World Renaissance – Upsc notes for World History

  • The term Renaissance literally means “rebirth” or “revival”.
  • It also refers to the significant changes that took place in Europe during the transition period between the medieval and modern.
  • Progress of science, art, architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, geography and religion.
  • Spirit of individualism and humanism.
  • Religious transformation was symbolized by the Reformation.
  • All these changes in Europe were collectively referred to as Renaissance.

Renaissance in Italy

Italy is considered the birth place of the Renaissance for several reasons like

  • Italy was the seat of ancient civilization and the Latin language.

  • The rich city states in Italy like Florence and Venice patronized art and literature.

  • The publication of the “Divine Comedy” (written in Italian language) by the greatest Italian poet Dante (1265-1321) triggered the Renaissance movement in the city of Florence.

  • Later, the Renaissance spread to other parts of Europe and reached its peak in the 16th century.

Revival of Classical Literature

  • The most important contribution of the Renaissance was the revival and learning of ancient Greek and Latin literature.

  • The pioneer in this effort was Petrarch (1304 –1374), who collected and compiled the works of Plato and Aristotle.

  • His disciple Boccaccio had also encouraged the classical learning.

  • Many Greek scholars who came from Constantinople spread the ancient Greek literature in Florence.

  • The most notable among them was Manuel Chrysolores & scholar, Bracciolini traced the works of Tacitus, Livy and Sophocles.

  • In the 15thcentury Pope Nicholas V founded the Vatican Library and the ancient manuscripts were preserved in that library.

  • Erasmus (1463-1536) edited the New Testament in the Greek language.

Role of printing press

  • The invention of printing press by John Gutenberg (1398 – 1468) in Germany had influenced the Renaissance literature.

  • The first book published by him was The Bible.

  • William Caxton first to set up a printing press in England.

  • Shortly, many printing presses came up throughout Europe and it provided a stimulus to the Renaissance movement.

Renaissance Literature

  • Geoffrey Chaucer (father of English literature) wrote the Canterbury Tales in English.

  • Boccaccio was the author of the Deccameron, a collection of fables.

  • Machiavelli wrote History of Florence & The Prince, a book on political science.

  • In England, Sir Thomas Moore wrote his famous book Utopia in Latin.

  • The Elizabethan era marked the beginning of the English Renaissance.

  • It saw dramatists like William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and Charles Webster; poets like Edmund Spenser, Sydney and Ben Johnson. Hakluyt wrote excellent travel accounts during this period.

  • Montaigne (1533-1592) against the authority and the tyranny of the past and earned the title “the first modern man”.

  • In Germany, Martin Luther translated the Bible in the German language.

  • Sebastian Brant wrote The Ship of Fools.

  • In Spain, Cervantes authored the famous Don Quixote.

Renaissance Art

  • Art in the Middle Ages was dominated by the Christian religion but in Renaissance period importance was given to the love of nature and human body.

Renaissance Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)

  • Born in Florence & Known as the “Renaissance Man”.

  • He was an artist, poet, Scientist, musician, and engineer.

  • He was patronized by the Duke of Milan.

  • His famous paintings were the “Mona Lisa” and the “Last Supper”.

Michelangelo (1475 – 1564)

  • He was both a painter and sculptor.

  • He was patronized by the Medici family.

  • The magnificent frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican represent his most brilliant achievement in painting.

  • His painting,The Last Judgement” is considered the best in the world.

Renaissance Sculpture

  • The pioneer of the Renaissance sculpture was Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) and the magnificent doors at the Baptistery of Florence were his master piece.

  • Donatello (1386-1466) produced the statue of St. George in Florence and that of St. Mark at Venice.

  • Michelangelo (1475 – 1564) created the statue of David in Florence.

Development of Science

  • The spirit of modem science was born with the Renaissance and Francis Bacon (1561-1626) is considered the father of modern science.

  • Rene Descartes (1596-1650) contributed the idea of doubt, and doubt was the forerunner of a new age in science.

  • Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) established the heliocentric theory.

  • Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) first stated laws of planetary motion.

  • Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642) invented the telescope brought new evidence to support the Copernican theory.

  • Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) concluded that the movements of all celestial bodies were controlled by gravitation.

  • Vesalius (1514-1564) wrote a treatise on human anatomy.

  • William Harvey (1578-1657) discovered the blood circulation, a prime contribution to medical science.

  • Paracelsus (1493-1541) showed that reactions in the human body involve chemical changes.

  • Cordus (1515-1544) made ether from sulphuric acid and alcohol.

  • Helmont (1577-1644) discovered the carbon dioxide.

Results of the Renaissance

  • The Renaissance remained the symbol of the beginning of the modern age.

  • The spirit of enquiry and the consequent scientific inventions produced important changes in the life of humanity.

  • The invention of the Mariner’s Compass and other astronomical faiths led to the Geographical discoveries.

  • The reasoning spirit had resulted in the Reformation and changed the outlook of the people towards religion.

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