The Renaissance

The Rebirth of Man

As I was looking over past topics I realized that I have never touched on the namesake of the Renaissance Faire – the Renaissance itself.

A Brief Overview

This cultural revolution took place between the 14th and 17th century.  Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance.  Starting at the end of the Middle Ages, this outgrowth of a connection tot he classics, a focus on learning and new breath into the realms of art and literature.  This time period truly is the bridge between the supposed ‘Dark Ages’ and the modern age.  Over almost 400 years, this movement changed the face of the planet.  From Italy, it spread to France and all the other parts of Europe and then to other parts of the world.

The spread of the ideas of the Renaissance did not happen everywhere in the known world all at one time and there were places in Europe that didn’t experience all that the Renaissance had to offer until late in the 17th century.  In Italy, France and parts of Britain, the Renaissance changed the face of the government, their art, their literature and the religion.  Britain and france brought forth writers like Shakespeare and Balzac, the Italians brought forth masters in literature but they are best known for the Great masters in the arts:  Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael (Not the Tortuga Twin or the Ninja Turtle).  Though it can be argued that we live in a great age ( I would be one of the ones arguing that) the age of the Renaissance changed the mindset of the world more effectively than any other time.

Why did it happen?

  • Movable Type – Metal printing presses made books and papers and learning available to the masses.
  • Literacy – The fact that people could buy books meant that the number of people that could write and read doubled and then doubled again and then doubled again.  This huge influx of people that were hungry to learn into the market place of ideas and the marketplace (read economy) meant that you had people interested in learning, art and the sciences.
  • Humanism – The Renaissance time period also brought around a group of thinkers and philosophers that focused more on the human and on people’s thoughts then they did on the divine.  This was a major shift from the Middle Ages where religion eheld sway.
  • Science – Science also became a focus of the great thinkers of the day.  The true Renaissance Men of the time, like Leonardo da Vinci where artists, true but he was also a brilliant thinker and scientist.

What are the results?

One of the main results of the Renaissance was a different way of thinking.  No longer did man find himself hemmed in by the thoughts of the church and of the political leaders of the world.  Think about the exploration that happened during the Renaissance.  From Columbus to de Gama, the explorers that we learned to recite in grade school and middle school are all an off-shoot of the Renaissance Spirit.  Think about the great works of literature – Dante’s The Inferno (potentially one of the works that helped to start the Renaissance), Shakespeare’s Folio – when analyzed, the basis for these works is a focus on the humanism of the age, a new way of thinking, that was given to a people that were pulling their heads out of the sand of ignorance as they learned to read.

Then think about the art.  There was a shift in art to people that were doing analysis of the human body like Leonardo and people that were focusing on abstract ideas of art even before the movement became the norm.  These artists also became the scientist of the day.  No longer were the harnessed by the tools of the trade.  If they needed something new to make a work of art, they developed those tools, they studied they way they made art and how structures were made to create bigger, better more fantastic art.

Sit back at some point today and analyze the way the Renaissance has impacted our daily lives.  The next time you are at the faire, think about the Renaissance Men and Women that you are surrounded by.  The people that are creating art, literature, music, stories and entertainment around you.  When you consider that we call the faires we attend Renaissance Faires, maybe you need to let the faires help you find a rebirth of your own spirit.