The European Renaissance
The Renaissance was a period of European history, considered
by modern scholars as that between 1300 and 1600. Many dramatic
changes happened during the Renaissance. The Renaissance was a
period of new inventions and beliefs.
The Renaissance was drastically different from the Middle
Ages. During the Middle Ages the church held most of the power and
it's economy was agriculturally based. Exploration and learning
was almost put to a stop. During the Renaissance society was
transformed into a society increasingly dominated by central political
institutions with an urban commercial attitude. Also, people's
curiosity overcame their fear and many people started to venture out
and explore. New schools and colleges became more and more common.
The Renaissance was started by many rich Italian cities, such
as Florence, Ferrara, Milan ,and Venice. Because these cities were
very wealthy, many merchants started to spend money on different
things, such as painting, learning, new banking techniques, and new
systems of government. These things gave rise to a new type of
scholar, the humanist. Humanism was subjects concerned with humankind
and culture. They studied various things such as Latin, Greek
language, literature and philosophy. Music and mathematics were also
studied as well.
The Renaissance gave way to new forms of painting , art and
sculpture. During the Renaissance, artist were no longer regarded as
mere artisans, as they had been to the medieval past, but for the
first time emerged as independent personalities, compared to poets and
writers. Many artisans merged mathematics with art , in order to
become more precise in their measurements and to make sure an object
was supported both rationally and proportionally. As a result
painters tried and often succeeded into making their painting a window
into the world. Artists also studied the way light hits objects and
the way our eyes perceive light. A new kind of paint called oil paint
was used. This allowed the artist to create texture , mix colors, and
allow more time for corrections before it dried.
The printing press was probably the most important advance in
technology. Europeans first used movable metal type to print a book.
On small pieces of metal they engraved single letters of the
alphabet. These could then be arranged and rearranged to form words
and sentences. Johan Gutenberg is usually given credit for the first
book printed, a copy of the Bible. By the 1500's printing presses
where fairly well spread. The printing press had many effects on the
world. First of all, it made books much easier to come by, which made
them cheaper. That meant common people could afford them. As a result
literacy became more widespread, in contrast to the Middle Ages where
usually monks and church officials were the only able to read.
Second, since many more people were able to read, they wanted to read
subjects other than religious or scientific work. So books on other
subjects were published as well. Also many books were published in
languages other than Latin, such as English, Portuguese, Spanish,
French, and Italian. A third effect was that scholars had better
access to one anothers work. They could also read the great works of
the ancient and medieval periods.
The Renaissance also had an effect on the general society.
Many people became interested in politics. Also, people became
interested in the world outside of their towns. Many became
explorers, merchants, and map makers. Religion especially changed
during the Renaissance. In the Middle ages people were primarily
concerned with serving the church and getting to heaven. But
the increase in arts and education gave people something to look
forward to, and a life worth living. So in turn, people based their
lives around various other things instead of the church. Because of
the increase in literacy people learned that the Catholic Church only
told the populous what they wanted them to hear. This caused many
people to break away from the church and form Protestant religions.
The Renaissance produced many great minds. Leonardo da Vinci
was one of these. Although he was not regarded as a genius in his
time. He had numerous works of art such as the Mona Lisa and
The Last Supper. He also is now regarded as a great inventor. He is
credited for coming up with the idea of the helicopter. He dissected
corpses to learn more about human anatomy. Another great man was a
German monk, Martin Luther. He taught Biblical studies at the
University of Wittenberg. Luther's beliefs challenged the church
although many people agreed with his ideas. He was eventually
excommunicated from the church and he started Protestantism.
In conclusion, the Renaissance was a time of new awakening in
Europe. It include the general loss of power by the church, an
increase in literacy and education, and an exploration period.