BECK index

Summary and Evaluation
Europe 1400-1517

by Sanderson Beck

Italian City States
Eastern and Northern Europe
Spain, Portugal, and France
England, Scotland and Ireland
Humanism from Italy to Europe
Evaluating Europe and Humanism 1400-1517

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Italian City States

The Visconti family had ruled Milan for most of the 14th century and continued to dominate that region until they were replaced by Francesco Sforza in 1450. His wars with Venice ended with the peace of Lodi in 1454. Francesco patronized the humanist Filelfo and building until his death in 1464. His son Galeazzo Maria Sforza ruled Milan 1466-76. After his assassination his brother Ludovico Il Moro Sforza was most influential in Milan until the French conquered the city in 1500 and held it for most of the next 21 years. Although Ludovico’s military adventures caused heavy taxes and hurt trade, his court sponsored the renaissance in the arts, science, and commerce.

The powerful republic of Venice was governed by elected doges and the Senate, and they took over Padua in 1405. Venice fought the Hungarians and the expanding Ottoman empire but managed to double its territory in Italy by 1420. Doge Tommaso Mocenigo (r. 1413-23) reduced their debt from wars, but his successor Francesco Foscari (r. 1423-57) got Venice into a 21-year war against Milan. In 1439 Venice hired the condotierre Francesco Sforza, but he married a Visconti and defeated the Venetians in 1447 and 1448. In 1453 the Muslim Turks conquered Constantinople before Venice could send the Christians military support. Venice negotiated a commercial treaty with Sultan Mehmet in 1454. Venice allied with Hungary in 1462, but Milan took Genoa in 1464. Many Venetians were killed fighting the Turks. The Venetian Pope Paul II (1464-71) formed a league against the Muslims, and Italian cities promised money. Admiral Piero Mocenigo paid for Muslim heads, and Venice took over Cyprus in 1473. Both the Turks and Venice suffered, and they agreed to a treaty in 1479 that allowed Venice to trade in Constantinople. An Italian coalition prevented Venice from taking over Ferrara with a treaty in 1484.

In 1495 Venice led an Italian alliance that drove out the invading French. Venice then allied with France in 1499 against Milan, but a simultaneous war with the Turks until 1503 impoverished Venice. The Portuguese established a commercial route around Africa to Asia, reducing the trade through Venice. In 1504 Pope Julius II with France and Emperor Maximilian forced Venice to relinquish some of its empire. Venice and the French stopped an invasion by Maximilian in 1508. The Pope formed a broad coalition that included the French and the Dutch against the Venetian empire, and the war lasted eight years. Venice negotiated with the Pope in 1512, but in 1513 Venice and France turned against the papal league that included the Swiss in Milan and the Spaniards in Naples. In 1517 the French helped Venice get Verona back from Maximilian.

Genoa gained its independence from France in 1413 and fought Alfonso V of Aragon over Corsica. As the Ottoman empire expanded, the Genoese maintained their commercial colonies on the Black Sea until 1477. Pietro II Fregoso put Genoa under France’s Charles VIII in 1458 but retained rights. Anjou governed Genoa and collected taxes for war. René of Anjou invaded, and 2,000 were killed; but Genoa won. In 1464 France’s Louis XI gave Genoa and Savona to Milan. When the French defeated the Sforzas in 1500, they took over Genoa.

Pisa submitted to a Florentine army in 1405. In 1472 Lorenzo de’ Medici revived the University of Pisa; but when the Medici fell in 1494, the French occupied Pisa, which revolted in 1495 and was helped by Venice for three years. Florence besieged Pisa for most of ten years until it capitulated in 1509.

Siena became independent of the Visconti in 1404 and became a republic allied with Florence and Naples. Siena fought off control by Florence in 1477. In 1487 Pandolfo Petrucci took control, and his family governed Siena most of the time until 1522.

Bernardino degli Albizzeschi was born in Siena and joined the Franciscan Observants in 1402. On a mission to Milan in 1418 he began drawing large crowds to his long sermons. He criticized usury and advocated the separation of Jews. He warned against the concentration of wealth and preached against gambling, luxuries, and especially against sorcery and sodomy. He emphasized that love is more important than knowledge and urged people to pray to Jesus. Bernardino declined the bishoprics of Siena, Ferrara, and Urbino, but in 1438 he was appointed Vicar General of the Italian Observants. During his life the Observance houses increased from 15 to 230.

Florence defended itself against incursions from Milan, and Venetian aid enabled Florence to regain territory in the peace of 1428. Cosimo led the Medici family from 1429 and governed Florence 1435-64. Florence hosted the Church Council in 1439 that briefly united the Greek and Catholic churches. In 1440 Florence defeated Milan. The Medici sponsored art, building, study of Greek, and the first public library in Europe while acquiring a fortune through their banking; but Florence’s debt increased because of wars with Naples and Venice. Cosimo’s son Piero de’ Medici withstood a challenge to his authority in 1466-68. Marsilio Ficino translated and taught Plato.

Lorenzo de’ Medici dominated Florence from 1470 until his death in 1492. He patronized humanities in Florence and supported the University of Pisa which taught law, medicine, and theology. He refused to loan money to Pope Sixtus IV, who encouraged the Pazzi banking family that attacked Lorenzo and killed his brother Giuliano in 1478. The Pope put Florence under interdict and allied with Naples against Florence, but Lorenzo negotiated a treaty at Naples in February 1480. He reformed the government of Florence, enhancing the Medici’s commercial interests. The Turkish threat stimulated Pope Sixtus to reconcile with Lorenzo in December. Lorenzo’s best friend was the poet Poliziano, and artists working in Florence included Verrocchio, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, da Vinci, and Michelangelo.

Young Piero de’ Medici’s foreign policy changed when the French invaded Italy in 1494, and he was banished for capitulating. Charles VIII’s army visited Florence for ten days in November. Then Medici laws were repealed as men armed. The Dominican Savonarola preached that the Church would be scourged by the French and reformed. He also criticized the government and the pagan humanists. The fiery preacher condemned luxuries and vices, persuading people to burn evil things in large bonfires. Savonarola favored reforms Florence made but came into conflict with Pope Alexander VI. Piero de’ Medici threatened Florence with 2,000 mercenaries in April 1497. Savonarola was excommunicated, but his party took over the government and executed five Medici conspirators. Burning vanities was resented in February 1498, and Savonarola’s enemies were elected. Savonarola and two friends were arrested, tortured, and hanged in May.

In 1498 Machiavelli became a major Florentine administrator. Cesare Borgia invaded Florence in 1501, and Machiavelli was sent to spy on him in 1502. Piero Soderini was elected Florence’s leader, and he sent Machiavelli to France’s Louis XII, resulting in a three-year truce. In 1505 Machiavelli recommended Florence replace mercenaries, and the next year the Council voted for a national militia. Florence finally recaptured Pisa in 1509. Machiavelli helped prevent a war by negotiating with Emperor Maximilian, Louis XII, Pope Julius II, Siena, Milan, and Pisa. Soderini imprisoned Mediceans but let Spaniards win a bloody victory and was exiled for five years as Giuliano de’ Medici came back to Florence in 1512. After Florence’s reforms Giuliano became head of the republic, but his older brother Cardinal Giovanni was in charge. Machiavelli was unjustly suspected of treason and was banished in 1513. On March 11 Giovanni was elected Pope Leo X, and he annexed Florence into the papal state.

Based on his experience with the rivalry of Italian city states and his study of ancient history, Machiavelli wrote The Prince as a practical guide for monarchs. He emphasized the importance of having good laws and the support of the people. He noted that Alexander VI and Julius II were the first popes to increase their power extensively. He opposed the use of foreign armies because they usually either lose or take over. He warned against studying ideals while neglecting realities. Sometimes being tender-hearted is not truly merciful. Though a prince may not need to be loved, he should avoid being hated. The state should be preserved, and now that people have more power he recommended a parliament. A prudent prince should choose what is least bad. Machiavelli hoped liberty would be restored in Italy.

Machiavelli discussed republican governments in his Discourses based on early Roman history. Enforced laws are necessary for order, but the people guard liberty. Yet people as well as oligarchs and tyrants can be corrupted. Equality is needed for a democracy and prevents a principality. Machiavelli had more faith in the people than in a prince. Republics may expand by forming confederations and alliances. He warned against conspiracies and cited acts of humanity that succeeded. In his Art of War he recommended gaining results without fighting. Machiavelli wrote Mandragola, one of the first original comedies of the modern era, satirizing manipulation using deception that corrupted Italian society in his time.

Pope Boniface IX died in 1404 and was replaced by Innocent VII, who died two years later. A Venetian became Pope Gregory XII (1406-15). Ladislaus of Naples occupied Rome in 1408. A well attended Church Council met at Pisa in 1409 to end the schism and deposed Gregory XII and Avignon’s Benedict XIII. They elected Alexander V, but he died and was replaced by Baldassare Cossa as Pope John XXIII in 1410. Ladislaus was defeated but sacked Rome on June 8, 1413 before leaving the next year to die. Emperor Sigismund called a council at Constance that met in 1414. John XXIII was deposed on May 29, 1415, and Gregory XII abdicated on July 4. Braccio of Perugia took over Rome in June 1417, and the cardinals at Constance elected Pope Martin V on November 11. He resided at Florence and made peace with Braccio in February 1420. Martin established a papal government and was succeeded by Pope Eugenius IV (1431-47). He crowned Sigismund emperor in 1433 and recognized the Council of Basel in 1434, but he had to flee war-torn Rome. Eugenius called a council at Ferrara in 1438 which moved to Florence in 1439 and agreed to union with the Greek Church, though it was rejected in Constantinople. In 1439 the Council of Basel deposed Eugenius for heresy. In 1443 he recognized Alfonso V of Aragon in Naples for his support and returned to Rome in September.

Pope Nicholas V (1447-55) declared 1450 a Jubilee Year and crowned Friedrich III emperor in 1452. His bull permitted Afonso V of Portugal to enslave non-Christians. Ten papal galleys could not stop the Turks from conquering Constantinople in 1453. Nicholas called for a crusade and patronized Greek literature. A Borja from Aragon was elected Pope Calixtus III, and he made two nephews cardinals before dying in 1458.

The humanist Piccolomini was secretary to Eugenius and was elected Pope Pius II (1458-64). He also called for a crusade. A Venetian nephew of Eugenius was elected Pope Paul II (1464-71) and quickly broke his promises. He expanded the palace, collected jewelry, authorized printing, and persecuted humanists and Bohemian Utraquists. Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) sold jewels to finance a crusade in 1472. He appointed five nephews and lived in luxury. He approved the conspiracy that attacked the Medici in 1478. He taxed courtesans to pay for war against Turks, sold indulgences for salvation, and authorized the inquisition in Castile. He improved a hospital, approved dissection, had the Sistine Chapel built, and enlarged the Vatican library. Sixtus provoked a war in Ferrara and put Venice under interdict. Innocent VIII (1484-92) sold offices, authorized inquisitors to hunt witches in Germany, offered indulgences for a crusade against Waldensians, and urged the expulsion of Muslims and Jews from Spain. He continued the war against Naples and encouraged the French to invade Italy.

