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In reality, life for most Europeans probably was not better during the Renaissance than during the Medieval period. Indeed, the average European would probably have been surprised to know that he or she was witness to a Renaissance, and probably would not have much cared. For the vast majority of Europeans, the years encompassing the Renaissance would have been characterized by endemic warfare, especially religious warfare, and famine. Indeed, social conflict and warfare were exacerbated by the Reformation, a development that took place at roughly the same time as the Renaissance. Even the Italian city-states usually associated with the artistic developments of the Renaissance witnessed multiple invasions by foreign powers, particularly during the first three decades of the sixteenth century. Standards of living for the vast majority of Europeans did not approve appreciably, or on a permanent basis, until the eighteenth century. While the Renaissance witnessed remarkable developments in art, literature, science, and philosophy, it is important to note that these developments did not alter the lives of common people, and that the Renaissance was a movement that occurred largely among elites.
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