history 21 Ways the Renaissance Directly Shaped the Way We Live Now  

Laura Allan
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The Renaissance lasted from the 1300s to the late 1600s, and what a time it was to be alive. Even if you don't love Renaissance Faires (and come on, who doesn't?), you should definitely love the Renaissance itself. Where else can you find such an amazing blend of art, philosophy, and science? Things that happened during the Renaissance directly shaped the way we live today, paving the path that led from the Dark Ages to the modern world. Famous inventors, artists, and thinkers made sure the Renaissance influences today more than you'll ever know (at least until you read this article). 

If you're thinking that you already know all about how the Renaissance changed the world, think again. Its influences span from morning routines to how we do things in school and even how we look at entertainment. So, if you're curious about how the Renaissance shaped the world  you live in today, read on. By the end, you might be feeling a little bit more thankful for all that the great minds of that day and age did for us.

What You Think of as Classic Art Started in the Renaissance

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Photo: Sandro Botticelli/Public Domain

Do you like depth, realism, perspective, and a sense of motion in your artwork? If not you must like abstract or medieval art. If you do, you have the Renaissance to thank. Pre-Renaissance art had little depth, sense of direction, and lighting, and no perspective. Advances in mathematics and science during the 15th century impacted art, leading to several important advances. Sculpture, architecture, painting, drawing, and print work all made major progress during the Renaissance. The use of canvass for painting, for instance, developed during the Renaissance; previously, painting was typically done on wood. 

Individual Expression and Achievement Grew from Renaissance Humanism

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Photo:  Jean-Pierre DalbĂ©ra/Creative Commons

There once was a time when the accomplishments and survival of the community mattered more than those of any individual (other than of course the landed gentry and/or royalty). Forget the little guy, as long as everyone else survives. A lot of that changed in the early Renaissance, in the first half of the 15th century, when Humanism became all the rage. Humanism did a lot of things, such as introduce the idea of thinking of humans as individuals. As a result, literature, art, and philosophy shifted focus from cosmic concerns to individual expression and achievement, or relationships between individuals and society or gods. People began to believe human life and accomplishment had inherent value.

Galileo Invented the Thermometer During the Renaissance

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Photo: Justus Sustermans/Public Domain

You've probably dreaded and hated checking the thermometer at some point, especially during summer, but can you think how different your life would be without it? How would you know when your oven is pre-heated? How would you check if you have a fever, and see how bad that fever is? How would you know when it's below freezing... okay, that one's probably pretty easy, but the point stands. Galileo created the first rudimentary thermometer in 1593, and it eventually evolved to the tool we know and use regularly today.

You Might Be Living Where You Are Because of the Renaissance

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Photo: John Vanderlyn/Public Domain

Maybe you've heard of Christopher Columbus, who sailed the ocean blue in 1492, on his way to committing myriad atrocities in the "New World." That period of time, in fact, was part of the Renaissance. Other explorers like him, such as Vespucci, Cabot, and Hernán Cortés all went out and "discovered" new land during this time period, which eventually led to colonization. All the European, African, and mixed inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere ended up where they did because of the way the Renaissance reshaped the world.