EGO | Europäische Geschichte Online – a transcultural History of Europe on the Internet

von by EGO-Redaktion Original in German, angezeigt indisplayed in English


An Overview of EGO (Joachim Berger)

EGO | European History Online is a history of modern Europe from the perspectives of communication and transfer. The more than 200 articles that are published online (open access) in English and German are organised into ten thematic threads. The thread Theories and Methods presents methodological and theoretical approaches that are crucial to a transcultural history of Europe. Backgrounds addresses the factors and actors which shaped Europe as a communicative space. These explain the prerequisites for and conditions of transfer processes. Crossroads were the zones of contact and conflict in which communication concentrated and which created the meeting points for transfer processes (for example, Border Regions). The thread Models and Stereotypes outlines the attributions and images that were associated with certain spaces across the centuries in Europe, from the model of classical antiquity to the model of America. Europe on the Road focuses on the contributions by migrants and travellers to the processes of intercultural transfer. European Media traces how different types of media mediated and altered the content of the transfer. A focal point is the European media events which provoked Europe-wide debates that gripped entire societies. European Networks depicts the personal networks in which the regular exchange of ideas, technologies and practices took place. Transnational Movements and Organisations operated across national, religious or economic boundaries and developed their own programmes and structures. Military victories and defeats as a result of Alliances and Wars fundamentally changed European societies: they provoked defensive reactions, but also stimulated processing of learning. Conflict and exchange also shaped Europe's interdependence with the non-European world: the thematic thread Europe and the World asks how "European" the history of Europe actually was.

European History Online, therefore, concentrates on processes of communication, interaction and interdependency. At its heart are transfer processes that extended across individual, familial and local realms and had a long-term impact. EGO traces these transfer processes in and between, amongst others, the realms of religion, law, politics, art, music, literature, economics, technology and the military, science and medicine. One can speak of a "transfer" when people, objects and ideas move between different cultures (interpretative systems) and as a result undergo transformation. Of particular interest here is the processual character of this transfer, which brings to light how the mediation of intermediaries can deform, reinterpret or reject the content of a transfer between the originating and receiving systems.

In accordance with this, three central questions guide the thematic threads and individual contributions to European History Online:

1. the question of the content of the transfers, i.e. the objects, ideas, discourses and practices that came out of each "originating system" in the transfer process;

2. the question of the role and function of mediators, i.e. particular media and people ("agents");

3. the question of the forms of and criteria for appropriation or rejection in the various receiving systems.

The thematic threads group the separate articles into a modular structure arranged thematically and methodologically. These threads are transdisciplinary and multi-thematic; they bring together the perspectives of different historical disciplines and their international authors. At the same time, they are organised diachronically, i.e. they deal with phenomena that – with specific periods of development and significance – are primarily evident throughout modern European history. The ten thematic threads present three intertwining perspectives on Europe and its communicative relationships:

1. Two threads mainly address the transfer processes involving concepts of space tied to contemporary perceptions and attributions (Crossroads and Models and Stereotypes).
2. Three threads investigate media and "agents". They set transfers in motion, propel them further or block them. As a result, they change the content of the transfer (Europe on the Road, European Media and European Networks).
3. Three threads primarily examine transfer processes via overarching systems of transfer.  Mediators interacted within these structures and invested them with the character of a common interpretative framework that could provide the basis for a community (Transnational Movements and Organisations, Alliances and Wars and Europe and the World).

Underlying these perspectives are two threads that establish the methodological and factual foundations for the other threads (Theories and Methods and Backgrounds).

Each thread consists of a modular structure based on three types of article: surveys, basic elements and focus elements. The surveys define a particular area of research, present the general conditions and prerequisites for transfer processes and thus enable a contextualisation of factors and results. Basic elements accompany these surveys. They describe and analyse a particular transfer process relevant to Europe. They examine – with differences in emphasis – the prerequisites, backgrounds and conditions of the different transfer processes, the interaction between one or more originating and receiving system(s), the content or objects of commutation/transfer, and the agents and media of transfer. The focus elements study a particular aspect of transfer more closely, shed light on the specific prerequisites and conditions of transfer or present individual agents and media of transfer.

