Detailed Timeline of European History

 Detailed Timeline of
European History

Europe’s Darkest Days (1240-1350)
 << Renaissance (1350-1505)
Exploration (1505-1650)

Renaissance (1350 – 1505)

Conquests, Age of Discovery & Knowledge in Europe

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Europe 1500 AD

Ottomans Enter Europe
capture Gallipoli, Byzantine city, marking their first advance into
Europe. Eastern Thrace was conquered by 1356.

Scottish Independence from England

England signs a treaty with Scotland, restoring their independence. This
eliminates Scottish attacks on England’s northern border. England was
embroiled in war with France, and the raids from the north put them into
a two-front war. With the peace treaty, England now faced only a
one-front war with France.

(Timeline Continued Below)

English Gains in Hundred Years’ War
England gains territories in SW France as part of Hundred Years’

Normans Evicted from Ireland

Norman control in Ireland is essentially terminated. The island is
dotted by various, loosely-affiliated Irish petty kingdoms.

Ottomans Conquer Bulgarian Empire
Bulgarian culture would drastically decline, since the
Ottomans gave Constantinople control over the Bulgarian Orthodox Church,
which was the primary source for literacy and culture in Bulgaria. This
weakened the tie Bulgarians had with their church, diminishing literacy
and culture in Bulgaria.

Western Schism in Church
Division in Roman Catholic
Church with two competing popes, one in France and one in Rome.
Undisputed papal authority returned to Rome in 1415, ending the divide.
This further weakens papal authority, setting the table for future
dissensions, such as the Renaissance, Protestant Reformation and

Ottomans Conquer Albania
would largely convert to Islam under Muslim Ottoman Empire.

Poland-Lithuanian Merger
and Lithuania combine to form the Polish-Lithuanian Union. The two
kingdoms still operated independently, but formed a defensive alliance
against Teutonic Knights (north) and Moscow (east), common threats to
both. The merger enabled Poland-Lithuania to halt Teutonic expansion.

Christianization of Lithuania
of the last groups of Europeans to hold onto Pagan beliefs. Began to
Christianize in order to facilitate the union with Poland. Once merged
with Poland, Christianization further accelerated.

Ottomans Capture SE Serbia

Jews Expelled from France
expelled from France, primarily move eastward into Germany and Poland. – The World’s Largest Maps Store!

Jews Expelled from Holy Roman Empire
As part of the paranoia lingering from the Black Death Plague,
along with the anti-Semitic fervor from the Crusades before that,
persecution against the Jews remains rampant. Upon being expelled from
the Holy Roman Lands, the vast majority emigrate to Poland, where they
are welcomed.

Consolidated Scandinavian Kingdom

Denmark, Norway and Sweden unite under a single monarch (Kalmar Union)
through strategic marriages. It is dominated by Denmark, as Sweden is
weakened by civil wars.

Greenland Abandoned by Norse
disappear from Greenland, apparently due to famine.

Mass Jewish Immigration Into
Poland-Lithuania (1400):
As Jews were being expelled from France,
Germany and Austria, they primarily moved into Poland, who welcomed
their presence. Poland would become home to the largest concentration of
Jews in world, as the Polish invited Jews to help build their kingdom.
Poland was a generally uneducated and sparsely populated kingdom. Jews
were typically well-educated, and served to strengthen Poland’s numbers.

Spain Colonizes Canary Islands
Spain conquers the Canary
Islands off the coast of Africa, beginning their naval explorations and

Sicily Added to Aragon
Sicily is added to the Kingdom
of Aragon (located in Hispania) through marriage.

Portugal Begins Colonization of Africa
First European colony on Africa (Portugal captures Ceuta across
the Straight).

Note: Portugal African Colonization
. In 1431,
Portugal explorers begin pushing south along African coast, setting up
trading posts/colonies. The 1452 Papal Bull approving slavery opens up a
tremendously profitable (yet tragic) slave-trading industry.

England Maintains Upper Hand in Hundred
Years’ War (1420):
England gains Normandy in Hundred Years’ War against
France. Artillery begins to be used by both sides (especially the
English), the first war in Europe where it was a factor.

