A Comparison of the Medieval and Renaissance Eras

Essay by Paul RevernCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 1996

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It is amazing how significantly various aspects of society can and will change over

a prolonged period of time. Between the time periods of the Medieval era and the

Renaissance, one can note numerous significant changes, mainly those pertaining to art

and religion. In general, ideals and subjects during the Renaissance became more secular.

In Medieval times, people seemed to focus mainly on the church, God, and the afterlife;

whereas during the Renaissance, the focus was more secular: humans and life on earth.

Although these two eras differ in many ways, the most concentrated differences deal with

the realms of architecture, painting, and philosophy.

Architecture noticeably shifted from religious awe to classical reason between the

Medieval era and the Renaissance. During the Middle Ages, architecture was aimed

mainly at making advancements in the church. Medieval cathedrals had very distinct

features, such as pointed spires, which were exactly that -- spires, or steeples, that were

pointed and extended upward from the tower area; the rose window, which was a large

stained glass window that was located on the front of the tower; and squared-off exterior

walls, which were a contrast to the usual rounded exterior designs that people were

accustomed to.

Overall, cathedrals during this time could have very elegant features due

to the excellent techniques of support and stabilization. Buttresses, simple extensions of

the cathedral wall to enhance support, and flying buttresses, stone structures set away

from the cathedral wall and attached at the top, contributed to the excellent support that

Medieval cathedrals experienced. While architectural advancements during the Middle

Ages were concerned mainly with making elegant reformations in the structure of the

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...