What are the main features of the Renaissance ?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Renaissance was a time of rediscovery.  Thanks to successful trading trips to the Middle East, more Europeans had access to ancient Greek and Roman learning.  Another thing that accelerated this learning was the fall of Constantinople in 1453.  As more Greek and Roman scholars came west, more people were curious to learn about ancient times.  While the Church was still quite powerful, literature took on more of a secular tone.  Erasmus's In Praise of Folly and Machiavelli's The Prince demonstrate a humanism which was rare in previous works of literature.  These works of literature put the works of man in the center; while religion was not entirely discounted, man was the centerpiece.  Also, new scientific works were being printed revealing the thoughts of ancient philosophers and medical practitioners.  As the trade caravans and voyages became more common, Europeans thirsted for travelogues as well.  The printing press made all of these works more widely available, and they were printed in the languages of the people rather than the classical Latin written by clergy and government officials.  The rise of English, French, and German languages would also lead to the rise of nationalism within these countries.  People began to see themselves as less a part of Christendom and more a part of a nation-state.  

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The French word renaissance means "rebirth."  The Renaissance was a period in which artists and writers rejected the restrictions of the Middle Ages in order to develop new ideals, enthusiasm, and interests; most notably, there was a Revival of Learning, a new thirst for knowledge and enjoyment in knowledge.  The results of this "rebirth" were a widespread study of art and literature, as well as a delving into the mysteries of the natural world.

The Renaissance did not so much result in a change in subjects of study as it did in establishing a new viewpoint from which well-known facts may be considered.  Humanism arose as did a devotion to Greek and Latin studies in a perfect form, rejecting the "dog-Latin" of the Middle Ages. Painters sought to capture real people rather than general types and individual personalities rather than universal human traits. Extending to all parts of Europe, the Renaissance brought new arts such as printing, new geographical discoveries, and cultivation of trade by sea. 

In fact, the spirit of the Renaissance was above all secular as the Renaissance scholar was more concerned with form than content--for example, the correct use of words, the purification of style, the restoration of classical languages.

garciajbas | Student

The overall feature of the Renaissance was Enlightenment. Now let me explain what that meant in Renaissance times. It was the ability of an individual to think on his own, to stir away from the common norm of society; which was to believe in what the church said. That is pretty much the theme of the Renaissance. Also many people, such as, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Gianlorenzo Bernini, along with others were having ephiphanies dealing with religion. It was during these sudden ephihanies that Da vinci painted the Last Supper, Michael Angelo painted the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel, and where Bernini sculpted The Ecstacy of St. Teresa. Also in this time Science was becoming popular after the drawings of Da Vinci. This was the main highlight of the era. Science was starting to gain prominence amongst the community, thus outraging the church.

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