Holy Roman EmpireHussite Wars in Bohemia

Followers of religious reformer Jan Hus rise in rebellion after Hus is
executed for dissenting against the Catholic Church. The conflict is
concluded when the Hussites of Bohemia acknowledged Holy Roman Empire
rule, yet were ceded a few religious freedoms. The conflict is a
forerunner of Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.

Ottoman-Venice Wars
Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire in Mediterranean Sea. Ends
with Venice being forced to become a client state of the Ottomans.

Republic of Genoa retakes Corsica from
Aragon (1434).

Austrian Habsburg Dynasty
first Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, beginning Austrian domination of
Emperor’s throne until end of empire during Napoleonic Wars (early 19th
century, almost 500 years).

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Mongol Golden Horde Fragmentation
Horde breaks up into several Turkish-dominated Khanates (Muslim petty
kingdoms) due to civil war. They continue to engage in slave raids into
the Duchy of Moscow and other Rus territories, trading them throughout

Aragon Conquers Naples from French
Angevins (1442).

Macedonia Conquered by Ottomans

Pope Approves Slavery
The 1452 Papal Bull titled “Dum
Diversas” permitted Spain and Portugal to submit Africans to perpetual
slavery, rationalizing that as pagans, they were enemies of Christ. This
would give Western European nations free reign to establish the
monumentally profitable and tragic Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. An
estimated 9 to 14 million Africans would be shipped out of Africa. This
does not include the multitudes that perished at the slave-trading
posts, and the millions that were subsequently born into slavery.

FranceEngland Driven Out of France to End
Hundred Years’ War (1453):
France finally turns the tide in Hundred
Years’ War against England, as France consolidates against the foreign
threat, while England descends into civil strife leading to civil war.
France regains all territories on the mainland from the English.

Ottomans Defeat Byzantine Empire, Conquer
Greeks (1453):
Ottoman Empire conquers Constantinople, ending
Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire. All of modern Greece falls under Ottoman
rule. Many Greeks convert to Islam, but secretly continue Greek Orthodox
worship to avoid taxes. Greek culture and language become more Turkish.
Like other Christian territories under Ottoman rule, education
dramatically declines,
due to minimization of the church, which was the
center of education in the middle ages. Greece would become backwards
and isolated for the next
nearly 400 years.

 Further Understanding:

Why Ottomans Rise to Dominance?

A matter
of organization and motivation. The Ottoman Turks convinced Muslim
warriors throughout Western Asia on the idea of a European conquest, on
the merits of an Eternal Reward (carrying out the will of Allah) and a
Temporal Reward (promises of shares of the booty), which enabled them to
be molded into an extremely well-coordinated fighting force. Ottomans
also minimized resistance from conquered/submitted peoples by allowing
local autonomy. For instance, they allowed Christians to rule according
to Christian principles, while also allowing religious freedoms,
although non-Muslims paid a tribute tax for the privilege. This level of
religious tolerance was rare for the time, especially among Christians
in Europe. Ottomans also boasted superior military technology compared
to its European adversaries. For example, they were well ahead when it
came to artillery. Finally, the Ottomans were able to capitalize on the
weakened and/or fragmented condition of most of its neighbors. The
Byzantine Empire was in steep decline after the western crusaders
invaded its territories throughout the 13th century, paving the way for
the Ottomans to advance into Southeast Europe with little resistance.

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Ottoman Empire Conquests

Note: Ottoman Conquests Lead to Eastern
Orthodoxy Fragmentation
. The Russians declared religious independence
from Constantinople, splintering Eastern Orthodoxy into Russian Orthodox
and Greek Orthodox Churches (with the Greeks existing under Ottoman
Islamic rule). Several other Balkan nations would proceed to claim
ecclesiastic independence during the Ottoman years, such as Serbian
Orthodoxy, Romanian, and several others. Today, all are recognized as
legitimate Orthodox Churches by one another.

Poland-Lithuanian UnionBaltic Sea Coastal Lands Conquered by
Poland (1454):
Poland captures West (Royal) Prussia from the Teutonic
Knights. This gives Poland critical access to the Baltic Sea, while
cutting off the Teutonic Knights from their fellow Germans, accelerating
their decline.

