Renaissance

John Anderson

Social Characteristics

The Renaissance brought changes in social classes: the nobles, merchants, tradesmen and the unskilled workers. The nobles had to have the training to be a warrior, to appear witty and to have the ability to dance. Most tradesmen were a part of guilds which established standards of quality and set rules for members. The unskilled workers had no certainty in their jobs, they were completely dependent on employers. Even lower in the social latter were the peasants, the lowest of which were sharecroppers. ("Social Classes of the Renaissance")

Political Characteristics

The Catholic Church became less powerful in this time. Political leaders during this time began to prosecute non-believers. Political leaders prosecuted non-believers in response to the development of people beginning their own religions with mystical elements. During this time Europes outlook on the world changed, they looked to expand. Europe began building upon and strengthening its connections with other parts of the world. ("Power, Economy, Political, Religion during the Renaissance")

Interactions between humans and the environment

The population of Europe during this time nearly doubled. ("Power, Economy, Political, Religion during the Renaissance")
Along with the expansion of trade came the spread of disease. The expansion of trade brought diseases to the new world and wiped out large populations of Amerindians. The expansion of trade also introduced a larger variety of foods into the old world which in some cases increased the life expectancy of certain populations. The expansion of trade brought changes in demographics of African slaves, largely moving from Africa to the Caribbean.

Cultural Characteristics

During this time, most scientists believed that all elements were composed of either earth, air, fire or water. It was popular belief that the earth was at the center of the universe. It was believed that the human body was composed of four senses of humour, black and yellow bile, blood, and phlegm and that the balance of these determined a person health. It was also believed that the cosmos had a certain consciousness and that people could interact with it. Heavenly bodies were believed to influence human events. ("Renaissance science and technology") Ideas of humanism came along with the renaissance, humanism stressed the potential of a person over divine matters. Also, with the renaissance came the protestant reformation, which started with Martin Luther challenging the Catholic Church.("General Characteristics of the Renaissance")

Economic Characteristics

To provide for large populations large amounts of wasteland was cultivated for agricultural production. Farmers had small plots of land and such a large amount of land had been brought under cultivation that famine was easily caused by a bad harvest. Farmers suffered from a bad grain market because so much grain was being produced. The European economy of this time was dependent on tapping into the international economy. Europe depended on the gold market and the crusades stimulated the economy. ("Power, Economy, Political, Religion during the Renaissance")