Late Middle Ages  

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The Late Middle Ages is a term used by historians to describe European history in the period of the 14th to 16th centuries (AD 1300–1500). The Late Middle Ages were preceded by the High Middle Ages, and followed by the Early Modern era (Renaissance).

Around 1300, centuries of European prosperity and growth came to a halt. A series of famines and plagues, such as the Great Famine of 1315-1317 and the Black Death, reduced the population perhaps by half. Along with depopulation came social unrest and endemic warfare. France and England experienced serious peasant risings (the Jacquerie and the Peasants' Revolt), and the Hundred Years' War. The unity of the Catholic Church was shattered by the Great Schism. Collectively it is sometimes called the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages.

On the other hand, the 14th century was also a time of great progress within the arts and sciences. The rediscovery of ancient Greek and Roman texts led to what has later been termed the Renaissance – the rebirth. This process had started already through contact with the Arabs during the Crusades, but accelerated with the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, when many Byzantine scholars had to seek refuge in the West, particularly Italy. Meanwhile, the invention of printing was to have great effect on European society. This facilitated dissemination of the printed word and democratized learning, one end result of which for the Catholic Church would eventually be the Protestant Reformation. The growth of the Ottoman Empire, culminating in the fall of Constantinople in 1453 (incidentally also the year counted as the end of the Hundred Years' War), cut off trading possibilities with the east. But Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492, and Vasco da Gama’s circumnavigation of Africa in 1498, opened up new trade routes, strengthening the economy and power of European nations.

All these developments taken together make it convenient to talk of an end to the Middle Ages, and the beginning of the modern world. It should be noted that the division will always be a somewhat artificial one, since ancient learning was never entirely absent from European society, and therefore there is a certain continuity between the Classical and the Modern age. Also, some historians, particularly in Italy, prefer not to speak of the Late Middle Ages at all, but rather see the 14th century Renaissance as a direct transition to the Modern Era.


14th century

1307 - The Knights Templar destroyed
1307 - Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy
1310 - Dante's Divine Comedy.
1314 - Battle of Bannockburn.
1328 - Scottish Independence
1337 - The Hundred Years' War begins
1347 - The Black Death
1347 - University of Prague founded
1378 - The Avignon Papacy ends
1380 - Battle of Kulikovo
1380 - The Canterbury Tales
1381 - Peasants' Revolt (England)
1381 - John Wycliffe translates Bible
1386 - University of Heidelberg founded
1396 - Battle of Nicopolis

15th century

1409 - Venetian's Dalmatia
1415 - Battle of Agincourt
1417 - The Council of Constance
1429 - Battle of Orléans
1430 - Joan of Arc
1434 - The Medici family (Florence)
1439 - Johannes Gutenberg
1453 - Constantinople falls (Ottomans)
1461 - The Empire of Trebizond falls
1485 - Thomas Malory (Le Morte d'Arthur)
1492 - Reconquista ends
1492 - Christopher Columbus (New World)
1494 - Treaty of Tordesillas
1497 - Vasco da Gama
1499 - Battle of Zonchio

See also

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