At the turn of the fifteenth century, quite a number of outstanding events marked the dawn of a new age, the beginning of the period of modern European history: In 1453 Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, was taken by the Ottoman Turks, which brought the long history of the Eastern Roman Empire to an end. In the wake of this catastrophe many Greek scholars migrated to Italy, thus effecting a huge transfer of the spiritual heritage of classic antiquity to Europe, which gave a monumental boost to the Renaissance movement.In 1492, in search of a new route to the riches of the Far East, Columbus ‘discovered’ America. From now on Europe began to conquer the rest of the world — this marks the beginning of the process of globalization.In 1494, King Charles VIII of France invaded Italy and conquered the Kingdom of Naples, an event which is often regarded as the starting point not only of the conflict between France and the Habsburg Empire, which was to last for more than two centuries, but of modern power politics.In 1517, the Saxon monk Martin Luther published 95 ‘theses’ directed against the practice of the Church selling indulgences. With this he set off a chain of actions and reactions, finally leading to the break-up of the unity of Christendom which had been the dominant feature of the European Middle Ages.
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