The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions,
nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ethnic group; it has been described as "a fully ...
s and states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...
, the Americas, and Australasia.Western Civilization
Our Tradition; James Kurth; accessed 30 August 2011
The Western world is also known as the Occident (from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
word ''occidens'', "sunset, ''West''"), in contrast to the
Orient The Orient is a term for the East, traditionally comprising anything that belongs to the Eastern world, in relation to Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention ...
(from the Latin word ''oriens'', "rise, East") or
Eastern world
Eastern world
. It might mean the Northern half of the North–South divide.
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era was ...
Ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom (753 BC ...
are generally considered to be the birthplaces of Western civilization—Greece having heavily influenced Rome—the former due to its impact on
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such ques ...
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to choose their governing legislators. The decisions on who is consi ...

science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the u ...
aesthetics Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aesthetics). It examines subjective and s ...
, as well as building designs and proportions and architecture; the latter due to its influence on art, law, War, warfare, governance, republicanism, Roman engineering, engineering and State church of the Roman Empire, religion. Western civilization is also strongly associated with Christianity (and to a lesser extent, with Judaism), which is in turn shaped by Hellenistic philosophy and Roman culture.Role of Judaism in Western culture and civilization
"Judaism has played a significant role in the development of Western culture because of its unique relationship with Christianity, the dominant religious force in the West"
at Encyclopædia Britannica
In the modern era, Western culture has been heavily influenced by the Renaissance, the Ages of Age of Exploration, Discovery and Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, Industrial and Scientific Revolutions. Through extensive imperialism, colonialism and Christianization by some Western powers History of colonialism, in the 15th to 20th centuries and later exportation of mass culture, much of the rest of the world has been extensively influenced by Western culture, in a phenomenon often called Westernization. The concept of the Western part of the earth has its roots in the theological, methodological and emphatical East–West Schism, division between the Western Catholic Church, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches. ''West'' was originally literal, opposing Catholic Europe with the cultures and civilizations of Orthodox Europe, MENA, West Asia and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia, which early-modern Europeans East–West dichotomy, saw as the East. By the mid-20th century, Western culture was exported worldwide through the emergent mass media: film, radio, television and recorded music; and the development and growth of international transport and telecommunication (such as Transatlantic telegraph cable, transatlantic cable and the radiotelephone) played a decisive role in modern globalization. In modern usage, ''Western world'' sometimesWestern Civilization
Our Tradition; James Kurth; accessed 30 August 2011
refers to Europe and to areas whose European diaspora, populations have had a large presence of particular European ethnic groups since the 15th century Age of Discovery. This is most evident in Australia's inclusion in modern definitions of the Western world: despite being part of the Eastern hemisphere; these regions and those like it are included due to its significant United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, British influence deriving from the First Fleet, colonisation of British explorers and the European Australians, immigration of Europeans in the 20th century which has since grounded the country to the Western world politically and culturally.


Western culture was influenced by many older civilizations of the ancient Near East, such as Phoenicia, Palestine (region), Palestine,Cambridge University Historical Series, ''An Essay on Western Civilization in Its Economic Aspects'', p.40: Hebraism, like Hellenism, has been an all-important factor in the development of Western Civilization; Judaism, as the precursor of Christianity, has indirectly had had much to do with shaping the ideals and morality of western nations since the christian era. Minoan civilization, Minoan Crete, Sumer, Babylonia, and also Ancient Egypt. It originated in the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean basin and its vicinity;
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era was ...
and Ancient Rome, Rome are often cited as its birthplaces. Over time, their associated empires grew first to the east and west to include the rest of Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean and Black Sea coastal areas, conquering and absorbing. Later, they expanded to the north of the Mediterranean Sea to include Western Europe, Western, Central Europe, Central, and Southeastern Europe. Christianization of Ireland (5th century), Christianization of Bulgaria (9th century), Christianization of Kievan Rus' (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus; 10th century), Christianization of Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden; 12th century) and Christianization of Lithuania (14th century) brought the rest of present-day European territory into Western civilization. Historians, such as Carroll Quigley in ''"The Evolution of Civilizations"'', contend that Western civilization was born around AD 500, after the total collapse of the Western Roman Empire, leaving a vacuum for new ideas to flourish that were impossible in Classical societies. In either view, between the decline of the Roman Empire, fall of the Western Roman Empire and the Renaissance, the West (or those regions that would later become the heartland of the culturally "western sphere") experienced a period of first, considerable decline, and then readaptation, reorientation and considerable renewed material, technological and political development. This whole period of roughly a millennium is known as the Middle Ages, its early part forming the "Dark Ages (historiography), Dark Ages", designations that were created during the Renaissance and reflect the perspective on history, and the self-image, of the latter period. The knowledge of the ancient ''Western world'' was partly preserved during this period due to the survival of the Eastern Roman Empire and the introduction of the Catholic Church; it was also greatly expanded by the Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe, Arab importation of both the Classical antiquity, Ancient Greco-Roman and new technology through the Arabs from India and China to Europe. Since the Renaissance, the West evolved beyond the influence of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the Islamic world, due to the successful Second Agricultural Revolution, Second Agricultural, Commercial Revolution, Commercial, Scientific Revolution, Scientific, and Industrial Revolution, Industrial revolutions (propellers of history of banking#17th–19th centuries – The emergence of modern banking, modern banking concepts). The West rose further with the 18th century's Age of Enlightenment and through the Age of Exploration's expansion of peoples of Western and Central European empires, particularly the globe-spanning colonial empires of 18th and 19th centuries. Numerous times, this expansion was accompanied by Catholic missions, Catholic missionaries, who attempted to proselytize Christianity. There is debate among some as to whether Latin America as a whole is in a category of its own.Cf., Arnold J. Toynbee, ''Change and Habit. The challenge of our time'' (Oxford 1966, 1969) at 153–56; also, Toynbee, ''A Study of History'' (10 volumes, 2 supplements). Whether Russia should be categorized as "East" or ''"West"'' has been "an ongoing discussion" for centuries.

