The Renaissance Period is ranked among the most influential periods in the history of Europe, and it took place between 1300 and 1700. It is considered as the cultural link from the middle Ages to modern history. The Renaissance period was marked by renewed interest in science and the arts, and a section of historians view it as a cultural and intellectual movement than as a historical period. The period is mostly associated with Italy where it originated from in the 14th century. Other European nations such as England, Germany, and France also underwent similar cultural changes.
The Renaissance succeeded the middle Ages in Europe, and it was a period during which the European society sought to relearn Classical philosophy and values. Renaissance thinkers believed the notion that the middle Ages had been marked by cultural decline and they sought to re-popularize their past culture. The scholars achieved this by interpreting, expanding, and improving classical values and philosophies, creating their styles of art, and triggering a scientific and philosophical inquiry. The influence of the Renaissance was evident in religion, music, literature, politics, philosophy, science, and art. Renaissance scholars adopted humanism in their studies.
Where Did the Renaissance Begin?
Historians agree that the Renaissance originated in Italy, but they disagree on the particular time it began. Several theories have been put forward to explain why the period commenced in Italy and why it began at the time it did. The wealth of Italy was greatly expanded in the 14th to the 16th centuries by extending trade into Europe and Asia. Tyrol prospered from silver mining while Venice and Genoa had an abundance of luxuries from the Eastern world. Artists relied on patrons to fund their artistic ventures, and the prosperity of Italy put money in the patrons' hands. In the late middle Ages, Italy was constituted of city states and territories which had a degree of political freedom that enabled artistic and academic advancement. The existence of such Merchant Republics such as Venice and Florence ensured there was a constant flow of money. The Black Death has also been suggested as one of the factors which triggered the Renaissance. Italy registered a lot of deaths during the plague, and the subsequent familiarity with death led scholars to dwell more on their existence on Earth rather than on the afterlife and spirituality. The Renaissance began in Florence in particular, and historians have suggested that this was because of the presence of wealth and generous patrons or it was due to luck.
What Were the Contributions of the Renaissance?
Renaissance art leaned towards realism, and it contained perspective. Painters such as Leonardo da Vinci depicted the human anatomy and contributed to the understanding of the human form. Painters such as Jan van Eyck as well as Hugo van der Goes adopted the use of oil paint and canvas and also popularized the technique of naturalism. The Renaissance style of architecture revived some elements of ancient Roman and Greek architecture. Renaissance literature, unlike earlier literature, focused on human behaviors and characteristics. Significant science and engineering breakthroughs also took place during the Renaissance period including the invention of telescopes, spectacles, printing, gunpowder, the mariner's compass, paper, and clocks. New musical instruments such as the violin and the harpsichord gave birth to the opera and composers sought to make music with an emotional effect. Other Renaissance developments include the rise of Protestantism, the growth of a capitalist market economy in place of feudalism, and the discovery of the New World attributed to Columbus.
How did the Renaissance Influence the World?
The Renaissance Period had an enduring impact on civilization. The developments in geography and science enabled people to understand the Earth and the Universe better. The printing press is among the most notable inventions, and it enabled the ideas of scholars to become accessible to the public and promoted education. The elements of the Renaissance period set the foundation for the development of modern culture.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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