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Renaissance Period (1500-1660)

Renaissance Period Overview Literature and the Renaissance Idea(s) of the Renaissance
Renaissance Authors & their Works Major Events of the Renaissance


Renaissance Period Overview

"Renaissance", French for "rebirth", utterly describes the intellectual and economic changes that occurred in Europe and also England. When referring to England, the Renaissance made its biggest impact between the years of 1500 and 1600. The Renaissance in England can be categorized in three sections: the growth of the Renaissance under early Tudor monarchs (1500-1558), climax of the Renaissance under Elizabeth I (1558-1603), and weakening of Renaissance by Stuart monarchs (1603-1649). During this period known by this name, Europe arised from the economic depression of the Middle Ages and experienced a time of financial astronomical growth. Also importantly, the Renaissance was a period that became the turning point for artistic, social, scientific, and political thought. Many people share the view that a renaissance like this one seemed radiant, optimistic, and forward-looking. Likewise, others have viewed the Renaissance as a time of uncommonly dire strain that disrupted the English society and affected every one. The awakening of new possibilities and new doubts somehow gave the literature of England its unmatched vigor.

Literature and the Renaissance

Elizabeth I of England Stuart King James VI of Scotland (James I of England)

The Elizabethan and early Stuart periods have been recognized as being one of the greatest century of all in human history because of the period's brilliant achievements. Elizabeth I ruled from 1588 until her death in 1603. Her successor was the Stuart King James VI of Scotland, who took the title James I of England in addition to his other remarkable titles. English literature of his reign as James I from 1603 to 1625 is befittingly dubbed Jacobean. The time of his rule produced a multitude of authors of genius, some of whom have never been surpassed. Other authors that were not well-known still had the same ability to write with eloquence, imagination, and enthusiasm.

The Renaissance made a big impact on English Literature. This was manifested in the poetry of Wyatt and Surrey, who instituted and Anglicized, an italian verse form that has been very popular in English. Intricate Renaissance standards of love poetry were adopted.

Idea(s) of the Renaissance

The word renaissance in itself means "rebirth", which originated from a French word. The idea of rebirth came about when Europeans thought that they had figured out what made the Greek and Roman culture so superior to to other just after centuries of scholastic and cultural decline. The supreme intellectual movement during the Renaissance both in England and Italy, was humanism. Humanism was based on the idea that human are levelheaded beings. It stressed the respectability and importance of individuals, a force crucial to the development of the Renaissance in many areas. Humanism came about from classical culture. The name itself originated because one of the period's major concerns for an educational curriculum aimed toward subjects of studia humanitatis, or humanities.

Renaissance Authors & their Works

Lyric poetry and song were one of the things that succeeded during Elizabethan England. One of the most famous songwriters was Thomas Campion. His five collections of songs alongside "lute" accompaniment was made available to all social groups. Undoubtedly, the Elizabethan period was the pinnacle of drama. Some of the greatest dramatists at the time were Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson. In addition to these writers, there were dozens of other fine writers including ones that were knighted, including Sir Thomas Wyatt, and Sir Walter Raleigh.. Blank verse became the standard by which these dramatists used to construct their literary works, especially in the areas of tragedy and comedy. Several of Shakespeare's tragedies such as Hamlet, and Macbeth were written using blank verse as was his comedies.

Christopher Marlowe William Shakespeare Ben Johnson Sir Thomas Wyatt Sir Walter Raleigh

Major Events of the Renaissance

Under the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547), the population of England increased, feudalism was "dead", and a counntrywide movement of the people to large cities and towns. The enclosure at the time provided impetus for the movement. The expansion of knowledge was facilitated by the invention of the printing press and better methods of manufacturing paper. Among the most earliest events taking place in England was the introduction of humanism into Oxford universities during the 1490s and 1500s. Not only did the higher education level gain importance, the lower educational levels also did too. Private schools were built to teach the "New Learning". While the Renaissance was gaining ground in virtually all of England, two incidents occurred that lessen the power of the Church. The first event took place in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on a church dor in Wittenberg, Germany, an action that ushered in the Reformation. The second event was a result of Henry VIII's desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon because she had borne him a female child, Mary. The Pope refused but Henry VIII somehow managed to overturn papal jurisdiction, marry Anne Boleyn, and became the head of the Church of England.