A Transcultural History of Europe on the Internet

EGO deals with "Europe" not as a geographical or political given: ever since the late 15th century, when Europe became a tangible, historiographical category for the organisation of space, the geographical borders and attributes which demarcate Europe from other parts of the world have been shaped by the ideals and values of those who welcomed or distanced themselves from the category of "Europe". The meaning of "Europe" and the way in which one should ideally imagine it have always been the product of the discussion of the "European". European History Online understands Europe as a communicative space, whose borders, centres and peripheries depend upon various temporal and thematic contexts. EGO aims to reconstruct these contemporary contexts. Their polyphonic and contradictory nature contradicts static images of Europe which postulate the "essence" of Europe or its inevitable/necessary development.

European History Online tells the history of Europe from the perspectives of communication and transfer. From this angle, equal weight will be given to the patterns of human thought and lifestyles that in their entirety create "the" modern Europe. Neither political developments and religious boundaries nor economic and social structures will be presented as a priori predominantly significant in shaping Europe. Of course, the entirety of transcultural processes and their various levels of interdependency cannot be presented completely. Therefore, EGO's threads each trace a particular aspect of communication in European history. This enables a systematic analysis and comparison of the guiding questions (regarding the content of transfers, mediators, and the forms of and criteria for appropriation and rejection). The threads all contain elements of the major models of development (for example, confessionalisation, secularisation, colonisation and globalisation). However, EGO allows its users to adopt their own chronological, spatial and thematic templates. From this comprehensive view, they can identify those "junctions" of European history which have to date not been recognised as such.

EGO has not chosen any of the organising approaches normally adopted by the historical disciplines when depicting "the" history of Europe: EGO neither understands European history as the sum of national histories nor as a synthesis of cross-European structural elements or a combination of the two. EGO does not portray the history of Europe as a succession of intellectual, exegetical or artistic advances. Of course, these approaches, each of which has been preferred by certain disciplines, are justified and plausible. Indeed, European History Online in no way aims to establish a new "master narrative" whereby a constant intensification of intra-European communication finally brought Europeans to make peace with one another within the European Union after centuries of conflict. EGO does not pretend to have found a perfect narrative form for writing European history. Rather, the existing approaches should be supplemented by the – to date – underrepresented, transcultural perspective.

A TRANSCULTURAL History of Europe on the Internet

Different historical disciplines do not all use the concept of "transcultural" in the same way.  EGO does not understand "culture" in a comprehensive, holistic sense whereby the "cultural space" of Europe as the core of (Western) civilisation is demarcated off from non-European "cultural spaces". "Culture" is not understood as a realm separate to religion, politics, economics etc. Finally, EGO does not employ an elite concept of culture in which the term is synonymous with the arts and sciences ("high culture"). "Culture" refers instead to the different frames of reference and interpretative systems, the boundaries of which are often, but not always, physical and geographical. "Transcultural" has three dimensions in European History Online:

1. "Transcultural" extends and adds nuance to the concept of "transnational" with regards to time, space and content. EGO examines the long period from about 1450 to 1950. Transnational phenomena, as a rule, only appeared in the late 18th century. EGO extends this approach to examples where the borders being crossed did not belong to nation states, above all in the early modern period, which employed other frames of reference – for example smaller geographical spaces such as regions or interpretative systems that are not primarily positioned physically and geographically such as religions and confessions. "Transcultural" is in this sense a generic term for processes that are transnational, transregional, transconfessional, translinguistic, transethnic or which traverse legal systems.

2. The term "transcultural" complements EGO's examination of different spheres of life. Each thread deals with how different areas of life in European history were interlaced by time, space and content – creating interdependencies between religion, law, politics, art, music, literature, economics, technology and the military, science and medicine. EGO brings together these areas, which are normally dealt with separately. Transcultural should be understood as trans-"sphere".

3. The word "transcultural" corresponds to the disciplinary and transnational cooperation of authors and academic publishers from different academic and national specialisms. This is evident in the articles themselves: above all, the surveys integrate perspectives from different disciplines (for example, Anglophilia addresses the exemplary role ascribed to England in the late 18th century in reference to its political constitution, but also in the realms of literature, landscape architecture and fashion). Different authors are guided by particular disciplinary perspectives. However, the combination allows the users to acquire a cross-disciplinary perspective.

