The Italian Renaissance was a period of significant cultural change and achievement that characterized Europe from the end of 13th Century. This marked a transition period between Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Jacob Burckhardt who was a distinguished historian coined the phrase renaissance in the 19th Century. Although renaissance as a movement was largely confined to a literate culture of intellectual endeavor, patronage can be traced to the beginning of the 14th century (Pullan, 1973). In this century, Italian cultural aspects remained largely medieval. However, it was not until the later in the century that the renaissance came into full swing. Renaissance in other words mean “rebirth” an era which is best known for its culture of classical antiquity. This is a period that came after what renaissance proponents had labeled the dark ages. The significant changes that occurred during this period were concentrated among the elite class and changed the life of population from middle ages.
Italy is among the first country that renaissance originated. For instance, Florence is often regarded as the birth place of Renaissance. This owes to the fact that the City in the northern hills of Italy is regarded as a home to many artists (Hagopian, 1980). During this time, trade also flourished in the City giving birth to wealthy merchants who dominated the industry. These wealthy merchants also wielded political power. The merchants, therefore, used their wealth to build the mansions, villas, and contributed to the building of cathedrals which sparked the physical rebirth of the city (Pullan, 1973). The spirit of competition was also natured, and it run among the rich class who struggle to outwit each other in commissioning grandest buildings and fine works of art. The competition seemed to have sparked the city into what came to be known as the renaissance.
Among the first patrons of the renaissance was the Medici family which controlled Florence. The family played a vital role in the patronage of political development of the city as well as art. 1937 saw Giovani de Medici who was a banker to the papal court set up headquarters in Florence. Giovanni turned out as a wealthy and influential citizen, and this forced him to participate in public life. Giovanni at some point held a position in every office in Florence. On his death in 1429, Giovanni left behind a legacy of patronage for arts, immeasurable amount of fortune, as well as a son by the name Cosimo de Medici who had the chance of getting an education in the principles of humanism. The son was a chip of the old pot since he fitted well into the shoes of his father after taking over. Cosimo, just like his father turned out to be a successful businessman who used his father’s fortune to establish business all over Europe. By the year 1434, Cosimo had established himself and his family by consolidating power in Florence as he maintained an image of a democrat. Although Cosimo maintained his position as a private citizen, he ruled Florence city from behind the scenes. Despite maintaining his power as a manipulative schemer, Cosimo’s other life traits were undoubtedly admirable. He single handed oversaw the building of building of cathedrals which later turned out to be great. He also asked acclaimed artists to decorate these cathedrals. In addition, Cosimo also demonstrated exceptional support for education. This was evident in the Platonic Academy which he established for studying ancient works. It is widely argued that before Cosimo passed on in 1464, he channeled lots of his money to supporting scholarly learning, architecture, and other works of art. His death established that Cosimo had made extraordinary fortune from what his father left him.
The third patron of Renaissance was Cosimo’s son called Piero, After the death of Cosimo in 1464, Piero took over and ruled for five years. Lorenzo Medicini then came with his elegant style of living. He made sure that he enjoyed all that power could provide. Under Lorenzo’s rule, the city of Florentine economy significantly expanded making the lower class enjoy a certain level of comfort and protection that they had never experienced before. During his control, which lasted from 1469 to 1492, Florence experienced flourishing of arts and an increase in commerce. This led to the made Florence to be regarded as the most prestigious city state in Italy and arguably the beauty of Europe. However, Lorenzo let the family business to fall, a thing which forced the Medici to flee Florence after his death.
The essay concludes by asserting that the era of renaissance brought significance to the whole world. It was characterized the rebirth of the world in all spheres. It is paramount to note that without the patrons who oversaw] the process especially in Italy, then the era could not have come to pass. In this section, I have concentrated on three patrons from the family of Medicini and the contributions they made to the process.
The printing press is a device in which is used to apply pressure to an inked surface that rests upon a print media such as cloth or paper which transfers ink. The printing press, which was in most cases, used for texts, the spread of this invention, is regarded as one of the most influential events of that time. Printing press revolutionized the way people perceive and describe the world they live in, and opening up people to embrace the period of modernity (Eisenstein, 2005). In Europe, for instance, the invention of mechanical type printing ushered in the period of mass communication that permanently changed the structure of the society. During this era, the masses of the reformation were interested in unearthing the ills inherent in the religious and political authorities. The period also saw a sharp increase in literacy among the population curbed what used to be a monopoly of the few literate elite on learning and education causing the emergence of middle class. People all over Europe started reassessing their cultures, which in turn, led to the inculcation of nationalism. Renaissance saw the death of Latin as a Lingua Franca and instead saw the flowering of Europe’s vernacular languages.
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In a nutshell, the printing press acted as a channel of conveying information to the masses. It marked the end of priests or kings use of interpretation of books to subjugate their followers. It provided the masses with the availability of a wide material to read which in the end would have profound effects on the whole society at each and every level. The printing press provided the common populace with the opportunity to protect themselves from those in power through reading (Eisenstein, 2005). The new knowledge and easy access to information led to the creation of new industries, which forced governments, to find ways of including people in the process of governing. Democracy in governments also emerged due to availability of printing to the masses.
In conclusion, this essay has briefly discussed the printing press and how it changed the European society. It has also touched on the impact the printing press had on the development of the reformation. As we have established above, the innovation and the spread of the printing press had significant effects not only in Europe but also in the whole world. The process of the reformation was also profoundly impacted by the invention of the printing press.