The periods into which convention divides the history of European art and architecture are usually labelled with pejorative terms applied by succeeding generations. However, the idea of a renaissance of the humanist ideals of Classical antiquity in Italy in the later 14th century, and the corollary of a ‘middle age’ of obscurity between that new dawn and the final drawing down of night on the Roman empire by barbarian invaders in the 5th century, belongs to the new humanists themselves — the Florentine chancellor Leonardo Bruni (c. 1370–1444) and Flavio Biondo (1392–1463) were among the most prominent.