According to the University of Houston, during the Renaissance (c.1485 - c.1688), most of Europe lived under monarchy, which is rule by a king or queen. This stands in contrast to Florence, Italy, which was a republic where democracy was supported and wealthy families ruled.
Monarchs such as Ferdinand and Isabella, who ruled Spain in the early Renaissance, were absolute monarchs, meaning they ruled with almost no constraints, while Philip II later faced restraints from opposing houses and local assemblies during his rule. In England, Elizabeth I ruled along with a Parliament, and though Parliament did have some voting rights, Elizabeth was for practical purposes an absolute monarch. Germany, still under the Holy Roman Empire, had a vastly complicated system with the Emperor at the top, seven Electors, various princes and the leaders of 80 Imperial Free Cities.Learn More
Although historians disagree about the precise beginnings of the Renaissance, most trace its origins to the competition between artists and great thinkers in north-central Italy, particularly around the city of Florence. From there, the intellectual and artistic movement spread throughout the country and later throughout Europe.Full Answer >
Isaac Newton was a physicist, an astronomer, a mathematician and a natural philosopher who lived in England during the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, many scientists consider him to be one of the most influential scientists in history.Full Answer >
Christopher Columbus is best known as the explorer who discovered North America. While his original hypothesis was that he could sail west from Europe in order to reach eastern Asia, Columbus stumbled upon the large land mass now known as North America, which led to colonization.Full Answer >
Desiderius Erasmus was a prominent philosopher and theologian during the Protestant Reformation and was responsible for creating a new edition of the New Testament as well as many other influential writings. He was a highly controversial figure and was heavily criticized by both Catholic and Protestant authorities. Nonetheless, his works were very popular, and he remains well known.Full Answer >