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Back to Europe: A.D. 1301 to 1400

At 1401 there was no dominant state in Europe. Germany and Italy were fragmented and the eastern empires of Casimir IV of Poland and Corvinus of Hungary developed late in the century and even then were ephemeral. The Iberian Peninsula had civil war and France had the Burgundians and Armagnacs feuding. Prolonged climate deterioration began about 1450, starting the "Little Ice Age", which lasted up to the first of the 19th century. (Ref. 8 , 224 ) In spite of all this, after about 1450 Europe began to recover from the prolonged disasters and deficiencies of the previous 100 years. (Ref. 292 )

Slavery had almost ceased in Europe until Portugal revived the custom in the latter half of the century, with the blacks from Africa. (Ref. 213 ) Movable type printing gradually came into use so that by 1500 some 236 towns in Europe had their own print shops (11). As Braudel (Ref. 260 ) states, the printing press expanded and invigorated everything. For centuries there had been two different European navies - the Mediterranean and the northern - but with increased trade and intermingling, the clinker construction and centerline rudder of the northern ships began to appear in the Mediterranean, while the southern lanteen rig went north and Europe began to emerge more as a single civilization. Vehicles with a moveable front axle, first used in gun carriages, were only employed after about 1470. As populations increased and artillery made their old walls useless, 15th century towns began to face serious problems. New, wide ramparts filled with earth (and thus hardly movable) had to be constructed and then large open spaces in front of these fortifications were necessary, eliminating gardens and trees. (Ref. 260 )

Methods of exchange of goods had changed considerably by this century. Essentially only towns (or very large villages) now had markets. The western town controlled everything and the market, held usually once or twice a week, was one of its chief mechanisms. The surrounding countryside needed time to produce and collect goods and then divert some individuals, usually women, to sell the produce. On the seas, ships had increased enormously in size and were no longer individually owned, as shares were sold. The money market moved towards Holland and later London. (Ref. 292 )

Southern europe

Eastern mediterranean islands

Venice continued her domination of most of the Mediterranean and added the island of Cyprus to her possessions in this century. (Ref. 38 ) The exception was Rhodes, which remained under control of the Knights Hospitallers.


Early in the century Greece was divided between Ottomans, Venice, some Latin States and a small area still belonging to Byzantium. By late century all had been pushed out by the Ottoman Turks except for a few coastal islands which were still controlled by Venice. In the next century or two many Greek men actually functioned as Ottoman generals and officials. (Ref. 137 )

Upper balkans

Early on the bulk of the Balkans were under Turkish domination with the exceptions of Romania, which was a part of Hungary, and the Principality of Moldavia. Albania was taken by the Ottomans in 1430 and by 1436 the entire peninsula was Turkish. Their attempted invasion of Hungary began in 1439. Merchant Sicilians (Ragusans) were the chief westerners to penetrate this Balkan Turkish territory. (Ref. 292 )

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history (organized by region). OpenStax CNX. Nov 23, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10597/1.2
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