BECK index

EUROPE & Humanism 1400-1517 has been published.
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Volume 8: EUROPE & Humanism 1400-1517


Milan and Venice 1400-1517

Milan and the Sforzas
Venice 1400-53
Venice and the Turks 1453-95
Venice and Wars 1495-1517
Genoa, Pisa, and Siena 1400-1517
Bernardino of Siena

Florence, the Medici and Machiavelli

Florence and the Medici 1400-69
Florence under Lorenzo de’ Medici 1470-92
Florence and Savonarola 1492-98
Florence and Machiavelli 1498-1517
Machiavelli’s Prince
Machiavelli’s Discourses
Machiavelli’s Mandragola

Rome, Popes, and Naples 1400-1517

Rome and the Popes 1400-58
Pius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII
Rome under the Borgias 1492-1503
Rome under Julius II and Leo X 1503-17
Naples and Sicily 1400-1517

Italy and Humanism

Vergerio and Bruni
Vittorino and Guarino Teaching
Alberti, Valla, Piccolomini, and Manetti
Ficino, Poliziano, and Pico della Mirandola
Humanists and Naples
Pulci and Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato
Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso and Satires
Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo
Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier

Eastern Europe 1400-1517

Greece and Hungary 1400-53
Jan Hus
Bohemia’s Hussite Revolution
Chelcicky’s Nonviolence
Hungary and Bohemia 1453-1517
Poland and Lithuania 1400-1517
Russia 1400-1517

German Empire 1400-1517

Germany and the Constance Council 1400-18
German Empire 1418-39
Council of Basel and Nikolaus of Cusa
German Empire 1440-53
German Empire and Hapsburgs 1453-1517
Swiss Cantons and Confederation 1400-1517
Low Countries and Burgundy 1400-53
Low Countries and Burgundy 1453-1517
Imitation of Christ

Scandinavia 1400-1517

Scandinavia’s Kalmar Union 1397-1450
Denmark 1450-1517
Sweden 1450-1517
Norway 1450-1517
Iceland 1400-1517

Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1400-1517

Castile 1400-74
Castile of Isabel and Fernando 1474-92
Castile of Isabel and Fernando 1492-1504
Aragon 1400-79
Aragon of Fernando II 1479-1504
Spain of Fernando 1504-17
Granada 1400-1502
Portugal of Joao I and Afonso V 1400-81
Portugal of Joao II and Manuel 1481-1517

France’s Long War 1400-1453

France in Conflict 1400-15
France Invaded by the English 1415-29
Jeanne d’Arc 1429-31
French Expulsion of the English 1431-53
Gerson and the Church Schism
Christine de Pizan and Feminism
Christine de Pizan’s City of Ladies
Christine de Pizan’s Book of Peace

France and Wars in Italy 1453-1517

France under Louis XI 1461-70
France under Louis XI 1471-83
France under Anne and Beaujeu 1483-91
Charles VIII’s Invasion of Italy
France under Louis XII 1498-1515
France of François 1515-17
French Poetry, Villon and Theatre

England of Henry IV, V, and VI 1399-1461

England under Henry IV 1399-1413
England under Henry V 1413-22
England under the Regency 1422-37
England under Henry VI 1437-53
England’s War of the Roses 1453-61

England 1461-1517

Edward IV and the War of Roses 1461-71
England under Edward IV 1471-83
England under Richard III 1483-85
England under Henry VII 1485-91
England under Henry VII 1491-1509
England under Young Henry VIII 1509-17
Mystery, Miracle, and Morality Plays

Scotland and Ireland 1400-1517

Scotland and James I 1400-37
Scotland under James II 1437-60
Scotland during the Reign of James III 1460-88
Scotland under James IV 1488-1513
Scotland under Regency 1513-17
Ireland and the English Pale 1400-60
Ireland and the Kildares 1460-1517

