What is Renaissance:

The Renaissance was the period in Europe when there was a surge of interest in and production of art and literature between the 14th and 17th centuries. “Renaissance art” is referred to as the style of art which came out of this period.

Renaissance meaning

The revival of European art and literature under the influence of classical models in the 14th–17th centuries.

Renaissance period

Or renaissance era is a period between 14th and 17th century. This period is considered as a bridge between the Middle Ages and Modern history.

From Darkness to Light: The Renaissance Begins

It was a fervent period of European artistic, cultural, political and economic “rebirth” following the Middle Ages.

The era is also known as the “Dark Ages”, often branded as a time of ignorance, war, pandemics and famine.


In Old French renaissance means “rebirth”, is the name given to the artistic, literary and scientific reform movement that originated in the 14th century in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe and was in force until the 16th century. This word also means the act of being reborn and can be synonymous with reformulation.

According to some authors, it was a rupture movement, which emerged in opposition to the “cultural and intellectual darkness” in the Middle Ages. While some authors argued that the Renaissance was a movement of separation from many philosophies of medieval times, others indicate that it was a movement of continuity and is therefore inevitably related to the Middle Ages.

During the Renaissance, Humanism emerged, replacing theocentrism (one of the characteristics of the Middle Ages) with anthropocentrism, which placed man at the center of the universe.

Learn more about Humanism.

The Renaissance paved the way for the development of various artistic styles and philosophical currents. Some developed in accordance with the Renaissance, while others were defined by distancing. This is the example of Baroque, a style opposed to the Renaissance (valued simplicity), characterized by the exaggeration of ornaments and grandeur.

Renaissance Characteristics

In the Renaissance some characteristics were fundamental to compose the culture of the time.

The artists of the time greatly appreciated the Greco-Roman culture . They thought that Greeks and Romans had a complete and human view of nature, different from medieval men.

Renaissance History
Renaissance History

And because of this, the most valued qualities in the human being at the time were intelligence, knowledge and artistic gifts.

However, the greatest characteristics of the Renaissance were based on four main points:

  • In Rationalism , where Renaissance people were convinced that reason was the only way to reach knowledge, and that everything could be explained by reason and science;
  • In Experimentalism , where for them all knowledge should be demonstrated through scientific experience;
  • In Individualism , which starts from the principle of man to know himself, seeking to affirm his own personality, talents and fulfill his ambitions. This conception is based on the principle that individual law would be above collective law;
  • In Anthropocentrism , which placed man as the supreme creation of God and as the center of the universe.

Learn more about Anthropocentrism.

Cultural renaissance

In the art field, the Renaissance meant the creation of new genres of painting and sculpture to respond to the new taste of society at that time.

The first manifestations in the artistic field appeared in Florence, Italy. Several architectural works were built that remain today. In painting, Giotto was one of the first to follow this current.

The most important Renaissance names in the artistic context were Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello and Rafaello, with several world famous works of art.

Literary revival

Philosophy and literature during the Renaissance were strongly marked by humanistic strands, which made man stand out in all areas.

Some of the best known Renaissance figures in the area of ​​literature were Miguel de Cervantes (Castilian who made the link between the Renaissance and Baroque), François Rabelais (France) and Luís de Camões (Portugal).

Scientific renaissance

The renaissance was also marked by important scientific discoveries, especially in the fields of astronomy, physics, medicine, mathematics and geography.

One of the discoveries of the time was made by the Polish Nicholas Copernicus (1473 – 1543) in contesting the geocentric theory that the earth is not the center of the universe but simply a planet revolving around the sun.

Galileo Galilei also stood out as an important scientist of the time, discovering the rings of Saturn, sunspots and satellites of Jupiter, but was persecuted and threatened by the Church and was forced to publicly deny his findings.

In medicine, knowledge has advanced with work and experiments on blood circulation, cauterization processes and advances in anatomy.

Commercial and Urban Renaissance

The commercial and urban renaissance occurred in the Middle Ages, especially in some cities in Italy and consisted of a set of factors that created new ways of thinking about the marketing of products.

The sale of these products was also responsible for the development of urban centers, where fairs were often organized.

At that time, when soldiers returned from expeditions, they often sold the spoils of war. Thus emerged merchants and a new class of society: the bourgeoisie.

These wealthy merchants, known as patrons , began to invest in the arts, thus increasing the artistic and cultural development of the region. For this reason, Italy is known as the cradle of Renaissance.

Renaissance fair

Also known as Renaissance festival or Renaissance faire, usually held in the United States, is an outdoor weekend gathering, open to the public. This festival is typically commercial in nature and recreates a historical setting for the entertainment of its guests. There are some permanent theme parks as well as some short-term events in a fairground, winery, or other large public or private spaces

Learn more about the Bourgeoisie, Characteristics of Humanism and meaning of Perspective.

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