A sling is a projectile weapon used to throw a blunt projectile such as a stone, clay, or lead "sling-bullet". It is known as the shepherd's sling. Someone who specialises in using slings is called a slinger. A sling has a small pouch in the middle of two lengths of cord; the sling stone is placed in the pouch. The middle finger or thumb is placed through a loop on the end of one cord, a tab at the end of the other cord is placed between the thumb and forefinger; the sling is swung in an arc, the tab released at a precise moment. This frees the projectile to fly to the target; the sling works by extending the length of a human arm, thus allowing stones to be thrown much farther than they could be by hand. The sling is easy to build, it has been used for hunting game and in combat. Film exists of Spanish Civil War combatants using slings to throw grenades over buildings into enemy positions on the opposite street. Today the sling is of interest as an improvised weapon; the sling is an ancient weapon known to Neolithic peoples around the Mediterranean, but is much older.
It is possible that the sling was invented during the Upper Paleolithic at a time when new technologies such as the spear-thrower and the bow and arrow were emerging. With the exception of Australia, where spear throwing technology such as the woomera predominated, the sling became common all over the world, although it is not clear whether this occurred because of cultural diffusion or as an independent invention. Whereas sling-bullets are common finds in the archaeological record, slings themselves are rare; this is both because a sling's materials are biodegradable and because slings were lower-status weapons preserved in a wealthy person’s grave. The oldest-known surviving slings—radiocarbon dated to c. 2500 BC—were recovered from South American archaeological sites located on the coast of Peru. The oldest-known surviving North American sling—radiocarbon dated to c. 1200 BC—was recovered from Lovelock Cave, Nevada. The oldest known extant slings from the Old World were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, who died about 1325 BC.
A pair of finely plaited slings were found with other weapons. The sling was intended for the departed pharaoh to use for hunting game. Another Egyptian sling was excavated in El-Lahun in Al Fayyum Egypt in 1914 by William Matthew Flinders Petrie, now resides in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology—Petrie dated it to about 800 BC, it was found alongside an iron spearhead. The remains are broken into three sections. Although fragile, the construction is clear: it is made of bast fibre twine. Representations of slingers can be found on artifacts from all over the ancient world, including Assyrian and Egyptian reliefs, the columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius, on coins and on the Bayeux Tapestry; the oldest representation of a slinger in art may be from Çatalhöyük, from 7,000 BC, though it is the only such depiction at the site, despite numerous depictions of archers. The sling is mentioned by other Greek authors. Xenophon in his history of the retreat of the Ten Thousand, 401 BC, relates that the Greeks suffered from the slingers in the army of Artaxerxes II of Persia, while they themselves had neither cavalry nor slingers, were unable to reach the enemy with their arrows and javelins.
This deficiency was rectified when a company of 200 Rhodians, who understood the use of leaden sling-bullets, was formed. They were able, says Xenophon, to project their missiles twice as far as the Persian slingers, who used large stones. Ancient authors seemed to believe, that sling-bullets could penetrate armour, that lead projectiles, heated by their passage through the air, would melt in flight. In the first instance, it seems that the authors were indicating that slings could cause injury through armour by a percussive effect rather than by penetration. In the latter case we may imagine that they were impressed by the degree of deformation suffered by lead sling-bullet after hitting a hard target. Various ancient peoples enjoyed a reputation for skill with the sling. Thucydides mentions the Acarnanians and Livy refers to the inhabitants of three Greek cities on the northern coast of the Peloponnesus as expert slingers. Livy mentions the most famous of ancient skillful slingers: the people of the Balearic Islands.
