The Egocentric Renaissance Movement

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The Renaissance was a time of innovation and renewal, which brought brand new ideas and inventions across Europe. The Renaissance shifted humanity’s worldview toward egocentricity and human-centeredness as opposed to the more apostolic lives they had lead previously. However, such a great shift can only take place slowly over a long period of time. Hence, the time frame of the Renaissance lasting from around the 1300s to about the 1600s in the continent of Europe.

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As stated above, religion, although still preeminent today, was additionally prominent before the Renaissance. Art strayed off from the religious-centered themes they had before beginning with paintings of religious scenes on a neo-classical background. The artists began to paint wealthy civilians or famous people of the time instead of Biblical images, such as the Mona Lisa; the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant (Doc A). Making it clear that it wasn’t just wealthy priests who added to the artistic flowering of the Renaissance by paying for extravagant religious murals on church walls but wealthy patrons as well. This artistic flowering helped transition art to reflect the ideas of humanism.

At the start of the Renaissance and before the popularization of humanism, the Catholic Church would often exploit their authority by competing against Italian princes for more political power, fighting in wars against secular rulers to protect Papal states and, even plot against any monarch who tried to gain control of the church within the Churchr’s lands. Along with that, all priests had luxurious lives and would increase fees for services such as marriages and baptisms and sell indulgences, a reduction of the temporary punishment in purgatory still due for one’s sins, to maintain them. Their abuses angered the civilians, and with the Renaissance just kicking into gear John Wycliffe, although an English priest, organized an attack against the Church using his sermons and writings to call for change in Church authority.

This was the first of many revolts against the church and one of the many components of the change from societyr’s church-centered views into more of an egocentric view, while the ideas of humanism were still slowly being introduced. Humanism refers to the belief that humanity was of a higher importance than that of spiritual or religious affairs. One great example is when in the play Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare in 1601, he declares that men were in apprehension . like a god putting man at the same level as a god while he continues to explain how astonishing mankind is (Doc B). The ideals of Humanism began to appear all across Europe in the forms of literature and art such as Raphaelr’s School of Athens, a painting depicting great thinkers of the past. However, Raphael included himself and other thinkers of his time into the painting, revealing how highly they viewed themselves as to put themselves among the legendary greats. As time went on art became more detailed and showed more emotion to adapt to the views of humanism and reflect the greatness of humanity with exact precision (Doc A). They would paint a famous figure from society to show the interest in individual achievement due to humanism. Although not considered art there was another drawing made in the 1500s with minimal detail but meaning. This drawing is Nicolaus Copernicus Heliocentric diagram of the universe, for unlike Ptolemyr’s previous Geocentric diagram, Copernicus added no place for God and Heaven into his drawing.

Next, to the major developments in art, there were also many other achievements during the Renaissance especially in the field of science and education due to the effects of humanism. In the Middle Ages, more than 85% of the population were serfs, peasant farmers who worked for a lord and his estate. The majority of which were illiterate, but when the 1300r’s rolled around they improved their farming techniques and became more self-sufficient, freeing themselves from their lords and taking up trades. This caused more worldwide education and with that people began to question the church and founded humanism. Humanism then gained more momentum with the invention of the printing press in the mid-1400r’s. With all that being said I believed it is clear that it was due to the improvement in education that everyoner’s views shifted in newer directions other than the religious focused lives they were forced to live before.

This change of humanity’s worldview from religion center to egocentric and human-centered shaped the Renaissance. It brought Europe out of the dark ages and into a new light. It caused the creation of humanism, a shift from the church being of main importance in life, and many advancements which are still used today. Without the Renaissance to change mankind’s view of the world, we wouldn’t be living in the same world today.

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