English Civil War / “War of the Roses”
Civil war erupted between two competing claimants to the
throne. Reformist Henry Tudor rose to victory as the new King, beginning
the Tudor dynasty. This marked a transition from feudalism to the
renaissance in England, as the emerging merchant class gained in power
and influence at the expense of the nobles. The nobles largely sided
with the defeated candidate in this war, who tried to maintain the
status quo.

Ottomans Conquer Serbia and Bosnia

The majority of Bosnians would convert to Islam, and most are still
Muslim to this day. Other Balkan peoples (such as Serbs & Greeks), were
strongly tied to the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Church. Bosnians
had their own church, which was much weaker organizationally and in
heritage, making it easier for them to succumb to the perks of being
Muslim in the Ottoman Empire.

Kingdom of SpainBirth of Spain
Union of the two dominant kingdoms in Hispania
(Castile & Aragon) results in the creation of the Kingdom of Spain.
Includes Aragon’s Southern Italy possessions (Kingdoms of Sicily and

Ottomans Conquer Wallachia/Romania

Mongols Lose Crimea to Ottomans

Crimean Khanate comes under control of Ottoman empire, but maintains

Austrian Netherlands
Austria gains the Netherlands through marriage.

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Enlargement of Moscow
Grand Duchy
of Moscow (Rus principality under Turkic control) conquers Novgorod
Republic (another Rus principality to the north). Although substantially
enlarged, Moscow still remains loosely consolidated, with various
princes retaining semi-independent control over their individual
principalities within the duchy.

Moscow Independence from Mongols

Grand Duchy of Moscow broke free from Turkic control, as they became
more powerful than their masters. They secured their independence with a
successful standoff after refusing to continue paying tribute.

Southeast France Regained from Holy Roman
Empire (1481):
By 1481, the Counties of Dauphine and Provence come under
the crown of France through inheritance. The French populations in this
region had been under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire for centuries,
although mostly in name only, as they generally operated as independent

Portuguese Round Cape of Good Hope

Portuguese explorer Diaz discovers Cape of Good Hope at southern tip of
Africa, and therefore a route that leads toward Asia. This opens the way
for Portugal to monopolize the lucrative Asian spice trade.

 Further Understanding:

How Portugal Becomes a Colonial Power

Geopolitical Position. Portugal is in a disadvantaged position in land
trade routes, being located at the far western extremity of Europe. As a
result, it is unable to influence continental geopolitics. As maritime
technology advances, they are able to leverage their easy access to the
Atlantic. The Ottoman monopoly of the land route linking Europe and Asia
creates the perfect opportunity for Portugal, which becomes very
powerful by being able to circumvent the Ottoman stranglehold of
Euro-Asian trade. Thus, Portugal builds a monopoly of the highly coveted
Asian spice trade, as maritime distribution proves more efficient than
land based distribution. Naval Technology. The Portuguese and Spanish
innovated a new type of boat using two or three masts (sails) that were
not as deep or large. Therefore, they were much more maneuverable, and
could sail with precision into inland rivers, while being able to get
closer to shores. This allowed for more effective exploration of foreign
river systems and dominance of native populations, as warfare could be
conducted closer to land, and on-land excursions were much more swift.
Firearms. Portuguese also began using firearms by 1419, giving them
another tremendous advantage against the overseas peoples they would
proceed to conquer. They learned the gunpowder technology from the
Muslim empires to the south, since gunpowder weapons had been in use in
Arab lands since the 13th century.

Venice Gains Cyprus
Rep. of Venice annexes Cyprus.
Successfully defends it from the Ottomans.

Note: Venice Expansion
Venice takes advantage of the disarray following the collapse of
Byzantine, taking Cyprus and expanding along the coasts of the eastern
Adriatic Sea.

Columbus Explores for Spain
King Ferdinand and Queen
Isabella of Spain accept Columbus’ proposal to explore the western world
on their behalf. He was rejected by his native Portugal 8 years earlier.
Columbus expects to find a shortcut to Asia, based on incorrect
calculations of a smaller globe, along with the assumption of an open
ocean to Asia. Instead, by accident, he discovers several Caribbean
locations over the next 10 years, which mark the beginning of Spain’s
massive Western Hemisphere empire.