Of these people Strabo writes: "And their training in the use of slings used to be such, from childhood up, that they would not so much as give bread to their children unless they first hit it with the sling."The late Roman writer Vegetius, in his work De Re Militari, wrote: Recruits are to be taught the art of throwing stones both with the hand and sling. The inhabitants of the Balearic Islands are said to have been the inventors of slings, to have managed them with surprising dexterity, owing to the manner of bringing up their children; the children were not allowed to have their food by their mothers till they had first struck it with their sling. Soldiers, notwithstanding their defensive armour, are more annoyed by the round stones from the sling than by all the arrows of the enemy. Stones kill without mangling the body, the contusion is mortal without loss of blood, it is universally known the ancients employed slingers in all their engagements. There is the greater reason for instructing all troops, without exception, in this exercise, as the sling cannot be reckoned any encumbrance, is of the greatest service when they are obliged to engage in stony places, to defend a mountain or an eminen
Scale armour is an early form of armour consisting of many individual small armour scales of various shapes attached to each other and to a backing of cloth or leather in overlapping rows. Scale armour was worn by warriors of many different cultures as well as their horses; the material used to make the scales varied and included bronze, steel, leather, cuir bouilli, horn, or pangolin scales. The variations are the result of material availability. Scale armour - a defence of great antiquity - may have begun, as so many aspects of civilization, in the Middle East; the earliest representation is the tomb of Kenamon, who lived in Egypt in the reign of Amenhotep II. Scale armour is armour in which the individual scales are sewn or laced to a backing by one or more edges and arranged in overlapping rows resembling the scales of a fish/reptile or roofing tiles; the scales are assembled and strapped by lacing or rivets. Lorica squamata is an ancient Roman armour of this type. Other types of armour made from individual scales but constructed in a different manner have their own separate names, such as lamellar armour where the individual scales are perforated on several or all edges and lashed to each other in straight ridged rows and do not need to be attached to a backing.
The Romans had a variant called lorica plumata in which the scales were attached to mail. The Scythians' horse warriors appear to have used scale or lamellar armour, evident both from contemporary illustrations and burial finds in kurgans; the armour was made from small plates of bronze. Unique to the Scythians, about 20% of the females found in graves were dressed for war, some including armour, which may have inspired the Greek tales of Amazons. Due to the semi-rigid nature of the armour, the Scythian variety was made as breast- and back-plates, with separate shoulder pieces; some finds indicate partial armour, where a leather shirt or similar garment have sewn-on scales in places around the neck and upper chest. The individual scales used to construct Roman armour are called squamae or squama During Roman times, scale armour was a popular alternative to mail as it offered better protection against blunt force trauma, it was widely used in Middle Eastern empires, such as Persia and Byzantium.
In these areas, scales were dished in order to benefit from the extra protection offered by a rounded scale. According to the statement of Herodotus, the ancient Persians wore tunics with sleeves of diverse colours, having upon them iron scales of the shape of fish-scales. Scale armour is not of frequent occurrence on the grave monuments of the German frontier. On two tombstones of the Sertorii at Verona both figures are represented wearing a tunic of scale armour which covers the shoulders and comes down below the belt; the Carnuntum monument of Calidius shows a scaled tunic of a centurion. Again, in the collection of marble portrait-busts from the great Gallo-Roman villa of Chiragan near Toulouse, the Emperors Antoninus Pius and Severus both appear wearing corselets of scale armour. Korea Scale armour consisting of many plates and studs were used for the military officers from the Samgukji era pre 1000BC and were effective against light missiles such as arrows, it was used during in the battles against Japanese invasion during the 14-1500 era, which proved the armour against japanese weapons.
An attempt in ballistics protection was attempted similar to the modern dragon scale armour. Horses covered with scale armour are mentioned in the ancient Chinese book of poetry Shi Jing. Japanese individual scales are called kozane. Japanese scale armour constructed from fish type scales were constructed in Japan as far back as the Fujiwara period. "A primitive type of Japanese harness, the single laminae being of boiled leather and beaten into pieces shaped like fish-scales." Scale armour offers more solid protection from piercing and blunt attacks than maille. It is cheaper to produce, but it is not as flexible and does not offer the same amount of coverage. Forms other than brigandine and coat of plates were uncommon in medieval Europe, but scale and lamellar remained popular elsewhere. Modern forms of scale armour are sometimes worn for decorative or LARP purposes, may be made from materials such as steel, aluminium, or titanium. A similar type of modern personal armour is Dragon Skin body armour, which uses ballistic fabric and high-impact resistant ceramic plates to protect against pistol and rifle fire.
