The time between the 13th and the 16th century is considered the time of the Renaissance. The history of Europe prior made it possible that a rebirth of mankind's abilities and physical structure possible. In the mid to late 1300's the church's hold on the people was shaken when the Black Plague affirmed to people that the church was not all knowing. People started to believe in their own destiny and own abilities more so than at any time.
The church at this time was dealt a heavier blow than that of the Black Plague, it was a German monk named Martin Luther. Martin Luther openly challenged the practices of the church. Many people bought what Martin Luther was selling because of the invention of the Printing Press. Without the printing press Luther's message could have been easily squashed.
Directly, the Renaissance started in the peninsula of Italy. The cities of Italy worked independently and also against each other. The spirited competition along with the profitable commerce of the Mediterranean Sea gave the Italian cities a gross amount of money. The next part of competition grew into the realm of politics. Since there wasn't a limit to what could be done economically and politically, the cities of Italy kept on raising the bar. The following cities were the major players in the time of the Renaissance: Milan, Florence, Genoa, Siena, and Pisa. Florence was by far the most important city.
Key terms of this era are the following:
Individualism: Stress of personality, uniqueness and the full development of a person's abilities
Humanism: Focus on man's achievements, interests, and capabilities
Secularism: Concern with the material world, not spiritual
Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464)
Cosimo was the head of the Florentine Bank. The Medici Bank was a huge bank within the European world. The Medici Bank made huge amounts of money when they were given the Papal accounts. Cosimo became deeply involved the politics of Florence. He was able to govern the city-state without ever running for office. With his vast amounts of money, Cosimo became a huge patron of the arts. Florence was considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. It was Cosimo’s money that made artwork an important part of the city-state’s identity.
The Medici line is very impressive in terms of European politics. The Medici’s also produced 2 Popes, Pope Leo X (r.1513-1521), and Clemet VII (r. 1523-1534). Two Medici women became Queens. Both in France. Catherine (1519-1589) married Henry II and she was the regent for both her children. And Marie Medici, she married Henry IV.
The Medici Bank started with Cosimo’s father, Giovanni de Medici (1360-1429). Giovanni lent many to Anti-Pope John XXIII (r. 1410-1415). With his fame, money, and political backing of the Pope, the Medici Bank was able to branch out to many major cities in Europe. Some of these cities were Pisa, Milan, Venice, Geneva, Lyon, Bruges, and London.
Lorenzo de Medici (1449-1492) was the grandson of Cosimo. Under the rule of Lorenzo, the Medici’s mostly got out of banking, and deeper into politics. Lorenzo supported the arts and the papacy like his grandfather. Some of the most famous artists and writers of the Renaissance were under the payroll of Lorenzo.