Religion was one of the aspects of the Renaissance that changed drastically over a few centuries.
Before the Renaissance, during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church was dominant in most states of Europe. The Pope was the singular most influential and feared bodies in politics. At this time, the church would be the center of all community life, especially because the clergymen were often the only people in a town who were literate. Before the Renaissance, the church was the undisputed dominant force of order.
As the Renaissance started to blossom, the church was still the center of life and a refuge from the horrors of war and plague.
However, by this time various factors had begun ...view middle of the document...
The concept of Humanism and its influence started spilling into all aspects of the Renaissance.
In art, it is best epitomized in Michelangelo Buonarotti's "David", a sculpture that accurately portrays man learning his full potential.
We see humanism in Renaissance art, literature, exploration, mathematics, science and religion - people began to start thinking independently and finding new ideas and different paths to follow.
The Religious Humanists of the Renaissance era
An illegitimate son of a priest, Erasmus was born between 1466 -1469 in Holland and attended the Brethren of the Common Life, after which he joined the Augustinian monastery of Steyn. He thereafter became the Latin Secretary to Henry of Bergen, Bishop of Cambrai, and later was enrolled at the College Montaigu in Paris, where his interest in classical literature germinated.
In 1499 he visited England, he befriended Colet and Sir Thomas More. In 1506 he wrote his first book, Adagiorum Chiliades, and in 1509 his Praise of Folly, a satirical yet religious work. He later revisited England in 1511, then went to Basel in 1514 where he remained for the rest of his life until his death. Erasmus strongly believed that the study of classical manuscripts allowed the reader to rediscover the true meaning of the Bible and turn to the true values of the original church, uncorrupted as the contemporary church was This way Erasmus was paving the way for the Reformation.
Erasmus believed in Christianity of the heart, a personally spiritual association, and not in staid ceremony. He believed the Bible offered ways to improve society.
More, another Humanist, was a good friend of Desiderus Erasmus.
His most famous work, Utopia (1516) (Utopia, in Greek means "no place", but is understood as an ideal place), was a model to illustrate society's flaws. It centers on a place where there is no greed, corruption, crime nor war, and no one is in need of money as wealth is shared.
In 1532, when, More showed his opposition and disapproval of royal policy by refusing to sign the
Succession Oath (declaring that the children of Henry's second would be his successors), he and John Fisher (Bishop of Rochester) were found guilty of high treason and beheaded in 1535 on Tower Green, London.
Rabelais, a Frenchman, was another Humanist. He studied at the College de Montaigu in France where Calvin and Erasmus also attended. Although not as well - known as the other humanists, he was the author of Gargantua and Pantagruel, a secular comic adventure. In this book he pokes fun at society with simple, robust humor, yet the work does put across very serious points regarding the state of humanity, education, society and government at the time.
Rabelais believed that all people were essentially good, and should live by their intrinsic knowledge and instinct and not religious dictatorship of rule.
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