What is the difference between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance?

The main difference between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance is that the Renaissance was the time of the great revival of art, literature and education in Europe that marked the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern .

There are three traditional divisions of Western history: Classical Antiquity, Medieval / Middle Ages, and Modern Times. The Middle Ages began after the fall of the Roman Empire. Renaissance is the time that follows the Middle Ages. It is the bridge between the Middle Ages and the modern age. The renaissance saw drastic changes and developments in many areas, such as cultural, social, economic and political.

Key areas covered

1. What is the Middle Ages - definition, society, art and architecture, literature 2. What is Renaissance - definition, art and architecture, literature 3. What is the difference between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance - comparison of the main differences

key terms

Middle Ages, Middle Ages, Renaissance Difference Between Middle Ages and Renaissance - Comparative Summary

What is Middle Ages

The Middle Ages are also known as the Middle Ages . The Middle Ages of European history lies between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Renaissance. This period lasted from the 5th to the late 14th centuries. This is the middle period of the traditional classifications of Western history: classical antiquity, medieval and modern times. The Middle Ages itself has three sections: Early, High and Late Middle Ages.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church became the most powerful institution of the time. Indeed, the church is the center of medieval life. Kings and queens of that time drew power from the church. The nobility and the church owned most of the land and property. The systems of feudalism and manorialism were popular during this period.

Medieval social structure

There were three different classes in medieval society: lords, vassals, and fiefs. The king (lord) owned the whole land, and he distributed plots of landed nobles (vassals) who pledged loyalty and service to the king. The nobles in turn leased their land to farmers (fiefs). However, before the king granted land to anyone, he had to make that person a vassal. This happened at a commendation ceremony, which consisted of the two-part act of deference and the oath of loyalty. Meanwhile, the king and the vassal made a treaty - the vassal promised to fight for the king on his orders, while the king agreed to protect the vassal from outside power.

Middle Ages vs Renaissance

Figure 1: Investiture of a knight

Medieval art and architecture

Medieval art and architecture consist of many styles, including Early Christian and Byzantine, Anglo-Saxon and Viking, Carolingian, Insular, Ottonian, Romanesque and Gothic styles. The art and architecture mainly focused on the church. Cathedrals were the tallest buildings in medieval cities. Furthermore, medieval art is an example of the passionate interest and idealistic expression of the Christian faith.

Key difference - Middle Ages vs. Renaissance

Figure 2: Mosaics of the monumental Byzantine church

Medieval literature

Medieval literature was also based on religious ones. Death and resurrection, good and bad, heaven and earth were recurring Christian themes in the works of literature. The code of chivalry and courtly love were also famous themes in medieval literature. Most of the early medieval literature was also anonymous. Beowulf, Pearl Poets Pearl, Patience, Cleanness and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, John Gower's Confessio Amantis, Langlands Piers Plowman and the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, including Canterbury Tales, are examples of medieval literature.

Most of the work used Christian themes such as death and resurrection, good and evil, and heaven and earth. The code of chivalry and courtly love were also famous themes in medieval literature.

End of the Middle Ages

Between 1347 and 1350, the bubonic plague known at the time as the "Black Death" killed thousands of people in Europe. 30% of the European population died from this disease. The Middle Ages were marked by wars, famines and epidemics. Hence it is also called the "Dark Age".

In the 11th century, feudal life began to change with the introduction of various agricultural innovations. Agriculture became efficient and productive and required fewer farms. As a result, more and more people moved to the cities. Meanwhile, the Crusades had expanded the trade routes eastward, and there was a tremendous expansion of trade and commerce. With the 14th century, called a new era, the Renaissance was born.

What is renaissance?

Renaissance, an epoch in the history of Europe that followed the Middle Ages. The Renaissance extends from the 14th to 17th centuries and is considered a bridge between the Middle Ages and modern times. During this time there were drastic changes and developments in many areas, such as in the cultural, social, economic and political areas. The name "Renaissance" comes from the French word and means "rebirth". Many people showed an interest in classical scholarship, particularly in exploring ancient Greece and Rome. For these people, the Renaissance was the time of rebirth after the unrest and devastation of the Middle Ages. During the Renaissance there were many famous artists, writers, philosophers and geniuses.