Western/European culture

The term "Western culture" is used very broadly to refer to a Cultural heritage, heritage of social norms, ethics, ethical values, tradition, traditional customs, religion, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific Cultural artifact, artifacts and technology, technologies. Specifically, Western culture may imply: :*a Bible, Biblical Christian culture, Christian cultural influence in spiritual thinking, customs and either ethic or moral traditions, around the Post-Classical Era and after. :*European cultural influences concerning artistic, musical, folkloric, ethic and oral traditions, whose themes have been further developed by Romanticism. :*a Graeco-Roman Classics, Classical and Renaissance cultural influence, concerning artistic, philosophic, literary, and Western law, legal themes and traditions, the cultural social effects of migration period and the heritages of Celts, Celtic, Germanic peoples, Germanic, Slavic peoples, Slavic, and other ethnic groups, as well as a tradition of rationalism in various spheres of life, developed by Hellenistic philosophy, Scholasticism, Renaissance humanism, the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment. The concept of Western culture is generally linked to the classical definition of the ''Western world''. In this definition, Western culture is the set of literary, scientific, political, artistic, and philosophical principles that set it apart from other civilizations. Much of this set of traditions and knowledge is collected in the Western canon. The term has come to apply to countries whose history is strongly marked by European immigration or settlement, such as the Americas, and Oceania, and is not restricted to Europe. Some tendencies that define modern Western societies are the existence of Pluralism (political philosophy), political pluralism, secularism, generalization of middle class, prominent subcultures or countercultures (such as New Age movements), increasing cultural syncretism resulting from globalization and human migration. The modern shape of these societies is strongly based upon the Industrial Revolution and the societies' associated social and environmental problems, such as class (social), class and pollution, as well as reactions to them, such as syndicalism and environmentalism.

Historical divisions

The geopolitical divisions in Europe that created a concept of ''East'' and ''West'' originated in the Classical antiquity, ancient tyrannical and imperialistic Graeco-Roman times. The Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean was home to the highly urbanized cultures that had Greek language, Greek as their common language (owing to the older empire of Alexander the Great and of the Diadochi, Hellenistic successors.), whereas the West was much more rural in its character and more readily adopted Latin as its common language. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Medieval times (or ''Middle Ages''), Western and Central Europe were substantially cut off from the East where ''Byzantine Empire, Byzantine'' Greek culture and Eastern Christianity became founding influences in the Eastern European world such as the Eastern and Southern Slavic peoples. Roman Catholic Western and Central Europe, as such, maintained a distinct identity particularly as it began to redevelop during the Renaissance. Even following the Protestant Reformation, Protestant Europe continued to see itself as more tied to Roman Catholic Europe than other parts of the perceived ''civilized world''. Use of the term ''West'' as a specific cultural and geopolitical term developed over the course of the Age of Exploration as Europe spread its culture to other parts of the world. Roman Catholics were the first major religious group to immigrate to the New World, as settlers in the colonies of Spanish Empire, Spain and Portuguese Empire, Portugal (and later, French colonial empire, France) belonged to that faith. British Empire, English and Dutch Empire, Dutch colonies, on the other hand, tended to be more religiously diverse. Settlers to these colonies included Anglicans, Dutch Calvinists, English Puritans and other Nonconformist (Protestantism), nonconformists, Maryland Toleration Act, English Catholics, Scottish Presbyterians, French Huguenots, German and Swedish Lutherans, as well as Quakers, Mennonites, Amish, and Moravian Church, Moravians.

Ancient Greek-Hellenistic worlds (13th–1st centuries BC)

Ancient Greek civilization had been growing in the first millennium BC into wealthy poleis, so-called city-states (geographically loose political entities which in time, inevitably end giving way to larger organisations of society, including the empire and the nation-state) such as Classical Athens, Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Greece, Thebes, and Ancient Corinth, Corinth, by Middle East, Middle and Near East, Near Eastern ones (Sumerian cities such as Uruk and Ur; Ancient Egyptian city-states, such as Thebes, Egypt, Thebes and Memphis, Egypt, Memphis; the Phoenician Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre and Sidon; the five Philistines, Philistine city-states; the Berber people, Berber city-states of the Garamantes). The then Ancient Greece, Hellenic division between the barbarians (term used by Ancient Greeks for all non-Greek-speaking people) and the Greek people, Greeks contrasted in many societies the Greek language, Greek-speaking culture of the Greek settlements around the Mediterranean to the surrounding non-Greek cultures. Herodotus considered the Persian Wars of the early 5th century BC a conflict of Europa versus Asia (which he considered all land north and east of the Sea of Marmara, respectively). The Greeks would highlight the lack of freedom in the Persian world, something that they viewed as antithetical to their culture. The terms ''"West"'' and "East" were not used by any Greek author to describe that conflict. The anachronistic application of those terms to that division entails a stark logical contradiction, given that the term ''"West"'' has been used to distinguish Latin-speaking peoples from their Greek-speaking neighbors. Greek culture is said to have influenced Roman civilization in all aspects of society, from History of architecture, architecture to philosophy, Ancient Greek art, art and Ancient Greek warfare, war. According to a few writers, the future conquest of parts of the Roman Empire by Germanic peoples and the subsequent dominance by the Western Christian Papacy (which held combined political and spiritual authority, a State of affairs (sociology), state of affairs absent from Greek civilization in all its stages), resulted in a rupture of the previously existing ties between the Latin West and Greek thought, including Christian Greek thought.