Rodrigo Borgia out-bribed Giulano della Rovere to get elected Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503), and he made several of his relatives cardinals. He drew a line that gave most of America to Spain and Brazil, Africa and Asia to Portugal. He married his son Joffré to a Neapolitan princess, but this drove Milan’s Ludovico Sforza to ally with France against Naples. Charles VIII led his French army into Italy and sacked Rome in January 1495. Alexander made a deal and then formed the Holy League with Venice, Germany, Spain, and Milan that defeated the French on July 6 at Fornovo. In 1496 the papal army regained Ostia. The Pope’s son Cesare Borgia gave up being a cardinal to ally with France against Milan in 1499. Cesare led the papal mercenaries who mutinied for lack of money. The Jubilee Year of 1500 enabled the Pope to raise money from pilgrims in Rome for a crusade, but most was used to reconquer the Papal States. Cesare led the army, and Alexander raised more money by appointing more cardinals, seizing property, and exploiting Jews.

Wealthy Pope Julius II (1503-13) made a deal with Cesare Borgia and worked to remove foreign invaders from Italy. He initiated a larger St. Peter’s church. Julius led the army that conquered Bologna in 1506. After being imprisoned in Spain and escaping, Cesare fought for Navarre and was killed in 1507. Julius formed an alliance with Louis XII, Maximilian, and Spain’s Fernando, and in 1509 they took territory from Venice, which submitted to the Pope in February 1510. French bishops criticized Julius and stopped sending funds to Rome. In 1511 the Pope led his army against the French in Italy. The French called a Church council in Pisa, and Julius gained Venice, Spain, and England as allies. They fought on Easter in 1512, and nearly 20,000 were killed. Julius summoned the Lateran Council. He hired 18,000 Swiss mercenaries, and the French went home. Pope Leo X (1513-21) made a treaty with Maximilian, Henry VIII, and Fernando to counter the French. The Swiss defeated the French, and Louis XII accepted the Lateran Council which affirmed the supreme authority of the Pope. The army of King François defeated the Swiss in 1515, and Leo made concessions. Leo raised money for building St. Peter’s by creating more officials and an order of knights and by offering indulgences.

Ladislaus ruled Naples 1399-1413 and was succeeded by his sister Giovanna II. She offered the throne to Alfonso V of Aragon in 1421; but he was driven out, and Giovanna made Louis III of Anjou her heir. Louis was killed fighting Taranto in 1434, and in 1435 Giovanna was succeeded by imprisoned René of Anjou. Alfonso allied with Milan and finally captured Naples in 1442 as René fled. In 1443 Pope Eugenius IV recognized Alfonso and his heir Ferrante. Alfonso patronized humanists in his last years, and Ferrante succeeded him at Naples in 1458. He was challenged by rebellions but was supported by Pope Pius II, Francesco Sforza of Milan, and Juan II of Aragon. Turks landed and killed 12,000 at Otranto in 1480, but Ferrante’s son Duke Alfonso of Calabria brought his army back from Tuscany and drove the Turks out in 1481. Pope Innocent VIII supported René of Lorraine’s claim to Naples in 1485; but Duke Alfonso invaded the Papal States, and the Pope made peace with Ferrante in 1486. Ferrante imprisoned barons for years and died in 1494. Pope Alexander VI supported Alfonso II, but Charles VIII led his French army into Naples in February 1495. A large coalition drove out the French. Alfonso died in October and was succeeded by his uncle Federico. Fernando of Aragon allied with France, and their armies invaded Naples in 1501. The Spaniards expelled the French in 1503, and Gonsalvo de Cordoba became Spain’s first viceroy of Naples. Aragon also had been ruling Sicily since 1412.

Eastern and Northern Europe

Byzantine Emperor Manuel (r. 1391-1425) and Serbian despot Stephen Lazarevich made peace with the Turks’ Suleiman in 1403. Sigismund of Hungary led an army against Croats and Bosnians in 1404, and king of Germany 1410-37. Manuel’s successor John VIII (r. 1425-48) held little more than Constantinople while his brother Constantine claimed Achaea in 1432. The Eastern patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem rejected the reunion of the Christian Church agreed to at Florence in 1439, the year the Turks conquered Serbia. Poland’s Wladyslaw III became Ulaszlo I of Hungary, but he was killed by Turks in 1444. Efforts by Serbia’s George Brankovich, Janos Hunyadi, and the Albanian Scanderbeg failed to stop Sultan Murad II’s Turks who invaded Greece and took 60,000 captives in 1446, the year Hunyadi was elected regent of Hungary. Mehmed II (r. 1451-81) led the conquest of Constantinople in April 1453, and in the  next ten years the Turks captured Athens, Albania, Serbia, Morea, Trebizond, and Bosnia.

Jan Hus taught Wyclif’s ideas at the University of Prague and was elected rector in 1409, but Pope John XXIII excommunicated him in 1410. Hus denounced John for starting a war and selling indulgences in 1411. Hus went into exile for two years and wrote De ecclesia. Sigismund gave Hus safe conduct to the Council of Constance, but then Hus was arrested, convicted of heresy, and burned on July 6, 1415. The Utraquist movement approved by Hus began at Prague, and Jerome was burned on May 30, 1416.

The Taborites at Austi followed only the Bible. Bohemia’s King Wenceslas died in 1419, and his brother Sigismund made Queen Sofia regent. Jan Zizka led the Taborites against royal troops at Prague, and Sofia resigned. Pope Martin V declared a crusade against Hussites. Sigismund appointed Cenek, but Bohemians plundered churches. Sigismund led 100,000 crusaders to Prague, which was defended by Zizka’s army. Sigismund dismissed his allies and was crowned king of Bohemia, but his Hungarian army was defeated. Bohemians fought off invading Germans and made Alexander Vytautas of Lithuania king of Bohemia. Taborites fought Praguers in a civil war, and Zizka died in 1424. Invading Germans were defeated again in 1426, and the Hussites reunited and invaded Lusatia and Silesia and then Hungary. In 1431 the Council of Basel organized a fifth German crusade which failed again. Borek of Mileltinek led nobles, and their army defeated the Taborites at Lipany in 1434. Sigismund confirmed the rights of Bohemia and returned to Prague in 1436. Albrecht of Austria succeeded Sigismund as king of Bohemia but died in 1439. Utraquists and Hussites made peace and governed Bohemia’s counties. George of Podebrady became the leader in 1444 and regent of Bohemia in 1453.

During these conflicts and wars Peter Chelcicky urged Christians to refuse military service. In 1420 he left Prague and lived in his native village, writing On Spiritual Warfare about Jesus and the gospel of peace. He noted that Taborites adopting violence abolished their common treasury. He believed Christians should love and refuse to fight, and sixteen years of war persuaded him he was right. Chelcicky condemned luxury, pride, immorality, and contempt for work. He urged people to read the Bible in Czech. He wrote On the Triple Division of Society  and Net of the Faith in 1440. He taught that Christ does not coerce in any way. Chelcicky’s disciples formed the Unity of  Brethren church in 1467.

Turks took over Serbia in 1455. In 1456 Hunyadi and Giovanni de Capestrano defended Belgrade with 10,000 soldiers and 30,000 peasants, but both died in an epidemic. Young King Ladislaus V executed Hunyadi’s son Laszlo but died himself in 1457. Hungarian nobles elected Matthias Hunyadi called Corvinus, and he ruled 1458-90. The Bohemian Diet elected George of Podebrady king, and he allied with Matthias, who increased taxes. Turks took over Hercegovina in 1464. In 1466 Pope Paul II excommunicated George, who attacked Austria. Matthias invaded Austria and Moravia and was elected king of Bohemia in 1469, but George drove most Hungarians out of Moravia in 1470. He died in 1471, and Casimir IV’s son Vladislaus was elected and made a treaty with Matthias in 1479. Sultan Bayezid II made peace with Hungary in 1483. Matthias captured Vienna in 1485 and took over most of lower Austria and Styria. He improved the law code in 1486 and patronized humanists. Vladislaus favored the aristocrats in Bohemia, and in 1490 he was elected to succeed Matthias in Hungary, ruling there 1490-1516. When a crusade was organized against the Turks in 1514, the peasants rebelled against the lords but were suppressed. Hungarian laws favoring nobles were strengthened. Buda and Istanbul made a truce that was often renewed.

Poland’s Wladyslaw II Jagiello (r. 1386-1434) improved Jagiellon University at Cracow in 1400. The Polish-Lithuanian alliance defeated the invading Teutonic Knights in Prussia in 1410. Grand Duke Vytautas ruled Lithuania 1392-1430. In 1422 the Knights ceded Samogitia to Lithuania, and Poland gave up Pomerelia and Culmerland. Poland defeated the Prussian branch of the Knights in 1433. Casimir IV became grand duke of Lithuania of 1440 and ruled Poland as king 1447-92. He ordered the Bible translated into Polish in 1455, and the University of Greifswald was founded in 1456. Poland fought the Teutonic Knights for thirteen years, and Casimir’s son Vladislaus became king of Bohemia and Hungary. Cracow began printing books in 1475. Poles fought the Turks in 1485 and with Lithuania defeated the Tatars in 1491. Casimir was succeeded by his sons Jan Olbracht in Poland and Alexander in Lithuania. When Jan died in 1501, Alexander became king of Poland and died in 1506. His brother Sigismund (r. 1506-48) succeeded him in both positions and extended the treaty with the Ottoman empire for five years. The Polish-Lithuanian army defeated the encroaching Muscovite army in 1514. Sigismund signed a treaty at Vienna with the Hapsburgs in 1515.

Moscow’s Vasily I (r. 1389-1425) invaded the Volga Bulgars and made a treaty with Ryazan in 1401. In 1425 Lithuania’s Vytautas supported Vasily II against his uncle Prince Yuri, and Vytautas invaded Novgorod and Pskov on his behalf. The Mongol Ulu Mehmet recognized Vasily II as Grand Prince of Vladimir in 1432, but Yuri attacked Moscow and replaced Vasily II. When Yuri died in 1434, his son Vasily Kosoi ruled in Moscow. Yuri’s son Dmitry Shemyaka helped Vasily II regain the throne, and he banished Vasily Kosoi. Vasily II attacked Novgorod in 1441. Russian bishops refused to accept papal supremacy conceded by the Greek Isidore and deposed him in 1443. Tatars captured Vasily II in 1445 and ransomed him and sent him back with Tatar princes. Shemyaka blinded Vasily II, who regained Moscow in 1447. Vasily II had Shemyaka poisoned at Novgorod in 1453 and died in 1462. He was succeeded by his son Ivan III, who ruled Russia until 1505. He took over Novgorod in 1477 and renounced allegiance to the Golden Horde in 1480. In 1494 Ivan seized merchants in Novgorod and stopped Hanseatic trade for twenty years. He allied with Denmark in 1495 and invaded Finnish territory. Moscow extended its law code in 1497. Moscow fought Lithuania 1500-03. Ivan III was succeeded by his son Vasily III (r. 1505-33), and he annexed Pskov in 1510. A ten-year war against Lithuania began in 1512.

Ruprecht III (r. 1400-10) was elected to replace Wenceslaus as king of Germany. Johannes von Saaz wrote in German about 1401 The Plowman from Bohemia, a humanistic dialog with Death. After Ruprecht died, Sigismund was elected and supported his brother Wenceslaus in Bohemia. Sigismund organized the well attended Church Council at Constance in 1414. The Council convicted Pope John XXIII on 54 charges and deposed him in May 1415. In July Pope Gregory XII resigned, and Hus was burned for heresy. The Council deposed Pope Benedict XIII in July 1417, and they elected Pope Martin V in November. The Council condemned the Hussites as heretics in February 1418. The Council approved seven reforms in Church policy, and Sigismund worked on imperial reforms; but several German invasions of Bohemia failed. The Bohemians used mercenaries and gunpowder against the German crusaders, ending the era of the chivalrous knights.

