Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Questionnaire Essay Example

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Questionnaire

In the centuries now known as the Middle Ages, “intellectual life had vanished from Europe”[1] and “literacy was scorned.”[2] It was a difficult time for many Europeans, as plagues, famine, and natural disasters caused widespread death and destruction. Life in Europe was largely dominated by the Church, which reached into politics, art other aspects of society. Despite the rule of Catholicism for much of this period, it was a brutal, violent period of European history.  The era known as the Renaissance arose in the 14th century in Florence, Italy[3], and spurred social, cultural, and artistic movements that would bring about great changes that influenced the development of the Western world for centuries to come, marking the period as a significant departure from the Middle Ages.

If the Middle Ages could be broadly defined as a period where religion and the Church were predominant, the Renaissance could broadly be described as the time when humanism was born[4]. One of the most notable aspects of the Renaissance was the way that artistic expression evolved in this time; for centuries, painters, sculptors and other artists were confined to creating works that celebrated religious themes. The height of creative expression much of the Middle Ages could be found in the churches and cathedrals of Europe, where beautiful paintings and sculptures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other religious themes were surrounded by the stunning architecture of the churches.

In the Renaissance, artists began to explore secular themes in their work, and also expanded their techniques and abilities in new ways. The use of linear perspective in paintings, or the celebration of human forms (as opposed to those of religious figures) became common. The Renaissance was also a period of social and political evolution, as the authority of the Church and the divine right of kings was questioned for the first time. The Renaissance represented a period of cultural and intellectual rebirth after centuries of stagnation, and the social and artistic movements of this period continue to have profound implications in the modern world.

Bibliography

Bejczy, István Pieter. Erasmus and the Middle Ages: The Historical Consciousness of a Christian Humanist. Leiden: Brill, 2001.

Manchester, William, and Barrett Whitener. A World Lit Only by Fire The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance : Portrait of an Age. Ashland, Or: Blackstone Audiobooks, 2007.

Spielvogel, Jackson J. Western Civilization Since 1300. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, 2006.

[1] William Manchester and Barrett Whitener. A World Lit Only by Fire The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance : Portrait of an Age. 2007.p 8.

[2] Manchester and Whitener, p 8.

[3] Jackson J. Spielvogel. Western Civilization Since 1300. 2006., p 338.

[4] István Pieter Bejczy. Erasmus and the Middle Ages: The Historical Consciousness of a Christian Humanist. 2001. p 1.

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