Italian Renaissance: More than a Glittery Turkey Leg
Throw the word “renaissance” out there and most people will think disease, tights, glitter, turkey legs, and poetry. Even though wacky renaissance festivals aren’t entirely inaccurate, the Renaissance was actually a very important cultural movement that began in Italy in at the end of the 14th century, becoming an era of cultural and architectural achievements in Europe.
Artist, Christopher Mir describes the Renaissance this way: “There was less of a division between disciplines – i.e. science and art are more or less merged. Also, it’s the birth of humanism and a collapse between Christian and pagan archetypes. It’s also generally considered the first time in history that the genius of individual artists is recognized.”
The “Black Death” was a devastating pandemic which wiped out 1 – 2/3 of Europe’s population. In the wake of this tragedy, the Renaissance emerged in Tuscany – centered on the republics of Siena and Florence. The term “Renaissance” was not coined until the 19th century. The Renaissance spread to Rome and many of the structures of ancient Rome were rebuilt by the popes of the 16th century.
The 15th century was the peak of the Renaissance. At the time, there were many foreign invaders entering Italy. This led to the Italian Wars which led to advancements in science and warfare and triggered the spread of the Italian Renaissance which resulted in a wide-spread European rediscovery of art and science.
These cultural and intellectual advancements really only affected societies’ elite. The lives of most Italians remained the same as they were before. Change was evident though. Dark, medieval Italian cities were transformed into sparkling cities of marble.
Marriage was something that required even the peasant maid’s to shell out some cash – they’d pay a dowry to entice another family to offer their son. The weddings themselves were extravagant. During this time, women took a greater role in society, although their main responsibility was still to produce and raise educated sons. Daughters were expensive due to paying a dowry – which would sometimes bankrupt the poorer families. Despite this role, women were credited with influencing their men - powerful women often being called “the power behind the throne.”
Actual Renaissance festivals were quite different than the reproductions we attend today which usually look like a field full of craft booths covered in pounds of glitter. The wealthy would constantly try to outdo one another, looking for any excuse to throw a celebration.
This change in culture led to much artistic, literary, and architectural advancement, which you can learn about by checking back in here at latiqueantiquesblog.com. In the mean time, check out our renaissance pieces - Happy Latiquing!