End of Muslim Granada – Added to Spain
The last Muslim stronghold
in modern Spain surrenders, as a result of the Spanish Inquisition.
Granada had long been subservient to the Christian kingdoms to the
north, but when Spain assumed a no-religious tolerance stance, all under
its power were forced to convert to, and strictly practice Catholicism,
under penalty of expulsion or death. Granada was therefore dissolved,
and all Jews and Muslims remaining in Spain were expelled.

Note: Consolidation of Spain
The consolidation of the various Hispania kingdoms into a single kingdom
sows the seeds for Spanish dominance in the following century. A unified
Spain found itself in a favorable geopolitical position with easy access
to the Atlantic, through which vast resources awaited. Plus, Spain was
well protected against continental threat by land due to the natural
boundary created by the Pyrenees Mountains (separating Spain and
France), and a lack of border rivals (nature of being located on a

Navarre remains independent in Northern
Hispania (Spain).

Spanish-Portuguese Colonization Treaty
Treaty of Tordesilla between Spain and Portugal. Divided the
world along a theoretical north-south line in the middle of the Atlantic
Ocean. Spain was given everything to the west (the Americas), and
Portugal everything to the east (Africa, Asia & Brazil which pertruded
beyond this line in the Atlantic, a fact not realized by either party
when the boundary was set). It allowed each a monopoly in their
respective sphere, enabling both to become dominant world-wide powers.

Italian Wars (1494-1503): France invades
Naples to lay claim to Southern Italy, since it was Angevin (French
province) before being conquered by Aragon (Now part of Spain). Spain
would successfully defend Southern Spain.

Montenegro/Doclea Conquered by Ottomans

Swiss Independence from Holy Roman Empire
Swabian War between Habsburg Austria and the Old Swiss
Confederation, where the Swiss gained complete independence from the
Holy Roman Empire.

Portugal Discovers Brazil
discovers Brazil by accident. Largely neglected until 1530.

Portugal Achieves Asian Domination

Portugal reaches India and establishes dominance by 1509, when it
defeats the Ottomans in the naval Battle of Diu. Several
settlements/trading posts are established, especially along the west
coast. Beginning of their monopoly of the highly lucrative
Asian-European Spice Trade.

Note: Northern Italy.
Part of Holy Roman Empire
in name only. Operate as independent city states.

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Further Understanding of the Renaissance Era

Renaissance: The 14th and 15th centuries
usher in an age of increased education and overall knowledge of the
world. The invention of the printing press in 1439 created a new
“information highway”. Books are readily available for the first time,
in a much greater variety. This leads to science revolution, as
scientific journals can be published and distributed, allowing
scientists throughout Europe to learn from each other. Consequently,
scientific advances are made much more rapidly. Similar advances
occurred in various other fields and schools of thought, bringing Europe
into the age of the Renaissance. The Protestant Reformation would arrive
a century later as a natural consequence, as ideas concerning religion
would be more readily exchanged, leading to the questioning of absolute
religious authority and dogma. The Renaissance was also a forerunner to
the Enlightenment of the 18th and 19th centuries, which would bringo
democratic revolutions, as people began to grasp hold of the concept
that the purpose of their existence was not merely to serve their kings,
dukes, princes, lords, clergy, pope, or to accept teachings from
authorities to be absolute and infallible.

Slave Trade in Ottoman Empire: Millions of
Europeans are sold as slaves into the Ottoman Asian lands. Barbary
pirates from Ottoman North Africa commonly raid the southern coasts of
Europe to capture residents. As a result, many of these coastal regions
became sparsely populated or completely abandoned. Turkish bandits
bordering Eastern Europe captured Slavic peoples (South Slavs in the
Balkans and East Slavs in modern Russia) in such large numbers over the
centuries, that the terminology for “slave” was named after them. They
were generally assimilated into Asian populations where they were sold,
yet their genetic impact was insignificant, since they were scattered
among such large populations of Asiatic peoples. They were not
segregated and “bred” as they were in the Americas, preventing Slavic ethnogroups from being established among Asian peoples.

