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21 Ways the Renaissance Directly Shaped the Way We Live Now

Updated November 12, 2018 28.0k views21 items

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.

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  • It's Okay to Enjoy Sex

    Photo: Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée / Public Domain

    There was once a time when it was thought women couldn't enjoy sex. During the Renaissance, with the study of human anatomy and the Humanistic focus on the individual, people got the idea that maybe sex is something to be enjoyed. This a-ha moment led to the realization that women can, and should, feel pleasure from sex, especially if they wanted to conceive.

    Those alive during the Renaissance typically had more sexual partners than did their medieval counterparts, and homosexuality, partly due to the emergence of Libertines, made a minor comeback (it was wicked popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans). Libertines pursued pleasure over all things. 

  • If You Own A Gun, Thank the Renaissance

    Photo: Jacob de Gheyn / Public Domain

    If you've even been hunting, own a gun for self/home defense, have used arms in the military, or just like firing off rounds because goddammit this is America, then the Renaissance has changed your life in yet another small way. While gunpowder was invented by the Chinese more than 1,000 years before the Renaissance kicked off, the explosive substance found it's most common use during the Renaissance in Europe (early on the Chinese used it for fireworks, then explosives).

    Gunpowder eventually made its way to Europe, and in the 14th century, guns were invented. Not long thereafter, they were put to use in battle, and the world was changed forever.

  • Three Words: The Printing Press

    Photo: Daniel Chodowiecki / Public Domain

    You can read today because the written word was spread by the printing press. You have newspapers, books, comics, and more to read because of the printing press. This is arguably one of the most important inventions in the history of mankind, and it all started with a man named Gutenberg around the year 1440. The printing revolution followed, enabling the mass publication of, well, basically everything.

    This made books available to the masses, led to increased literacy, changed literature, and paved the way for evolution in education by allowing for the production of text books. 

  • Global Travel Began During the Renaissance

    Photo: Abraham Ortelius / Public Domain

    Believe it or not, there was once a time when people thought that traveling around the world was impossible. Then along came Ferdinand Magellan. While trying to reach the West Indies, he accidentally circumnavigated the globe in the early 1500s. Now we're able to travel between continents, around the world, and back, without being afraid of anything but turbulence and jetlag.