European History 1450-1815

European History

European Famines

Approx. 1290 - Approx. 1317

By 1300, the population of Europe had become to large to be sustained by farming at the time. Over production led bad harvests which led to famine, which in turn led to an increased immune system weakness to the Black Death.

Ottoman Empire Expands Rule

Approx. 1300 - Approx. 1566

Expanding around the Mediterranean, the Ottoman Empire controlled wide stretches of land both within and around Europe.

The Renaissance

1300 - 1640

Beginning in Italy after the conclusion of the papal controversies and plague, the Renaissance was a reinventing of classical arts such as painting, sculpture, and other arts. The Renaissance also gave birth to Humanism and the diversity of thought which leads to the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Supported by wealthy patronages throughout Europe, the Renaissance was heralded as the one true triumph of humanity at the time.

The Pope Rules from Avignon

1304 - 1314

After the election of a French Pope, the papacy was beholden to the French Monarchy, and as such led from France for ten years before Catherine of Sienna convinced the papacy to return to Rome. This was one of the events which led to the great Schism.

The Hundred Years' War

1337 - 1453

England and France engaged in nearly a century of armed conflict after the attempted claiming of French land by the king of England, Edward III, due to the fact that his mother could not transmit a claim to the throne. After decades of battles and escalation of military technology, the war finally ended with neither side truly gaining any land.

Black Death

Approx. 1348 - Approx. 1351

The Black Death came into Europe through traders in the Mediterranean. Italy and the rest of Southern Europe were the first and worst affected, with the last of Europe taking the hit sometime between 1350 and 1351. Although these were the worst years of the plague, there would continue to be outbreaks throughout history until a better understanding of medicine and disease control were developed.

Peasant Revolts

Approx. 1351 - Approx. 1395

Due to the plague, Europe was suffering from a shortage of labor. This created an unprecedented amount of power to be placed in the hands of the serfs and other members of the lower classes. Peasants revolted, like in the Jacquerie of 1358 or the revolt led by John Ball in England in 1381. These revolts upset the political order of Europe for the coming centuries, and began the process of setting up the Renaissance.

The Great Schism

1378 - 1417

The period during which multiple Popes reigned over the Catholic Church, causing religious loyalties in Europe to be split between them. One was ruling from Avignon under control of the French, and the other from Rome. Although attempts were made by the council of Cardinals to rectify the situation, a solution was not found until Pope Martin V was named to the papacy in 1417.

Portuguese Exploration

1418 - 1600

Beginning with explorations down the coast of Africa in 1418 by Prince Henry the Navigator, the Portuguese explored the lands to the East, trying to find a path to India by sea.

Invention of the Printing Press


Johannes Gutenberg did a pretty cool thing. So that's pretty neat.

Age of Expansion

1450 - 1700

With the invention of new navigational techniques in both Europe and Asiatic countries, European nations were able to discover new trade routes both to India and China, and the New World to the west, beginning the Columbian Exchange of both goods and diseases and setting the stage for European colonialism which would continue well into the 19th Century.

The Catholic Reformation

Approx. 1469 - Approx. 1563

Beginning with the Spanish Inquisition to root out Islam and claim all of Spain for Catholicism, and ending (approximately) with the conclusion of the Council of Trent.

Spanish Inquisition

Approx. 1469 - 1492

The Spanish Inquisition was the reconquest of the Iberian peninsula for Cathloticism, led by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. The inquisition also pushed forward the ideals of scholarly research and thought, and the education of more of the country's people.

Spanish Exploration

1492 - 1522

The Spanish were in direct competition with the Portuguese, and sought an alternative route to India by going west. Christopher Columbus made four voyages to the west starting in 1492, and was one of the first to discover the Americas, although he thought that he had truly reached India.

Northern European Exploration

1497 - 1650

The countries of England, France, and the Netherlands, empowered by the discoveries of Spain and Portugal and wishing to make their own fortune, began exploring by sea in 1497. The French searched for a northern passage to India, and while that was not found, the north american continent was used for the fur trade and settlement of those who wished to leave Europe for a new life in the west. by 1700, the American continent was heavily settled by Europeans.

Religious Reform and Welfare

1500 - 1648

It was during this period that the Protestant and Catholic Reformation took place, pointing Europe in the direction of freer thought even than the Renaissance. This period set the stage for the Enlightenment.

Throughout this period, groups such as the Calvinists and Lutherans fought primarily for the middle classes, gaining support in Eastern Europe where the Catholic hold on the land was weak and disliked. These states, along with England, became Protestant at the behest of their rulers.

Martin Luther creates the Ninety-Five Theses


In this act of rebellion against the Catholic Church, Luther outlined the things in the church he took exception to, and wished to fix. This action began the Protestant Reformation.

Habsburg-Valois Wars

1521 - 1544

At a high cost to the people of their countries, Austria and France fought sporadically for control of the city-states of Italy, where both were thought to have dynastic claims. The wars eventually came to an end as both countries were forced to deal with Protestant sects within each of their respective countries.

Beginning of the African Slave Trade


After the exhaustion of the native peoples of the Americas to work in the mines and plantations of the colonies, European nations turned to Africa for a source of manual labor, forcibly taking people from the land and putting them to work without pay and under brutal conditions in the new world.

Society of Jesus Founded


Founded by Ignatius of Loyola, the pope officially declared the Society of Jesus as a religious order in 1540. Called the Jesuits, followers of this group believed that an education in the humanities among Catholic followers would stunt the growth of Protestantism within Europe.

