Tuesday, May 15, 2007

1456 to 1474

1456. The Gutenberg Bible, published at Mainz by local printer Johann Gutenberg, 56, is a Vulgate Bible that marks one of the earliest examples of printing from movable type in Europe. [Vulgate: Latin translation of the Bible made by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century. It is the Roman Catholic authorized version.]

1457. Scotland's Parliament forbids "futeball and golfe" because their popularity threatens the sport of archery which must be encouraged for reasons of national defense.

1460. England's deranged Henry VI is taken prisoner, July 10, by Yorkists wearing white roses who defeat the royal Lancastrians, wearing red roses. However, York's forces are defeated by an army raised in the north by Henry's wife, Margaret of Anjou.

Le Morte d'Arthur. Sir Thomas Malory. British. 1460. Tales. Prose rendition of the legends of King Arthur. Printed by William Caxton. Malory's purpose: to tell a good story. Some tales are not in the Arthurian tradition. The tone is nostalgic.

1461. Le Grand Testament by Francois Villon is a lyric poem of 173 stanzas containing many ballads. French authorities will banish Villon from Paris next year after arresting him for theft and brawling and then commuting his death sentence, but he will be quoted for centuries, especially for his line, "Where are the snows of yesteryear?"

1465. Yorkists capture England's Lancastrian king Henry VI and imprison him in the Tower of London.

1469. The Spanish crowns of Aragon and Castile join in alliance when Ferdinand of Aragon, 17, marries Isabella of Castille, 18.

Il Morgante Maggiore ("The Great Morgante"). Luigi Pulci. Italian. 1470. Poetry. Morgante, a giant, aids Charlemagne's paladin, Orlando.

1471. Henry VI is murdered in the Tower of London, May 21, possibly by Richard duke of Gloucester (the future Richard III).

1473. The Disposition Achilles signed by the elector of Brandenburg, Albrecht III, 59, legalizes the custom of primogeniture that has existed for centuries and helped motivate younger sons of Europe's nobility to join the crusades in quest of lands. Albrecht is known as Achilles, and his Dispositio makes the eldest surviving male in a family the heir to the power and fortune of his father.

1474. Genoese seaman Christopher Columbus, 23, begins discussing the possibility of a westward passage to Cathay (China). The young navigator uses projections made by German mathematicians and Italian mapmakers to revive the ancient Greek knowledge that the earth is round. Columbus has the advantages of the compass, invented in the 12th century, and of the more recently invented mariner's astrolabe by which a navigator can calculate the altitude of the sun, moon or stars above the horizon and thus determine his distance north or south of the equator.

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