15th century

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1492, Columbus opens the route to the New World for Spain. Beginning of the Modern Age.
Millennium:2nd millennium
Decades:1400s 1410s 1420s 1430s 1440s
1450s 1460s 1470s 1480s 1490s

As a means of recording the passage of time, the 15th century was the century which lasted from 1401 to 1500 Common Era.

Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, falls to emerging Ottoman Turks, forcing Western Europeans to find a new trade route.

The Papacy was split in two parts in Europe for decades, until the Council of Constance.

Under the rule of Yongle Emperor, who built the Forbidden City and commanded Zhenghe to explore the world overseas, Ming Dynasty's territory reached pinnacle. Tamerlane established a major empire in the Middle East and Central Asia, in order to revive the Mongolian Empire. The Inca Empire rose to prominence in South America.

Spanish and Portuguese explorations led to the first European sightings of the Americas and the sea passage along Cape of Good Hope to India, in the last decade of the century. After these first sightings by Europeans, transportation increased to Europe from America. Native indigenous cultures that lived within the continent of the Americas had already developed advanced civilizations that attest to thousands of years of human presence; sophisticated engineering, irrigation, agriculture, religion and government existed before the arrival of the Spanish and the Portuguese. The idea that Europeans "discovered" America can lead to misunderstanding the true nature of the encounter between two distinct and independent civilizations, namely European and Indigenous American.

In European history, the 15th century is seen as the bridge between the Middle Ages, the Early Renaissance, and the Early modern period.



Joan of Arc, a French peasant girl, directly influenced the result of the Hundred Years' War.
The renaissance king Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. His mercenary standing army (the Black Army) had the strongest military potential of its era
Portrait of Scanderbeg, ca. 1648.
Modern painting of Mehmed II marching on Constantinople in 1453
The map of Ming dynasty(1433), based on The Historical Atlas of China
The Siege of Rhodes (1480). Ships of the Hospitaliers in the forefront, and Turkish camp in the background.

Significant people

Isabella I of Castile helped unify Spain via a dynastic marriage with Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469.
King Henry VII, (1457–1509), the founder of the royal house of Tudor
Sir John Everett Millais, The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower, 1483, Royal Holloway collection, 1878

Visual artists, architects, sculptors, printmakers, illustrators

An African giraffe being led into a Ming Dynasty zoo, a Chinese painting by She Du, 1414 AD, during the reign of the Yongle Emperor.

See links above for Italian Renaissance painting and Renaissance sculpture.


Francois Villon, from the Grand Testament de Maistre François Villon, Paris, 1489

Musicians and Composers


Science, invention and philosophy

Inventions, discoveries, introductions

List of 15th century inventions

Important personages


  1. ^ Mueller, Peter O. (1993) Substantiv-Derivation in Den Schriften Albrecht Durers, Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-012815-2.
  2. ^ also sometimes in contemporary documents Barthélemy de Cler, der Clers, Deick d'Ecle, d'Eilz – Harthan, John, The Book of Hours, p.93, 1977, Thomas Y Crowell Company, New York, ISBN 0-690-01654-9
  3. ^ Unterkircher, Franz (1980). King René's Book of Love (Le Cueur d'Amours Espris). New York: G. Braziller. ISBN 0-8076-0989-7. 
  4. ^ Tolley
  5. ^ Brigstocke, 2001, p. 338
  6. ^ "Hans Holbein". Catholic Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 06 February 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070206105041/http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07385a.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  7. ^ Platt, Colin (1996). King Death: The Black Death and its aftermath in late-medieval England. London: UCL Press Limited. ISBN 1-85728-313-9. 
  8. ^ "Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni, Conte" in Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge, volume 15, copyright 1991. Grolier Inc., ISBN 0-7172-5300-7
  9. ^ Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486) http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader_1/pico.html


Tolley, Thomas (2001). "Eyck, Barthélemy d'". In Hugh Brigstocke. The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866203-3. 

Decades and years