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Middle Ages Vs. Renaissance Essay

963 words - 4 pages

Middle Ages vs. Renaissance

For a millennium, the medieval mind dominated European civilization. In the wake of the Black Death that devastated much of the continent, a new age arose from the ashes of the Middle Ages. This age, known famously as the Renaissance, was an era of economic recovery, revival of classical ideas, flowering of European culture especially in the arts, decline of papal power, and ultimately, the birth of the modern world.
After the last Roman Emperor was deposed in 476 A.D., classical antiquity came to a chaotic end as Germanic barbarians forged numerous kingdoms in the former Western Roman Empire. The Catholic Church in Rome, the last remnant of intelligence ...view middle of the document...

Former Roman trade routes in the Mediterranean Sea were overrun with Muslims and pirates while bandits and armies of knights hung around in the old Roman roads which were still the best roads in all of Europe. For their entire lives, peasants and other ordinary citizens normally never left their towns to explore the world outside of them. Because of this, trading links between towns and on a larger scale, kingdoms, were relatively weak. Although the economy slightly improved in the High Middle Ages in the 13th century, the Black Plague struck and nearly obliterated the entire economy as well as Europe itself.
After the Black Plague, a few Europeans, especially Italians, began thinking about their lives on Earth rather than spirituality and the afterlife. They studied Greek and Roman texts brought by Byzantine scholars who left Constantinople after the city fell in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks. These classical ideas helped revive the idea of humanism which allowed individuals to use their intelligence to live their lives rather than relying on religious belief like in the Middle Ages. This also gave people newfound hope as they realized for the first time in a thousand years that they could finally do something to change their life. As a result, a new merchant class of self-made men was created and trade flourished once more in Europe especially in coastal areas such as Italy (Italian City-States) and Northern Germany (Hanseatic League).
In addition to merchants, artists such as sculptors and painters were equally important during the Renaissance. Like medieval art, Renaissance art depicted biblical scenes, but in a more realistic and natural sense. Borrowing a page from the Greeks and Romans, the Italians also studied the human body and created masterpieces that vividly pictured the human body. Renaissance art also narrowed the gap between God and...

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