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this change belongs to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, though it was in the fifteenth that it was prepared. — Guizot.
In comparing the fifteenth with the twelfth century, no one would deny the vast increase of navigation and manufactures, the superior refinement of manners, the greater diffusion of literature. — Hall Am.
Printing, a gross invention; artillery, a thing that lay not far out of the way; the needle, a thing partly known before, —what a change have these three things made in the world in these times; the one in state of learning; the other in state of the war; the third in the state of treasure, commodities, and navigation !, — Lord Bacon.
It appears that while all the conditions were long preparing for these three great inventions [the compass, firearms, printing], there were no technological difficulties about them which prevented their appearance when they were sought with a persevering intention. If it be true that they had long existed among Asiatic nations, we have only another proof that they did not originate the great social changes of which they were the instruments and the propagators; for they have produced no such effects in the East. — Comte.
These three events — the so-called Revival of Learning, the flourishing of the Fine Arts, and the discovery of America and of the passage to India by the Cape — may be compared with that blush of dawn which after long storms first betokens the return of a bright and glorious day. — Hegel.
A little before or a little after this point of time [the end of the fifteenth century], all those events happened, and all those revolutions began, that have produced so vast a change in the manners, customs, and interests of particular nations, and in the whole policy, ecclesiastical and civil, of these parts of the world. — Bolingbroke.
Spain is the chief power at this time. Besides vast continental dominions in the New World, its European possessions comprise at the period of their greatest extent the whole of the Spanish Peninsula, the Netherlands and other lands of the House of Austria, the Sicilies, Sardinia, and Milan. By the revolt of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, Spain loses a considerable portion of her territory before the end of the century.
The German Empire continues, but more as a dignity than as an independent power. The emperors are uniformly chosen from the princes of the House of Austria, which now by its hereditary possessions becomes one of the chief powers of Europe. In the person of the Emperor Charles V., who united the crown of Spain with the sovereignty of Austria, the imperial power reached its greatest extent.
France is engaged in wars civil and religious and foreign, but without much change of territory, except in America, where she begins to establish colonies.
England makes some attempts at colonization in America during this century, but the real settlements begin in the next.
Italy, during this period, is a battle-field of contention among the rival princes of Europe. The peninsula was made up of principalities and commonwealths, some of which were independent, but the most of which, during the greater part of this century, were under the dominant influence of Austria and of Spain.
Empire Op Charles V. See above, under Spain and German Empire.
United Provinces. The northern provinces of the Netherlands throw off the yoke of Spain, and in 1581 are united in a federal commonwealth.
Austria. See above, under German Empire.
The Turkish or Ottoman Empire is largely extended in this century by the annexation of Syria, Egypt, a great part of the northern coast of Africa, and the conquest of a large part of Hungary.
The union of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden ceases in the early part of this century, by the independence of Sweden, which now plays an important part in European history.
Poland is an important state in this century, with extensive possessions.
Portugal is, towards the close of the century, merged for a time in Spain. Mogul Empire In India. Early in this century the great Mogul Empire of Baber is founded in India.
Switzerland and Savoy hold a position of importance at this time.