By: Amelia Goodwin

Social Classes

During the renaissance, people were divided into 4 social classes and each class had its own responsibilities. Nobles were the most respected class, they owned large estates and were often politicians or royal advisers. Merchants were the next social level, they generally gained wealth by working hard and moving up in industries. They often tried to marry into noble families. The next class in the Renaissance was the middle class, the middle class was often shopkeepers. The lowest social class during the Renaissance was the workers, much of this class was peasants, they worked for others. Starvation was a common cause of death among peasants.

Gender Roles

Women were supposed to be seen and not heard but rarely seen at all. Women in different classes had different roles; in low classes women were expected to do the housework, in the middle or working class women were supposed to do all of the housework and help their husbands in their business, upper-class women were still expected to run the household but they did it by ordering their servants around. The most honourable life for men was one with a public reputation but it was seen as scandalous for women to have a public reputation.

Life Styles

During the renaissance, the typical house for the poor farmer was a one room hut, people of the middle class and merchants may have had a couple of rooms and nobles had larger homes. The average peasant during the renaissance ate scraps of whatever food they could get and worried about starvation, middle class and merchants ate better but not extremely well and nobles would eat well and have feasts. Water was not safe to drink and milk was seen as filthy so people generally drank ale. Clothing was a big indicator of social status during the renaissance. People of the poorer classes generally only had one or two sets of well-worn clothing while in the wealthier classes men had many pairs of stockings, shirts and doublets (coats) and women had many extravagant dresses and a lot of expensive jewelry.


During the renaissance, the life expectancy was about 40 so people tended to marry early. The average family consisted of a mother, a father and a couple of children. The mother and older daughters were generally expected to stay at home and care for the younger children and do housework while the fathers and older sons were generally expected to work. many children didn’t live very long so it was common for women to have been pregnant 7 or 8 times while only having 3 or 4 children. Each family's life depended greatly on their social stature. The oldest male in the family was seen as the head of the household and therefore, controlled it.

Leaders and Elites

  • King Henry VII- He was the king of England and the first monarch of the House of Tudor.

  • Catherine de Medici- She was the Queen of France from 1547 until 1559 and the wife of King Henry II.

  • Leonardo da Vinci- He was a painter, sculptor, scientist, architect, and an anatomist. He was considered a renaissance man.

  • Martin Luther- He was a German theologian and priest, he objected the idea that you would go to hell if you didn’t pay the church. His ideas created a new branch of Christianity called Protestantism.

  • Erasmus-He was a dutch priest and scholar. He was considered the greatest humanist of the north. He helped spread the renaissance movement to northern Europe.

  • Paracelsus- He was a swiss scientist and botanist and he helped make advancements in medicine.

  • Christopher Columbus- He was a Spanish explorer who first saw the Americas. His discovery began the era of exploration of the Americas.

  • Michelangelo-He was an artist, architect and sculptor. He has paintings in the Sistine chapel.

  • Johannes Gutenberg- He was the inventor of the printing press.

  • Joan of Arc- She was a peasant girl who became a french military leader. she was burned at the stake when she was 19.

  • Mehmed II- He was the leader of the Ottoman empire. He conquered Constantinople, this ended the Byzantine empire.

  • Vasco da Gama- He was an explorer who discovered a sea route to India by going around Africa.

  • Dante Alighieri- He wrote the Divine Comedy which is a very important work in the literary world.

  • William Shakespeare- He was a playwright. He is now considered one of the greatest writers in the English language.

  • Elizabeth I of England- She was the queen of England. She is now considered to be the greatest monarch in English history.

  • Galileo- He was an astronomer. He made many great discoveries about planets and stars.


  • The Hundred Years’ War- It was between England and France for the control of France and it spanned from 1337- 1453.

  • The War of the Roses- It was between two rival houses in England, the Lancastrians and the Yorkists. It spanned from 1455- 1485.

  • The Italian Wars- It was a series of wars between France and Spain for the control of Italian states. It spanned from 1494- 1553.

  • The wars of Religion or the Huguenot Wars- It was a series of French civil Wars that was Catholics against Huguenots. It spanned from 1562- 1598.


  • Bubonic Plague- Otherwise known as the Black death the Bubonic plague is spread by rats and is estimated to have killed one-thirds of Europe's population.

  • Syphilis- It first appeared in Europe in the late 1400’s. The symptoms have changed greatly since it first appeared.

  • Puerperal Fever- It affected women within the first 3 days after childbirth and was caused by something unsanitary during childbirth.

  • Typhoid Fever- It is caused by bacteria in water, this is why people drank ale instead of water.


Many people moved into Italy, it was a major hub during the renaissance. People also tended to move into major cities causing them to become over populated.


During the renaissance religious leaders had a lot of influence on life. The Roman Catholic church was the main religion. Religious leaders used their power to gain wealth by telling the people that they would go to hell if they did not give the church money. Although religion still had a huge impact on life the renaissance is when people started to think more instead of relying on religion to explain everything.

Medicine and Technology

A couple of the technological devices created during the renaissance are the printing press, the blast furnace, The finery forge, the slitting mill and the smelt mill. The main advance in renaissance medicine was because of more knowledge of anatomy.


The renaissance was a new era for art. Art gained dimension, became less religious and was heavily influenced by greek and roman art. A couple of famous renaissance artists are Michelangelo, Leonardo de Vinci, Raphael, and Donatello.


The European population doubled in size. A lot of land was cultivated to help provide food for these people which ended up giving a lot of people jobs but many people died from the plague. They ended up with a lot of land that needed to be cultivated and not enough people to work on it, this led to famine. Florence, Italy was very wealthy and one of the big sources of wealth in it was the Medici family. The Medicis were a very wealthy banking family and they were big supporters of the arts. There was a lot of silk road trade that came through Europe. The main currency was gold coins.