The sixteenth century in Europe was a time of unprecedented change.
It was the beginning of the modern era, and it saw a revolution in almost every aspect of life.
The century opened with the discovery of a new continent.
The renaissance in Italy was peaking and spreading north, even arriving in backwaters like England.
Life was largely prosperous for the average person, the economy was growing. The economy was a prosperous one at the beginning of the century, with even the average peasant able to afford a bit of meat in the stew pot.
People were optimistic about the future, they were having larger families and the population was growing.
By the end of the century, a peasant almost never saw meat, and many of them had reached such a state of despair about the future that they engaged in widespread revolts. Tensions between the social orders were high on many levels. The middle class was growing and generally becoming more powerful.
People in towns had leisure time to spend in taverns, gaming, and drinking -- hard liquor as an escape from a hard life began to be a social problem during this time.
Liveliness of a normal day market place in Europe during the beginning of the 16 th century renaissance.
Dress in this period covers the transition from the relatively softly constructed linear fashions of the Late Gothic (Northern Europe) and Early Italian Renaissance styles, into the far more rigidly constructed, padded and rather more blocky looking Tudor or Northern European Renaissance style.
In the Military
Puffing and slashing was the perfect visual metaphor for the 16th Century, because it suggests a society that is literally bursting at the seams with new ideas and problems.
Technological innovations like gunpowder were changing the nature of warfare and the military caste nature of society -- the invention of the artillery probably had a great deal to do with the rise of the centralized nation state as we know it.
As a cultural movement, it encompassed a rebellion of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform.
The cultural consensus of Europe based on universal participation in the Body of Christ was broken, never to be restored.
Artists focused more on modern society to base their art upon, instead of the biblical settings that once formatted the art world.
Artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, William Shakespeare, and Michelangelo.