Modern history, also referred to as the modern period or the modern era, is the historiographical approach to the timeframe after the post-classical era (known as the Middle Ages). Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Contemporary history is the span of historic events that are immediately relevant to the present time. The modern era began approximately in the 16th century.
Some events, while not without precedent, show a new way of perceiving the world. The concept of modernity interprets the general meaning of these events and seeks explanations for major developments.
In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages of the post-classical era. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the post-classical age (c. 1500), known as the Middle Ages, through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions (c. 1800) and is variously demarcated by historians as beginning with the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, with the Renaissance or the Age of Discovery and ending around the French Revolution in 1789. From a global standpoint, the most important feature of the early modern period was its globalizing character — it witnessed the exploration and colonization of the Americas and the rise of sustained contacts between previously isolated parts of the globe. The historical powers became involved in global trade. This world trading of goods, plants, animals, and food crops saw exchange in the Old World and the New World. The Columbian exchange greatly affected almost every society on Earth.
In the world, capitalist economies and institutions became more sophisticated and globally articulated. This process began in the medieval North Italian city-states, particularly Genoa, Venice, and Milan. The early modern period also saw the rise and beginning of the dominance of the economic theory of mercantilism. It also saw the European colonization during the 15th to 19th centuries, which spread Christianity around the world.
Whether one can precisely define a time window as 'High Middle Ages' or 'Early Middle Ages' the title evokes an image and expectations in the reader of certain sets of characteristics—the essential essence of such labeling—a communications tool from one mind to another.
Nonetheless, periods have a generally accepted meaning within all disciplines even though a given community of scholarship applies different criteria to their meaning of the same general term used in other disciplines; consequently squabbles about exact date ranges are mostly shrugged aside as counter-productive — in large part this is an extension of the recognition that one region develops at a different pace and under different influences and so at a different rate. A city or town will generally adopt a new practice as it hears about things first simply because it is in greater more frequent contact with a larger farther section of the world. Sometime later the idea or practice or characteristic spreads to the whole region, people, or continent.