The Renaissance was a period in European history, from the 14th to the 17th century. The French word Renaissance means “Rebirth”. It is regarded as the cultural bridge, or rebirth, between the close of the Dark Middle Ages and rise of the modern history. The Renaissance was also an economic revival after the Black Death. It started as a cultural movement in Italy during the Medieval period spreading to the rest of Europe, marking the beginning of the Modern age(Wikipedia). The Renaissance was a pivotal point in history in ways that we viewed ourselves and life which was depicted with art in architecture, music, paintings and sculpture as well as intellectual approaches to science and technology.
The political environment of Italy allowed for a unique social climate conducive for change. Italy was not a unified political entity but rather was divided into smaller city states and territories: the Kingdom of Naples controlled the south; the Republic of Florence and the Papal States controlled central Italy; the Milanese controlled the north; Genoese controlled the west and Venetians controlled the east(world economy). The European Renaissance began in Tuscany centering in Florence during the 14th century. Florence rose to economic importance by providing credit for European monarchs and laying the groundwork for capitalism and banking. In the 15th century, the Renaissance spread rapidly from its birthplace in Florence to the rest of Italy and soon to the rest of Europe(Wikipedia). Technology in science such as the invention of the printing press, allowed the rapid transmission of these new ideas.
As it spread, its ideas diversified and changed, being adapted to local culture(Szalay, Jessie).The Black Death was not only an economic revival but also a shift in thinking. Italy was particularly badly hit by the plague.
Due to the exposure with death, thinkers no longer pondered the afterlife but rather changed their focus to their lives on Earth. In addition, the Black Death prompted a new wave of devotion which prompted religious works of art, such as the statue of David by Michelangelo(Profile of a city:Venice).The demographic decline due to the plague had economic effects: the prices of food dropped and land values declined. The survivors of the plague found not only that the prices of food were cheaper but also that lands were more abundant, and many of them inherited property from their dead relatives(Wikipedia). This allowed for a thriving economy.The Italian Renaissance is best known for its achievements in philosophy, literature, architecture, music, science, painting and sculpture. Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art.
The intellectual movement centered on Humanism. Prior to the Renaissance the Christian view of man was the original sinner, in need of redemption. However, with the Enlightened Humanism movement stressed education and personal experience over religious teaching and viewed man as optimistic, good by nature as well as a rational being, with the ability to decide and think for himself(wikipedia).
Humanists sought to create an environment where an individual citizen was able to speak and write with eloquence and clarity and thereby engage in the civic life of their communities. Through their written prose, they were motivating others to virtuous and prudent actions. This was to be accomplished through the study of the what we know today as the humanities: grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry, and moral philosophy(History of Humanism).Beginning in the 13th century, Italian authors began writing in their native language rather than Latin or French.
Many authors attempted to integrate the methods and styles of the ancient Greeks into their own works. With the invention of the printing press, the new books became readily available to the public. Famous writers of the Renaissance include Dante, Niccolo Machiavelli, William Shakespeare, Petrarch, Miguel de Cervantes and Michel de Montaigne(Profile of a city:Venice).Architecture from the Middle Ages was dark and spiritual. The Renaissance architecture had a new sense of light, clarity and spaciousness which reflects the philosophy of Humanism, the enlightenment and clarity of mind. Famous Renaissance architectures include Brunelleschi, Leon Battista Alberti, Andrea Palladio, and Bramante(The Vietnean Republic).Medieval music was sacred and limited to the Gregorian chant which was a single melody performed in Latin with no instrumental accompaniment. The Renaissance brought the introduction of polyphony, music consisting of several melodies at once.
Music was no longer performed in just the cathedral and instruments such as the viola de gamb & harpsichord were invented. Famous Renaissance musicians are Guillaume Dufay and Josquin des Prez(Wikipedia)The Renaissance sparked a new spirit of curiosity. The invention of the printing press put new ideas into broad circulation and made the Renaissance a lasting reality. Map making improved which enabled Columbus to make his monumental voyage in 1492. Famous scientists were Galileo & Leonard Da Vinci.Because of the new found technology, the Renaissance quickly spread to Venice which was the heart of a Mediterranean empire.
Venice controlled the trade routes to the east since the end of the crusades and the voyages of Marco Polo. Venice was a Republic during the Renaissance. The Republic of Venice did have democratic features with forms of participation in government and belief in liberty. This relative political freedom was conducive to academic and artistic advancement. Likewise, the geographical position of Venice made them intellectual crossroads as they were great centers of trade. The Italian trade routes were also major conduits of culture and knowledge(The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica).
Venice, founded in 421, is made up of 120 tiny islands that were formed by 177 canals in the lagoon between the mouths of Po & Piave Rivers. Shallow waters separate Venice from mainland Italy and protected Venice from invaders and isolated the Venetians from Italian political life. They were untouched by war, feuds and squabbles caused by territory so they turned their attention towards the East, where all of the rich markets of Levantine and Constantinople were located.
Venice had the economy to support art and artists(The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica).Being isolated from the rest of Italy allowed Venetian to be more creative and unique and distinct with their art. One of the distinguishing features of Renaissance art was its development of highly realistic linear perspective and realism such as shadowing and anatomy. In particular, Venetian painters were keenly interested in the relationship between light and color. Additionally, the Venetian painters had a distinct method of brushwork. It’s rather smooth, and makes for a velvety surface texture(Esaak, Shelley).
Famous Renaissance artists include Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, Giotto di Bondone, Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Botticelli, and Titian. The Renaissance was a pivotal point in history in ways that we viewed ourselves and life which was depicted with art in architecture, music, paintings and sculpture as well as intellectual approaches to science and technology.