Imagine moving to a different country after living in the same one for your entire life. The people are different, the language is not the same, and most of all, the culture is nothing like you have ever seen before. Around the mid 14th century, this feeling of massive change also afflicted the people of the Europe. From the collapse of the Roman Empire to 1350 CE, Europe went through a time known as, The Middle Ages where technological advances were exceedingly slow. During this time, the church held a firm grasp on society, causing many people to be illiterate. Although the majority of people were illiterate, the popes of the Catholic Church were some of the only people during this time to be granted with the gift of literacy. But at the start of the mid 14th century, Europe would never be the same again. What began is what we now call, The Renaissance. In this cultural explosion of sorts, the attention of the European’s slowly began to shift from the Church to man himself. Art and Humanism sprouted up to give life back to what was lost during The Middle Ages.
When we think of the word “Renaissance” the name, DaVinci usually comes to mind. Like most renaissance men, Mr. DaVinci was an extremely proficient painter. During the Middle Ages, the majority of paintings, if not all, were solely centered around religion and the Church. At the start of the Renaissance, that all changed. Painters like Leonardo DaVinci started painting things such as the Mona Lisa (Document A) which focused more intensely on the human form and expression. In the Middle Ages, paintings were usually unrealistically created, but still keeping Christ as the main subject. For instance, in the late 1200’s a painter by the name of, Duccio di Buoninsegna created a painting titled, Madonna Enthroned Between Two Angels. In this painting, there are two people. A woman painted with little facial and bodily detail, and a small child that seems to resemble an old man. The style used in this painting is very simple, but it gets the desired point across. If we compare this painting to DaVinci’s, Mona Lisa, we can see that much more effort was put into the facial expression, background, and bodily features. This just goes to show as to how much the Renaissance differed from the Middle Ages, as the focus on the Church, became the focus on the individual.
Aside from art, poetry and other literature are also one of the defining changes between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In Document B, we look at an excerpt from the English play, Everyman. In this excerpt the poet explores the theme of Christian morality. The poem’s focus is mostly around the subject of sin, and is an overall dark portrait of how we see life. But just as Document A, the changes made during the Renaissance were definitely welcome. Written by, William Shakespeare in 1601, an excerpt from the play, Hamlet explores more jovial themes, praising the nobility of mankind unlike the former. Hamlet seems to celebrate how “godlike” mankind truly is and how perfect, and admirable we are compared to other life. On the other hand, Everyman focuses on how we walk thoughtlessly and powerlessly into our eternal graves. Not only does this Document further prove how the Renaissance changed our view of ourselves, but it gives us a solid understanding as to who we really are and what we are like.
In Document C, we can see that the arts were not the only subject influenced by the Renaissance, but also subjects like science. Around the year 100 CE, a Roman astronomer from Alexandria, Egypt, created a theory, known as the Geocentric Universe, that all life