Life and Work in Modern Europe (Fifteenth to Eighteenth Centuries)

Life and Work in Modern Europe (Fifteenth to Eighteenth Centuries)

Life and Work in Modern Europe (Fifteenth to Eighteenth Centuries)

Life and Work in Modern Europe (Fifteenth to Eighteenth Centuries)

Excerpt

This volume will deal with the economic and social changes which took place in Europe between the second half of the fifteenth century and the last quarter of the eighteenth. This long period was an age of growth and expansion, and of every kind of material progress. After the Turkish attack, which submerged Constantinople, the Balkans and Greece, and even for an instant washed the walls of Vienna, this continent was never again the victim of foreign invasion. Henceforth it was Europe which, like an inexhaustible reservoir of men and of vigour, overflowed the rest of the globe, whose peoples became the conquerors and colonisers of the world, supreme on land and sea, carrying their civilisation to every corner of the earth.

At the opening of our period Christian Europe was divided into two quite distinct worlds: the East, where peoples, still semi-barbaric, acted as a rampart against the Mussulman power advancing from Asia, and thus played a part as useful as it was heroic; and the West, which, thus protected, could develop in peace, and repay the Eastern peoples in ideas and in culture what it owed them in security. But it is in the West that we find a fruitful and creative life, and there that we must follow and study it.

§ 1. Three revolutions precede or accompany the economic revolution; they determine and explain it.

The first was a political revolution. It was characterised by two essential facts--the formation of powerful states, and the establishment in these states of a central authority strong . . .

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