However, its "scales" are not exposed
The formation of a shield wall is a military tactic, common in many cultures in the Pre-Early Modern warfare age. There were many slight variations of this tactic among these cultures, but in general, a shield wall was a "wall of shields" formed by soldiers standing in formation shoulder to shoulder, holding their shields so that they abut or overlap; each soldier benefits from the protection of his neighbours' shields as well as his own. This tactic was known to be used by many ancient armies including the Persian Sparabara, Greek hoplite, Macedonian phalanx, Roman legion, though its origin and spread is unknown, it may have developed independently more than once. Although little is recorded about their military tactics, the Stele of the Vultures depicts Sumerian soldiers in a shield wall formation during the third millennium BC. By the seventh century BC, shield walls in ancient Greece are well-documented; the soldiers in these shield wall formations were called hoplites, so named for their heavy weaponry.
They were equipped with three-foot shields made from wood sometimes covered in bronze. Instead of fighting individual battles in large skirmishes, hoplites fought as cohesive units in this tight formation with their shields pushing forward against the man in front; the left half of the shield was designed to cover the unprotected right side of the hoplite next to them. The worst, or newest, fighters would be placed in the middle front of the formation to provide both physical and psychological security. In a phalanx, the man at the right hand of each warrior had an important role; this made it so that all the shields thus formed a solid battle line. The second row's purpose was to kill the soldiers of the first line of an enemy shield wall, thus break the line. All the other rows were weight for the pushing match that always occurred when each side tried to break the other's wall; when a wall was broken, the battle turned into a single-combat melee in which the side whose wall collapsed had a serious disadvantage.
The Roman scutum was a large shield designed to fit with others to form a shield wall, though not overlap. Roman legions used an extreme type of shield wall called a testudo formation that covered front and above. In this formation, the outside ranks formed a dense vertical shield wall and inside ranks held shields over their heads, thus forming a tortoise-like defense, well-protected from missile weapons. Although effective against missiles, this formation was slow, vulnerable to being isolated and surrounded by swarms of enemy soldiers. Caesar, in De Bello Gallico, describes the Germans as fighting in a tight phalanx-like formation with long spears jutting out over their shields. In the late Roman and Byzantine armies, similar formations of locked shields and projecting spears were called fulcum, were first described in the late 6th-century Strategikon. Roman legions were well-trained, used short stabbing-swords in the close-quarters combat that resulted when their shield-walls contacted the enemy.
As Auxiliaries were less well-armed, a shield-wall with spearmen was used to provide a better defence. The shield-wall was used in many parts of Northern Europe, such as England and Scandinavia. In the battles between the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes in England, most of the Saxon army would have consisted of the inexperienced Fyrd — a militia composed of free peasants; the shield-wall tactic suited such soldiers, as it did not require extraordinary skill, being a shoving and fencing match with weapons. The first three ranks of the main wall would have been made up of select warriors, such as Huscarls and Thegns, who carried heavier weapons and wore armour. There would have been nobles, such as Thegns and Earls, who would have had their own armoured retainers and bodyguards. However, the vast majority of opponents in such battles were armed with spears, which they used against the unprotected legs or faces of their opponents. Soldiers would use their weapons to support each other by stabbing and slashing to the left or the right, rather than just ahead.
Short weapons, such as the ubiquitous seax, could be used in the tight quarters of the wall. Limited use of archery and thrown missile weapons occurred in opening stages of shield-wall battles, but were decisive to the outcome; the drawback of the shield-wall tactic was that, once breached, the whole affair tended to fall apart rather quickly. Trained fyrdmen gained morale from being shoulder-to-shoulder with their comrades, but fled once this was compromised. Once the wall was breached, it could prove difficult or impossible to re-establish a defensive line, panic might well set in among the defenders. Although the importance of cavalry in the Battle of Hastings portended the end of the shield-wall tactic, massed shield-walls would continue to be employed right up to the end of the 12th century in areas that were unsuitable for large scale mounted warfare, such as Scandinavia, the Swiss Alps and Scotland; the tactic was used at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, where the well-armed Saxon army hit the Viking army of King Harald Sigurdsson of Norway unaware.