Geopolitical Gain in the West: Eastern
Europe is set back centuries with the Ottoman conquests. While
Southeastern Europeans are held back under Ottoman rule, Western
European nations grow in power and progress in all aspects (science,
economics, legal systems, etc.). Plus, westerners have access to the
Atlantic, the new gateway to the riches and power beyond Europe, which
were literally there for the taking, due to European advantages over
indigenous peoples, from military, naval and organizational
perspectives. The western nations go on to become far more prosperous
and advanced. Southeastern Europe is set back for centuries, with
adverse effects still lingering to this day. By now, much of the rest of
Europe was shedding the effects of the Dark Ages. Southeastern Europe,
while generally treated well by the Ottomans, were mired in a backwards,
feudalistic system imposed by their Muslim masters. By the time they
shed the yoke of the Ottomans, they were centuries behind Western Europe
in sophistication/civilization.

Mercantilism Economy: Feudalism gave way
to mercantilism in Western Europe, a predecessor to capitalism.
Mercantilism was not a unified economic theory or concept during the
time it was practiced, but recognized later in retrospect with
historical economic analysis. This system was based on the belief that
there was a finite amount of resources and wealth available. Therefore,
the objective was to gain as large of a slice of the pie as possible,
which resulted in a production-driven economy and protected markets. It
was based on the “win-lose” school of thought. In order for those in
power to win, someone had to lose (as opposed to mutually beneficial
economic relationships), whether it be the consumer, the labor class, or
the potential competition, primarily being foreign competition. With
this being the case, the western powers would focus on maximizing
production to the fullest extent possible. Then, they would guarantee
monopolies for these products within their own nation, client states and
colonial possessions, often driving prices up, but implementing price
ceilings if necessary. For example, a company would be awarded a
monopoly by the government for a certain market/product. With the
surplus, they would try to force their goods in foreign markets (even by
military force if possible), achieving a trade surplus, a very important
objective in mercantilism. Although a forerunner to capitalism,
mercantilism was also reminiscent of feudalism, which guaranteed the
power of balance between the aristocracy (nobles, merchants, royalty)
and the rest of society (peasants, laborers). Due to the protectionism,
the majority of the public was at a disadvantage, overpaying for lower
quality, due to the lack of competition, while being forced to work for
lower wages, again due to economic protection given to companies. This
also fueled colonialism/imperialism, as nations felt the need to gain
access to a greater share of available resources. Another objective was
finding more sources of labor to exploit (as well as additional markets
for goods provided by the merchant class), as this system relied on the
exploitation of the masses, due to its inherent inefficiencies.
Therefore, the masses (the poor) had to shoulder the burdens of these inefficiences, through guaranteed low wages due to protectionism, and
uncompetitive products. This would then guarantee the profits of the
state and the aristocratic classes. One of the primary side effects of
this type of economy is the development of black markets, since
enterprising individuals, if able to get a hold of supply, could
undercut monopolistic juggernauts which overcharged in markets where
they were legally guaranteed high profits. Mercantilism did sow the
seeds to capitalism by developing a system that spawned businesses,
partnerships, contracts, accounting practices, international trade
(including laws to govern international trade), the concept of profits
and credit, etc.

Persecutions of European Jews:
Persecution of Jews escalated due to post Black Death effect. They were
blamed for the plague by many, based on a lack of understanding about
the true cause of plagues (transmission of microscopic viruses), and a
dark age tendency to draw irrational, uneducated conclusions. After
Black Death, Jews are seen as more than just a heretical people
undermining the sacredness of Christianity, but also a threat to
nationhood, something peoples throughout Europe were truly beginning to
conceptualize. They were seen as being complicit with the Muslim cause
at a time when anti-Muslim sentiment obviously ran very high in Europe,
with the Hispania Christians still contending with Muslims in Spain,
while the Ottomans were proving to be a grave threat in Eastern Europe.
Jews tended to gravitate toward Muslims in Hispania and the Middle East,
since they received much better treatment from the Muslims than from
Christians. Within Christian Europe, Jews began to gravitate to Poland,
which opened its doors to the Jews, as it looked to expand, needing
increased population, and skilled/educated immigrants. Therefore, there
is a general shift of the Jewish population toward the east, away from
the west where it had gravitated for centuries before. Jews would
continue to congregate in Eastern Europe up through the Holocaust of the
20th century, when they would leave Europe in droves in favor of their
original homeland of Israel.

Age of Exploration (1505 – 1650)

Europe’s Darkest Days (1240 – 1350)

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