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How the Renaissance had an
effect on western Europe
By: Patrick Bryant
E-mail: Pbryant98@hotmail.com

The Renaissance was significant on the development of Western Europe and
the Impact it had was immense. The Renaissance not only influenced the
worlds of art, music, and literature, but also the worlds of politics, religion,
and society. During the Renaissance, advancements were made in several
areas of technology and in thought. The Renaissance was a key in the
development of Western Civilization. The Renaissance is a term that was
coined in the 19th century to describe a period in which art and literature
flourished in Europe, but there were so many significant changes during this
time period that the term Renaissance began to mean all the developments
during this time period. The time frame of the Renaissance occurs over
several centuries. It began in Italy in the 14th century, and in the 15th century,
the period flourished. The 16th century brought an end to the Renaissance
with the coming of a crisis in Italy which spread throughout the European
Continent(Lurier). Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the
Renaissance, Europe was in a period of decline. Eventually, Europe, for the
most part, had adopted a feudal 2. society. There were knights and lords in
this period, as well as vassals and serfs. Cities of the great Roman Empire
were slums for the most part, and in the country, estates with feudal lords
offered protection to local villagers from attack (it is for this that villages
developed close to feudal estates). Life was generally hard and not too
stable. The Renaissance was a result of this life, almost retaliation more than
reaction(Michelet). As stated above, the Renaissance started in Italy, to get
technical, it actually started in the town of Florence. A reason why the
Renaissance started in Italy perhaps relates to the fact that Italian city-states
survived in Italy perhaps relates to the fact that Italian city-states survived the
middle ages for various reasons (the were located strategically, and they were
important places of trade). Northern Europe did not fair as well as the Italian
city-states(Kagan). Although the opposite would be true in The sixteenth and
seventeenth centures, The city-states of Italy survived the Century and a half
between 1300 and 1450 Better than the territorial states of Northern Europe.
This was due to Italy's Strategic location between East and West And its
lucrative Eurasian trade. Great Wealth gave rulers and merchants the Ability
to work their will on both society And culture. They became patrons of
government, Education, and the arts, always as much for Self-aggrandizement
as out of benevolence, for Whether a patron was a family, a firm, a 3.
Government, or the church, their endowments Enhanced their reputation and
power. The Result of such patronage was a cultural Renaissance in Italian
cities unmatched Elsewhere(Kagan,Ozment, and Turner 333-334). The
advantage of Italian city-states can be linked to trade. Some cities such as
Venice traded without interruption through the middle ages. During this time,
economic factors made it possible for traders of these cities to learn
applications such as banking and book keeping which, in time would spread
all over Europe. The Merchants of the city-states also learned such tactics as
creating monopolies. Bankers, such as the Medici family became extremely
affluent, and modern banking practices come directly from them. In fact, at
one point, the Italian bankers became the bankers of choice for all
Europe(Kagan). The Wealth of the city-states greatly influenced the
Renaissance. In the city-states of Italy there was a major influence in power,
and how to attain it. Eventually, for the most part, the Merchants controlled
the politics of the city-states, and the wealth grew (as did the size of the
city-states). For a period, Florence was ruled by a council of six men (later it
was made up of eight men) who were elected. This was not democracy, but
at least there 4. were elections. Constitutions were held by some city-states,
thus, the city-states that held constitutions had a constitutional government.
This is a development in politics for the time because Kings and Princes ruled
most of Europe(Andrea). Humanism came out of the Italian Renaissance.
There are several types of humanism, but the best one of the Renaissance
was the one that followed the belief of man being unique; that is to say that
everyone is different, and should be treated with dignity. This brought on a
growth in education and the arts. Humanism of the Renaissance came mostly
from the people who were not of the clergy, and wanted to learn the liberal
arts. Writing and poetry became important again, as did art and thought; all of
the liberal arts, it was thought, contributed to the achievement of the human
race, and its dignity. Humanists studied directly from the original sources.
They learned Latin and Greek to do so. In doing this they did not have to rely
on what others thought of classical works, which meant that they could come
up with their own views on the subjects. The humanists were not only
scholars, they were teachers as well; which furthered education in the Italian
City States. Some humanist believed the original Latin was 5. far better than
the vernacular (or language of the area one is native too), while others felt the
exact opposite. Humanists were interested in politics and civic life(Perry).
During the Renaissance, politics also developed greatly. In fact, one of the
greatest political works ever written came from this time period. This work
was written by Machiavelli, and he called his work The Prince. This work is
still used today in the world of politics. It is a model for ideal leadership of a
nation, and gives an insight into the thinking involved to rule