The Vikings were not wearing as much armour, having left their mail behind on the ships and wearing only their helmets, after a bloody shield-wall-versus-shield-wall battle, fled in panic. Both sides lost 5-6000 each. Both sides at the Battle of Hastings are depic
A javelin is a light spear designed to be thrown as a ranged weapon, but today predominantly for sport. The javelin is always thrown by hand, unlike the bow and arrow and slingshot, which shoot projectiles from a mechanism. However, devices do exist to assist the javelin thrower in achieving greater distance called spear-throwers. A warrior or soldier armed with one or more javelins is a javelineer; the word javelin comes from Middle English and it derives from Old French javelin, a diminutive of javelot, which meant spear. The word javelot originated from one of the Celtic languages. There is archaeological evidence that javelins and throwing sticks were in use by the last phase of the lower Paleolithic. Seven spear-like objects were found in a coal mine in the city of Germany. Stratigraphic dating indicates; the excavated items were between 1.83 and 2.25 metres long. They were manufactured with the maximum thickness and weight situated at the front end of the wooden shaft; the frontal centre of gravity suggests.
A fossilized horse shoulder blade with a projectile wound, dated to 500,000 years ago, was revealed in a gravel quarry in the village of Boxgrove, England. Studies suggested that the wound was caused by a javelin. In History of Ancient Egypt: Volume 1, George Rawlinson depicts the javelin as an offensive weapon used by the Ancient Egyptian military, it was lighter in weight than that used by other nations. He describes the Ancient Egyptian javelin's features: “It consisted of a long thin shaft, sometimes pointed, but armed with a head, either leaf-shaped, or like the head of a spear, or else four-sided, attached to the shaft by projections at the angles.”A strap or tasseled head was situated at the lower end of the javelin: it allowed the javelin thrower to recover his javelin after throwing it. Egyptian military trained from a young age in special military schools. Focusing on gymnastics to gain strength and endurance in childhood, they learned to throw the javelin – along with practicing archery and the battle-axe – when they grew older, before entering a specific regiment.
Javelins were carried by Egyptian light infantry, as a main weapon, as an alternative to a spear or a bow and arrow along with a shield. They carried a curved sword, a club or a hatchet as a side-arm. An important part in battles is assigned to javelin-men, “whose weapons seem to inflict death at every blow”. One or multiple javelins were sometimes carried by Egyptian war-chariots, in the quiver and/or the bow case. Beyond its military purpose, the javelin was also a hunting instrument, both to seek food and as a sport; the peltasts serving as skirmishers, were armed with several javelins with throwing straps to increase stand-off power. The peltasts hurled their javelins at the enemy's heavier troops, the hoplite phalanx, in order to break their lines so that their own army's hoplites could destroy the weakened enemy formation. In the battle of Lechaeum, the Athenian general Iphicrates took advantage of the fact that a Spartan hoplite phalanx operating near Corinth was moving in the open field without the protection of any missile-throwing troops.
He decided to ambush it with his force of peltasts. By launching repeated hit-and-run attacks against the Spartan formation and his men were able to wear the Spartans down routing them and killing just under half; this marked the first recorded occasion in ancient Greek military history in which a force made up of peltasts had defeated a force of hoplites. The thureophoroi and thorakitai, who replaced the peltasts, carried javelins in addition to a long thrusting spear and a short sword. Javelins were used as an effective hunting weapon, the strap adding enough power to take down large game. Javelins were used in the Ancient Olympics and other Panhellenic games, they were hurled in a certain direction and whoever hurled it the farthest, as long as it hit tip-first, won that game. In the ancient world javelins were thrown with the aid of a throwing string, or Amentum. In 387 BC, the Gauls invaded Italy, inflicted a crushing defeat on the Roman Republican army, sacked Rome. After this defeat, the Romans undertook a comprehensive reform of their army and changed the basic tactical formation from the Greek-style phalanx armed with the hasta spear and the clipeus round shield to a more flexible three-line formation.