The Teutonic Order had enlarged its territory in 1402. Lithuania and Poland defeated the Teutonic Knights in July 1410, but in 1412 the Order formed a general assembly in Prussia which had four bishops. The Livonian knights fought many wars against Russia but made peace in 1448. Sigismund recognized Albrecht V (r. 1404-39) as old enough to rule Austria in 1411, the year Leopold IV died, and Sigismund made Friedrich IV (r. 1402-39) of Further Austria submit in 1415. Albrecht V taxed Jews and persecuted them. Sigismund died in 1437 and left behind suggestions for reform. The electors chose a Hapsburg to be King Albrecht II of Germany, which he organized into four circles. His forces stopped a Polish invasion, and he attacked the Turks but died of dysentery in 1439.

The Council of Basel began in 1431 and moved to Ferrara in 1438 and to Florence in 1439. Nikolaus of Cusa advocated empowering councils and wrote On Catholic Harmony in 1433, but others defended the Pope’s authority. The Council of Basel passed laws segregating Jews. Some remaining at Basel deposed Pope Eugenius IV and elected Pope Felix V. Nikolaus of Cusa was mystical and emphasized self-knowledge, writing On Learned Ignorance in 1440. That year the Germany electors chose Friedrich of Styria, and he recognized Pope Nicholas V and negotiated the Concordat of Vienna that the imperial estates accepted in 1448. Felix resigned in 1449, finally ending the papal schism. Pope Nicholas crowned Friedrich III emperor in 1452. Gutenberg began printing the Bible and other books in 1455 in large quantities for lower prices. Public and private education developed in Germany.

Teutonic Knights fought Poland from 1453 to 1466 when Eastern Prussia was ceded to Poland. In 1459 German princes refused to collect a tithe for a crusade against Turks, and at the Diet of Ulm in 1466 the princes promised only 20,000 mercenaries to fight Turks. Friedrich’s son Maximilian married Marie of Burgundy in 1477, and he was elected king of Germany in 1486 and was crowned Co-emperor. He fought for the Netherlands, was captured, and had to make concessions. Friedrich besieged Ghent, but ambassadors made a treaty in 1489. Maximilian invaded Hungary in 1490 and made a treaty in 1491. Friedrich died in 1493, and Maximilian was emperor until his death in 1519. In 1495 the Diet of Worms condemned private wars and created an imperial court with a supreme judge appointed by the Emperor. The Fugger brothers controlled silver and copper mines, became wealthy, and managed papal funds. Germans were defeated by the Swiss at Dornach in 1499 and made a treaty. Maximilian crushed peasant rebellions. He ordered customary law codified in 1514. He ceded Milan to France in 1516.

Seven Swiss cantons formed a Confederacy in 1411, and they conquered part of Aargau in Austria in 1415. Five of them were defeated by Milan in 1422. Basel hosted a Church Council 1431-39. Zürich and Schwyz were at war from 1436 to 1450. Zürich allied with Germans in 1442, and the other cantons joined Schwyz. Swiss Confederates besieged Zürich in 1444, and the French aiding the Germans outnumbered them. Zürich and the Confederation made peace at Constance in 1446, and Zürich rejoined the Confederation in 1450. The University of Basel began in 1460 and printed books. The Swiss defeated Burgundians in 1476 and killed Charles the Bold in January 1477. The Swiss clashed with Milan in 1478. Freiburg and Solothurn joined the Confederation in 1481. Most Swiss cantons allied with France in 1495. Swiss forces defeated the Austrians in 1499, and they made a treaty. Basel joined the Swiss Confederation in 1501. The Swiss agreed to a five-year alliance with Pope Julius II in 1510, and they helped drive the French out of Lombardy and Milan by 1513. That year peasants revolted in Bern, Solothurn, Lucerne, and other cities. In Geneva five hundred people were burned for witchcraft and heresy. In 1515 King François bought off the Swiss with a million crowns.

Duke Jean of Burgundy (r. 1404-19) allowed Flanders autonomy, but he was murdered by Orleanists and was succeeded by Philippe the Good (r. 1419-67). He mediated disputes in the Netherlands. The University of Leuven began in 1425. Philippe expanded Burgundy, inheriting Brabant and Limburg in 1430 and acquiring Hainault, Holland, Zeeland, and Friesland in 1433. He made peace with France in 1435. The English ravaged Flanders in 1436, and rebelling Ghent captured Philippe and released him for concessions. In 1440 Flanders provided Philippe with £280,000, and in 1443 he bought Luxemburg from Bohemia. Ghent refused to pay his taxes, and Burgundy’s forces defeated them in July 1453.

In 1466 Philippe of Burgundy appointed his son Charles the Bold lieutenant-general. When the people in Dinant revolted, Charles had the town destroyed. Charles became duke in June 1467. He made a treaty with France’s Louis XI in 1468, and they destroyed Liege. Charles cancelled Ghent’s constitution in 1469. Louis and Charles quarreled and went to war in 1471. Charles attacked Cologne in 1473 but was defeated. He invaded Switzerland in 1476 and was defeated again and killed on January 5, 1477. He was succeeded by his daughter Marie of Burgundy. The Swiss prevented Louis XI from occupying Burgundy, and revolts erupted. The States General recognized Marie and organized an army of 100,000 men. Marie married Maximilian in August, and he took over Burgundy and the Netherlands by 1479. Ghent refused to pay taxes, and Maximilian executed 33 insurgents. The French responded to Ghent’s appeal by invading. Maximilian besieged Ghent and attacked Flanders. In 1494 Maximilian ended his regency in favor of his son Philip, who paid homage to France’s Charles VIII for Flanders. When Philip died in 1506, Maximilian acted as regent again until 1515 when Philip’s son Charles began ruling the Netherlands.

Those in Modern Devotion worked and shared their possessions. They prayed, fasted, read scripture, and meditated with love as their goal. Thomas a Kempis served in the Brothers of the Common Life and was probably the author of The Imitation of Christ. He taught for 58 years and wrote on many spiritual topics before he died in 1471. The first book offers spiritual counsel for knowing and conquering oneself. Counsel for the inner life includes trusting God and being free of desires. When the heart is right, every created thing becomes a mirror of life and holy teaching. People see outward appearances, but God sees the inner reality. The third book offers inward consolation in a dialog between a disciple and Christ. One must endure everything with patience to be free inwardly. The disciple must overcome self to know God.

In 1397 Denmark, Sweden, and Norway formed the Kalmar Union with Erik of Pomerania as king of all three, but his great aunt Margaret ruled the kingdoms until her death in 1412. She appointed Danes in Sweden and Norway and bought Gotland from the Teutonic Order in 1407, but her attempt to get Jutland back from the Holsteins led to fighting. Erik went to war in 1413. He went to Sigismund in Hungary, and he declared Schleswig and Frisia part of Denmark. Erik imposed tolls on merchant ships of the Hansa by force, defeating the Hansa League in 1429. Swedes resented cruel administrators and rebelled against Erik in 1434, but Swedish nobles defeated the peasants by 1436. That year Norwegians revolted, and Erik at a Kalmar conference promised to recognize their rights. In 1438 Karl Knutsson became regent in Sweden, but Norwegians marching on Oslo were defeated. Karl was accused of treason and escaped to Finland where taxes were resented. In 1440 Danes deposed Erik, and his nephew was elected Kristofer III of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Peasants in North Jutland rebelled and were slaughtered. Denmark gained a charter, and Sweden became autonomous. Norwegians resented Kristofer’s taxes. He died in 1448, and Karl Knutsson was elected king of Sweden. Kristian was elected king of Denmark and married Queen Dorothea. Separate groups elected Karl and Kristian in Norway.

In 1450 the Swedish Council made Karl VIII cede Norway to Denmark’s Kristian, who attacked Sweden. In 1452 Karl and his army invaded Norway briefly. After a two-year armistice Kristian confiscated the fiefs of Olav Nilsson, who was killed by Hanseatic merchants. In 1457 Sweden accepted Kristian as their king. Nobles in Schleswig and Holstein also chose Kristian in 1460. After Kristian imposed taxes for another Russian campaign, Archbishop Bengtsson and Sten Sture led a Swedish revolt in 1464. Karl abdicated in 1465, and Archbishop Bengtsson governed Sweden until his death in 1467. Karl came back to rule Sweden but died in 1470. Sten Sture inherited his land and became Sweden’s leader. Kristian invaded Sweden in 1471, but Sture’s army defeated the Danes.

Kristian died in 1481, and his son Hans became king of Denmark. Archbishop Ivarsson governed Norway until 1483 when a Norwegian conference elected Hans king. Sweden remained independent; but in 1493 Denmark allied with Russia, and the Swedish Council made Sten Sture accept Hans as king. In 1495 Swedes and Finns stopped the invading Russians, and in March 1497 they made a six-year truce with Ivan III. The Swedish Council confiscated Sten’s fiefs, and the Danish army invaded. Sten accepted Hans as king of Sweden and was given Finland. In 1501 Sten Sture led a Swedish revolt. Hans went to Denmark to get an army, and his Queen Kristina was imprisoned in 1502. Svante Nilsson invaded Norway, and after Sten Sture’s death he was elected in 1504. Hans set up a tribunal at Kalmar that in 1505 convicted disloyal Swedish nobles of treason. Kristian, son of Hans, returned in 1506 to rule Norway as Viceroy with a heavy hand. Hans made trade treaties, and the Hanseatic League embargoed Sweden. Svante Nilsson died in January 1512, and his son Sten Sture the Younger negotiated an annual payment to King Hans. The Swedish Council elected young Sten administrator. After Hans died in 1513, his son Kristian II claimed the three kingdoms; but he was called a tyrant, and the Swedes remained independent until 1521.

Iceland lost two-thirds of its population in the epidemic of 1402. Bishop Arni Olafsson began governing in 1413. In 1419 they accepted King Erik if he would send six ships a year. English buccaneers often plundered Iceland. King Kristian appointed chieftain Bjorn Thorleifsson to govern Iceland in 1453, but he was captured by the British in 1456, returned, and then was killed by English merchants in 1467. Bishops governed Iceland and often abused people. In 1490 King Hans and Henry VII agreed on free trade between Iceland and England. Bishop Stephan Jonsson of Skalholt was considered a good administrator of Iceland from 1491 to 1518.

Spain, Portugal, and France

Castile’s navy captured the Canary Islands in 1402. Jews were again required to wear badges in 1405. When Enrique III died in 1406, his brother Fernando became regent. Castile made a two-year truce with Muslim Granada in 1407. Queen Catalina ruled northern Castile and imposed anti-Jewish legislation that Fernando would not allow in the rest of Castile. Pope Benedict XIII banned the Talmud in 1415. Fernando also ruled Aragon 1412-16, and then his son succeeded him in Aragon as Alfonso V. Juan II began ruling Castile in 1419 at the age of 14, but Constable Alvaro de Luna governed. A war against Hanseatic ports began and lasted until 1443. In 1420 Fernando’s son Enrique tried to overthrow Juan II but was arrested. Alfonso took his side, and a battle in 1428 was prevented by Juan’s sister Maria who was Alfonso’s queen. Castile and Aragon made a five-year armistice in 1430. Castile defeated Muslims in Granada in 1431. A league forced Juan II to dismiss Alvaro in 1439. Turmoil continued during the rest of Juan’s reign and in that of his son Enrique IV (r. 1454-74). His daughter Isabel refused to marry Afonso V of Portugal. When she wed Fernando of Aragon in 1469, Enrique tried to disown her.

