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The Renaissance occurred to a greater or lesser extent in various regions of Europe. It started in Italy and expanded to France, Germany, England, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands.
Despite regional diversities, we observe common and fundamental characteristics of the Renaissance, which we will see below.
Resumption of classical culture
We call classical culture the set of literary, historical philosophical and fine arts produced by the Greeks and Romans in the Old Age. Renaissance thinkers wanted, above all, to know, study and learn the texts of the classical cult, seen as bearers of reflections and knowledge that deserved to be recovered. It is important to stress that the resumption of the texts of the Greco-Roman culture aimed at knowing other ways of thinking, not to copy them, but to reflect on them, within the context of the passage from the Middle Ages to the Modern Ages. .
Renaissance thought originated from the articulation between the cultural values present in ancient texts and those inherited from medieval Catholic thought.
Man is the measure of all things
Perhaps the most striking feature of the Renaissance was the appreciation of the human being. Humanism (or anthropocentrism, as it is often called) has placed the human person at the center of reflection. It is not about opposing man to God and measuring strength. God remained sovereign before the human being. It was really about valuing the people themselves, finding in them the qualities and virtues denied by medieval Catholic thought.
The ideal of universalityThe Renaissance believed that one could learn and know all that is known. His ideal of being human, therefore, was that which knew all arts and all sciences. Leonardo da Vinci was considered, for this reason, the model of Renaissance man, as he dominated various sciences and fine arts. He knew Astronomy, Mechanics, Anatomy, did various experiments, designed countless machines, and left a large number of painted and carved masterpieces. Da Vinci was the person who was closest to the ideal of universality.
Probable self portrait of Leonardo da Vinci
The appreciation of reason and nature
The Renaissance was marked by rationalism, which translated into the adoption of experimental methods and observation of nature.
Because of these concerns and values, Renaissance thinkers and writers were known as humanists.
Summary of Renaissance Basics
The Renaissance meant a new art, new mindsets and outlooks, thinking and representing the world and humans.
Main features of the Renaissance:
a) anthropocentrism (man as the center of the universe): valuing man as a rational being and as the most beautiful and perfect work of nature;
b) optimism: Renaissance people had a positive attitude toward the world - they believed in human progress and ability and appreciated the beauty of the world trying to capture it in their works of art;
c) rationalism: In contrast to medieval culture, which was based on divine authority, the Renaissance values human reason as the basis of knowledge. Knowing as the result of observation and experience of the laws that govern the world;
d) humanism: the humanists were scholars, sages, and philosophers who translated and studied the classic Greco-Roman texts. The humanists' knowledge was comprehensive and universal, covering various areas of human knowledge. Based on these studies, it was based on the appreciation of the human spirit, capacities, potentialities and diversities of human beings;
e) hedonism: appreciation of sensory, carnal and material pleasures, as opposed to the medieval idea of suffering and resignation.
Cultural expression in the Renaissance
The art of the Renaissance was also characterized by humanism, naturalism and realism in the representation of beings and a great concern with rationality, balance, symmetry and objectivity, in architecture, painting and sculpture as well as in literature. Music began to explore more and more non-religious themes, and the use of the counterpoint technique gave composers greater freedom of creation.
Without abandoning faith and religion, the Renaissance did not feel submitted, but inspired and enlightened by them. Unlike in the Middle Ages, science and philosophy became different fields. Scientific studies took advantage of induction, of observing experimentation, seeking natural explanations for natural phenomena for natural phenomena while philosophical thinking sought to understand nature and all the possibilities of human knowledge.
Renaissance literature and science
Renaissance literature was marked by the use of national languages with clear and grammatically correct language. The fundamental themes of literary works are diverse, but we can highlight the appreciation of loving lyricism, the metaphorical use of Greco-Roman mythology, the great deeds of human personalities and the themes related to politics and the satires of social and everyday customs.
Advances in medicine were also significant: Spanish doctor Miguel de Servet discovered the small circulation between the heart and lungs; French Ambroise Paré (1517-1590) fought the use of fire and hot olive oil in the treatment of firearm wounds, and German Paracelsus studied the application of certain medicinal drugs.