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The Renaissance and Reformation


Students analyze the origins, accomplishments, and geographic diffusion of the Renaissance and the historical developments of the Reformation.


Mediterranean Sea Region Map
Mediterranean Sea Region Map

An old Map of Mediterranean Sea; Carte nouvelle de la mer mediterranee. It was made in 1680. Mediterranean Sea. Scale ca 1:4,375,000.

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Ancient World Map
Ancient World Map

An Ancient World Map; Sphendonē, hoc est, fvnda Posidonii. It was created in 1630. From Bertius' Ancient Geography. Paris, 1630. In Latin and Greek. Scale not given.

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Europe, 1600s
Europe, 1600s

An original image of Europae. It was made in 1600. Relief shown pictorially. Includes notes, ill., and cartouche with dedicaton and text. Scale [ca. 1:13,000,000]. At equator.

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Mediterranean Sea Region Map
Mediterranean Sea Region Map

An old Map of Mediterranean Sea; Carte nouvelle de la mer mediterranee. It was made in 1680. Mediterranean Sea. Scale ca 1:4,375,000.

press to zoom



  • What factors drive cultural change?

  • Why did the Renaissance begin in Italy?

  • What is Humanism?

  • How did the concept of Humanism affect European culture?

  • How did other European Countries respond to the Renaissance?

  • Why did many Europeans begin to challenge the Catholic Church?

  • How can you interpret a primary source?

  • How the invention of the printing press and the ideas of the Renaissance spur the Reformation in Europe? 



Quotes attributed to:  Leonardo da Vinci A "Renaissance Man"


“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.”


“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”


"Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation ... even so does inaction sap the vigour of the mind.”


“Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art”



  • Northern Italy became wealthy through international trade.

  • The Northern Renaissance contributed many different styles of artists to our history; including painters, poets, architects, writers, intellectuals, and clergymen.

  • The spread of the Italian Renaissance sparked an interest in the arts and ancient roman culture, including the value of Humanism.

  • The Northern Renaissance led to a new self-confidence that enabled Europeans to challenge the authority and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.

  • "Renaissance men" are some of the most well-known, influential men in all of history.

  • The rebirth of learning during the Renaissance led to the Reformation. 




Emergence of the Renaissance

Islam Gave the Light of Renaissance to Europe and America

7.43 Trace the emergence of the Renaissance, including influence from Moorish (or Muslim) scholars in Spain.



Join us as we explore the Renaissance and discover the forces that drove this rebirth in Europe, and in Italy in particular.



The Renaissance:  Was it a Thing? Crash Course...

In which John Green teaches you about the European Renaissance. European learning changed the world in the 15th and 16th century, but was it a cultural revolution, or an evolution? We'd argue that any cultural shift that occurs over a couple of hundred years isn't too overwhelming to the people who live through it. In retrospect though, the cultural bloom in Europe during this time was pretty impressive. In addition to investigating what caused the Renaissance and who benefitted from the changes that occurred, John will tell you just how the Ninja Turtles got mixed up in all this.

7.46 Describe how humanism led to a revival of classical learning and fostered a new interest in the arts including a balance between intellect and religious faith.


William Shakespeare...

Explore England in the age of Shakespeare: a time of transition from the medieval to the modern.

7.48 Outline the advances made in literature, the arts, science, mathematics, cartography, engineering, and the understanding of human anatomy and astronomy, including Leonardo da Vinci (Last Supper, Mona Lisa), Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel, The David), Johann Gutenberg, and William Shakespeare.




7.50 Conduct a research project drawing on several resources to investigate the Tudor dynasties of Henry VIII, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, including their family heritage, line of succession, religious conflicts, Spanish Armanda, and the rise of English power in Europe.





7.51 Explain the institution and impact of missionaries on Christianity and the diffusion of Christianity from Europe to other parts of the world in the medieval and early modern periods.



