What was the Renaissance and what caused it?

Expert Answers
robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Renaissance (from the French word meaning "re-birth") was a cultural movement spanning (depending on which cultural historians you believe) from the 14th to the 17th centuries.

I'm not sure you could say something caused the Renaissance as such, but the "re-birth" which gives the period its name is the re-birth of classical culture, which was rediscovered and re-examined during the period. Artists, writers, sculptors, musicians and architects began to look back to Greek and Roman times, and seek out ideas and inspiration from ancient texts.

The changes in the Renaissance were social and political as well as intellectual, primarily because of an emphasis on secular, rational understanding of the world beginning to displace the previous emphasis on religious or spiritual understanding.

Lastly, it's probably also worth pointing out that some historians question the usefulness of the term 'Renaissance', and ask whether the cultural phenomenon it described ever really occurred.

thewanderlust878 | Student

Great question! But, there are actually many different "renaissances" that have happened throughout history. The most famous one is obviously the high Italian renaissance, but like I said, there were indeed others. 

The exact definition of "renaissance" is:

The cultural rebirth that occurred in Europe from roughly the fourteenth through the middle of the seventeenth centuries, based on the rediscovery of the literature of Greece and Rome.

So, as you can see, the renaissance period spanned centuries. 

Hope this helps!

creynolds884 | Student

Thank you.

Well, my history teacher seems to think that there were 'causes'.

That really help me.

kbabyy | Student

who knows and who cares... lol