Unit 7 Key Concepts

  • End of the Crusades—As the Crusades came to an end the European continent emerged from the Dark Ages and entered a period of immense artistic, scientific, and cultural advancement. 

    Rise of Capitalism—The Crusades created an increased demand for trade throughout Europe. The result was the rise of capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system based on trade and capital (investment money). This replaced the old economic system, feudalism, which was based on land ownership.  These changes were known as the Commercial Revolution (Commerce = Trade). 

    Guilds—As trade increased and the economy improved the demand for organized labor became apparent. As such, workers who shared a particular skill (masons, weavers, bakers) joined together to form guilds. These guilds were designed to protect the interest of their members and controlled all business activity of their members by setting prices, finding apprentices, and even punished members for violating their rules.

    Humanism—Humanism can be defined as a ideology that emphasizes individuals and their accomplishments. This was the driving force behind the Renaissance. Thinkers during this time period began to venture away from the Roman Catholic Church and focus on science and art outside of divine thinking.

    Key People

    • Leonardo da Vinci—An Italian artist, inventor, scientist, sculptor, engineer, anatomist, mathematician, cartographer, botanist, musician, architect...you name it and he did it!  This is why he was called the "Renaissance Man."  However, he is best known for his paintings, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.
    • Michaelangelo—He was another famous Renaissance artist, among other things.  He is best known for sculpting the Statue of David and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.
    • Raphael—Renaissance artist known for his painting The School of Athens.  It is said that the painting embodies the spirit of Renaissance learning and includes every notable Greek thinker.
    • Niccolo Machiavelli - An Italian writer during the Renaissance period, Machiavelli famously authored the book "The Prince."  This book served as a guidebook of sorts for heads of state for centuries.  Machiavelli argued that "it is better to be feared than loved," a commonly accepted ideology amongst Absolute rulers in Europe.  He also stated that the "end justifies the means."  In other words, a ruler must do what they have to do, be it popular or not to ensure the success of their nation-state.
    • Johann Gutenberg—Gutenberg invented the printing press and forever changed the world.  Access to written works exploded as a result of this invention because one no longer relied on hand copying text.  Additionally, the vast majority of books prior to the printing press were written in Latin, a language only known to the upper class and clergy.  After this invention books were written in vernacular languages (everyday language-English, French, German, etc), allowing all people to read an understand books such as the bible.  Furthermore, this advancement made books more available at a lower cost, increased literacy rates, and led to the mass dissemination (spreading) of information. 

    * Niccolo Machiavelli and Johann Gutenberg are the only individuals that you need to know about for multiple-choice questions on the Regents exam. However, knowledge of other Renaissance thinkers would be beneficial in an essay if the topic arose.