The Italian Renaissance (Italian: Rinascimento [rinaʃʃiˈmento]) was a period in Italian history covering the 15th and 16th centuries. The period is known for the development of a culture that spread across Europe and marked the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. Proponents of a "long Renaissance" argue that it started around the year 1300 and lasted until about 1600. In some fields, a Proto-Renaissance, beginning around 1250, is typically accepted. The French word renaissance (corresponding to rinascimento in Italian) means 'rebirth', and defines the period as one of cultural revival and renewed interest in classical antiquity after the centuries during what Renaissance humanists labeled as the "Dark Ages". The Renaissance author Giorgio Vasari used the term rinascita 'rebirth' in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects in 1550, but the concept became widespread only in the 19th century, after the work of scholars such as Jules Michelet and Jacob Burckhardt.