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Late Middle Ages

Late Middle Ages

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The Late Middle Ages was the period
Periodization
Periodization is the attempt to categorize or divide time into named blocks. The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on periods of time with relatively stable characteristics...

 of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century (c. 1300–1500). The Late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 followed the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

 and preceded the onset of the early modern era (and, in much of Europe, the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

).

Around 1300, centuries of prosperity and growth in Europe came to a halt. A series of famines and plagues, such as the Great Famine of 1315–1317
Great Famine of 1315–1317
The Great Famine of 1315–1317 was the first of a series of large scale crises that struck Northern Europe early in the fourteenth century...

 and the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

, reduced the population to around half of what it was before the calamities. Along with depopulation came social unrest and endemic warfare
Endemic warfare
Endemic warfare is the state of continual, low-threshold warfare in a tribal warrior society. Endemic warfare is often highly ritualized and plays an important function in assisting the formation of a social structure among the tribes' men by proving themselves in battle.Ritual fighting permits...

. France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 experienced serious peasant uprisings: the Jacquerie
Jacquerie
The Jacquerie was a popular revolt in late medieval Europe by peasants that took place in northern France in the summer of 1358, during the Hundred Years' War. The revolt, which was violently suppressed after a few weeks of violence, centered in the Oise valley north of Paris...

, the Peasants' Revolt
Peasants' Revolt
The Peasants' Revolt, Wat Tyler's Rebellion, or the Great Rising of 1381 was one of a number of popular revolts in late medieval Europe and is a major event in the history of England. Tyler's Rebellion was not only the most extreme and widespread insurrection in English history but also the...

, as well as over a century of intermittent conflict in the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

. To add to the many problems of the period, the unity of the Catholic Church was shattered by the Western Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

. Collectively these events are sometimes called the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages
Crisis of the Late Middle Ages
The Crisis of the Late Middle Ages refers to a series of events in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that brought centuries of European prosperity and growth to a halt...

.

Despite these crises, the 14th century was also a time of great progress within the arts and sciences. Following a renewed interest in ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 texts that took root in the High Middle Ages, the Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 began. The absorption of Latin texts had started before the 12th Century Renaissance through contact with Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s during the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

, but the availability of important Greek texts accelerated with the capture of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 by the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, when many Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 scholars had to seek refuge in the West, particularly Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

.

Combined with this influx of classical ideas was the invention of printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 which facilitated dissemination of the printed word and democratized learning. These two things would later lead to the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. Toward the end of the period, an era of discovery began (Age of Discovery
Age of Discovery
The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations , was a period in history starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world, establishing direct contacts with...

). The growth of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, culminating in the Fall of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

 in 1453, eroded the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire and cut off trading possibilities with the east. Europeans were forced to discover new trading routes, as was the case with Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

’s travel to the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 in 1492, and Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

’s circumnavigation of India
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 in 1498. Their discoveries strengthened the economy and power of European nations.

The changes brought about by these developments have caused many scholars to see it as leading to the end of the Middle Ages, and the beginning of modern history
Modern history
Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after 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...

 and early modern Europe
Early modern Europe
Early modern Europe is the term used by historians to refer to a period in the history of Europe which spanned the centuries between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, roughly the late 15th century to the late 18th century...

. However, the division will always be a somewhat artificial one for scholars, since ancient learning was never entirely absent from European society. As such there was developmental continuity
Continuity thesis
In the history of ideas, the continuity thesis is the hypothesis that there was no radical discontinuity between the intellectual development of the Middle Ages and the developments in the Renaissance and early modern period. Thus the idea of an intellectual or scientific revolution following the...

 between the ancient age
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

 (via classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

) and the modern age
Modern Age
Modern Age is an American conservative academic quarterly journal, founded in 1957 by Russell Kirk in close collaboration with Henry Regnery...

. Some historians, particularly in Italy, prefer not to speak of the late Middle Ages at all, but rather see the high period of the Middle Ages transitioning to the Renaissance and the modern era.

Historiography and periodization


The term "Late Middle Ages" refers to one of the three periods of the Middle Ages, the others being the Early Middle Ages and the High Middle Ages. Leonardo Bruni
Leonardo Bruni
Leonardo Bruni was an Italian humanist, historian and statesman. He has been called the first modern historian.-Biography:...

 was the first historian to use tripartite periodization in his History of the Florentine People (1442). Flavio Biondo
Flavio Biondo
Flavio Biondo was an Italian Renaissance humanist historian. He was one of the first historians to used a three-period division of history and is known as one of the first archaeologists.Born in the capital city of Forlì, in the Romagna region, Flavio was well schooled from an early age,...

 used a similar framework in Decades of History from the Deterioration of the Roman Empire (1439–1453). Tripartite periodization became standard after the German historian Christoph Cellarius
Christoph Cellarius
Christoph Cellarius was a German classical scholar from Schmalkalden who held positions in Weimar and Halle...

 published Universal History Divided into an Ancient, Medieval, and New Period (1683).

For 18th century historians studying the 14th and 15th centuries, the central theme was the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, with its rediscovery of ancient learning and the emergence of an individual spirit. The heart of this rediscovery lies in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, where, in the words of Jacob Burckhardt
Jacob Burckhardt
Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt was a historian of art and culture, and an influential figure in the historiography of each field. He is known as one of the major progenitors of cultural history, albeit in a form very different from how cultural history is conceived and studied in academia today...

: "Man became a spiritual individual and recognized himself as such" (The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy is an 1860 work on the Italian Renaissance by Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt. Together with his History of the Renaissance in Italy it is counted among the classics of Renaissance historiography.English translation by S. G. C...

, 1860). This proposition was later challenged, and it was argued that the 12th century was a period of greater cultural achievement.

As economic and demographic methods were applied to the study of history, the trend was increasingly to see the late Middle Ages as a period of recession and crisis. Belgian
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 historian Henri Pirenne
Henri Pirenne
Henri Pirenne was a Belgian historian. A medievalist of Walloon descent, he wrote a multivolume history of Belgium in French and became a national hero....

 introduced the now common subdivision of Early
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

, High
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

 and Late Middle Ages in the years around World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Yet it was his Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 colleague Johan Huizinga
Johan Huizinga
Johan Huizinga , was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history.-Life:Born in Groningen as the son of Dirk Huizinga, a professor of physiology, and Jacoba Tonkens, who died two years after his birth, he started out as a student of Indo-Germanic languages, earning his...

 who was primarily responsible for popularising the pessimistic view of the Late Middle Ages, with his book The Autumn of the Middle Ages
The Autumn of the Middle Ages
The Autumn of the Middle Ages, or The Waning of the Middle Ages, is the best-known work by the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga....

(1919). To Huizinga, whose research focused on France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

 rather than Italy, despair and decline were the main themes, not rebirth.

Modern historiography on the period has reached a consensus between the two extremes of innovation and crisis. It is now (generally) acknowledged that conditions were vastly different north and south of the Alps, and "Late Middle Ages" is often avoided entirely within Italian historiography. The term "Renaissance" is still considered useful for describing certain intellectual, cultural or artistic developments, but not as the defining feature of an entire European historical epoch. The period from the early 14th century up until – sometimes including – the 16th century, is rather seen as characterised by other trends: demographic and economic decline followed by recovery, the end of western religious unity and the subsequent emergence of the nation state, and the expansion of European influence onto the rest of the world.

History



The limits of Christian Europe
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

 were still being defined in the 14th and 15th centuries. While the Grand Duchy of Moscow
Grand Duchy of Moscow
The Grand Duchy of Moscow or Grand Principality of Moscow, also known in English simply as Muscovy , was a late medieval Rus' principality centered on Moscow, and the predecessor state of the early modern Tsardom of Russia....

 was beginning to repel the Mongols
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

, and the Iberian
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 kingdoms completed the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

 of the peninsula and turned their attention outwards, the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 fell under the dominance of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. Meanwhile, the remaining nations of the continent were locked in almost constant international or internal conflict.

The situation gradually led to the consolidation of central authority, and the emergence of the nation state. The financial demands of war necessitated higher levels of taxation, resulting in the emergence of representative bodies – most notably the English Parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

. The growth of secular authority was further aided by the decline of the papacy with the Western Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

, and the coming of the Protestant Revolution.

Northern Europe

Main articles: Denmark, Norway, Sweden

After the failed union of Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 of 1319–1365, the pan-Scandinavian Kalmar Union
Kalmar Union
The Kalmar Union is a historiographical term meaning a series of personal unions that united the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway , and Sweden under a single monarch, though intermittently and with a population...

 was instituted in 1397. The Swedes were reluctant members of the Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

-dominated union from the start. In an attempt to subdue the Swedes, King Christian II of Denmark
Christian II of Denmark
Christian II was King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden , during the Kalmar Union.-Background:...

 had large numbers of the Swedish aristocracy killed in the Stockholm Bloodbath
Stockholm Bloodbath
The Stockholm Bloodbath, or the Stockholm Massacre , took place as the result of a successful invasion of Sweden by Danish forces under the command of King Christian II...

 of 1520. Yet this measure only led to further hostilities, and Sweden broke away for good in 1523. Norway, on the other hand, became an inferior party of the union, and remained united with Denmark until 1814.

Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 benefited from its relative isolation, and was the only Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n country not struck by the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

. Meanwhile, the Norwegian colony on Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 died out, probably under extreme weather conditions in the 15th century. These conditions might have been the effect of the Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

.

