The world’s history is divided into three periods: ancient, middle (or medieval), and modern. The Middle Ages roughly lasted between the 5th and 13th centuries A.D. This period had feudalism and the dominance of the Catholic Church in all aspects of life, and there was no progress or innovation in Europe during this age. However, in the 14th century AD, a tremendous cultural change came to Europe for about two centuries, and this period is called the Renaissance. It had a huge impact on the world in the coming centuries and can be seen even today.
MEANING OF RENAISSANCE
* Renaissance is a French word that means “rebirth.”
* It was a period between approximately two centuries, i.e., the 14th and 16th centuries AD, in which Europe woke up from the Dark Age. It is also called the age of enlightenment.
* It was a turning point in human history and had a great impact on the future.
* It got triggered in Italy, then spread throughout Europe, later rest of the world.
* Many temperamental changes took place in almost all aspects of humanity. Along with this, scientific innovation and logical reasoning developed.
* According to historian Davis, the word “renaissance” “expresses those freedom-loving, intrepid ideas of people who had been imprisoned by the religious authorities in the Middle Ages.”
* Some notable names of the Renaissance period are Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, William Shakespeare, Dante, Petrarch, Galileo, Machiavelli, etc.
CAUSES OF RENAISSANCE
* These were the holy wars fought by Christians to recover Jerusalem from Muslims.
* This led to cultural interaction between Europeans and Arabs. The Arabs were quite advanced due to their prolonged interaction with Indian and Chinese civilizations.
* So the Europeans also got new ideas, and they decided to rediscover their once glorious but now almost forgotten Greek and Roman civilizations.
2. Paper and Printing press
* In earlier times, the skin of wood was used to write down manuscripts, etc., but it was very costly. However, the invention of paper brought about a big change.
* Gutenberg was the first European to learn about the Chinese printing method, but the Chinese language was different, and after struggling and experimenting for a long time, he finally printed a copy of the Bible in 1455.
* Later printing presses brought about a revolution in Europe. With the help of the printing press, knowledge was now being made available to the common man at a low cost.
* So when books became much more affordable and easily available, the forgotten knowledge of the past spread like wildfire, which fueled the Renaissance.
3. Capture of Constantinople by the Turks
* The Ottoman Empire captured Constantinople in 1453 AD. This conquest brought an end to the Byzantine Empire and also to the Middle Ages.
* After this conquest, many scholars from Constantinople ran towards Europe and settled in Italy. They brought many old Greek and Roman manuscripts with them.
* As Italy had much more freedom in those days when compared with other European countries, new ideas started developing with the help of these old manuscripts. like the old documents of Aristotle that were found.
4. Copernican revolution
* In earlier days, it was a common belief that the earth was at the centre of the universe and everything revolved around it. However, Nicholas Copernicus proved that the sun is at the centre of our solar system and the planets revolve around it. This was called the Copernican Revolution.
* It was a huge blow for the Catholic Church because this went absolutely against the Bible.
* After this discovery, people started thinking from new perspectives, which led to innovation.
5. Trade with the east
* In the middle ages, the Eastern world was comparatively more advanced than the Western world. Baghdad (Iraq) was a great centre of learning.
* When Europeans traded with them, they sometimes brought back manuscripts containing advance knowledge.
* This cultural exchange was also one of the many reasons that eventually led to the Renaissance in Europe.
Some other causes of renaissance
* Invention of compass
* Invention of gunpowder
* New geographical discoveries
* Introduction of Arabic number system in Europe
CHARACTERISTICS OF RENAISSANCE
* In the Middle Ages, religion was given utmost importance, and human life came later. However, after the Renaissance, the importance of humans started dominating over religion.
* Petrarch of Italy is called the “Father of Humanism” for his contribution in this field. He rediscovered the letters of Cicero.
* The Humanas laid emphasis on discovering and using the human potential for growth rather than just relying on the church for everything. The humanists believed in a secular way of life.
* Some other humanists of the age were Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Dante, etc.
* The realists believe in solving the problems of the world as it is rather than trying to create an ideal world like the idealists. This period saw the rise of realism because people were getting fed up with the idealistic ways of the Middle Ages.
3. Renaissance art
Almost all the sectors of art, like architecture, sculpture, painting, etc., had a huge impact on the Renaissance.
* Old Roman and Greek architectural styles were revived.There was a shift from mediaeval Gothic style to classic Roman style.
* Some key features of this style of architecture were the column and round arch, the tunnel vault, and the dome. The elements of basic design came from the ancient ruins of Rome and the writings of Vitruvius.
* The architecture was in harmony with human proportions and structures.This was the main difference between the Renaissance dial and the old Gothic style.