EGO has set itself the challenge of affirming the legitimacy of the perspectives provided by each separate discipline, while also bringing them together under the overarching viewpoint of communication and transfer. In practice, this combination means that EGO articles ideally
a) take into account the perspectives of the actors, i.e. deal with those intermediaries in the transfer processes who conveyed and modified the content of the transfer,
b) reflect upon the nature of the media involved in the processes, and
c) identity the spatial locations of actors and originating and receiving systems.

EGO is not a "history of transfer processes in Europe". The various complexions of encounters, diffusions, exchanges, rejections and adaptations over 500 years of European history require a range of methodological approaches that mutually reinforce one another. Three central approaches exemplify this methodological variety: thus, the method of transferts culturels developed by comparative literature can be employed particularly fruitfully with transcultural phenomena in the early modern period. Using comparative history one can separate originating and receiving systems. In addition, the comparison acts as a control mechanism: one can only identify and explain "historical change" using synchronous and diachronic comparisons of several transfer processes. Even in the early modern period, transfers between two states or regions cannot be viewed in isolation without ignoring numerous factors. In the 19th century, processes of exchange became even denser and more complicated. While nation states consolidated, the "global" interdependence of numerous spheres of life also increased. As a result, the transnational perspective is more important for the 19th and 20th centuries: an investigation of transnational movements and their agents will facilitate the identification and description of multilateral transfers by providing concrete examples.

EGO can thereby include elements of traditional approaches such as the history of bilateral relations or Rezeptionsforschung while also looking beyond them: there is never a simple "acceptance of ideas" or a straightforward "adoption of technology". Rather, European History Online shows how objects, discourses and practices were circulated and exchanged between – but also rejected by – different interpretative systems, and how they changed in the course of this. When the important, individual contributions of the intermediaries in the transfer processes are examined, this activity can be described in a more nuanced way than the simple contrast of "origin" and "reception" allows for.

A Transcultural  HISTORY of Europe on the Internet

European History Online examines modern European history from the end of the Middle Ages up to contemporary history, i.e. the period from about 1450 to 1950. This is not only due to the academic parameters of the Leibniz Institute of European History, whose period of interest begins in the century before the European Reformation, but also due to considerations regarding the subject itself. There really were important developments in the 15th century that, viewed from the perspectives of communication and transfer, had a significant impact on the history of Europe and which thus justify using this period as a starting point: moveable-type printing replaced the reproduction of texts by hand with typographic technology and thereby decisively speeded up and intensified communication. Europe recovered demographically and economically from the Black Death. Intensive transfers in art, literature, philosophy and the economy emanating from Italy (the "Renaissance") were set in motion. The Portuguese and Spanish journeys of discovery strengthened Europe's penetration of the (rest of the) world. The Byzantine Empire collapsed with the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans and Mongol rule over large parts of Eastern Europe came to an end. In order to surmount an outdated periodisation loaded with West European and disciplinary biases, the articles that deal with the 15th and 16th centuries always take account of developments that began before 1450.

EGO uses 1950 as a cut-off point because of the project's decidedly "historical" emphasis: EGO does not aim to analyse the various threads of Europeanisation that began after 1950 and fed into the process of economic and political integration (of, at first, Western Europe). It would be a misunderstanding to see EGO as a background history to the European Union. The articles trace older processes of Europeanisation that drew on neither political projects nor economic structures (as, for example, in the case of the humanistic networks of the 16th and 17th centuries) or took entirely different directions to those followed by the history of Western Europe after 1950 (for example, the Pan-Europe movement of the 1920s). Developments spanning the middle of the 20th century into recent contemporary history, however, are investigated if they began before 1950.

A Transcultural History of EUROPE on the Internet

Anyone trying to write (a) "European history" runs the danger of reinforcing the humanities' Eurocentrism. "Europe" is without doubt a problematic category loaded with normative concepts. In addition, during the 15th to 19th centuries, it was only present on the mental landscape of a few contemporaries. Nevertheless, those wanting to overcome Eurocentric concepts of history should not exclude "Europe" as a contemporary frame of reference and a historical category. A global historical framework can extend and enrich local, regional, national and, indeed, European perspectives. However, it cannot replace them, above all because it does not automatically rule out Eurocentric assumptions. European History Online always adopts transnational and postcolonial approaches when they are appropriate to the relevant "European" contexts. The goal is to reveal "Europe's" different layers of meaning and their dependency upon temporal and spatial context.  This "reflexive Eurocentrism" appears in EGO in the following ways:

1. The contributions to EGO investigate the potential for the development of cross-boundary communication in Europe. Exclusion, conflict and war are essential parts of the history of Europeanisation. The course and results of transfer processes often could not be consciously directed; misunderstandings, interruptions and the refusal to communicate played an important role.

2. EGO's context-dependent understanding of Europe reconstructs a different "European" space of communication depending on the period, the actors involved and the contents of the transfers. To give one example, the Ottoman Empire was, as a participant in the processes of war and peace, an integral part of "European" communicative relationships in the early modern period. In other communicative contexts in the same period (for example, transfers in the visual arts), it was only marginally integrated. The relationship between "centres" and "peripheries" in this Europe was dynamic and shifted, depending on the context, between east and west, north and south. Taken together, the contributions to EGO demonstrate the inadequacy of the idea of a "core Europe". Communication across the Atlantic, the Caucasus or the Far East is referred to if it reveals something about the topic under discussion. The borders of that which appeared to be "European" or "non-European" were repeatedly redrawn.

3. EGO also examines the numerous connections between Europe and the non-European world, particularly those communicative and transfer processes which Europe adopted or rejected from the non-European world. The guiding hypothesis of the thread Europe and the World is that European identities developed through the self-demarcation from the non-European world, and that conflicts outside Europe had a knock-on impact on Europe. These encounters with the "Other" changed European societies – well before the end of the 19th century when the global interconnectedness of many spheres of life become more tangible.

A Transcultural History of Europe on the INTERNET

Publishing a history of Europe in the internet has many advantages. First and foremost, is free world-wide access (i.e. the principle of "open access"). In addition, there is the medium's relevance to the subject matter: the ten thematic threads organise the history of Europe from the perspective of communication and transfer. This organisation offers flexible means of accessing the contributions: in contrast to a printed book, European History Online does not have a beginning and an end. EGO accommodates the dynamics of intensifying communication and the continuously shifting intersections in European history by assigning many articles to more than one section. Thus, the surveys Discovery, Exploration, Encounters as well as Colonialism and Imperialism are located in the threads Backgrounds and Europe and the World. Within these multiple classifications, one can see how the topics interconnect. This structure highlights, for example, the links between religious or confessional migration (under Europe on the Road) and the creation of networks by these religious or confessional groups (under European Networks). Similarly, it reveals the gradual transitions from loose networks to organised transnational movements, for example in the secret societies or Zionism – movements that could develop their own programmes and permanent forms of organisation (threads European Networks and Transnational Movements and Organisations).

The format of an online system of publication is the ideal medium for representing the complexity and dynamics of European communicative and transfer processes. The different forms of presentation – surveys, basic elements and focus elements – and their organisation into a modular structure enable nuanced contextualisation. In addition to this multi-layered structure, EGO articles are directly connected via hyperlinks. The aim of these connections is to expose the so far unknown concentrations of communication in European history, inspire new transcultural research in the various disciplines and thereby promote a more dynamic understanding of European history. The versatile search function allows users to put together their own "history of Europe" which corresponds to their individual interests.

The change in media undertaken by European History Online challenges the concept of multi-volume published surveys, which, as a rule, must wait 20 to 50 years for a new edition. This dynamic form of publication corresponds to the dynamic understanding of Europe: the articles can be updated and the system can be extended by new articles in order to keep up with new developments in the research. Older versions of an article will remain accessible.

European History Online also primarily uses linear, textual presentations of narrative and analysis in order to portray transfer processes in the European history. In addition, EGO combines different types of media in a – new – interpretative context. Moreover, EGO makes maximum use of the internet's multi-media potential. Images and audio and visual clips illustrate not only the topic being described, but also narrate their own histories of transfer and enable new interconnections. EGO's transdisciplinary approach is also to a large degree a product of the images, graphics, maps, tables, film clips and audio samples linked to the different textual contributions. This network exists, on the one hand, via internal links to elements published within EGO and, on the other, via links to external images, textual sources and biographical data digitalised or published elsewhere, as well as – in the notes – scholarly literature and other academic resources online. The dynamic EGO system thereby brings together and groups thematically the range of international online resources on European history.

Threads (Jennifer Willenberg) and Examples (Lisa Landes)

Theories and Methods

Methodological and Theoretical Approaches to a Transcultural History of Europe

"World history", "new global history", "connected", "shared" or "entangled history", "transferts culturels" and "histoire croisée" – transcultural perspectives and approaches have been promoted and discussed under numerous labels; the debate, which has been going on for a quarter of a century, is as lively as ever. This thread presents central approaches and research perspectives with reference to a transcultural history of Europe: cultural transfer/histoire croisée, transnational history, comparative history and postcolonial studies. These articles are supplemented by reflections on the concept of Europe, European history and historiography, as well as the approaches dealing with space and the history of ideas that are central to European History Online.

One survey article presents the approach of Historical Regions developed in the historical subdiscipline of East European History. It discusses non-territorialised mesoregions such as "South Eastern Europe", "Eurasia" and the "Black Sea Region". Comparative analyses investigate and contrast the structural characteristics of these regions. This links up in a number of ways to the methods discussed in the survey article "Comparative History".
The fact that "Europe" was from the very beginning an imagined entity is evident in the article Europe as a Cultural Reference and Value System. It traces how the concepts and images that Europeans constructed of "Europe" changed over time: from the Christian republic in the 15th century to the Europe of the EU which, amongst other criteria, defines itself via the common values of parliamentary democracy and human and civil rights.


Europe as a Communicative Space – Prerequisites and Backgrounds

Europe as a communicative space was and is attached to conditions and dependent upon specific fundamental prerequisites. This thread presents the backgrounds to communication and transfer in European history in two respects. On the one hand, it investigates how factors such as law, economic, religion and politics influenced communication and intercultural transfer. What prerequisites did they create and what obstacles did they throw up? On the other hand, it outlines the central prerequisites and conditions for communication and transfer. What means of transport did one use to travel? How did the traffic infrastructure develop in Europe? How long did it take to get from Rome to Stockholm? What media were available to the European public?

The article on Law considers the role law played as both a condition and factor of transfer in Europe. In the early modern period, the mediaeval understandings of law legitimised by theology were questioned; new justifications and legal forms were discovered. The article investigates the sources, application and study of law, amongst other key points, from the perspective of the history of transfer.
The article on the Book Market examines the European book market's contribution to communication and transfer. The vernacular's rise in status due to the European Reformations opened a new, immense arena of communication, but also erected barriers of comprehension. These were overcome by translations into Latin, the lingua franca of the learned and educated in Europe. The article traces the development and significance of the book market for European transfer processes from the precursors in Antiquity to the Frankfurt book fair of the present day.


Spaces of Concentrated Communication

Depending on one's perspective, "crossroads" can be the points at which two or more roads either meet or diverge. Accordingly, they are both central meeting places and critical points at which the ways part. The articles in this thread deal with such "crossroads", both literally and metaphorically, and offer a spatial approach to a transcultural history of Europe. "Space" is understood here to be both "made", i.e. the product of processes of construction, and relational, meaning it is dependent upon time and context. "Space" also means here the zones of intensive contact that can contain conflict. These areas, in which two or more systems meet, can be both border regions such as the Pyrenean space or the Mediterranean, but also academic, artistic, academic or political metropolises in which complex social, cultural and economic processes converge and influence one another.

