What were the characteristic changes that affected English culture during Renaissance?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A cluster of related social, political, religious, and cultural changes marked the English Renaissance, Perhaps the most important was the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church under Henry VIII, an act that simultaneously participated in the broader European movement and Protestantism and continues the centralization of power in the monarchy and religious independence begun with the 13th century acts of praemunire, provisions, and provisors. An important cultural consequence of the foundation of the Church of England was that church services were to be conducted in English rather than Latin and the Bible read in English by the laity rather than in Latin by the clergy. The Authorized Version (popularly, but not accurately, referred to as the "King James Bible") and the Book of Common Prayer were products of this impetus towards the vernacular.

The emphasis on laity reading a vernacular Bible ("sola scriptura Protestantism") combined with a rising middle class, lead to an explansion of vernacular literacy and vernacular secular literature. Shakespeare, court poetry, prose fiction, ect. are all part of this rise of vernacular literature.

Art and music participated in this growth of secular works for a secular audience. Secular painting in Britain, influenced by European models, became increasingly realistic, showing the everyday worlds rather than functioning purely to draw the soul towards God, even as the end of the cults of the saints led to minimal ornamentation in churches.


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