The Rise of the Nation

In eastern Europe Medieval institutions continued to flourish long after the Turks captured Byzantium in 1453. Indeed, in Russia the Middle Ages ended comparatively recently, with the emancipation of serfs in 1861. In western Europe, by contrast, the Middle Ages ended about five centuries ago.

No one year or event can be singled out; rather, a series of crucial developments took place over half a century in the late 1400s and early 1500s: the consolidation of royal authority in France, England, and Spain; the discovery of America; the virtual disappearance of serfdom in the West; and the revolt of Martin Luther against the medieval church.

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