The word Renaissance translates literally to ‘rebirth’ in French. This is the period from the 14th to the 17th centuries where Europe experienced a rediscovery of ancient Greek and Roman study and a recovery of the ancient Greek spirit of scientific inquiry. 1
A popular misconception about the Renaissance was that everyone in Europe was equally affected. Art and science did not necessarily filter down to the average citizen like technology does today. Those who both contributed to and experienced the fruits from the Renaissance were typically wealthy artists, philosophers and the rest of the rich.
In reality, many who lived through the Renaissance did not even recognize the importance of the time period. The Renaissance was not so much central to the 15th century as it is important to us now because it influenced the way we live and learn today.
Humanism flourished during the Renaissance. It is an outlook that emphasizes human agency and has two key assertions: that individuals should exercise thought and that secular matters are important.²
Many historians believe the Renaissance was born in Italy, one of the wealthiest countries at the time. An abundance of wealth was necessary to afford and sustain the production of art and study of philosophy and science.
Venice, the richest region of Italy during the Renaissance, was trading with Ottoman Empire. This was the source of much of the city’s income. If they had not been engaging in the trade of textiles and pepper with the Islamic world, they would not have been able to afford the production of much of what we recognize today from the period.³
1. Periods: Renaissance. British Literature Society. Retrieved from http://people.umass.edu/eng2/per/renaissance.html
2. History of Early Modern Europe. Essential Humanities. Retrieved from http://www.essential-humanities.net/western-history/history-of-early-modern-europe/#.UbX9N_bwJ_Z
3. The Renaissance: Was it a Thing? - Crash Course World History #22. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vufba_ZcoR0