The Renaissance (French for "rebirth"), was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. It encompassed the revival of learning based on classical sources, the rise of courtly and papal patronage, the development of perspective in painting, and advancements in science.

The Renaissance had wide-ranging consequences in all intellectual pursuits, but is perhaps best known for its artistic aspect and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who have inspired the term "Renaissance men".

There is a consensus, though not a unanimous one, that the Renaissance began in Florence in the fourteenth century. Various theories have been proposed to explain its origin and characteristics, focusing on an assortment of factors, including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at this time including its political structure and the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici.


The Renaissance has a long and complex historiography, and there has always been debate among historians as to the usefulness of the Renaissance as a term and as a historical age. Some have called into question whether the Renaissance really was a cultural "advance" from the Middle Ages, instead seeing it as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for the classical age. While nineteenth-century historians were keen to emphasise that the Renaissance represented a clear "break" from Medieval thought and practice, some modern historians have instead focused on the continuity between the two eras

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