What Is The Renaissance Famous For?
Of all the cultural movements that human civilisation has witnessed over the millennia, perhaps one of the most exciting and significant is that of The Renaissance.
This relatively short period saw rapid changes that rippled out from its European origins and spread across the world, forever transforming such aspects of daily living as communication, medicine, science and the arts.
While this fascinating epoch may be well-known the world over, what exactly was this Renaissance period all about – when did it begin, where did it flourish, and what were its effects around the globe?
What Is The Renaissance?
The Renaissance Period is named after the French word, renaissance, which means, rebirth.
It was a significant cultural movement that saw a number of European societies shift quite rapidly from the medieval way of life to a new, more innovative and elevated culture.
The Renaissance is characterised by a more refined approach to daily life, one that moved away from the basic tenets of survival, such as territorial battles and agriculture that had been typical during the Middle Ages, to a new focus on the arts, sciences and other cultural endeavours.
When Did The Renaissance Period Begin?
While the Renaissance period bloomed over a number of centuries, it’s widely regarded that the earliest roots of the cultural and academic shifts began in the 1300s.
Similar to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance period is sometimes classified more specifically as epochs such as The Early Renaissance, followed by the middle period, known as The High Renaissance (around the late 15th and early 16th century), and the Late Renaissance era, which ended in the 17th with the emergence of the Baroque period.
Where Did The Renaissance Start?
The term Renaissance and Italian Renaissance are often used interchangeably, which provides a clue to the birthplace of this seismic cultural movement.
The developments that came to be known as The Renaissance began to emerge most prominently in Italy, with the city of Florence being regarded as one of the most important locations.
The position of Italy within Europe resulted in lucrative trade routes and merchant industries blossoming in the various Italian regions. (Italy was yet to become the unified nation that we know today.)
The city of Florence in particular was renowned for its prosperity and vast wealth. The legendary banking family, The Medicis, were based in Florence and became major players in the Renaissance movement.
The Medici Family’s proclivities for progress, the Arts, science, architecture and financial systems, coupled with their enormous resources, made for a rapid acceleration of many cultural and social developments.
What Is The Renaissance Famous For?
The Renaissance Period is known for a number of cultural shifts but perhaps the one it is most famous for is the rebirth of The Arts, in particular, drawing and painting.
Renaissance Art evolved as a radical new expression of both ancient painting techniques and the latest development in more academic subjects, such as mathematics, science and astrology.
The artists of the Renaissance drew upon the classical teachings but made their new styles their own by moving away from the more dogmatic religious art and iconography that had been prevalent for centuries, moving towards a more contemporary style of realism, inspired by the world around them.
Along with the changes to drawing and painting, many other branches of the Arts enjoyed an injection of new ideas and innovations. The period marks a significant evolution in works of sculpture, and the impact of the Renaissance on architecture is renowned throughout the world, with some of the finest examples enduring to this day.
Perhaps one of the most impactful of all the Renaissance innovations was the invention of the Gutenberg Printing Press. It could be argued that this single development was responsible for changing culture and communication across the entire globe.
Prior to the invention of the printing press, any published works had to be laboriously produced by hand, often by a select group of educated clergymen. While this method did produce some stunningly beautiful and ornate pieces of literature, it was extremely limiting in terms of production and reach. It was also subject to the various religious restrictions and beliefs that dominated the period.
Once Johannes Gutenberg brought to the world his legendary press, it became possible to print multiple copies of publications in a fraction of the time, meaning that new ideas could be spread far and wide much more easily through printed pamphlets. These were also, in theory, free from religious control.
Beyond these world-changing developments in the arts and communication, The Renaissance is also noted for the many developments in science, in particular medicine and astrology.
The Aristocracy & The Renaissance
Perhaps one of the most iconic aspects of the Renaissance Period is the rise of the aristocracy and the nobility, particularly in the fledgling European nations.
This period of wealth and refinement is synonymous with many of the characteristics of noble living, as cultures moved out of the medieval lifestyles into a more civilised and sophisticated way of life.
The Renaissance saw many aristocrats attain such high standing in society that they were comparable to the kings and queens of the ages, both in terms of their lavish lifestyles – their wealth, vast estates, grand parties and opulent clothing – as well as their social and political power.
The opulent courts of the world’s royal dynasties were populated with glamourous and powerful nobles that thrived during the Renaissance period.
For an image of the levels of wealth and decadence enjoyed by the nobility during this period, consider the court of Versailles – the iconic palatial compound transformed by the French king, Louis XIV. This vast and lavish estate was home to some of the most refined and decadent aristocratic lifestyles of all time.
While the Renaissance Period was a relatively short epoch during the evolution of civilisation, it undoubtedly transformed the world. The innovations, inventions and cultural developments that began in the arts and then rippled out through all aspects of life have left a lasting impression on almost every culture and country in the world.
Over the space of a few centuries, the human story moved from a medieval way of life to the heights of social and artistic refinement. It’s little wonder that this captivating social epoch remains so famous, throughout Europe and beyond.
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