RENAISSANCE, a name given to the great intellectual movement which marks the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world. It was a change in attitude of mind and ideal of life, in philosophy, art, literary criticism, politi cal and religious thought. Substantially a revolt against the dogmatism of the Middle Ages, the new spirit claimed the entire liberation of reason, aimed at a complete rehabilitation of the human spirit with all the free activities and arts and graces which invested the clas sical age. Zeal for the Litterze Humani ores brought forth a new ideal of culture, and the new view of life for which the name of Humanism is frequently used. Renaissance, rebirth, was originally used as synonymous with the Revival of Letters, the revived study in a new spirit of the classical languages and classical literatures of Greece and Rome. The new spirit powerfully aided in weaken ing the power of the papacy, in the es tablishment of Protestantism and the right of free inquiry. Under its impulse astronomy was eventually reformed by Copernicus and Galileo, and science started on its modern unfettered career; by it, too, feudalism, which had been weakened by the communal movements of the Middle Ages, was abolished, and the demand for political liberty was ad vanced. National languages began to flourish. To the same general impulse belonged also the invention of printing and multiplication of books, new methods of paper making, the use of the mar iner's compass, the discovery of Amer ica, and the exploration of the Indian Sea. The fall of the Eastern empire in 1453 sent Greek scholars to promote the revival of scholarship already in progress in western Europe. No definite date can be given for the beginning of the Renais sance. In its main elements the move ment originated in Italy toward the end of the 14th century, and, attaining its full development there in the earlier half of the 16th the Renaissance communi cated itself throughout the whole of the rest of Europe; France, Germany, Eng land, and other countries participating later in the movement. The culmination
of the Renaissance in Italy may be re garded as having fallen within the half century 1456-1500; and its close for the land of its birth may be fixed at the sack of Rome in 1527 by the Constable de Bourbon, followed by the transference of Humanism in its later developments to France, England, and the rest of Europe.
In Germany the change was as marked as in Italy, but the Humanism of Ger many and the Low Countries was very different in spirit from that of Italy. Not less tinged by a revived love for an cient learning, it was never divorced from morality nor hostile to Christianity; and its most important direct outcome was the Reformation. Biblical and Ori ental studies were strenuously cultivated. Among the noted leaders were Erasmus, Melanchthon, Reuchlin, and Von Hutten. In the Netherlands and Flanders the new school of painting was a notable develop ment. In France the movement had rich results in art and letters. Villon, Marot, Ronsard, but above all Rabelais are types of the French Renaissance in pure liter ature; while within the sphere of scholar ship and religious reform are Scaligers, Dolet, Muretus, Cujacius, Salmasius, Casaubon, Beza, Calvin.
In England, Wyclif and Chaucer may be regarded as the forerunners of the Reformation and the Renaissance; but the main streams of both these move ments reached England contempora neously. In scholarship the great names are Grocyn, Linacre, Colet, Ascham, and More; but the fullest English outcome of the Renaissance was the glorious Eliza bethan literature, with Spenser and Shakespeare, and in philosophy Bacon, as its most noted representatives.