The beginning of Renaissance

Many historians says that the Renaissance began with the fall of Constantinople, because the romans moved to Italy where they

spread their thoughts and arts through the Italian peninsula. But scholars say it actually began in Italy in 1350 AD with the growth of humanism and less control by the church over people from the Italian Peninsula. Italy had most ruins from the Roman Empire, so they started to study roman literature and history as well as Platonism. Humanists, like Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio, and philosophers, such as Niccolo Machiavelli, helped the human nature and roman history get bigger than religious and moral ideals. They carried so much more about individualism and personal achievements and with the Black Death around Europe they wanted to enjoy their lives as much as they could because they would probably die soon.

The art was more influential in Florence. Their architecture, paintings and sculptures made magnificents works by 1400, they included the painter Masaccio, the sculptor Donatello, and the architect Filippo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi was the first Renaissance architect to revive the ancient Roman style of architecture. He used arches, columns, and other elements of classical architecture in his designs. One important person that had much power was Lorenzo de Medici, he was a the ruler of Florence; he was a magnate, diplomat, politician, and patron of scholars, artists, and poets. He is well known for his contribution to the art world by sponsoring artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo.

During the mid-1300's and early 1400's, a number of major Italian cities came under the control of one family. The form of government established by the ruling families of the Italian cities was called the signoria, principality, where the power was concentrated in the signore, his friend and relatives. The artists, intellectuals and politics had a sponsorship with the ruling family and as Italy had a plenty of money coming with it’s crescent commerce, they earn much money. But after a while the church also started to support the renaissance at Italy.

When invaders came inside Italy they founded a lot of classical structures, buildings and paintings and brought it into their own countries as they were fascinated with all that was seen, the roman influence was so much weaker outside the peninsula. So the Renaissance spread quickly into the nothern Europe, but not as strong as in Italy.

Did the Renaissance really happen?

The Renaissance is a period in Europe from the 1350s to 1600s. It actually started as a cultural movement in Italy and later spread to the rest of Europe during the 1400s.

In fact the Renaissance didn’t even necessarily happen.

Essentially The Renaissance was an efflorescence of arts, and idea in Europe that coincided with the rediscovery of Roman and Greek culture.

The Renaissance didn’t necessarily happen, because most people in Europe were totally unaware of the Renaissance, since its art, and learning affected only a tiny sliver of the European population.

For example life expectancy in many areas of Europe went down during the Renaissance and really the Renaissance was only experienced by the richest of of the people and the painters who served them, unlike the vast majority of Europeans still lived on farms either as free peasants or tenants.

There was a lot of big artist during the Renaissance, such as Leonardo da vinci, from Florence, Italy, he was one of the most important artists back then.

Leonardo was not only an artist that painted only people, he was an inventor and a war engineer. Some of his ideas were the tank, helicopter, and the parachute. However, he was also known as the painter that never finishes his paintings; he finished only few of the paintings that he started such as the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, Annunciation, And the Medusa.

Many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as the prime exemplar of the Renaissance man.

Other than da Vinci of course there was a lot of other artists and inventors such as Donatello he was a sculptor, Raphael an artist, Michelangelo an artist and a sculptor, And the famous cartoon show the Ninja turtles were named after those people, Leo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

One of the most important people that had so much power is Lorenzo de Medici, he was the ruler of Florence; he was a magnate, diplomat, politician, and patron of scholars, artists, and poets. He is well known for his contribution to the art world by sponsoring artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo.

Social and Political structure

The social structure of the people of Renaissance Florence (Italy).

Italy was divided into city-states and Florence’s social structure, like the other Italian city-states’, were composed of four social classes: The nobles at the top, the merchants and tradesmen in middle class, and at the bottom were the unskilled workers.

The nobles lived on large estates outside the city walls. They owned most of the city’s lands, that’s why the nobles controlled. They served as military officers, royal advisers and as politicians.

The nobles were disdainful of the merchant class, who gained wealth in industries such as wool processing, shipbuilding and banking. The merchants sought to protect their wealth by controlling the government and marrying into noble families. Which was a competition for power between the nobles and the merchants.

The tradesmen of Florence were the crafts workers and shopkeepers. Most tradesmen belonged to guilds, organizations that established standards of quality, set rules for membership, and limited outside competition.

