Humanism was a significant intellectual movement in Europe during the Renaissance period. Humanism itself is a study derived from the belief that God had given options to humanity. So, humans need to do their best to act and not blindly follow a religious plan.
During the Renaissance period, Europe witnessed great works in arts, literature, philosophy, and architecture. Renowned figures of this era include Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Machiavelli.
This article will describe a brief history of Renaissance Humanism and its influence on people.
How it Began
During the Middle Ages period, between the 3rd and 13th centuries, the society’s life was primarily focused on religion and the Church. People focused on preparing for the afterlife rather than worrying about daily life routines. However, this belief and attitude towards the Church starting to decline at the beginning of the 14th century.
Historians believe there were two main reasons for this decline, the deadly plague and the rise of a market economy. The bubonic plague killed half of the populations in Europe. The Church was helpless. People prayed and got disappointed, which caused them to seek other explanations for human suffering. While the market economy took hold of cities and monarchies.
Before the rise of the market economy, leaders governed with religious restrictions but then changed, focusing more on the economy and profits. The Church viewed as too impractical. Thus, people developed secularity.
This new humanism approach affected society’s daily lives. It led to new attitudes towards art and philosophy. Although they still maintained their faith in God, they felt that their lives on earth should be fulfilled too. The Church prevented people to have a luxurious life, but then humanists would surround themselves with beautiful art pieces. People enjoyed sharing their ideas and discussing philosophies. They also began to see many possibilities of what they could achieve in life.
Another influence that Renaissance Humanism brought to society is to change the idea of independence. Before the 14th century, Europe practices a strong feudal system. The feudal system saw people as part of a collective to support feudal society. Poor workers were deemed as tools. Used by nobles to work their land and keeping their wealth. The Church also added with dogma like one should only concern with obeying the rules without question.
The rise of humanism made people moved to the cities and started businesses to support themselves. These people no longer following the rules set by wealthy nobles, instead, they believed in humans’ capabilities to do better in their lives. This massive movement began the emergence of the middle class. The noble and high society was the only one who had all the wealth, but now merchants had the same wealth as these nobles. Wealthy merchants, without royal blood, are what makes the middle class.
The Renowned Era of Art
Renaissance Humanism also impacted the art and architecture industry. Painters were now supported by patrons, usually wealthy merchants who bought their paintings. While consumer goods production also increased. In architecture, many landmarks built in the Middle Ages were beautified during the Renaissance era. Some examples are the doors of the Baptistery, the dome of Florence Cathedral, and Villa Rotonda in Venice.
The invention of the printing press helped the spread of humanist ideas in Europe. Differences in values eventually lead to an inevitable clash between humanists and the Church authorities. Humanists emphasized education rather than uncritical obedience. By the mid 16th century, Europe was in a war of words, ideas, and weapons against the nature of Christianity, known as The Reformation era. During this time, Humanism lost much of its power.
Renaissance Humanism was one of the most important periods in history, which produced great works of art, encouraged individualism, and the use of logical reason. Humanism transformed education with its discovery and adaptation of classical pieces. The legacy of Renaissance Humanism spread from science to public libraries. It cannot be denied the idea that humans are worthy and have the capabilities to have a fulfilled life is the foundation of our modern world.
History is what makes us today, study the past if you would define the future ~ Confucius.
A writer | researcher | lecturer who also a tech-addict and internet-junkie