British Isles



The death of Alexander III
Alexander III of Scotland
Alexander III was King of Scots from 1249 to his death.-Life:...

 of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 in 1286 threw the country into a succession crisis, and the English king, Edward I
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

, was brought in to arbitrate. When Edward claimed overlordship over Scotland, this led to the Wars of Scottish Independence
Wars of Scottish Independence
The Wars of Scottish Independence were a series of military campaigns fought between the independent Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England in the late 13th and early 14th centuries....

. The English were eventually defeated, and the Scots were able to develop a stronger state under the Stewarts
House of Stuart
The House of Stuart is a European royal house. Founded by Robert II of Scotland, the Stewarts first became monarchs of the Kingdom of Scotland during the late 14th century, and subsequently held the position of the Kings of Great Britain and Ireland...

.

From 1337, England's attention was largely directed towards France in the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

. Henry V’s
Henry V of England
Henry V was King of England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second monarch belonging to the House of Lancaster....

 victory at the Battle of Agincourt
Battle of Agincourt
The Battle of Agincourt was a major English victory against a numerically superior French army in the Hundred Years' War. The battle occurred on Friday, 25 October 1415 , near modern-day Azincourt, in northern France...

 in 1415 briefly paved the way for a unification of the two kingdoms, but his son Henry VI
Henry VI of England
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

 soon squandered all previous gains. The loss of France led to discontent at home, and almost immediately upon the end of the war in 1453, followed the dynastic struggles of the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

 (c. 1455–1485), involving the rival dynasties of Lancaster
House of Lancaster
The House of Lancaster was a branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. It was one of the opposing factions involved in the Wars of the Roses, an intermittent civil war which affected England and Wales during the 15th century...

 and York
House of York
The House of York was a branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet, three members of which became English kings in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the paternal line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented...

.

The war ended in the accession of Henry VII
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

 of the Tudor
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

 family, who could continue the work started by the Yorkist kings of building a strong, centralized monarchy. While England's attention was thus directed elsewhere, the Hiberno-Norman
Hiberno-Norman
The Hiberno-Normans are those Norman lords who settled in Ireland who admitted little if any real fealty to the Anglo-Norman settlers in England, and who soon began to interact and intermarry with the Gaelic nobility of Ireland. The term embraces both their origins as a distinct community with...

 lords in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 were becoming gradually more assimilated into Irish society, and the island was allowed to develop virtual independence under English overlordship.

Western Europe

Main articles: France
France in the Middle Ages
France in the Middle Ages covers an area roughly corresponding to modern day France, from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the middle of the 15th century...

, Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

, Burgundian Netherlands
Burgundian Netherlands
In the history of the Low Countries, the Burgundian Netherlands refers to a number of Imperial and French fiefs ruled in personal union by the House of Valois-Burgundy and their Habsburg heirs in the period from 1384 to 1482...


The French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 House of Valois, which followed the House of Capet
House of Capet
The House of Capet, or The Direct Capetian Dynasty, , also called The House of France , or simply the Capets, which ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328, was the most senior line of the Capetian dynasty – itself a derivative dynasty from the Robertians. As rulers of France, the dynasty...

 in 1328, was at its outset virtually marginalized in its own country, first by the English invading forces of the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

, later by the powerful Duchy of Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

. The appearance of Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

 on the scene changed the course of war in favour of the French, and the initiative was carried further by King Louis XI
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

.

Meanwhile Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy was a title borne by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, a small portion of traditional lands of Burgundians west of river Saône which in 843 was allotted to Charles the Bald's kingdom of West Franks...

, met resistance in his attempts to consolidate his possessions, particularly from the Swiss Confederation
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 formed in 1291. When Charles was killed in the Burgundian Wars
Burgundian Wars
The Burgundian Wars were a conflict between the Dukes of Burgundy and the Kings of France, later involving the Old Swiss Confederacy, which would play a decisive role. Open war broke out in 1474, and in the following years the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, was defeated three times on the...

 at the Battle of Nancy
Battle of Nancy
The Battle of Nancy was the final and decisive battle of the Burgundian Wars, fought outside the walls of Nancy on 5 January 1477 between Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and René II, Duke of Lorraine...

 in 1477, the Duchy of Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

 was reclaimed by France. At the same time, the County of Burgundy
County of Burgundy
The Free County of Burgundy , was a medieval county , within the traditional province and modern French region Franche-Comté, whose very French name is still reminiscent of the unusual title of its count: Freigraf...

 and the wealthy Burgundian Netherlands
Burgundian Netherlands
In the history of the Low Countries, the Burgundian Netherlands refers to a number of Imperial and French fiefs ruled in personal union by the House of Valois-Burgundy and their Habsburg heirs in the period from 1384 to 1482...

 came into the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 under Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 control, setting up conflict for centuries to come.

Central Europe

Main articles: Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Poland
History of Poland
The History of Poland is rooted in the arrival of the Slavs, who gave rise to permanent settlement and historic development on Polish lands. During the Piast dynasty Christianity was adopted in 966 and medieval monarchy established...

, Lithuania

Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 prospered in the 14th century, and the Golden Bull of 1356
Golden Bull of 1356
The Golden Bull of 1356 was a decree issued by the Reichstag assembly in Nuremberg headed by the Luxembourg Emperor Charles IV that fixed, for a period of more than four hundred years, important aspects of the constitutional structure of the Holy Roman Empire...

 made the king of Bohemia first among the imperial electors
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

, but the Hussite revolution
Hussite Wars
The Hussite Wars, also called the Bohemian Wars involved the military actions against and amongst the followers of Jan Hus in Bohemia in the period 1419 to circa 1434. The Hussite Wars were notable for the extensive use of early hand-held gunpowder weapons such as hand cannons...

 threw the country into crisis. The Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 passed to the Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

s in 1438, where it remained until the Empire's dissolution in 1806. Yet in spite of the extensive territories held by the Habsburgs, the Empire itself remained fragmented, and much real power and influence lay with the individual principalities. Also financial institutions, such as the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

 and the Fugger
Fugger
The Fugger family was a historically prominent group of European bankers, members of the fifteenth and sixteenth-century mercantile patriciate of Augsburg, international mercantile bankers, and venture capitalists like the Welser and the Höchstetter families. This banking family replaced the de'...

 family, held great power, both on an economic and a political level.
Louis the Great


The kingdom of Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 experienced a golden age during the 14th century. In particular the reign of the Angevin
Capetian House of Anjou
The Capetian House of Anjou, also known as the House of Anjou-Sicily and House of Anjou-Naples, was a royal house and cadet branch of the direct House of Capet. Founded by Charles I of Sicily, a son of Louis VIII of France, the Capetian king first ruled the Kingdom of Sicily during the 13th century...

 kings Charles Robert
Charles I of Hungary
Charles I , also known as Charles Robert , was the first King of Hungary and Croatia of the House of Anjou. He was also descended from the old Hungarian Árpád dynasty. His claim to the throne of Hungary was contested by several pretenders...

 (1308–42) and his son Louis the Great (1342–82) were marked by greatness. The country grew wealthy as the main European supplier of gold and silver. Louis the Great led successful campaigns from Lithuania to Southern Italy, From Poland to Northern Greece. He had the greatest military potential of the 14th century with his enormous armies.(Often over 100,000 men). Meanwhile Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

's attention was turned eastwards, as the union
Polish-Lithuanian Union
The term Polish–Lithuanian Union sometimes called as United Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania refers to a series of acts and alliances between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that lasted for prolonged periods of time and led to the creation of the Polish–Lithuanian...

 with Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 created an enormous entity in the region. The union, and the conversion of Lithuania, also marked the end of paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 in Europe.

However, Louis did not leave a son as heir after his death in 1382. Instead, he named as his heir the young prince Sigismund of Luxemburg who was 11 years old. The Hungarian nobility did not accept his claim, and the result was an internal war. Sigismund eventually achieved total control of Hungary, and established his court in Buda and Visegrád. Both palaces were rebuilt and improved, being considered between the richest of its time in Europe. Inheriting the throne of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire, Sigismund continued conducting his politics from Hungary, but being busy fighting the Hussites, and the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 which started to become an important menace to Europe in the beginning of the 15th century.

The King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary was known to hold the biggest army of mercenaries of his time (The Black Army of Hungary
Black Army of Hungary
The Black Army , "Black Legion" or "Regiment"—possibly named after their black armor panoply, see below) is, in historiography, the common name given to the military forces serving under the reign of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary...

) which he used to conquer Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 and fight the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

's menace. However, the end of the glory of the Kingdom happened in the beginning of the 16th century, when the King Louis II of Hungary was killed in the battle of Mohács
Battle of Mohács
The Battle of Mohács was fought on August 29, 1526 near Mohács, Hungary. In the battle, forces of the Kingdom of Hungary led by King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia were defeated by forces of the Ottoman Empire led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent....

 in 1526 against the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. Then Hungary fell in a serious crisis and was invaded, ending not only its significance in central Europe, but its medieval time with it.

Eastern Europe



The 13th century had seen the fall of the state of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

, in the face of the Mongol invasion
Mongol invasion of Rus
The Mongol invasion of Russia was resumed on 21 December 1237 marking the resumption of the Mongol invasion of Europe, during which the Mongols attacked the medieval powers of Poland, Kiev, Hungary, and miscellaneous tribes of less organized peoples...