Ancient Roman world (509 BC–AD 476)

Ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom (753 BC ...
(753 BC – AD 476) was a Villanovan culture, civilization that grew from a city-state founded on the Italian Peninsula about the 8th century BC to a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. In its 10-centuries expansion, Roman civilization shifted from a small monarchy (753 – 509 BC), to a Roman Republic, republic (509 – 27 BC), to an autocracy, autocratic empire (27 BC – AD 476). It came to dominate Western, Central and Southeastern Europe and the entire area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea through conquest using the Roman legions and then through cultural assimilation by eventually giving Roman citizenship privileges to the whole population. Nonetheless, despite its great legacy, a number of factors led to the eventual decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire succeeded the approximately 500-year-old Roman Republic ( 510 BC – 30 BC), which had been weakened by the conflict between Gaius Marius and Sulla and the civil war of Julius Caesar against Pompey and Marcus Brutus. During these struggles hundreds of senators were killed, and the Roman Senate had been refilled with loyalists of the First Triumvirate and later those of the Second Triumvirate. In 350 years, from the successful and deadliest Second Punic War, war with the Phoenicians began in 218 BC to the rule of Emperor Hadrian by AD 117, Ancient Rome expanded up to twenty-five times its area. The same time passed before its fall in AD 476. Rome had expanded long before the empire reached its zenith with the conquest of Dacia in AD 106, under Emperor Trajan. During its territorial peak, the Roman Empire controlled about of land surface and had a population of 100 million. From the time of Caesar (100 – 44 BC) to the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, Rome dominated Southern Europe, the Mediterranean coast of Northern Africa and the Levant, including the ancient trade Amber Road, routes with population living outside. Ancient Rome has contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology and language in the ''Western world'', and its History of Rome, history continues to have a major influence on the world today. Latin language has been the base from which Romance languages evolved and it has been the official language of the Catholic Church and all Catholic religious ceremonies all over Europe until 1967, as well as an or the official language of countries such as Poland (9th–18th centuries). In AD 395, a few decades before its Western collapse, the Roman Empire formally split into a Western Roman Empire, Western and an Eastern Roman Empire, Eastern one, each with their own emperors, capitals, and governments, although ostensibly they still belonged to one formal Empire. The Western Roman Empire provinces eventually were replaced by Northern European Germanic peoples, Germanic ruled kingdoms in the 5th century due to Fall of the Western Roman Empire, civil wars, corruption, and devastating Germanic invasions from such tribes as the Goths, the Franks and the Vandals by their late Migration period, expansion throughout Europe. The three-day Visigoths's Sack of Rome (410), AD 410 sack of Rome who had been raiding Greece not long before, a shocking time for Graeco-Romans, was the first time after almost 800 years that Rome had fallen to a foreign enemy, and Jerome, St. Jerome, living in Bethlehem at the time, wrote that "The City which had taken the whole world was itself taken." There followed the Sack of Rome (455), sack of AD 455 lasting 14 days, this time conducted by the Vandals, retaining Rome's eternal spirit through the Holy See of Rome (the Latin Church) for centuries to come. The ancient Barbarian tribes, often composed of well-trained Roman soldiers paid by Rome to guard the extensive borders, had become militarily sophisticated 'romanized barbarians', and mercilessly slaughtered the Romans conquering their Western territories while looting their possessions. The Roman Empire is where the idea of ''"the West"'' began to emerge. By Rome's central location at the heart of the Empire, ''"West"'' and "East" were terms used to denote provinces west and east of the capital itself. Therefore, Iberian peninsula, Iberia (Portugal and Spain), Gaul (France), the Mediterranean coast of North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) and Britannia were all part of the ''"West"'', while Greece, Cyprus, Anatolia, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, and Libya were part of the "East". Italy itself was considered central, until the reforms of Diocletian dividing the Empire into true two halves: Eastern and Western. The dissolution of the Western half (nominally in AD 476, but in truth a long process that ended by AD 800) left only the Eastern Roman Empire alive. The East continued to call themselves Eastern Romans even after AD 610 – 800 when the official language of the empire was Latin, and the Pope crowned Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, ''Emperor of the Romans''. The West began thinking in terms of Western Latins (those living in the old Western Empire) and Eastern Greeks (those inside the Roman remnant to the east). The Eastern Roman Empire, governed from Constantinople, is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire after AD 476, the traditional date for the "fall of the Western Roman Empire" and beginning of the Early Middle Ages. The Eastern Roman Empire surviving the fall of the Western protected Roman legal and cultural traditions, combining them with Greek and Christian elements, for another thousand years. The name Byzantine Empire was used after the Byzantine Empire ended, the inhabitants calling themselves Romans since the term “Roman” was meant to signify all Christianity, Christians.

Middle Ages: Byzantine Empire (AD 395–1450), Holy Roman Empire (AD 800/962–1806), East-West Schism (AD 1054), Protestant Reformation (1500s)

