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One of the most significant developments of the early modern period was the evolution of the national state from its beginnings in the feudal monarchy of the High and Late Middle Ages. The ghost of a universal state coincident with a universal church, which had lingered to the end of the Middle Ages, was finally laid to rest with the successful disruption of Christendom and recognition of the sovereignty of the national state. In its place there was a frank acceptance of the political fragmentation of Europe along the geographical lines which were already clearly discernible, at least in western Europe, by 1500. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section IX: Early Modern Europe, 1500-1789. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.