The Introduction frames the volume and summarizes both the structure of the book and its main themes. Of all the sub-periods in which European medieval history has been divided over time, the later Middle Ages is possibly the one on which the burden of past and current grand narratives weighs the most. Chronological and geographical boundaries are blurred, and models and narratives of decline and modernity have shaped our understanding of the centuries between c.1330 and c.1500. The introduction to a much-needed rewriting of the history of this period focuses on the main events (such as the Black Death, the Hundred Years War, and the Great Schism) and processes (such as the expansion of the Ottomans and the maritime journeys outside the Mediterranean), and the main features of the period (the nature and multiplicity of political agency, social variety, economic complexity, growth of literacy and cultural change), and highlights the new historiographical trends in study of these two centuries.
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