In the early 4th century (AD 330), Roman Emperor Constantine the Great had established the city of Constantinople (formerly ancient Byzantium) as the capital of the Roman Empire, later called "Byzantine Empire" by modern historians. The Eastern Roman Empire included lands south-west of the Black Sea and bordering on the Eastern Mediterranean and parts of the Adriatic Sea. This division into Eastern and Western Roman Empires was reflected in the administration of the Greek East and Latin West, Roman Catholic and Eastern Greek Orthodox churches, with Rome and Constantinople debating over whether either city was the capital of Catholicity, Western religion. As the Orthodox Christianity, Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic) churches spread their influence, the line between Eastern and Western Christianity was moving. Its movement was affected by the influence of the Byzantine empire and the fluctuating power and influence of the Catholic church in Rome. The geographic line of religious division approximately followed a line of cultural divide. The influential American conservative political scientist, adviser and academic Samuel P. Huntington argued that this cultural division still existed during the Cold War as the approximate Western boundary of those countries that were allied with the Soviet Union. In AD 800 under Charlemagne, the Early Medieval Franks established an empire that was recognized by the Pope in Rome as the Holy Roman Empire (Latin Christian revival of the ancient Roman Empire, under perpetual Germanic rule from AD 962) inheriting ancient Roman Empire's prestige but offending the Roman Emperor in Constantinople. The crowning of the Emperor by the Pope led to the assumption that the highest power was the history of the Papacy, papal hierarchy, quintessential Roman Empire's spiritual heritage authority, establishing then, until the Protestant Reformation, the civilization of Christendom, Western Christendom. The Latin Rite Catholic Church of western and central Europe split with the eastern Greek Rite, Greek-speaking Patriarchates in the Christian East–West Schism, also known as the "Great Schism", during the Gregorian Reforms (calling for a more central status of the Roman Catholic Church Institution), three months after Pope Leo IX's death in April 1054. Following the 1054 East–West Schism, Great Schism, both the Western Christianity, Western Church and Eastern Orthodoxy, Eastern Church continued to consider themselves ''uniquely'' orthodox and catholic. Augustine wrote in On True Religion: "Religion is to be sought... only among those who are called Catholic or orthodox Christians, that is, guardians of truth and followers of right." Over time, the Western Church gradually identified with the "Catholic" label, and people of Western Europe gradually associated the "Orthodox" label with the Eastern Church (although in some languages the "Catholic" label is not necessarily identified with the Western Church). This was in note of the fact that both Catholic and Orthodox were in use as ecclesiastical adjectives as early as the 2nd and 4th centuries respectively. Meanwhile, the extent of both Christendoms expanded, as Germanic peoples, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, Scandinavia, Baltic peoples, British Isles and the other non-Christian lands of the northwest were converted by the Western Church, while Eastern Slavic peoples, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Russian territories, Vlachs and Georgia were converted by the Eastern Church. In 1071, the Byzantine army was defeated by the Muslim Turco-Persians of medieval Asia, resulting in the loss of most of Asia Minor. The situation was a serious threat to the future of the Eastern Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire. The Emperor sent a plea to the Papacy, Pope in Rome to send military aid to restore the lost territories to Christian rule. The result was a series of western European military campaigns into the eastern Mediterranean, known as the ''Crusades''. Unfortunately for the Byzantines, the crusaders (belonging to the members of nobility from France, German territories, the Low countries, England, Italy and Hungary) had no allegiance to the Byzantine Emperor and established their own states in the conquered regions, Fourth Crusade, including the heart of the Byzantine Empire. The Holy Roman Empire would Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, dissolve on 6 August 1806, after the French Revolution and the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine by Napoleon. Decline of the Byzantine Empire (13th–15th centuries) began with the Roman Catholic Church, Latin Christian Fourth Crusade in AD 1202–04, considered to be one of the most important events, solidifying the East-West Schism, schism between the Christianity, Christian churches of Greek language, Greek Byzantine Rite and Latin language, Latin Roman Rite. An massacre of the Latins, anti-Western riot in 1182 broke out in Constantinople targeting Latins. The extremely wealthy (after previous Crusades) Republic of Venice, Venetians in particular made a Siege of Zara, successful attempt to maintain control over the coast of Catholic present-day Croatia (specifically the Dalmatia#Middle Ages, Dalmatia, a region of interest to the Maritime Republic, maritime medieval Venetian Republic moneylenders and its rivals, such as the Republic of Genoa) rebelling against the Venetian economic domination. What followed dealt an irrevocable blow to the already weakened Byzantine Empire with the Siege of Constantinople (1204), Crusader army's sack of Constantinople in April 1204, capital of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Greek Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire, described as one of the most profitable and disgraceful sacks of a city in history.Phillips, ''The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople'', Introduction, xiii. This paved the way for Muslim conquests in Anatolia, present-day Turkey and the Balkans in the coming centuries (only a handful of the Crusaders followed to the stated destination thereafter, the Crusader states, Holy Land). The geographical identity of the Balkans is historically known as a crossroads of cultures, a juncture between the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
and Greek language, Greek bodies of the Roman Empire, the destination of a massive influx of pagans (meaning ''"non-Christians"'') Bulgars and Slavs, an area where Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christianity met, as well as the meeting point between Islam and Christianity. The Papal Inquisition was established in AD 1229 on a permanent basis, run largely by clergymen in Rome, and abolished six centuries later. Before AD 1100, the Catholic Inquisition, Catholic Church suppressed what they believed to be heresy, usually through a system of ecclesiastical proscription or imprisonment, but without using torture, and seldom resorting to executions. This very profitable Central European Fourth Crusade had prompted the 14th century Renaissance Italy, Renaissance (translated as 'Rebirth') of Italian city-states including the Papal States, on eve of the Protestant Reformation and Counter-Reformation (which established the Roman Inquisition to succeed the Medieval Inquisition). There followed the discovery of the American continent, and consequent dissolution of West Christendom as even a theoretical unitary political body, later resulting in the religious Eighty Years War (1568–1648) and Thirty Years War (1618–1648) between List of states in the Holy Roman Empire, various Protestant and Catholic states of the Holy Roman Empire (and emergence of Protestantism, religiously diverse Criticism of the Catholic Church, confessions). In this context, the Protestant Reformation (1517) may be viewed as a schism within the Catholic Church. German monk Martin Luther, in the wake of precursors, broke with the pope and with the emperor by the Catholic Church's abusive commercialization of indulgences in the Late Medieval Period, backed by many of the German princes and helped by the development of the printing press, in an attempt to reform corruption within the church. Both these religious wars ended with the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which enshrined the concept of the nation-state, and the principle of absolute national sovereignty in international law. As European influence spread across the globe, these Westphalian sovereignty, Westphalian principles, especially the concept of sovereign states, became central to international law and to the prevailing world order.

