What is the Renaissance? All About the Renaissance
Renaissance is an enthusiastic “Rebirth” period of Europe in cultural, artistic, political, and economic terms after the Middle Ages. Renaissance covering between the 14th century and the 17th century; it is a period of re-rise of classical philosophy, literature, and art. While many great thinkers, writers, statesmen, scientists, and artists in the history of humanity emerged during this period, universal discoveries made during this period opened the doors of new lands and cultures to European countries. The Renaissance period is defined by filling the gap between the Middle Ages and today’s modern world.
1.From Darkness to Light: The Beginning of the Renaissance
Ancient Rome’s M.S. During the Middle Ages, which spanned the period between its dissolution in 476 and the early 14th century, Europeans made little progress in science and the arts.
This age, also known as the “Dark Age”, is also; It is referred to as the period of wars, ignorance, famine, and epidemics such as the Black Death. However, while some historians state that these brutal depictions of the Middle Ages were exaggerated, many historians agree that there was relatively little interest and respect for education and ancient Greek and Roman philosophies at that time.
Around the 14th century, a cultural movement called humanism began to gain momentum in Italy. Humanism, with its many principles, supported the idea that man is at the center of his universe and that humanity must embrace human achievements in education, classical art, literature, and science.
The invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1450 provided an improved communication network across Europe, allowing ideas to spread much faster. With this development in the communication network, it was possible to publish and distribute to the masses little-known texts of the first humanist writers such as Francesco Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio that supported the renewal of traditional Greek-Roman culture and values. Also, many scientists believe that developments in international finance and trade have an impact on culture in Europe and set the ground for the Renaissance.
The Renaissance began in Florence, Italy, a city rich in cultural history, where wealthy citizens could support emerging artists.
Members of the powerful Medici dynasty, which ruled Florence for more than 60 years, were the most famous supporters of this movement. Great Italian writers, artists, politicians, and others declared their participation in an intellectual and artistic revolution very different from what they experienced during the Dark Ages.
The movement first expanded across other Italian city-states such as Venice, Milan, Bologna, Ferrara, and Rome. Then, throughout the 15th century, Renaissance ideas had spread from Italy to France, and then to all of Western and Northern Europe.
Although other European countries experienced the Renaissance later than Italy, the effects of the movement were still revolutionary.
We can list some of the most famous and groundbreaking intellectuals, artists, and writers of the Renaissance as follows:
• Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519): Italian painter, architect, inventor, and owner of “Renaissance Man”, “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper” paintings.
• Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536): Dutch scientist who introduced the humanism movement to Northern Europe. Translator of the New Testament into Greek.
• Rene Descartes (1596-1650): French thinker and mathematician, considered the father of Modern Philosophy. “I am falling, therefore I am.”
• Galileo (1564-1642): Italian astronomer, physicist, and engineer who helped identify Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings through his pioneering work with telescopes. He was sentenced to house arrest because of his heliocentric view of the universe.
• Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543): Mathematician and astronomer who carried out the first modern scientific defense for the heliocentric solar system view.
• Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679): English writer and thinker who was the author of “Leviathan”.
• Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400): English writer and poet who was the author of “The Canterbury Tales”.
• Giotto (1266-1337): Italian painter and architect who has influenced artists for generations, with his works on more realistic depictions of human emotions. It is famous for its frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padova.
• Dante (1265-1321): Italian thinker, poet, writer, and political thinker who wrote “The Divine Comedy”.
• Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527): Italian diplomat and thinker, famous for his works “The Prince” and “Lectures on the Top Ten Books of Titus Livius”.
• Titian (1488-1576): Pope III. Italian painter, famous for his portraits of Paul and Charles I, and later for his religious and legendary paintings “Venus and Adonis” and “Metamorphosis”.
• William Tyndale (1494-1536): British humanist, scientist, and Bible translator were burned to death for translating the Bible into English.
• William Byrd (1539 / 40-1623): British composer is known for developing British madrigal and religious organ music.
• John Milton (1608-1674): English poet and historian, author of the epic poem “Paradise Lost”.