The Hastati stood in the first line, the Principes in the second line and the Triarii at the third line. While the Triarii were still armed with the hasta, the Hastati and the Principes were rearmed with short swords and heavy javelins; each soldier from the Hastati and Principes lines carried two javelins. This heavy javelin, known as a Pilum, was about two metres long overall, consisting of an iron shank, about 7 mm in diameter and 60 cm long, with pyramidal head, secured to a wooden shaft; the iron shank was either socketed or, more widened to a flat tang. A pilum weighed between 2 and 5 pounds, with the versions produced during the Empire being somewhat lighter. Pictorial evidence suggests that some versions of the weapon were weighted with a lead ball at the base of the shank in order to increase penetrative power, but no archaeological specimens have been found. Recent experiments have shown pila to have a range of about 30 metres, although the effective range is only about 15 to 20 metres.
Pila were sometimes referred to as javelins. From the third century BC, the Roman le
A quiver is a container for holding arrows, darts, or javelins. It can be carried on an archer's body, the bow, or the ground, depending on the type of shooting and the archer's personal preference. Quivers were traditionally made of leather, wood and other natural materials, but are now made of metal or plastic; the most common style of quiver is a cylindrical container suspended from the belt. They are found across many cultures from North America to China. Many variations of this type exist, such as being canted forwards or backwards, being carried on the dominant hand side, off-hand side, or the small of the back; some variants enclose the entire arrow, while minimalist "pocket quivers" consist of little more than a small stiff pouch that only covers the first few inches. Back quivers are secured to the archer's back by leather straps, with the nock ends protruding above the dominant hand's shoulder. Arrows can be drawn over the shoulder by the nock; this style of quiver was used by native peoples of North America and Africa, was commonly depicted in bas-reliefs from ancient Assyria.
While popular in cinema and 20th century art for depictions of medieval European characters, this style of quiver was used in medieval Europe. The Bayeux Tapestry shows that most bowmen in medieval Europe used belt quivers. A ground quiver is used for both target shooting or warfare when the archer is shooting from a fixed location, they can be stakes in the ground with a ring at the top to hold the arrows, or more elaborate designs that hold the arrows within reach without the archer having to lean down to draw. A modern invention, the bow quiver attaches directly to the bow's limbs and holds the arrows steady with a clip of some kind, they are popular with compound bow hunters as it allows one piece of equipment to be carried in the field without encumbering the hunter's body. A style used by medieval English Longbowmen and several other cultures, an arrow bag is a simple drawstring cloth sack with a leather spacer at the top to keep the arrows divided; when not in use, the drawstring could be closed covering the arrows so as to protect them from rain and dirt.
Some had straps or rope sewn to them for carrying, but many either were tucked into the belt or set on the ground before battle to allow easier access. Yebira refers to a variety of quiver designs; the Yazutsu is a different type, used in Kyudo. Arrows are removed from it before shooting, held in the hand, so it is used to transport and protect arrows. Archery. Irving, Texas: Boy Scouts of America. 1986. ISBN 0-8395-3381-0. Glover, Daniel S.. Traditional archery from six continents: the Charles E. Grayson Collection. Columbia: University of Missouri Press. ISBN 0-8262-1751-6. Dr. Brian Marin, author of Ancient Warfare| Concordia Press| page 137 Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Quiver". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22. Cambridge University Press
Immortals (Achaemenid Empire)
The Immortals known as the Persian Immortals or Persian Warriors was the name given by Herodotus to an elite heavily-armed infantry queued unit of 10,000 soldiers in the great army of the Achaemenid Empire. This force performed the dual roles of standing army; the force consisted of Persians, but included Medes and Elamites. Essential questions regarding the unit remain unanswered. Herodotus describes the'Immortals' as being heavy infantry, led by Hydarnes, he stated that the unit's name stemmed from the custom that every killed wounded, or sick member was replaced with a new one, maintaining the corps as a cohesive entity with a constant strength. This elite corps is only called the'Immortals' in sources based on Herodotus. There is evidence of the existence of a permanent corps from Persian sources, which provided a backbone for the tribal levies who made up the bulk of the Achaemenid armies; these do not however record the name of "Immortals". It is suggested that Herodotus' informant has confused the word anûšiya- with anauša-, but this theory has been criticized by Rudiger Schmidt.