Colonialism (15th–20th centuries)

in 1790. In the 13th and 14th centuries, a number of European travelers, many of them Christian missionary, missionaries, had sought to cultivate trading with Asia and Africa. With the Crusades came the relative contraction of the Orthodox Byzantine silk, Byzantine's large silk industry History of silk#Spread of production, in favour of Catholic Western Europe and the rise of Papal States, Western Papacy. The most famous of these Chronology of European exploration of Asia#Middle Ages, merchant travelers pursuing Spice trade#Age of European Discovery: finding a new route and a New World, East–west trade was Venetian Marco Polo. But these journeys had little permanent effect on east–west trade because of a series of political developments in Asia in the last decades of the 14th century, which put an end to further European exploration of Asia: namely the new Ming dynasty, Ming rulers were found to be unreceptive of religious proselytism by European missionaries and merchants. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Turkish people, Turks consolidated control over the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean, closing off key overland trade routes. The Kingdom of Portugal, Portuguese spearheaded the drive to find oceanic routes that would provide cheaper and easier access to South and East Asian goods, by advancements in maritime technology such as the caravel ship introduced in the mid-1400s. The charting of oceanic routes between East and West began with the unprecedented voyages of Portuguese and Kingdom of Spain, Spanish sea captains. In 1492 European colonialism expanded across the globe with the Voyages of Christopher Columbus, exploring voyage of merchant, navigator, and Hispano-Kingdom of Italy (Holy Roman Empire), Italian colonialism, colonizer Christopher Columbus. Such voyages were influenced by medieval European adventurers after the European spice trade with Asia, who had journeyed overland to the Far East contributing to geographical knowledge of parts of the Asian continent. They are of enormous significance in History of Western civilization, Western history as they marked the beginning of the European ethnic groups, European exploration, colonization and exploitation of Americas, the American continents and their Indigenous peoples of the Americas#European colonization, native inhabitants. The European colonization of the Americas led to the Atlantic slave trade between the 1490s and the 1800s, which also contributed to the development of African intertribal warfare and racist ideology. Before the abolition of its slave trade in 1807, the British Empire alone (which had started colonial efforts British Empire#"First" British Empire (1583–1783), in 1578, almost a century after Portuguese and Spanish empires) was responsible for the transportation of 3.5 million African slaves to the Americas, a third of all slaves transported across the Atlantic. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806 by the French Revolutionary Wars; abolition of the Roman Catholic Inquisition followed. Due to the reach of these empires, Western institutions expanded throughout the world. This process of influence (and imposition) began with the Age of Discovery, voyages of discovery, European colonization of the Americas, colonization, conquest, and exploitation of Portuguese Empire, Portugal enforced as well by papal bulls in 1450s (by the fall of the Byzantine Empire), granting Portugal navigation, war and trade monopoly for any newly discovered lands, and competing Spanish Empire, Spanish navigators. It continued with the rise of the Dutch East India Company by the destabilising Spanish discovery of the New World, and the creation and expansion of the British Empire, English and French colonial empire, French colonial empires, and others. Even after demands for self-determination from subject peoples within Western empires were met with decolonization, these institutions persisted. One specific example was the requirement that Postcolonialism, post-colonial societies were made to form nation-states (in the Western tradition), which often created arbitrary boundaries and borders that did not necessarily represent a whole nation, people, or culture (as in much of Africa), and are often the cause of international conflicts and friction even to this day. Although not part of Western colonization process proper, following the Middle Ages Western culture in fact entered other global-spanning cultures during the colonial 15th–20th centuries. The concepts of a world of nation-states born by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, coupled with the ideologies of the Enlightenment, the coming of modernity, the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, would produce powerful social transformations, political and History of banking#17th–19th centuries – The emergence of modern banking, economic institutions that have come to Political philosophy, influence (or been imposed upon) most nations of the world today. Historians agree that the Industrial Revolution has been one of the most important events in history. In the early-19th century, the systematic urbanisation process (migration from villages in search of jobs in manufacturing centers) had begun, and the concentration of labour into factories led to the rise in the population of the towns. World population had been rising as well. It is estimated to have first reached one billion in 1804. Also, the new philosophical movement later known as Romanticism originated, in the wake of the previous Age of 17th-century philosophy, Reason of the 1600s and the Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment of 1700s. These are seen as fostering the 19th century ''Western worlds sustained economic development. Before the urbanisation and industrialization of the 1800s, demand for orientalism, oriental goods such as porcelain, silk, spices and tea remained the driving force behind European imperialism in Asia, and (with the important exception of British East India Company rule in India) the European stake in Asia remained confined largely to trading stations and strategic outposts necessary to protect trade. Industrialisation, however, dramatically increased European demand for Asian raw materials; and the severe Long Depression of the 1870s provoked a scramble for new markets for European industrial products and financial services in Africa, the Americas, Eastern Europe, and especially in Asia (Western powers exploited their advantages in China for example by the Opium Wars). This resulted in the "New Imperialism", which saw a shift in focus from trade and indirect rule to formal colonial control of vast overseas territories ruled as political extensions of their mother countries. The later years of the 19th century saw the transition from "informal imperialism" (hegemony) by military influence and economic dominance, to direct rule (a revival of colonial imperialism) in the African continent and Middle East.Kevin Shillington, ''History of Africa''. Revised second edition (New York: Macmillan Publishers Limited, 2005), 301. During the socioeconomically optimistic and innovative decades of the Second Industrial Revolution between the 1870s and 1914, also known as the "Belle Epoque, Beautiful Era", the established colonial powers in Asia (United Kingdom, France, Netherlands) added to their empires also vast expanses of territory in the Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia. Japan was involved primarily during the Meiji period (1868–1912), though earlier contacts with the Portuguese, Spaniards and Dutch were also present in the Empire of Japan, Japanese Empire's recognition of the strategic importance of European nations. Traditional Japanese society became an industrial and militarist power like the Western British Empire and the French Third Republic, and similar to the German Empire and Russian Empire. At the close of the Spanish-American War in 1898 the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam and Cuba were ceded to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1898), Treaty of Paris. The US quickly emerged as the new imperial power in East Asia and in the Pacific Ocean#European exploration, Pacific Ocean area. The Philippines continued to fight against colonial rule in the Philippine-American War. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered , of the Earth's total land area. At its apex, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" described the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun always shone on at least one of its territories. As a result, its political, Common law, legal, English language, linguistic and Culture of the United Kingdom, cultural legacy is widespread throughout the ''Western World''. In the aftermath of the Second World War, decolonizing efforts were employed by all Western powers under United Nations (ex-League of Nations) international directives. Most of colonized nations received independence by 1960. Great Britain showed ongoing responsibility for the welfare of its former colonies as member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. But the end of Western colonial imperialism saw the rise of Western neocolonialism or economic imperialism. Multinational corporations came to offer "a dramatic refinement of the traditional business enterprise", through "issues as far ranging as national sovereignty, ownership of the means of production, environmental protection, consumerism, and policies toward organized labor." Though the overt colonial era had passed, ''Western'' nations, as comparatively rich, well-armed, and culturally powerful states, wielded a Neocolonialism, large degree of influence throughout the world, and with little or no sense of responsibility toward the peoples impacted by its multinational corporations in their exploitation of minerals and markets. The dictum of Alfred Thayer Mahan is shown to have lasting relevance, that whoever controls the seas controls the world.