• William Shakespeare (1564-1616): England’s “national poet” and the most famous playwright of all time, famous for his sonnets and plays such as “Romeo and Juliet”.
• Donatello (1386-1466): Sculptor famous for his sculptures that look like “David”, made by order of the Medici family.
• Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510): Italian painter who owns the work “The Birth of Venus”.
• Raphael (1483-1520): Italian painter, student of Da Vinci, and Michelangelo. His most famous works are “Madonna” and “Athens School”.
• Michelangelo (1475-1564): famous Italian sculptor, painter, and architect who carved the statue of “David” and painted the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
5.Renaissance Art, Architecture and Science
During the Renaissance, art, architecture, and science were closely related. Indeed, it was a unique period when these workspaces were working together seamlessly. Artists such as Da Vinci, for example, incorporated scientific principles such as anatomy into their work so that they could recreate human bodies with extraordinary precision in their works.
Architects like Filippo Brunelleschi were studying mathematics to accurately design huge domed buildings.
Scientific discoveries led to major changes in humanity’s perspective: While Galileo and Descartes offered a new perspective on mathematics and astrology, Copernicus suggested that the center of the solar system was the Sun, not the Earth.
Renaissance art was defined by realism and naturalism. The artists depicted people and objects as if they were in real life in their works. They used techniques such as perspective, shading, and light to add depth to their works. The emotion was another important quality that artists tried to convey into their works.
We can list some of the most important works made in the Renaissance period as follows:
- Mona Lisa (Da Vinci)
- The Last Supper (Da Vinci)
- David Statue (Michelangelo)
- Birth of Venus (Botticelli)
- The Creation of Adam (Michelangelo)
While many artists and thinkers used their talents to express new views, some Europeans decided to cross the seas to better understand the world around them. During this period known as the Age of Discovery, many important discoveries were made.
The travelers started expeditions to travel around the world. They discovered new travel routes to America, India, and the Far East, and explorers visited previously unmapped regions.
Some of these famous travelers were Ferdinand Magellan, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci (who gave the American continent its name), Marco Polo, Ponce de Leon, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Hernando De Soto.
7.Religion in the Renaissance
During the Renaissance, with the support of humanism, Europeans began to question the role of the Roman Catholic church.
As the number of people learning to read, write and interpret thoughts increased, they began to closely examine and criticize the religion they had previously known through intermediaries. At the same time, the printing press made it easier for many texts, including the Bible, to be printed and distributed to people for the first time, allowing the texts to be read by the public for the first time.
Martin Luther, a German priest in the 16th century, led the revolutionary Protestant Reformation movement that led to the dissolution of the Catholic church. Luther questioned many practices of the church and whether they were compatible with the teachings of the Bible. As a result, a new form of Christianity known as Protestantism emerged.
8.End of the Renaissance Period
Scientists believe that different factors coming together prepared the end of the Renaissance. In the late 15th century, numerous wars threatened the Italian peninsula. The war of the Spanish, French and German invaders for the Italian lands caused chaos and instability in the region. On the other hand, changing trade routes led to a downturn in the economy and restricted the amount of money spent on arts by the wealthy.
Later, in a movement called the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic church censored artists and writers in response to the Protestant Reformation. Many Renaissance thinkers feared being too daring, and their creativity was suppressed. Also, in 1545, the Trento Council established the heretical Roman Inquisition, in which they declared that any opinion they deemed contrary to humanism and the Catholic Church would be punished with death. The Renaissance movement, which ended in the early 17th century, pioneered the Age of Enlightenment.
10.Discussions on the Renaissanc
While many scholars view the Renaissance as a unique and exciting period in European history, others claim that this period was not much different from the Middle Ages and that both ages were more similar to what traditional accounts suggest.
Some modern historians believe that the Middle Ages had a cultural identity that was overshadowed by the Renaissance period and therefore underestimated throughout history.
While the beginning and end dates of the Renaissance period and the amount of its impact are a matter of debate, it is a generally accepted view that the events of the period and contributed to the improvements in the way people understand and interpret the world.