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Date Shared: 08 Feb 2015
After the end of the Middle Ages, the rise of powerful nations with strong kings led to the growth of vibrant trade. In addition to trade goods, merchants brought back knowledge back with them when they returned from the East. This led to a revival of learning. People were especially interested in the Greco-Roman classics such as Aristotle and Sophocles.
By studying these texts, Europeans began changing the way they viewed human beings and the world. The concept of humanism developed out of this changing viewpoint. This philosophy stresses learning, studying the Greco-Roman classics, and the idea that people should balance religion with intellect. Humanists studied history, grammar, literature and philosophy. They also believed that a person could be a good Christian and still enjoy life and be good Christians, unlike the beliefs of the Middle Ages. From humanism, the idea of individualism developed. Finally, someone came up with the belief that each individual person was as important as the next. Of course, these ideas only applied to the well-read, literate nobles who could afford an education. It would take a while (and a revolution or two) for these Renaissance ideas to trickle down to the lower classes.
The Renaissance was not only a time of great philosophy. It is most known for its great burst of creativity and activity in the arts. During this time, rich patrons like the Medici family supported artists and their creative genius. In painting and sculpture, artists like da Vinci and Michelangelo used new techniques to create realism in art. The artists used perspective and chiaroscuro to create art that looked like reality (if a bit idealized).
During the Renaissance, people began to live in more urban areas as the merchant class developed. Merchants wanted to live in the cities to be near their businesses. The goal of these wealthier merchants and the nobility was to be a Renaissance Man – someone well-rounded and well-read. These men, and a few women, benefitted from the invention of the printing press. This machine, created by Johann Guttenberg, used metal letters and woodcuts to make beautiful copies of books. Books could be made 100's of copies at a time. This drastically increased the use of the vernacular in books and, consequently, led to an increase in literacy. More books meant that more people could learn to read. In fact, while the majority of books printed in the early years of the printing press were religious, more and more secular works were published. England, during the Elizabethan Age, produced the spectacularly magnificent poet and playwright Shakespeare.
nations revival Greco-Roman humanism individualism Renaissance Renaissance creativity patrons realism perspective chiaroscuro urban merchant class Renaissance Man printing press woodcuts vernacular secular Elizabethan Age Shakespeare
08 Feb 2015
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