* Some examples of the architecture of this period are the Cathedral of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, etc.
* The inspiration for sculptures in this age was taken from Greek style, which was revived, and its variants were created.
* Two notable names here are Donatello and Michelangelo.
* Even the field of music didn’t remain untouched. The rhythmic pattern and harmony changed.
* The use of the piano and violin became widespread. This led to the creation of new religious songs.
* One notable name in this field was that of William Moore.
* The paintings were commissioned by the church, so the dominance of religion could be seen here.
* The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and the Last Judgment by Michelangelo are famous.
8. Development of literature
* In the Middle Ages, books were uncommon and expensive. The villagers were mostly illiterate and relied on priests. However, during the Renaissance, books started appearing in local languages. Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, and Thomas Cranmer wrote the Book of Common Prayer.
* Niccolo Machiavelli is also famous for his books like The Prince and The History of Florence.
9. Geographical discoveries
* Marco Polo – He was a citizen of Italy. He travelled to Japan, China, and islands in the east.
* Bias – He was also a sailor who explored Da Eastern seas. Henry, the prince of Portugal, sponsored and encouraged the creation of better ships for long distance travels.
* Christopher Columbus – he was a citizen of Geneva. He was encouraged by King Fernando and his queen, Alpha Bella. In 1492, he started a journey to find a sea route to India but found America instead.
* Vasco de Gama: he was also a Portuguese sailor who finally found a sea route to India and became the first European to reach India by sea.
* Magellan – he believed that the earth is not flat but round. He discovered the Philippines.
* Sir Francis Drake was great – he managed to reach the Pacific Ocean and became the first person in the world to circle the globe by sea.
10. Science and inventions
* Renaissance is called the age of science. People started scientific enquiry and logical reasoning in this period.
* Galileo built the world’s first telescope.
* Gutenberg invented the printing press.
* Copernicus proved that the earth is round and that it revolves around the sun.
* Adreus Vaisalius did work in the field of medicine.
SOME IMPORTANT NAMES OF THE RENAISSANCE PERIOD
Leonardo da Vinci
* He is considered to be one of the most well-known Renaissance figures.He was a scientist, a painter and many more things.
* He is credited with the invention of many modern-day inventions such as the helicopter and tank.
* He was born in Florence. He gave many revolutionary concepts and tried to explain the difference between religion and politics.
* His novel, The Prince, is well-known.
* He was born into a simple Italian family. In those days, Italy was divided into two camps: those who supported the Pope and those who supported the King. Gante supported the king.
* He wrote the book ‘The Monarchy” and explained how and why religion should be kept away from politics.
* Shakespeare is the greatest dramatist of all time. He was born in England and wrote between 1586 and 1609.
His plays and sonnets are very famous. His most famous plays include Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, etc.
* He belonged to Holland. He wrote “A Book of a Christian Soldier. He wanted society to get rid of superstitions.
* His most famous book is The Praise of Holly, in which he makes fun of religious bureaucrats.
* He was a citizen of Italy. His book, The Familiar Letters, is quite famous.
* He is also known as the “Father of Humanism.”
Sir Francis Bacon
* He is known as the “Father of Essays.” His most famous works include The History of Henry VII, The Advancement of Learning, and The New Atlantis.
IMPACT OF RENAISSANCE
* After the new geographical discoveries, trade expanded exponentially.
* This brought the dawn of globalisation and primary capitalism, and big trade empires began to rise.
* With time, the Atlantic became the centre of world trade.
2. Social, political, and economic changes
* Changes in thinking and the evolution of trade had an impact on society, and new cultures developed.
* Feudalism began to disappear, and democracies rose one by one.
* The economic structure of the world changed forever in the later centuries, especially after industrialization.
3. Literature and science
* There was significant progress in the field of literature, and literature containing free and unrestricted thoughts emerged.
* The freedom of thought created space for signs that later changed the world.
* This scientific progress later dominated almost everything in the Modern Age.
* The practise or principle of basing opinions and actions on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response is called rationalism.
* Following the Age of Enlightenment, rationalism spread throughout the world and will continue to exist indefinitely.
* There was a revival of ancient Greek and Roman art styles.
* Architecture, paintings, sculpture, and music were all affected.
* The rise of science gave a setback to religion.
* People started questioning the established traditions.
* The power of the Catholic Church fell drastically, and the long war between state and church ended.
So the Renaissance in Europe changed the world forever. It paved the path for the modern age. Almost everything in our lives today is impacted by it in some way, and it will always be remembered as one of the most important turning points in human history.
Note from the author: I hope my blog was interesting. All the corrections and suggestions are heartily welcome!
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Regards: Saad Ahmad Khan