After completing the first modules you should see that the modern cultural hearths have been established. You now have a good understanding of ancient Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia (Module 1), Mali, the Mongols, and the Aztecs (Module 2).
While the Renaissance is most noted for its beautiful works of art, this period also introduced a more homely invention that soon reshaped the world—the printing press. Monks produced most books, painstakingly copying them by hand. The manuscripts they created were often very handsome, with painted decorations and illustrations, they were also very expensive, and so were used mainly by churches and by wealthy patrons among the nobility. With the rise of universities in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, there was a growing demand for textbooks, Stationers in university towns kept a stock of these, which they copied themselves or lent to students for copying. A library of a hundred books was considered large, and the volumes were chained to shelves because of their value.
The word “renaissance” means “rebirth.” The people who first used this term scholars of the nineteenth century applied it to developments in Italy and elsewhere that had started about 1350. These scholars concentrated on a revived interest in classical learning that had begun among Italians of the fourteenth century.
The artists of the Italian Renaissance may be said to have captured the spirit of humanism in paint, marble, and stone. In doing so, they studied anatomy and returned to an idealization of the human body like that which appears in Greek sculpture. Two Early Realists Giotto who lived from 1276 to 1336, is considered the first Renaissance painter. Another early painter was Masaccio, who was influenced by Giotto. Masaccio was one of the first painters to master perspective—the representation of three dimensions on a two dimensional surface so that distance and distant objects appear as they would to the eye. Their works inspired other artists who built on Giotto and Masaccio’s talent. As Renaissance ideas spread to other countries, artists began to produce varied pieces of work that reflected their own personal perceptions of their societies.
Probably the single most influential book of the Italian Renaissance was The Prince written by Niccolo Machiavelli. Machiavelli dedicated The Prince to the Medici family who were the rulers of Florence, one of the most powerful Italian city-states. He advised the “prince” to be a patriotic tyrant who would use force and cunning if necessary. His guide to how to rule a state was widely read by kings and queens who would rule Europe in the coming ages.
Machiavelli’s writings and thoughts helped to form many other people’s ideas about government. Read more about this person to see if you agree with his ideas.
The transition from the medieval era to modern times was not a smooth one. The cultural landmarks of the Renaissance in literature and art were stirring expressions of a vibrant human spirit. But there were other momentous changes as well, some of which were far more disruptive and painful.
Columbus thought that he had reached the East Indies, but he was wrong. He had landed in the West Indies, in America. He had discovered the new world. The discovery of America widened the boundaries of the world known to Europeans of the fifteenth century and it became one step in the expansion of Europe that was to change the face of the globe. The first country to explore the new world was Portugal. Soon after, Spain got into the rush. By 1700 France and Britain had established colonies in the new world.
Please make sure you have read all the material for this Module. There is quite a bit of information covered in this module. Take time to study and review for this exam. Print out all of the text material and your assignments.