The Renaissance, the Most Creative Age of Olden Times

Yanto Yulianto By Yanto Yulianto, 31st Jan 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/23fx9d2a/
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The period that began in Italy about the year 1300, developed in later years in other European countries, and ended about 1600, is known as the Renaissance. This period followed what is called the middle Ages. The term “Renaissance” derives from a French word that means “rebirth”. This period received this name because of a rebirth of interest among Italian scholars in the learning and arts of ancient Greece and Rome.

RENAISSANCE - REBIRT

The period that began in Italy about the year 1300, developed in later years in other European countries, and ended about 1600, is known as the Renaissance. This period followed what is called the middle Ages.

The term “Renaissance” derives from a French word that means “rebirth”. This period received this name because of a rebirth of interest among Italian scholars in the learning and arts of ancient Greece and Rome. But this period of rebirth was also a time of birth that is of the appearance of new things. In these years Europeans developed new scientific ideas and inventions, produced new styles in literature and the arts, and discovered new lands and trade routes to far-away lands. They began to think about man and his world from a new and different point of view.

At the beginning of that period, the Mediterranean Sea was the main route for trade between Europe and the East. The Italian states were leaders during the Renaissance. Italians travelled to foreign lands. Italian merchants and bankers undertook business all over Europe. Cities grew and wealth increased. The ancient ruins of Rome, the source of inspiration of the Renaissance, were in Italy. Italian scholars led the renewed interest in ancient learning. Artists from Italy created fashions in painting, architecture and sculpture. Italian explorers discovered new lands.

Italy at that time didn’t have a unified government. It was divided into a number of independent states that competed with each other for leadership.

As Italian trade with other parts of Europe increased, Italian ideas spread. A young gentleman from England, France, Germany or some other European country didn’t consider his education complete until he had travelled in Italy. Artists travelled to Italy to learn from the works of great Italian artists.

The increase in trade brought about great changes in European life. Even though most people lived on the products of their land, the wealthy and powerful class was no longer made up only of feudal landlords. Great merchants and bankers in the cities of northern Europe as well as in those of Italy were beginning to play important roles. The new rulers were no longer interested only in God and His world but also in man and his world.

The scholars who created the new interest in Greek and Roman culture and arts were known as humanists. The word humanism comes from the Latin “humanitas”, meaning culture. They were of the opinion that it was quite reasonable for man, while he was still living on earth, to seek the good things of this life and leave the glories of heaven until “we shall have arrived there”. The humanists had less interest in theology, the knowledge of God. They were more secular or worldly in their way of thinking. Professors from Greek lands of the eastern Mediterranean were invited to come to Italy to teach. The humanists developed the art of writing introduced by Cicero, a senator of ancient Rome, a way that is now called shorthand or stenography.

It was in this era that Giovanni Boccaccio wrote his famous collection of stories entitled “The Decameron”, Niccolo Machiavelli composed his most famous work “The Prince”, and the Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus created and spread his influential ideas about the relationship between man and his Creator. In England, William Shakespeare became the most prominent author of drama with his great plays, while in “Don Quixote” Miguel de Cervantes created one of the most famous characters in literature.

Although the humanists were not very interested in theology, they were interested in ancient books, and the Bible is an ancient book. They thought that men’s devotion to religion would increase if they studied religious texts in the original languages. Erasmus said that a true Christian should read and study “Chrthe Philosophy of ist” as a follower of Plato would study Plato’s books. As a humanist, Erasmus was deeply interested in Christ’s teachings about how men should treat each other.

The Renaissance was an age when men made new discoveries about the physical world. It was a time when curious European explorers found sea routes to Asia and other lands unknown to them in the western half of the world. The voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World changed common ideas about geography. Ferdinand Magellan attempted to sail around the world. Vasco da Gama found a new route to India around the Cape of Good Hope.

In this area Andreas Vesalius, a professor at the University of Padua in Italy, introduced the modern science of medical surgery. He said that surgery had to be performed by skilled physicians who had been trained specially in this field of medical science to become specialist surgeons. He himself dissected human bodies in his laboratory and in 1543 he published “The Structure of the Human Body”, which was later regarded as the first medical book about surgery.

In the same year Nicolaus Copernicus, an astronomer of Polish origin then living in Italy, published the results of his astronomical observations in the book “The Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies”. It was the first theory to reject the former idea that the sun resolves around the earth, and not the other way around.

In the world of arts, the Renaissance had Leonardo da Vinci to be proud of. He was a many-sided genius, but his masterpiece was “Mona Lisa”, a portrait of his friend’s wife, and still an object of admiration even today. Then there was Michelangelo Buonarroti, a painter, a sculptor, an architect and a poet as well. He decorated the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. As his last great work, he designed the famous dome of St. Peter’s Basilica (cathedral) in Rome, which was the best-known building of the Renaissance.

In the musical field, the most prominent product of the era was the opera. It was the result of the development of several musical instruments, like the piano, the violin and certain wind instruments.

What we have mentioned are only a few of the products of the Renaissance. To them we can add some more, for example, Johann Gutenberg has invented the printing press with movable type. Before this, all copies of books had to be made by hand. Gutenberg’s invention made it possible to produce many copies of a book at a time and thus helped to spread interest in learning about new discoveries in science and new creations in literature.

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Comments

author avatar GV Rama Rao
7th Dec 2014 (#)

Thanks for sharing an informative post. It was indeed illuminating.

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