Medieval versus Renaissance Eras

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Medieval and Renaissance Eras

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It is amazing how significantly various aspects of society can and willchange over a prolonged period of time. Between the time periods of theMedieval era and the Renaissance, one can note numerous significant changes,mainly those pertaining to art and religion. In general, ideals and subjectsduring the Renaissance became more secular. In Medieval times, people seemedto focus mainly on the church, God, and the afterlife; during theRenaissance, the focus was more secular: humans and life on earth. Althoughthese two eras differ in many ways, the most concentrated differences deal withthe realms of architecture, painting, and philosophy.

Architecture noticeably shifted from religious awe to classical reasonbetween the Medieval era and the Renaissance. During the Middle Ages,architecture was aimed mainly at making advancements in the church. Medievalcathedrals had very distinct features, such as pointed spires, which wereexactly that — spires, or steeples, that were pointed and extended upward fromthe tower area; the rose window, which was a large stained glass window thatwas located on the front of the tower; and squared-off exterior walls, whichwere a contrast to the usual rounded exterior designs that people wereaccustomed to. Overall, cathedrals during this time could have very elegantfeatures due to the excellent techniques of support and stabilization.Buttresses, simple extensions of the cathedral wall to enhance support, andflying buttresses, stone structures set away from the cathedral wall andattached at the top, contributed to the excellent support that Medievalcathedrals experienced. While architectural advancements during the MiddleAges were concerned mainly with making elegant reformations in the structure ofthe cathedral, architecture during the Renaissance was much less religion-centered, and revolved more around classical reason and secularity.Architecture in this time was concentrated mostly with the design of castles,such as the home of the prevailing Italian Medici family, perhaps the richestfamily in Europe. Architectural focus had changed from the cathedral in theMedieval era to other, more classical and secular subjects, such as castles andhomes of significant rulers.

The style, subjects, and overall attitude of painting was something thatunderwent very significant changes during the progression from Medieval timesto the Renaissance. Generally, paintings became more secular, and less focusedon aspects of the church, as the Renaissance approached. Medieval paintingsseem to be focused almost entirely on religion and are given heavenlyattributes, while paintings of the Renaissance consist mainly of secularsubjects and contain much more realism, especially noted in human subjects. InGiotto’s Madonna With Child, a Medieval painting, any observer will obviouslynotice that the child and woman are very awkwardly proportioned, indicating the


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