esposearch - ideal online careers

Socio-Cultural Shifts in European Renaissance

The expression renaissance has the meaning of revitalization or rebirth. During this period many themes that affect human beings were re-discovered, re-made, and perfected. To make this happen there were several foremost factors. During the Middle Ages, human societies in Europe did not find time to change their ways of life. They regressed, never sought after education, and never discovered new lands. There were few artists, few musicians, few inventors and little great works. As a result, many social and cultural factors influenced the arrival of renaissance. The same factors created an environment that enabled renaissance to attain a flourishing status. This period was between 14th and 17th centuries. Examples of the factors were; peace encountered in this epoch, weakness of the Christian church of that era, self awareness, and the plague that claimed over a third of the population in Europe. The flourishing of the renaissance period was not only affected by the peace in the era but also other factors like weakness of the church, self awareness, and effect caused by the plague contributed much.

During the start of the 14th Century many foremost wars had ended. A century long war had ended between England and France. This allowed renaissance ideas to move across these nations very fast. The peacefulness gave a chance to artist who worked from one place to another. Thus they encountered little the risk of being susceptible to insecurities that would have otherwise been caused by war. However, there were wars between major countries like Italy and France (Stephens 1990, 67). These countries were major center spots for renaissance technologies and inventions. These wars enabled military soldiers and senior officials to get enough first hand exposure to renaissance ideas. This gave a challenge to them and they transferred the ideas learned back to their homeland. The political stability supported many artistes to have time to settle on their various fields. Creative inventions like cotton companies improved livelihood, because people could earn. Thus life was more important unlike the era of Middle ages. People could settle down, get employed, have enough resources to conduct research. The peace prevalent in this era gave a chance to great thinkers of that time to move to strange lands, establish colonies that brought a lot of raw materials back home. A lot of exposure was felt, especially in art and literature. The incorporation of different artistic ideologies was required. The peaceful nature allowed most humanists to venture forth, access artifacts and conduct significant research that made the renaissance period flourish.

The renaissance period was characterized by agricultural invention and humanist belief. The Catholic and Protestant churches held most of the power in the Medieval Ages. Although the church had a lot prestigious status, its glamour was declining. The feudal system was being used during the Middle Ages and many Humanists in the renaissance period supported this ideology. By the time the renaissance was at it its most peak season, the church changed its earlier strictness of being traditional in allegiances and focused on wealth. What a weakness! As the needs of the new generation class of people increased much, the clergy man was confused on how to meet their needs. In turn the church resorted to the public and soiled themselves in politics. By violating many fundamental biblical laws some clergy men became monarchs with political power and controlled the church (Walker 2003, 58). This can be seen by the heavy investment of the church in extravagant art. Many renowned artists lived during this period. The church could afford to hire and pay skilled architects to build churches. The Sistine chapel and other great chapel were meticulously decorated by paintings by most profound artists like Michelangelo and others. This was because of the power they had from the political point of view. This power came from the wealth they had amassed because of silver and gold prevalence in the continent. Simply, the church commissioned the art. The idea of humanism had developed in a secular way and this changed some of the approaches towards the relationships of God and humanity. Pope Alexander VI was a humanist. He was purportedly accused of being corrupt and even marrying and having illegitimate children. This was only to have a higher political status. He conformed to the theories of humanist like Calvin and Martin Luther instead of having a biblical approach. This allowed renaissance to grow because humanism was the driving force during the renaissance epoch.

Besides the factors discussed above the aspect of self awareness sparked the flourishing of the renaissance era. By the start of the 14th century, many people were aware of the difficulties they had faced during the Middle Ages. Therefore they had to be aware of their environment. As a result they found ways to change and better their livelihood. They could make new invention, develop education approaches, and improve on scientific technologies. The developed self esteem helped the writers, architects, scientists, engineers, inventors, and artists to improve on the reformations that were taking the European continent by storm. They had a renewed interest, a brain ignited that contributed to their constant search of new information in artifacts, conducting research, and improving on earlier inventions. This self awareness improved the cultural movement named Humanism. It engaged scholars to create a different educational system compared to that of Medieval epoch. The main emphasis was to create a new generation of professionals in the fields of medicine, law, theology, psychology, and philosophy. The printing press had been renewed and textbooks with relevant knowledge could be printed, stocked in libraries and supplied to hungry minds thus fostering learning. With knowledge one attains power. Therefore the availability of knowledge helped many people during the renaissance to make new inventions and advance in their social, cultural, and economic lifestyles (Sherman 1991, 200)

Lastly, Europe continent was struck by a devastating plague called the Black Death. The plague claimed many lives; this led to shortage of labor due to population decrease. These problems were encountered for a short period during 1365, but more positive effects led to the flourishing of the renaissance (Perry 1993, 189). For example, the plague gave a challenge to medical practitioners of that time. The medical field had to improve on studies of anatomy and causative agents of diseases. Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viral related studies ensued and many improvements were established. Leonardo Da Vinci made intensive human body anatomical structure studies while Robert hook developed microscopes to study the cell. This made the advancement in medicine (Burke 2000, 46). Thus renaissance flourished. In addition, when people reduced, this helped the remaining population to access gold and silver with less competition. They practiced agriculture in the vast lands, established factories, and improved their economic status. The plague gave an idea to artist who made paint and sculpture. Artist had a theme where they could artistically express different emotions and beliefs that were experienced during the plague.

We clearly see that the flourishing of the renaissance period was not only affected by the peace in the era but also other factors like weakness of the church, self awareness, and effect caused by the plague contributed much.


Burke, Peter. 2000. A Social History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot. Polity Press.

Perry, Marvin. 1993. Western Civilization: A brief Survey. 2 vols. HoughtonMifflin.

Sherman, Dennis. 1991. Western Civilization: Images and Interpretations, 3 vols. McGraw-Hill.

Stephens, Joseph. 1990. Individualism and the cult of creative personality, The Italian Renaissance. New York.

Walker, Robert. 2003. The Feud that sparked the Renaissance: How Brunelleschi and Ghiberti Changed the Art World. New York : Perennial-Harper Collins.


About the author

we will assist you 24/7

Quick Contact

Keep current with the ESPOSEARCH Blog. Let’s get it written!

EspoSearch Ⓒ 2022 - All Rights Are Reserved