The unskilled workers were the lowest class of city workers, whereas the skilled workers other than the tradesmen were higher in class than the unskilled. They did not have job projection and were very dependent on their employers. Workers who violated ruled could have their wages withheld or get discharged. The unskilled urban workers were better off than the peasants who lived in rural areas. The poorest peasants were the worked on land owned by nobles. Farming was difficult as starvation was common.

The social classes became less distinct as the Renaissance progressed. Humanist ideas led to the increase of human rights for individuals, although the class system remained in place in Florence and throughout most of Europe long after the end of the Renaissance.

Italy's political structure differed greatly from the political structures of northern and western Europe, as in England, France and Spain. Italy was not unified as a country until the 1860s. It was consisted of 250 separated states, most of which were ruled by a city. In Italy rules then were nobles. However by the late 1400’s, England, France and Spain were being united into nations under monarchies. These monarchies provided political and cultural leadership for their countries.

The revival of learning or the revival of antiquity

(Economic system, The coin system)

The mix of Roman and Greek cultures are called “Classical Antiquity”. The Renaissance wanted to revive these cultures and their knowledge, turning them to their own philosophic, literary, artistic ways as well as the economic system.

A bigger interest in humanists from the Greek and Roman culture overlapped Italy’s system changing many things from artistic design and sculpturing to coins and scripts. The Renaissance had a bigger interest on cultural and ideological changes than economical or political changes.

During the Renaissance, Italian cities, grew under the control of nobles. The nobles were open with new ideas which made them eventually change the economic system. The tax system started in Italy, trade and new ideas grew as well as the movement of trade to the inland along the major routes. Italy on its own began to be known as trade and commercial center. The wealth kept the citizens quite while the political and social system was at change.

The belief in why The Renaissance started specifically in Italy and why Italy became known for the trade center is because of its perfect location between western Europe and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Rivers like The Danube, Rhone and Rhine became very important trade routes specially because trade was easier done by the help of rivers.

Florence became a famous and wealthy city because of the family fortunes made from banking and industry. Florence became known for being the banking center during the 1400’s. One of the banks named Medici (owned by Cosimo De Medici) began opening branches in major cities in Europe. These branches loaned the people money, controlled the mines as well as the commercial activities. Cosimo De Medici profited a lot from these branches and used the profits to help the cultural activities as well as the political ones happening in Italy.  

During this century the economic system, specifically the trade was threatened by the rulers of England, France and Spain establishing new policies that they themselves could only profit from. Italy being the trade center was the primary route between east and western Europe until the end of the 1500’s where Italy’s strength and influence weakened by Portugal’s trading development of a direct sea route to Asia.

The important economic events like Italian-Spanish Christopher Columbus voyage to the Caribbean Sea and Vasco da Gama's voyage to India intensified national rivalries.

Portugal, Spain and France increased their colonial territory in the Atlantic sea, which increased their wealth. The economic challenge created against Italy during the 1400’s continued on diminishing Italy's importance as the Trading route shifted from the Mediterranean sea to the Atlantic oceans. The only way for Italy to go on, was by using the resources from these wealthy countries to continue The Revival Antiquity!

The End of Renaissance

As people's knowledge of art, science and literature grew, they started to question the catholic teaching, so then the protestant reform came with Martin Luther that wrote 95 theses against the church and put on the door of his church, he also translated the Bible for german that was prohibited by the church.

As the church lost power, they began to find less art and the renaissance moved away from Italy to Portugal, Spain, France and England. The trade roads also moved to the western Europe with the trip of Vasco da Gama that founded the sea route to India. So with the protestant Reform, the trade roads going away from Italy, the growth of the western power and the birth of Imperialism came the end of Renaissance and the beginning of the Enlightenment.

  Important people

Donatello - sculptor                                                                           Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) - discovered America

Filippo Brunelleschi - architect                                                         Erasmus - wanted to reform the Catholic church

Leonardo da Vinci - artist, inventor,  engineer Johann Gutenberg - invented the printing press

Raphael - artist                                                                                    Galileo Galilei - the father of modern physics

Michelangelo - artist, sculptor                                                          Nicolaus Copernicus - mathematician and astronomer

Medici family - rich ruling family of Florence                                  Vasco da Gama - found ocean route between Europe and Asia

Lorenzo “the Magnificent” Medici - the most famous Medici     William Shakespeare - writer

Martin Luther - created protestantism