The Renaissance is one of the most important periods in human history. It was a time when great strides were made in art, science, and literature. It was also a time when new ideas and thinking flourished, and people began to see the world in a whole new way.

But why is the Renaissance important to us today? Why do we need to study it?

Because, even though it occurred over 500 years ago, it still has a lot to teach us. Many aspects of our lives that we take for granted from science to secularism to democracy, have their roots in the Renaissance.

And so, in this article, we will discuss 10 of the most important reasons why the renaissance is still so important to us today.

Why is the Renaissance important to us today?

It is easy to understand why the Renaissance was an incredible period of time for the people who lived during the Renaissance. After all, they were coming out of the Dark Ages, a period of extreme poverty, superstition and disease.

The Renaissance brought with it the new ideas of humanism, science, and exploration that would eventually lead to the industrial revolution and the modern day.

But what people sometimes do not appreciate is that while the Renaissance was important during its own time, it is still important to us in our modern era. So why is the Renaissance still important to us today?

Here are the top 10 reasons why:

  1. It launched an era of learning, exploration and creativity
  2. It was a bridge from the Middle Ages to the modern era, ushering in a new period of scientific, political and cultural advancement.
  3. It fostered new artistic styles and technologies that have shaped our modern society.
  4. It was focused on the human experience in the arts, literature, philosophy and science.
  5. It revived Humanism which appreciated of the individual and his/her potential.
  6. It launched the Age of Exploration, the discovery of distant lands and a trade and commercial revolution.
  7. It paved the way for the Scientific Revolution, which has affected modern society more than any other era in recent history.
  8. It created the Printing Revolution which helped spread knowledge and ideas around Europe.
  9. It gave us the concept of the modern nation-state, laying the groundwork for democracy and self-determination.
  10. It triggered reformist movements within the Church and led to the Protestant Reformation.

Let’s now look closely at each of these reasons why the Renaissance still matters to this day.

#1. The Renaissance launched an era of learning, exploration and creativity.

The Renaissance was above all a period of extraordinary creativity. It saw a resurgence in learning and the advancement of knowledge, with a particular focus on classical ideas and texts. The development of the printing press during this time allowed for easier dissemination of ideas, leading to a more widespread exchange of knowledge and increased interest in learning.

This culture of learning, exploration and discovery continued for centuries and is now the basis of our modern society. The incredible inventions and innovations that we have witnessed in the past 100 years can be directly traced back to the change in mindset that began during the Renaissance.

#2. The Renaissance was a bridge from the Middle Ages to the modern era

The Middle Ages were a time of stagnation and darkness, with little progress in terms of science, technology or political thought. The Renaissance was a bridge from this dark period to the modern era.

First of all, the Renaissance brought with it a spirit of inquiry and questioning. This led to an intellectual awakening and the rediscovery of classical works, which in turn sparked a period of rapid scientific, political, and cultural advancement.

It was almost like the Middle Ages had bottled up potential which was suddenly released during the Renaissance. The switch from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance was like the breaking of a dam that allowed creativity and ideas to be unleashed.

But that creativity and sense of accomplishment did not stop at the Renaissance but continued into the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. This is why, despite it being amazing in its own right, we can also see the Renaissance as a turning point in history and a bridge between the Middle Ages and our modern world.

#3. The Renaissance fostered new artistic styles and technologies that have shaped our modern society

Art and technology were by far the most visible expressions of the Renaissance. The period was a time of great creativity, which led to the development of new artistic styles as well as innovations in science and the arts.

This period of “rebirth” saw the rise of new literary and architectural styles, while in the world of art artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael emerged. These artists developed innovative techniques like the sfumato, perspective, and the use of light, creating some of the most iconic works of art in history.

The reason that this matters to us in the modern world is that these techniques and styles are still being used today. We can see their influence in everything from the grandiose architecture of modern cities to the way we portray reality in films and television.

The Renaissance also saw innovations in technology, with the development of new machines and tools that paved the way for modern science and industry. This includes the invention of the printing press, which allowed books to be printed quickly and easily; something that we take for granted in our lives.

#4. The Renaissance focused on the human experience in the arts, literature, philosophy and science.

One of the many profound changes during the Renaissance was the shift in focus from the divine to the human. This shift in focus was reflected in the arts, literature, philosophy and science.

One of the ways that the Renaissance impacted the arts was that artists did not feel limited to creating art with religious themes. Instead, they explored the human perspective and delved into topics such as love, life and death. This led to some of the world’s most iconic works, like “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli or “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci.

The influence of the Renaissance on literature also remains with us to this day. Writers such as William Shakespeare wrote works that explored the human experience and emotions in depth. He created some of the world’s best-known characters like Romeo, so much so that the villa in Verona that is believed to have been the home of the fictional Juliett still draws tourists by the thousands to this day.

