Renaissance is a French word which means "Rebirth." It was a time period in which they sought influence from the Classical Era (Ancient Rome and Greece). Many eras following have much influence in them from the Renaissance era, even modern day contemporary styles. It also flourished the economies of European nations as wealthier people spent money to have artist make personal paintings, as well as designing buildings.
That was when mechanical printing of books became possible, allowing more people to have cheaper books. This caused a significant increase in learning and education and great expansions in science and knowledge in general.