Figure 1.--This fresco depicts a historical scene, St. Augustine leaving Rome for Milan. Not the Roman skyline in the background. The fresco was painted by Benozzo Gozzoli in 1463, the year Pope Pius II began building the new St. Peters. Note although this is a historical scene that the characters are depicted in contemporary clothes. Thus we have a wonderful illustration of how Italian men and youths dressed in the mid 15th century.
The Renaisance began in Italy and thus the increasingly accurate depictions and the painting of secular scenes appears earlier in Italy than any where else in Europe. Although generally classified by most scholars as the last century of the medieval era, the 14th century is generally seen as the beginning of the Renaissance and the beginning of a modern state of mind. "Renaissance" means "rebirth" in French and describes the cultural and economic changes that occurred in Europe beginning in the 14th century. The precise time is difficlt to set and of course varied accross Europe. The Renaissance began at Firenze around 1300 and gradually spread north. Even so, the indicators that constitute the Renaissance did not reach other areas of Europe 1-2 centuries. It was during the Renaissance that Europe emerged from the Feudal System of the Middle Ages. The stagnant Medieval economy began to expand. The Renaissance was not just a period of economic growth. It was an
age of intense cultural ferment. Enormous changes began in artistic, social, scientific, and political endevours. Perhaps of greatest importance was that Europeans
began to develop a radically different self image as they moved from a God-centered to a more humanistic outlook.
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