Why was Rome so important in the Renaissance?

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kmj23 | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The Renaissance, or rebirth, was a revival movement which took place in Medieval Europe between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. Rome became a dominant force in this movement, partly because the Renaissance originated in Italy. All around the Renaissance artists and intellectuals were visible reminders of Rome's famous past: from public buildings and aqueducts to monuments and roads. Moreover, the fall of Constantinople in 1453 caused a number of great intellectuals to flock to Italy, bringing with them scores of books written by Ancient Romans, which had been previously lost to the Italians. The style and content of these great works, by men like Cicero and Julius Caesar, were like a light in the medieval darkness. This Classical Latin was also very appealing to Renaissance men and seemed so much more refined and pure than the language spoken by the Medieval Church.

The growth of humanism in the Renaissance also contributed to boosting the importance of Rome. In essence, humanists wanted to learn from the past and looked to Ancient Rome for guidance. Humanists wanted to understand why the Roman Republic had failed, why the Romans were pagans and how these experiences could help them to understand the future. As humanists were often drawn from the upper classes of Italian society, they had the wealth needed to fund this interest in Rome and to ensure that the city's heritage would not be forgotten.

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