. In its place would eventually emerge the Grand Duchy of Moscow
Grand Duchy of Moscow
The Grand Duchy of Moscow or Grand Principality of Moscow, also known in English simply as Muscovy , was a late medieval Rus' principality centered on Moscow, and the predecessor state of the early modern Tsardom of Russia....

, which won a great victory against the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

 at the Battle of Kulikovo
Battle of Kulikovo
The Battle of Kulikovo was a battle between Tatar Mamai and Muscovy Dmitriy and portrayed by Russian historiography as a stand-off between Russians and the Golden Horde. However, the political situation at the time was much more complicated and concerned the politics of the Northeastern Rus'...

 in 1380. The victory did not end Tartar rule in the region, however, and its immediate beneficiary was Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, which extended its influence eastwards.

It was under the reign of Ivan III
Ivan III of Russia
Ivan III Vasilyevich , also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus"...

, the Great (1462–1505), that Moscow finally became a major regional power, and the annexation of the vast Republic of Novgorod in 1478 laid the foundations for a Russian national state. After the Fall of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

 in 1453 the Russian princes started to see themselves as the heirs of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. They eventually took on the imperial title of Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

, and Moscow was described as the Third Rome
Third Rome
The term Third Rome describes the idea that some European city, state, or country is the successor to the legacy of the Roman Empire and its successor state, the Byzantine Empire ....

.

Balkans and Byzantines

Main articles: Byzantine Empire, Bulgaria, Serbia
Serbian Empire
The Serbian Empire was a short-lived medieval empire in the Balkans that emerged from the Serbian Kingdom. Stephen Uroš IV Dušan was crowned Emperor of Serbs and Greeks on 16 April, 1346, a title signifying a successorship to the Eastern Roman Empire...

, Albania
Skanderbeg
George Kastrioti Skanderbeg or Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu , widely known as Skanderbeg , was a 15th-century Albanian lord. He was appointed as the governor of the Sanjak of Dibra by the Ottomans in 1440...


The Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 had for a long time dominated the eastern Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 in politics and culture. By the 14th century, however, it had almost entirely collapsed into a tributary state of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, centred on the city of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 and a few enclaves in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. With the Fall of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

 in 1453, the Byzantine Empire was permanently extinguished.

The Bulgarian Empire
Second Bulgarian Empire
The Second Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state which existed between 1185 and 1396 . A successor of the First Bulgarian Empire, it reached the peak of its power under Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II before gradually being conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th-early 15th century...

 was in decline by the 14th century, and the ascendancy of Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

 was marked by the Serbian victory over the Bulgarians in the Battle of Velbazhd in 1330. By 1346, the Serbian king Stefan Dušan
Stefan Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia
Stephen Uroš IV Dušan the Mighty , was the King of Serbia and Emperor of the Serbs and Greeks until his death on 20 December 1355. Dušan managed to conquer a large part of Southeast Europe, becoming one of the most powerful monarchs in his time...

 had been proclaimed emperor. Yet Serbian dominance was short-lived; the Balkan coalitioned armies led by the Serbs were defeated by the Ottomans at the Battle of Kosovo
Battle of Kosovo
The Battle of Kosovo took place on St. Vitus' Day, June 15, 1389, between the army led by Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović, and the invading army of the Ottoman Empire under the leadership of Sultan Murad I...

 in 1389, where most of the Serbian nobility were killed and the south of the country came under Ottoman occupation, like Bulgaria before it. Serbia fell in 1459, Bosnia in 1463 and Albania was finally conquered in 1479 a few years after the death of Skanderbeg
Skanderbeg
George Kastrioti Skanderbeg or Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu , widely known as Skanderbeg , was a 15th-century Albanian lord. He was appointed as the governor of the Sanjak of Dibra by the Ottomans in 1440...

. Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

 (Hungarian domain) was the last Balkan city to fall under Ottoman rule in 1521. By the end of the medieval period, the entire Balkan
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 peninsula was annexed by, or became vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

s to, the Ottomans.

Southern Europe

Main articles: Italy
Italy in the Middle Ages
This is the history of Italy during the Middle Ages.- Transition from Late Antiquity :Italy was invaded by the Visigoths in the 5th century, and Rome was sacked by Alaric in 410. The last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus, was deposed in 476 by an Eastern Germanic general, Odoacer...

, Spain
Spain in the Middle Ages
After the disorders of the passage of the Vandals and Alans down the Mediterranean coast of Hispania from 408, the history of Medieval Spain begins with the Iberian kingdom of the Arianist Visigoths , who were converted to Catholicism with their king Reccared in 587...

, Portugal
History of Portugal
The history of Portugal, a European and an Atlantic nation, dates back to the Early Middle Ages. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it ascended to the status of a world power during Europe's "Age of Discovery" as it built up a vast empire including possessions in South America, Africa, Asia and...



Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

 was the seat of the papacy
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 from 1309 to 1376. With the return of the Pope to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 in 1378, the Papal State developed into a major secular power, culminating in the morally corrupt papacy of Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI , born Roderic Llançol i Borja was Pope from 1492 until his death on 18 August 1503. He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, and his Italianized surname—Borgia—became a byword for the debased standards of the Papacy of that era, most notoriously the Banquet...

. Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 grew to prominence amongst the Italian city-states through financial business, and the dominant Medici
Medici
The House of Medici or Famiglia de' Medici was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside,...

 family became important promoters of the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 through their patronage of the arts. Also other city states in northern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 expanded their territories and consolidated their power, primarily Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 and Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

. The War of the Sicilian Vespers
War of the Sicilian Vespers
The War of the ' Vespers started with the insurrection of the Sicilian Vespers against Charles of Anjou in 1282 and finally ended with the peace of Caltabellotta in 1302...

 had by the early 14th century divided southern Italy into an Aragon Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

 and an Anjou
House of Valois-Anjou
The Valois House of Anjou, or the Younger House of Anjou, was a noble French family, deriving from the royal family, the House of Valois. They were monarchs of Naples, as well as various other territories....

 Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

. In 1442, the two kingdoms were effectively united under Aragonese control.

The 1469 marriage of Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I was Queen of Castile and León. She and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon brought stability to both kingdoms that became the basis for the unification of Spain. Later the two laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor...

 and Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 and 1479 death of John II of Aragon
John II of Aragon
John II the Faithless, also known as the Great was the King of Aragon from 1458 until 1479, and jure uxoris King of Navarre from 1425 until his death. He was the son of Ferdinand I and his wife Eleanor of Alburquerque...

 led to the creation of modern-day Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. In 1492, Granada
Granada
Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea...

 was captured from the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

, thereby completing the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

. Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 had during the 15th century – particularly under Henry the Navigator – gradually explored the coast of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, and in 1498, Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

 found the sea route to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. The Spanish monarchs met the Portuguese challenge by financing Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

’s attempt to find the western sea route to India, leading to the discovery of America
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 in the same year as the capture of Granada.

Late Medieval European society



Around 1300–1350 the Medieval Warm Period
Medieval Warm Period
The Medieval Warm Period , Medieval Climate Optimum, or Medieval Climatic Anomaly was a time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region, that may also have been related to other climate events around the world during that time, including in China, New Zealand, and other countries lasting from...

 gave way to the Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

. The colder climate resulted in agricultural crises, the first of which is known as the Great Famine of 1315-1317. The demographic consequences of this famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

, however, were not as severe as those of the plague
Pandemic
A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic...

s of the later century, particularly the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

. Estimates of the death rate caused by this epidemic range from one third to as much as sixty percent. By around 1420, the accumulated effect of recurring plagues and famines had reduced the population of Europe to perhaps no more than a third of what it was a century earlier. The effects of natural disasters were exacerbated by armed conflicts; this was particularly the case in France during the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

.

As the European population was severely reduced, land became more plentiful for the survivors, and labour consequently more expensive. Attempts by landowners to forcibly reduce wages, such as the English 1351 Statute of Laborers, were doomed to fail. These efforts resulted in nothing more than fostering resentment among the peasantry, leading to rebellions such as the French Jacquerie
Jacquerie
The Jacquerie was a popular revolt in late medieval Europe by peasants that took place in northern France in the summer of 1358, during the Hundred Years' War. The revolt, which was violently suppressed after a few weeks of violence, centered in the Oise valley north of Paris...

 in 1358 and the English Peasants' Revolt in 1381. The long-term effect was the virtual end of serfdom
Serfdom
Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted to the mid-19th century...

 in Western Europe. In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, landowners were able to exploit the situation to force the peasantry into even more repressive bondage.

The upheavals caused by the Black Death left certain minority groups particularly vulnerable, especially the Jews. The calamities were often blamed on this group, and anti-Jewish pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s were carried out all over Europe; in February 1349, 2,000 Jews were murdered in Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

. Also the state was guilty of discrimination against the Jews, as monarchs gave in to the demands of the people, the Jews were expelled from England in 1290, from France in 1306, from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497.

While the Jews were suffering persecution, one group that probably experienced increased empowerment in the Late Middle Ages was women. The great social changes of the period opened up new possibilities for women in the fields of commerce, learning and religion. Yet at the same time, women were also vulnerable to incrimination and persecution, as belief in witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

 increased.