Isabel (r. 1474-1504) with help from Fernando overcame a challenge to her rule by Enrique’s daughter Juana and her uncle Afonso V of Portugal. Isabel and Fernando recruited soldiers to fight the Portuguese and enforced the laws. Castile and Portugal made a treaty in 1479. Isabel increased revenues from the nobles and legislated without the Cortes, financing the conquest of Granada she initiated in 1480. That year the Inquisition also began, and many had property confiscated and were imprisoned. King Fernando rejected papal limitations. Torquemada became Inquisitor-general in 1483, and in fifteen years he approved the burning of 8,800 people. Fernando led the crusading army that destroyed crops and property in Granada, which finally surrendered in January 1492.

Jews had been forced to contribute to the war, and in April 1492 all Jews in Castile and Aragon were ordered to become Christians or depart by July. Less than a quarter converted, and the rest emigrated. Isabel and Fernando financed three ships for Columbus who discovered lands on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean in October. In 1493 they provided seventeen ships and 1,200 men for colonization. In 1494 the monarchs of Portugal and Castile agreed to divide the “new world” by a line in the Atlantic. Spain helped defend Italy against the invading French. Columbus captured 1,500 Tainos in 1495, but he faced rebellion by Spaniards and in 1500 was sent back to Castile in chains. Spanish exploration of America increased colonization while Isabel tried to stop slavery. In 1500 Fernando and Isabel ordered the Muslims in Granada to adopt Christianity, and unbaptized Moors were forced to leave in 1502. Castile had universities, and the first great Spanish play, La Celestina, was published in 1499.

Marti “the Humane” ruled Aragon 1396-1410 and restrained the aristocrats. Electors from Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia chose Fernando Antequera in 1412, and he convoked a Cortes and ruled Aragon for four years. His son married Maria of Castile and became Alfonso V (r. 1416-58). He went to Naples in 1421-2 and then supported his brother Enrique’s claim in Castile. Barcelona, which had the first bank, suffered a financial crash in 1427. Before returning to Naples in 1432, Aragon made Queen Maria regent in Aragon, which signed a peace treaty with Castile in 1436. Alfonso took over Naples in 1443, and he never returned to Aragon, where Queen Maria governed until his brother Juan II succeeded. He had been ruling Navarre since 1425 and ruled Aragon 1458-79. He favored people over aristocrats but suppressed peasant rebellions in Mayorca and Minorca 1462-66. A civil war began in Aragon in 1462 and lasted ten years. Juan’s son Fernando married Isabel of Castile in 1469 and kept the French out of Navarre in 1476.

Fernando II of Aragon (r. 1479-1516) spent most of his time helping his wife Isabel govern Castile. Inquisitors came to Aragon in 1482, and Fernando supported them with soldiers. Spaniards led by Captain Gonzalo took over Naples from the French in 1503.

Fernando married the niece of France’s Louis XII in 1505 and was allied with France until 1511. He became regent of Castile in 1506 and claimed Naples in 1508, the year Pope Julius II gave him patronage in America. Fernando joined the Holy League in 1511, and his army defended Navarre against the French in 1512. He annexed Navarre in 1515. That year he joined an alliance with Pope Leo X and reversed Isabel’s prohibition of slavery. Before the end of 1517 Fernando’s Hapsburg grandson Carlos became the first king of Spain.

Granada’s leaders Muhammad VII (r. 1391-1408) and Yusuf III (r. 1408-17) tried to negotiate peace with Aragon, but the Aragonese defeated Granadans at Zahara and Antequera in 1410. A truce lasted from 1412 to 1417. Muhammad IX wanted independence for Granada, and in 1430 he tried to help Castile against Aragon. The next year Alvaro de Luna installed his vassal in Granada, but he was killed. Castile’s crusade against Granada began in 1432, but Muhammad IX negotiated a three-year truce in 1439. Granada regained some territory in 1447 and allied with Navarre in 1449. Abu Nasr Sa‘d refused to pay tribute or cede territory, and he negotiated truces. He had some Banu Saraj assassinated and was overthrown by his son Abu‘l-Hasan ‘Ali in 1464. He made a truce with Castile in 1478 and died in 1483. Fernando’s army divided the kingdom of Granada in half in 1485, and finally the city of Granada was besieged in 1491. Free passage was given on ships, and Muslims who stayed could practice their religion and were exempt from military service. Granada surrendered in January 1492, and in 1498 half the city was declared Christian. Cardinal Cisneros had 5,000 Arabic books burned, and he provoked a revolt. In 1502 all the Moors were ordered to become Christians or leave Castile.

Joao I ruled Portugal 1385-1433, and he made peace with Castile in 1411. The Portuguese took strategic Ceuta from the Muslims in 1415. King Duarte (r. 1433-38) helped Prince Henrique patronize voyages of exploration, and Portugal annexed the islands of Madeira, the Azores, and Cape Verde. Duarte had royal law compiled and convened a Cortes. A Portuguese crusade attacked Tangier in 1437, but the Moroccan army forced them to abandon Ceuta. During the regency of Duke Pedro of Coimbra exploration resumed in Africa, and the Portuguese captured more than a thousand slaves in seven years. Afonso V’s thirty-year rule began in 1447. Pedro rebelled and was defeated and killed in 1449. In the 1450s about 7,500 slaves were imported at Lisbon, and the popes gave Portugal a monopoly on conquering the west coast of Africa. The Portuguese invaded Morocco in 1458, 1460, and 1463 before they took over Asila in 1471. That year trade began that named a region the Gold Coast. In 1478 the royal family kept 81% of public revenues, but more was spent on defense. Portugal tried to claim Castile, but they were stopped in 1476. Joao began governing Portugal in 1477 while Afonso was in France. Portugal made a treaty with Castile in 1479.

Joao II (r. 1481-95) defeated the private army of the Bragança family and improved royal administration. Bartolomeu Dias went to the southern tip of Africa in 1488. About 60,000 Jews came to Portugal from Castile in 1492; but they had to pay to enter, and only about 600 families paid to stay. Manuel (r. 1495-1521) expelled all Jews and Muslims who refused to convert, causing about 80,000 Jews to leave Portugal. After mob violence he banned discrimination against Jews in 1507. Vasco da Gama sailed around Africa to India in 1498 and began the trade in spices and gems. In 1500 Cabral discovered South America by accident, and in 1506 Portugal began colonizing Brazil. In 1505 Manuel appointed Almeida viceroy to govern Portuguese colonies in the Indian Ocean, and the Crown began controlling all eastern trade with a monopoly. By 1509 the Portuguese dominated the Indian Ocean. That year Afonso d’Albuquerque replaced Almeida as viceroy, and he occupied strategic islands at Hormuz and Goa.

France was involved in a long war against England since 1337, and by 1400 it’s domain had shrunk. King Charles VI was suffering from bouts of insanity, and his brother Louis of Orléans and Queen Isabeau helped him govern. France allied with Owain Glyndwr of Wales against the English. Jean of Burgundy had Louis of Orléans murdered in 1407, and Charles VI pardoned him. Young Charles of Orléans was supported by the Armagnacs against Burgundy in a civil war. In 1412 the Armagnacs agreed to support the King against the English, and in the peace treaty the confiscated properties of Orléans were returned. In 1413 the Parlement made reforms and approved the agreement. Jean of Burgundy fled to Flanders, returned with an army, and allied with England’s Henry V, but Burgundy ratified a treaty with France in March 1415.

Henry V and his army captured Harfleur and Agincourt in 1415 and invaded Normandy in 1417. Jean of Burgundy took over towns too and was joined by Queen Isabeau. After people in Paris defeated and killed Armagnacs, Charles VI welcomed his Queen and Jean; followers of Dauphin Charles were killed, and he withdrew. In 1418 Henry V besieged Rouen, which surrendered six months later. The Dauphin made a treaty with Jean of Burgundy in July 1419, but his men killed Jean in September. Isabeau said young Charles was not her son. Philippe of Burgundy was married to the King’s daughter Michelle, and he mediated a truce between France and England. While Paris was occupied, the Dauphin as regent created a parlement in Toulouse. Charles VI condemned his son and made Henry V regent and heir as Henry wed his daughter Catherine. Henry’s army killed Armagnacs, but during a siege he became ill and died in August 1422. Charles VI died two months later.

Charles VII was recognized in central and southern provinces. Philippe of Burgundy controlled the east and north but declined to be regent under the infant Henry VI. Duke John of Bedford was regent in Paris and Normandy but was resisted by guerrilla warfare, and he married Philippe’s daughter Anne. Many Scots fought for the Dauphin, and thousands were killed. Burgundy took over most of Champagne, and the English led by Duke Humphrey of Gloucester occupied Hainault; but Philippe made them flee. Duke Jean of Brittany was with the Dauphin but went over to the English, and the Dauphinists ceded Orléans to Burgundy.

Jeanne d’Arc believed she was guided  by God through angelic voices, and in 1429 at age seventeen she went to help Charles VII become king and expel the English from France. She improved the morals and the morale of the soldiers, and despite being wounded she helped them save Orléans. After meeting with King Charles again at Tours she led the French to a major victory at Patay that became a turning point in the war. She was present at the crowning of Charles VII in Reims cathedral. In 1430 she predicted her imprisonment by the English, who bought her from Jean de Luxembourg after she was captured. Jeanne was put on trial at Rouen in January 1431, and she prophesied that the English would lose everything in France. She was accused of disobeying the Church and wearing men’s clothes. She believed the English would kill her because they wanted France. They burned her at the stake for heresy on May 30. Charles VII established a commission in 1450 to investigate her trial, and Pope Calixtus III gave her a new trial that in 1456 annulled the first trial.

The English had Henry VI crowned king of France at Paris in December 1431, but by 1433 the war had increased England’s debt to three times the annual revenue. France’s annual cost of the war was almost six times the royal revenues. Philippe of Burgundy made peace with Charles VII at Arras in September 1435. The French drove the English out of Paris in 1436. A conspiracy that included Dauphin Louis was defeated in 1437. The next year French bishops adopted decrees from the Council of Basel as the Pragmatic Sanction, which made the French Church independent of the Pope. In 1440 the English ransomed Duke Charles of Orléans, and he promised to work for peace. The French steadily regained territory in the 1440s. Wealthy Jacques Coeur helped King Charles financially and as a diplomat, but he was arrested and forced to pay fines in 1453, the year the Hundred Years War finally ended. The English retained only the port of Calais.

Jean Gerson studied theology and became chancellor of Paris University. He worked to end the schism resulting from more than one pope and advocated union with the Eastern Orthodox Church. He believed the Christ is the leader of the Church and that a general council could remove a pope. He wrote The Mountain of Contemplation for women and lay people. He also wrote three books on Christian ethics and two on mystical theology, emphasizing conscientious living and prayer.

Christine de Pizan was brought up at the French court and had access to its library. After her father and husband died, she earned money from her writing to support her three children. She wrote philosophical poems that established her reputation, and like Gerson she criticized the loose morals of the famous Romance of the Rose. Her biography of Charles V was intended to help the Dauphin Louis with government. Christine’s Vision is an allegorical autobiography with the virtues of Truth, Justice, and Chivalry overcoming Voluptuousness, Fraud, Avarice, and Ambition so that she can partake of Wisdom.

In 1405 Christine wrote City of Ladies and Treasure of the City of Ladies in French. She described the positive qualities of women because men treat them as inferior. Three ladies called Reason, Rectitude, and Justice construct a city where men and women can improve. They describe numerous famous women who are role models in various ways. In the Treasure Reason, Rectitude, and Justice instruct women in wisdom. They should begin with the love of God to develop knowledge and charitable giving. They should be discreet, humble, patient, compassionate, and prudent. In the second part the three Virtues recommend proper behavior, avoiding flattery, envy, slander, extravagance, and pride.

