There is a debate as to how different the Renaissance truly was from the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages or "The Dark Ages" is seen as a time of cultural decline, but how much really changed?
The Italian Renaissance initiated an economic boom
An expanding economy, an increase in trade and manufacturing all contributed to the people's sense that they were living in a period of rebirth.
The development of banking helped finance trade
As the Italian economy grew, so did capitalism, and the feudal system began to disappear. Commercial activity and trade increased, which came with a demand for banks to administer transactions and assets.
Wealthy and powerful families were able to financially support artists through commission
Wealthy families, like the Medici family of Florence, paid artists for their services. This form of commission was known as patronage. The people who paid the artists were known as patrons, and these patrons allowed artists like Leonardo da Vinco, Michaelangelo, and Cossa to live fulfilling lives.
The Italian Renaissance spread Secularism and Humanism across Europe
With the people’s respect of the once all-powerful Church weakened following its many problems during the Middle Ages, this newly educated, wealthy class began to pursue more secular and human interests – art, science, philosophy, etc.
Scholars shifted scholastic studies to the "humanities," believing them essential for educating good citizens
The Italian Renaissance allowed Humanist values to become more prevalent in society, from governmental influence to publishing more books in vernacular languages.
The Italian Renaissance experienced a revival of Greek and Roman antiquity. Philosophers sought to reconcile pagan writings with Christian thought. Humanism fostered a strong belief in individualism and the great potential of human beings.
The rediscovery of antiquity transformed European art in subject matter
Greco-Roman mythology, philosophy, and art had a notable impact on the subject matter of Renaissance art.