What are 5 reasons that the Renaissance occurred?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Renaissance, or Rebirth, was a cultural movement which began in Italy in the late fourteenth century and spread over the next few centuries to the rest of Europe. There are a number of reasons why the Renaissance happened:

  1. The wealth of the Italian city-states, like Florence and Genoa, as a result of trading links with the Far East, enabled the patronage of artists and writers. The Medici family, for instance, paid for many works of art to be commissioned. 
  2. Because of their strong trade links with the East, these Italian states became the focal point for the dissemination of new ideas. Furthermore, these cities were self-ruling and not hampered by strong monarchies. This situation helped to inspire the creative minds of the Renaissance.
  3. When the Byzantine Empire collapsed in 1453, scholars looked to Europe, especially Italy, for refuge. They also took with them great numbers of Classical Roman and Greek books which had been previously lost to people in the West. Italians were now able to read classical works and absorb their ideas.
  4. The growth of humanism, which emphasises the power of mankind over God, encouraged people to take a fresh look at their understanding of the past and of the Church's role in society.
  5. Many writers began to spur Latin in favour of their own language. Boccaccio, for example, wrote the Decameron in Italian, and this represents an important cultural shift which paved the way for the development of the vernacular.