The very definition of Renaissance is rebirth and that is exactly what happened to Europe during the Renaissance. It began in the urban society of Italy in primarily the city-state of Florence. The Black Death left the population of Europe very low and because of that combined with the decline of the church power, people began to emphasize individual achievements and show more interest in ancient Greek and Roman culture.
Italian city-states were where the Renaissance began. The main 3 city-states were Milan, Venice and Florence. Milan was the center of the main trade route ruled by the Visconti family. It had a centralized state with an efficient tax system that gave money to the government. Venice was a link between Asia and Western Europe, run by an elected leader called a Doge. Merchants ran the city for a profit. Their international power was the black slave trade. Like Venice, Florence was run by merchants, but in 1434 the Medici family overthrew them. Venice then became the cultural center of the Renaissance.
Renaissance society was made up of 3 estates. The first estate is clergy, the second is nobility also called Renaissance men and the third is commoners. 85% of commoners were peasants and the other 15% were townspeople. There were 2 writers during the Renaissance who outline the way certain people should be. Machiavelli wrote “The Prince” which told how to get and hold political power. Castiglione wrote the “Book of Courtiers” which describes the perfect Renaissance noble. In Renaissance society marriages were arranged to strengthen political ties. The woman’s family paid the dowry and the men controlled the business and family. Children were only adults when their father went to the court and freed them. Renaissance education, they believed would dramatically change humans. Students were separated by age into classes much like today. They learned classics in Latin and Greek along with music dance and sport. Women didn’t go to school but instead learned manners and cultural graces at home.
The art during the Renaissance depicted the real world. Humans became the focus for most art, and faces developed an expression. The masters of the renaissance were Leonardo D a Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. They went beyond realism and created an idealized form that was somewhat god-like. Da Vinci even went so far as to dissect bodies to see how they work and therefore capture near perfection in his art. Some of his best know works are the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, along with the sculpture, David. Michelangelo was a painter, sculptor and architect. He painted the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. Raphael was a 25 year old artist and was considered to be a master. He focused on balance and harmony. He painted the school of Athens. Masaccio liked to imitate nature and painted with a 3 dimensional kind of paint called frescos. This mixture of plaster and paint is used to show depth and realism. Other painters of the time were Jan van Eyck...