The Middle Ages And Modern History

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The term Renaissance is often used to describe the period of time in Europe that bridges the gap between the Middle Ages and modern history; roughly the fourteenth-seventeenth century. The Renaissance movement began in Italy, slowly spilling into Northern Europe. It is seen as an age of intellectual rebirth and rediscovery of the classics. However, Jacques Le Goff questions the validity of the word “Renaissance” as a way to describe an entirely different era in history. This break up in the historical time periods discounts the continuity between the Middle Ages and the onset of this supposed rebirth of a progressive society. Using the term Renaissance overlooks intellectual progresses of the Middle Ages. The lack of cohesiveness between Italy’s renaissance and the rest of Europe does not justify labeling this a completely new time period. The biggest change during this period of time is the development in art which differentiates the renaissance from the Middle Ages. For many, the Middle Ages is seen as a time of intellectual and cultural stagnation. This scholarly inactivity is often cited as one main difference that separates the Renaissance era from the “Dark Ages.” However, one of the most important academic institutions was established during the Middle Ages; the university. These universities grew from the churches schooling system in the 1100s. The institutions were organized like the guilds of the time, giving certain privileges to the graduates in regards to what they taught. Students that needed any type of advanced training went to university where they studied a variety of subjects such as theology, medicine, or “liberal arts.” This availability of higher education for certain individuals discounts the belief of i... ... middle of paper ... ... new developments in the styles of artwork, Jacques Le Goff is right to accept the lower case use of the term renaissance. Using the term “Renaissance” to describe the entire period of time between Medieval Europe and modern history is invalid. The meaning of the word renaissance itself suggests that individuals of the Medieval period were not interested in learning about classical work or advancing intellectually at all. Because the renaissance focused mainly in one area for Europe for such a long time, it does not justify a new era in Europe. Especially since the ideas of humanism in the Italian renaissance were modified to fit the views of religious importance in northern Europe. Even though art did see a great rebirth during this period of time, the continuity between the late Middle Ages and the renaissance are too great to consider the term “Renaissance” valid.

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