Last week, I wrote about the Middle Ages in Europe — the period from the fall of Rome (5th century) until around 1300. Next up? The Renaissance.
Historians consider this period to be between 1300 until around 1600. The Renaissance began in Florence, Italy and spread throughout Europe. During this period of “rebirth,” Europe saw incredible advances culturally, artistically, politically and economically. In addition, there was massive increases in global exploration, inventions and more.
During the 14th century, “humanism” became the new way of thinking about man and his existence. This philosophy was that man was the center of his own universe. With the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1450, ideas and information spread quickly. More people learned how to read and think for themselves instead of relying on others to help them.
I absolutely love studying the Renaissance. Whether it is to read about the great thinkers (and there were many), to see the amazing works of art, or to read the incredible works of literary genius, this time period is one we can all continue to learn from and be inspired by.
I don’t have the room to name all of the many “greats” during this time period, but I can mention some. I encourage you to look them up and become reacquainted with these icons.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). This amazing painter, architect, and inventor, is famously known for painting “The Mona Lisa,” and “The Last Supper.”
Rene Descartes (1596-1650). A brilliant mathematician, Descartes is also considered to be the father of modern philosophy. He coined the still famous saying, “I think, therefore I am.”
Galileo (1564-1642) — what didn’t Galileo do? Considered “The Father of Modern Science,” Galileo was an incredible astronomer, physicist, engineer, professor, scholar, scientist and inventor. He invented various telescopes and supported a sun-centered solar system, as opposed to thinking the earth was the center of the system. His findings and beliefs were considered heresy by the church and at one point landed him under house arrest.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) — one of the most well-known mathematicians and astronomers of his time — believed and established the concept of a heliocentric solar system. That is the sun, not the earth is the center of the solar system. His lifetime of work was a major contribution to science.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400), an English author and poet, is perhaps most famous for authoring “The Canterbury Tales.” I loved Chaucer’s tale so much, I once named my sweet poodle “Chaucer.”
Dante (1265-1321) was a philosopher, poet and writer of “The Divine Comedy.”
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), a diplomat, philosopher, political thinker, is also the author of “The Prince” and “The Discourses on Livy.”
John Milton (1608-1674) was a poet, historian and author of the most noted poem “Paradise Lost.”
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is arguably the most famous playwright of all time. He wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets during his lifetime. He also invented numerous words and had an incredibly large vocabulary. My favorite works of his include “Romeo and Juliet,” “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream,” “Macbeth” and “Hamlet.”
Michelangelo (1475-1564) is maybe the most famous artist of all time. Michelangelo was a sculptor, painter and architect. His most famous works include the statue of “David,” and his painting of “The Sistine Chapel” in Rome.
One of my favorite books is my art history book from college. It is a giant book and is more like a “coffee table book,” than a text book. The art in the book is amazing. It starts out with ancient art and takes you through every phase in history. My favorite section is by far the art from the Renaissance period. If it has been awhile since you looked at an art history book, I would encourage you to take a trip to one of our awesome libraries and check out some art books. Art is such an important medium when it comes to man’s history, no matter what period you are studying.
We live in challenging times. Studying and enjoying art and the Renaissance in general, is a much needed escape.
Adlen Robinson is an award winning columnist and author of “Organic Food and Kitchen Matters.” You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org