Erasmus and Spreading Humanism

Humanists in Germany and Low Countries
Humanism in Eastern Europe
Humanism in France and Spain
Erasmus and Adages
Erasmus on Education 1501-14
Erasmus on Education 1514-17
Erasmus on Peace
Colet and English Humanism
More’s Utopia

Summary and Evaluation Europe 1400-1517

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


Chronology of Europe 1400-1588
World Chronology 1300-1588



      Between 1400 and 1517 European civilization made dramatic changes from the height of the medieval period into a rebirth of learning called the Renaissance. In the Italian city states humanism developed from the influence of Petrarca, Salutati, and Vergerio in the late 14th century. They valued the classical literature of the ancient Greeks and Romans as well as the Italian writings of Dante and Boccaccio. As the Turks were conquering Greece, they collected manuscripts and began translating them. Vittorino and Guarino taught language skills and other aspects of humanistic education that emphasized the liberal arts more than traditional scholastic theology.
      Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples were strong states and amid shifting alliances came into conflict with each other. Milan was ruled by the Sforzas but was eventually conquered by France. Venice’s commercial empire dominated the Adriatic Sea; but they faced the Turkish threat, and eventually the Portuguese route around Africa to India cut into their control of eastern trade. Florence thrived under the banking and government of the Medici who patronized the study of Platonism, the humanities, and the arts. Bernardino of Siena and Savonarola were popular preachers who influenced thousands of people to evaluate their lives and restrain their desires. Machiavelli became a successful administrator and diplomat for Florence and then retired to write his pragmatic political philosophy.
      Rome was dominated by the popes who began to act more like kings than priests with the Borgias and Pope Julius II even leading their troops into battle. Naples also patronized humanists, but it was invaded by the French and the Spaniards.
      Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci were universal men of the early Renaissance. Literature and theater in the vernacular languages developed and spread throughout Europe. Printing produced many more books, and people began reading the Bible in their own languages. Jan Hus was influenced by Wyclif and challenged the rituals of the Roman Church in Bohemia that led to a national revolution. Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, and Russia in Moscow developed their nations under strong monarchs.
      The king of Germany ruled over an empire, though the Swiss cantons managed to unite into a confederacy. Universities developed, and the spiritual life was expressed especially well in the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. Denmark, Sweden, and Norway had united in the Kalmar Union under King Erik in 1397, and they were ruled most of the time from Denmark.
      Castile and Aragon were united by the marriage of Isabel and Fernando II and created the nation of Spain which opened up the western hemisphere to Europeans after the bold voyage of Columbus in 1492. The Portuguese were already exploring Africa and went around it to open an easier way to the spices of India. These Catholic nations expelled Muslims and Jews from the Iberian peninsula and exploited natives in their colonies.
      English invasions of France had started a war that lasted more than a century. Jeanne d’Arc as a teenager inspired the French to overcome the English, and France in the second half of the 15th century expanded into a great power that invaded Italy. In the early 15th century Christine de Pizan wrote several outstanding books to inspire the ladies to educate themselves and make their contributions to society.
      England’s Henry IV overthrew Richard II and established the Lancastrian dynasty which finally in 1453 had to abandon the war in France. The weakened reign of Henry VI was challenged by the house of York, and the civil war of the roses caused conflict in England until Henry Tudor founded a new dynasty in 1485 as Henry VII. He united England and was succeeded by young Henry VIII. Scotland was independent but suffered from border wars with the English while the Irish were dominated by the English and fought each other.
      Scholars from all over Europe went to Italy to study the new learning and then returned to educate their own countries. Erasmus of Rotterdam was the most outstanding of these humanists, and his writings and teaching in England and other places made Christian humanism very popular. His friend Thomas More wrote the inspiring novel Utopia to show that a more humane society is possible. Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier described an enlightening discussion in a Renaissance court. The humanists satirized the corruption of the Church, and in 1517 religious protest would begin to revolutionize the western Church.

BECK index