  • Renaissance

  • Perspective

  • Humanism

  • Patron

  • Renaissance man

  • Machiavelli

  • Da Vinci

  • Castiglione

  • Michelangelo

  • Raphael

  • Medici

  • Protestant

  • Indulgence

  • Calvinism

  • Council of Trent

  • Satire

  • Engraving

  • Utopia

  • Gutenberg

  • Erasmus

  • Thomas More

  • Francois Rabelais

  • Cervantes

  • Don Quixote

  • Albrecht Durer

  • William Shakespeare

  • Reformation

  • Predestination

  • Catholic






Spread of Renaissance Ideas

7.44 Cite evidence in writing explaining the importance of Florence, Italy and the Medici Family in the early stages of the Renaissance and the growth of independent trading cities, such as Venice, and their importance in the spread of Renaissance ideas.



Dissecting Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi...

The scene of the three wise men offering gifts to a newborn Jesus was widely painted during the Renaissance era, so how did painter Sandro Botticelli create a version that's still well known today? James Earle describes who and what set Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi apart in the annals of art history.  Lesson ideas...

Marco Polo:  Journey to the East...

Leading historians and historic re-enactments bring the fabled journeys of the world's most famous adventurer to life. His epic adventures in the Far East remain among the most celebrated journeys in human history. His writings gave Europeans their first authoritative look at life in that distant land.

7.45 Summarize the effects and implications of the reopening of the ancient Silk Road between Europe and China, including Marco Polo’s travels and the location of his routes.


"When a man is riding through this desert by night and for some reason -falling asleep or anything else -he gets separated from his companions and wants to rejoin them, he hears spirit voices talking to him as if they were his companions, sometimes even calling him by name. Often these voices lure him away from the path and he never finds it again, and many travelers have got lost and died because of this. Sometimes in the night travelers hear a noise like the clatter of a great company of riders away from the road; if they believe that these are some of their own company and head for the noise, they find themselves in deep trouble when daylight comes and they realize their mistake. There were some who, in crossing the desert, have been a host of men coming towards them and, suspecting that they were robbers, returning, they have gone hopelessly astray....Even by daylight men hear these spirit voices, and often you fancy you are listening to the strains of many instruments, especially drums, and the clash of arms. For this reason bands of travelers make a point of keeping very close together. Before they go to sleep they set up a sign pointing in the direction in which they have to travel, and round the necks of all their beasts they fasten little bells, so that by listening to the sound they may prevent them from straying off the path."

---- Marco Polo, Travels


The Printing Press...

7.47 Analyze the growth and effects of new ways of disseminating information, ability to manufacture paper, translation of the Bible into vernacular, and printing.




Reformation Luther Thesis...

7.52 Locate and identify the European regions that remained Catholic and those that became Protestant and how the division affected the distribution of religions in the New World.


The Renaissance - the Age of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci (1/2) | DW Documentary

Beginning at the end of the 14th Century, the Renaissance created a new type of man, triggering economic, scientific, technical, religious, social and cultural developments that are unique in history. Never before have culture, economics and science developed so rapidly within one century as during the Renaissance. But what was the catalyst for it, what is the "Renaissance factor"? The Renaissance is an epoch unique in human history: Never before have art, culture, economics and science developed so rapidly within a single century. We search for the "Renaissance factor", that combination of influences that triggered a pivotal period in history. It is a journey through time from Ancient Rome to the Crusades and the Black Death in the 14th century, events that defined the developments of the Renaissance. We travel with Michelangelo to the major construction site that was to become St. Peter’s Basilica, to the banking houses of the Medicis and the workshop of Johannes Gutenberg. We examine some of the many innovations of the Renaissance such as linear perspective, the printing press and double-entry bookkeeping. We ask what these achievements mean to us today and how - almost half a millennium later - we continue to benefit from the "Renaissance factor." And we delve deeper with the help of spectacular reenactments and our "special investigators" - modern-day trendsetters, scientists, business tycoons, fashion designers and artists.