The development and diffusion of different laws and understandings of law represent one of the factors that has had a lasting impact upon the character of European spaces. The survey Legal Families tries to classify law using certain criteria – language, geography, political system, religion – into larger groups of legal systems. In Europe, different legal systems were created: the Romance, the German, the Anglo-American and the Scandinavian, each of which is described in more detail in an article of its own. The article German Legal Tradition, for example, depicts the development of the continental European, German-language and typically codified law that dominated the civil law system of Germany, Switzerland and Austria and whose roots lie in Romano-German law. Through the further innovations of important legal scholars of the 19th century and codifications such as the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – BGB) of 1896 or the Swiss Civil Code (schweizerisches Zivilgesetzbuch – ZGB) of 1907/1912, the German legal systems had an influence well beyond the borders of Europe.

Models and Stereotypes

The Formation of Models and Stereotypes in Intercultural Transfer Processes

The formation of models of variable duration, influence and extent are evident again and again in modern European history. Beginning with the "ancient model" and the "Italian model" and ending with the "American model", which has remained powerful for long into the post-war period, this thread offers a journey through 500 years of European (cultural) history. A "model" means here a representation composed of those attributes which the creators of the model believed relevant in the light of particular motifs and which during a specific period acted as a substitute for certain subjects. These are often tied up with the perception of a "culture gap", whereby one model is perceived as "superior", as more progressive. The orientation towards this model thereby promises progress towards modernisation. Perceptions of oneself and others play a central role in the construction of such models. By reducing complex realities and making them manageable, stereotypes, in particular, represented an instrument of selection or mechanism of rejection. They were subject to frequent, sometimes rapid changes: Anglophilia could turn into Anglophobia and the other way round. In turn, the perceptions of oneself and others tinged the content of the transfer and its acceptance: Spanish court ceremonies, French fashion, English gardens or the USA's Mickey Mouse are not only imprinted with more or less clear connotations of origin, but also with a complex bundle of concepts and emotions, both positive and negative.

In the 16th century, Spain was – as a part of the Habsburg possessions on which "the sun never set" – the leading power of Europe. The survey article The Spanish Century sheds light on the conditions and prerequisites for this spectacular rise to global power and investigates what transfers it set in motion. Thus, for example, Spanish court ceremonies and Spanish court fashion set the standards for the European royal houses and the upper strata of society. At the same time, however, it also shows that that which was known as "Spanish" was already the product of a mixture (métissage) of very different cultures; the Spanish architecture of the 16th century, for example, was influenced by both the Italian Renaissance and the Gothic and Moorish traditions.
"Spain", however, could also be connected to clearly negative stereotypes, as evident in the article The Leyenda Negra. This term from the 19th century refers to the "black legend", an anti-Spanish attitude common throughout Europe, the origins of which go back to the 16th century. The Leyenda Negra portrays Spain as ignorant and fanatical, hostile to all innovations and unsuited to membership of the cultivated peoples. The article depicts the images of Spain in different European countries and portrays the events which gave rise to anti-Spanish prejudices. Although there is no evidence of systematic vilification of the Spanish, the idea of a Leyenda Negra was useful for the Spanish themselves because it offered them a defence against any criticism of Spain, which could be rejected as an unfounded element of the "black legend".

Europe on the Road

Migrants and Travellers as Mediators of Intercultural Transfer

From wandering journeymen to computer specialists, from pilgrims to tourists on package holidays – Europe was and is a continent on the move. At the centre of this thread are two groups that had constant contact with foreigners and were not just temporary or individual mediators in the processes of cultural transfer, namely migrants and travellers. Consciously or unconsciously, these migrants and travellers always carried something more with them than the obvious, from commodities or news to eating habits or ideas. Often, they were involved in transfer processes in a manner that went beyond simple transport. By bringing their own experiences and interpretations, they extended or restricted the content (objects, discourses or practices) of the transfer. This thread introduces the different ways of crossing borders and the mobile intermediaries who initiated, continued or blocked transfer processes.

The migrations of European Jews, who as members of a transterritorial diaspora played an important role as intercultural intermediaries, have shaped Europe in a particular way. The survey article Jewish Migration raises the question of whether such migratory movements were primarily the result of persecution and discrimination or whether economic motives were central.
The accompanying articles Sephardi Jews, Ashkenazi Jews and East and South East European Jews examine more closely the (migratory) history of these Jewish groups and their contacts with the host societies.

