Castiglione & Machiavelli (in Terms of Humanism & Mannerism).

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6. Discuss the historical importance of the Renaissance. How does it depart from the Middle Ages and begin the modern period of Western Civilization? Discuss the arts, architecture, science, politics, and economics.

Renaissance – the rebirth. The Italian artists and intellectuals believing that they broke significantly from the Middle Ages began to speak of a Renaissance or rebirth of a civilization.

Historians such as Jacob Burckhardt proclaimed the 15th century saw a rebirth of ideas. Before this the world had been in a stagnant state but now the Italians had a new understanding. But the scholars proclaimed that the Renaissance was not a new way of seeing the world but rather a revival of learning and emphasis on culture. Prosperity and peace during most of the 15th century encouraged an active cultural climate. The writers and artists were being were being supported by the prosperous citizens.

The Renaissance periods saw the thinkers and artist evolve and start to ask ethical questions such as what is human nature and the relationships between humans and God. These are questions the ethical and philosophical scholars are still pending today. The Middle Ages sometimes saw women play cultural roles but Early Renaissance was almost dominated by male artist, writers and scholars. The Early Renaissance didn't really see the status of women change much but it did see women become better educated.

The political climate was not as fortunate in the Early Renaissance years. Autocratic rulers, signori, began to accumulate power in contrast to the guilds and middle class that led during the 14th century. The Italian economy was still trying to recuperate from the 13th century plagues and the 14th century wars that continued into the 15th century. By the end of the 15th century Europe had recovered from the plague. The center of commerce shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic coast and the Spanish funded trips to discover the New World. The...
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