The term Renaissance means rebirth. It is a term used to describe major changes in European society, including new inventions, exploration, trade, and art. Humanist ideas also gained popularity as the Roman Catholic Church weakened.
When Constantinople fell in the 1400s, many scholars with humanist ideas found new homes in Italy. This is one of the reasons why Italy became the center of the Renaissance. Humanism encouraged, among many things, free thinking apart from religious structures. Advances in printing led to the publishing and distribution of humanist literature.
Art became more valued during the Renaissance. Florence, Italy, became a center of art. To some artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, art even had a scientific aspect. Mathematics also became more frequently used when creating art. The Medici family, who were wealthy Italian merchants, financially sponsored art and architecture.
More reliable navigation tools and maps, as well as more seaworthy ships, led to growth in exploration and trade by water. Trade using ships was easier due to poor roads. Many trade routes were also dangerous, making travel by water a desirable option.