Late in the Middle Ages, European countries were beginning to have a break from constant wars, epidemics and economic crisis. Hope, optimism, confidence and creativity began to trickle into the European heart. By 14th century, a remarkable period, known as the Renaissance, emerged and led Europe out of the medieval age into a new era with ideas similar to modern times. The word Renaissance (reh-nuh-sahns) is French for “rebirth”.
At first it only referred to a new interest in the learning of ancient Greece and Rome art and literatures but as time wore on and the Renaissance ideas had widened in scope the term came to be applied to the period in which far reaching changes occurred in the arts, intellectual life, and world concept. Even though the Renaissance covered only the period from the 14th century through the 16th century, its influence continued even longer (Perry 325). This paper will discuss how Italy became the center of Renaissance movement. It will also point out specific Italian city-states where Renaissance flourished.
II. Renaissance Began in Italy After years of wars and bubonic plague, by 1400’s Europe was suffering from a declining state of its society, economy and political institutions. At this time, most of the Europeans countries were feudalized. The hope of Europe’s recovery was centered on Italy who remained in some ways different from neighboring feudal states up north. Italy was different in 3 ways: First, while the rest of Europe succumbed to feudalism, Italian cities had begun to flourish there from as early as the tenth century.
The creation of cities had given the Italians the advantage to easily free themselves from any tyrannical overlords and achieve independence (Perry 326). Second , because of the continuing conflict between the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, a unified monarchy was never achieved in Italy before this period and many medieval institutions were not given the chance to develop there (Perry 326). Finally, Italian cities had large population who were able to achieve financial prosperity with the revival of commerce, banking and industry.
Of all the Italian cities, Venice had become the most prosperous owing partly to the fact that its government was stable. (Perry 326). Because of their financial successes, the wealthy Italians patrons such as the rulers, noble families, and high-ranking clergy were able to support the financial needs of the Renaissance movement and hired Renaissance artists. Italian merchants and bankers had the wealth to acquire libraries and fine works of art. They admired and encouraged art, literature, and scholarship(Perry 328-329).
The Renaissance began about 1350 in the northern Italian city-states and from there spread to Europe, where it was variously affected by the differing character and traditions of the countries to which it went. III. Leading Italian city-states where Renaissance flourished The foremost leading cultural center of Renaissance Italy was Florence. Florence was ruled by a family of bankers, known as the Medici. In 1450, Cosimo de’ Medici established the Platonic Academy in Florence, and made it a center of studies in Greek Philosophy.
The leading Medici patron of Renaissance arts, however, was Cosimo’s grandson Lorenzo, known as “the Magnificent. ” Lorenzo was a highly educated man; a classical scholar, a skilled architect, and a talented poet. Many artists were hired and invited to his court to beautify his palace and to create works of arts. He had a library stacked with ancient Greek manuscripts. The most notable artist of Florence was Michelangelo (Perry 328). Like Florence, Venice was a prosperous and stable republic during the Renaissance.
It had the money to support and patronize Renaissance arts and artists. In fact, the whole place was swarming with all sorts of artists such as ceramists, glassworkers, woodworkers, lace makers and sculptors and, painters. These people were able to live pretty well out of their earning since their arts were readily sold and dispatched to other markets of Europe as Venice was a major trading center. Aside form that, these talented individuals were hired to build and decorate buildings, both public sand private, within Venice.
The rich were very particular to own a house with great facade on two sides so that their palatial residences will look good both on water and land. The beautiful building creation of this time can still be seen on the modern city of Venice and attracts thousands of visitors. The Venetians were very zealous of their arts and expressed them through paying high salaries to the artist and established a Venetian School of painting. They were very strict on the qualifications of men who should enter this school.
They usually import talented artists from other Italian cities like the great Titan. And even they reach a point that merchants from Venice will not buy paintings that are not a product of the school (Esaak 2007). Milan on the other hand was the largest city of Italy during the Renaissance. Under the rule of Ludovico the Moor, Milan became a very wealthy city. He established one of the most brilliant of Renaissance courts and supported the great Leonardo da Vinci. He also encouraged Greek teaching on Milan schools (Paolucci 14-37). IV. Conclusion
Italy was a fitting center of the Renaissance movement as its economic and political climate were favorable for the modern development of the arts, literature and new concepts of thought OPINION When one reads about the Renaissance movement he cannot help but admire that age. For one thing it was so much different from its preceding age, the medieval times. It feels as if the Renaissance was a light at the end of dark medieval tunnel. A welcome transition from an era of no obvious cultural or social development, were there were constant wars within and without, from plagues, from serfdoms.
Italy emerged to be different and as such used their difference to revive Europe. The stability of their cities and the accumulation of wealth was the fitting stimulus for a cultural change. Italian thinkers at that time may have acutely aware at the thought that something is lacking somehow in their culture. Not that other European people were not conscious of suck lack, however they do not have the resource or the freedom to go after such wishful fantasies as their time are largely spent in working on the fields to be able to put food on the barely which was barely enough.
The feudal lords, who have money to spare, must have find it more practical to spend it on fortifying their castles and to make weapons of war, their precious time were eaten up in studying military strategies in attacking other feudal states to increase their territory or to defend their own form any possible invasion time. But unlike them, Italy had all the money to spare and the time and freedom to run after fanciful pursuits. Roman tradition had always persisted in Italy and they are surrounded by reminders of ancient Rome-amphitheaters, monuments and sculptures.
It is inevitable then that Italian thinkers think back to the time when Rome ruled in glory and its culture flourished and affected almost all of Europe. They wanted to revive such a time and perhaps add their flavor to it. Besides, it is inviting to be referred to as cultured and learned once again and the Greeks and Romans provided them with the information in how to become one. Also, there was no harm in studying the philosophy and art of antiquity; from a nation that was once a powerful empire. Modern Italy is now considered as one of the most beautiful places to visit owing to its rich cultural heritage.
Old Renaissance buildings and churches are found in many places and it had never failed to awe the local citizens and the tourists. Not only were they magnificent because of their appearance and design but also because of the knowledge that they were made in long time past and withstood the test of times. It was pretty admirable that rich patrons of the Renaissance times were willing to spend a lot of money to build impressive buildings and to pay high salaries to the artists, maybe due to the high regard they have on them or because they respected their talents or maybe they just want to flaunt their riches in front of Italian society.
Whatever their motive was, they had helped encouraged those skillful ones to master their talents and modern man is now a recipient of such a generosity. Spending a large sum of money for a work of art is never a waste. Art is beauty and there is something about beauty that lifts the soul ,that imparts a deep feeling of peace upon the human heart. Art always evoke a universal feeling of awe, happiness and fulfillment both to the maker and the viewer. No wonder that even though the Renaissance lasted only until the 16th century, its effect and influenced is still felt in modern times.
The paintings that were produced by the Italian master artists, Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, are now considered one of the best and priceless art pieces of the world.
Works Cited Esaak, Shelley. 2007 . “The Renaissance in Venice”. New York Times Company. 17 October 2007 <http://arthistory. about. com/cs/arthistory10one/a/ven_ren. htm> Paolucci, Antonio. The Origins of Renaissance Art: the Baptistry Doors, Florence. 1st ed. New York, N. Y. : George Braziller, 1996. Perry, Marvin. A History of The World. New York: Houghton Mifflin company, 1988.