Renaissance can be defined as the humanistic rebirth of classical knowledge, architecture, literature, art and learning that originated from Italy in the 14th century and spread all over Europe. Renaissance took place between 14th and 17th century. It was subdivided into Italian and Northern renaissance. Italian renaissance was the earliest demonstration of overall larger European renaissance. Its inception was in the 14th century and lasted until 17th century marking the transit from the medieval age to give way for the new age. The Northern renaissance was the renaissance which took place in the Northern Europe from the late 15th century. The two renaissances occurred almost simultaneously paving way for many other civilizations. Despite this, the two had a fair share of their comparisons and contrasts (Bartlett, 3).
These time periods had some very distinct differences and similarities. This was evident in the architecture, paintings, literature and even music. The two periods represented a break-away from the past where Italy decided to reinvent itself from the classical Greece and Rome. The Northern renaissance emerged in a rather slow manner than Italy’s. Commerce and trade were key in the latter’s renaissance as ideas from Italy were exchanged hence its initiation. The main similarities between these two historic phases were religion, use of guilds, and presence of art centers. The differences were summarized as follows; religion, artistic expression and technique, number of commerce centers and power state types.
In some cases the two renaissances were alike where they both had incorporated Christianity as their dominant religion. They professed it through arts and literature where most of their themes were based on Christianity. The next notable similarity was use of guilds which was the best way one could learn a craft in that period. It was a long process as it involved chronological steps in learning. When one was through with the guild system and even made a ‘’masterpiece’’ and gained acceptance to the Guild fold, tabs were kept on him. This was an essential step in maintenance of standards. The two renaissances were also alike in the sense that they had artistic centers that they drew inspiration from. In Italy the republic of Florence was a source of artistic creativity and inspiration. The north had an artistic center known as Flanders (Dixon, 15).
There was another difference in the use of oil in artistic pieces. Nothern Artists such as Robert Campin and Jan Van Eyck pioneered the use of oil paint in art. The Italian artists did not fully embrace this technique in their pieces and was left to the Nothern artists. The purpose for doing artistic pieces also greatly differed between the North and Italy. Whilst Italian art was inspired by the desire to recapture the art of classical antiquity, the Nothern art was inspired by the upheavals in religious reforms.The Northern Renaissance was distinct from the Italian Renaissance in its political power centralization. Italy was mainly dominated by city-states that were independent while Northern Europe had nation-states. The two systems differed in religion where the North associated with the Protestant church while Italy had Roman Catholic Church. The church conflict saw the split of countries like Netherlands. Arts differed too in content as the Italian incorporated religion and classical mythology while the Northern Europe dwelled on portraits and religious scenes. (Bartlett, 16).
In conclusion both renaissances achieved humanistic rebirth of classical knowledge, architecture, literature, art and learning which altered history for the better. It promoted enhanced revolution of many fields in the greater Europe creating a shift in culture. This has been referred as the intellectual bridge of transformation between middle ages and modern times or era.
Bartlett K . The civilization of the Italian Renaissance : a sourcebook. North York, Ontario Tonawanda, New York: University of Toronto Press, 2011.
Dixon, Andrew. Renaissance. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.
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