Ah the renaissance — what a time huh? For those of you who don’t know (and you should), the renaissance was a time during the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, which is though to be the era when the middle ages met modern history. Marking the start of the modern age, it began in Italy, where it eventually spread to the rest of Europe.
This time spawned an explosion in some of history’s finest architecture, art, science, politics and literature. Technologies such as concrete, oil painting and metal working techniques were rediscovered. Arguably the biggest cultural movement of its time the renaissance saw gradual Europe-wide reforms in education and the development of new political practices as a result of customs and conventions. Science and practical thinking also reformed. An increased emphasis on inductive reasoning and observation rapidly became the norm. This led to rapid and successive scientific breakthroughs and a scientific method that is recognized and used to this day.
Social revolution and reform was just as common place… but standing above all reform were the advances in art. This time saw Leonardo de Vinci and Michelangelo’s greatest works of art!
It is theorized that the Black Death was the catalyst for the start of the renaissance. Italy, the supposed birthplace of the renaissance, was hit very badly by the plague. Florence, where the renaissance began, had its population almost halved as a result of the plague. It is argued that as this time, the plague forced people to become familiar with death. The thinkers of the time shifted focus away from spiritual endeavors and the afterlife; instead, they turned their focus to their lives on earth.
The plague: For those of you who don’t know (and you should definitely now this)… it is a disease that was spread by fleas. Carried by ships that were returning from Asia, the fleas and disease spread quickly across Europe due to a lack of sanitation. In the UK for example, the population went from 4 million people to just over 2.5 million during the peak of the pandemic outbreak.
Mortality rates wasn’t the only factor that was affected. Land values across Europe dropped by forty percent — food prices experienced similar drops in price. Therefore, survivors benefited from abundant inheritance, cheap food and abundant land.
The influence of the renaissance continued to spread gaining significant pace in the fifteenth century. This was arguably due to an innovative and revolutionary German invention — the printing press. The press enabled the rapid transference of influence between cultures. During this time, document, pictures, painting, literature could be and was sent far and wide, resulting in profound change across Europe from that point. Scholars took anything they could get their hands on and were quick to translate the implications of the renaissance into regional equivalents.