Periodization -- the Quick and Dirty Version
What exactly is Early Modern? Early Modern is the chronological period between the Middle Ages (Late) and the actual Modern. Chronologically, Early Modern starts somewhere in the really late 14th c. in Italy, but more like the early 16th c. everywhere else. It ends somewhere in the late 17th c or maybe even the early 18th c. This may seem a bit confusing. That's because Early Modern is defined as much by what it isn't as by what it includes. It isn't part of the Middle Ages or the Modern World (which starts somewhere around the Age of Revolution, except for when it starts around the Enlightenment). It includes such non-chronological periods, or better, movements, as 'the' Renaissance, the Reformation, the Catholic- or Counter-reformation, the Voyages of Exploration/Discovery and Empire, and the Price Revolution. It is the time of the Tudors and Stuarts, the Valois and Bourbons, and the Habsburgs. It is the time of Leonardo and Shakespeare, of Luther and Loyola, of di Lasso and Bach. Some people might say that the Early Modern is a period where people tried to escape their dark Medieval Past by looking toward a bright future, suddenly aware of the marvels of human potential. Those people would be idiots.