Up until the mid-14th century, Europe had experienced a steadily increasing urbanisation. Cities were of course also decimated by the Black Death, but the urban areas' role as centres of learning, commerce and government ensured continued growth. By 1500 Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 probably had more than 100,000 inhabitants. Twenty-two other cities were larger than 40,000; most of these were to be found in Italy and the Iberian peninsula, but there were also some in France, the Empire, the Low Countries plus London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in England.

Military history



Medieval warfare
Medieval warfare
Medieval warfare is the warfare of the Middle Ages. In Europe, technological, cultural, and social developments had forced a dramatic transformation in the character of warfare from antiquity, changing military tactics and the role of cavalry and artillery...



Through battles such as Courtrai
Battle of the Golden Spurs
The Battle of the Golden Spurs, known also as the Battle of Courtrai was fought on July 11, 1302, near Kortrijk in Flanders...

 (1302), Bannockburn
Battle of Bannockburn
The Battle of Bannockburn was a significant Scottish victory in the Wars of Scottish Independence...

 (1314), and Morgarten
Battle of Morgarten
The Battle of Morgarten occurred on November 15, 1315, when a Swiss Confederation force of 1,500 infantry archers ambushed a group of Austrian soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire near the Morgarten Pass...

 (1315), it became clear to the great territorial princes of Europe that the military advantage of the feudal cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 was lost, and that a well equipped infantry
Infantry in the Middle Ages
Despite the rise of knightly cavalry in the 11th Century, infantry played an important role throughout the Middle Ages on both the battlefield and in sieges...

 was preferable. Through the Welsh Wars
Wales in the Late Middle Ages
Wales in the Late Middle Ages covers the period from the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in late 1282 to the incorporation of Wales into the Kingdom of England by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542.-Death of Llywelyn:...

 the English became acquainted with, and adopted the highly efficient longbow
English longbow
The English longbow, also called the Welsh longbow, is a powerful type of medieval longbow about 6 ft long used by the English and Welsh for hunting and as a weapon in medieval warfare...

. Once properly managed, this weapon gave them a great advantage over the French in the Hundred Years' War.

The introduction of gunpowder affected the conduct of war significantly. Though employed by the English as early as the Battle of Crécy
Battle of Crécy
The Battle of Crécy took place on 26 August 1346 near Crécy in northern France, and was one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years' War...

 in 1346, firearms initially had little effect in the field of battle. It was through the use of cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

s as siege weapons
Siege engine
A siege engine is a device that is designed to break or circumvent city walls and other fortifications in siege warfare. Some have been operated close to the fortifications, while others have been used to attack from a distance. From antiquity, siege engines were constructed largely of wood and...

 that major change was brought about; the new methods would eventually change the architectural structure of fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s.

Changes also took place within the recruitment and composition of armies. The use of the national
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 or feudal levy was gradually replaced by paid troops of domestic retinue
Retinue
A retinue is a body of persons "retained" in the service of a noble or royal personage, a suite of "retainers".-Etymology:...

s or foreign mercenaries
Mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

. The practice was associated with Edward III of England
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

 and the condottieri
Condottieri
thumb|Depiction of [[Farinata degli Uberti]] by [[Andrea del Castagno]], showing a 15th century condottiero's typical attire.Condottieri were the mercenary soldier leaders of the professional, military free companies contracted by the Italian city-states and the Papacy, from the late Middle Ages...

 of the Italian city-states. All over Europe, Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 soldiers
Swiss mercenaries
Swiss mercenaries were notable for their service in foreign armies, especially the armies of the Kings of France, throughout the Early Modern period of European history, from the Later Middle Ages into the Age of the European Enlightenment...

 were in particularly high demand. At the same time, the period also saw the emergence of the first permanent armies. It was in Valois France, under the heavy demands of the Hundred Years' War, that the armed forces gradually assumed a permanent nature.

Parallel to the military developments emerged also a constantly more elaborate chivalric
Chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

 code of conduct for the warrior class. This new-found ethos can be seen as a response to the diminishing military role of the aristocracy, and gradually it became almost entirely detached from its military origin. The spirit of chivalry was given expression through the new (secular) type of chivalric order
Chivalric order
Chivalric orders are societies and fellowships of knights that have been created by European monarchs in imitation of the military orders of the Crusades...

s; the first of which was the Order of St. George
Order of St. George
The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George (also known as Order of St. George the Triumphant, Russian: Военный орден Св...

 founded by Charles I of Hungary
Charles I of Hungary
Charles I , also known as Charles Robert , was the first King of Hungary and Croatia of the House of Anjou. He was also descended from the old Hungarian Árpád dynasty. His claim to the throne of Hungary was contested by several pretenders...

 in 1325, the best known probably the English Order of the Garter
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

, founded by Edward III in 1348.

The Papal Schism



The French crown's increasing dominance over the Papacy culminated in the transference of the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 to Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

 in 1309. When the Pope returned to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 in 1377, this led to the election of different popes in Avignon and Rome, resulting in the Great Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

 (1378–1417). The Schism divided Europe along political lines; while France, her ally Scotland and the Spanish kingdoms supported the Avignon Papacy, France's enemy England stood behind the Pope in Rome, together with Portugal, Scandinavia and most of the German princes.

At the Council of Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

 (1414–1418), the Papacy was once more united in Rome. Even though the unity of the Western Church was to last for another hundred years, and though the Papacy was to experience greater material prosperity than ever before, the Great Schism had done irreparable damage. The internal struggles within the Church had impaired her claim to universal rule, and promoted anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism is a historical movement that opposes religious institutional power and influence, real or alleged, in all aspects of public and political life, and the involvement of religion in the everyday life of the citizen...

 among the people and their rulers, paving the way for reform movements.

Protestant Reformation



Though the many of the events were outside the traditional time-period of the Middle Ages, the end of the unity of the Western Church (the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

), was one of the distinguishing characteristics of the medieval period. The Catholic Church had long fought against heretic movements, in the Late Middle Ages, it started to experience demands for reform from within. The first of these came from the Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 professor John Wyclif in England. Wycliffe held that the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 should be the only authority in religious questions, and spoke out against transubstantiation
Transubstantiation
In Roman Catholic theology, transubstantiation means the change, in the Eucharist, of the substance of wheat bread and grape wine into the substance of the Body and Blood, respectively, of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses remains as before.The Eastern Orthodox...

, celibacy
Celibacy
Celibacy is a personal commitment to avoiding sexual relations, in particular a vow from marriage. Typically celibacy involves avoiding all romantic relationships of any kind. An individual may choose celibacy for religious reasons, such as is the case for priests in some religions, for reasons of...

 and indulgence
Indulgence
In Catholic theology, an indulgence is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the Catholic Church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution...

s. In spite of influential supporters among the English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 aristocracy, such as John of Gaunt, the movement was not allowed to survive. Though Wycliffe himself was left unmolested, his supporters, the Lollards, were eventually suppressed in England.

Richard II of England
Richard II of England
Richard II was King of England, a member of the House of Plantagenet and the last of its main-line kings. He ruled from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard was a son of Edward, the Black Prince, and was born during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III...

's marriage to Anne of Bohemia
Anne of Bohemia
Anne of Bohemia was Queen of England as the first wife of King Richard II. A member of the House of Luxembourg, she was the eldest daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and Elizabeth of Pomerania....

 established contacts between the two nations and brought Lollard ideas to this part of Europe. The teachings of the Czech
Czech lands
Czech lands is an auxiliary term used mainly to describe the combination of Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia. Today, those three historic provinces compose the Czech Republic. The Czech lands had been settled by the Celts , then later by various Germanic tribes until the beginning of 7th...

 priest Jan Hus
Jan Hus
Jan Hus , often referred to in English as John Hus or John Huss, was a Czech priest, philosopher, reformer, and master at Charles University in Prague...

 were based on those of John Wyclif, yet his followers, the Hussites, were to have a much greater political impact than the Lollards. Hus gained a great following in Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

, and in 1414, he was requested to appear at the Council of Constance, to defend his cause. When he was burned as a heretic in 1415, it caused a popular uprising in the Czech lands. The subsequent Hussite Wars
Hussite Wars
The Hussite Wars, also called the Bohemian Wars involved the military actions against and amongst the followers of Jan Hus in Bohemia in the period 1419 to circa 1434. The Hussite Wars were notable for the extensive use of early hand-held gunpowder weapons such as hand cannons...

 fell apart due to internal quarrels, and did not result in religious or national independence for the Czechs, but both the Catholic Church and the German element within the country were weakened.

Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

, a German monk, started the German Reformation by the posting of the 95 theses
95 Theses
The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences , commonly known as , was written by Martin Luther, 1517 and is widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation...

 on the castle church of Wittenberg
Wittenberg
Wittenberg, officially Lutherstadt Wittenberg, is a city in Germany in the Bundesland Saxony-Anhalt, on the river Elbe. It has a population of about 50,000....

 on October 31, 1517. The immediate provocation behind the act was Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...

’s renewing the indulgence for the building of the new St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

 in 1514. Luther was challenged to recant his heresy at the Diet of Worms
Diet of Worms
The Diet of Worms 1521 was a diet that took place in Worms, Germany, and is most memorable for the Edict of Worms , which addressed Martin Luther and the effects of the Protestant Reformation.It was conducted from 28 January to 25 May 1521, with Emperor Charles V presiding.Other Imperial diets at...

 in 1521. When he refused, he was placed under the ban of the Empire by Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

. Receiving the protection of Frederick the Wise
Frederick III, Elector of Saxony
Frederick III of Saxony , also known as Frederick the Wise , was Elector of Saxony from 1486 to his death. Frederick was the son of Ernest, Elector of Saxony and his wife Elisabeth, daughter of Albert III, Duke of Bavaria...

