15th Century


The Duchy of Milan

1311 - 1494

The Visconti family established themselves as the hereditary despots of Milan in 1322. Under the Visconti, the Duchy of Milan extended its power over all of Lombardy and threatened to conquer much of Northern Italy. After the death of the last Visconti ruler, Francesco Sforzas became its new Duke. Both the Visconti and Sforzas were successful in devising systems of taxation that generated revenues for the government.

Council of Constance

1414 - 1418

Futile in eradicating heresy and reforming the Church


1434 - 1492

Governed by small oligarchy by merchants. In 1434, Cosimo de' Medici came to power. Through lavish patronage and careful courting, Cosimo, and later his grandson Lorenzo, were able to dominate Florence during the Renaissance.

Fall of Constantinople


the capture of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of 21-year-old Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI . The siege lasted from April 6, 1453 until May 29, 1453, when the city was conquered by the Ottomans.

Beginning of the Italian Wars


French invasion of Italy - battlefield between the French and Spanish monarchies. Italian wealth led to the fall of balance of to the downfall of balance of power. Ludovico Sforza invited France, who came with 30,000 men and occupied the city of Naples. The other states turned to Spain, Ferdinand invaded Italy as well. The French and the Spanish competed for domination of Italy for the next 15 years.

Peace of Lodi


A way to balance the power in Italy. It was an alliance system between Milan, Naples, and Florence versus Venice and the papacy. It failed to establish lasting cooperation among the major powers or a common foreign policy.

War of the Roses

1455 - 1485

A series of dynastic wars fought between the houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England. The house of Landcaster won, and founded the House of Tudors

Pius II issues the papal bull Exercrabilis


Disobeying the Holy Council is heresy and will be given punishment


1469 - 1527

He was for many years an official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He was a founder of modern political science, and more specifically political ethics. He wrote his masterpiece, The Prince, in 1513 after the Medici had recovered power and he no longer held a position of responsibility in Florence. He believed Princes should do anything for the state, disregarding morality.

Unification of Spain


The marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile leads to the unification of Spain.

The Renaissance Papacy

1471 - 1521

Sixtus IV (1471-1484) promoted nepotism within the papacy. Alexander VI (1492-1503) was controversial. Julius II (1503-1513) was The Warrior Pope. Leo X (1513-1521) was a Medici who allowed indulgences which led to the Protestant Reformation.

Sack of Rome


Spanish armies invaded Rome through Charles I, bringing temporary end to the Italian wars.