Putting an end to the medieval age, the Renaissance blew the trumpet of modem age.
In the fifteenth century A.D. people of Europe developed interest for the literature, art, architecture, painting and culture of Greece and Rome.
The beacon light of Renaissance which first appeared in Italy travelled to other countries of Europe in due course of time. The expanded horizon of human knowledge was reflected in various fields including art, literature and science.
Meaning of Renaissance:
‘Renaissance’ means ‘Rebirth’ or ‘New Birth’. Analysed from the point of history, ‘Renaissance’ means the love, eagerness and interest which were shown towards the art and literature of Greece and Rome in the fifteenth century A.D. In medieval times, the Church regulated education and cast its influence upon the society. When human mind wanted to be free from that bandage and welcomed new light. Renaissance took place.
Causes of Renaissance:
There were many causes behind ‘Renaissance’. The fall of Constantinople was its main cause. It was the centre of learning. Although, it was under the clutches of the Christians, many Greek scholars were living there. They became famous by teaching Greek language and literature to the people.
In 1453 A.D., Muhammad II of Ottoman Empire occupied Constantinople and devasted it. Out of fear, the Greek intellectuals left Constantinople and entered into different cities of Italy like Venetia, Milan, Naples, Sicily, and Rome etc. They taught mathematics, history, geography, philosophy, astronomy, medicine etc. to the people of Italy. This gave birth to Renaissance.
Secondly, the invention of printing machine was responsible for Renaissance. In 145 A.D. John Gutenberg of Germany invented printing machine and letters and printed book. William Caxton brought this machine to England in 1477 A.D. With the march of time, printing machines were established in Italy, France, Belgium and other European countries. Thus, books could be published very easily with a short span of time. People could easily get books for study and learnt many things. This galvanised Renaissance.
Thirdly, many kings, nobles and merchants encouraged new literature and art. Francis I, the ruler of France, Henry VIII, the king of England, Charles V of Spain, Sigismund I, the king of Poland invited many persons having new ideas to their courts and patronised them. Loronjo-de-Medicci, the ruler of Florence invited many artists to his court and decorated his palace with new paintings. The progressive idea of these rulers galvanised Renaissance.
Finally, the men with new thoughts paved the way for Renaissance. They advised not to accept anything blindly which is not proved properly. Peter Abelard of the University of Paris inspired his contemporaries to create enthusiasm among themselves for research. He advised his students not to accept any doctrine blindly as God’s version.
They should accept anything if it is convinced by reason. His book ‘Yes and No’ inspired the youths as it revealed the defects of church system. He was compelled by Christian Priests to withdraw his view and he did it.
Another wiseman of the time was Roger Bacon of Oxford University who said that nothing should be accepted without proper experiment and observation. He had to spend some years in the Church prison because of his radical view. Thus, these persons with new ideas paved the way for Renaissance.
Results of Renaissance:
The results of the Renaissance were far reaching. This gave birth to new literature, art and science.
The Renaissance literature had its birth in Italy. The first notable creation in this direction was Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’. This book was written in Italian language and it was meant for the common people. In the book he describes about the heaven, hell and the other world. It introduced new themes like love of one’s country, love of nature as well as the role of individual.
Another pioneer of Renaissance thought was Francesco Petrarch. The medieval thought was monastic, ascetic and other worldly. In contrast, Petrarch glorified the secular or Worldly interests of life and humanism through his ‘Sonnet’, a form of poetry. His notable works were ‘Familiar Letters’ and ‘Lovers of Illustrious Man’. Another great writer of Italy during that period was Boccaccio.
In his world famous book ‘Decameron’ (Ten Days), he denounced God which brought a revolutionaiy change in the Christian World. The famous philosopher of Italy was Machiavelli who in his famous book ‘The Prince’ described the principle of the ‘Lion and the Fox’. Aristo’s ‘Orlandofuriso’ and Tasso’s ‘Jerusalem Delivered’ were two other great works for the Italian literature.
In other countries of Europe different kind of humanism spread in Renaissance period. In England Thomas Moore’s ‘Utopia’, Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Paradise Regained’ were very famous which were created during this period. During Renaissance, William Shakespeare, the great playwright of England became famous for his plays like ‘Julius Caesar’, ‘Othello’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘As you Like it’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Hamlet’, ‘Merchants of Venice’, ‘King Lear’, ‘Mid-summer Night’s Dream’, ‘The Tempest’ etc. Christopher Mario of England wrote his famous drama ‘Doctor Frastress’.
During this period, the Spanish writer Cerventis ‘Don Ruixote’ the works of Lope de Vaga and Calderon were very famous. By this time Martin Luther of Germany translated the ‘Bible’ into German language. The writings of famous Dutchman Desiderious Erasmus like ‘In Praise of Folly’, ‘Handbook of a Christian Soldier’ and ‘Familiar Colloquies’ gave new dimension to the literature. Robelai’s ‘Ganganchua’ and the writings of Racine, Sevigne and La Fontain created ‘Golden Age’ in the French literature. The Portuguese writer Camoen’s ‘Lusaid’ was admired by the people to a great extent.
The bold departure from medieval tradition was nowhere more clearly revealed than in Art of Renaissance period. Before Renaissance, the chief art of the middle age was essentially Christian. Art was intimately associated with religion. The artists used to draw the pictures of monks, bishops and priests and the church had restricted their freedom of thought and action.
One example of such unrealistic representation was of the priests who were carved with long necks to prove that they had easy access to heaven. However, the Renaissance artists and painters developed a growing interest in classical civilisation and accordingly, the European art of fifteenth and sixteenth centuries underwent a great transformation and became more and more secular in spirit.