In 1407 Christine de Pizan wrote a book on the body politic. In 1410 she wrote an open letter to the Duke of  Berry warning against the evils of civil war. She wrote her Book of Peace in 1412 and 1413, and in 1418 she entered a convent to take refuge from the war. She urged prudent government to preserve peace, and she described the six virtues of prudence as justice, magnanimity, courage, clemency, liberality, and truth. Vengeance should not be mistaken for justice, and clemency is not an excuse for cowardice. Understanding past events helps one use present circumstances to create a better future. Soldiers should be well paid and disciplined so they will not oppress the country. A good officer has love, loyalty, good speech, diligence, and good nature. Christine wrote the second part after the Pontoise peace in August 1413. She recommended love, justice, magnanimity, and courage, and she warned against cruelty and greed. The third part discusses clemency, liberality, and truthfulness. She did not trust the common people but advised the prince to treat them well. She sent copies of her book to the court of  Burgundy and to Dauphin Louis.

Dauphin Louis had banned private warfare in Dauphiné, and he married Charlotte of Savoy in 1451. He left Dauphiné in 1456, and his father Charles VII annexed it in 1457. Louis joined Burgundy’s crusade against Muslims and lived near Brussels. Charles died in 1461, and his son was crowned Louis XI. He reduced luxuries so he could pursue his ambitions. He renounced the Pragmatic Sanction to please Pope Pius II but then restored French rights. Philippe of Burgundy negotiated a truce with the Yorkists in England. In 1463 Louis made a treaty with Juan of Aragon, and he confirmed his alliance with Milan. He supported Margaret of Anjou against Edward IV. Many joined the Breton revolt against Louis XI’s taxes in 1465. Louis defeated Bourbon with his army and then went to Normandy for supplies. The clergy marched for peace. Louis gave Normandy to his brother Charles and made a treaty with François II of Brittany. Louis made a truce with England in 1466, and he convened the three estates at Tours in 1468. Three armies invaded Brittany, and Charles renounced Normandy for a pension. Louis went to see Charles the Bold of Burgundy and was taken prisoner, and they made a treaty. Jean V of Armagnac was condemned and fled to Spain. Louis backed the house of Lancaster, and Edward IV fled to Burgundy in 1470. An assembly at Tours condemned Charles for betraying Louis and invading Normandy.

Charles of Burgundy accepted a truce and left France in 1472. England allied with Charles in 1474, and Louis XI got help from Austria and the Swiss, who defeated Burgundy’s army at Héricourt. Louis made a treaty with Emperor Friedrich III, but in 1475 the Duke of Milan turned against France. Louis forced Aragon’s Juan II to accept truces and invaded Picardy. Edward IV invaded France; but Louis bought him off with a pension, and his son married Edward’s daughter Elizabeth. A seven-year truce formally ended the Hundred Years War, and Burgundy accepted a nine-year truce. Louis aided the Swiss, and they defeated and killed bold Charles in 1477. Louis claimed Burgundy and invaded Artois and Hainault. He made a truce with Maximilian and Marie for one year and then invaded Burgundy. Edward IV allied with Maximilian, and Louis persuaded Scotland’s James III to invade England. In 1481 Louis confirmed his truce with England, and he signed a treaty with Maximilian in December 1482. Louis used spies to aid his dealing and acted autocratically. During his reign (1461-83) while expanding France’s territory he promoted industry and trade, and the taille tax quadrupled.

After Anne became regent for her 13-year-old brother Charles VIII, the Estates General met at Tours in January 1484 but only reduced the taille tax. Duke Louis of Orléans was recognized as the heir of Duke François II of Brittany, quarreled with Charles, and raised troops. King Charles besieged Louis and Dunois, and the second League for the Public Weal was defeated by Anne’s army in 1485. The Beaujeus with a new taille tax provoked a revolt. Charles VIII made a treaty with sixty Breton nobles, and the dukes of Brittany and Orléans fled to Nantes in 1487. Maximilian had invaded northern France, and the Beaujeus sent troops to Flanders. Bruges captured Maximilian, and French arbitration freed him. France declared war on Brittany in December 1488. Maximilian signed a peace treaty with France in July 1489. French troops entered Nantes in March 1491.

Charles VIII began ruling in 1491 and married Anne of Brittany. Henry VII tried to claim France, and in a treaty Charles promised to pay the pension owed by Louis XI. Charles made treaties with Spain and Maximilian in 1493, and in 1494 he invaded Italy to claim Naples, stopping in Milan, Pisa, Florence, and Rome before occupying Naples in February 1495. Charles marched his army back while fighting a league that formed to drive them out. The French surrendered Naples, and their mercenaries spread syphilis. The French invasion had emptied the treasury and spread misery without improving Italy or the Church.

Louis XII made Cesare Borgia a duke so that the Pope would approve his marrying Queen Anne in 1499. Louis claimed Milan and took it with an army. Milan revolted in 1500, but a French army returned to subdue them. Louis made a treaty with Fernando of Aragon to divide Naples, and their armies invaded it in 1501. The Spaniards led by Gonzalo took Naples away from the French in 1502, and they agreed to a three-year truce in 1504. That year Louis made a triple alliance with Maximilian and his son Philip. Louis improved the administration of finances and laws, and he was loved for his reforms and for lowering the taille tax. He annexed Genoa after suppressing its revolt in 1506. Louis went to war against Venice in 1509 and captured Cremona, Crema, and Brescia. French armies opposed Pope Julius II’s attack on Ferrara, and Louis and Maximilian called a Church council at Pisa in 1511. A Holy League formed, and the French defeated them at Ravenna in April 1512; but Swiss and Venetian forces made the French go home. Fernando took over most of Navarre and made a truce with Louis. In 1513 the Swiss drove the French out of Milan. Louis nearly doubled the taille tax by 1514, but the national debt still reached 1,500,000 livres. Louis made a treaty with England before dying on the first day of 1515.

King François raised a large army and invaded Italy, taking back Milan in September 1515. He annulled the Pragmatic Sanction and signed the Concordat of Pope Leo X. In March 1517 François allied with Maximilian and his son Charles, who was ruling Spain.

Charles of Orléans wrote poetry while he was a hostage in England, and later he sponsored poets. King René of Anjou wrote the allegorical Mortification of Empty Pleasure about 1455 and The Book of the Love-Smitten Heart in 1477. François Villon was educated at the University of Paris but was aggressive and got in trouble with the law. He wrote the autobiographical poems The Legacy and The Testament. Passion plays were performed over several days annually, and comic elements were added. The farce Maitre Pierre Pathelin was especially popular and was printed in 1485.

England, Scotland and Ireland

In 1399 Richard II quarreled with the house of Lancaster and soon lost the civil war and was replaced by Henry IV. The Parliament planned to govern with him, and Richard’s counselors were arrested. The Scots invaded Northumberland. Rebels fighting for Richard were defeated, and many were executed. Henry’s army invaded Scotland in August 1400. Glyndwr led the Welsh rebellion against Henry that was suppressed. Henry Percy of Northumberland defeated a Scottish army but refused to give up the Earl of Douglas. The Percys and Edmund Mortimer rebelled because Henry IV imposed taxes without the consent of Parliament. King Henry led his army and defeated them at Shrewsbury in 1403. Glyndwr allied with France and in 1405 conspired with Percy and Mortimer. Henry IV’s army killed many, and the rebellion declined. Lollards who followed Wyclif’s ideas were persecuted, and English translations of the Bible were banned in 1408. England allied with Burgundy in 1411, and a small force fought the Armagnacs and came home. Later the English allied with Berry and Armagnac against Burgundy and France, which paid England 150,000 crowns not to invade.

After Henry V became king in 1413, his old friend John Oldcastle was arrested for heresy and escaped to lead a rebellion that was suppressed. Henry prepared and led an invasion of France in 1415, and they defeated a larger French army at Agincourt. After a truce taxes paid for an invasion of Normandy in 1417. Rouen was besieged and surrendered in January 1419, paying 300,000 gold crowns. After the Dauphin’s men murdered Jean of Burgundy, Henry allied with Philippe of Burgundy and made a truce with Charles VI. The English took over Paris in 1420. Henry made a treaty with Charles and married his daughter Catherine. England was suffering economically and stopped sending funds to France. Henry collected taxes in Normandy and went home to borrow money. He led another expedition in 1421 and died of dysentery in 1422.

Henry V’s brothers Humphrey of Gloucester and John of Bedford governed in England and France respectively for the infant Henry VI. The English won victories in France but had difficulty collecting taxes. While Humphrey invaded Hainault, Chancellor Henry Beaufort governed England. Humphrey and Bedford came back to England and forced Beaufort to resign. The Council limited the power of Humphrey, and Bedford swore to obey the Council while in England. Burgundians captured Jeanne d’Arc and sold her to the English. Henry VI was crowned king of France in 1430. A Lollard uprising in 1431 was suppressed by Humphrey. England’s debt passed £168,000, and a peasant uprising in Normandy moved Bedford to leave England in 1434.

Henry VI began ruling England in 1437. He founded Eton and King’s College at Cambridge. He pardoned criminals and favored the Beaufort faction which released Charles of Orléans in 1440 for a ransom. Duke Richard of York was wealthy and was lieutenant-general in France before going to Ireland in that capacity in 1449. Henry VI married Margaret of Anjou in 1445, and she persuaded him to surrender Le Mans and Maine. A truce in France was extended to 1450. Philippe of Burgundy imposed protectionist embargoes, and English exports of cloth and imports of wine dropped precipitously. England’s royal debt reached £372,000, and they lost Normandy in 1450. Top officials resigned, and Suffolk was banished and killed. Jack Cade led protests by the common people against taxes. They wanted corrupt officials removed and York recalled. They marched from Kent to London and caused the royal army to mutiny. The rebels were pardoned and went home. A few remained, and Cade was killed. Richard of York had returned from Ireland in 1450 and helped suppress the rebels. He took up arms in 1452 and accepted a pardon. The English army in France was defeated in 1453, and Henry VI went insane for more than a year.

Richard of York was named protector, and private armies were being raised. In 1455 King Henry recovered, and Queen Margaret became influential. York’s forces defeated the King’s at St. Albans in May, and Henry was wounded. York became constable and then protector again, and Parliament pardoned the Yorkists. Margaret persuaded Henry to nullify the Parliament. In 1459 York’s son Warwick brought a force back to England and defeated Margaret’s Lancastrians, who then defeated Yorkists in October. Parliament attainted York, Salisbury, Warwick, and others, and York and Warwick went to Ireland and called for reforms. In 1460 the Yorkists captured King Henry, and Bishop George Neville became chancellor. Richard of York claimed the throne in September, and Parliament and Henry VI declared him the legitimate heir who was to be obeyed. Neville of Salisbury died and was succeeded by his son Richard of Warwick. Richard of York went north to punish Lancastrians but was killed. In January 1461 English lords at York supported Henry VI. Margaret rescued her son Edward while her soldiers defeated Warwick’s army.

