The European Renaissance


The Renaissance was a period of European history, considered 
by modern scholars as that between 1300 and 1600. Many dramatic 
changes happend 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 agriculturaly 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 thier 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 stutied various things such as Latin, Greek 
language, literature and philosophy. Music and mathmatics 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 mathmatics with art , in order to 
become more precise in their measurements and to make sure an object 
was supported both rationally and porportionally. As a result 
painters tried and often suceeded into making their painting a window 
into the world. Artists also studied the way light hits objects and 
the way our eyes percieve 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 probaly 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, wich made 
them cheaper. That ment 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, Portugeese, 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 thier towns. Many became 
explorers, merchants, and mapmakers. 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 inturn, people based thier 
lives around various other things instead of the church. Because of 
the increase in literacy people learned that the Catholic Church only 
told the populus what they wanted them to hear. This caused many 
people to break away from the churh and form Protestant religions. 

 The Renaissance produced many great minds. Leonardo da Vinci 
was one of these. Although he was not regarded as a genious 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 chuch and he started Protestantism. 

 In conclusion, the Renaissance was a time of new awakening in 
Euroupe. It include the general loss of power by the church, an 
increase in literacy and education, and an exploration period.


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