The theme of this study of the 15th century is the emergence of Europe as an entity. It was a period of discovery and questioning: a watershed in European history which is all too often glossed over with the catchword "Renaissance". Here the Renaissance is seen as part of a larger context - religious, social, cultural and economic. The great events of the century were the plague, the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, the invention of the printing press, the exploration of the world and the revival of classical studies. Each of these had a lasting effect on the fate of Europe and around them the author has woven a lucid account. Ranging throughout the continent and drawing her most telling examples from the works of contemporary writers and observers, she describes the momentous changes which Europe underwent and the reassessments which these caused.