, he was then able to translate the Bible into German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

.

To many secular rulers, the Protestant reformation was a welcome opportunity to expand their wealth and influence. The Catholic Church met the challenges of the reforming movements with what has been called the Catholic or Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

. Europe became split into a northern Protestant and a southern Catholic part, resulting in the Religious Wars of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Trade and commerce

Medieval Merchant Routes


The increasingly dominant position of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 in the eastern Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 presented an impediment to trade for the Christian nations of the west, who in turn started looking for alternatives. Portuguese and Spanish explorers found new trade routes – south of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, and across the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 to America
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

. As Genoese
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 and Venetian
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 merchants opened up direct sea routes with Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, the Champagne fairs
Champagne fairs
The Champagne fairs were an annual cycle of trading fairs held in towns in the Champagne and Brie regions of France in the Middle Ages. From their origins in local agricultural and stock fairs, the Champagne fairs became an important engine in the reviving economic history of medieval Europe,...

 lost much of their importance.

At the same time, English wool export shifted from raw wool to processed cloth, resulting in losses for the cloth manufacturers of the Low Countries. In the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

 reached the peak of their power in the 14th century, but started going into decline in the fifteenth.

In the late 13th and early 14th centuries, a process took place – primarily in Italy but partly also in the Empire – that historians have termed a 'commercial revolution'. Among the innovations of the period were new forms of partnership
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

 and the issuing of insurance
Insurance
In law and economics, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the...

, both of which contributed to reducing the risk of commercial ventures; the bill of exchange and other forms of credit that circumvented the canonical laws
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 for gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

s against usury
Usury
Usury Originally, when the charging of interest was still banned by Christian churches, usury simply meant the charging of interest at any rate . In countries where the charging of interest became acceptable, the term came to be used for interest above the rate allowed by law...

, and eliminated the dangers of carrying bullion
Precious metal
A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value.Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high lustre, are softer or more ductile, and have higher melting points than other metals...

; and new forms of accounting, in particular double-entry bookkeeping
Double-entry bookkeeping system
A double-entry bookkeeping system is a set of rules for recording financial information in a financial accounting system in which every transaction or event changes at least two different nominal ledger accounts....

, which allowed for better oversight and accuracy.

With the financial expansion, trading rights became more jealously guarded by the commercial elite. Towns saw the growing power of guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

s, while on a national level special companies would be granted monopolies on particular trades, like the English wool Staple
The staple
The Staple in English historiography, refers to the entire medieval system of trade and its taxation. Under this system, the government or King required that all overseas trade in certain goods be transacted at specific designated market towns or ports, referred to as the 'staple ports'...

. The beneficiaries of these developments would accumulate immense wealth. Families like the Fugger
Fugger
The Fugger family was a historically prominent group of European bankers, members of the fifteenth and sixteenth-century mercantile patriciate of Augsburg, international mercantile bankers, and venture capitalists like the Welser and the Höchstetter families. This banking family replaced the de'...

s in Germany, the Medici
Medici
The House of Medici or Famiglia de' Medici was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside,...

s in Italy, the de la Poles
Duke of Suffolk
Duke of Suffolk is a title that has been created three times in British history, all three times in the Peerage of England.The third creation of the dukedom of Suffolk was for Henry Grey, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, in 1551. The duke also held the title Baron Ferrers of Groby...

 in England, and individuals like Jacques Coeur in France would help finance the wars of kings, and achieve great political influence in the process.

Though there is no doubt that the demographic crisis of the 14th century caused a dramatic fall in production and commerce in absolute terms, there has been a vigorous historical debate over whether the decline was greater than the fall in population. While the older orthodoxy was that the artistic output of the Renaissance was a result of greater opulence, more recent studies have suggested that there might have been a so-called 'depression of the Renaissance'. In spite of convincing arguments for the case, the statistical evidence is simply too incomplete that a definite conclusion can be made.

Arts and sciences


In the 14th century, the predominant academic trend of scholasticism
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 was challenged by the humanist
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

 movement. Though primarily an attempt to revitalise the classical language
Classical language
A classical language is a language with a literature that is classical. According to UC Berkeley linguist George L. Hart, it should be ancient, it should be an independent tradition that arose mostly on its own, not as an offshoot of another tradition, and it must have a large and extremely rich...

s, the movement also led to innovations within the fields of science, art and literature, helped on by impulses from Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 scholars who had to seek refuge in the west after the Fall of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

 in 1453.

In science, classical authorities like Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 were challenged for the first time since antiquity. Within the arts, humanism took the form of the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. Though the 15th century Renaissance was a highly localised phenomenon – limited mostly to the city states of northern Italy – artistic developments were taking place also further north, particularly in the Netherlands.

Philosophy, science and technology



The predominant school of thought in the 13th century was the Thomistic
Thomism
Thomism is the philosophical school that arose as a legacy of the work and thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, philosopher, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. In philosophy, his commentaries on Aristotle are his most lasting contribution...

 reconciliation of the teachings of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 with Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

. The Condemnation of 1277, enacted at the University of Paris
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

, placed restrictions on ideas that could be interpreted as heretical; restrictions that had implication for Aristotelian
Aristotelianism
Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. The works of Aristotle were initially defended by the members of the Peripatetic school, and, later on, by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings...

 thought. An alternative was presented by William of Ockham
William of Ockham
William of Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher, who is believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of...

, who insisted that the world of reason and the world of faith had to be kept apart. Ockham introduced the principle of parsimony – or Occam's razor
Occam's razor
Occam's razor, also known as Ockham's razor, and sometimes expressed in Latin as lex parsimoniae , is a principle that generally recommends from among competing hypotheses selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions.-Overview:The principle is often summarized as "simpler explanations...

 – whereby a simple theory is preferred to a more complex one, and speculation on unobservable phenomena is avoided.

This new approach liberated scientific speculation from the dogmatic restraints of Aristotelian science, and paved the way for new approaches. Particularly within the field of theories of motion
Motion (physics)
In physics, motion is a change in position of an object with respect to time. Change in action is the result of an unbalanced force. Motion is typically described in terms of velocity, acceleration, displacement and time . An object's velocity cannot change unless it is acted upon by a force, as...

 great advances were made, when such scholars as Jean Buridan
Jean Buridan
Jean Buridan was a French priest who sowed the seeds of the Copernican revolution in Europe. Although he was one of the most famous and influential philosophers of the late Middle Ages, he is today among the least well known...

, Nicole Oresme and the Oxford Calculators
Oxford Calculators
The Oxford Calculators were a group of 14th-century thinkers, almost all associated with Merton College, Oxford, who took a strikingly logico-mathematical approach to philosophical problems....

 challenged the work of Aristotle. Buridan developed the theory of impetus as the cause of the motion of projectiles, which was an important step towards the modern concept of inertia
Inertia
Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion. It is proportional to an object's mass. The principle of inertia is one of the fundamental principles of classical physics which are used to...

. The works of these scholars anticipated the heliocentric
Heliocentrism
Heliocentrism, or heliocentricism, is the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around a stationary Sun at the center of the universe. The word comes from the Greek . Historically, heliocentrism was opposed to geocentrism, which placed the Earth at the center...

 worldview of Nicolaus Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance astronomer and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe....

.

Certain technological inventions of the period – whether of Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 or Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 origin, or unique European innovations – were to have great influence on political and social developments, in particular gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

, the printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 and the compass
Compass
A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west. Intermediate directions are also defined...

. The introduction of gunpowder to the field of battle affected not only military organisation, but helped advance the nation state. Gutenberg's movable type
Movable type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....

 printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 made possible not only the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, but also a dissemination of knowledge that would lead to a gradually more egalitarian society. The compass
Compass
A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west. Intermediate directions are also defined...

, along with other innovations such as the cross-staff, the mariner's astrolabe
Mariner's astrolabe
The mariner's astrolabe, also called sea astrolabe, was an inclinometer used to determine the latitude of a ship at sea by measuring the sun's noon altitude or the meridian altitude of a star of known declination. Not an astrolabe proper, the mariner's astrolabe was rather a graduated circle with...

, and advances in shipbuilding, enabled the navigation of the World Ocean
World Ocean
The World Ocean, world ocean, or global ocean, is the interconnected system of the Earth's oceanic waters, and comprises the bulk of the hydrosphere, covering almost 71% of the Earth's surface, with a total volume of 1.332 billion cubic kilometres.The unity and continuity of the World Ocean, with...

s, and the early phases of colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

. Other inventions had a greater impact on everyday life, such as eyeglasses
Glasses
Glasses, also known as eyeglasses , spectacles or simply specs , are frames bearing lenses worn in front of the eyes. They are normally used for vision correction or eye protection. Safety glasses are a kind of eye protection against flying debris or against visible and near visible light or...

 and the weight-driven clock
Clock
A clock is an instrument used to indicate, keep, and co-ordinate time. The word clock is derived ultimately from the Celtic words clagan and clocca meaning "bell". A silent instrument missing such a mechanism has traditionally been known as a timepiece...

.

Visual arts and architecture



Medieval art


A precursor to Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 art can be seen already in the early 14th century works of Giotto
Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone , better known simply as Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the late Middle Ages...

