During the era known by this name, Europe emerged from the economic stagnation of the Middle Ages and experienced a time of financial growth. Also, and most importantly, the Renaissance was an age in which artistic, social, scientific, and political thought turned in new directions.
This late medieval cultural movement in European civilization brought renewed interest in classical learning and values. The Renaissance began in Italy during the late 13th century and widely spread throughout Europe, finally ending in the 17th century.
Inspired by the works of ancient Greece and Rome, Renaissance artists produced paintings and sculptures based upon the observation of the visible world and practiced according to mathematical principles of balance, harmony, and human perspective. These new aesthetics found expression in the works of such Italian artists as Leonardo da Vinci, S. Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, and Michelangelo. In the world of letters, humanists such as D. Erasmus rejected religious orthodoxy in favor of the study of human nature, and such writers as Petrarch and G. Boccaccio in Italy, F. Rabelais in France, and W. Shakespeare in England produced works that emphasized the intricacies of the complex human character.
The style of architecture reflected that of classical culture and spread throughout Europe, replacing the medieval Gothic style. This was a revival of the ancient Roman forms, such as the column and round arch, the tunnel vault, and the great domes. Sophistication, complexity, and novelty characterized this style of the Renaissance.
In the Renaissance appeared many examples of the so-called universal man, who achieved greatness in more than one field. Among the most famous figures of this type were the architect, painter, organist, and writer Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. .
The great artists of the period made several notable contributions to literature.