The Renaissance

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Why did the Renaissance start?

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The Renaissance started because of increased wealth, greater cultural exchange, and a renewed interest in classical works and philosophies. At the time, Florence's position as a prosperous and wealthy center of trade led to increased interest and investment in art, science, philosophy, and mathematics. This sparked the Renaissance, a period cultural and artistic renewal that challenged established ways of thinking and eventually spread throughout Europe.

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The Renaissance was a cultural movement that initially began in Florence, Italy, but later spread throughout Europe. It started around 1350 and ended around 1600. During the Renaissance (a word that means "rebirth"), people experienced changes in art, learning, and many other things. Prior to the Renaissance, Europe experienced the Medieval Times, otherwise known as the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages were characterized by war, famine, and disease, and many people disliked this. During the Dark Ages, Humanists emerged, which were people who believed that the individual had important contributions to make in the world (rather than just relying on the church). Humanists got their ideas from the ancient Greeks and Romans, which inspired their new ideas and artistic feats.

There are many causes to the Renaissance, the first is the Bubonic Plague, also known as "The Black Death." The plague spread throughout Europe like wildfire during the 1300s but ultimately led to good changes in business and trade in places like Italy. Italy moved away from meager grain sales to the sales of fine items like wine, oil, cheese, and leather goods.  Italy's central location made it a great hub for business and trade with the countries of Northern Europe. (I realize that Italy was not actually called Italy during the Renaissance; however, it is the easiest way to picture it since that is what we call it now). 

Another cause of the Renaissance was the new idea that social class didn't have to dictate your wealth. For the first time, people realized that they could work hard to earn money and then rise in society, rather than to let the class they were born into dictate their financial freedom.

Overall, the Renaissance was a time when people began to think for themselves and to attempt new artistic feats. The trade of fine items and ideas would eventually lead the Renaissance to spread throughout Northern Europe, and for the first time the working class emerged as wealthy.

I have provided the Crash Course History-Renaissance video. The narrator speaks a bit fast, but he does a good job covering all of the basics!

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The Renaissance was a cultural movement that started in Florence but spread throughout Europe. It started roughly in the 14th century and lasted until the 17th century. It started at different times in different places so there isn't really a specific date that it started. There are many theories in relation to why it started in Florence but most scholars agree that it had to do with the wealth that was there at the time.

Renaissance means "rebirth" and people had a new found passion for learning and art. Europe had previously witnessed catastrophic events such as the Black Death and war between England and France. There was a lot of death and despair and people were ready for a revival.

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Why did the Renaissance begin?  

The Renaissance did not begin on a specific date and started at different times in different places.

One popular theory is that it started in Italy, more specifically Florence. One theory concludes that it began here because Florence was a republic. Men governed themselves and were in control of their own destiny. This gave rise to free thought and cultural growth. Italy was also very wealthy. During the middle ages Italy was a center of trade. Along with this large influx of people came a lot of new ideas and a lot of knowledge. Another reason is that there were a lot of ruins in Italy, especially Rome. This means that was a lot of art and art was cherished during the Renaissance.

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Why did the Renaissance begin?  

I have to assume that your textbook gives an answer to this that you really ought to find.  Different scholars have different ideas and you probably need to find the idea that your teacher will expect you to get from your textbook.

Different people have different ideas because it is very hard to say for sure why some idea or set of ideas got started.  Some ideas are:

  • Economic problems along with the Black Death led to social upheaval.  This made it so that all the old values of society were called into question and could be changed.
  • The fall of the Byzantine Empire caused scholars from that empire to flee to Western Europe.  They brought with them classics of Greek thought that had been "lost" to Europe.
  • Italy's social structure was changing and trade was bringing in new ideas.

So you see, there are many ideas about why the Renaissance began and I think you should find the one your teacher expects to see.

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