The Middle Ages began in late Roman antiquity, conventionally with the rule of the Emperor Constantine (AD 324-337), and continued up to the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The Renaissance overlaps the later Middle Ages, beginning as early as the fourteenth century in Italy and as late as the early sixteenth century in northern Europe. Scholars generally agree that in most parts of Europe the Renaissance was supplanted by the Baroque no later than the mid-seventeenth century. Although modern scholars have traditionally divided this long era into two distinct periods, it makes better sense to study them jointly in one program. First, there is no clear historical dividing line that is equally valid for all areas of Europe and the Middle East. Second, many scholars have argued that the cultural continuities between these two periods are just as significant as the cultural discontinuities.

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