15th century

15th century

One hundred years, from 1401 to 1500

The 15th century was the century which spans the Julian calendar dates from 1 January 1401 (represented by the Roman numerals MCDI) to 31 December 1500 (MD).

Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, victorious at the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople and the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Various historians describe it as the end of the Middle Ages.
The Surrender of Granada by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz, 1882: Muhammad XII surrenders to Ferdinand and Isabella
Gergio Deluci, Christopher Columbus arrives in America in 1492, 1893 painting.

In Europe, the 15th century includes parts of the Late Middle Ages, the Early Renaissance, and the early modern period. Many technological, social and cultural developments of the 15th century can in retrospect be seen as heralding the "European miracle" of the following centuries. The architectural perspective, and the modern fields which are known today as banking and accounting were founded in Italy.

The Hundred Years' War ended with a decisive French victory over the English in the Battle of Castillon. Financial troubles in England following the conflict resulted in the Wars of the Roses, a series of dynastic wars for the throne of England. The conflicts ended with the defeat of Richard III by Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth Field, establishing the Tudor dynasty in the later part of the century.

Constantinople, known as the capital of the world and the capital of the Byzantine Empire, fell to the emerging Muslim Ottoman Turks, marking the end of the tremendously influential Byzantine Empire and, for some historians, the end of the Middle Ages.[1] This led to the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy, while Johannes Gutenberg's invention of a mechanical movable type began the printing press. These two events played key roles in the development of the Renaissance.[2][3] The Roman papacy was split in two parts in Europe for decades (the so-called Western Schism), until the Council of Constance. The division of the Catholic Church and the unrest associated with the Hussite movement would become factors in the rise of the Protestant Reformation in the following century.

Islamic Spain became dissolved through the Christian Reconquista, followed by the forced conversions and the Muslim rebellion,[4] ending over seven centuries of Islamic rule and returning southern Spain to Christian rulers.

The spices, wines and precious metals of the Bengal Sultanate[5] had attracted European traders to trade with Bengal, but the trade was subsequently lower, due to the rise of the Ottoman Empire, which introduced new taxes and tariffs against European traders. This had led to explorers like Christopher Columbus finding a route to reach India, which eventually reached the Americas. Explorers like Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese traveller, also found a route to reach to India from the African coast.

In Asia, the Timurid Empire collapsed and the Afghan Pashtun Lodi dynasty took control of the Delhi Sultanate. Under the rule of the Yongle Emperor, who built the Forbidden City and commanded Zheng He to explore the world overseas, the Ming dynasty's territory reached its pinnacle.

In Africa, the spread of Islam led to the destruction of the Christian kingdoms of Nubia, by the end of the century, leaving only Alodia (which was to collapse in 1504). The formerly vast Mali Empire teetered on the brink of collapse, under pressure from the rising Songhai Empire.

In the Americas, both the Aztec Empire and the Inca Empire reached the peak of their influence, but the voyages of Christopher Columbus and other European voyages of discovery in the Americas, beginning the European colonization of the Americas, changed the course of modern history.



Portrait of the founder of accounting, Luca Pacioli, by Jacopo de' Barbari (Museo di Capodimonte).


The Northern Yuan dynasty and Turco-Mongol residual states and domains by the 15th century


Joan of Arc, a French peasant girl, directly influenced the result of the Hundred Years' War.



Detail of The Emperor's Approach showing the Xuande Emperor's royal carriage. Ming dynasty of China.


Modern painting of Mehmed II marching on Constantinople in 1453


The seventeen Kuchkabals of Yucatán after The League of Mayapan in 1461.



The Siege of Rhodes (1480). Ships of the Hospitaliers in the forefront, and Turkish camp in the background.


The Siege of Rhodes (1480). Ships of the Hospitaliers in the forefront, and Turkish camp in the background.

Inventions, discoveries, introductions


  1. Crowley, Roger (2006). Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453. Faber. ISBN 0-571-22185-8. (reviewed by Foster, Charles (22 September 2006). "The Conquestof Constantinople and the end of empire". Contemporary Review. Archived from the original on 22 August 2009. It is the end of the Middle Ages
  2. Encyclopædia Britannica, Renaissance, 2008, O.Ed.
  3. Nanda, J. N (2005). Bengal: the unique state. Concept Publishing Company. p. 10. 2005. ISBN 978-81-8069-149-2. Bengal [...] was rich in the production and export of grain, salt, fruit, liquors and wines, precious metals and ornaments besides the output of its handlooms in silk and cotton. Europe referred to Bengal as the richest country to trade with.
  4. Winstedt, R. O. (1948). "The Malay Founder of Medieval Malacca". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 12 (3/4). Cambridge University Press on behalf of School of Oriental and African Studies: 726–729. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00083312. JSTOR 608731.
  5. Modern interpretation of the place names recorded by Chinese chronicles can be found e.g. in Some Southeast Asian Polities Mentioned in the MSL Archived 12 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine by Geoffrey Wade
  6. Ricklefs (1991), page 18.
  7. Leinbach, Thomas R. (20 February 2019). "Religions". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  8. Carating, Rodelio B.; Galanta, Raymundo G.; Bacatio, Clarita D. (23 April 2014). The Soils of the Philippines. Springer Science & Business. p. 31. ISBN 978-94-017-8682-9.
  9. Noorduyn, J. (2006). Three Old Sundanese poems. KITLV Press. p. 437.


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