Written by Amber Whitman-Currier
The Renaissance Era was a period dating from approximately the 14th century through the 16th century. It was a time of great change for Europe and the world, as a whole new culture was beginning to emerge. Beliefs were tested. The idea that humankind ruled nature developed, and has contributed greatly to modern science and technology. It is thought that Renaissance political thought was very instrumental in forming the government in the United States. The idea of freeing government from the religious aspects of the church, thereby becoming more independent, was the key idea in this reformation. Many inventions were also developed in this period, the most important being gunpowder, the printing press and the compass.
Another extremely important aspect of the Renaissance was the creation of prosperous cities, and is reflected today in our own society. Trade increased dramatically, not only in the standard items of barter and exchange, but also in the area of luxury items as well. With the expansion of trade, towns grew wherever the trade routes met. Capital that accumulated through trade was eventually available for other enterprises, notably banking and industry, much as happens with capital gains today. Great gains were made in education. However, these were not without a good amount of controversy. There were two distinct type of education, one of which was scholastic, which concentrated on the study of logic, and the other being philosophy and the nature of reality.
Added to this were the humanists. They proposed to educate the whole person and placed emphasis not only on intellectual achievements, but also on physical and moral development. This is the method that has moved into today’s education as well. It is a compilation of different achievements and teachings to round out an individual’s knowledge, and, as is the case today, people became more interested in music and the arts. Many people began singing and took up musical instruments, much as they do in today’s society, with music being a huge influence. Literature and the arts began to flourish with a turning toward art inspired by nature. Above all, the Renaissance movement left us fantastic monuments of artistic beauty that, even today, define our western culture.