The Renaissance was a period when the rebirth of the ancient Greek and Roman ideas appeared. Specifically, it was the period characterized by the development of the city states. Besides, it was also the time of the recovery of the society from cultural and trade decay that prevailed in the dark ages. However, most importantly, the Renaissance in Italy and Northern Europe marked the time for the new view of the ability as well as the worth of an individual (Humanism). A revolution occurred in humanist movement and its ideas, which was reflected in the perception that humans had the right to think for themselves and to question the actions of the government or those in authority. This paper focuses on analyzing the Renaissance in Italy, Renaissance Humanism, Renaissance in Northern Europe, and Protestant Reformation.
The lecture slides show that the Renaissance in Italy primarily occurred between the 1400s and the 1500s. During this time, the city states emerged. To illustrate, Florence was a city state that developed during the Renaissance in Italy. Traditionally, Florence was considered the center of culture, art, and literature. However, during the Renaissance, the city transformed into a banking center, and the Medici family was the most prominent banker of the city. Other city states that came into existence during the Renaissance period in Italy included Venice and Milan. The lecture slides indicate that Venice became the richest city state during the Renaissance because of its strategic location as a port city along the Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, Milan grew as a wealthy city state as it dominated the trade routes in Northern Italy. Rome also developed as a religious city and became the home of the Catholic Church. The growth of Rome into the Catholic Church’s home influenced the development of art because artists, e.g. Michelangelo, were commissioned by the pope to produce creative works which are famous even nowadays.
The concept of humanism occurred during the Renaissance. Francisco Petrarch was the father of humanism, a school of thought that laid the emphasis on the man as the center of the universe. Humanism was also characterized by the development of the right to think for oneself; people started questioning authorities. Moreover, individualism emerged as a result of the class structure. The lecture slides show that the society was divided into three classes. Firstly, the class of the nobles, also known as the strict class, contained the fewest members of the society and the rulers. Secondly, the class of the townspeople (middle class) were well-endowed individuals while the peasants, the third class, were the most common people of the society. There was a decrease in serfdom because people had not so many debts before their lords, and thus, were more concerned about their personal growth. Renaissance education contributed to the freedom of man and encouraged the right to contemplate about oneself. Besides, the education marked the beginning of modern consciousness.
The Renaissance in Northern Europe was significant because of the cultural, technological, political, and spiritual transformations. Culturally, the people of Northern Europe became better thinkers because of the access to education that increased their literacy levels. However, the urban population started to criticize the church as they questioned the beliefs and practices of the clergy. The society’s culture transformed; specifically, it became more individualistic and secular. In addition, new technologies emerged in Europe, for instance printing. Johannes Guttenberg invented the press in 1450. Such important invention made the manufacture of paper easier and cheaper. Besides, it enhanced the spread of anti-Catholic ideas, and consequently, intensified the criticism of the Catholic Church.
Politically, the state called the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) developed, but it was young and insecure when it targeted governing a huge area. Martin Luther rose because of the weakness of the HRE. In terms of religious reforms, the Catholic Church came under more intense criticism, with some people, e.g. Erasmus (The Dutch Christian humanist), undermining the church from within itself. There was also the call to translate the New Testament into Greek and return to the simplicity that was present in the church earlier.
Protestant Reformation was another period within the Renaissance epoch. Before the Renaissance, the Catholic Church had dominated in the Northern Europe. This ruling, however, ended during the Renaissance because the Protestants started to convey the thoughts about religious pluralism. Some of the challenges in the Catholic Church that led to the emergence of the Protestant Reformation that the lecture slides mention include the charges of greed, the challenge against worldly political power, and the growing human confidence against the notion of original sin. Additionally, such problem as corruption was widely spread within the Renaissance papacy. Thus, the Europeans developed the negative attitude towards the clerics; namely, they questioned their authority, righteousness, and absenteeism. On the other hand, the Catholic Church was highly defensive against the criticism, which was the factor that strengthened the Protestant Reformation movement.
In conclusion, the Renaissance epoch in Italy and Northern Europe had a mixture of positive and negative consequences. In Italy, the Renaissance signified the time when city states developed, more human freedom was realized from the decreasing serfdom, and people gained individualistic thought because of the urge to move from one class to another. Moreover, humanism developed in Italy, which called for the respect for human dignity and value. In Northern Europe, the dominance of the Catholic Church ended because of the emergence of the Protestant Reformation.