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 Causation in the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery
O stupendous Necessity . . . thou dost compel every effect to be the direct result of its cause, by the shortest path. These are miracles.
—Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)
Italy was a natural place for the rediscovery of Classical Greek and Roman culture to take place. It was a frequent staging and return point for Crusaders heading to the eastern Mediterranean. In the East (including Constantinople) and in nearby Spain, Muslim scholars had preserved troves of Greek and Roman scholarship. Contact with these regions through warfare, diplomacy, and trade helped bring this ancient knowledge back to Western Europe. Knowledge and study of Classical texts, art, and values ultimately served as the cause of the Renaissance. The Renaissance, in turn, began a kind of chain reaction that helped cause multiple, wide-ranging changes in European society.
Society, Religion, and the Arts For centuries, the power of the Roman Catholic Church had dominated culture. But access to the ideas of the Classical, pre-Christian era invited an interpretation of society and life that went beyond the church’s strict teachings. Humanists became emboldened to study such worldly topics as history, philosophy, natural sciences, and mathematics, and inventions such as the printing press caused information to be shared much more easily. The consequence of all this freely shared information was not a quick abandonment of Christianity, but rather a more rational approach to theology that would have far-reaching effects not only within the church, but also for everyday Europeans. Even in the northern Renaissance, where the church still had a stronger influence, human-centered naturalism was a consequence of the Renaissance. Renaissance painters and sculptors still generally chose religious subjects, but they were portrayed in an increasingly realistic and naturalistic fashion. Over time, their subjects became increasingly secular.
Exploration and Colonization Causation can also be seen clearly between the learning and inquiry of the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration. Scientific and mathematical learning brought about technological advances in shipbuilding and increased sailors’ navigational abilities. As a consequence, Europeans gained the ability to seek spices in Asia by sea, and their attempts to
78 EUROPEAN HISTORY: AP® EDITION
 Essential Question: What were the causes and consequences of the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery?
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