The Renaissance was a period of time from the 14th to the 17th
century in Europe. This era bridged the time between the Middle Ages and
modern times. The word “Renaissance” means “rebirth”.
Coming out of the dark
The Middle Ages began with the fall of the Roman Empire. Much of the
advances in science, art, and government that had been made by the
Greeks and Romans were lost during this time. Part of the Middle Ages is
actually called the Dark Ages because so much of what was learned
earlier was lost.
The Renaissance was a time of “coming out of the dark”. It was a
rebirth of education, science, art, literature, music, and a better life
for people in general.
A cultural movement
A big part of the Renaissance was a cultural movement called
humanism. Humanism was a philosophy that all people should strive to be
educated and learned in the classical arts, literature, and science. It
looked for realism and human emotion in art. It also said that it was
okay for people to pursue comfort, riches, and beauty.
The Mona Lisa - perhaps the world's most famous painting - was
painted during the Renaissance
It began in Italy
The Renaissance started in Florence, Italy and spread to other
city-states in Italy. Part of the reason it began in Italy was because
of the history of Rome and the Roman Empire. Another reason it began in
Italy was because Italy had become very wealthy and the wealthy were
willing to spend their money supporting artists and geniuses.
City-states played a big role in the rule of Italy at the time. They
were often ruled by a powerful family. Some important city-states
included Florence, Milan, Venice, and Ferrara.
The Renaissance Man
The term Renaissance Man refers to a person that is an expert and
talented in many areas. The true geniuses of the Renaissance were great
examples of this. Leonardo da Vinci was a master painter, sculptor,
scientist, inventor, architect, engineer, and writer. Michelangelo was
also a superb painter, sculptor, and architect.
Fun Facts about the Renaissance
- One of the most popular Greek philosophers was Plato. Many men
studied Plato's writings at the Academy in Florence.
- Venice was famous for its glass work, while Milan was famous for
its iron smiths.
- Francis I, King of France, was patron of the arts and helped
Renaissance art spread from Italy to France.
- Artists were initially thought of as craftsmen. They worked in
workshops and belonged to a guild.
- Two of the biggest changes to art from the Middle Ages were the
concepts of proportion and perspective.
- Michelangelo and Leonardo became rivals when Michelangelo mocked da
Vinci for not finishing a statue of a horse.
- Hunting was a popular form of entertainment for the wealthy.
- Artists and architects would often compete for a job, or
commission, to create a piece of art.