Europe in 1453


Map Code: Ax02375

The French victory at Castillon (1453) ended the Hundred Years’ War, leaving the defeated English with just the port of Calais as a toehold on the European mainland. In the same year, the long Byzantine resistance to the Ottomans was finally ended with the capture of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmet II, but the Turkish advance into Europe was blocked by a colourful array of Balkan warlords, from the grizzled Albanian Skanderbeg to the grisly Wallachian, Vlad the Impaler. The reign of John II of Aragon (r. 1458–79) was dominated by civil war, but redeemed by the dynastic masterstroke of the marriage of his son Ferdinand to the Princess Isabella of Castile (1469), paving the way to the unification of Spain. Another adept at dynastic power politics, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III (r. 1452–93), initiated the long Habsburg tenure of the imperial throne by engineering the election of his son Maximilian as his successor. Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal initiated the age of European maritime expansion by sponsoring exploration of Africa’s Atlantic Coast, while Ivan the Great (r. 1462–1505), the Grand Duke of Muscovy, laid the foundations of the Russian state by defying the Duchy’s erstwhile overlords, the Tatar Golden Horde.

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