Richard of York’s son became King Edward IV at the age of 18. Parliament attainted Henry VI and 209 others for waging war while Margaret escaped to Scotland. She sent to France and Brittany for military aid, but the English people would not support her French allies. Henry VI at Bamburgh ruled only a small area. The Lancastrians were finally defeated in May 1464, and the Scots agreed to a 15-year truce with England. In 1467 Charles of Burgundy made a thirty-year commercial treaty with England. Warwick was alienated from Edward and plotted with Louis XI against him in 1469. Warwick returned to England and defeated Edward’s army and captured the King, but people revolted against this. Warwick let Edward appear in public, and eventually Warwick fled to Calais with Clarence. Warwick’s navy captured sixty Burgundian ships. Warwick and Clarence plotted with Louis XI and Margaret to restore Henry VI. Edward IV fled to  Burgundy in October 1470, and Henry VI became king again for six months with Warwick as protector. England declared war on Burgundy, and Charles aided Edward, who returned to England with 1,200 soldiers. Clarence brought 4,000 men and now supported his brother Edward, who went to London and put Henry in the Tower. Warwick’s army was defeated, and he was killed on April 14, 1471. Edward IV’s army then defeated Margaret’s forces at Tewksbury, and Henry VI was murdered in the Tower.

In May 1471 Edward IV made his brother Richard of  Gloucester chamberlain and admiral of England. A few men were punished, and Edward issued a general pardon in October. Edward allied with Brittany and Charles of Burgundy against France and prepared for war. In 1475 Edward and Louis XI met and made a treaty. Louis promised to pay 50,000 crowns a year to Edward for removing his army. William Caxton began printing English books in 1477 and published Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory in 1485. George of Clarence was arrested and died in the Tower in 1478. Richard of Gloucester fought the Scots. Edward appointed him lieutenant-general in 1480, and he captured Berwick in 1482. Edward IV died of illness in April 1483.

Richard of Gloucester was made protector for 12-year-old Edward V and accused his relatives and supporters of conspiracy, executing several. In July 1483 he claimed the throne and began his reign as Richard III. He was suspected of having Edward V and his brother Richard of York murdered. Buckingham and others rebelled against him, but Buckingham was turned in and executed. Henry Tudor of Richmond planned to marry Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth in Brittany. Richard III made a truce with Scotland, and he had Henry Tudor attainted. France provided Henry with 4,000 troops, and the next year he crossed the channel with 2,000 men and gained support. In August 1485 Richard III had twice as many men, but he was defeated and killed.

On the battlefield Henry VII claimed the crown and began his reign. He went to London and announced a general pardon and a truce with France. Parliament accepted Henry VII as king and granted him £14,000 a year. England made a three-year truce with Scotland, and challenges by pretenders to the throne were defeated. Henry made a truce with France in 1488 and in 1489 an alliance with Maximilian and a treaty with Fernando and Isabel, marrying his son Arthur to their daughter Catherine. A tax revolt was suppressed, and 6,000 men were sent against France. Henry managed to increase his income to £52,000.

The English army besieged Boulogne, and Henry VII quickly negotiated a treaty in which France’s Charles VIII agreed to pay Henry 620,000 crowns and £5,000 a year. Perkin Warbeck claimed he was Richard of York in 1491, and he managed to get support from foreign courts and rebels. In 1495 he fled to Ireland and Scotland. A Scottish army invaded England in 1496 but retreated. Henry VII made a commercial treaty with France in 1497. Collecting taxes for war provoked more rebellions. Thomas of Surrey led the English army against the Scots. Warbeck gathered followers in Ireland and invaded England and fled. England made a peace treaty with Scotland in 1499, and Warbeck was finally hanged. John Cabot sailed west in 1497, and others went to the New Found Lands. Prince Henry inherited a full treasury when his father died of tuberculosis in April 1509.

Young Henry VIII married Prince Arthur’s widow Catherine in June. He was advised by her father Fernando and had warships built. Henry renewed the treaties with Scotland and France. England joined the Holy League and sent 10,000 men to Spain, and Henry led the English against France in 1513. Scotland’s James IV invaded England and was killed along with 10,000 Scots. Betrayed by Maximilian and Fernando, Henry made peace with France in 1514. Henry promoted his administrator Thomas Wolsey to cardinal by 1515. While Henry enjoyed his pleasures, Wolsey ruled, dissolving Parliament and making appointments. Henry VIII renewed his treaties with France and Spain, and he made an alliance with Maximilian and Charles. Henry employed spies and executed fourteen people for treason in 1517.

Passion plays were also performed in England by guilds annually two months after Easter. The Castle of Perseverance is the oldest full-length play in English and presents an allegory of Mankind struggling against the seven deadly sins with help from the seven virtues. Wisdom and Mankind is another morality play in which Mercy redeems Mankind. Miracle plays depicted miraculous events or the lives of saints such as Saul who becomes Paul. The most famous morality play is Everyman. He is summoned by Death, and on this pilgrimage he goes with Fellowship and Goods; but they depart. Only Good-Deeds stays with Everyman after Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Five-Wits have fallen away.

Scots fought the English on their border and were defeated by Hotspur in September 1402. English pirates captured Prince James in 1406, and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for seventeen years. King Robert III died, and his brother, the Duke of Albany, acted as regent. James I and the general council at Perth recognized Pope Martin V in 1418. Scotland sent troops to help France fight the English in 1419. James was ransomed in December 1423 and married Joan Beaufort in February 1424. He returned to Scotland and was crowned at Scone. Parliament met often for the next dozen years and banned private wars. James imposed a 5% tax on lands and goods to raise money for his ransom payments, but he stopped paying them in 1427. He maintained a truce with the English until 1436. He spent money on luxuries, and his policies aggravated the conflicts between Lowlanders and Highlanders. James was assassinated in February 1437 in revenge for the hostages who died in England.

James II was only six years old, and his cousin Archibald Douglas governed until he died in 1439. A truce made with the English in 1438 lasted ten years. Chancellor Crichton arrested two Douglas brothers, and they were executed in 1440. William became the eighth earl of Douglas in 1443, and James appointed him lieutenant-general in 1444. The Crichtons were declared rebels, and James II began to rule. He confirmed the privileges of St. Andrews University and founded the University of Glasgow in 1451. William Crichton became chancellor again in 1448, and James took lands from William Douglas in 1450. Parliament made him give them back, but in a feud James murdered Douglas in 1452. After a papal dispensation in 1453 the King was reconciled with the  Black Douglas faction. In 1455 James II attacked and defeated James Douglas and his brothers, and Parliament gave him their lands. Scotland ended its truce with England by attacking Berwick and Northumberland. However, a truce made in 1457 was extended to 1468. James II besieged Roxburgh again in 1460, and he was killed by an exploded cannon.

The regency council for 8-year-old James III was divided into factions led by Queen Mary and Bishop Kennedy. In 1461 Henry VI and his mother Margaret took refuge in Scotland, but in 1464 Scotland made a 15-year truce with Edward IV. James III married Margaret of Denmark in 1469, and Scotland acquired Orkney and Shetland. James III came into conflict with his brothers Alexander of Albany and John of Mar. In 1479 Alexander was imprisoned but escaped, and John was arrested and died. In 1482 Alexander joined Edward IV and claimed the throne of Scotland. King James was captured in July, and his army disbanded. The English had besieged Berwick, and it capitulated in August. Alexander besieged Edinburgh but freed James, who made Alexander of Albany the earl of Mar but not lieutenant-general. Alexander sent envoys who made a treaty with Edward IV; but Parliament convicted Alexander of treason and confiscated his property. Scotland made truces with Richard III and then Henry VII. In 1488 an insurrection broke out, and James III was killed in the battle on June 11.

James IV was fifteen years old, and the Earl of Argyll was made chancellor again. The new King was secure by 1490, but feuds caused crimes and disorder. In 1492 Scotland made a treaty with France, and the next year Scotland extended its truce with England to 1501. King’s College in Aberdeen was founded in 1495. James IV agreed to a treaty with England in 1502, and he married Mary Tudor in 1503. Scotland then enjoyed a renaissance period without foreign enemies. James ordered the building of a fleet in 1506, and printing came to Scotland in 1507. He made money delaying and remitting crimes. In 1513 Scots invaded England; but on September 9 they were defeated, and James IV was killed. Queen Margaret was regent for the infant James V, and she married Archibald Douglas in 1514. Another faction supported John Stewart of Albany, and in 1515 Parliament elected him regent. He went to France for four years while his commission governed Scotland.

England’s Henry IV ordered those with lands in Ireland to defend them against Irish rebels. In 1414 John Talbot became lieutenant in Ireland, and his campaign pacified some chieftains in 1415. The parliament accused him of extortion and oppression in 1421. James Butler of Ormond was lieutenant from 1420 to 1445 when John Talbot was reappointed. The territory in Ireland controlled by the English was a steadily shrinking Pale governed by Dublin. England was preoccupied with war against France and then the civil war, enabling native Irish to recover two-thirds of Ireland. Richard of York took control over the administration in 1449 and marched north. The conflict between York and Lancaster infected Irish feuds, but in 1460 the Irish parliament declared its independence.

Edward IV inherited Ulster from York, and his constable John Tiptoft of Worcester executed Desmond as a traitor. George of Clarence was lieutenant 1471-77 with Thomas Kildare as his deputy. The Council elected Kildare justiciar in 1477, and he was quickly succeeded by his son Gerald. He supported the pretender “Edward VI” in 1487, but Kildare was pardoned in 1488. He clashed with James Ormond and was reconciled with Desmond. The Poynings law of 1494 allowed the King of England to veto Irish laws, and private war was banned. Kildare was arrested and taken to London in 1495 and submitted. He married Henry VII’s cousin and returned to Ireland as deputy for ten years. He made his son Gerald treasurer in 1504. Kildares developed enemies and fought them in 1511. Gerald succeeded him in 1513 and was elected justiciar.

Humanism from Italy to Europe

Vergerio was influenced by Petrarca and studied with Salutati, Malpaghini, and Conversino. Vergerio wrote a humanist treatise in 1402 emphasizing character education and the liberal arts. Leonardo Bruni studied with Salutati and Chrysoloras, and he wrote a book praising the republic of Florence. Bruni served popes for ten years and then returned to Florence to write its history. He translated Greek classics and urged their study. He was chancellor of Florence 1427-44, and he valued liberty and equality.

Vittorino da Feltre and Guarino of Verona took students into their houses and became the most popular humanist teachers, emphasizing literature, history, and philosophy. Vittorino used games and avoided harsh punishments. He taught grammar and rhetoric in Greek and Latin, and advanced students read Plato and Aristotle. Guarino also lectured on Christians such as Augustine, Basil, and Jerome. He wrote seventy orations and more than nine hundred letters. Poggio Bracciolini grew up in Florence and discovered Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria and twelve comedies by Plautus. He served Pope Martin V as his secretary and wrote about human misery and avarice.

Alberti had a broad education and served Pope Eugenius IV. He wrote On the Family, On Painting, On Law, and On the Origin of the Gods as well as the comic Momus. Pope Nicholas V asked him to restore buildings in Rome, and Alberti wrote Ten Books on Architecture. He also worked for Pope Pius II, and he is an early example of a Renaissance man. Matteo Palmieri wrote on education for civil life with individual responsibility. Lorenzo Valla became an expert on grammar and rhetoric, and he explained why some Christian documents were not authentic. He believed love is the only virtue. He translated Aesop and Greek histories and was secretary to two popes. Gianozzo Manetti was a classical scholar known for his honesty as a governor and diplomat. In his On the Dignity and Excellence of Man he argued that life and the hereafter can be pleasant and good if one loves and practices virtue. Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini worked for clerics and popes and became Pope Pius II. Before that he wrote The Education for Boys in 1450 emphasizing Christian teachings, grammar, literature, history, music, geometry, and most of all, moral philosophy.