Philosophers also pivoted away from religious themes and explored the human condition. One of the most famous Renaissance philosophers is Machiavelli, who wrote “The Prince” in which he argued that leaders should be concerned with their own power and fame rather than morality.

#5. The Renaissance revived Humanism which appreciated the individual and his/her potential

The underlying philosophy of the Renaissance was Humanism. Humanism was a movement that focused on the individual rather than God. It was an appreciation of the human potential and its power to create, explore, discover and learn.

Renaissance Humanism was the revival of classical texts from Greek and Roman antiquity, which focused on ideas such as autonomy, dignity and self-fulfillment. Works of celebrated philosophers like Plato and Aristotle made a comeback during the Renaissance. Thus, Renaissance Humanism differed significantly from Medieval thinking as the latter was focused more on religion and the afterlife.

Renaissance Humanism also promoted secularism by debunking the idea that humans should be subordinate to the church. This led to more independence and freedom, which we still embrace today.

#6. The Renaissance launched the Age of Exploration

The Age of Exploration was a period of exploration and discovery that began during the Renaissance. It was a time when countries were looking to expand their empires and influence by sailing around the world.

The Renaissance contributed to the Age of Exploration thanks to the advances in technology made during the period. This is especially the case with maritime technology including shipbuilding, cartography, and navigation.

The Renaissance, through the Age of Exploration, led to a trade and commercial revolution, which was to have a profound impact on European politics. The Merchant class was greatly influenced by the Renaissance, as they saw their riches rise more than ever before. This made merchants both wealthy and powerful and started yielding great influence in the corridors of power.

A prime example is the House of Medici. The Medici were merchants and bankers who, thanks to the cloth trade, became one of the wealthiest families in Europe and eventually the rulers of Florence.

One significant downside of the Age of Exploration is that it led to the exploration and colonization of distant lands and directly contributed to the start scourge of slavery, the impact of which, from poverty to racism, lives on with us. This is one of the reasons why the Renaissance was both good and bad.

#7. The Renaissance paved the way for the Scientific Revolution

The spirit of inquiry, questioning and exploration that was so prevalent in the Renaissance also led to a scientific revolution. Scientists during this period were able to make great advances due to their new methods of observation and experimentation.

This began with the invention of the telescope which allowed Galileo to observe the universe and discover that it revolved around the sun, not the earth as was previously thought. This discovery, as well as others made during this period, changed man’s view of the world and laid the foundation for modern science and technology.

The Scientific Revolution would also eventually lead to the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth century and later, to major advances in biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering.

#8. The Renaissance created the Printing Revolution

One of the greatest accomplishments of the Renaissance was the invention of the Printing Press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century.

The Printing Press had a profound impact on the Renaissance because it revolutionized the way information was disseminated, as it allowed for books to be printed rapidly and cheaply.

This meant that knowledge was no longer only available to the wealthy and powerful or the Church but could be accessed by the masses. This led to an increased interest in books and knowledge, which in turn encouraged a rise in literacy rates.

The Printing Press was also instrumental in the spread of religious reform as it allowed for books such as the Bible (as well as critiques of the Church) to be printed and circulated. The Renaissance also affected intellectuals, who found that they could now spread their ideas faster and further thanks to the printing press.

Arguably, the Printing Press was one of the main drivers for the spread of the Renaissance from its start in Florence to the rest of Europe.

#9. The Renaissance gave us the concept of the modern nation-state, democracy and self-determination

One of the ways that the Renaissance changed Europe was by giving it the idea of the modern nation-state. This concept was born out of a desire for self-determination, as people sought to break away from the feudal system and organize their affairs into more rational structures. This led to the emergence of strong monarchies in Europe, which were able to better control their lands and people.

The idea of the nation-state also led to the emergence of democracy in Europe, as people sought to have a say in the decisions that affected their lives. This concept of democracy and self-determination was to have a profound impact on modern society, as it is still the basis of most political systems today.

#10. The Renaissance led to the Protestant Reformation.

The impact of the Renaissance on the Catholic Church was profound. The Church, which had for centuries been the main source of power in Europe, was challenged by new ideas that spread throughout Europe thanks to reformists like Martin Luther and John Calvin.

Underlying this change was Renaissance Humanism which wanted to change religion by reducing reliance on dogma and blind faith, rejecting the idea of the sale of Indugences (this was Martin Luther), and calling into question many of the Church’s doctrines, eventually leading to a religious schism known as the Protestant Reformation.

Protestantism is now the majority religion in many Western countries. This shows that events that took place 500 years ago still impact us in the modern world. This is why the Renaissance is important to us today.

The Bottom Line

So, why is the Renaissance important to us today? It is very easy to wonder why something that happened in Europe over 500 years ago still matters. But as we have seen in this article, the impact of the Renaissance is far from finished.

From the arts to the sciences, from religion to mathematics, from exploration to democracy, the ideas and innovations of the Renaissance have helped shape our modern world. This why, it is still so important to us today.