Different events through out time have brought about changes in ways of thinking. During the late 1400's to the mid 1500's, a period known as the Renaissance, brought about one of the most influencing and effecting changes in many social issues of that time. Scientist started questioning the old assumptions of the ancient teachings. The Catholic Church was loosing more and more of its power and influence over art, the government, and the opinion of philosophers, political leaders, artist, scientist, and everyday people. With the invention of the printing press, books were more obtainable, which led to a more educated society. People not only started thinking for themselves, but also began to search for new ideas and answers; creativity was bound to break out of the boundaries of what was excepted.
Literacy has been defined as the ability to write or as the ability to write one's signature. Before the Renaissance, the literacy rate had been as low as five to ten percent for males. Even, "some scribes had little understanding of what they were writing" (Grendier 431). The few people that actually could read, were the upper class who could afford private readings and writings. But during the Renaissance, the literacy rate rose starting with children all they way through grown adults. Forty-five percent of all children were learning how to read and write, as well adults creating a forty- percent literacy rate for males. In, "France, towards the end of the sixteenth century, nearly all merchants were literate, while two-thirds of artisans, one-tenth of farmers and one in one hundred laborers could sign their names." (Grendier 432). There are various reasons for this increase, though. They include the cheaper manufacture of paper, the increased availability of printed books, the growing number of libraries, and the growing use of the vernacular languages for literary, business, administrative, and legal purposes.