to alter rural production and power.
- Population shifts and growing commerce caused the expansion of cities, which often found their traditional political and social structures stressed by the growth
- The family remained the primary social and economic institution of early modern Europe and took several forms, including the nuclear family.
- Popular culture, leisure activities, and rituals reflecting the persistence of folk ideas reinforced and sometimes challenged communal ties and norms.
The struggle for sovereignty within and among states resulted in varying degrees of political centralization.
- The new concept of the sovereign state and secular systems of law played a central role in the creation of new political institutions.
- The competitive state system led to new patterns of diplomacy and new forms of warfare.
- The competition for power between monarchs and corporate groups produced different distributions of governmental authority in European states.