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Timeline 15th Century 1400-1499

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Year Event Narrative
1400Reign of King Henry IVHe deposed his cousin King Richard II and so began a turbulent century for England.
1400LollardsAfter the death of Wyclif, his followers are known as Lollards.
1400Mystery PlaysThe English Guilds start performing plays as they move from town to town.
1408English BibleJohn Wyclif's English Bible is published.
1415Battle of AgincourtAn English victory against the French. King Henry becomes Regent of France and in marrying the the French King's daughter heir to the throne of France.
1417Vatican CityAfter the Popes return from Avignon after the 39 yr Great Schism they take up residence in the Vatican City.
1420Glazed glassGlazed glass begins to be seen in the houses of the rich in Europe.
1429Joan of ArcJoan of Arc defeats the English at Orleans.
1434Medici Family In the Tuscan city of Florence a banking family, the Medici, begins to dominate the city politically.
1450Matchlock MusketThe matchlock, ignited from a smouldering length of rope, becomes the standard form of musket

1450Small spring mechanismsThe development of small spring mechanisms allows for the manufacture a small portable clocks.
1455Gutenberg Bible In the German town of Mainz, Johann Gutenberg, using metal type in a screw-type printing press, prints the "Gutenberg" Bible. His printing press is a step up from screw presses used in agriculture. He was the first European to use type-setting, beginning around 1439.
1460Oil paints in ItalyAround this time Italian artists began to paint with oil paints brought in from the Netherlands. They had previously been using tempera.
1472Leonardo da Vinci joins the painters guild in Florence.
1476Caxton's printing press.Caxton establishes the first English printing press in London
1478Spanish InquisitionThe Spanish Inquisition is formed to test the sincerity of Jewish converts to Christianity
1480Invention of the parachute Leonardo da Vinci invents the parachute
1482Botticelli paints The Birth of VenusBotticelli paints the Birth of Venus and Spring for the villa of a Medici cousin
1485King Richard III killedKing Richard III is defeated and killed at the Battle of Bosworth.
1492Spain explore the New WorldQueen Isabella supports Columbus financially in his voyage to the New World.
1494Poynings LawEnglish laws apply to Ireland.
1495Roman and Italic type faceDeveloped in Venice by Nicolas Jenson and Aldus Manutius
1497King Henry VII sponsors Cabot to explore North AmericaJohn and Sebastian Cabot set off on a voyage to explore North America. They land in Newfoundland and claim it for the English crown.
cult of the Virgin Mary

'All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions'

Leonardo de Vinci

15th Century 1400-1499 CE

The 15th century brought to the world, Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest geniuses of the Italian Renaissance. It was his direct observation of the world around him, that steered the world to a more enlightened way of looking at the world.

Portugal extended its international trading routes.

In Portugal navigation, exploration and mastery of the oceans dominated. The country looked outwards, towards Africa and explorers such as Henry the Navigator will encourage further exploration westwards. This will, as the century unfolds, lead to the founding of gold and slave routes. Trade became crucially important to the economy of fledgling European nations. At this time only England could probably call itself a nation, Germany, France, Italy and Spain had yet to form to become the countries we recognize today.

The Hundred Years War continues

The costly war continues:

King Henry V inflicts a mighty blow to the superior French force at the Battle of Agincourt but France bit back when Joan of Arc, a farmers daughter, heard voices in her head telling her to go to the aid of the French Dauphin and Orleans. She defeated the English and returned to Paris triumphant. Joan was captured and the English turned her over to the Inquisition, calling her a witch. In the French town of Rouen, then under English rule, Joan is burned at the stake.

The Renaissance gains momentum in Italy

In Italy, the cultural movement known as the Renaissance is advancing. Florence is at the heart of the movement but other cities Rome, Milan and Venice also become hubs of activity. The Medici family come to dominate the politics and business of Tuscany.

The church in the 15th century

By the 15th century, the power of the all encompassing Roman Catholic church was dwindling. The popes were no longer held by the ordinary people as shining lights of Christian piety, they were seen as corrupt and turned away from any form of renewal in the church that might just have saved their superiority. The monastic and religious orders became richer and more powerful than ever before. Aristocratic families placed younger children with them and bought into the church this way. There was plenty of room for corruption. Reform of the church was an inevitable consequence. The movement of Reformation was born in the 15th century.

By the middle of the 15th Century, powerful families in England tear the nation apart as a dynastic war takes shape.

The War of the Roses set family against family and when all the dust had settled, a new dynasty emerges from the virtual destruction of the Plantagenets, Lancastrians and Yorkist factions, the Tudors emerge and a brilliant marriage  alliance is forged between the daughter of Edward IV and Henry VII (Tudor. in 1486)

Gutenberg built a printing press in 1439

The Gutenberg Bible is the first major book to be printed using a movable type printing press. Mass production of books is achievable for the first time. This is an immense development that has a massive impact on society in the following hundred years, spreading knowledge and sharing ideas. Caxton introduced the printing press in England in 1476. He would also be the first commercial printer of books in England.

Our 15th century chronology and timelines are being created and curated but already via each century page you can quickly locate our collections for each 100 years of history. These evolve as we explore topical themes, but if you are looking for something you can't see here then please feel free to contact us and request, Thanks for taking a look.