Martin Luther calls into question papal power.  The problem with "indulgences".

7.55 Outline the reasons for the growing discontent with the Catholic Church, including the main ideas of Martin Luther (salvation by faith), John Calvin (predestination), Desiderius Erasmus (free will), and William Tyndale (translating the Bible into English), and their attempts to reconcile what they viewed as God’s word with Church action.



7.49 Gather relevant information from multiple sources about Henry V, Hundreds Year War, and Joan of Arc.




7.53 Explain the heightened influence of the Catholic Church, the growth of literacy, the spread of printed books, the explosion of knowledge and the Church’s reaction to these developments.



Reluctant Revolutionary..A Fun, Animated History of the Reformation and the Man Who Started It All | Short Film Showcase



LOC.  The manuscripts and printed books that came to rest in the Vatican Library tell many stories. They help to explain the development of Renaissance thought and art, scholarship and science, in Rome and elsewhere. They shed light on the history of the universal Roman church and on the city in which it flourished, on the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation--even on the history of Western efforts to understand and convert the peoples of the non-Western world. 

On October 31, 1517, a rebellious German monk named Martin Luther is said to have nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of Castle Church. This simple act of protest sparked a religious revolution that would split Western Christianity and shake the foundations of Europe's cultural identity.

7.54 List and explain the significance of the causes for the internal turmoil within and eventual weakening of the Catholic Church including tax policies, selling of indulgences, and England’s break with the Catholic Church.




Do any of these expressed ideas trouble you?

The Protestant Reformation...

7.56 Engage effectively in collaborative discussions explaining Protestants’ new practices of church self-government and the influence of those practices on the development of democratic practices and ideas of federalism.


The council of Trent...

7.57 Analyze how the Catholic Counter-Reformation revitalized the Catholic Church and the forces that fostered the movement, including St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits, and the Council of Trent.



How Magellan circumnavigated the globe - Ewandro Magalhaes

View full lesson: On September 6, 1522, the "Victoria" sailed into harbor in southern Spain. The battered vessel and its 18 sailors were all that remained of a fleet that had departed three years before. Yet her voyage was considered a success, for the "Victoria" had achieved something unprecedented – the first circumnavigation of the globe. Ewandro Magalhaes shares the story of Magellan’s journey.

7.58 Identify the voyages of discovery, the locations of the routes (Da Gama, Dias, Magellan), and the influence of cartography in the development of a new worldview.


The World at Our Fingertips...

Rex Ziak outlines his lecture that tells the history of cartography and the mapping of the world from ancient Greece to our modern times.




Elizabethans were generally pious, but they loved their gambling. From the epic boar-baiting to the no-less ferocious rat-baiting, from cards to dice, and gameboards scratched in the cathedral pews (really) -- you'd have no problem finding someone to cover your bet. There are many pleasant card and dice games suitable for Faire but they lack a certain spectacle. In the absence of the bloodsports (there being generally more pet rats than pet terriers on any given fairesite), I've found several period games that make fine street sport.






You are the owner of a large sailing ship. You sail around the world and trade goods with other countries.




Museum of Science presents Leonardo da Vinci works and contributions as a scientist, inventor and artist.




Welcome to The Renaissance Connection, the Allentown Art Museum's interactive educational web site. With the simple click of a mouse button, travel 500 years into the past to discover many Renaissance innovations revealed through the Allentown Art Museum's Samuel H. Kress Collection of European art.



Learn a little bit about this famous playwright's life and his times.  Follow along on this virtual field trip to learn more about Shakespeare and his plays.



A young girl who hears the Voice of God who inspires her to protect the French King.


A humorous view of the significant events of the Rennaisance.


Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Read: excerpts from “Ninety-Five Theses”, Martin Luther; excerpts from The Travels of Marco Polo
Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Consider: excerpts from In Praise of Folly, Erasmus; selected pieces from William Shakespeare; excerpts from The Prince, Machiavelli
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