The renaissance was a period of time during the 1300's when Italy changed. The Renaissance spread throughout Western Europe, reaching its height in the 1500's. The renaissance was a quest for knowledge in nearly every field of study: art, literature, science, philosophy, economics, and political thought.
Renaissance artist gained work by attracting the support of a rich patron-a noble, a king, of even a pope. Sculptors, poets, and architects all worked in the service of their patrons, creating whatever they desired. In the city of Florence, the rich and powerful Medici family became the most famous renaissance patrons. They made possible the work of Leonardo de Vinci, the legendary sculptor painter, poet, inventor, and scientist.
The golden age was a time when all the greatest artist of all time lived and worked in Italy during the renaissance. The 1400's and 1500's became a golden age in arts. Although the movement drew inspiration from the ancient models, it also produced new artistic forms and ideas. Renaissance art explored the physical world and the individual's role in it. This philosophy is call humanism.
As the plague started to die out, the rest of Europe started to prosper again, and the renaissance began spread into northern Europe. By the 1500's the renaissance was in bloom in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, England, and Germany.
In the medieval times, books were rare and mostly dealt with religious topics. Christian monks carefully copied each book by hand. Then, as the renaissance writers were putting new ideas on paper, a German man figured out how to put them into print. In 1456, Joann Gutenberg produced a bible made out of the printing press. .
The Reformation was lead by Martin Luther, a German monk who declared that the bible not the church was the true authority. During the renaissance, government by local nobles and the church gradually declined.