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Renaissance is a word used by historians to describe a period in European cultural history that began in Italy around 1400 and lasted until the end of the 1500s This word which is French means rebirth The Renaissance was the rebirth of classical literature the rebirth of art and the revival of learning The entrance of Europe into the Renaissance signaled the collapse of the feudal system and the beginning of a new era in history This period also led to new types of thinking such as Humanism or the belief in active rather than contemplative life The Renaissance was motivated in part by the results of the Crusades The revival of trade due to the Crusades led to a great exchange of ideas throughout Europe The invention of printing also gave rise to learning because knowledge became available to all people not just nobility Because of this revival of learning a new type of man formed He was a Renaissance man The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines renaissance man as a man who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences There were many Renaissance men such as the great William Shakespeare of England Raphael Michaelangelo Cervantes and Leon Battista Alberti but perhaps the greatest mind of the entire Renaissance was that of a man known as Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo da Vinci had a thought process well ahead of his time which aided him in the creation of inventions and revolutionary theories that demonstrated his position as the epitome of the principles responsible for the Renaissance movement Da Vinci worked during a term of the Renaissance known as the High Renaissance Among the artists most frequently associated with this period are Rafael and Michaelangelo and of course da Vinci The three were presumably in a competition to gain the most recognition and any could be rightfully named the greatest artist
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