. Giotto was the first painter since antiquity to attempt the representation of a three-dimensional reality, and to endow his characters with true human emotions. The most important developments, however, came in 15th century Florence. The affluence of the merchant class allowed extensive patronage of the arts, and foremost among the patrons were the Medici.

The period saw several important technical innovations, like the principle of linear perspective
Perspective (graphical)
Perspective in the graphic arts, such as drawing, is an approximate representation, on a flat surface , of an image as it is seen by the eye...

 found in the work of Masaccio
Masaccio
Masaccio , born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, was the first great painter of the Quattrocento period of the Italian Renaissance. According to Vasari, Masaccio was the best painter of his generation because of his skill at recreating lifelike figures and movements as well as a convincing sense...

, and later described by Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi was one of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance. He is perhaps most famous for inventing linear perspective and designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral, but his accomplishments also included bronze artwork, architecture , mathematics,...

. Greater realism was also achieved through the scientific study of anatomy, championed by artists like Donatello
Donatello
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi , also known as Donatello, was an early Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor from Florence...

. This can be seen particularly well in his sculptures, inspired by the study of classical models. As the centre of the movement shifted to Rome, the period culminated in the High Renaissance
High Renaissance
The expression High Renaissance, in art history, is a periodizing convention used to denote the apogee of the visual arts in the Italian Renaissance...

 masters da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

, Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 and Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

.

The ideas of the Italian Renaissance were slow to cross the Alps into northern Europe, but important artistic innovations were made also in the Low Countries. Though not – as previously believed – the inventor of oil painting, Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck was a Flemish painter active in Bruges and considered one of the best Northern European painters of the 15th century....

 was a champion of the new medium, and used it to create works of great realism and minute detail. The two cultures influenced each other and learned from each other, but painting in the Netherlands remained more focused on textures and surfaces than the idealised compositions of Italy.

In northern European countries gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 remained the norm, and the gothic cathedral was further elaborated. In Italy, on the other hand, architecture took a different direction, also here inspired by classical ideals. The crowning work of the period was the Santa Maria del Fiore
Santa Maria del Fiore
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral church of Florence, Italy. The Duomo, as it is ordinarily called, was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi...

 in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, with Giotto's clock tower, Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti , born Lorenzo di Bartolo, was an Italian artist of the early Renaissance best known for works in sculpture and metalworking.-Early life:...

's baptistery gates, and Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi was one of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance. He is perhaps most famous for inventing linear perspective and designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral, but his accomplishments also included bronze artwork, architecture , mathematics,...

's cathedral dome
Dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

 of unprecedented proportions.

Literature



The most important development of late medieval literature was the ascendancy of the vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 languages. The vernacular had been in use in France and England since the 11th century, where the most popular genres had been the chanson de geste
Chanson de geste
The chansons de geste, Old French for "songs of heroic deeds", are the epic poems that appear at the dawn of French literature. The earliest known examples date from the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, nearly a hundred years before the emergence of the lyric poetry of the trouvères and...

, troubadour lyrics and romantic epics, or the romance
Romance (genre)
As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalric romance is a style of heroic prose and verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about marvel-filled adventures, often of a knight errant portrayed as...

. Though Italy was later in evolving a native literature in the vernacular language, it was here that the most important developments of the period were to come.

Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

's Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...

, written in the early 14th century, merged a medieval world view with classical ideals. Another promoter of the Italian language was Boccaccio
Giovanni Boccaccio
Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian author and poet, a friend, student, and correspondent of Petrarch, an important Renaissance humanist and the author of a number of notable works including the Decameron, On Famous Women, and his poetry in the Italian vernacular...

 with his Decameron
The Decameron
The Decameron, also called Prince Galehaut is a 14th-century medieval allegory by Giovanni Boccaccio, told as a frame story encompassing 100 tales by ten young people....

. The application of the vernacular did not entail a rejection of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, and both Dante and Boccaccio wrote prolifically in Latin as well as Italian, as would Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

 later (whose Canzoniere
Il Canzoniere
Il Canzoniere , also known as the Rime Sparse , but originally titled , is a collection of poems by the Italian humanist, poet, and writer Francesco Petrarch....

also promoted the vernacular and whose contents are considered the first modern lyric poems). Together the three poets established the Tuscan dialect
Tuscan dialect
The Tuscan language , or the Tuscan dialect is an Italo-Dalmatian language spoken in Tuscany, Italy.Standard Italian is based on Tuscan, specifically on its Florentine variety...

 as the norm for the modern Italian language
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

.

The new literary style spread rapidly, and in France influenced such writers as Eustache Deschamps
Eustache Deschamps
Eustache Deschamps was a medieval French poet, also known as Eustache Morel . Born at Vertus, in Champagne, he received lessons in versification from Guillaume de Machaut and later studied law at Orleans University. He then traveled through Europe as a diplomatic messenger for Charles V...

 and Guillaume de Machaut
Guillaume de Machaut
Guillaume de Machaut was a Medieval French poet and composer. He is one of the earliest composers on whom significant biographical information is available....

. In England Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

 helped establish English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as a literary language with his Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. The tales are told as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at...

, which tales of everyday life were heavily influenced by Boccaccio. The spread of vernacular literature eventually reached as far as Bohemia, and the Baltic, Slavic and Byzantine worlds.

Music



Music was an important part of both secular and spiritual culture, and in the universities it made up part of the quadrivium
Quadrivium
The quadrivium comprised the four subjects, or arts, taught in medieval universities, after teaching the trivium. The word is Latin, meaning "the four ways" , and its use for the 4 subjects has been attributed to Boethius or Cassiodorus in the 6th century...

of the liberal arts. From the early 13th century, the dominant sacred musical form had been the motet
Motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

; a composition with text in several parts. From the 1330s and onwards, emerged the polyphonic
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 style, which was a more complex fusion of independent voices. Polyphony had been common in the secular music of the Provençal
Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

 troubadour
Troubadour
A troubadour was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages . Since the word "troubadour" is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a trobairitz....

s. Many of these had fallen victim to the 13th century Albigensian Crusade
Albigensian Crusade
The Albigensian Crusade or Cathar Crusade was a 20-year military campaign initiated by the Catholic Church to eliminate Catharism in Languedoc...

, but their influence reached the papal court at Avignon.

The main representatives of the new style, often referred to as ars nova
Ars nova
Ars nova refers to a musical style which flourished in France and the Burgundian Low Countries in the Late Middle Ages: more particularly, in the period between the preparation of the Roman de Fauvel and the death of the composer Guillaume de Machaut in 1377...

as opposed to the ars antiqua
Ars antiqua
Ars antiqua, also called ars veterum or ars vetus, refers to the music of Europe of the late Middle Ages between approximately 1170 and 1310, covering the period of the Notre Dame school of polyphony and the subsequent years which saw the early development of the motet...

, were the composers Philippe de Vitry
Philippe de Vitry
Philippe de Vitry was a French composer, music theorist and poet. He was an accomplished, innovative, and influential composer, and may also have been the author of the Ars Nova treatise...

 and Guillaume de Machaut
Guillaume de Machaut
Guillaume de Machaut was a Medieval French poet and composer. He is one of the earliest composers on whom significant biographical information is available....

. In Italy, where the Provençal troubadours had also found refuge, the corresponding period goes under the name of trecento
Music of the trecento
The Trecento was a period of vigorous activity in Italy in the arts, including painting, architecture, literature, and music. The music of the Trecento paralleled the achievements in the other arts in many ways, for example, in pioneering new forms of expression, especially in secular song in the...

, and the leading composers were Giovanni da Cascia
Giovanni da Cascia
Giovanni da Cascia, also Jovannes de Cascia, Johannes de Florentia, Maestro Giovanni da Firenze, was an Italian composer of the medieval era, active in the middle of the fourteenth century....

, Jacopo da Bologna
Jacopo da Bologna
Jacopo da Bologna was an Italian composer of the Trecento, the period sometimes known as the Italian ars nova. He was one of the first composers of this group, making him a contemporary of Gherardello da Firenze and Giovanni da Firenze...

 and Francesco Landini
Francesco Landini
Francesco degli Organi, Francesco il Cieco, or Francesco da Firenze, called by later generations Francesco Landini or Landino was an Italian composer, organist, singer, poet and instrument maker...

.

Theatre



In the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

, plays were produced in some 127 different towns during the Middle Ages. These vernacular Mystery plays were written in cycles of a large number of plays: York
York Mystery Plays
The York Mystery Plays, more properly called the York Corpus Christi Plays, are a Middle English cycle of forty-eight mystery plays, or pageants, which cover sacred history from the creation to the Last Judgement. These were traditionally presented on the feast day of Corpus Christi...

 (48 plays), Chester
Chester Mystery Plays
The Chester Mystery Plays is a cycle of mystery plays dating back to at least the early part of the 15th century.A record of 1422 shows that the plays took place at the feast of Corpus Christi and this appears to have continued until 1521. Plays on Corpus Christi Day in 1475 included 'The trial...

 (24), Wakefield
Wakefield Mystery Plays
The Wakefield or Towneley Mystery Plays are a series of thirty-two mystery plays based on the Bible most likely performed around the Feast of Corpus Christi probably in the town of Wakefield, England during the late Middle Ages until 1576...

