The Italian Renaissance was a Culturally Creative Time in European History

Italy began the opening phase of the Renaissance and really is the focal point of great cultural change and achievement in Europe, the apex being what is seen through the canon as High Renaissance represented by Michelangelo and da Vinci.

The Italian Renaissance spanned a period of time from the end of the thirteenth-century to the seventeenth-century, following medieval times.

Renaissance means “rebirth” and this creative period ensured Italy became renewed and reborn with an artistic culture at the centre of Europe and the centre of the world.

Beginning in Tuscany the Renaissance moved to Florence and Venice blending Greek philosophy with Roman mythology and a new era in art.

Political turmoil and the Italian Wars spread the Italian Renaissance north of Italy to Germany and west to England.

Cultural achievements from the Italian Renaissance include the Petrarchian sonnet and Machiavelli in literature to painting which exercised dominant influence on subsequent European painting for many years to come with artists such as Raphael, Botticelli and Titian; with sculpture it was Donatello and with architecture it was Brunelleschi, Alberti, Palladio and Sansovino including St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St Marc’s in Venice.

Other contributions were pocket books and italics developed by printer Manuzio and these creative powers appeared from a country vulnerable to invasion from France and Spain and with a capital in ancient ruins where the Papal States were loosely administered.

However, the Crusades had built lasting trade links with Venice perfectly positioned to import and export luxury goods such as silks, spices and dyes.

Recovery of lost Greek classics sparking new linguistic studies of the Renaissance meant new academies in Florence and Venice blossomed and with libraries keeping the architectural principles of Vitruvius to be observed once more it inspired humanism as the Renaissance genre.

When the city-states of Italy grew in power independent of the Holy Roman Empire so did the commercial infrastructure with a system very similar to the one we have today. They had double-entry book-keeping, joint stock companies, international banking, foreign exchange and insurance schemes. A gold coin called the Florin became the unit of currency of Renaissance Italy, stamped with tricipitium or “three ages of man”.

The leading family in Florence was the Medici who owned Europe’s largest bank and had power in this republic. Educating their dynasty in the humanist tradition the Medici became responsible for the Renaissance’s most important patrons of the arts.

Renaissance ideals spread from Florence to Milan, Tuscany and Venice all became wealthy cultural cities and remain that way today.