European Media

The Media and Media Events

Alongside people, media – understood here as technologies that served the mass diffusion of information to a large number of recipients – were and are the most important agents of communication and transfer. More than this, media not only complemented but also increasingly outstripped the direct communication between individuals and the transfers via travellers and migrants. The articles in this thread investigate the roles which media have played as mediators of content in the multifarious processes of exchange between national, regional and social spheres and how they changed these subjects. They present the various types of media as transmitters in transfer processes and depict their historical development. This thread emphasises the European media events, i.e. key events, which provoked debates that gripped entire societies and (more or less) spread throughout Europe. These events took place in almost all media and tended towards "reporting the reporting". As the nodal points of a network of intense communication, they enable insights into the forms and strategies of communication – and thus into the mechanisms of intercultural transfer and the formation of transnational spaces of communication. Articles on media events from the Wittenberg Reformation to the Second World War, from natural catastrophes to revolutions, show how communication developed and changed. Not least, they shed new light on the question of how "European" these media events really were.

The survey article European Media Events offers an introduction to this thread. It defines the concept "media event" and depicts its development from the early modern period to the present. At the same time, it investigates how political conditions and the development of new technologies influenced the treatment of events in the media – thus, for example, the media impact of the Reformation was, amongst other factors, fundamentally shaped by the invention of moveable-type printing. In addition, one of the guiding questions of this thread is also the extent to which a collective experience of media events influenced the development of a European consciousness. Further articles deal with individual media events. For example, the French Revolution, as a key occurrence in European history, is presented as being shaped by the media in two respects: on the one hand, it was the result of an unprecedented explosion in the textual, visual and oral media; on the other, knowledge of the spectacular developments of the revolution was rapidly disseminated through Europe by newspapers, caricatures and songs. The article investigates what transfer processes arose as a result of this media diffusion: how, for example, public celebrations and theatrical performances in numerous German cities celebrated the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille with the goal of strengthening German patriotism in imitation of the French example.

European Networks

The Transfer of Ideas, Technologies and Practices in Networks of Personal Relationships

In a certain sense, the network is an apt overall symbol for a transcultural history of Europe that – generally speaking – aims to broaden the view beyond structures and national categories to networks that span across borders. The focus is on the network of relationships composed of communicative streams covering Europe and the world that draw in individual actors, linking them to other actors at various levels. The networks investigated in this thread  – understood as the sum of the connections between people – are characterized by constant communication between regular and identifiable actors at a personal level across borders. Within all of these relationships, people exchange information and/or goods. In doing so, they transfer, intentionally or unintentionally, ideas, technologies or practices. These relationships can be dynastic relations between ruling houses, communities of faith, economic or political cooperation or even secret societies.

Europe was governed until the end of the ancien régime by one ruling family: the family of European dynasties; this is one of the theories investigated in the survey article Dynastic Networks. This article examines the dynastic links between the European royal houses. In order to maintain their power, the European dynasties employed communication and cooperation with relatives, creating nuanced networks that also enabled cultural transfer between the linked families and thus their dominions. While there was rarely a conscious intention behind these transfers, these close networks among the leading European aristocracy promoted appropriation and learning processes.
A specific form of aristocratic network creation was the Dynastic Marriage. The article underlines that the "family of princes" was not a pan-European network. Instead, it was organised into specific circles of marriage that from the early modern period were largely determined by confession. Thus, there was a (Protestant) German-British Northern European marriage circle and its Catholic counterpart, which was the French-German Southern European marriage circle. Weddings outside these circles were very rare, thus limiting the opportunities for transfer. The article picks out the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha as a particularly successful example, which in the 19th century was able to occupy a large number of European thrones through strategically adroit marriages.

Transnational Organisations and Movements

Groups with Cross-Border Programmes and Structures

This thread addresses transnational and supra-individual organisations and movements, especially as they came into being in the second half of the 19th century. This refers both to clearly identifiable groups of social actors that regularly interacted across national borders, created regulatory mechanisms for their transnational cooperation and founded formal organisations. This thread brings together, therefore, not only articles on the large social European movements such as the women's and labour movements, but also international organisations such as the Red Cross and administrative bodies in the sense of "low politics", for example international sporting associations (the IOC, FIFA) or transport and news associations (the International Telegraph Union).

