The Renaissance, meaning “rebirth” in French, was a change in the way people lived and thought. In the Middle Ages in Europe, especially Italy, people were very religious and almost everyone was devotedly catholic. This gradually started to change during the time of The Renaissance. People started to think “Hang on, if God exists, why did he do all of these bad things to us?”
Other aspects of life that were affected by the Renaissance included art, architecture and science.
During the Middle Ages, religion was hugely important to everyday life. It was still very important throughout the Renaissance but people gradually started to doubt their religion. The reason that this is thought to have happened is because so many disastrous things happened during the middle ages (e.g. the Black Death). People began to think that God had deserted them and started to distrust religion. This was only a very gradual movement in ideas, but it was definitely there and this eventually impacted hugely on the churches. During the late Renaissance the monks that used to get paid so much to pray for people had a smaller income. Society became more science based, and began to require more evidence before they would believe what people told them. People started to think more like modern people do, that they weren’t completely controlled by God and could make decisions for themselves. This type of thinking eventually sparked more drastic changes, like Charles Darwin’s book, ‘The Origin of Species’ 200 years after the Renaissance ended.
The process where people begin to place less value on religion and more value on thinking for themselves has become known as humanism. This resulted in big changes in society, such as: a more fluid social structure the gradual breakdown of the feudal system the peasants became more educated and began to break out of poverty the emergence of a well educated, wealthy merchant class who were financially independent.
The newfound wealth of this merchant class enabled them to play an influential part in Renaissance society. One of these roles was patronage of artists. This really accelerated the rate at which art progressed during the Renaissance.
The Renaissance was a period of change, and art was no exception. Art changed dramatically. In the medieval period, all art was religious. In the renaissance however, art revolved less around religion and was more focused on the interests of the artist’s patrons. While the subject of some paintings stayed religious, some artists branched off and became inspired by ancient Greek and Roman mythology and historical subjects. They also started to paint portraits of people not related to religion. One big change was that people started painting more realistically and also made people look like they had emotions. They became concerned with proportions of people and even started cutting limbs off dead bodies from the morgue and measuring them to get the proportions right on their paintings.
Many different painting techniques were pioneered during the Renaissance including: perspective balance and proportion use of light and dark to create drama.
Many artworks from the Renaissance endure today and continue to inspire people all over the world. One great example of this is the Mona Lisa which can be seen in the Louvre in Paris.
Architecture also went through big changes in the Renaissance. Architects began to look back to the ancient Greek and Roman buildings for inspiration and tailored them to work for their lifestyles. One such great architect of the Renaissance was Fillippo Bruneschelli. Bruneschelli is considered to be the first major Renaissance architect. Some even consider him gaining permission to build the dome over the cathedral of Florence in 1419 to be the start of the Renaissance. This dome was quite ambitious and controversial as it was the largest dome built since the Pantheon in ancient Greece, 1500 years before. To build it required