The End of the Middle Ages and the Rebirth of Europe (1500): Reasons
1. Black Death leads to the weakening of feudalism.
2. Church begins loosing power throughout Europe.
3. Kings begin to obtain more power over the Nobles and the Church, thus becoming absolute rulers. Kings are able to protect their lands and maintain order and stability.
4. Crusaders return from the Middle East with new knowledge and products.
5. The emergence of a new middle class (merchants, bankers, businessmen, etc.) further weakens the system of feudalism.
6. Italian trade with the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire begins a revival in Italy known as the Renaissance. The Renaissance soon spreads to the rest of Europe.
7. With the fall of...
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The peasants began to enjoy a better standard of living and began challenging the Church and lords for power.
Peasant revolts increased, thus leading to the demise of feudalism and Church influence. Peasants became freer to pursue their economic and social interests.
Church begins to loose power and influence over society: Since the fall of Rome in 476 up until the 1300s, the power of the Church was virtually unchallenged. The Church maintained stability throughout Europe. It was the source of all knowledge. It had tremendous influence over all aspects of European society, including the kings, lords and vassals.
By the 1500s, Europe was poised for a rebirth. Powerful kings ruled over nations, peasants were freer to pursue their social and economic interests, a middle class developed, and the Church began to loose its control over society. Such factors led to the Renaissance.
The Early Renaissance: Italian Beginning
The Renaissance began in Italy in the 1300s then spread to the rest of Europe. It reached its height in the 1500s. Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance for several reasons.
The Renaissance was marked by a reawakened interest in the culture of ancient Rome (and Greece). Since Italy was the center of ancient Rome, it was only natural for the reawakening to start there.
Italy differed from the rest of Europe. Its cities had survived and flourished during the Middle Ages. Powerful city-states developed where manufacturing and trade thrived.
Cities like Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome dominated life in Italy. Italy had