Copernicus develops the heliocentric Model


The beginning of the Scientific revolution in the sense that it was the first questioning of Medieval thought in regards to scientific reasoning. This solid discovery paved the way for the scientific revolution of the 17th century.

The Council of Trent

1545 - 1563

After the conclusion of the Habsburg-Valois Wars, Catholic Monarchs were able to focus on and ponder the religious questions of the day. The council was a group of church leaders from across Europe who would concentrate on reforming the abuses of the church. However, as they clarified beliefs, it became obvious that there would be no ideological compromise with the Protestants. Most of the reforms were thought about in the context of scripture and tradition of the church.

French Wars of Religion

1562 - 1598

Civil war broke out in France in 1562, after the death of the two previous kings of France, Francis and Henry II, within two years of each other. Thrown into chaos by the Protestant sects in the region. When Henry of Navarre was briefly crowned king, and allowed a brief period of religious tolerance, but that policy ended with the crowning of the next king.

Council of Blood

1566 - 1609

An uprising of the protestant common people of the Netherlands against the Spanish-Catholic rulers of the area. The uprising resulted in 40 years of slaughter of the non-Catholic people of the Netherlands.

Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment

Approx. 1600 - Approx. 1800

Heartened by the humanitarian and scientific discoveries of the Renaissance, and set free by the "Alone before God" mentality of Protestantism, many thinkers of the 17th century were able to begin novel work on philosophy and the sciences, freeing the thought of the people of Europe and laying the foundations for the age of revolutions in the 19th century.

Thirty Years War

1618 - 1648

After a Catholic price took control of Bohemia and set about massacring the protestants in the area. However, the Protestant nobles in the area threw him and his supporters out of a window, killing them and starting a the war. The Holy Roman Empire then conquered and subsequently lost the majority of Europe, leading to financial troubles after the wars. The Peace at Westphalia ended the war and led to an uneasy peace between the Catholics and protestants.

English Civil War

1642 - 1649

A war between King Charles I and the nobles in parliament whom he had been ignoring. Radicals eventually also became involved in the conflict, and after fizzling out for a short while, the war came back again in 1648 and caused Charles to go into hiding as people were accusing him of treason and calling for him to hang.

The English Commonwealth

1649 - 1660

A collection of the common people of England, along with the nobles of the previous regime, who came together and created the House of Commons within the parliament. "King" Charles was eventually tried and executed, ending the monarchy in favor of the commonwealth.

Restoration of the Monarchy

1660 - 1688

After the chaos of Charles I's execution, Parliament reinstated the monarchy to rule England with King Charles II.

The Early Phases

Approx. 1788 - 1793

Beginning (unofficially) with the Estates General, and the later tennis court oath, the Early Phases of the revolution were idealistic and sought to give a voice to those who hadn't previously had it. The revolution is thought to have officially begun with the Storming of the Bastille in 1789. Much of the period was a power struggle between those who wanted the execution of the monarchy and those who wanted to see them held under the rule of Parliament. It came to a close with the execution of the royal family.

French Revolution

Approx. 1789 - Approx. 1799

During the French Revolution, the prior regime of Royal Absolutism was overturned in favor of a populist government of the people. The revolution too place in two parts: The Early Phases, the Terror, the Republic of Virtue, and The Directory.

The Republic of Virtue

1792 - 1795

The "Republic of Virtue" was the outline for the ideal republic wished for by the French people and government. Advocating for Enlightenment ideals, the Republic sought to teach the people both classical education and free thought, and did so by incorporating the common people into political advocacy.

The Terror

1793 - 1794

A brief period of the revolution, but one of the most bloody. This period came about after a civil war between the Radicals and the monarchs of Eastern European support, and broke down the order of the new republic. Truly starting with the execution of King Louis XVI, the Terror was led by Robespierre and led to the death of between 25,000 and 50,000 people, and the imprisonment of 200-400,000 people.

The Directory

1795 - 1799

Put in place to control the chaos of the Terror, the Directory ruled as a parliamentary body until Napoleon Bonaparte took full control of the government through a coup in 1799.

Napoleon Controls France

1799 - 1815

After taking control of the government of France, Napoleon set about turning the country into an Empire which would control all of Europe, like the Roman empire before them. After first reforming France with the Napoleonic Code, which would ensure the continuation of Enlightenment beliefs, Napoleon invaded Italy and dealt a crushing defeat to the Austrian, keeping them from being a major power against France.

At its height, the empire spanned from Spain to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, and gained France many enemies, including Great Britain and Portugal. Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, and that combined with the disastrous campaign in Russia led to Napoleon's exile to the island of St. Helena in the Southern Atlantic Ocean until his death in 1821.

Notable Rulers

Charles V the Wise, France

1364 - 1380

Cosimo de Medici, Florence

1434 - 1464

Louis XI the Spider, France

1461 - 1483

Lorenzo the Magnificent de Medici, Florence

1469 - 1492

Henry Tudor crowned King of England (Henry VII)


Occured at the end of the War of Roses when Henry overthrew the usurper king Richard III.

Isabella d'Este

1490 - 1539

Pope Alexander VI

1492 - 1503

Pope Julius II

1503 - 1513

Henry VIII, England

1509 - 1547

Francis I, France

1515 - 1547

Ivan the Terrible

1533 - 1584


Elizabeth I, England

1558 - 1603

Henry IV

1589 - 1610


Frederick William

1640 - 1688


Louis XIV

1643 - 1715


Frederick I

1688 - 1713


Peter the Great

1689 - 1725