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The Renaissance Lesson for Kids: Definition, Facts & History

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Among other names, the Renaissance was the Age of Discovery! In this lesson, you will explore the history of the Renaissance, while learning fascinating facts about this creative and innovative time period!

What was the Renaissance?

The Renaissance was a period of time in European history when a lot of new ideas in science, technology, art, and philosophy were explored or discovered. The word Renaissance actually means 'rebirth,' and the period was named it because so many new ideas were happening, it was like the European culture was being recreated!

The Renaissance period lasted from about 1300 to 1600, but there are a lot of other names given to eras that overlapped this amazing time, too. You might hear names like the Age of Discovery, the Reformation, or the Age of Exploration.

The Renaissance happened because of a few key events. It started in Italy, which was a major center for money, trade, and culture because many of the world's trade routes met up there. The Renaissance got its start in Italy, but the exciting new ideas traveled quickly, inspiring others all over Europe.

Before the Renaissance, the Catholic Church was a HUGE power in Europe. This was especially true in Italy because the Catholic Church is based out of Rome, Italy. People followed all of the church's rules no matter what they were. Until the plague.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the start of the Renaissance was the bubonic plague, a very contagious disease also called 'the Black Death' for the black spots it caused on the skin before the person died. When the plague hit, medicine was not like it is today. The church said to pray, but it didn't stop anyone from dying. By 1350, more than 20 million people had died.

Black Plague
plague

Humanism and the Renaissance

When the plague ended, many people broke away from the church and started thinking differently. And so began Humanism, a belief in the power of humans here on Earth, our intelligence, our creativity, and the permission to enjoy life as we live it.

With Humanism came the desire to create art and music, to talk about life and philosophy, and to explore our world through science. It started in Italy, where there were trade routes to the rest of the world bringing in new ideas, but quickly spread through Europe.

People were inventing things and writing great works of literature! They studied the Greeks and the Romans and revisited styles that had been frowned upon by the Catholic Church!

Other things that happened during the Renaissance:

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