Marsilio Ficino translated the works of Plato and Plotinus, and he wrote Platonic Theology, On Christian Religion, and Three Books on Life. He advocated spiritual (Platonic) love and friendship and transcending the passions of the body with patience in the soul. Poliziano wrote poetry in Latin and Italian and was the best friend of Lorenzo de’ Medici. Their friend Pico della Mirandola wrote 900 theses and challenged anyone to debate them in his famous Oration on the Dignity of Man. He was accused of heresy and was pardoned but died of arsenic poisoning. Pico wrote that God made humans makers of themselves who can go as low as brutes or as high as the divine. Humans can reason, love beauty, and find friendship and peace in unity. He drew from several religions and philosophies to find universal wisdom. By imitating God we are blessed.

Students came to Italian universities, and princes and others collected Latin and Greek manuscripts in libraries. Cardinal Bessarion was from Greece and gave 700 manuscripts to Venice. Flavio Biondo and Bruni developed the concept of the medieval period to divide the ancient era from the modern period they believed was just beginning. Most Latin classics were printed between 1465 and 1473. Pietro Pomponazzi wrote about the soul and other spiritual entities. Pietro Bembo had three love affairs and wrote love letters and Gli Asolani about love. Panormita was from Sicily and served Alfonso V of Naples for many years and wrote a book about him. Facio was a diplomat from Venice and also wrote a history of Alfonso V. Pontano wrote many treatises on politics and morals and was chancellor for Ferrante of Naples and tutored his son. Two Jews named Abravanel from Portugal also served in Naples, and Judah Leon Abravanel wrote Dialogs on Love.

Pulci’s Morgante Maggiore is a comic epic in the era of Charlemagne about Orlando and Rinaldo, and it was completed by 1483. Boiardo was a governor and captain, and he left his epic Orlando Innamorato incomplete when he died in 1494. The poem depicts Christian and Saracen knights in romance and combat with magic altering the love relations. Ariosto was also a local governor and continued the story where Boiardo left off in his Orlando Furioso. His poem also uses magic and has a flying horse, and the great Saracen Ruggiero converts to Christianity. Ariosto also wrote seven autobiographical Satires which include criticism of contemporary Christians.

Leonardo da Vinci learned painting and other skills in Florence and did most of his work in Milan and Rome. He was a talented artist, musician, engineer, scientist, and inventor. He left behind many beautiful paintings with innovative lighting and shading techniques and notebooks that depicted his prophetic ideas for various inventions. He is one of the most outstanding examples of a Renaissance man. Raphael learned to paint in Perugia and moved to Florence but did most of his great work in Rome. His paintings included Biblical scenes, the famous “School of Athens,” and many portraits. Michelangelo was an apprentice of Ghirlandaio in Florence, and he excelled as a sculptor there with his “David” and in Rome with his “Pieta” and “Moses.” He also painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Baldesar Castiglione is famous for writing The Book of the Courtier. At the court of Urbino in 1507 the Duchess Elisabetta and her friend Emilia facilitate a series of intellectual discussions with a small group of men. They begin by admitting their own follies and then discuss what makes a good courtier. Gasparo Pallavicino believes that women are inferior, but the others believe women are equal to men and superior in some things. Giuliano de’ Medici discusses women and what they know about love. Ottaviano Fregoso talks on how a courtier should treat a prince. Finally Pietro Bembo discusses beauty and rational love that leads to heaven.

Germany developed several universities, and Peter Luder began teaching classical languages at Heidelberg in 1444. Gutenberg’s movable type revolutionized printing about 1450, and soon many copies of the Bible and other works were being published for affordable prices. The Bible was printed in German in 1466, in Italian in 1471, in Spanish in 1478, in French in 1487, in Bohemian in 1488, and in Greek in 1502. Conrad Celtis founded literary societies in Prague and the Rhineland, and he published Germania Illustrata. Trithemius wrote on magic and astrology. Johann Reuchlin learned Greek and Hebrew, and he opposed the confiscation of Jewish books. Letters of Obscure Men satirized intolerant Christian teachers. Heinrich Bebel also wrote satires and on education.

Rudolph Agricola developed wide knowledge and influenced humanistic education. Several humanists were educated by the Brothers of the Common Life. Sebastian Brant wrote Ship of Fools in German, and it was translated into seven languages. His satire was influential and inspired a series of sermons in 1498. He described many forms of folly and contrasted them to the wise teachings in the Bible.

Filippo Buonaccorsi adopted the name Callimachus and spread humanism in Poland and Austria. He tried to stop wars and believed in separation of church and state. Ivan Vitez studied in Italy and became influential in Hungary. Humanists in central Europe were influenced by Conrad Celtis.

Guillaume Fichet studied in Italy, and in 1470 he set up a printing press in Paris. Within ten years books were being printed in ten other French cities. Latin and Greek classics were most popular, and they started teaching Greek at Paris in 1476. The dominance of Aristotelian theology and nominalist logic at the university was challenged by Platonism and the broader literature of the liberal arts. Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples studied with the Platonists Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, and his religious writings encouraged freedom of thought. Guillaume Budé studied with Lefevre and learned Greek. In 1516 he wrote a book on humanist education for the young King François.

Enrique de Villena began translating Cicero into Spanish in 1427, and the Marquis of Santillana patronized translations from Latin and Greek. Alfonso de Palencia wrote and translated poetry, became secretary to Enrique IV, and later wrote and translated histories. Antonio de Nebrija taught at Salamanca University and wrote Art of Castilian Grammar in 1492.

Erasmus went to the Deventer school of the Brothers of the Common Life, and he later complained about the harsh punishment. He went into a monastery, but after becoming a priest he worked as a secretary to a bishop. In his first book on education he criticized the religious life and those who oppose the new learning. He went to the University of Paris but did not like its scholastic philosophy. As a tutor he was invited to England and met John Colet and  Thomas More. He began publishing his collection of classical adages in 1500 and expanded it to 3,260 proverbs in 1508. In later editions he wrote longer commentaries, often criticizing rulers and prelates for greed and fighting wars. His discourse on why war is sweet to those who have not experienced it was also published as a pamphlet. War is contrary to what Jesus taught and is cruel, destructive, and expensive. He wrote about the folly of most kings who are chosen by birth, not merit.

Erasmus published his Handbook of the Militant Christian in 1503. He recommended self-knowledge and guidance by reason rather than passions. He advised following the teachings of Christ and avoiding vices such as lust, avarice, ambition, pride, and anger. Erasmus traveled in Europe. He wrote a Panegyricus for Archduke Philip, corrected a work by Valla on the New Testament, and translated Lucian with More and other classics. He tutored James IV’s son Alexander Stewart, and he advised Pope Leo X not to go to war against Venice. He wrote on educating children with kindness. While visiting More he wrote his popular satire, The Praise of Folly, criticizing current society for its violence, lust, hunting, money-grubbing, and the hypocrisy of popes, theologians, monks, and preachers. In 1511 he compiled a study guide by recommending classics and modern books. After Pope Julius II died, Erasmus anonymously published a satire of his attempt to get into heaven as Peter refused him admission.

Erasmus published his Greek and Latin editions of the New Testament with an Exhortation to follow the Gospels with his edition of Jerome’s Complete Works in 1516. That year he wrote Education of a Christian Prince for Archduke Charles of Burgundy. He hoped that the state would be ruled by a prince who was wise and just, but most princes are led astray by wealth, power, luxuries, flattery, and the freedom to do whatever they want. The prince is responsible for many people and will be held accountable by God. People may be won over by fairness and kindness. Education is the hope of a state. A prince should limit taxes to luxuries and suppress graft. Laws to restrain crime should be based on justice. Rewards work better than punishment, and fines should go to injured parties. Magistrates should have wisdom and integrity. Wars are criminal and disastrous and should be avoided.

Erasmus often wrote about the blessings of peace and the dangers of war. Humans have bodies designed for friendship and peace. He wrote Against War in 1509 to persuade Pope Julius II not to make war on Venice. Only humans engage in mass violence with artificial weapons. Empires use offensive wars for greed and conquest. He argued that war is wasteful and bad for both sides. Disputes could be settled by arbitration. He noted that Jesus and his early followers did not engage in wars, but in his time Christians frequently go to war. He refuted six arguments used to rationalize “just wars.” Erasmus wrote The Complaint of Peace for the peace conference at Cambrai in March 1517. Peace pleads for humans to use reason and be friendly. The love of Christ is peaceful. Peace is ashamed at the reasons princes use to go to war. The desire for power causes criminal wars. War is stupid because there are more intelligent solutions. Princes should consider the good of everyone. Leaders should promote peace and not let the selfish gain from war.

Duke Humphrey of Gloucester hired Italian secretaries and acquired classical books that he gave to the Oxford library. William Grey and George Neville became bishops who promoted humanism. Greek was taught at Oxford. John Colet met Erasmus and Budé in Paris and studied in Italy. He lectured on Paul’s letters and became dean at St. Paul’s in 1504, and he lectured the clergy on the abuses of the Church in 1512 in London. In 1513 Colet preached a sermon against war to Henry VIII, arguing that violence produces more evil and that reforms must be peaceful.

Thomas More became a lawyer and a close friend of Erasmus, and he educated his own family. More was influenced by The Imitation of Christ and other mystical books. He taught law and as undersheriff of London from 1510 to 1518 judged cases. His History of Richard III portrayed the ambitious and violent king.

While on a diplomatic mission to Flanders in 1515 More began writing his novel Utopia in Latin, and it was published the next year. After a brief description of the poverty and exploitation in England where thieves are executed, Raphael describes an island he visited near America where thieves are imprisoned and work as slaves. He tells the history of Utopia which is different than other countries. Utopians believe that good individuals will make good institutions, and they share everything equally and have few laws. Their social lives in large houses are described. They elect their leaders, and men and women learn a second trade besides farming. The main goal is for people to be as free as possible so they can develop their minds. There are no taverns, brothels, or gambling houses. No one is in poverty because all share. Their religion teaches the immortality of the soul and that good deeds are rewarded while sins are punished. They love God, live joyfully, and help others. Divorce is rare, and adultery is punished. There are no lawyers. Utopians have no enemies and hate war. They fight only invading armies and use gold for hiring mercenaries. They elect priests who teach the children. More concluded that Utopia was unusual but worthy of being imitated, though he doubted his society would do so.

Evaluating Europe and Humanism 1400-1517

In the 15th century the five most powerful cities in Italy were Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples, and they fought each other for power and territory, often changing allies. Wealth was used to hire local mercenaries or the respected Swiss. Dukes held power in Milan. Venice elected a doge and a Senate and had a commercial empire in the Adriatic Sea. In Rome the popes began acting more like kings, making a mockery of their Christian teachings as many of them lived in luxury and sin. The rivals Alexander VI and Julius II were the most aggressive popes  and used military force to expand the territory of the Papal States. They accepted bribes for offices and release from persecution, and for money they even gave indulgences that forgave sins. Most of the money was used for wars, but some patronized renaissance art and architecture. Attempts to fight back against the expanding Ottoman empire by organizing crusades managed only to keep the Turks out of Italy. Naples ruled southern Italy as a monarchy, but Alfonso V of Aragon made it part of what became the Spanish empire. The French invaded Italy under Charles VIII in 1494, Louis XII in 1499, and François in 1515. Though Italy never united, they did manage to form alliances and leagues to fight off these invasions. Yet Naples was lost to Spain, and the French took Milan again in 1515.

Amid this chaos and corruption the politician and diplomat Machiavelli eventually lost his position but wrote books suggesting ways of handling the developing political systems. His realistic political philosophy is pragmatic but has often been exaggerated or misinterpreted to justify immoral actions. Though he admitted a prince may be better off feared for a time than loved, he emphasized that he should avoid being hated. Machiavelli believed in the power of the people and justice by the rule of laws rather than by the rule of strong men. He described the actions of ruthless politicians and tyrants, but he did not necessarily endorse their methods. In fact he opposed tyranny and valued freedom and wise government. Respect for the freedom of others should control ambition through self-restraint and responsibility. His career as a diplomat shows that he preferred resolving conflicts by negotiation rather than by force.

