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The Rennaissance Essay, Research Paper

The Renaissance, which began in Italy in 1300s, was one of the largest periods of growth and development in Western Europe. The increase in trade caused a abundance in wealth that resulted in the focusing of the arts. Such things as literature, paintings, sculptures and many more works are known to have blossomed from the period known as the Renaissance. Many other important occurrences , such as the Reformation and split of the Roman Catholic Church caused by the opposing views of Martin Luther and more of a focus on humankind called humanism, also the eight crusades to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims, played key rolls in the period of the Renaissance.

The Crusades which took place before the period of the Renaissance are a major factor in the coming about or “birth” of the Renaissance. The eight Crusades were the efforts to take back Jerusalem from the Muslims. These Crusades introduced to Western Europe the new tastes of art, fine quisines and new types of cloth, including silk.. With this the need for trade with the Far East increased drastically. This increase in trade caused an abundance of wealth in Western Europe which intern brought new products and goods to Western Europe.

In the year 1305 the Roman Catholic Church was relocated from Rome to France. With this the power of the papal states was divided among the region’s leading families. Starting near the year 1300 the demand for reform began to grow at a rapid pace. By the 1600’s close to half of the practicing Catholics in western Europe had left the Church to join one of the new reformer religious groups. This reform brought about new ways of thought and new attitudes towards religion and the human race. The young German scholar realized that the way to salvation was “justification by faith.” Martin Luther’s beliefs were deemed to be heretic in nature and he was hidden away by a German prince.

The word Renaissance means a “rebirth”. This is exactly what happened after the Crusades and split of the Roman Catholic church. A rebirth of ideas was their outcome. The most drastic change took place in art. New perspectives were created by such people as Giotto, Tamias Masaccio, and Filippo Brunelleschi. With these new perspectives came a new age of art within the Renaissance. Many new painters learned about using shades of light and dark to create the illusion of depth, along with new techniques to make paintings more realistic.

The Renaissance was truly the “rebirth” of lost ideas along with the birth of new ideas. The Split of the Church and the eight Crusades to recapture Jerusalem are two of the many reasons for the “birth” of the Renaissance, yet both are important to the birth of the Renaissance. Without the Crusades, which brought back lost works from the Roman Empire and opened trade with the far east, and the split of the Roman Catholic Church, which brought about the reformation of the church, there wouldn’t have been enough of a basis for the Renaissance to occur. Renaissance civilization revamped the political scene from the Middle Ages into the modern age. The “despotism created during the Renaissance bestowed incomparable unity and power upon Europe through the individual.” Leaders such as Vicente displayed tremendous strength and vitality. During the 14th century, people no longer received and respected the Emperors as feudal lords , but as possible leaders and supporters of power already in existence ” The reverence of the heads of government aroused feelings of patriotism in the hearts of the people. For the first time a modern political spirit of Europe can be detected . Political support or nationalism is still evident in today’s society and can be attributed to the Renaissance.

The Renaissance also harbored secular ideas of the state . The Renaissance marked the transition from the ecclesiastical to secular outlook . The people began to search for answers and a growing emphasis on reason, rather than faith, became apparent . Historian Marsilius of Padua proclaimed that according to the writings of Aristotle “the Roman bishop called pope , or any other priest or bishop , or spiritual minister, collectively or individually, as such , has and ought to have no coercive jurisdiction over the property or person of any priest or bishop , or deacon, or group of them , an still less over any secular ruler or government, community , group, or individual ” Therefore , the ecclesiastical should not lawfully exercise any political power. Furthermore, Niccolo Machiawelli went to extremes by stating that Christian virtues and politics in an unstable form of government. In concurrence with Machiavellian politics, Isaiah Berlin suggests that “to choose to lead a Christian life is to condemn oneself to political impotence ..if one wishes to build a glorious community like those of Athens or Rome at their best, then one must abandon Christian education and substitute one better suited to the purpose”. Nevertheless, secular ideas of the state were fostered during the Renaissance and have become one of the most critical components to a successful , modern nation.

Renaissance civilization also marked the birth of capitalism , the economic machine upon which the United States runs today. During the Renaissance , the economy went from feudal based to capitalist based. The revival of trade, urban life, and money economy had a dynamic influence in the midst of the agrarian feudal society of the high Middle Ages. As Wallace K. Ferguson says ” …. the historians whose special interest was religion , philosophy, literature, science , or art have all to frequently striven to explain the developments in these fields without correlating them with the changes in the economic, social, and political structure of society” Ferguson went on to explain that medieval civilization, founded as it was upon the basis of land tenure and agriculture, could not continue indefinitely to absorb an expanding urban society and money economy without losing its essential character , without gradually changing into something recognizably different. The growth of a money economy brought changes in the whole character of urban economic and social organizations , still evident in modern times.

Into this agrarian feudal society the revival of commerce and industry , accompanied by the growth of towns and money economy, introduced a new and alien element. This element was capitalism . The effect of the new economy was to stimulate the existing medieval civilization , freezing it from the economic , social, and cultural restrictions, making possible the development of the economy. The rise capitalism in the Renaissance had measurable effects on the rest of the society. For instance , the fall of feudalism gave way to the rise of city – state or centralized territorial states. In addition , the universal authority of the church was shaken by the growing power of the national states , “while its internal organization was transformed by the evolution of a monetary fiscal system” Meanwhile , within the cities the growth of capital was bringing significant changes in the whole character of urban economic and social organizations . Considering all the changes inspired by capitalism , the result was essential change in the character of European civilization . This new and extraordinary economic system known as capitalism would develop during the time of the Renaissance and would become the economic clockwork of modern America. Another distinct characteristic of the Renaissance present in today’s society is a strong emphasis on individuality . During the Middle Ages the common man was marked by “faith , illusion, and childish prepossession “. Men viewed themselves only as a member of some general category – race, people , party family , or cooperation . In earlier times, the development of free personality could not be detected in Northern Europe ; however , with the onset of the Renaissance , “man became a spiritual ” Toward the close of the 13th century Italy was overwhelmed with individuality , a recurring theme of today’s society. The time period was characterized by a movement in which human values and capabilities were the central focus known as humanism . Individual spirit was beginning to appear in Europe , and in today’s society this is a very important , if not , necessary idea.


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