Renaissance: continuation or a distinct break from the Middle Ages?





Was the Renaissance a period distinct from the Middle ages or was it a continuation - the high point – of the middle Ages?I am planning to write an essay supporting that the Renaissance was a continuation of the Middle Ages, since it certainly was not a sudden, clean break from the Dark Ages. Can anyone help me with the supports that i can provide to back my side of the debate?



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3 Answers to “Renaissance: continuation or a distinct break from the Middle Ages?”

  1. aurigid says:

    I try to think of all of history as a continuous progression, and our attempts to compartmentalize segments of time into distinct eras is somewhat of a fallacy. I’d recommend defining “renaissance” and going from there. I don’t know if you’ve studied Jacob Burckhardt, but he wrote a book defining the Italian Renaissance with three criteria: the state as a work of art, individualism, and a renewed admiration of antiquity. All of this occurred in what has been termed the “12th century renaissance,” (with feudal magnates using national saints and hagiographies to support their own power within the state, the first autobiographies emerging, religious authors relying on ancient philosophers to debate theology, etc.) indicating that ‘The Renaissance’ a few centuries later was not actually such a sudden break from the Middle Ages as is often depicted. Check out Peter Abelard and St. Stephen of Hungary as good primary sources, for starters. In fact, you may even want to consider our inherently biased tripartite division of European history, which essentially labels Antiquity, the “Dark” or “Middle” Ages, and the Modern Era as the three major sections of what really is a continuous timeline – all it does is help to separate in our minds the much respected Classical Period from “us” in modern times with this unimaginatively named, embarrassingly uncivilized, and overall quite miscellaneous period in between.

  2. antagonisms says:

    You are correct that it WAS a continuation or a gradual development. A good way to approach this is to pick Renaissance men from early centuries as well as the usual ones from the 1400s and 1500s such as Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo. If you want to stick with the Mutant Turtles motif, you could add Donatello from the 1300s.Roger Bacon from the 1200s is another. (See link below.)It is the men before 1453 who will make your case. Sorry that there aren’t many women in this group of advanced thinkers and writers. Very few women went into a life of study in the arts.

  3. constructivism says:

    It was a continuation. Art and learning had flourished throughout the Middle Ages, they were not invented in the ‘Renaissance’, as is sometimes claimed. In fact, in many ways life regressed rather than advanced during the ‘Renaissance’. Especially for the poor people, whose living conditions generally declined during this period due to the enclosure of lands which led to many peasants being deprived of their small farms and being forced to look for employment elsewhere, or being reduced to begging. And the decline in power of the medieval guilds led to a reduction in living conditions in the towns for poor people as well. Also women’s role became more restricted as many guilds that had previously allowed women members barred them. And the Reformation meant that upper-class women in Protestant countries no longer had the option of becoming nuns, which had been a respectable alternative to marriage during the medieval period.’the Dark Ages’ is a term that refers to the centuries after the fall of the Roman empire, when the former empire was conquered by barbarians of various kinds. They are known as ‘dark’ because there was not much writing at this time, so we don’t know a lot about what was happening. They do not refer to the whole of the middle ages, which were not dark at all. the medieval period had its horrors, but warfare for instance did not become any less brutal during th the Renaissance than it had been in the medieval period, nor did the judicial system become any less harsh. And the period of the witch hunts, in which thousands of people were put to death, was not (as is sometimes claimed) the medieval period, but the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.