In the early Middle Ages, Europe comes into bloom. Cathedral spires rise to the sky, merchants establish banking and trade exchanges, art and literature flourish. Then plague, famine and war spread misery and suffering across Europe, shaking the very foundations of the Christian West and decimating a third of its population. But Europe finds common identity and inspiration within its shared suffering. The Renaissance sparks a rediscovery of ancient art and science, paving the way to modernity.