The Italian Renaissance was one of the most colorful, vital, and exciting times in history. Renaissance eventually comes from the French word "Renaistre," meaning "to be born again." The Renaissance was a revival or a rebirth of cultural awareness and learning among art, law, language, literature, philosophy, science, and mathematics. This period took place between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Renaissance in Italy flourished in the 15th century and spread throughout most of Europe in the 16th century.
What was the Renaissance and why did it happen? Italian life in the 14th and 15th centuries was lived among the vast ruins of the ancient Roman Empire. The cruelty and barbarism of Rome had long been forgotten, and the splendor of that lost civilization's ruins suggested a glorious, golden past. By contrast, the period following the fall of the Rome in the fifth century seemed to some Italian intellectuals and artists to be a period of decline and decay.
An Italian poet by the name of Francesco Petrarch, who lived from 1304 to 1374, was the first to use the term "dark ages" to describe that period. He convinced his influential friends that the way to bring the dark ages to an end was to revive the ideals preserved in the poetry, philosophy, and art of the ancient world.
Petrarch and his followers called themselves humanists because they defended and glorified the value of man's life on earth. The Church, at the time, taught that life was important mainly because the way it was lived had an effect on the soul's fate after death. The humanists believed that mankind had unlimited potential which each individual should stive to achieve. The Renaissance came into being thro...
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...rtists and thinkers the freedom to create and speculate-and, in their spare time, to immortalize their patrons. As wealth flowed into the coffers of the great Italian cities, art prospered and optimism reigned about man's potential to understand the universe and his place in it. Behind all the achievements of the Renaissance lies the belief that man has the capacity to improve himself, to grow and to learn.
Today, we use the term "Renaissance man" to describe someone who can do many things well. The ideal man of the Renaissance was supposed to be a philosopher, a poet, a scholar, a scientist, an artist, a soldier, and a courtier. One of the most amazing aspects of the Renaissance, is that so many of its prominent figures actually deserved the description.
Turner,Richard A. (1997) Renaissance Florence-The Invention of a new art
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