History and Culture of the Renaissance Period

We know the Renaissance as a historical period and artistic that developed during the 15th and 16th centuries in Western Europe. During this period, there were a series of fundamental changes in culture and society that pointed to the passage from the Middle Ages to the modern age, from the old medieval theocentric literature to a new less sacred intellectual order, centered on man and nature, although always framed in a thoroughly Christian environment.

The term “Renaissance” derives from the Italian expression “rinascita”, a word first used by Petrarch and shows as an essential characteristic his admiration for Greco-Roman antiquity, considering classical cultures as the Supreme realization of an idea of perfection. It is a rebirth, a return to giving life to the ideals that inspired those peoples, to the free contemplation of nature after centuries of the predominance of a more rigid and dogmatic type of mentality established in the Europe of the Middle Ages. The Renaissance is the result of an interest in the Greco-Roman past, which sought to revive the ideals that had inspired those peoples. From this movement emerged significant figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo, who keep our admiration alive throughout the ages. This new stage proposed a new way of seeing the world and the human being, with a renewal in all aspects of human culture, in the fields of arts, politics, philosophy, and Sciences. A remarkable feature of this era is the separation between civic and religious and the replacement of medieval theocentric with certain anthropocentrism. Education is beginning to take on paramount importance and, as medieval norms do not work, the classics of antiquity are used, who act as models and stimulus. The collection of the ancient codices, the analysis and assimilation of the spirit that encouraged Greeks and Romans constitutes the movement called Humanism.

When the Renaissance enters Italy, it is a question of looking for the three-dimensional form and casting aside purely linear art. In that period, in Florence, the painting was lived in a culminating moment with the appearance of the first artists and the different schools. Lorenzo De ‘ Medici, protector of artists and thinkers in 15th century Florence, proclaims that times change and old medieval truths are made that had lasted for almost a thousand years. Thus, this renaissance artistic style recovered the measurements and proportions of classical works of art. Some architects, such as Alberti or Palladio, published architecture books that collected the calculations and realizations of authors such as Vitruvius. Others, like Brunelleschi, will find in the Roman ruins of the forum the solution to the problem that had paralyzed the works of the Florentine Cathedral. Some humanists, such as Lorenzo Valla, will invent philological criticism by exposing commonly believed lies such as the so-called “Donation of Constantine,” which was traced back to the fourth century when it was, in fact, a false document of the eighth century. Mythology will be one of the primary sources of inspiration for artists from France, Italy, Holland or the Netherlands. Girardon, Bernini, Rembrandt, and Rubens, among others, will present thousands of scenes with this theme in their works. Ovid metamorphosis inspired multiple artists, Renaissance artists.

Even in Spain, whose culture was controlled by the Inquisition tribunal, writers such as Góngora, Lope De Vega or Quevedo will resort to imaginary scenarios and themes. Besides, studies of Greek and Latin philology will reach a high level, especially in Salamanca and Alcalá de Henares. Although with contact with Christianity and other cultures such as Arabic and eastern, classical culture has been modified, it is still the knowledge that the Greeks and Romans have bequeathed to us. The ancient world is alive in our present society and will remain active as long as our civilization continues.

Artistic expression in the Renaissance the art of The Renaissance was also characterized by humanism, naturalism, and realism in the representation of beings, and with great concern the rationality, balance, symmetry, and objectivity in architecture, as in painting, sculpture, and literature. Music began to be exploited, increasingly, in the absence of religious themes, and the use of Counterpoint technique offered greater creative freedom. Without abandoning faith and religion, the Renaissance did not feel subdued but inspired and enlightened by them. Unlike what happened in the Middle Ages, science and philosophy became independent fields. Scientific studies used induction, observation and the search for natural explanations of rigor.