The Renaissance was a popular cultural movement that began in Italy and later spread to the rest of Europe. It spanned roughly from the 14th through the 17th century. The Renaissance was a great intellectual reawakening that encompassed the revival of classical learning and profoundly affected art, literature, philosophy, religion, science, politics and other aspects of intellectual inquiry. Renaissance scholars employed the humanism method to study and search for realism and human emotion in art. Renaissance thinkers desired to learn from classical or ancient text written in Latin or Greek. Scholars searched Europe’s libraries for works of antiquity which had fallen into obscurity for long. In such texts they found a desire to improve and perfect their worldly knowledge.
Important features of Renaissance
Humanism was one of the most important features of Renaissance period. It was a method of learning. The humanist studied ancient text in the original and evaluated them through reasoning and empirical evidence. Humanist studied poetry, grammar, ethics and rhetoric. Humanism was an intellectual reawakening among the scholars of Europe. They retrieved, interpreted and absorbed the language, culture and ancient Greek texts. Humanist scholars acknowledged the supreme ability of the human mind. The humanist scholars played a vital role in shaping the intellectual capacities of their European people. Political philosophers like Machiavelli and Thomas More revived the ideas of Greek and Roman thinkers, and applied them in critiques of contemporary government. Theologians, Erasmus and Martin Luther, introduced new concepts of reasoning and faith.
The Renaissance period saw the emergence of some really great painters and artists. The most famous among them includes Leonardo da Vinci, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello. The period is steeped in art, architecture and painting. In architecture, Filippo Brunelleschi was foremost in studying the remains of ancient Classical building. Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael reached great heights in their artistic endeavor that they became icons.
With a momentous and sweeping change taking place in art and architecture, the Renaissance brought about a scientific revolution heralding the beginning of modern age. There was a blend of science and art during the Renaissance, with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci making observational drawings of anatomy and nature.
The Renaissance witnessed a massive religious unrest. The Protestant Reformation movement in Europe led by Martin Luther to reform the corrupt practices of the Roman Catholic Church was met with widespread resentment among the people. It is believed to have started in 1517 with Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses and thought to have culminated with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The movement started with an attempt to reform the malpractices of the Roman Catholic Church. The Papal was blamed to have been indulging in the teaching and sale of indulgences. The selling of indulgences and the Church’s policy on purgatory was the most controversial point.
Beliefs and practices that were vehemently opposed by Protestant reformers included purgatory, particular judgment, devotion to Mary (Mariology), intercession of and devotion to the saints, most of the sacraments, the mandatory celibacy requirement of its clergy (including monasticism), and the authority of the Pope.
Later, this movement led to the emergence of separate protestant churches. Thus, Renaissance can be said to a great intellectual awakening among the European people.