successfully(Andrea). In terms of art and culture, the Renaissance was a time
when art became more realistic, and nature was looked at as art. Various
technological advances made painting better; one such advancement was oil
paints. Also, during this time period, linear perspective was developed.
Linear perspective gave feeling of proportion to paintings, thereby, offer
continuity of subjects in a painting. This is still very important to paintings
today (with some exceptions)(Perry). The rest of Europe during this time also
was experiencing a rebirth. Most of the changes in Northern 6. Europe
concerned the building of nations, and religion. This time period saw rulers
unifying areas of land into nations. Instead of several different feudal lords,
each one controlling only his estates (as some did have more that one), there
was now a tendency to unite peoples under one ruler, and thus, a country
was born(Lurier). In the North of Europe, the Humanist movement
concentrated on problems with the church. The humanists of the North were
not interested in imitating the life of antiquity but learning from it. This was
especially true of the operations of the early church for the Northern
Humanists. "There, scholars and mystics studied the past not to imitate, but to
learn. The desire to reform was a profound as the need. But to reform the
church and society one had to know their original form(Lurier 274)." A main
concern came with the invention of the printing press (which is still an
important device today). The printing press started a tradition in Northern
Europe based upon printing works in the native tongue of the land (the
vernacular). Before the printing press, works were written and copied by
scholars in either Latin or Greek; this was the age of the manuscripts. The
printing press brought some to write in vernacular and be read by many. A
main 7. concern was over the translation of the bible into the vernacular. This
was an idea of the Protestant reformation. Martin Luther is considered not
only to be a reformer (and a founding father of Protestantism), but also a
humanist(Perry). All in all, the Renaissance in Southern Europe was brilliant.
In Northern Europe, the Renaissance was very introspective; it was about
asking and answering questions, of finding the truth from the past. Also, in
Europe, the Renaissance became a vehicle for exploration. With the spice
trade in full swing, people were looking to find cheaper ways to conduct
expeditions to the East. This meant finding an all water route. Some men
sailed around the tip of South Africa. Columbus came up with the notion that
it was shorter to sail in the opposite direction to get to Asia than to sail
around the continent of Africa. He received support for the Queen of Spain,
and had stumbled quite accidentally upon a new land. This resulted in the
Spanish becoming an Empire. To the North, England also started building an
empire, as well as countries such as Portugal. With all the interest in sailing
there were also technological advances in sailing, 8. navigation, and map
making; which furthered the science of sailing(Michelet). Other innovations
during the Renaissance came from science. Many people furthered Science,
and in this age there were several scientific advancements in this time period.
Some of the advancements during the Renaissance came from Leonardo Da'
Vinci. Not only was he a great inventor, but he also was an artist, painting
such works as the Mona Lisa(Kagan). There was also advancement in the art
of warfare in the Renaissance. "Military innovations- primary cannons, new
infantry tactics, and the royal standing armies combined to reduce the
traditional dominance of the mounted feudal Knights(Andrea 427)." The
Cannon proved useful at sea, especially for protection of the vessels from
hostile sources. Knights were no longer important, as now there were armies.
Kings had larger forces to attack and defend their kingdoms with armies they
had(Andrea). The Renaissance was a time of rebirth in terms of civilization in
Europe. This stems from advancements in art, literature, science, politics,
reforms of the church, 9. trade, new military tactics, expansion in to the New
World, etc. The Renaissance was the first step in the start of the Modern
period in European history. The impact and significance of the Renaissance
on Europe is a direct result of all the advancements made during the
renaissance. The Renaissance politically and economically set Europe up for
a return to being an influencing force in the world. Cities were beginning to
boom again, and there was a shift from being an agricultural society, to some
places having market capital economies. The return to humanism to thought
set up many principals that would be further developed as history progressed.
Some of the most significant accomplishments in European history during the
Renaissance came in the form of banking practices and politics. The
Renaissance and all the changes it brought had a great impact on Europe, and
were the only way to cross from the Middle Ages into the Modern era.

10. Works Cited Andrea, Alfred J. The Medieval Record: Sources of
Medieval History. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997 Kagan, Donald;
Ozment, Steven, and Turner, Frank M. The Western Heritage: Volume I to
1715. (Sixth Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998. Lurier,
Harold E. The Emergence of the Western World. Dubuque, Iowa:
Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1994. Michelet, Jules. "The Renaissance
and the Discovery of the World and Man." The Renaissance Debate. Ed. By
Denys Hay. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1965. 22-28. Perry,
Marvin; Chase, Jacob, Jacob, Von Laue. Western Civilization: Ideas,
Politics, and Society. Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996.

Word Count: 1788

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