5 Causes Leading to the Beginning of the Renaissance

The Renaissance was a complex transitional movement that took place in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. Causes Leading to the Beginning of the Renaissance are as follows

Causes Leading to the Beginning of the Renaissance

Causes Leading to the Beginning of the Renaissance #1

Fall of Constantinople

  • In 1453 CE, Constantinople was occupied by the Ottoman Turks. Many Greek scholars residing in Constantinople fled to Italy and to other European countries with rare manuscripts related to the Roman and Greek empires.
  • Rome became the center of Greek culture. As a result, people began to study Greek and Roman philosophy, science, art, and literature. This paved the way to the beginning of the Renaissance.

Causes Leading to the Beginning of the Renaissance #2

Decline of Feudalism

  • Feudalism was a political system where the kings granted lands to the nobles in return for their military services in case of wars. The king gave estates to the nobles known as the dukes and the earls. The earls distributed a part of their land to the lesser lords known as barons.
  • While the dukes and earls owed allegiance directly to the king, the barons owed allegiance to the dukes and earls. The feudal lords did not cultivate their lands and instead gave them to the peasants for cultivation.
  • This structure of society hindered social mobility and progress. The decline in feudalism in the 13th and 14th centuries gave impetus to free-thinking and favored the growth of new learning.

Causes Leading to the Beginning of the Renaissance #3

New Trade Routes

  • Portugal and Spain played an important part in leading geographical explorations and discovered new routes.
  • The capture of Constantinople by the Turks led to the closing of land routes between the West and the East. The European traders thus embarked on finding new sea routes to Asia and Africa.
  • Bartholomew Diaz reached the Cape of Good Hope. Columbus discovered America in 1492, and Vasco da Gama sailed to Calicut and discovered the route to India in 1498. Ferdinand Magellan made a voyage around the world.
  • The discovery of these sea routes not only encouraged trade but also created the spirit of adventure.

Causes Leading to the Beginning of the Renaissance #4

Spirit of Enquiry

The Church was the most powerful institution in the medieval period. People had to accept all the theories and principles which were formulated by the Church. People were not allowed to think independently. However, several scholars began to discard the ideas of the medieval period. They began to question the authority of the Church. 

Factors that were responsible for the development of the spirit of inquiry were

  • Thinkers such as Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas laid great stress on reasoning and asked the people to develop their own thinking and not to accept the dogmas of the Church blindly.
  • The Crusades were the religious wars that were fought between the Christians and the Muslims for controlling the Holy Land in and near Jerusalem. When the Europeans went to fight wars against the Muslims, they came into contact with the Arabs who had made great advancements in science, mathematics, and art. This led to the beginning of the Renaissance in Europe.
  • Inventions and discoveries were made in science and technology during the period. Galileo invented the telescope and observed the movement of the stars and planets. Copernicus proved that it is the Earth that moves around the Sun and not vice versa. These discoveries broadened the outlook of the people and put an end to the old beliefs and traditions which were enforced upon them by the Church.

Causes Leading to the Beginning of the Renaissance #5

Invention of the Printing Press

  • Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 15th century. This helped in the publication of many books and the translation of the Bible into many languages.
  • After reading these books, people began to question the authority and the beliefs of the Church. The spread of the spirit of scientific inquiry marked the beginning of the Renaissance in Europe.

Also, Read Modern Age in Europe -The Reformation