The Renaissance and Reformation
The Renaissance and Reformation.
The nowadays popular ideas of democracy and humanism, which declare, cultivate, sustain and protect human freedoms and rights, have historical preconditions – the considerable turn from the long-term medieval prevalence to a new epoch of revival embodied by the Renaissance and Reformation. It was a transition period from obsolete imposed dogmas to the resurgence of fresh and foist-free world perception. The time span from the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries was marked by a chain of interdependent transformations and changes establishing a brand new landmark in history.
What is important to mention, the concepts of democracy and humanism are believed to stem from the Greek times proclaiming the freedoms of speech and belief, writing and worship, as well as the governmental responsibility to the people. The primary focus on liberties, independence and human were the pillars of Greek philosophy and thus served the fundamental principles which became the basis of the achievements in various spheres – from art to politics, economy, science etc. In this tight connection, it’s relevant to emphasize the impact the period of Renaissance and Reformation had on the renewal of the ancient modes of thinking.
The term Renaissance is used to account for ‘rebirth’, the process of resorting to the ancient tradition of Rome and Greece. Still, a new period of Renaissance didn’t come to only resume the interest in the ancient approaches and studies, but also to bring in the opposition to the Catholic Church and the Pope entailing the Protestant movement and revolution in the sixteenth century (beginning on October 31, 1517). The Renaissance and Reformation share the socio-economically stipulated background which gave rise to the immense influential capacity of both in the further historical developments. The latter were evident in the feudal system crash and its replacement by the emerging new social order. The closely connected social and economic changes were provoked, namely regarding the way people saw the reality around them and their own role in the world they live in. Their world perception has acquired the understanding different from the religious prism, in the light of which, if not say, in the shade, were all aspects of life presented. To be precise, it was the grand move in human thinking and recognizing his or her significance, the inspired belief in his/her own potentials, rather than the fastened thought in ‘divine matters.’ This period laid foundations in the modern political, economic and scientific accomplishments – lots of studies, research and theories. In addition, there had been introduced the new forms of political system along with nation states. Moreover, the focal point in the Renaissance thinking mode was the idea of humanism – the golden thread running through the whole period. The stream of humanistic thoughts was centered about man underlining his dignity, essence, individual and indispensable rights. On the whole humanism placed and glorified a human and his/her rights for natural joys, desires in contrast to the church viewing based on the idea of sinful predisposition.
Owing to the advent of the Renaissance principals, the Reformation stipulated further developments such as Protestant Revolution inflicting the Catholic Church cleavage into the segregated churches around the world. The irrefutable and undeniable contribution into the course of Catholic Reformation was made but Martin Luther (1483-1546), the monk who introduce his own theology and to the opposition and rejection of church indulgencies in his 95 Theses (1517, The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences). He had undertaken a blunt and rather outspoken step writing "The Freedom of the Christian," considered to be the exemplifier of his ideological slant – the focus on Freiheit, i.e. "freedom" or "liberty." Initially, it didn’t comprise our contemporary idea of freedom, but it was a breakthrough that gave rise to the notions of ‘individual freedom’ and with some time passing the ‘political’ and ‘economic’ freedoms in effect. Up to a point, the era of Enlightenment, integrally intertwined with the Renaissance and Reformation movements, is saturated with the liberating tendencies proclaiming the release of distorted truths, religion and self-constituted power. Thus, it’s quite fair to claim that the contemporary idea of ‘freedom’ as the underlying basis of democratic societies, springs from Luther’s ‘liberating’ movement as well.
Taking everything into account, it’s worth concluding that the Renaissance and Reformation were those triggering power, that actuated a new viewpoint paradigm of humans with regard to religion, politics, science, society and culture. Such a turn is thought to be conditioned by the socioeconomic factors of that time being, for instance, establishment of human rights and freedoms, trade unions, the surge of geographical inventions etc. The humanism ideas of human uniqueness and fundamental importance were crucial in reconsideration of our roles and places in life and the revival of democratic tenets in societal organization.
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