The discovery of worlds outside of the medieval fishbowl created enormous distances and alternative perspectives from which the Europeans could observe themselves. Although the reflective capability of medieval society never should be underestimated, the change was nevertheless profound. When looking at the world from these new points of view, a distinctly modern outlook gradually came to emerge. And naturally, the people most directly associated with these breakthroughs soon came to be regarded as heroic figures and as icons of the modern age. As generations of schoolbook writers have informed their impressionable readers, it was the discoveries of men like Petrarca, Columbus and Copernicus that created the modern outlook. But for their seminal contributions, we would still be living in the dark ages.