Renaissance Essay, Research Paper
The Renaissance In the history of Europe, no time was more fruitful than the years immediately after the Middle Ages. This time was also known as the Renaissance. People lived under the rule of enlightened kings, reformed churches, and the artistic masterpieces of the day. These three great organizations encouraged the development of all three of the major areas of society. First, great astronomers and mathematicians drastically resolved the way that the world was viewed. Second, the church, which had previously been an instrument of social oppression and terror, became more reformed and enlightened in it s approaches, though these changes did not come along easily. Finally, the great Renaissance architects, painters, and sculptors created works of unparalleled skill. These beneficial trends did not end until the violent warfare of the 17th century. Before the Scientific Revolution, all European scientists accepted without question the geocentric world-view presented by the Bible and classic Roman and Greek philosophers, like Aristotle. The people of Europe, including the church, believed that God had purposefully placed Earth at the center of the universe because of the human race s uniqueness. The first man to challenge this, and propose a heliocentric view of the universe was Copernicus. On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies was Copernicus treatise on his new view of the universe. The was not the only advance in science, however. Johannes Kepler, a Danish astronomer, created a completely new approach to the study of science and the universe. Using data that had been recorded over many years, Kepler founded three completely new laws of planetary motion. This was the first time that data had been compiled and analyzed to reach a logical conclusion. Scientists were not the only ones making tremendous advances. The Roman Catholic Church, previously one of the most terrifying, unjust, and discriminatory organizations of the time, became more tolerant, and reformed many of its policies towards the people. One of the Roman Catholic Church s greatest reformers of the time was Saint Ignatius, creator of a Catholic monastic order known as the Jesuits. The Jesuits founded schools of thought, meditation, and classical study. They also risked their lives to create missions in Africa, Asia, and America. Several popes also reformed the actions of the church. In 1545, bishops and cardinals in northern Italy met at the Council of Trent. At this council, the selling of false indulgences was banned. The council also stated that both faith and good works were necessary to be saved. Pope Paul IV carried out the decisions of the council, which led to a greater and more enlightened church.
Of the Renaissance s great developments, perhaps the greatest were in the fields of art and architecture. During the Middle Ages, few works of a non-religious nature were created, and all works were very basic in nature. Middle Age painters had no sense of perspective or depth, and the sculptors rarely created free-standing works. This changed drastically during the 15th century. An Italian painter named Masaccio developed perspective. In his The Healing of the Cripple and the Resurrection of Tabitha, Masaccio created an illusion of depth by making people in the background smaller, and slanting the roofs of building downward. His new techniques led to Masaccio being named the father of modern painting. Donatello made similar advancements in sculpture. Previously, all sculptors had created only the fronts of their works, leaving the backs to merge into walls or columns. Donatello changed this with David, his most famous work. He became the first since ancient times to create a free-standing human statue in the nude. Donatello went on to create many more heroic statues, some of standing men, others on horseback. Clearly, the Renaissance artists effect on art has been permanent and dramatic. In the light of todays world of quantum physics, religious plurality, and holographic art, the advances of the three groups, the early scientists, the church, and the artists, seem trivial; obviously, we have achieved far greater feats in science and art since then. However, for their time, the inventors and reformers of the Renaissance, whose ideas revolutionized their day, were highly advanced and civilized. Without the more enlightened philosophies of the scientists, theologians, and artists of the day, the people of the Middle Ages would have been stuck eternally in a drab, difficult, and oppressive world. Even today, we still feel the effect of their works; the Sistine Chapel still bears Michelangelo s painting, the Church still follows some of the rulings of the Council of Trent, and Kepler s scientific method is the basis of all scientific investigation today. Obviously, the Renaissance was a time of great learning and enlightenment.