defeats the Sultan of Delhi
, Nasir Al-Din Mahmud Tughluq, in the winter of 1397–1398, painting dated 1595–1600.
The 15th century was the century which spans the Julian years 1401 to 1500.
In Europe, the 15th century is seen as the bridge between the Late Middle Ages, the Early Renaissance, and the Early modern period. Many technological, social and cultural developments of the 15th century can in retrospect be seen as heralding the "European miracle" of the following centuries. The field of accounting was founded in Italy. In religious history, the Roman Papacy was split in two parts in Europe for decades (the so-called Western Schism), until the Council of Constance. The division of the Catholic Church and the unrest associated with the Hussite movement would become factors in the rise of the Protestant Reformation in the following century.
Constantinople, in what is today Turkey, then the capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire, falls to the emerging Muslim Ottoman Turks, marking the end of the tremendously influential Byzantine Empire and, for some historians, the end of the Middle Ages. The event forced Western Europeans to find a new trade route, adding further momentum to what was the beginning of the Age of Discovery, which would lead to the global mapping of the world. Explorations by the Portuguese and Spanish led to European sightings of the Americas (the New World) and the sea passage along Cape of Good Hope to India, in the last decade of the century. These expeditions ushered in the era of the Portuguese and Spanish colonial empires.
The fall of Constantinople led to the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy, while Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the mechanical movable type began the Printing Press. These two events played key roles in the development of the Renaissance.
The Spanish Reconquista leads to the final fall of the Emirate of Granada by the end of the century, ending over seven centuries of Muslim rule and returning Spain back to Christian rulers.
The Hundred Years' War end with a decisive French victory over the English in the Battle of Castillon. Financial troubles in England following the conflict results in the Wars of the Roses, a series of dynastic wars for the throne of England. The conflicts end with the defeat of Richard III by Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth Field, establishing the Tudor dynasty in the later part of the century.
In Asia, Tamerlane established a major Islamic empire in the Middle East and Central Asia, in order to revive the Mongol Empire. The Afghan Pashtun Lodi dynasty is founded under the Delhi Sultanate. Voyages led by Vasco da Gama linked Europe and the Bengal Sultanate. Under the rule of the Yongle Emperor, who built the Forbidden City and commanded Zheng He to explore the world overseas, the Ming Dynasty's territory reached its pinnacle.
In Africa, the spread of Islam leads to the destruction of the Christian kingdoms of Nubia, by the end of the century leaving only Alodia (which was to collapse in 1504). The formerly vast Mali Empire teeters on the brink of collapse, under pressure from the rising Songhai Empire.
In the Americas, both the Inca Empire and the Aztec Empire reach the peak of their influence.
- 1401: Dilawar Khan establishes the Malwa Sultanate in present-day central India
- 1402: Ottoman and Timurid Empires fight at the Battle of Ankara resulting in Timur's capture of Bayezid I.
- 1402: Sultanate of Malacca founded by Parameshwara.
- 1402: The settlement of the Canary Islands signals the beginning of the Spanish Empire
- 1403: The Yongle Emperor moves the capital of China from Nanjing to Beijing.
- 1405–1433: During the Ming treasure voyages, Admiral Zheng He of China sails through the Indian Ocean to Malacca, India, Arabia, and East Africa to spread China's influence and sovereignty.
- 1405: Paregreg war, Majapahit civil war of succession between Wikramawardhana against Wirabhumi. (to 1406)
- 1405–1407: The first voyage of Zheng He, a massive Ming dynasty naval expedition visited Java, Palembang, Malacca, Aru, Samudera and Lambri. (to 1433)
- 1440: Eton College founded by Henry VI.
- 1440s: The Golden Horde breaks up into the Siberia Khanate, the Khanate of Kazan, the Astrakhan Khanate, the Crimean Khanate, and the Great Horde.
- 1440–1469: Under Moctezuma I, the Aztecs become the dominant power in Mesoamerica.
- 1440: Oba Ewuare comes to power in the West African city of Benin, and turns it into an empire.
- 1441: Jan van Eyck, Flemish painter, dies.
- 1441: Portuguese navigators cruise West Africa and reestablish the European slave trade with a shipment of African slaves sent directly from Africa to Portugal.
- 1441: A civil war between The Tutul Xiues and Cocom breaks out in The League of Mayapan. As a consequence the league begins to disintegrate.
- 1443: Abdur Razzaq visits India.
- 1443: King Sejong the Great publishes the hangul, the native phonetic alphabet system for the Korean language.
- 1444: The Albanian league is established in Lezha, Skanderbeg is elected leader. A war begins against Ottoman empire. An Albanian state is set up and lasts until 1479.
- 1444: Ottoman Empire under Sultan Murad II defeats the Polish and Hungarian armies under Władysław III of Poland and János Hunyadi at the Battle of Varna.
- 1445: The Kazan Khanate defeats the Grand Duchy of Moscow at the Battle of Suzdal.
- 1446: Mallikarjuna Raya succeeds his father Deva Raya II as monarch of the Vijayanagara Empire.
- 1447: Wijaya Parakrama Wardhana, succeeds Suhita as ruler of Majapahit.
- 1449: Saint Srimanta Sankardeva was born.
- 1449: Esen Tayisi leads an Oirat Mongol invasion of China which culminate in the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor at Battle of Tumu Fortress.
- 1456: The Siege of Belgrade halts the Ottomans' advance into Europe.
- 1456: Girishawardhana, styled Brawijaya III, becomes ruler of Majapahit.
The seventeen Kuchkabals of Yucatán after The League of Mayapan in 1461.
- 1492: The death of Sunni Ali Ber left a leadership void in the Songhai Empire, and his son was soon dethroned by Mamadou Toure who ascended the throne in 1493 under the name Askia (meaning "general") Muhammad. Askia Muhammad made Songhai the largest empire in the history of West Africa. The empire went into decline, however, after 1528, when the now-blind Askia Muhammad was dethroned by his son, Askia Musa.
- 1492: Boabdil's surrender of Granada marks the end of the Spanish Reconquista and Al-Andalus.
- 1492: Ferdinand and Isabella sign the Alhambra Decree, expelling all Jews from Spain unless they convert to Catholicism; 40,000–200,000 leave.
- 1492: Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas from Spain.
- 1494: Spain and Portugal sign the Treaty of Tordesillas and agree to divide the World outside of Europe between themselves.
- 1494–1559: The Italian Wars lead to the downfall of the Italian city-states.
- 1497–1499: Vasco da Gama's first voyage from Europe to India and back.
- 1499: Ottoman fleet defeats Venetians at the Battle of Zonchio.
- 1499: Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica is made in Rome
- 1500: Islam becomes Indonesia's dominant religion.
- 1500: Around late 15th century Bujangga Manik manuscript was composed, tell the story of Jaya Pakuan Bujangga Manik, a Sundanese Hindu hermit journeys throughout Java and Bali.