Renaissance in the Middle ages
Written by Simon Newman
History - Middle Ages
When talking about Renaissance almost everyone will think about this period of human history. This was a movement mostly affected by a culture in the Middle Ages, the culture that wanted to go out of the Dark ages and bring the sun into everyday life’s.
The Renaissance started in the Italy and it took 2 centuries to spread all over the Europe. The movement started its life in the late 14th century and was affecting all spores of the everyday life, everything from the literature and art to the religion. The major idea around the Renaissance was the humanity, or humanistic approach to studies, human emotions and every day surrounding.
This idea of a more humanistic life that was brought to Europe in the 14th century was something that took away Europe from the Dark ages. Some scholars say that the big plague also known as the Black Death, that hit Europe in the 14th century, especially in the Italy, was something that triggered scientists, artists and scholars to think more about the life they were living right now, compared to afterlife that was the main topic during the early Middle Ages.
But why the Renaissance started in the Northern Italy, in Florence? The famous banking family, Medici, was the ruling family in Florence at that time and they had enough money to spend on the arts, painters, sculptors and on whatever they needed to make their life surrounded by a beauty. Also, the cultural scene of Florence ‘gave birth’ to the best know artists in Europe history; Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti.
Renaissance in the Middle Ages was changing everything and everybody. It is known as the breaking point for the Middle Ages since after the Renaissance started the modern era. It started in Italy and it took a long time to completely become acceptable in the entire Europe. The Northern part of Europe had its own renaissance also known as the Northern Renaissance.
As the humanism started to spread all over Europe through the exchange of Art, philosophy and invention, it occurred as a normal and widely accepted idea. This time is also marked by the invention of the printing press.
What is Humanism?
We can look at the Humanism as an idea, or some kind of the Middle ages movement which idea was to recover papers, language and ideas from the Rome and Greece and to incorporate them into the everyday life. The goal was to educate and to prepare the body, the mind and the soul for the afterlife. Every man should be capable of living, working or just being in any kind of situation.
The best example of such an ideology is IL UOMO UNIVERSAL or the Universal Man, the ideal man from the Greek-Roman culture. The education in the Renaissance was mainly based on the teachings and literature of the Ancient scholars. The early Renaissance days were shaped by the humanist philosophers such as Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas More and Pico della Mirandola. Mirandolas work Oration on the Dignity of Man is known to be the manifesto of the Renaissance period.
Art in the Renaissance
Since the Renaissance in the Middle ages was born in the Northern Italy, it came to the world with the much help of the artists backed by the rich families. This is without doubt the most important part of the Renaissance. If there was no art, and if the Medici family haven’t decided to back up the artists and give them freedom to make wonderful art pieces, there is no doubt that the Renaissance would have come to the stage much later.
The art of the Renaissance is known by its linear perspective technique. This technique, first formalized in the writings of Leon Battista Alberti, was a part of a trend which is known as realism. Other techniques that were part of the realism are light and shadow studies. The whole point of this technique was to show the whole beauty of the life and the nature.
Some of the best known works of the Renaissance were done by the Florence artists Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello and Leonardo. Other fields of art such as architecture were re-introduced with the Roman columns: Doric, Tuscan, Composite and Corinthian. The best known building of the Renaissance is St. Peter Basilica in Rome.
Religion in the Renaissance
New ideas and philosophy of the Renaissance in the Middle Ages were also adopted in the Church. Even though the majority of the work was paid by and made for the Church, the basic idea of the Humanism was developed opposing the Christianity. The turmoil in the Church, the Schisms and the Crusades haven’t stopped the Renaissance and the work of the great masters were heavily involved in the life of the Church, and the relation between God and the man was changed due to Renaissance and people started perceiving that relation in different manner.
Renaissance in different countries
Every major country at the time of the Renaissance in the Middle Ages had different and unique artists and philosophers that marked the era. Renaissance in Spain started in Valencia, the center of the Kingdom of Aragon which was heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance.
Renaissance period in England started with the Elizabethan era. Works of writers such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Francis Bacon and John Milton are among most known works in England.
France was influenced by Italy and it was introduced by the King Charles the 8th after he invaded Italy. In 1533 Caterina de Medici married King Henry and she was very interested in art, music and science and the origins of ballet, so she started to introduce them in the king’s court.
At the end of the 15th century Renaissance finally came to Germany and to the Low Countries (Holland). This is where the printing press was developed and the work of the artists such as Jan van Eyck and Johannes Ockeghem was introduced. But, the first ‘real’ Renaissance king in these areas was Emperor Maximilian 1st of Hapsburg.