In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Central Europe and the Atlantic World

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Bibliographies
  • Primary Sources
  • Ideology and Historiography
  • Central Europe and the Early Colonization of America
  • Central Europe and Transatlantic Trade
  • The Central European Experience in the Atlantic World
  • Central Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean

Atlantic History Central Europe and the Atlantic World
Csaba Lévai, Zbigniew Mazur
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 April 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 August 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0093


Central Europe as defined in this article includes the historical territories of the Holy Roman Empire, the Eastern or Danubian Habsburg Empire (including the territories of the historical kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary), and the historical Polish-Lithuanian State. The time span of the article covers the period between the discovery of America (1492) and the first decades of the 19th century (1820s). Although much of the territory of central Europe is not located close to the European coast of the Atlantic Ocean, this region developed intense relationships with the wider Atlantic World. The German-speaking population of the region, especially, was heavily involved in the movement of transatlantic migration. The investigation of central Europe provides a comparative perspective for the study of early modern transatlantic migration, since German-speaking people migrated not only to America but to other parts of central Europe (e.g., Hungary) as well. Many religious refugees from different parts of central Europe decided to move to America. Merchants of the region were also eager to cut in on transatlantic trade from the 16th century, and state authorities of the region made serious efforts to develop commerce between their states and the transatlantic world, especially in the 18th century. Political developments in the wider Atlantic world also had an impact on central Europe. Such events as the American Revolution heavily influenced the political life of such distant lands as the Habsburg Empire, Hungary, or Poland. The selection here includes publications in English with a few exceptions.

General Overviews

Since central Europe includes the territories of many different states, general overviews covering the entire region are not widely available. Lachenicht 2014 provides a general introduction in the sense that many of the essays in it deal with different aspects of the relationship of central Europe and the Atlantic world. Regarding the subregion of east-central Europe and the special topic of the discovery of America Tazbir 1992 is a good introduction. Similar works are O’Reilly 1998 and O’Reilly 2005 regarding the German-speaking population. Svejkovský 1977 and Závodszky 1995 provide general introductions of special topics regarding the Czech lands and Hungary.

  • Lachenicht, Susanne, ed. Europeans Engaging the Atlantic: Knowledge and Trade, 1500–1800. Frankfurt and New York: Campus Verlag, 2014.

    This collection of six essays explores the connection of the European backcountry, including Germany and the Habsburg Empire, to the wider Atlantic world. It also contains an introduction by Susanne Lachenicht, a comment by Philip D. Morgan, and an afterword by Nicholas Canny.

  • O’Reilly, William. “Conceptualizing America in Early Modern Central Europe.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 65 (1998): 101–121.

    Compares the concept of America in Germany to the concept of other regions of Europe that saw heavy German emigration (e.g., Hungary).

  • O’Reilly, William. “The Atlantic World and Germany: A Consideration.” In Latin America and the Atlantic World: El Mundoatlántico y América Latina (1500–1850): Essays in Honor of Horst Pietschmann. Edited by Renate Pieper and Peer Schmidt, 35–56. Cologne, Weimar, and Vienna, Austria: BöhlauVerlag, 2005.

    Examines the origins of Atlantic history in the period before the Second World War and the role some German scholars played in the formation of it.

  • Svejkovský, František. “Three Centuries of America in Czech Literature, 1508–1818.” In East Central European Perceptions of Early America. Edited by Béla K. Király and George Bárány, 33–55. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Peter De Ridder, 1977.

    Summarizes the image of America in Czech literature from 1508 to 1818.

  • Tazbir, Janusz. “The Popular Impact of the Discovery of America in East Central Europe.” Polish Review 37.3 (1992): 263–283.

    Explores the impact of the discovery of America especially in the territories ruled by the Habsburg dynasty (Bohemia, part of Hungary), Transylvania, and the Polish-Lithuanian State.

  • Závodszky, Géza. American Effects on Hungarian Imagination and Political Thought, 1559–1848. Highland Lakes, NJ: Social Science Monographs, 1995.

    Analyzes the impact of the “New World” and the United States on the development of social and political thought in Hungary from the first encounters in the 16th century to the middle of the 19th century.

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