Eastern Europe in the south suffered from the incursions by the Ottoman empire while in the north the Russians had to face the Mongols. Greece was taken over by the Turks, but some scholars moved west to Italy and helped develop humanism there. Influenced by Wyclif, Jan Hus led an early reform movement that challenged the limitations of Catholic rituals and papal corruption. His martyrdom provoked a revolt that became a nationalist struggle against German as well as Catholic imperialism. Crusades against fellow Christians were doomed to failure against those fighting for their own freedom of religion. Bohemia became more independent, and eventually religious differences were resolved. Chelcicky taught the true Christian way of love (nonviolence) and sharing. People began reading the Bible in their own language. Matthias gave stability to Hungary, improved law, and encouraged humanistic education; but nobles continued to dominate peasants. The Jagiellon kings and Casimir IV provided stability in Lithuania and Poland and promoted education also. The Russian Church became independent, and Moscow under Ivan III became free of the Golden Horde while expanding its domain.

Church councils in Germany worked to end the divisions in the Roman Catholic religion and finally returned to one Pope in 1449, but an attempt to re-unite with the Eastern Orthodox Church failed. Germans, Austrians and others persecuted and exploited Jews. Use of gunpowder made the continuing wars more deadly and less chivalrous. Peasant rebellions had even less chance against expensive weapons and mercenaries that could be financed by bankers and kings. The printing press made books of all kinds much more available. Swiss cities formed a confederacy and tried to avoid imperialistic wars except as mercenaries. Religious fanatics perpetrated many atrocities by torturing and burning people accused of sorcery or heresy. The destructive Charles the Bold of Burgundy was soon defeated and killed. The Modern Devotion movement developed Christian practices of prayer, meditation, and loving by following the example and teachings of the Christ.

The Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway were united in the Kalmar Union. When Denmark tried to dominate, the others rebelled. Peasant uprisings were crushed by the nobles.

A royal marriage prevented a war between Castile and Aragon, and the two kingdoms would eventually be brought together after the marriage of Fernando II of Aragon to Isabel of Castile in 1469. Castile made a treaty with Portugal in 1479. Isabel initiated the conquest of Muslim Granada in 1480, and the reprehensible Inquisition began the same year. Catholic intolerance and war would conquer Granada by 1492, and the same year Castile and Aragon expelled all Jews who would not convert after centuries of discrimination. The Portuguese and Spanish pioneered exploration of Africa, India, and America, capturing slaves to sell and aggressively beginning colonies. The Muslims remaining in Granada were forced to convert or leave in 1502. Aragon’s Alfonso V had conquered Naples by 1443, and in 1508 Naples became part of the growing Spanish empire. Portugal’s Manuel also expelled Jews and Muslims who refused to convert to Christianity. In the process of nationalization in Spain and Portugal the intolerance of the Christian religion committed atrocities by persecuting Jews, expelling Muslims, and torturing and killing dissenters for heresy and witchcraft.

The Hundred Years War, in which the English tried to take over territory on the European continent from the French, continued. Under Charles VI, who suffered from periods of insanity, the French aristocrats were divided. Louis of Orléans was murdered by Jean of Burgundy, provoking a civil war. English invasions led by Henry V beginning in 1415 escalated the war on the continent; but they spoke different languages, and even his marriage to a French princess could not bring them together. The Dauphin’s men killed Jean of Burgundy in 1419, extending the civil war. Charles VI had allied with England and opposed his own son, but both Charles VI and Henry V died in 1422. France was divided between Charles VII in the south, Burgundy in the northeast, and the English in the west under the regent Bedford. Scots who had conflicts with the English fought for Charles VII. In 1429 the virgin Jeanne d’Arc appeared to inspire Charles VII and his followers, and they regained Orléans. Although she was captured and executed by the English, the French cause had been revived. Her prophecy that the English would withdraw from France eventually came to pass. This war was extremely costly for both France and England.

Jean Gerson was one of those who led the effort to end the schism in the Western Church by returning to one pope. The first great feminist Christine de Pizan wrote poetry and ethical books about ladies to show they are not inferior to men and have much to offer society. She also criticized civil war and wrote about how to preserve peace with prudent government. Her books established a foundation of wisdom for the later development of feminism.

Louis XI (r. 1461-83) used warfare, diplomacy, money, spies, and other means to increase France’s territory. He limited his personal expenditures to keep taxes low at first but then increased them as the economy grew with his expansive policies. After some turmoil under Anne’s regency, Charles VIII made treaties with England, Spain, and Emperor Maximilian. Then in 1494 he invaded Italy to claim Naples. The aggression was costly for all concerned and accomplished little as the French could not hold southern Italy. Louis XII claimed Milan and took it and held it by force until the Swiss drove them out in 1513. Louis was popular for lowering taxes and improving finances and laws. He also attacked Venice in 1509 but had to withdraw. King François also invaded Italy to take back Milan in 1515, and he made an agreement with Pope Leo X.

After overthrowing Richard II, Henry IV of Lancaster had to put down a Scottish invasion and rebellions for several years to consolidate his power. His regime did not tolerate Lollards or English Bibles. His son Henry V resumed the Hundred Years War in 1415 by invading France, which he claimed while marrying a French princess. Yet England was impoverished by the war, and the conquest of France would not last. His brothers ruled England and commanded in France for the child Henry VI. He grew up and married Margaret of Anjou, who favored France. England’s debt increased, and people rebelled against the taxes. By 1453 the war in France was lost, and the sensitive Henry VI went insane.

Richard of York became protector and then challenged the Lancastrian dynasty in the War of the Roses that lasted a generation. Richard’s son became Edward IV, and the English people supported the Yorkists over the Lancastrians with their French allies. That alliance managed to drive Edward out for a few months, but he returned in 1471 and prevailed in the civil war. Although allied with Brittany and Burgundy, Edward IV made peace with France in 1475. However, his brother Richard of Gloucester abused his role as protector by claiming the throne in 1483 and doing away with young Edward V and his brother. His violent takeover was challenged by Henry Tudor who returned from France and defeated Richard III in 1485.

Books were printed in England from 1477, and the humanistic renaissance followed. Henry VII founded the Tudor dynasty and collected taxes for war but avoided it with diplomacy. He had to put down tax revolts and rebellions on behalf of pretenders to the throne. John Cabot and his son Sebastian found land in North America; but even though Henry VIII inherited a full treasury in 1509, he did not patronize exploration. He married his late brother’s Spanish widow and renewed treaties. The English theater developed from religious pageants, miracle plays about saints, and especially from allegorical morality plays.

Scotland had many conflicts with England over their common border. Before he could rule, the English detained King James I for seventeen years. Scotland developed universities but also suffered from family feuds and aristocratic rivalries. James II was killed in 1460 during a border war. Once again the next king was a minor, and factions struggled during the regency. James III was killed during an insurrection in 1488. James IV extended truces with England, and printing began in 1507. Yet he was killed while invading England in 1513, and another regency followed. In the first half of the fifteenth century English control in Ireland diminished, and the Irish parliament declared independence in 1460. The Yorkists were more active in Ireland which supported pretenders to the English throne. Gerald Kildare reconciled with the stronger rule by the English kings after 1494.

Influenced by the writings of Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarca in the 14th century, humanism developed rapidly in Italy in the 15th century. The teaching of Salutati helped Vergerio and Leonardo Bruni spread the ideas. The outstanding humanist educators were Vittorino da Feltre and Guarino of Verona. They taught Latin and Greek grammar and rhetoric as well as literature, history, and philosophy aided by classics previously neglected. Alberti was a universal man and wrote on many subjects, stimulating the renaissance in painting and architecture as well as in literature and law. Lorenzo Valla increased the knowledge of grammar and rhetoric. He and Manetti emphasized love and virtue, and Piccolomini wrote on the broader education that also focused on ethics. The previous domination of scholastic philosophy by Aristotle was challenged by Platonic philosophy which enhanced Christian ideas. Marsilio Ficino translated all of Plato and wrote many books on his philosophy and the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus. Ficino and the poet Poliziano influenced Lorenzo de’ Medici, and Pico della Mirandola exalted humans for their ability to love and appreciate beauty.

This humanistic learning promoted individual freedom and expression. Historians began to see their time as a new era that is radically different from what they called the middle ages or medieval period which followed the ancient times from which the humanists drew so much sustenance. Poets as well as philosophers made love the central theme of their work. The Orlando epics portrayed Christians and Muslims falling in love with each other. Leonardo da Vinci was the archetypal renaissance man with universal interests and various talents. Science and invention were changing society and war, and painting and architecture flourished. Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier emphasized love, liberated women, and opened up philosophy, and it would have a great influence on European courts in the 16th century.

Scholars came from all over Europe to study humanism in Italy, and then they went back to their countries and disseminated the ideas by teaching and writing. The invention of the printing press with movable type in the 1450s revolutionized books so that more people could read the Bible and other books in their own language and gain knowledge themselves. Germany developed many universities, and Conrad Celtis founded literary societies. Agricola influenced humanistic education by corresponding with many teachers. Satirical literature such as Letters of Obscure Men, Brant’s Ship of Fools, and The Praise of Folly by Erasmus helped people see the foolishness and hypocrisy of their times. Many monarchs and aristocrats became interested in humanism and patronized libraries, scholars, and artists.

Erasmus was from the Lowlands but became a cosmopolitan citizen as he spent time in Italy, Paris, England, Basel, and the Netherlands. He wrote brilliantly on education, humane government, Christian philosophy, and peace. As weapons of war were becoming more deadly, he refuted the rationalizations of “just war” theories so that humans could learn to avoid the increasing destruction and misery of all wars. He also exposed the hypocrisy of religious leaders and encouraged everyone to read the Bible themselves and follow the teachings of Jesus. Thomas More created the visionary novel Utopia to show how humans could cooperate and live according to spiritual values.

Between 1400 and 1517 European civilization went through a transition from the religious Middle Ages to the more secular Renaissance. Nations expanded and consolidated their power under monarchs except in Italy where the Pope became more like a king. Many wars within and between these kingdoms and principalities caused much suffering, and the aristocratic class put down peasant rebellions that rose up. Portugal and a unified Spain began the era of exploration and colonization in which European kingdoms would extend their power and culture to other parts of the world and plant colonies that would exploit and oppress the natives. Those stories are told in other volumes on Africa, Asia, and America. Increasing commerce and the development of banking began the capitalist era as religious injunctions against usury were relaxed. Domination by religion also changed as universities developed. Religious pageants were gradually transformed into more entertaining secular plays and theater. In this process the increasing corruption and hypocrisy in the Church would provoke a major movement of reform that began in 1517.

Copyright © 2011 by Sanderson Beck

EUROPE & Humanism 1400-1517 has been published.
For information on ordering click here.

Milan and Venice 1400-1517
Florence, the Medici and Machiavelli
Rome, Popes, and Naples 1400-1517
Italy and Humanism
Eastern Europe 1400-1517
German Empire 1400-1517
Scandinavia 1400-1517
Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1400-1517
France’s Long War 1400-1453
France in the Renaissance 1453-1517
England of Henry IV, V, and VI 1399-1461
England 1461-1517
Scotland and Ireland 1400-1517
Erasmus and Spreading Humanism
Summary and Evaluation Europe 1400-1517
Bibliography

ETHICS OF CIVILIZATION Index

World Chronology

BECK index