The Renaissance began in Italy in the mid 1300s and spread north throughout the rest of Europe. Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance for many reasons. First of all, since Italy was the center of ancient Roman history, it was natural for the Renaissance to start there. Some things such as architectural remains, antique statues, coins and inscriptions reminded Italians of the glory of the Roman Empire. Secondly, Italy was different from the rest of Europe in another way. Italian cities had survived the Middle Ages and cities like Florence, Milan, Venice, and Genoa all grew into wealthy, prosperous cities of manufacturing and trade. Rome and Naples also contributed to the Renaissance cultural recovery. Wealthy Italian merchants encouraged the cultural rebirth by applying politcal and economic leadership. They also had great attitudes that helped shape the Italian Renaissance. These merchants suggested education and individual achievements and they spent quite a bit of money on the arts.
During the early Renaissance, Florence was a very important city. It came to symbolize the Italian Renaissance. Florence was very much like ancient Athens because it produced a great number of talented poets, artists, architects, scholars, and scientists in a short period of time.
Humanism was an intellectual movement that was at the heart of the Italian Renaissance. It put an emphasis on man, his intellect, and his life on earth. It also stated that the Church shouldn't rule certain matters and it rediscovered ancient items, thoughts, and beliefs. Humanist scholars hoped to use their wisdom to increase their understanding of their own times.
The Renaissance was a golden age in the arts and architecture. There were numerous achievements of works of art that are still very famous today. Many oustanding artists and architects such as Isabella d'Este of Mantua, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Sofonisba Anguissola, Artemisia Gentileschi, and Filippo Brunelleschi showed their uniqueness and creativity through what they did. Paintings of the Renaissance used unnatural shapes, linear prospective, and depth perseption.
Writing was also very important during the Renaissance. Two famous books that were written during this time period were The Book of the Courtier and The Prince. The Book of the Courtier, a book about ideal men and women, was writen by Baldassare Castiglione. The Prince was writen by Niccolò Machiavelli and was information from Machiavelli's personal experience of politics and his knowledge of the past. It was offered as a guide to rulers on how to gain and maintain power.
The Northern Renaissance began in the prosperous cities of Flanders. This area is part of what today is northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Spain, France, Germany, and England had their cultural rebirth in the 1500s. Like the earlier Renaissance in the south near Italy, the northern Renaissance had many great artists and writers. Some of the artists include Albrecht Dürer, Jan and Hubert van Eyck, Pieter Bruegel, and Peter Paul Rubens. Some very outstanding writers of the northern Renaissance were Francois Rabelais, Miquel de Cervantes, and the ever-famous William Shakespeare. Shakespeare was an English poet who, between 1590 and 1613, wrote 37 plays. A few of these include A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Macbeth.
The Renaissance was very important because it brought Europe out of the abyss that it was in. It inspired new ideas, cultures, religions, and ways to live by. The Renaissance helped people change the way that they saw themselves, others, and their world. It helped many people express their uniqueness and creativity by art, science, writing, and technology. During the Renaissance many art works and writings became famous and some we still use or see today. Arts and writing weren't the only thing that we still use today, mathematical advances, discoveries, and thereoms are still applied presently. Other things like the printing press, maps, compasses, medicines, and the scientific method still play an important role in our life.
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