 (32) and Unknown
N-Town Plays
The N-Town Plays are a cycle of 42 medieval Mystery plays from between 1450 and 1500.-The manuscript:...

 (42). A larger number of plays survive from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 in this period and some type of religious dramas were performed in nearly every European country in the Late Middle Ages. Many of these plays contained comedy
Comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

, devils, villain
Villain
A villain is an "evil" character in a story, whether a historical narrative or, especially, a work of fiction. The villain usually is the antagonist, the character who tends to have a negative effect on other characters...

s and clown
Clown
Clowns are comic performers stereotypically characterized by the grotesque image of the circus clown's colored wigs, stylistic makeup, outlandish costumes, unusually large footwear, and red nose, which evolved to project their actions to large audiences. Other less grotesque styles have also...

s.

Morality plays emerged as a distinct dramatic form around 1400 and flourished until 1550. The most interesting morality play is The Castle of Perseverance
The Castle of Perseverance
The Castle of Perseverance is a c. 15th century morality play and the earliest known full-length vernacular play in existence. Along with Mankind and Wisdom, The Castle of Perseverance is preserved in the Macro Text that is now housed in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C...

which depicts mankind
Mankind
Mankind may refer to:* The human species* Mankind , a 15th century morality play* Mankind , a 1998 massively multiplayer online real-time strategy game* Mankind , an album by Factory 81...

's progress from birth to death. However, the most famous morality play and perhaps best known medieval drama is Everyman
Everyman
In literature and drama, the term everyman has come to mean an ordinary individual, with whom the audience or reader is supposed to be able to identify easily, and who is often placed in extraordinary circumstances...

. Everyman receives Death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

's summons, struggles to escape and finally resigns himself to necessity. Along the way, he is deserted by Kindred
Kindred
In the Heathen movements, a kindred is a local worship group and organisational unit. Other terms used are hearth, theod , blotgroup, sippe, and other less popular ones such as garth, stead, and others....

, Goods, and Fellowship
Fellowship
Fellowship may refer to:* An academic position: see fellow* A merit-based scholarship, or form of academic financial aid* Fellowship , a period of medical training after a residency...

 - only Good Deeds
Good works
Good works, or simply works, within Christian theology are a person's actions or deeds, contrasting with interior qualities such as grace or faith.The New Testament exhibits a tension between two aspects of grace:...

 goes with him to the grave.

At the end of the Late Middle Ages, professional actors began to appear in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. Richard III
Richard III of England
Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

 and Henry VII
Henry VII
Henry VII may refer to:* Henry VII, Duke of Bavaria * Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor * Henry VII of England * Henry II of Sicily sometimes described as Henry of Germany...

 both maintained small companies of professional actors. Their plays were performed in the Great Hall
Great Hall
Great Hall may refer to* Great hall, the main room of a royal palace, nobleman's castle or large manor house* Great Hall of the People, Tiananmen Square, Beijing* Great Hall of the University of Sydney, Australia* Cooper_Union#The_Great_Hall, New York...

 of a nobleman's residence, often with a raised platform at one end for the audience and a "screen" at the other for the actors. Also important were Mummers' plays
Mummers Play
Mummers Plays are seasonal folk plays performed by troupes of actors known as mummers or guisers , originally from England , but later in other parts of the world...

, performed during the Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 season, and court masque
Masque
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in 16th and early 17th century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio...

s. These masques were especially popular during the reign of Henry VIII who had a House of Revels built and an Office of Revels
Master of the Revels
The Master of the Revels was a position within the English, and later the British, royal household heading the "Revels Office" or "Office of the Revels" that originally had responsibilities for overseeing royal festivities, known as revels, and later also became responsible for stage censorship,...

 established in 1545.

The end of medieval drama came about due to a number of factors, including the weakening power of the Catholic Church, the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 and the banning of religious plays in many countries. Elizabeth I forbid all religious plays in 1558 and the great cycle plays had been silenced by the 1580s. Similarly, religious plays were banned in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 in 1539, the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

 in 1547 and in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 in 1548. The abandonment of these plays destroyed the international theatre that had thereto existed and forced each country to develop its own form of drama. It also allowed dramatists to turn to secular subjects and the reviving interest in Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 theatre provided them with the perfect opportunity.

After the Middle Ages


After the end of the late Middle Ages period, the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 would spread unevenly over continental Europe from the southern European region. The intellectual transformation of the Renaissance is viewed as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. Europeans would later begin an era of world discovery
Age of Discovery
The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations , was a period in history starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world, establishing direct contacts with...

. Combined with the influx of classical ideas was the invention of printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 which facilitated dissemination of the printed word and democratized learning. These two things would lead to the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. Europeans also discovered new trading routes, as was the case with Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

’s travel to the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 in 1492, and Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

’s circumnavigation of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and India
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 in 1498. Their discoveries strengthened the economy and power of European nations.

Mamluk Sultanate


At the time of the fall of the Ayyubids, the Mamluk Sultanate
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)
The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt was the final independent Egyptian state prior to the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in 1805. It lasted from the overthrow of the Ayyubid Dynasty until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. The sultanate's ruling caste was composed of Mamluks, Arabised...

 rose to ruled Egypt. The Mamluks, Arabs and Kipchak Turks, were purchased but were not ordinary slaves. Mamluks were considered to be “true lords,” with social status above freeborn Egyptian Muslims. Mamluk regiments constituted the backbone of the late Ayyubid military. Each sultan and high-ranking amir had his private corps. The Bahri mamluks defeated the Louis IX's crusaders at the Battle of Al Mansurah
Battle of Al Mansurah
The Battle of Al Mansurah was fought from February 8 to February 11, 1250 between crusaders led by Louis IX, King of France, and Ayyubid forces led by Emir Fakhr-ad-Din Yussuf, Faris ad-Din Aktai and Baibars al-Bunduqdari.-Background:...

. The Sultan proceeded to place his own entourage and Mu`azzamis mamluks in authority to the detriment of Bahri interests. Shhortly thereafter, a group of Bahris assassinated the Sultan. Following the death of the Sultan, a decade of instability ensued as various factions competed for control. The Ottoman Sultan of the Ottoman Empire conquered Syria at the end of the Middle Ages after defeating the Mamlukes at the Battle of Marj Dabiq near Aleppo. The Ottoman's campaign against the Mamlukes continued and they conquered Egypt following the Battle of Ridanieh
Battle of Ridanieh
The Battle of Ridaniya was fought on 22 January 1517 in Egypt. The Ottoman forces of Selim I defeated the Mamluk forces under Al-Ashraf Tuman bay II. The Mameluks attempted to halt the Ottoman advance using a fortified position equipped with cannon. The Ottomans outshot the Mameluk gunners while...

, bringing an end to the Mamluk Sultanate.

Ottomans and Europe

Ottomans and Europe


In the end of the 15th century the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 advanced all over East Europe conquering eventually the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and extending their control on the states of the Balkans. Hungary became eventually the last bastion of the Latin Christian world, and fought for the keeping its rule on his territories during two centuries. After the tragic death of the young King Vladislaus I of Hungary during the Battle of Varna
Battle of Varna
The Battle of Varna took place on November 10, 1444 near Varna in eastern Bulgaria. In this battle the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Murad II defeated the Polish and Hungarian armies under Władysław III of Poland and János Hunyadi...

 in 1444 against the Ottomans, the Kingdom without monarch was placed in the hands of the count John Hunyadi
John Hunyadi
John Hunyadi John Hunyadi (Hungarian: Hunyadi János , Medieval Latin: Ioannes Corvinus or Ioannes de Hunyad, Romanian: Iancu (Ioan) de Hunedoara, Croatian: Janko Hunjadi, Serbian: Сибињанин Јанко / Sibinjanin Janko, Slovak: Ján Huňady) John Hunyadi (Hungarian: Hunyadi János , Medieval Latin: ...

, who became Hungary's regent-governor (1446–1453). Hunyadi was considered by the pope as one of the most relevant military figures of the 15th century (Pope Pius II awarded him with the title of Athleta Christi or Champion of Christ), because he was the only hope of keeping a resistance against the Ottomans in Central and West Europe.

Hunyadi succeeded during the Siege of Belgrade in 1456 against the Ottomans, which meant the biggest victory against that empire in decades. This battle became a real Crusade against the Muslims, as the peasants were motivated by the Franciscan monk Saint John of Capistrano, which came from Italy predicating the Holy War. The effect that it created in that time was one of the few main factors that helped achieving the victory. However the premature death of the Hungarian Lord left defenseless and in chaos that area of Europe. As an absolutely unusual event for the Middle Ages, Hunyadi's son, Matthias, was elected as King for Hungary by the nobility. For the first time, a member of an aristocratic family (and not from a royal family) was crowned.

The King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 (1458–1490) was one of the most prominent figures of this Age, as he directed campaigns to the west conquering Bohemia answering to the Pope's claim for help against the Hussite Protestants, and also for solving the political hostilities with the German emperor Frederick III of Habsburg
Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick the Peaceful KG was Duke of Austria as Frederick V from 1424, the successor of Albert II as German King as Frederick IV from 1440, and Holy Roman Emperor as Frederick III from 1452...

 he invaded his west domains. Matthew organized the Black Army
Black Army of Hungary
The Black Army , "Black Legion" or "Regiment"—possibly named after their black armor panoply, see below) is, in historiography, the common name given to the military forces serving under the reign of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary...

