Prior to the 14th century, the Middle Ages revolved around the basic understanding of the Bible. Middle to lower class citizens relied heavily on the teachings of the priest’s and blindly followed their ways of living. The church discouraged any new concepts and believed that life on Earth was simply a preparation for the after life. The Renaissance, ranging from the 14th to 16th centuries, became a distinct period in European history due to the increase in trade, influence of art and the artist, and the growing phenomenon of individual thinking, as this will lead to future exploration and economic advances.
Italy, the epicenter of Renaissance culture, was able to advance their society through a growth in economic stability. As ships and trade routes began to advance technologically, the Italian merchant class also grew. Italian merchants and sailors would import goods from all over Europe, such as wool from England, and ship them to other countries. The risks of such endeavors were high, but the end profit was even higher. This new industry not only stabilized the Italian economy, but it eventually led to the development of the Urban Nobility class, who strongly contributed to the Renaissance efforts.
During the Renaissance, the influence of art and the artist grew extensively. Artists in the Middle Ages worked strictly on religious pieces for the church and many struggled to make a reasonable living. Art during the Renaissance was in high demand. Every rich and powerful family used works of art as a way to flaunt their wealth and demonstrate their lavish lifestyle. The technique of dark and light was added to show depth and dimension. Artists also began to use realism, painting more realistic faces and bodies, as this was a newly accepted style. Some of the highly influential Renaissance artists include Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Giotto. Their works were not only revolutionary for their time, but they continue to be inspirations for the modern day artist.
Through the invention of the printing press, revolutionary thinkers were able to communicate their theories to the mass population, an opportunity that was never accessible prior to the Renaissance. Three main proprietary concepts were developed in this time. The ideas of humanism, individualism, and secularism dominated the Renaissance culture like never before. Humanists emerged with a newfound interest in the classics. They studied these works in order to discover more about human nature. Individualists prioritized the potential of the human being. They believed that everyone should have to opportunity to be the best they can possibly be. Secularism was the basic concern with the material world, as opposed to the spiritual world. These ideas strongly opposed the teachings of the church, yet they continued to spread rapidly and strongly. Coming out of a banal period in western culture, the Renaissance brought on countless revolutionary thinkers that worked to open the eyes of their peers and make an impact on society.
The Renaissance was an explosion of revolutionary ideas that spread all across Europe. For the first time in centuries, artists, merchants, writers, and philosophers alike were able to express themselves in an amazing way. Many of the greatest minds that we often look back to for inspiration originated from the Renaissance era. Their ideas made a lasting impact on culture, then and now. The Renaissance would not have been such a distinct period if not for the combined efforts of every possible industry and art form.