Renaissance Regina

  • Barry Spurr


The humanism of Renaissance culture has been exaggerated in the succeeding ages, which have evolved from the increasingly man-centred thought and artistry of that complex phenomenon, to the point where it is difficult to differentiate the supposed generalized mind-set of Renaissance thinkers from those of the much later eighteenth- century Enlightenment. Nonetheless, it is undoubtedly true that although potent and profound aspects of medieval culture continued to inform the worldview (and especially the religious worldview) of the Renaissance mind, particular ideas and emphases spoke of a new understanding of human existence, in European consciousness, in several domains—temporal and spiritual. The most striking of these—which also has its expression in the kindred, contemporaneous movement of the Reformation—was the emphasis on individuality. In Protestant religious terms, this appears in the concept of the immediate access of the believer to the Godhead, without a mediating priesthood (or, indeed, without much attention to the body of fellow believers in the church or to the sacraments). This is articulated most strikingly, in textual and linguistic terms, in the provision of vernacular scriptures and liturgies. Accordingly, and not only in Protestant culture, we see a new spirit of multifarious interpretation and expression in the Renaissance, as a much freer exploration of ideas and feelings (and their literary embodiment) matched the great age of the initiation of the exploration of this world and the cosmos, and the beginnings of the investigation of the microcosm of the human body in the study of anatomy and the probings of the psyche.


Paradise Lost Religious Worldview English Poetry Renaissance Culture Theological Idea 
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© Barry Spurr 2007

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  • Barry Spurr

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