Last Updated 01 Apr 2020

Major Historical Developments of the Early Renaissance

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According to Perry in his book, during the Middle Ages people praised the greatness of God.  They saw preparation for heaven as the most important reason for life.  The beginning of the change from the medieval outlook to a modern one is called the Renaissance, or rebirth.  It was the time of gradual change, not a sharp break in the Middle Ages.  They continued to believe in the teachings of the Church.  But to their religious beliefs they added many worldly interests and activities.

During the Medieval Europe, we can say that the Church plays an important role in the society, particularly the Christian belief.  It is said that it was the foundation of medieval civilization.  It gives form, direction and unity in the society.  The people believe that the path to heaven is through the church.

The church was the center of life among medieval people.  It was used as a community center.  The church services were part of medieval people’s daily lives.  The priests also play as the teacher among villagers.  They taught them the sacraments and teachings of the church.  They provided services among the villagers like mass, provided care for the needy and sick, and taught children Latin.  The Monks and Nuns were the finest examples of the Christian way of life according to the people during this period.

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One contribution to civilizations of the Middle Ages was that the convents and monasteries during this time established hospitals and provided shelter for travelers.  It is also consider as the center of learning.  They converted pagans to Christianity.  Mendicants were visible in towns and even on open roads. They preach and they meet their needs by begging.  Among those mendicants were Franciscans, Poor Clares and the Dominicans.  The Dominicans main goal was not only to preach but also to convert every individual.

The Church during this time insisted that people should obey the rules and doctrines of the Church in order to reached heaven. They tried to persuade heretics to return to the fold.  If that failed, it would threaten them with excommunication.  An excommunicated person would be expelled from the church and denied the sacraments.  In the Age of Faith no punishment could be worse than this one.


Renaissance is the term used during the beginning of change from the medieval outlook to a modern one; it also means rebirth.  It was also the time of gradual change.  Renaissance people during this time were neither nonbelievers nor heretics.  They still believe in the teachings of the church.  But as time goes by, changes have brought to their beliefs that affect their activities and worldly interests.  Renaissance does not only bring some changes in the beliefs of the people.  Humanism is one example of this.  There are individuals who were known as humanists.

The first great humanist of the Renaissance was Francesco Petrarch.  He collected ancient Latin and Greek manuscripts and imitated the style of Great Roman poets.  He explored and sought his innermost feelings. Desiderius Erasmus, a gentle Dutchman was one of the respected Christian humanists.  He was interested in studying human behavior.  He wanted people to be kind and reasonable.  He was consider as a Christian humanist because he spread the new learning and sought a deeper and purer religious devotion.

There were medieval artists that were known during this time like Raphael, Michael Angelo Buonarotti, and Leonardo da Vinci.  They express their feelings through paintings.  Their work of art focuses on religion.  Among their work of art were Madonna by Raphael; the paintings of Michael Angelo in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; and even Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci.  All of this was reflections of the Christian religion. Like the Renaissance, the Reformation plays a big role during this time.  Reformation was the time when many Christians left the Catholic Church.

There are people that led to this reformation. One is John Wycliffe, he was from England who questions the basic teaching of the church - - that people can reached heaven through the Church.  Another reformist was John Huss of Bohemia who was influenced by Wycliffe.  He challenged the authority of the Pope, denounced the wealth of the clergy and called the deepening of spiritual feeling.  The third reformist was Martin Luther, who was a German Monk who believes that people could reach God by Faith alone. He also nailed on the door of Wittenberg his Ninety-Nine Theses which denounces the indulgences of the Church.

As a whole I can say that reformation plays a big role in the changes that occur to the religious beliefs of the people.  It divided the unity of faith among westerners from Catholicism emerge Protestantism.  The Reformation also helps to develop modern economics attitudes.  The secular attitude of the Renaissance contributed in the politics and the economic life of people in the society.


Unfinished Journey: A World History. 1983. Marvin Perry. Houghton Mifflin

Company. Boston, Massachusetts. ISBN: 971-11-0125-4



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