The Emergence of European States

From the fall of the Roman Empire until at least 1100 AD, there was nothing in Europe that could be called a state. States emerged in England and France over the period 1100-1300, and later in other parts of Europe. They showed early signs of constitutional government, but some countries veered towards authoritarianism under the financial stress of the fifteenth-century military revolution…

The Institutionalization of Science in Europe

In the time between the Scientific Revolution and World War II, almost every major advance in modern science was made by scientists who were culturally European…

Science and Society in China and the Islamic World

Science must be integrated into the fabric of society — institutionalized — if it is to succeed over the longer term. Science was successfully institutionalized in Europe during the twelfth century. China and the Islamic world were at different times the world leader in science, but neither society institutionalized it, and science eventually faltered in both societies…

Why Were the Americas So Underdeveloped when Europeans Reached Them?

Mesopotamia at 1500 BC looks much like Mesoamerica at 1000 AD. The Eurasians had three thousand years to build upon their Mesopotamian foundations before the coming together of the New and Old Worlds. The Americans, by contrast, had only five hundred years…

The Foundations of the Scientific Revolution

The Scientific Revolution occurred when new methods — notably mathematical reasoning and experimentation — were adopted, but at the time of the Revolution, both mathematics and experimentation had been known to Europeans for centuries…

Reining In the Kings

The security of person and property is an essential aspect of property rights. That security was endangered during Europe’s Middle Ages by, among other things, the predatory behaviour of kings…

Economic Ideology and the Glorious Revolution

The Glorious Revolution changed the way that the English thought about their economy. The proponents of an economic ideology that justified the power of the landowners became less influential. The proponents of an ideology that emphasized the value of labour, and the role of manufacturing and trade in realizing this value, became more influential…

The Enlightenment in Britain and France

The Enlightenment marked a change in the way that humans understood themselves. Before the Enlightenment, they were bit players under God’s direction; after the Enlightenment, they stood at center stage…

A History of Religious Toleration

The First Amendment was the culmination of a centuries-long struggle in which the advocates of religious toleration risked their livelihoods, their citizenship, and even their lives. This struggle began in the sixteenth century…

Britain in the Early Eighteenth Century

Who were the people that brought about the Industrial Revolution? Although they had much in common with the Dutch, they were different from other Europeans in a number of ways. They were also very different from the British of a century earlier…