Enlightenment (17th-18th centuries)

Eric Voegelin described the 18th-century as one where "the sentiment grows that one age has come to its close and that a new age of Western civilization is about to be born". According to Voeglin the Enlightenment (also called the Age of reason, Age of Reason) represents the "atrophy of Christian transcendental experiences and [seeks] to enthrone the Isaac Newton, Newtonian method of science as the only valid method of arriving at truth". Its precursors were John Milton and Baruch Spinoza. Meeting Galileo in 1638 left an enduring impact on John Milton and influenced Milton's great work ''Areopagitica'', where he warns that, without free speech, inquisitorial forces will impose "an undeserved thraldom upon learning". The achievements of the 17th century included the invention of the telescope and acceptance of heliocentrism. 18th century scholars continued to refine Newton's theory of gravitation, notably Leonhard Euler, Pierre Louis Maupertuis, Alexis-Claude Clairaut, Jean Le Rond d'Alembert, Joseph-Louis Lagrange, Pierre-Simon de Laplace. Laplace's five-volume ''Treatise on Celestial Mechanics'' is one of the great works of 18th-century Newtonianism. Astronomy gained in prestige as new observatories were funded by governments and more powerful telescopes developed, leading to the discovery of new planets, asteroids, nebulae and comets, and paving the way for improvements in navigation and cartography. Astronomy became the second most popular scientific profession, after medicine. A common metanarrative of the Enlightenment is the "secularization theory". Modernity, as understood within the framework, means a total break with the past. Innovation and science are the good, representing the modern values of rationalism, while faith is ruled by superstition and traditionalism. Inspired by the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment embodied the ideals of improvement and progress. Descartes and Isaac Newton were regarded as exemplars of human intellectual achievement. Condorcet wrote about the progress of humanity in the ''Sketch of the Progress of the Human Mind'' (1794), from primitive society to agrarianism, the invention of writing, the later invention of the printing press and the advancement to "the Period when the Sciences and Philosophy threw off the Yoke of Authority". French writer Pierre Bayle denounced Spinoza as a pantheist (thereby accusing him of atheism). Bayle's criticisms garnered much attention for Spinoza. The pantheism controversy in the late 18th century saw Gotthold Lessing attacked by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi over support for Spinoza's pantheism. Lessing was defended by Moses Mendelssohn, although Mendelssohn diverged from pantheism to follow Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in arguing that God and the world were not of the same substance (equivalency). Spinoza was excommunicated from the Dutch Sephardic community, but for Jews who sought out Jewish sources to guide their own path to secularism, Spinoza was as important as Voltaire and Kant.

Cold War context (1947–1991)

During the Cold War, a new definition emerged. Earth was divided into three "worlds". The First World, analogous in this context to what was called ''the West'', was composed of NATO members and other countries aligned with the United States. The Second World was the Eastern bloc in the Soviet sphere of influence, including the Soviet Union (15 republics including the then-occupied and presently independent Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Warsaw Pact countries like Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, East Germany (now united with Germany), and Czechoslovakia (now split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia). The Third World consisted of countries, many of which were Non-Aligned Movement, unaligned with either, and important members included India, Yugoslavia, Finland (Finlandization) and Switzerland (Foreign relations of Switzerland, Swiss Neutrality); some include the People's Republic of China, though this is disputed, since the People's Republic of China, as communist, had friendly relations—at certain times—with the Soviet bloc, and had a significant degree of importance in global geopolitics. Some Third World countries aligned themselves with either the US-led West or the Soviet-led Eastern bloc. A number of countries did not fit comfortably into this neat definition of partition, including Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and Republic of Ireland, Ireland, which chose to be neutral. Finland was under the ''Soviet Union's'' military sphere of influence (see FCMA treaty) but remained neutral and was not communist, nor was it a member of the Warsaw Pact or Comecon but a member of the EFTA since 1986, and was west of the Iron Curtain. In 1955, when Austria again became a fully independent republic, it did so under the condition that it remain neutral; but as a country to the west of the Iron Curtain, it was in the ''United States sphere of influence. Spain did not join the NATO until 1982, seven years after the death of the authoritarian Francisco Franco, Franco.

