The Renaissance was the beginning of political institutions with a commercial economy and the encouragement of education, arts, and music. It was a period of new inventions and believes. Renaissance actually means “rebirth”. It was first used by a French historian Jules Michelet. Swiss historian Jakob Burckhardt said it was the time period between Italian painters Giotto and Michelangelo. He also said it was the birth of modern humanity after a long period of decay.
The Italian Renaissance began in Florence, Milan, and Venice. These cities were created in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as new commercial developments, which allowed them to expand into mercantile societies that greatly contrast with the traditional society of medieval Europe. Renaissance historians rejected the medieval Christian views of history. They were often known as humanists. Humanism was another cultural break with medieval tradition. Scholars under its ideas viewed classical texts on their own terms instead of Christian justifications. They also wanted to produce free and educated citizens, instead of priests and monks. These humanistic studies were supported by leading families like the Medici of Florence, Papal of Rome and the Doges of Venice.
The Renaissance period also made progress in medicine, anatomy, mathematics, and especially astronomy. Geography was transformed by new knowledge gained from explorations. The invention of the printing press was also created, which made knowledge easier to achieve and literacy became more wide spread. Gunpowder transformed warfare. In political subjects Renaissance theorists like Machiavelli said that the central task of government was to maintain security and peace, not preserve liberty and justice.
Religion especially changed during the Renaissance. In the Middle ages people were primarily concerned with serving the church and getting to heaven. The increase of in arts and education gave people something to look forward to, and a life to life worth living. Because of the increase of literacy people learned that the Catholic Church only told them what they wanted them to hear. This caused many to break away from the church and form Protestant religions.
Many great minds were also produced in the Renaissance times. Leonardo da Vinci was one of these. Although he was not highly thought of in his time, he had many great works of art such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. He now is thought of as a great inventor also. He was given the credit of coming up with the helicopter. He also did autopsies 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.
The Renaissance was a time of awakening for the world. A beginning to widespread knowledge and an end to ignorance. Creative minds every where were going to work and finally being appreciated for it. To many the Renaissance period was thought to be the end of the darkness.