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The Spread of Ideas
during the Renaissance
(Before the Renaissance) Theocracy
• A theocracy is a form of government where
religious rulers run the government.
• Prior to the beginning of the Renaissance, lands
were ruled by feudal kings or the Roman Catholic
The Church had religious power.
The Church controlled people’s beliefs.
The Church had economic power.
The Church had political power.
The Church was NOT controlled by the king.
Slide 2
A Change in Thought
• The Renaissance was a widespread change in
culture and thought that took place in Europe
beginning in the 1300s.
• Italy was the cradle of change. Italian citystates were not under the control of a king or
the Roman Catholic Church.
• The thing that sparked most of the excitement
during the Renaissance was humanism which
focused on the ideas and actions of the
• Scholars searched the world through
questioning and investigation.
• People were inspired by Classical civilizations
like the Greeks and Romans.
Johannes Gutenberg
• About 1450 a German printer
named Johannes Gutenberg
invented movable type used
on a printing press.
• The printing press used many
small pieces of metal with
single letters or numbers that
could be arranged in trays to
form rows of words and could
be easily changed.
• The printing process became
much easier and faster.
Johannes Gutenberg
• Prior to the invention of movable type:
– Books were copied by hand.
– Books were printed with blocks of carved wood that
were inked and stamped.
• (The first book) In 1455 Gutenberg printed a
1,200 page Bible.
• Books became cheaper and more widespread.
• Through the printed page, ideas of the
Renaissance spread quickly through Europe.
Gutenberg Bible
• Each copy of the
Gutenberg Bible used as
many as three million
metal letters.
• It took several months,
many workers, and six
printing presses to make.
• Of the 200 copies that
were made,
approximately 40 exist
William Shakespeare
• William Shakespeare, considered the greatest writer
of the Renaissance, was famous for plays and poems.
• Ordinary people, nobles, and royalty alike crowded
London’s Globe Theatre to see Shakespeare’s plays.
Romeo and Juliet
Julius Caesar
Antony and Cleopatra
King Lear
• He wrote at least 37 plays based on ancient works.
New Ideas in Science
• (1500s) Nicolaus Copernicus presented mathematical
calculations to prove the Earth revolved around the sun
and was not the center of the universe.
• (1600s) Galileo proved Copernicus’s theory with the
invention of his telescope. It showed the Earth did
move around the sun.
• (1600s) Isaac Newton formed the theory of gravity,
and explained how the planets circle the sun.
• Newton followed a scientific method that required
ideas to be tested through observing and
Renaissance Architecture
• Renaissance architects drew ideas from
ancient Greece and Rome. (columns, arch,
• Medieval churches were built in the shape of a
• Architects designed buildings in a circular
• In the ancient world, the circle (a simple, clean
figure) represented the perfect shape.
Bell Tower of Pisa
• A freestanding bell tower, of
the cathedral of the Italian
city of Pisa.
• Construction began in 1173
and continued until 1372 (177
yrs.) when the 7th floor and
bell tower (8th floor) were
• The tower began to sink after
the 3rd floor was added due to
an unstable foundation.