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The cultural and artistic events of Italy during the period 1400 to 1499 are collectively referred to as the Quattrocento (UK: / - -/,, US: /-/, Italian: [ˌkwattroˈtʃɛnto]) from the Italian word for the number 400, in turn from millequattrocento, which is Italian for the year 1400. The Quattrocento encompasses the artistic styles of the late Middle Ages (most notably International Gothic), the early Renaissance (beginning around 1425), and the start of the High Renaissance, generally asserted to begin between 1495 and 1500.
After the decline of the Western Roman Empire in 476, economic disorder and disruption of trade spread across Europe. This was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages, which lasted roughly until the 11th century, when trade picked up, population began to expand and the people regained their authority.
In the late Middle Ages, the political structure of the European continent slowly coalesced from small, turbulent fiefdoms into larger, more stable nation states ruled by monarchies. In Italy, urban centers arose, populated by merchant and trade classes able to defend themselves. Money replaced land as the medium of exchange, and increasing numbers of serfs became freedmen. The changes in Medieval Italy and the decline of feudalism paved the way for social, cultural, and economic changes.
The Quattrocento is viewed as the transition from the Medieval period to the age of the Italian Renaissance, principally in the cities of Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice, Naples. The period saw the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, and it has been compared with the Timurid Renaissance which unfolded at the same time in Central Asia.
Quattrocento art shed the decorative mosaics typically associated with Byzantine art along with Christian and Gothic media, as well as styles in stained glass, frescoes, illuminated manuscripts and sculpture. Instead, Quattrocento artists incorporated the more classic forms developed by classical Roman and Greek art.
Since the Quattrocento overlaps with part of the Renaissance, it would be inaccurate to say that a particular artist was Quattrocento or Renaissance. Artists of the time probably would not have identified themselves as members of a school or period.
Also see the list of 27 prominent 15th century painters made contemporaneously by Giovanni Santi, Raphael Sanzio's father as part of a poem for the Duke of Urbino.