In the first period of the course, covering the years 1450-1648, you will learn about the beginnings of modern European history, what historians refer to as the Early Modern Period. This will cover the Renaissance, the Reformation and Religious Wars, European exploration and colonization, and the Scientific Revolution.
The Middle Ages in Europe had been a time of uncertainty, in which rival lords competed for power against one another, foreign armies periodically invaded and raided, and the sole unifying force was the Catholic Church. It wasn't such a great time to be around, but such is life. So people struggled to survive in the face of complete chaos. By the 14th century, however, there were signs that things were improving (except for the brief but terrible onset of the Black Plague).
Beginning in the city-state of Florence, on the Italian peninsula, a new intellectual movement began. It became known as humanism, and it would eventually change the way Europeans viewed themselves and the world around them. They would rediscover the writings of classical Greece and Rome, discover new ways to represent reality through painting and sculpture, and reinvent man's meaning for existence.
The Reformation and Religious Wars
Exploration and Colonization
The Scientific Revolution