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Renaissance 5 Essay, Research Paper

Renaissance, French for rebirth , perfectly describes the intellectual and economic changes that occurred in Europe from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. This intellectual movement developed in Italy, more specifically Florence. It is meant to imply a rebirth of the way of life of antiquity or a new set of attitudes that use Ancient Rome and Greece as models.

During this period, in Italy, the breakdown of the Roman Empire is taking place- Northern Italy is being overrun from the East. There is a continuation of urban life on the Italian Peninsula, contact and trade exists with countries outside of Europe. Politically, Italy is not as decentralized as the rest of Europe. The papacy behaved more like the state than the church. The papacy controlled land, fielded armies and played the role of leader. The major city-states during the Renaissance were Naples, Florence, Milan, Venice and the Papal States.

The Renaissance brought us many discoveries. Tools were developed for exploration. One of these tools was the astrolabe, a portable device used by sailors to help them find their way. The astrolabe measured the distance of the stars and sun above the horizon, which played a role in finding the latitude, which was important in navigation. The magnetic compass was also improves upon during the Renaissance. Maps became more reliable as cartographers began to incorporate the information of travelers and explorers into their work and shipbuilding improved. Large ships called galleons became common. These ships were powered by sail rather than by men using oars. Although navigation was still not a precise science, sailors were able to go farther than they were before, returning with imported goods from the East. The slave trade begins to flourish and Europeans are discovering more of the world.

In 1445, Gutenberg invented the printing press, forever changing the lives of the people in Europe and eventually people around the world. Before the printing press, books were hand-written. By 1500, twenty million books had been printed in Europe. Standard editions of texts like the Bible and religious texts are available. Books could be purchased by urban dwellers. Education expands when more people can afford to buy books.

The ability to draw a contrast between the past and the present is a new age. The Renaissance leads to a view that society has come out of the darkness. Nature had previously been viewed negatively. During the Renaissance, nature is perceived as something beautiful and worth studying. Plants are studied, which results in botanical gardens, cultivation and breeding. The Renaissance also brought about the systematic collection of animals, exotic animals, people (slavery), and the use of studs in breeding horses.

Naturalism was also evident in the arts. Artists were trying to portray life as it was. In the past, drama often included personified moralities. A more naturalistic portrayal of humans begins in the Renaissance, drama includes jokes and obscenities, what you saw on stage is what occurred in life. Literature begins to use vernacular or the popular spoken language. Less is being written in Latin. Stage and canvas give an illusion of reality. There is amore realistic use of space.

Rationalism was very evident. An application of reason expanded to a wide range of human affairs. Space is broken down mathematically in architecture and painting. Space is intended to give an illusion of reality. Double entry bookkeeping is used. During the Middle Ages, wealth was in land. In the Renaissance, currency is standard. Profits can be made in buying and selling. An economic process is established.

Individualism also plays a role in the Renaissance. Biographies become popular. The lives of humans were worthy of artistic recreation. There is an emergence of celebrities, in rulers, artists, and other well-known people. Artists began to sign their works. If a child showed promise in a particular area he was sent to learn and study the style of a master .

Humanism emerged. This placed an emphasis on classical authors and classical studies. This included the studies of grammar, rhetoric, moral philosophy, poetry, and history. Humanism taught us that no man was above criticism and that in order to truly learn you would have to return to the original text. People studied and returned to their countries with their new thinking and teaching methods.

The Renaissance society believed that the world could be studied, molded, and changed. People could create the world that they truly wanted. The people of the Renaissance no longer wanted only the recognition of God for their deeds. They now believed that deeds should bring them wealth and reputation.


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