Charles V took power in Spain in 1516, and in 1530, he became Holy Roman Emperor, the last emperor to be so crowned.
In 1491, Girolamo Savonarola became the prior of the de Medici's Dominican House of San Marco in Florence and began preaching reform and becoming the de facto leader of Florence beginning in 1494.
The beginning of the 15th century (probably 1403) saw Leonardo Bruni offer his Panegyric to the City of Florence, describing a city where freedom of speech, self-government, and equality reigned.
In 1401, Italian artist Lorenzo Ghiberti was awarded a commission to create bronze doors for the baptistry of San Giovanni in Florence; architect Filippo Brunelleschi and sculptor Donatello traveled to Rome to begin their 13-year stay sketching, studying, and analyzing the ruins there; and the first painter of the early Renaissance, Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone and better known as Masaccio, was born.
Leon Battista Alberti published "On the Art of Building" (1443 to 1452), Thomas Malory wrote (or compiled) "le Morte d' Arthur" in 1470, and Marsilio Ficino completed his "Platonic Theory" in 1471.
The last quarter of the 16th century witnessed an explosion of important sailing discoveries in the Age of Exploration: Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, Columbus reached the Bahamas in 1492, and Vasco da Gama reached India in 1498.