One of these movements is Zionism, the active movement for the return of Jews to Palestine, to which two articles are devoted in this thread. The Formation of the Jewish National Movement in Transnational Exchange deals with the history of Zionism in the decades before the First World War and investigates the creation, function and influence of cross-border communication and interaction. Its main focus are processes of entanglement that took place in the area of tension created by the fact that while Zionists were committed to the Jewish nation and undertook many transnational, cross-state activities, they were also rooted in their respective local nation states.  The article The Zionist Movement Until the Foundation of the State of Israel traces the further development until the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948. It shows how the ambitious project of the Jewish settlement of Palestine was able to overcome the external and internal difficulties during the British mandate and in the shadow of National Socialism.

Alliances and Wars

Rejection and Learning through Military Victories and Defeats

This thread examines the potential for conflict in European history and, at the same time, considers influential events that often produced intellectual turning points. The aspects of interest here are the processes of communication and exchange that took place during and as a result of war, whereby military defeats, in particular, can frequently be seen as the trigger for intensive processes of transfer and learning. On the other hand, the direct and indirect impact of military developments themselves will be examined: the thread highlights not only specific forms of transfer, for example through military alliances, occupation, captivity during war or peace treaties, but also the resistance to these, for example pejorative re-interpretations of "foreign" elements. The thread Alliances and Wars, thus, also represents the fact that European history is by no means characterised by only the exchange of ideas and wares, but also the fact that reciprocal relationships always contained the potential for conflict.

Revolutionary and Napoleonic France conducted a whole series of wars before and after the turn of the 19th century. The article Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars depicts the various conflicts and changing alliances, underlining how they were connected to the network of European relationships from the pre-revolutionary era. It also investigates whether and to what extent the achievements of the revolution were diffused through war and occupation in Europe.
An innovation introduced in France in 1793 was the so-called Levée en masse, the universal military service for all unmarried men between 18 and 25. The article depicts this mass conscription instituted by the National Convention, which can be seen as the moment in which the idea of the nation under arms was born. Not only does it investigate the transfer of the concept of the Levée en masse in Revolutionary France's direct chronological and geographical proximity, i.e. how Prussia and Austria responded to this challenge, but also its impact up into the present, sometimes in entirely different geographical and political contexts, for example Che Guevara's partisan war in Latin America.

Europe and the World

Entanglements between and Reflections of "Europe" and the Non-European World

Since the "discoveries" of the early modern period, the different regions of the world have been in constant contact. These interactions have left their mark upon the experience and life of all cultures. In this way, the early modern processes of inner-European transfer were increasingly extended and transformed by transfers between Europe and beyond it. The articles in this thread deal not only with transfer processes that went in the direction of Europe to the non-European world, but also those from the non-European world taken up or rejected by Europe. Within this, of particular interest is the question of to what extent a European identity developed through the encounter and exchange with, and demarcation from, the non-European world and how far this encounter transformed European societies themselves.

A central category that characterises the relationships of Europe with the non-European world is Rule. The survey article on this topic depicts the forms and actors of European rule, portrays the different methods and structures of rule and investigates the transfer processes they initiated; at the same time, it examines the resistance to these and the knock-on effect on Europe itself. While Europe established asymmetric relationships of dependency for its own benefit, the contact with the rest of the world changed Europe, too. For example, the debate on the abolition of slavery inspired the more general discussion of human rights.
The article Islamic Law and European Legal Transfer traces how contact with Europe influenced the Islamic world's understanding of law. Thus, for instance, Byzantine institutions were adapted by the expanding Ottoman Empire. The 19th century witnessed the partial adoption of the French Code de commerce, a legal code on trade, the first appropriation of a Western compilation of laws.


Berger, Joachim / Willenberg, Jennifer / Landes, Lisa: EGO | European History Online: A Transcultural History of Europe on the Internet, in: European History Online (EGO), published by the Institute of European History (IEG), Mainz 2010-12-03. URL: URN: urn:nbn:de:0159-20101025234 [YYYY-MM-DD].

When quoting this article please add the date of your last retrieval in brackets after the url. When quoting a certain passage from the article please also insert the corresponding number(s), for example 2 or 1-4.