Cold War II context

In a debated Cold War II, a new definition emerged inside the realm of western journalism. More specifically, Cold War II, also known as the Second Cold War, New Cold War, Cold War Redux, Cold War 2.0, and Colder War, refers to the tensions, hostilities, and political rivalry that intensified dramatically in 2014 between the Russian Federation on the one hand, and the United States, European Union, NATO and some other countries on the other hand. Tensions escalated in 2014 after Russia's Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, annexation of Crimea, War in Donbass, military intervention in Ukraine, and the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War, 2015 Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War. By August 2014, both sides had implemented economic, financial, and diplomatic sanctions upon each other: virtually all Western countries, led by the US and EU, imposed International sanctions during the Ukrainian crisis, restrictive measures on Russia; the latter reciprocally introduced retaliatory International sanctions during the Ukrainian crisis#Sanctions by Russia, measures.

Modern definitions

The exact scope of the ''Western world'' is somewhat subjective in nature, depending on whether cultural, economic, spiritual or political criteria are employed. It is a generally accepted western view to recognize the existence of at least three "major worlds" (or "cultures", or "civilizations"), broadly in contrast with the Western: the '''', the ''Arab world, Arab'' and the ''African'' worlds, with no clearly specified boundaries. Additionally, ''Latin American'' and ''Eastern Orthodoxy by country, Orthodox'' worlds are sometimes separately considered "akin" to the West. Many anthropologists, sociologists and historians oppose "the West and the Rest" in a categorical manner. The same has been done by Malthusian demographers with a sharp distinction between European and non-European family systems. Among anthropologists, this includes Durkheim, Louis Dumont (anthropologist), Dumont and Lévi-Strauss. As the term "''Western world''" does not have a strict international definition, governments do not use the term in legislation of Treaty, international treaties and instead rely on other definitions.

Cultural definition

In modern usage, ''Western world'' refers to
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...
and to areas whose populations largely European diaspora, originate from Europe, through the Age of Discovery, Age of Discovery's imperialism. In the 20th century, Post-Christianity, Christianity declined in influence in many Western countries, mostly in the European Union where some member states have experienced falling church attendance and membership in recent years, and also elsewhere. Secularism (separating religion from politics and science) increased. However, while church attendance is in decline, in some western countries (i.e. Italy, Poland and Portugal) more than half the people state that Importance of religion by country, religion is important, and most Westerners nominally identify themselves as Christians (e.g. 59% in the United Kingdom) and attend church on major occasions, such as Christmas and Easter. In the Americas, Christianity continues to play an important societal role, though in areas such as Canada, a low level of religiosity is common due to a European-type secularization. The State religion, official religions of the United Kingdom and some Nordic countries are forms of Christianity, while the majority of European countries have no official religion. Despite this, Christianity, in its different forms, remains the largest faith in most Western countries. Christianity remains the dominant religion in the ''Western world'', where 70% are Christians. A 2011 Pew Research Center survey found that 76.2% of
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...
ans, 73.3% in Oceania, and about 86.0% in the Americas (90% in Latin America and 77.4% in North America) described themselves as Christians. The Philippines is in a unique situation where although the majority population do not have European roots except for the very significant minority, the culture is very Western-based, with its traditional Bahay na bato, architecture, Fashion and clothing in the Philippines, fashion, music, cuisine and Christianity. ''Western world'' countries also are the most keen on digital and televisual media technologies, as they were in the postwar period on television and radio: from 2000 to 2014, the Internet's market penetration in the ''West'' was twice that in non-''Western'' regions. Wikipedia has been blocked intermittently in China since 2004.

Economic definition

The term ''"Western world"'' is sometimes interchangeably used with the term First World or Developed Country, developed countries, stressing the difference between First World and the Third World or Developing country, developing countries. This usage occurs despite the fact that many countries that may be culturally "Western" are developing countries – in fact, a significant percentage of the Americas are developing countries. It is also used despite many developed countries, developed countries or regions not being Western (e.g. Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao), and therefore left out when "''Western world''" is used to denote developed countries. Privatization policies (involving government enterprises and public services) and multinational corporations are often considered a visible sign of Western nations's economic presence, especially in Third World countries, and represent common institutional environment for powerful politicians, enterprises, trade unions and firms, bankers and thinkers of the ''Western world''.