, composed of mercenary soldiers that is considered until the date as the biggest army of its time. Using this powerful tool, the Hungarian king led wars against the Turkish armies and stopped the Ottomans during his reign. Though the Ottoman Empire grew in strength and, with end of the Black Army, Central Europe was defenseless after the death of Matthew. At the Battle of Mohács
Battle of Mohács
The Battle of Mohács was fought on August 29, 1526 near Mohács, Hungary. In the battle, forces of the Kingdom of Hungary led by King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia were defeated by forces of the Ottoman Empire led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent....

, the forces of the Ottoman Empire annihilated the Hungarian army, and in trying to escape Louis II of Hungary drowned in the Csele Creek. The leader of the Hungarian army, Pál Tomori, also died in the battle. This episode is considered to be one of the final ones of the Medieval Times.

Chinese restoration

Yuan coinage


The Mongol Great Yuan Empire
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

, founded by Kublai Khan, existed between the high and late Middle Ages. A division of the Mongol Empire and a imperial dynasty of China, the Yuan followed the Song Dynasty and preceded the Ming Dynasty. During his rule, Kublai Khan claimed the title of Great Khan, supreme Khan over the other Mongol khanates. This claim was only truly recognized by the Il-Khanids, who were nevertheless essentially self-governing. Although later emperors of the Yuan Dynasty were recognized by the three virtually independent western khanates as their nominal suzerains, they each continued their own separate developments.

The Empire of the Great Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 rule began in China during the mid-late Middle Ages, following the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty. The Ming was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

. Ming rule saw the construction of a vast navy and army. Although private maritime trade and official tribute missions from China had taken place in previous dynasties, the tributary fleet under the Muslim eunuch admiral Zheng He
Zheng He
Zheng He , also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from...

 surpassed all others in size.
Forbidden City

In the Ming Dynasty, there were enormous construction projects, including the restoration of the Grand Canal
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

 and the Great Wall
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

 and the establishment of the Forbidden City
Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum...

 in Beijing. Society was fashioned to be self-sufficient rural communities in a rigid, immobile system that would have no need to engage with the commercial life and trade of urban centers. Rebuilding of China's agricultural base and strengthening of communication routes through the militarized courier system had the unintended effect of creating a vast agricultural surplus that could be sold at burgeoning markets located along courier routes.

Rural culture and commerce became influenced by urban trends. The upper echelons of society embodied in the scholarly gentry class were also affected by this new consumption-based culture. In a departure from tradition, merchant families began to produce examination candidates to become scholar-officials and adopted cultural traits and practices typical of the gentry. Parallel to this trend involving social class and commercial consumption were changes in social and political philosophy, bureaucracy and governmental institutions, and even arts and literature.

Japanese restoration


The Kenmu restoration was a three year period of Japanese history between the Kamakura period and the Muromachi period. The political events included the restoration effort, but made with many and serious political errors, to bring the Imperial House and the nobility it represented back into power, thus restoring a civilian government after almost a century and a half of military rule. The attempted restoration ultimately failed and was replaced by the Ashikaga shogunate. This was to be the last time the Emperor had any power until the Meiji restoration in the modern era.

Beginning around the mid-late Middle Ages, the Muromachi period
Muromachi period
The is a division of Japanese history running from approximately 1336 to 1573. The period marks the governance of the Muromachi or Ashikaga shogunate, which was officially established in 1338 by the first Muromachi shogun, Ashikaga Takauji, two years after the brief Kemmu restoration of imperial...

 marks the governance of the Ashikaga shogunate. The first Muromachi shogun was established by Ashikaga Takauji, two years after the brief Kemmu restoration of imperial rule was brought to a close. The period ended with the last shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiaki, driven out of the capital in Kyoto by Oda Nobunaga. The early Muromachi period, or the Northern and Southern Court period, experienced continued resistance of the supporters of the Kemmu restoration. The end of the Muromachi period, or the Sengoku period, was a time of warring states. The Muromachi period has the two cultural phases, the medieval Kitayama and modern Higashiyama periods.

Timeline


Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details
Middle Ages Themes Other themes


14th century
1307 - The Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

 destroyed

1307 - Babylonian Captivity
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

 of the Papacy

1310 - Dante
DANTE
Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...

's Divine Comedy.

1314 - Battle of Bannockburn
Battle of Bannockburn
The Battle of Bannockburn was a significant Scottish victory in the Wars of Scottish Independence...

.

1328 - Scottish Independence
First War of Scottish Independence
The First War of Scottish Independence lasted from the invasion by England in 1296 until the de jure restoration of Scottish independence with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328...

 

1337 - The Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 begins

1347 - The Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 

1347 - University of Prague
Charles University in Prague
Charles University in Prague is the oldest and largest university in the Czech Republic. Founded in 1348, it was the first university in Central Europe and is also considered the earliest German university...

 founded


1378 - The Avignon Papacy
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

 ends

1380 - Battle of Kulikovo
Battle of Kulikovo
The Battle of Kulikovo was a battle between Tatar Mamai and Muscovy Dmitriy and portrayed by Russian historiography as a stand-off between Russians and the Golden Horde. However, the political situation at the time was much more complicated and concerned the politics of the Northeastern Rus'...

 

1380 - The Canterbury Tales 

1381 - Peasants' Revolt
Peasants' Revolt
The Peasants' Revolt, Wat Tyler's Rebellion, or the Great Rising of 1381 was one of a number of popular revolts in late medieval Europe and is a major event in the history of England. Tyler's Rebellion was not only the most extreme and widespread insurrection in English history but also the...

 (England)

1381 - John Wycliffe
John Wycliffe
John Wycliffe was an English Scholastic philosopher, theologian, lay preacher, translator, reformer and university teacher who was known as an early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century. His followers were known as Lollards, a somewhat rebellious movement, which preached...

 translates Bible

1386 - University of Heidelberg founded

1396 - Battle of Nicopolis
Battle of Nicopolis
The Battle of Nicopolis took place on 25 September 1396 and resulted in the rout of an allied army of Hungarian, Wallachian, French, Burgundian, German and assorted troops at the hands of an Ottoman force, raising of the siege of the Danubian fortress of Nicopolis and leading to the end of the...

 


15th century
1409 - Venetian's Dalmatia
Dalmatia
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches from the island of Rab in the northwest to the Bay of Kotor in the southeast. The hinterland, the Dalmatian Zagora, ranges from fifty kilometers in width in the north to just a few kilometers in the south....



1415 - Battle of Agincourt
Battle of Agincourt
The Battle of Agincourt was a major English victory against a numerically superior French army in the Hundred Years' War. The battle occurred on Friday, 25 October 1415 , near modern-day Azincourt, in northern France...



1417 - The Council of Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...



1429 - Battle of Orléans
Siege of Orléans
The Siege of Orléans marked a turning point in the Hundred Years' War between France and England. This was Joan of Arc's first major military victory and the first major French success to follow the crushing defeat at Agincourt in 1415. The outset of this siege marked the pinnacle of English power...

 

1430 - Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...



1434 - The Medici family (Florence)

1439 - Johannes Gutenberg

1453 - Constantinople falls
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

 (Ottomans)


1461 - The Empire of Trebizond
Empire of Trebizond
The Empire of Trebizond, founded in April 1204, was one of three Byzantine successor states of the Byzantine Empire. However, the creation of the Empire of Trebizond was not directly related to the capture of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade, rather it had broken away from the Byzantine Empire...

 falls

1485 - Thomas Malory
Thomas Malory
Sir Thomas Malory was an English writer, the author or compiler of Le Morte d'Arthur. The antiquary John Leland as well as John Bale believed him to be Welsh, but most modern scholars, beginning with G. L...

 (Le Morte d'Arthur
Le Morte d'Arthur
Le Morte d'Arthur is a compilation by Sir Thomas Malory of Romance tales about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table...

)

1492 - Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

 ends

1492 - Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 (New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

)

1494 - Treaty of Tordesillas
Treaty of Tordesillas
The Treaty of Tordesillas , signed at Tordesillas , , divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a meridian 370 leagueswest of the Cape Verde islands...

 

1497 - Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...



1499 - Battle of Zonchio
Battle of Zonchio
The naval Battle of Zonchio took place on four separate days: August 12, 20, 22 and 25, 1499. It was a part of the Ottoman–Venetian War of 1499–1503...





See also



  • List of basic medieval history topics
  • Timeline of the Middle Ages
  • Church and state in medieval Europe
  • History of the Jews in the Middle Ages
    Jews in the Middle Ages
    The history of Jews in the Middle Ages spans the timeframe of approximately 500 CE to 1750 CE. This article covers the medieval history of Jews in the Christian-dominated European region...

  • Thirteen forty-five – In-depth treatment of the year

Sources


General:
  • The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 6: c. 1300 - c. 1415, (2000). Michael Jones (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36290-3.
  • The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 7: c. 1415 - c. 1500, (1998). Christopher Allmand
    Christopher Allmand
    Christopher Thomas Allmand is an English medieval historian, with a special focus on the Late Middle Ages in England and France, and the Hundred Years' War. He was Professor of Medieval History at the University of Liverpool until his retirement in 1998, and is now Honorary Senior Fellow at the...

    (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-38296-3.

Specific regions:
Society:
The Black Death:
Warfare:
Economy:
Religion:
Arts and science:

External links