The Architecture of Italy was largely influenced by the spirit of Renaissance. The builders of this time constructed many churches, palaces and massive buildings following the style and pattern of ancient Greece and Rome. The pointed arches of the Churches and Palaces were substituted by round arches, domes or by the plain lines of the Greek temples.
‘Florence’, a city of Italy became the nerve centre of art-world. The ‘St Peter’s Church of Rome’ the ‘Cathedral of Milan’ and the ‘Palaces of Venice and Florence’ were some of the remarkable specimens of Renaissance architecture. In due course of time, Renaissance architecture spread to France and Spain.
Like architecture, Sculpture also underwent a significant change during the Renaissance Period. The famous sculptor of Italy during this period was Lorenzo Ghiberti, who carved the bronze doors of the Church at Florence which was famous for its exquisite beauty. Another Italian Sculptor named Donatello is remembered for his realistic statute of ‘St. George’ and ‘St. Mark’.
As a Sculptor Luca delia Robbia was famous for his classic purity and simplicity of style who had established a school of sculpture in glazed terracotta. Michel Angelo’s huge marble statute of ‘David’ at Florence speaks of his greatness as a Sculptor. He had also made the grand statute of ‘Moses’. He had also completed the construction of ‘Basilica of St. Peter’ at Rome.
In Painting, the painters of Italy during Renaissance brought excellence and became world famous. Among the painters of the world, ‘Leonardo-da-Vinci’ occupied a unique position. The hidden expression in his paintings made them attractive. Leonardo has become immortal for his famous painting of ‘Monalisa’.
The smile on the lips of Monalisa is so mysterious that it is beyond the comprehension of man. ‘The Holy Supper’, ‘The Virgin of the Rock’ and ‘The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne’ are his other immortal paintings which are appreciated all over the world.
Michael Angelo was a painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer in one. His paintings like ‘Creation of Adam’ and the ‘Last Judgment’ bear testimony of his superb skill. He was invited and rewarded by King Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France. His paintings bore the stamp of originality in every aspect.
Another great painter of that time was Raphael. His paintings portray an air of calmness and beauty. His practice Madonna made him world famous painter. The Vatican palace also bears testimony of his paintings.
Titian was the official painter of the city of Venice. His oil painting was very famous. His painting ‘Christ Carrying the Cross’ appeared real and lively.
In due course of time the paintings of Italy became world famous. It entered into Germany and Antwerp. The famous artist of Antwerp was Massy. Another noted German artist was Albert Durer. Among other artists of that period was Holbein of Augusburg.
During Renaissance, Fine Arts also bloomed. Italy was freed from the clutches of medieval song. The use of Piano and Violin made the song sweeter. Palestrina was a great singer and musician and a composer of new songs. In Churches, old songs were discarded and new songs were incorporated in prayer. Many other countries of Europe also adopted this practice.
In the age of Renaissance, Science developed to a great extent. The development in astrology, medicine and other branches of Science made this age distinct.
The name of Francis Bacon shines like a star in the realm of science. He was a great scientist who advised to explore nature. He advised that truth was to be discerned by experiment. This idea prompted others to regard him as the ‘Father of Modern Science’. While experimenting on the method of preserving food, he breathed his last.
In the realm of scientific discoveries, the name of Copernicus of Poland is chanted with reverence. In his book ‘On the Revolution of the Celestial Bodies’, he opined that Sun is static. The Earth and other planets revolve around the sun in a circle. His view was contrary to the medieval belief that the Earth was the centre of the universe. The Christian priests vehemently criticised Copernicus. However, he remind firm in his faith.
The view of Copernicus was supported by the famous German Scientist John Kepler. He slightly changed the view of Kepler and opined that the Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun in ‘elliptical’ rather than ‘circular Path. This created a storm in the field of thinking.
Another great scientist of this age was Galileo of Italy. He had joined as a lecturer of mathematics in the University of Pisa and there he became a professor. He invented Telescope. Through that instrument he proved before his enthusiastic audience that the theory of Copernicus was absolutely true. He further opined and proved that the ‘Milky Way’ consists of stars.
His “Pendulum Theory’ helped later on for inventing clock. For his radical views, he was declared by Pope as ‘Out Caste’. Galelio was compelled to withdraw his view out of fear. However, later on, his views were accepted as true and he became world famous. From the leaning tower of Pisa he also proved that heavy and light objects fall to the ground at the same speed.
A great Scientist of repute of that age was Sir Issac Newton of England. In his famous book ‘Principia’, he stated about the ‘Law of Gravitation’. His ‘Theory of Motion’ also made him famous as a great scientist. The ‘Causes of tide’ were also discovered by him.
Progresses also made in the field of Chemistry. Cordus made ‘ether’ from sulphuric acid and alcohol which was another astonishment of Science.
Another Scientist of that time Helmont had discovered ‘Carbon Dioxide’ gas. He explained that there are gases distinct in kind from atmospheric air. Later on, this Carbon Dioxide was used to extinguish fire and to prepare cake and cold drinks.
In case of human anatomy, the Science of the Renaissance period brought revolutionary change. Vesalius, a medical scientist described about various parts of human body like skeleton, cartilage, muscles. Veins, arteries, digestive and reproductive systems, lungs and brain.
William Harvey of England had discovered The ‘Process of blood Circulation’. He pointed out that blood circulates from heart to the arteries and then to veins and back to heart. His contribution was undoubtedly a boon to the modem medical science.
Infact, the Renaissance had created humanism in man. It increased the desire in men to know more and more. This Renaissance galvanised the development in the field of literature, art and science. It illumined the world with new Knowledge.