The renaissance began in Italy but soon spread across Europe. Italy is the birthplace of the Renaissance as it was the center of ancient Roman and Roman history and was a very rich country at the time, with wealthy patrons who supported many artists and geniuses.

Renaissance art and architecture

The Renaissance was a golden age for art and architecture. There are numerous artistic and architectural achievements that are still very famous today. Many extraordinary artists and architects such as Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Sofonisba Anguissola, Filippo Brunelleschi and Artemisia Gentileschi showed their uniqueness and creativity.

Renaissance architecture focused on symmetry, geometry, proportions and the regularity of parts in the style of classical antiquity. The Palazzo Farnese, the Sistine Chapel, the Basilica of St. Peter and El Escorial are examples of Renaissance architecture. Mona Lisa and The Last Supper by Da Vinci, The Birth of Venus by Botticelli and The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti are some examples of Renaissance paintings. Paintings from this era often used unnatural shapes, linear perspective, and depth perception.

Difference Between Middle Ages and Renaissance

Figure 3: The interior of St. Peter's Basilica

Renaissance literature

The introduction of the printing press led to the heyday of Renaissance literature. Renaissance literature was mainly influenced by the ideas of Renaissance art, politics, and religion. It was also heavily influenced by Greek and Roman literature. Drama and poetry were the most popular forms of Renaissance literature.

The writers of the Renaissance dealt with religious and social issues in their works; the religious subjects were often treated with a very different approach than the medieval authors - for example John Milton's Paradise Lost and Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, Miguel de Cervantes, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney, Christopher Marlowe, John Donne, and George Herbert are some notable figures in Renaissance literature.

Important discoveries during the Renaissance

The Renaissance brought forth many new ideas, cultures, religions and ways of life. It helped people change the way they view themselves and the world. Many people expressed their uniqueness and creativity through art, technology, science and writing. In addition, there have been many scientific discoveries, mathematical advances, and theorems. It was during this period that items such as the printing press, weapons, compasses, clocks and telescopes were invented. In addition, scientists and doctors also discovered new knowledge about the human body and brought about many changes in medicine.

Difference Between Middle Ages and Renaissance

definition

The Middle Ages is the period in European history from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance, while the Renaissance is the great revival of art, literature and education in Europe, marking the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern age.

period

The Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to 14th centuries while the Renaissance lasted from the 14th to 17th centuries.

religion

In the Middle Ages the church dominated society; the church faced the state. In contrast, during the Renaissance, the state was over the church. In addition, there were several reformations in religion, and people began to scrutinize and criticize religion closely.

Art and architecture

Medieval art and architecture were mainly influenced by religion, while Renaissance art and architecture were influenced by classical Greek and Roman ideals. Medieval art is characterized by one-dimensional figures, lack of perspective, lack of chiaroscuro, use of gold in figures, etc., while Renaissance art is characterized by the use of perspective, use of chiaroscuro, secular themes, increased use of oil paints, and representation of real people in real environments.

literature

Medieval literature was mainly based on religion; literary works were written by hand; There was little political criticism. Renaissance literature was more secular, vernacular, and covered a wide variety of subjects. The use of the printing press also increased.

diploma

Compared to the Middle Ages, there were drastic changes and developments in many areas during the Renaissance, such as in the cultural, social, economic and political areas. As the name suggests, it is a time of art, literature and learning revitalized. So this is the main difference between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Reference:

1. "Middle Ages". History.com, A&E Television Networks, April 22, 2010, Available here . 2. “Overview of the Renaissance.” Anglefire, available here . 3. "Renaissance". History.com, A&E Television Networks, April 4, 2018, available here .

Image courtesy:

1. “Louis I of Naples - Order of the Knot” (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia 2. “Monreale BW 2012-10-09 09-52-40” By Berthold Werner - Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia 3. “Ceiling of St. Peter's Basilica” By Anne Dirkse (www.annedirkse.com) - Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the author: Hasa

Hasa holds a BA in English, French and Translation Studies. She is currently reading for a Masters in English. Her areas of interest include literature, language, linguistics and also food.