The Renaissance is a period in the history of Europe beginning in about 1400, and following the Medieval period.

“Renaissance” is a French word meaning “rebirth”. The period is called by this name because at that time, people started taking an interest in the learning of ancient times, in particular the learning of Ancient Greece and Rome. The Renaissance was seen as a “rebirth” of that learning. The Renaissance is often said to be the start of the “modern age”.

During the Renaissance, there were many famous artists, many writers and many philosophers. Many people studied mathematics and different sciences. A person who is clever at a great number of things is sometimes called a “Renaissance man”. Leonardo da Vinci, who was a painter, a scientist, a musician and a philosopher, is the most famous Renaissance Man.

The Renaissance started in Italy but soon spread across the whole of Europe.

Causes of the Renaissance


Printers at work in 1520

Reading and printing

In the Middle Ages, there were very few books. Most books at that time were written in Latin and only understood by priests and well-educated people. People were forbidden by law from copying the Bible into Italian, English, German, French or other “local” languages.

In 1423 the first printed books were made in Europe. The way of printing quickly improved so that large books like the Bible could be made and sold cheaply. The printers then began to print everything that they thought was interesting. Suddenly, all this wonderful knowledge was available to thousands of people who never had it before.