The 15th Century in Europe: The Spirit of Humanism in Times of Conflict, Violence and Destruction

This is Part 11 of our Centuries series. In it, we will review the 15th century, a time of recovery and development when Europe was inspired by the spread of the Renaissance.

After briefly visiting the Baltic to consider the Kalmar Union, we head south examining the Great Schism within the Catholic Church and events in Renaissance Italy.

Returning to the Hundred Years’ War in France, we examine the latter part of the conflict, its resolution, and its aftermath.

We next turn East to the Fall of Constantinople and the invasion of Europe by the Ottoman Turks.

We finish with the conclusion of the Reconquista, the beginning of the Age of Exploration, and meet Pope Alexander VI, who in so many ways embodied the spirit of the age.

Demonstration of a Sample Page

Rohan Hours

The Dead before his Judge

Crowned as a medieval king with an orb in one hand and a sword in the other, God observes the corpse of a dead man who is about to face his judgment. A demon attempts to steal his soul and claim it for Satan, but St. Michael the Archangel intercepts him with sword in hand and supported by his angels, which one sees in the blue background upon closer inspection. 

In the course of the 15th century, elaborate full-page miniatures became increasingly common in illuminated manuscripts and sometimes possessed a quality reminiscent of contemporary panel paintings. The Rohan Hours is the first book of hours to have full-page miniatures and disregarded stylistic norms of the period, effectively reinventing the book of hours as being a luxury object first and foremost.

The Authors