RENAISSANCE SCHOLARS AND PHILOSOPHERS
The Renaissance is an important event in European history that stretched from the 14th century to the 17th century. It was preceded by the Middle Ages in Europe and eventually led to the major events of the Age of Enlightenment. In historical terms the Renaissance is important because it led to a major shift in European thought and worldview. This shift eventually led to the developments of the Enlightenment and set the stage for the modern western worldview. While the Renaissance is considered to have begun in the city-states of the Italian peninsula in the 14th century, the main ideas of the movement eventually spread to all of Europe by the 16th century. The most significant changes that emerged as a result of the Renaissance can be seen in European architecture, art, literature, mathematics, music, philosophy, politics, religion and science. Intellectual thought in these fields flourished during the timeframe of the Renaissance and led to many people questioning long held beliefs about each. This created an environment of discovery and curiosity in which new ideas were constantly being introduced and tested. This was especially true among the famous scholars and philosophers of the Renaissance who used the ideas of the time to challenge long-held beliefs and views.
A scholar is a person who studies and speaks or writes about a specific subject in great detail. This was not necessarily common in Europe at the time because most people in the Middle Ages lacked a basic education. As such, most scholars or philosophers came from wealthy families who could afford them the best education of the time. In the timeframe of the Renaissance there were several prominent scholars who helped the ideas of the Renaissance first begin on the Italian peninsula in the 14th century and later spread to northern Europe. These include: Petrarch, Erasmus, Guillaume Budé, and Michel de Montaigne. All four of them helped spread the ideas of the Renaissance including humanism.
In general, Renaissance Humanism was the study of ancient Greek and Roman texts with the goal of promoting new norms and values in society. These norms and views varied from those at the time because they focused less heavily on a religious worldview. Instead, Renaissance humanists such as Petrarch used ancient texts to promote a worldview based on logic and reason. This was to be accomplished through the study of the ‘studia humanitatis’, which today is known as the humanities and includes topics such as: grammar, history, poetry, and philosophy. Renaissance humanists such as Petrarch promoted the idea that citizens should be educated in these topics in order to allow them to participate in the social and political life of their society. This was a fundamental shift from the feudalistic and religious life that was the reality for most people in the Europe in the Middle Ages.
The ideas of humanism caused people to want to learn more about the world, which led to major shifts in intellectual thought. As such, throughout the early Renaissance many people began to study at schools that specialized in humanism. This, along with other reasons, caused people to travel throughout Europe, which helped spread the ideas of humanism. As such, scholars such as Petrarch, Erasmus, Guillaume Budé, and Michel de Montaigne helped advanced the ideals of humanism and caused the Renaissance to spread throughout Europe.