The Online Library of Knowledge


Renaissance Europe

The Renaissance started in northern Italy. The Renaissance started in northern Italy. The word Renaissance means “rebirth” and it describes a time when the arts and learning of ancient Greece and Rome were rediscovered by people in Europe. The Renaissance started in the 14th century in Italy, and spread across Europe during the 15th century. Many historians use the term Renaissance to mark the end of the Middle Ages in Europe. It was a time when people started to think about themselves, and the world around them, in a new way.

Lorenzo de' Medici visits a school for artistsLorenzo de' Medici visits a school for artists

Italian city-states

Italy in the 1300s was not the unified country that it is today. It was made up of many city-states which were controlled by powerful families, such as the Gonzaga family in Mantua. The Renaissance was sparked here by these wealthy families, who employed architects to design grand buildings to echo the classical designs of ancient Greece and Rome, and artists to decorate them. They also started to encourage scholars to study the works of ancient Greek and Roman writers.

During the 1400s, the Medici family rose to power in Florence and made the city an important centre for the Renaissance. Venice became another leading centre.

The Court of Gonzaga by Andrea MantegnaThe Court of Gonzaga by Andrea Mantegna
Vitruvian Man by LeonardoVitruvian Man by Leonardo


The largest brick and mortar dome in the world is still the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, built by architect Filippo Brunelleschi in 1436.

© 2020 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile