Renaissance Timeline

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, oil on wood, 1504
The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, oil on wood, 1504. Fine Art Images / Getty Images

The Renaissance was a cultural, scholarly and socio-political movement which stressed the rediscovery and application of texts and thought from classical antiquity. This timeline lists some major works of culture alongside important political events, however, the roots of the Renaissance go back a few centuries at least, and this page covers the traditional period. Modern historians are stretching it back all the time.

We also have an Introduction to the Renaissance, a look at the Causes of the Renaissance, and pieces on Renaissance Humanism and Printing.

Pre 1400

1347: The Black Death ravages Europe for the first time. By changing the economic situation, the devastating disease helps lay the preconditions for Renaissance: spare money to invest in display.
1374: Death of Petrarch, a man called the father of the Renaissance (although that might be overstating things) but undoubtedly a genius.
1396: Creation of Chair of Greek in Florence: teacher Chrysoloras brings a copy of Ptolemy’s Geography.
1397: Giovanni de Medici moves to Florence.

1400 - 1450

1400: Burni: Panegyric to the City of Florence.
1401: Ghiberti awarded commission to create doors for the baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence; Brunelleschi and Donatello travel to Rome; birth of painter Masaccio.
1417 – 36: Brunelleschi works on dome of Florence Cathedral.

1420: The newly united Papacy moves back to Rome which needs a lot of money spending on it to be up to papal standards.
1423: Foscari becomes Doge in Venice.
1429: Cosimo de Medici inherits the family bank and rises to great power in Florence.
1432: Van Eycks: The Adoration of the Lamb.
1435: Alberti: On Painting.

1440: Valla uses humanist skills to expose Donation of Constantine as a forgery, one of the classic moments in European intellectual history.
1444: Alberti: On the Family.
1446: Death of Brunelleschi.
1447: Pope Nicholas V appointed, he begins a major program of rebuilding.
1450: Francesco Sforza takes power in Milan.


1452: Birth of Leonardo da Vinci.
1453: Ottoman conquest of Constantinople: many Greek thinkers and works travel westward, seen as a moment of massive cultural transfer between east and west; end of Hundred Years War: stability returns to northwest Europe.
1454: The Gutenberg Bible published; print revolutionizes European literacy. This is one of the key events in the whole of western history, let alone the Renaissance.
1459: Gozzoli: Adoration of the Magi.
1465: Bellini and Mantegna: The Agony in the Garden.
1469: Lorenzo de Medici, “The Magnificent”, takes power in Florence; his rule is considered the high point of the Florentine Renaissance.
1470: Malory: Morte d’Arthur.
1471: Sixtus IV appointed Pope. Major building continues in Rome, including the Sistine Chapel.
1474: Ficino: Platonic Theory.
1480: Botticelli: Primavera.
1483 Pico: 900 Treatises; he is declared a heretic but protected by the Medici.

1485: Alberti: On Building. Italian architects travel to Russia to aid in rebuilding of Kremlin.
1488: Portuguese sailors led by Bartolomeu Diaz round the Cape of Good Hope.
1492: Buonarroti: Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs; Rodrigo Borgia appointed Pope, his rule is considered a reign of corruption; Columbus sails west; Behaim’s globe created.
1494: Pacioli: Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion.
1494 – 95: Rule of Savonarola in Florence, he is burnt as a heretic; Italian Wars, France invade.
1498: Leonardo da Vinci: Last Supper; Portuguese sailors led by Vasco de Gama reach India.
1499: French conquer Milan, facilitating greater passage of Renaissance ideas into the France.
1500: Michelangelo: Pieta; Giorgine: Tempesta; Portuguese “discover” Brazil.

1501 - 1550

1503: Pope Julius II appointed Pope; start of “Roman Golden Age”.

1504: Michelangelo: David; Bosch: Garden of Earthly Delights.
1505: Leonardo: Mona Lisa; Dürer travels to Italy.
1506 – 1615: Work on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
1508 – 12: Michelangelo paints roof of the Sistine Chapel.
1509: Henry VIII succeeds to power in England.
1511: Erasmus: Praise of Folly.
1512: Erasmus: De Copia.
1513: Machiavelli: The Prince.
1515: Francis I takes power in France.
1516: Eramus: New Testament; More: Utopia; Castiglione: Book of the Courtier; Charles V takes power in Spain, followed by his accession to the Holy Roman throne.
1517: Start of the Reformation. This religious schism divides Europe spiritually permanently, and is heavily influenced by Humanist thinking, a mark of the Renaissance.
1519: Death of Leonardo de Vinci, perhaps the most famous Renaissance figure of all.
1520: Süleyman “the Magnficent” takes power in the Ottoman Empire.
1524: Raphael: Donation of Constantine.
1525: Dürer: A Course in the Art of Measurement; Battle of Pavia between France and the Holy Roman Empire: end of French claims on Italy.
1527: Sack of Rome by Imperial forces.
1529: Ribeiro: World Map.
1532: Rabelais: Pantagruel.
1533: Holbein: The Ambassadors; Regiomontanus: On Triangles.
1536: Paracelsus: Great Book of Surgery; Death of Erasmus.
1541: Michelangelo: The Last Judgement.
1543: Copernicus: Revolutions of the Celestial Orbits/ De Revolutionibus; Vesalius: On the Fabric of the Human Body.
1544: Bandello: Novelle.


1555: Labé: Euvres; Peace of Augsburg brings legal co-existence of Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire.

1556: Tartaglia: A General Treatise on Numbers and Measurement; Agricola: De Re Metallica; Philip II takes power in Spain as Charles V abdicates.
1558: Elizabeth I succeeds to the throne in England: start of the English “Golden Age”.
1564: Death of Michelangelo.
1567: Whitney: The Copy of a Letter.
1569: Mercator: World Map.
1570: Palladio: Four Books on Architecture; Ortelius: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.
1571: Battle of Lepanto.
1572: Camõs: The Lusiads; St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of Protestants in France.
1580: Montaigne: Essays.
1590: Spenser: The Faerie Queen.
1603: Shakespeare: Hamlet.
1605: Cervantes: Don Quixote.

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Wilde, Robert. "Renaissance Timeline." ThoughtCo, Nov. 15, 2017, Wilde, Robert. (2017, November 15). Renaissance Timeline. Retrieved from Wilde, Robert. "Renaissance Timeline." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 24, 2018).