Latin America

File:Clash of Civilizations mapn2.png, upright=1.5, Huntington's map of major civilizations. What constitutes Western civilization in post-Cold War world is coloured dark blue. He also dwells that Latin America (shown in purple) is either a sub-civilization within Western civilization or a separate civilization akin to the West. Turkey, Russia, and Mexico are considered "torn countries" that are either already part of the West or in the process of joining the West. American political scientist, adviser and academic Samuel P. Huntington considered Latin America as separate from the ''Western world'' for the purpose of his geopolitical analysis. However, he also states that, while in general researchers consider that the ''West'' has three main components (European, North American and Latin American), in his view, Latin America has followed a different development path from Europe and North America. Although it is a scion of European (mainly Spanish and Portuguese) civilization, it also incorporates, to an extent, elements of indigenous American civilizations, absent from North America and Europe. It has had a corporatist and authoritarian culture that Europe had to a much lesser extent. Both Europe and North America felt the effects of the Reformation and combined Catholic and Protestant culture. Historically, Latin America has been only Catholic, although this is changing due to the influx of Protestants into the region. Some regions in Latin America incorporate indigenous cultures, which did not exist in Europe and were effectively annihilated in the United States, and whose importance oscillates between two extremes: Mexico, Central America, Paraguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, on the one hand, and Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Argentina on the other. However, he does mention that the modus operandi of the Catholic Church was to incorporate native elements of pagan European cultures into the general dogma of Catholicism, and the Native American elements could be perceived in the same way. Subjectively, Latin Americans are divided when it comes to identifying themselves. Some say: "Yes, we are part of the West." Others say: "No, we have our own unique culture"; and a vast bibliographical material produced by Latin Americans and North Americans exposes in detail their cultural differences. Huntington goes on to mention that Latin America could be considered a sub-civilization within Western civilization, or a separate civilization intimately related to the West and divided as to its belonging to it. While the second option is the most appropriate and useful for an analysis focused on the international political consequences of civilizations, including relations between Latin America, on the one hand, and North America and Europe, on the other, he also mentions that the underlying conflict of Latin America belonging to the West must eventually be addressed in order to develop a cohesive Latin American identity. Huntington's view has, however, been contested on a number of occasions as biased.

Views on torn countries

According to Samuel P. Huntington, some countries are torn on whether they are Western or not, with typically the national leadership pushing for Westernization, while historical, cultural and traditional forces remain largely non-Western. These include Turkey, whose political leadership has since the 1920s tried to Westernize the predominantly Islam, Muslim country with only 3% of its territory within Europe. It is his chief example of a "torn country" that is attempting to join Western civilization. The country's elite started the Westernization efforts, beginning with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who took power as the first president of the modern Turkish nation-state in 1923, imposed western institutions and dress, removed the Arabic alphabet and embraced the Latin alphabet. It joined NATO and since the 1960s has been seeking to accession of Turkey to the European Union, join the European Union with very slow progress. Mexico and Russia are also considered to be torn by Huntington. He also gives the example of Australia as a country torn between its Western civilizational heritage and its growing economic engagement with Asia.

Other views

A series of scholars of civilization, including Arnold J. Toynbee, Alfred Kroeber and Carroll Quigley have identified and analyzed "Western civilization" as one of the civilizations that have historically existed and still exist today. Toynbee entered into quite an expansive mode, including as candidates those countries or cultures who became so heavily influenced by the West as to adopt these borrowings into their very self-identity. Carried to its limit, this would in practice include almost everyone within the West, in one way or another. In particular, Toynbee refers to the ''intelligentsia'' formed among the educated elite of countries impacted by the European expansion of centuries past. While often pointedly nationalist, these cultural and political leaders interacted within the West to such an extent as to change both themselves and the West. The theologian and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin conceived of the West as the set of civilizations descended from the Nile Valley Civilizations, Nile Valley Civilization of Egypt. Palestinian-American literary critic Edward Said uses the term "Occident" in his discussion of Orientalism. According to his binary opposition, binary, the West, or Occident, created a romanticized vision of the East, or Orient, to justify colonial and imperialist intentions. This Occident-Orient binary focuses on the Western vision of the East instead of any truths about the East. His theories are rooted in Hegel's master-slave dialectic: The Occident would not exist without the Orient and vice versa. Further, Western writers created this irrational, feminine, weak "Other" to contrast with the rational, masculine, strong West because of a need to create a difference between the two that would justify imperialist ambitions, according to the Said-influenced Indian-American theorist Homi K. Bhabha. From a very different perspective, it has also been argued that the idea of the West is, in part, a non-Western invention, deployed in the non-West to shape and define non-Western pathways through or against modernity.Bonnett, A. 2004. ''The Idea of the West''

See also

*Americanization *Anglicisation *English-speaking world, Anglophone *Atlanticism *Christendom * *East-West dichotomy *Europeanisation *Far West (Taixi), Far West *Francophonie *Free world *North–South divide in the World, Global North *Global South *Golden billion *Hispanophone *History of Western civilization *Mid-Atlantic English *Monroe Doctrine *
Orient The Orient is a term for the East, traditionally comprising anything that belongs to the Eastern world, in relation to Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention ...
*Three-world model *Western esotericism *Western philosophy *Westernization *Western civilization *Western culture ;Organisations: *European Council *European Economic Area, European Economic Area (EEA) *European Union, European Union (EU) *G10 currencies *Group of Seven, Group of Seven (G7) *Group of Twelve, Group of Twelve (G12) *NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ;Representation in the United Nations: *Eastern European Group *Western European and Others Group



Further reading

* *Bavaj, Riccardo
''"The West": A Conceptual Exploration ''
European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: 28 November 2011. * Conze, Vanessa
''Abendland''EGO - European History Online
Institute of European History
2017, retrieved: March 8, 2021
. *Daly, Jonathan.
The Rise of Western Power: A Comparative History of Western Civilization
(London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014). . *Daly, Jonathan.
Historians Debate the Rise of the West
(London and New York: Routledge, 2015). .

– where you can watch each episode on demand for free (Pop-ups required) *J. F. C. Fuller. A Military history, Military History of the Western World. Three Volumes. New York: Da capo, Da Capo Press, Inc., 1987 and 1988. :V. 1. From the earliest times to the Battle of Lepanto; . :V. 2. From The Defeat of the Spanish Armada, the defeat of the Spanish Armada to Battle of Waterloo, the Battle of Waterloo; . :V. 3. From the American Civil War to the end of World War II; . {{Authority control Civilizations Country classifications Cultural concepts Cultural regions Historiography of Europe Western culture