A term meaning ‘rebirth’ applied to an intellectual and artistic movement that began in Italy in the 14th century, culminated there in the 16th century, and influenced other parts of Europe in a great variety of ways. The notion of a rebirth refers to a revival of the values of the classical world, and the concept was used as early as the 15th century, by Italians who thought they were living at a time when the qualities of ancient art and literature were blossoming anew after centuries of barbarism. In the following century Vasari gave the idea of such a revival a systematically developed form; he thought that art had declined in the Middle Ages, had been set once again on its true path by Giotto, and had risen to its greatest heights in the work of his friend and hero Michelangelo. The extension of the meaning of the term from a cultural movement to a period of history began in the 18th century and this usage became firmly established in the mid-19th century.