How the Renaissance had an
effect on western Europe
By: Patrick Bryant
E-mail: [email protected]

The Renaissance was significant on the development of Western Europe and
the Impact it had was immense. The Renaissance not only influenced the
worlds of art, music, and literature, but also the worlds of politics, religion,
and society. During the Renaissance, advancements were made in several
areas of technology and in thought. The Renaissance was a key in the
development of Western Civilization. The Renaissance is a term that was
coined in the 19th century to describe a period in which art and literature
flourished in Europe, but there were so many significant changes during this
time period that the term Renaissance began to mean all the developments
during this time period. The time frame of the Renaissance occurs over
several centuries. It began in Italy in the 14th century, and in the 15th century,
the period flourished. The 16th century brought an end to the Renaissance
with the coming of a crisis in Italy which spread throughout the European
Continent(Lurier). Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the
Renaissance, Europe was in a period of decline. Eventually, Europe, for the
most part, had adopted a feudal 2. society. There were knights and lords in
this period, as well as vassals and serfs. Cities of the great Roman Empire
were slums for the most part, and in the country, estates with feudal lords
offered protection to local villagers from attack (it is for this that villages
developed close to feudal estates). Life was generally hard and not too
stable. The Renaissance was a result of this life, almost retaliation more than
reaction(Michelet). As stated above, the Renaissance started in Italy, to get
technical, it actually started in the town of Florence. A reason why the
Renaissance started in Italy perhaps relates to the fact that Italian city-states
survived in Italy perhaps relates to the fact that Italian city-states survived the
middle ages for various reasons (the were located strategically, and they were
important places of trade). Northern Europe did not fair as well as the Italian
city-states(Kagan). Although the opposite would be true in The sixteenth and
seventeenth centures, The city-states of Italy survived the Century and a half
between 1300 and 1450 Better than the territorial states of Northern Europe.
This was due to Italy\'s Strategic location between East and West And its
lucrative Eurasian trade. Great Wealth gave rulers and merchants the Ability
to work their will on both society And culture. They became patrons of
government, Education, and the arts, always as much for Self-aggrandizement
as out of benevolence, for Whether a patron was a family, a firm, a 3.
Government, or the church, their endowments Enhanced their reputation and
power. The Result of such patronage was a cultural Renaissance in Italian
cities unmatched Elsewhere(Kagan,Ozment, and Turner 333-334). The
advantage of Italian city-states can be linked to trade. Some cities such as
Venice traded without interruption through the middle ages. During this time,
economic factors made it possible for traders of these cities to learn
applications such as banking and book keeping which, in time would spread
all over Europe. The Merchants of the city-states also learned such tactics as
creating monopolies. Bankers, such as the Medici family became extremely
affluent, and modern banking practices come directly from them. In fact, at
one point, the Italian bankers became the bankers of choice for all
Europe(Kagan). The Wealth of the city-states greatly influenced the
Renaissance. In the city-states of Italy there was a major influence in power,
and how to attain it. Eventually, for the most part, the Merchants controlled
the politics of the city-states, and the wealth grew (as did the size of the
city-states). For a period, Florence was ruled by a council of six men (later it
was made up of eight men) who were elected. This was not democracy, but
at least there 4. were elections. Constitutions were held by some city-states,
thus, the city-states that held constitutions had a constitutional government.
This is a development in politics for the time because Kings and Princes ruled
most of Europe(Andrea). Humanism came out of the Italian Renaissance.
There are several types of humanism, but the best one of the Renaissance
was the one