The word Renaissance means rebirth, in reference to the rebirth of the classical Greek and Roman culture and knowledge.

After hundreds of years with little change; dominated by the policies and philosophies of the Catholic church, living with myth, superstition, and constantly "in wait" for the great "here after", mankind had rediscovered the knowledge that had been lost to them. This caused an explosion of knowledge, growth and development that affected all aspects of life (social, economic, and political). This explosion of knowledge meant change and this was not openly welcomed or encouraged by many groups (esp. Catholic church).

The development of the printing press was key because it meant the reproduction of both old and new works (Greek and Roman philosophers and those writing on them or adding new philosophies.) Books could now be produced.

Major ChangesEdit

In the time between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, there were many key changes in 5 major areas, listed below:


Life on Earth was meant for the living. People began to seriously view the meaning of their life, their fulfilment and their enjoyment. They thought of ways to try and improve their status.

Scientific ReasonEdit

People began to realize that there were rational patterns to life on Earth and they could be explained and proven. People began to study all aspects of life and began to discover ways in which things could be improved. New information developed into different ways of thinking with developed into major changes.

Scientific Method - 3 step approachEdit

  • Observations
  • Reason used to hypothesize
  • Prove it


  • Earth is not stationary - rotates on it's axis once per day
  • Earth is not the centre of the universe - Heliocentric compared to Geocentric

This contradicted religious teaching which was based on logical arguments developed by theological philosophers.


Improvements in technology improved observation techniques (telescope) - proved Copernicus' theories


Dealt with 'natural laws' and invented calculus - methods developed (of calculation_ which proved his theories (gravity, etc.))


People learned better ways of producing healthier foods and scientific ways of healing the sick (1700's produced vaccines to prevent smallpox).

Exchange of information among scientists enabled the population to increase lifespans. Infant mortality dropped. Increase in populations led to an available workforce (army/navy) which encouraged the growth of industry and towns.

See Population Crisis for more


People were able to produce or procure merchandise beyond what was needed for survival and beyond what they could grow at home (imperialism/markets/colonialism). This also creates the need for a fairly sophisticated economic system.

Improvements in transportation and shipping meant that precious goods such as spices, silks and minerals could be gathered from other parts of the world.

Banking and lending organizations developed. People were able to acquire wealth (still class conscious - power held by the 'elite'). Early economic systems developed.


Roman Catholic institutions began to abuse their position and a number of reformers broke away to form protestant sects.


Cosmopolitan: sophisticated/worldly. Having many Spheres of Influence from many parts of the world.

Mercantilism: first economy prevailing after feudalism, promoting commercialism, a favourable balance of trade and establishing colonial fore-runner to capitalism.

Laissez-faire: little or no government involvement in the economy.

Absolute monarchy: One person holds all the power.

Divine right: "God's wish" for a certain person to be in charge.

Primogeniture: First-born male gets everything.

Next: French Revolution (unit)

Kerr This information is provided from the teachings of Mr. Kerr. Keep in mind that it may be slightly different from that which another teacher may have taught.