The Renaissance

The Renaissance.

The Renaissance was a cultural, economic, and political movement, which emerged in Italy in the 14th century and lasted until the 17th century throughout Europe.

Inspired by Classical Antiquity values and generated by economic changes, the Renaissance reformulated medieval life and began the Modern Age.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Origin of the Renaissance

The term Renaissance was created in the 16th century to describe the artistic movement that emerged a century earlier. Later the term ended up designating the economic and political changes of the period as well.

After all, the cities never totally disappeared, and the people never stopped trading among themselves or using the currency. There was a decrease in these activities during the Middle Ages.

However, in the Italian Peninsula, several cities like Venice, Genoa, Florence, Rome, among others, have benefited from trade with the East.

These regions were enriched by trade development in the Mediterranean Sea, giving rise to a rich mercantile bourgeoisie. To affirm themselves socially, these merchants sponsored artists and writers. These artists inaugurated a new way of making art.

The Church and nobility were also patrons of artists like:

  • Michelangelo
  • Domenico Ghirlandaio
  • and Pietro Della Francesa, among many others

Renaissance culture

We highlight five outstanding characteristics of Renaissance culture:

  • Rationalism – reason was the only way to reach knowledge, and that everything could be explained by reason and science.
  • Scientificism – they felt that all knowledge should be demonstrated through scientific experience.
  • Individualism – the human being sought to affirm his personality, show his talents, achieve fame and satisfy his ambitions, through the conception that individual right was above collective right.
  • Anthropocentrism – placing man as the supreme creation of God and the center of the universe.
  • Classicism – artists seek their inspiration in Greek-Roman Classical Antiquity to create their artworks.

Humanism in the Renaissance

Humanism was a movement for the glorification of man and human nature, which emerged in the cities of the Italian Peninsula in the mid-14th century.

Man, the most perfect work of the Creator, was capable of understanding, modifying and even dominating nature. For this reason, humanists sought to interpret Christianity, using writings by authors of antiquity, such as Plato.

Religion did not lose importance, but it was questioned and new Christian trends such as Protestantism emerged.

The study of ancient texts also awakened a desire for historical research and knowledge of classical languages such as Latin and Greek.

In this way, humanism became a reference for many thinkers in the following centuries, such as the Enlightenment philosophers of the 17th century.

Literature Renaissance

The Renaissance gave rise to great geniuses of literature, among them:

  • Dante Alighieri: Italian writer and author of the great poem “Divina Comédia”.
  • Machiavelli: author of “The Prince”, a forerunner of political science where the author gives advice to the governors of the time.
  • Shakespeare: considered one of the greatest playwrights of all times. In his work, he approached human conflicts in the most diverse dimensions: personal, social, political. He wrote comedies and tragedies, such as “Romeo and Juliet”, “Macbeth”, “The Taming Megera”, “Othello” and several others.
  • Miguel de Cervantes: Spanish author of “Don Quixote”, a strong criticism of medieval knighthood.
  • Luís de Camões: featured in Renaissance literature in Portugal, being the author of the great epic poem “Os Lusíadas”.

Artistic Renaissance

The main artists of the Renaissance were:

  • Leonardo da Vinci: Mathematician, physicist, anatomist, inventor, architect, sculptor and painter, he was the stereotype of the Renaissance man who mastered several sciences. Therefore, he is considered an absolute genius. The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper are his masterpieces.
  • Rafael Sanzio: he was a master of painting and famous for knowing how to convey delicate feelings through his images. One of his most perfect works is the Madonna of the Rose.
  • Michelangelo: Italian artist whose work was marked by humanism. Besides being a painter, he was one of the greatest sculptors of the Renaissance. Among his works are Pietá, David, The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment. He was also responsible for painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Scientific Renaissance

The Renaissance was marked by important scientific discoveries, especially in the fields of:

  • Astronomy
  • Physics
  • Medicine
  • Mathematics 
  • and Geography

Nicolaus Copernicus, challenged the geocentric theory defended by the Church when he declared that “the Earth is not the center of the universe, but simply a planet revolving around the Sun”.

Galileo Galilei discovered Saturn’s rings, sunspots and Jupiter’s satellites. Persecuted and threatened by the Church, Galileo was forced to publicly deny his ideas and discoveries.

In medicine, he expanded his knowledge with works and experiments on:

  • Blood circulation
  • Methods of cauterization
  • General principles of anatomy

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