As the economy and society changed,
new ideas began to appear. This period
of interest and developments in art,
literature, science and learning is known
as the Renaissance, French for “rebirth.”
•1300’s, Black Death, starvation,
warfare had overtaken Europe
•Catastrophic events, enormous
loss of life may have led to
changes of the 1300’s
•Decrease in population led to:
– Increase in food production
– Decline in food prices
– More money to spend
– Specialization in products
Changes in Society
• Urban areas specialized,
particularly in Italy
• Italy divided into several large
city-states in north, various
kingdoms, Papal States south
• Catholic Church, nobles,
merchants, artisans dominated
society in city-states
• Many sought to display new
wealth with knowledge of arts
The Rise of City-States
Causes of the Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance
• It is widely accepted that the Renaissance
started in Italy during the 1300’s.
• Italy during the Renaissance was largely an
• The powerful city-states of the Middle Ages
became political, economic, and social
centers. (Venice, Florence and Milan)
• A worldly viewpoint developed in this
urban society as increasing wealth created
new opportunities for material enjoyment.
• Milan, west of Venice, based economy on agriculture, silk,
• Florence, to south, famous for banking, cloth
• Monarchs appealed to Florentine bankers for money to fund wars
• Merchants refined raw wool into fine cloth
• Bankers, merchants created city to rival any in Europe
• With access to sea, Venice built economy, reputation on trade
• Had long history of trading with other ports on Mediterranean Sea
• Shipbuilding prospered, sailors traveled to Near East
• Wealthy Venetian merchants built unique city, “work of art”
Italy’s Wealthy Class
• In Italy, a wealthy
merchant class develops
• The wealthy enjoyed fine
food, homes, clothes
• Wealthy merchants also
become patrons of the
arts (financial backers)
• Banking family, the
Medici, controls Florence
Lorenzo di Medici
• The Medici was a wealthy and powerful family
that first gained prominence in the late 1300’s.
• The Medici first started in cloth guilds, but they
founded the Medici Bank which became the
largest and most prosperous bank in Europe by
• Although they never officially became
monarchs, the Medici family held great political
power and influence in Italy.
• Florence becomes very prosperous city.
• The Medici left an important and impactful
legacy because they were very supportive
(financially) in the arts and architecture.
• They supported famous artists such as
Michelangelo, da Vinci, Brunelleschi, etc.
Medici Family Crest
• Assassin’s Creed II is a
historical adventure game
that takes place in
Renaissance Italy, particularly
• The plot centers around
fictional depictions of true
historical figures from the
time including Leonardo da
Vinci, the Medici family,
•Venetian ships carried
goods for trade and
thought to be lost
Inspiration from the
•Italians who could
read looked for more
found lost texts
New World of Ideas
•As they read, began
to think about
science in different
•Began to believe in
human capacity to
• Interest in ancient Greek, Roman culture
• Characteristics of good education
• Artists, scholars study ruins of Rome and Latin, Greek
• Scholars move to Rome after fall of Constantinople in 1453
• Scholastic education gave way to classics: rhetoric, grammar,
poetry, history, Latin, Greek
• Subjects came to be known as humanities, movement they inspired
known as humanism
• Humanists emphasized individual accomplishment and human
• Medieval times, anonymous
artists who worked for
church created art
• Renaissance artists worked
for whoever offered them
• Buyers of art, patrons, might
be wealthy individuals, city
governments, or church
Patrons of the Arts
• Wealthy individuals
wealth, modernity through
purchase of artworks
• Florence, Lorenzo de Medici
supported most talented
• Milan, ruling Sforza family
benefactors of artists,
Competition Among Patrons
• Artists during the Renaissance tried to
create realistic style copied from
classical art (Greek and Roman)
• It was very important for their
depictions to be as realistic as possible.
• Often times artists studied anatomy,
botany, and how light would touch the
• Most often they portray religious
subjects or prominent citizens
• Painters use perspective — a way to
show three dimensions on a canvas
• Sculpture shows natural postures and
• A new view of human beings that emphasized
individual ability and worth emerged in the
• The well-rounded, universal person was
capable of achievements in many areas
Leonardo da Vinci
• Leonardo da Vinci was a painter,
sculptor, architect, inventor, and
• Wrote out ideas, filling 20,000 pages of
• His paintings are still studied and
• His interests, enthusiasm boundless
•Was a sculpture and painter
•Age 24, won fame with Pietà, sculpture of
Jesus’ mother Mary holding son’s dead body
•Marble statue of David
•Most famous painting, artwork on ceiling of
• Humanists searched archives, Arab
translations for classical texts
• Discovered wealth of scientific
• Science soon became important
avenue of inquiry
• Church’s teachings about world
were challenged, particularly that
Earth center of universe
• Focus of Renaissance on human
sciences, history, politics, geography
• New ideas about natural world began
to be explored also
• Nicholas Copernicus said Sun was
center of universe
• Galileo Galilei arrested by church
officials for saying Earth orbited Sun
Copernicus and Galileo
• Copernicus made strides in
astronomy and came up
with the theory that the
sun was the center of the
universe and not the earth.
• Galileo followed up and
reaffirmed these claims.
• Galileo was seen as a
heretic, for this position
was not popular amongst
Did you know?
• Galileo was asked by the Church to come in and
defend his position on his findings and theories.
• He was seen as a threat and a heretic and
condemned by the Church.
• He was ordered to be imprisoned and his writings
• Later, this sentence was reduced to “house arrest”.
• He lived out his remaining days studying the sun,
moon, and stars.
• Ironically, he went blind from staring at the sun too
long through his telescope.
• Niccolò Machievelli, author
of political guidebook, The
• Machiavelli wrote many
views on politics. He spoke
of how to get power and
keep it. His notes are still
read today and influence
politicians, CEO’s and world
Did You Know?
• While incarcerated in Clinton
Correctional Facility, Tupac
Shakur read and studied Niccolò
Machiavelli and other published
• This inspired his pseudonym
• Under this name he released
the record The Don Killuminati:
The 7 Day Theory which was his
and final album and released
after his death in 1996.
• In the 1400s, the
ideas of the Italian
Renaissance begin to
spread to Northern
Europe such as
Great Britain, Spain,
The Printing Press
• Around 1440 Johann Gutenberg
of Germany develops printing
• Printing press allows for quick,
cheap book production
• The first book printed with
movable type; the Bible (1455)
• The printing press is perhaps the
most significant invention in
The Printing Press
• During the Renaissance, there was a sharp
rise in literacy and therefore, a high
demand for books.
• The old way of hand copying could not
keep up for this new demand.
• Printing makes information widely
• Illiterate people benefit by having books
read to them.
• Published accounts of maps and charts
lead to more discoveries.
• Bibles were especially in high demand and
the mass productions of it helped the
spread of Christianity even further.
• The Renaissance also gave way to a
Golden Age of Literacy.
• During this time, several significant
authors and playwrights emerge.
• William Shakespeare is known for
his works in literature and as a
• He is considered possibly the
greatest playwright of all time and
his unique writing style is still
Changes in Religion
• See Reformation PowerPoint
• The events that occurred during this time period
still impact our lives today.
• Western art is founded on classical styles
developed by the Greeks and Romans.
• Machiavelli’s views on politics had a profound
influence on later political leaders in the Western
world and are still studied in universities today.
• The Jesuits have founded many Catholic colleges
and universities in the United States.
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