The Renaissance

The Renaissance (French for “rebirth,” in Italian known as the Rinascimento) was one of the most famous periods of European history, thought by many to have represented Europe’s transition from the so-called Dark Ages to modernity. The Renaissance period, which started in Italy and spread throughout most of Europe, lasting roughly from the 14th through the 17th centuries, was invaluable for the development of European culture. During this time, there was a great surge in every field of human endeavor, especially in the arts and sciences, and it brought about many cultural, social and political innovations that have influenced the subsequent development of Western Civilization.

Some of the most famous influences of the Renaissance era have been the “Renaissance men,” such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, both of whom are very famous Italian painters, but were also polymaths–i.e., involved in many other forms of art and the natural sciences, as well as the liberal arts and humanities, as writers, mathematicians, botanists, astronomers, sculptors, musicians, all at once. These men were part of the so-called Italian Renaissance period, but they influenced virtually all other similar cultural movements as the Renaissance spread throughout the rest of the European continent.

Another famous figure of the Italian Renaissance was Niccolo Machiavelli, the Florentine bureaucrat who by some was called “the first political scientist,” his infamous book, “The Prince,” being one of the most widely acknowledged treatises on political power.