Brief chronology of the Renaissance

·         The Renaissance began about 1350, ending the Middle Ages. It was a time of creativity and learning. People studied the classical learning of ancient Greece and Rome.

·         Men and women of the Renaissance valued education, art, and science. They also value good manners and skills such as music, dance, and swordplay.

·         The Renaissance began in the city states of Italy. City states such as Venice, Milan, Florence, and Genoa grew rich from trade with the east. Each had its own ruler. In the 1300s, Venice, on the Adriatic Sea, defeated Genoa. It gained control of trade in the Mediterranean.

·         The Medici were the leaders of Florence, the “Athens of Italy.” Lorenzo De Medici encouraged artists and scholars.

·         Florence began to decline in the late 1400s. The monk Savonarlo led a religious movement against the Renaissance. The Medici lost power.  Savonarlo tried to establish a harsher way of life in Florence. After a few years, people rebelled against him.

·         Renaissance artist made lifelike paintings and sculptures. Artist depended on wealthy patrons such as Isabella d’Este and the Pope.

·         Late medieval writers wrote in their native languages, not Latin. Renaissance writers also used local languages. In England, William Shakespeare wrote plays and sonnets. In Spain, Cervantes created the character Don Quixote. In Germany, Guttenberg used movable metal type to print a Bible in 1455. Printed books spread learning.

·         Leonardo da Vinci was an artist, scientist, and inventor. His most famous paintings are the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. His notebooks include sketches of inventions. When Leonardo worked in France for King Francis the first, Renaissance ideas spread.

·         Michelangelo was a sculptor in Florence. He is famous for statues, such as David. He also painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and helped to design St. Peter's Church.

·         Rafael made many religious paintings. He also worked on St. Peter’s church.

·         Beginning in the 1300s, reformers challenged the authority of the Catholic Church. Wycliffe translated the Bible into English, so ordinary people can read it. John Haas in Bohemia criticized the clergy.

·         Martin Luther, a German monk, questioned church teachings about salvation. In 1517, he wrote Ninety-five Theses, or statements. His actions led to the Reformation.

·         The pope punished Luther with excommunication. The Holy Roman Emperor agreed that he could be killed. Some German princes protected Luther, however.

·         Luther taught that people could be saved only by faith. He also translated the Bible into German.

·         Luther eventually started his own church. The Lutheran Church kept two Catholic rituals - baptism and communion. Unlike priests, Lutheran ministers could marry.

·         Some German princes agreed with Luther. They were called Protestants. In the 1530s, war broke out between Catholic and Protestant rulers. A peace treaty let each prince decides the religion of his lands.

·         King Henry VIII of England wanted divorce Catherine of Aragon. The pope refused to allow a divorce, so Henry broke with the church and became head of the Anglican Church.

·         Henry VIII married several more wives. He had three children Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward VI. In Edward’s reign, Anglican bishops wrote the Book of Common Prayer.

·         As Queen, Mary tried to make England Catholic again. After her death in 1558, Elizabeth became Queen. She compromised with some Catholic beliefs. But strict Protestants, call Puritans, wanted to rid the church of all Catholic rituals.

·         John Calvin wrote a book organizing Protestant beliefs. He taught that God had already chosen those who would be saved. Angry Catholics killed French Calvinists, or Huguenots, in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572.

·         The Catholic Church began a Counter-Reformation. The pope reformed the clergy. He began the Inquisition. The Council of Trent restated Catholic beliefs.

·         Ignatius of Loyola began the Society of Jesus to strengthen the church.

·         The Reformation split Europe into Catholic and Protestant areas. Wars of religion went on between 1550 and 1650.


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