Middle Ages vs Renaissance

June 19, 2018 Religion

Middle ages vs Renaissance
The middle ages and the renaissance were two time periods which were very different, yet similar in some ways. The middle ages was an era of European history caused by a gradual decline in the Roman Empire. It was known as “the dark ages” when society declined, taking place between the 500s to the 1500s. The renaissance took place between the 1300s and 1600s and was the “rebirth” of society. The renaissance began after the wars and plagues when people wanted to celebrate life and the human spirit. This was a period of revival for art, writing, and learning. The main topics which show the similarities and differences between these periods are art and literature, religion, and government.

Art and literature was very different in these time periods. The art of the middle ages was mostly religious, including many symbols of Christian concepts and values. There was no perspective art and it lacked things like details, shadowing, and colors. The art wasn’t very realistic, but it served a purpose. Renaissance art, on the other hand, was very realistic and more interesting. Things were portrayed as they looked using perspective. Art was more focused on the beauty of nature, and less on religion. There was more emphasis on individuals, showing their importance.

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The use of shadowing and many brighter colors also enhanced the art. Michelangelo Buonarroti, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael Sanzio, Sofonisba Anguissola, and Artemisia Gentileschi were the most famous artists of the Renaissance. Middle ages literature downplayed the brutality of knighthood and feudal warfare in the 1100s. Epic poems were popular, such as the famous “The Song of Roland”, as well as love poems and songs. Renaissance writers produced works that reflected their time. They used techniques like writing in the vernacular, or their native language. Renaissance writers wrote for self expression or to portray the individuality of their subjects. During the renaissance, Johann Gutenberg developed the printing press which could produce books quickly and cheaply. This caused ideas and religion to spread rapidly. Overall art and literature became much more advanced and creative over time from the middle ages to the renaissance.

Religion changed between the times of the middle ages and the renaissance. During the middle ages, the church build monasteries to adapt to rural conditions. Monks devoted their lives to serving god in monasteries. Women who devoted their lives to god were nuns and lived in convents. The church was very powerful and shaped the lives of people from all social classes. All medieval Christians were subject to canon law in matters like marriage and religious practices. Rulers questioned the pope’s authority, but the pope used the threat of excommunication.

Otto I created the Roman Empire of the German Nation, later called the Holy Roman Empire. In the renaissance people began thinking that the authority and wealth of the church was corrupt. These new ideas and opinions spread fast because of the printing press. Martin Luther, a German monk, wrote 95 theses against the church. His 95 theses spread throughout Germany and sparked the reformation, which split the church and produced a new form of Christianity called Protestantism.

Protestantism spread across Europe. People who remained true to Catholicism started the catholic reformation in response to the 95 theses and the church changed some of its ways. The main difference with religion between the middle ages and the renaissance is that Catholicism was split into many branches of different beliefs during the renaissance.

The third topic compares and contrasts the middle ages and renaissance is government. Feualism, the system of governing and landlording, began in the middle ages. The feudal system depended on the control of land and was based on rights and obligations. A lord granted a fief to a vassal in exchange for military protection and other services.


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