The Immortals played an important role in Cambyses II's conquest of Egypt in 525 BC and Darius I's invasion of ancient India's smaller western frontier kingdoms and Scythia in 520 BC and 513 BC. Immortals participated in the Battle of Thermopylae 480 BC and were amongst the Persian occupation troops in Greece in 479 BC under Mardonius. During the final decades of the Achaemenid empire, the role expected of the hazarapatish of the Immortals was extended to include that of chief minister to the king; the provision of a bodyguard, in direct attendance on the monarch, had been allocated to a select thousand strong detachment of the corps. Xenophon describes the guard of Cyrus the Great as having bronze breastplates and helmets, while their horses wore bronze chamfrons and poitrels together with shoulder pieces which protected the rider’s thighs. Herodotus, describes their armament as follows: wicker shields covered in leather, short spears, swords or large daggers, slings and arrow. Underneath their robes they wore scale armour coats.
The spear counterbalances of the common soldiery were of silver. The regiment was followed by a caravan of covered carriages and mules that transported their supplies, along with concubines and attendants to serve them; the headdress worn by the Immortals is believed to have been the Persian tiara. Its actual form is uncertain, but some sources describe it as a cloth or felt cap which could be pulled over the face to keep out wind and dust in the arid Persian plains. Surviving Achaemenid coloured glazed bricks and carved reliefs represent the Immortals as wearing elaborate robes, hoop earrings and gold jewelry, though these garments and accessories were most worn only for ceremonial occasions; the title of "Immortals" was first revived under the Sassanid army. The backbone of the army was the Aswaran, the most famous of the Aswaran units were the Zhayedan and numbered 10,000 men, like the Achaemenid predecessors, with the difference that they were heavy cavalry, their task was to secure any breakthroughs and to enter battles at crucial stages.
The designation "Immortal" to describe a military unit was used twice during the Byzantine Empire, first as elite heavy cavalry under John I Tzimiskes and later by Nikephoritzes, the chief minister of Emperor Michael VII, as the core of a new central field army, following the disastrous defeat of Manzikert by the Seljuk Turks in 1071. Many centuries during the Napoleonic Wars, French soldiers referred to Napoleon's Imperial Guard as "the Immortals"; the Iranian Army under the last Shahanshah included an all volunteer Javidan Guard known as the "Immortals" after the ancient Persian royal guard. The "Immortals" were based in the Lavizan Barracks in Tehran. By 1978 this elite force comprised a brigade of 4,000–5,000 men, including a battalion of Chieftain tanks. Following the Iranian Revolution of 1979 the "Immortals" were disbanded; the signature shield of the Achaemenid Immortals has been adopted in the insignia of the 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade and 55th Airborne Brigade of the modern Iranian Army.
Herodotus' account of two warrior elites - the Spartan hoplites and the Immortals - facing each other in battle has inspired a set of rather colorful depictions of the battle in regard of the Immortals: In the 1962 film The 300 Spartans the Immortals carry a spear and wicker shields like the actual Immortals. However, they are dressed in black and other dark colors, as opposed to historical depictions. Frank Miller's 1998 comic book 300, the 2006 feature film adapted from it, present a fictionalized version of the Immortals at the Battle of Thermopylae; these Immortals wear Mengu-style metal masks, appear to be inhuman or disfigured, carry a pair of swords resembling Japanese wakizashis. The History Channel documentary Last Stand of the 300 features the Immortals as part of the reconstruction of the Thermopylae battle. In this version, the tiara the Immortals habitually wear is depicted here as a full-face black cloth mask transparent enough to see through. Hicks, Jim; the Persians. Time-Life Boo
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period of European history lasting from 1250 to 1500 AD. The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern period. Around 1300, centuries of prosperity and growth in Europe came to a halt. A series of famines and plagues, including the Great Famine of 1315–1317 and the Black Death, reduced the population to around half of what it was before the calamities. Along with depopulation came social unrest and endemic warfare. France and England experienced serious peasant uprisings, such as the Jacquerie and the Peasants' Revolt, as well as over a century of intermittent conflict, the Hundred Years' War. To add to the many problems of the period, the unity of the Catholic Church was temporarily shattered by the Western Schism. Collectively, those events are sometimes called the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages. Despite the crises, the 14th century was a time of great progress in the arts and sciences. Following a renewed interest in ancient Greek and Roman texts that took root in the High Middle Ages, the Italian Renaissance began.
