The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th and 15th centuries. The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the modern era. 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 in the Hundred Years War. To add to the problems of the period, the unity of the Catholic Church was shattered by the Western Schism. Collectively these events are called the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages. Despite these crises, the 14th century was also a time of progress in the arts. Following a renewed interest in ancient Greek and Roman texts that took root in the High Middle Ages, combined with this influx of classical ideas was the invention of printing, which facilitated dissemination of the printed word and democratized learning. These two things would lead to the Protestant Reformation. Toward the end of the period, the Age of Discovery began, the rise of the Ottoman Empire, culminating in the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, eroded the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire and cut off trading possibilities with the east. Europeans were forced to seek new trading routes, leading to the expedition of Columbus to the Americas in 1492 and their discoveries strengthened the economy and power of European nations. The changes brought about by these developments have led scholars to view this period as the end of the Middle Ages and beginning of modern history. However, the division is artificial, since ancient learning was never entirely absent from European society. As a result there was continuity between the ancient age and the modern age. Some historians, particularly in Italy, prefer not to speak of the Late Middle Ages at all, but rather see the period of the Middle Ages transitioning to the Renaissance. 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 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, Medieval, 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
From the Apocalypse in a Biblia Pauperum illuminated at Erfurt around the time of the Great Famine. Death sits astride a lion whose long tail ends in a ball of flame (Hell). Famine points to her hungry mouth.
Silver mining and processing in Kutná Hora, Bohemia, 15th century