The absorption of Latin texts had started before the Renaissance of the 12th century through contact with Arabs during the Crusades, but the availability of important Greek texts accelerated with the Capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks, when many Byzantine scholars had to seek refuge in the West Italy. Combined with this influx of classical ideas was the invention of printing, which facilitated dissemination of the printed word and democratized learning; those two things would lead to the Protestant Reformation. Toward the end of the period, the Age of Discovery began; the expansion of the Ottoman Empire cut off trading possibilities with the East. Europeans were forced to seek new trading routes, leading to the Spanish expedition under Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492 and Vasco da Gama’s voyage to Africa and India in 1498, their discoveries strengthened the power of European nations. The changes brought about by these developments have led many scholars to view this period as the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modern history and of early modern Europe.
However, the division is somewhat artificial, since ancient learning was never absent from European society. As a result, there was developmental continuity between the modern age; some historians in Italy, prefer not to speak of the Late Middle Ages at all but rather see the high period of the Middle Ages transitioning to the Renaissance and the modern era. The term "Late Middle Ages" refers to one of the three periods of the Middle Ages, along with the Early Middle Ages and the High Middle Ages. Leonardo Bruni was the first historian to use tripartite periodization in his History of the Florentine People. Flavio Biondo used a similar framework in Decades of History from the Deterioration of the Roman Empire. Tripartite periodization became standard after the German historian Christoph Cellarius published Universal History Divided into an Ancient and New Period. For 18th-century historians studying the 14th and 15th centuries, the central theme was the Renaissance, with its rediscovery of ancient learning and the emergence of an individual spirit.
The heart of this rediscovery lies in Italy, where, in the words of Jacob Burckhardt: "Man became a spiritual individual and recognized himself as such". This proposition was challenged, it was argued that the 12th century was a period of greater cultural achievement; as economic and demographic methods were applied to the study of history, the trend was to see the late Middle Ages as a period of recession and crisis. Belgian historian Henri Pirenne continued the subdivision of Early and Late Middle Ages in the years around World War I, yet it was his Dutch colleague, Johan Huizinga, responsible for popularising the pessimistic view of the Late Middle Ages, with his book The Autumn of the Middle Ages. To Huizinga, whose research focused on France and the Low Countries rather than Italy and decline were the main themes, not rebirth. Modern historiography on the period has reached a consensus between the two extremes of innovation and crisis, it is now acknowledged that conditions were vastly different north and south of the Alps, the term "Late Middle Ages" is avoided within Italian historiography.
The term "Renaissance" is still considered useful for describing certain intellectual, cultural, or artistic developments, but not as the defining feature of an entire European historical epoch. The period from the early 14th century up until – and sometimes including – the 16th century, is rather seen as characterized by other trends: demographic and economic decline followed by recovery, the end of western religious unity and the subsequent emergence of the nation state, the expansion of European influence onto the rest of the world; the limits of Christian Europe were still being defined in the 15th centuries. While the Grand Duchy of Moscow was beginning to repel the Mongols, the Iberian kingdoms completed the Reconquista of the peninsula and turned their attention outwards, the Balkans fell under the dominance of the Ottoman Empire. Meanwhile, the remaining nations of the continent were locked in constant international or internal conflict; the situation led to the consolidation of central authority and the emergence of the nation state.
The financial demands of war necessitated higher levels of taxation, resulting in the emergence of representative bodies – most notably the English Parliament. The growth of secular authority was further aided by t