Renaissance is a French term meaning rebirth or revival. Renaissance period in the history of Europe starts from the beginning of 15th century to the end of 16th century. The Renaissance manifested the transitional phase from the medieval ages to the modern era. It was a time of social and cultural changes in Europe. It is believed to be the beginning of the modern world and hence the new phase of the political system arrived. Along with society and culture, politics also changed.
Renaissance and Politics Renaissance states had three basic forms of Government: princedoms, monarchies and oligarchies or the republics. One of the largest political changes during that period was segregation of politics from Christianity. Religion was no longer seen as a part of governance and authority. Government and politics both were affected by humanism. Humanism also brought with it the concept of democracy as the society began to value its contribution and opinion in the politics.
Hereditary powers began to get ceased because people can raise their class in the class system; they realized that they do not have to stay in the class in which they were born. Feudal system was suspended. But according to some thinkers believe that renaissance failed to develop effective political institutions. The Roman Empire which was ruling over almost the whole Europe since many centuries had collapsed. The sole strong unifying force left was Roman Catholic Church. Politically, the whole Europe was divided but slow and gradual growth in commerce sector unified the continent.
Foreign invasions declined. Native rulers in their countries began to combine their powers. They controlled with budding competence and progressively used their power at home as a foundation for development overseas. Italy experienced this trend in many different ways. With the development of urbanization in Italy, people demanded for self rule and developed into strong and self-regulating city-states. In the northern regions of the continent, state royal families or monarchs established their power over the aristocracy.
During the period of renaissance, both these political institutions have developed from the medieval roots, but both failed to get transformed completely into a modern system. Regardless of the fact that Church and state had mutually strong ties with each other, but popes and rulers struggled with each other for being in command of the administration of church and material lands. Therefore, some historians portrayed this period as a significant one for politics while some think this age as meaningless and abandoning the whole concept.
Also, during the renaissance stage, kings, dukes, earls and other nobles dominated the political field but as the feudal system began to collapse; these titles stared losing their influence. This shaped the beginning of varying unbalanced surroundings which promoted rapid development in all areas. This stage was subjugated by confrontations and wars not for the sake of winning territories but for the sake of protests, to satisfy the upper-class thirst for war.
The downfall of the Roman Empire and the influence and authority of the papacy was consequential with the increase in independence and self reliance of city states in most of the Europe. For monarchies and oligarchies, the revival transformations in the fashions of art, over and above the attitude of artists, required affluent clientele to maintain and endorse it, and Italy was in particular a luxuriant area for this. Changes in politics in the ruling division of Italy before renaissance had led to the leaders of most of the major regions being “new men” exclusive of a great deal of political history.
They endeavored to legitimize themselves with prominent exhibit, with showiness and pretentions, together with all varieties of fine arts and ingenuity. As the Renaissance stretched, the Church and Monarch kings would use their assets to take on the new trends to keep pace with the changes. The requirement from contemporary and conventional rulers wasn’t only imaginative; they also had faith on the ideas generated from the Renaissance for their political approaches.
The famous political thinker, Machiavelli’s well-known guide to kings – The Prince – is a work of this age’s political theory. Oligarchies, typically strained from the trade classes of the town, ruled the republics. They had a highly professional approach and initially conquered the commerce of the region. They protested and defeated the authority of prince, king, or emperor. The merchants established an organization of government through interconnected and unprejudiced committees. They created a government of unbiased supremacy and communal feeling.
There were no marked political parties or legal courts or any law making bodies other than the Church or the Monarchs in Europe at that time due to the transition in outlook of the population for Catholic Church and rulers, the people were following different ideologies in politics and national consciousness. Most of the kings were criticized for being unrealistic and sometimes brutal in their goals for conquering the lands. Also, State Church, Reformers and Protestants were influential in some parts of Europe. But none of the institutions and ideologies was established for a longer duration. Conclusion
Renaissance Europe offered a continuously variable political panorama. No administration escaped outside intimidations and very few stayed away from domestic confrontations. Large number of feeble small states attracted the powerful and commanding monarchies and oligarchies. Regardless of their persuasive declarations and public statements in security of the autonomy of the states and their people, republics were just as belligerent in winning their weaker neighboring states same as the princedoms, at the same time monarchies were always ready to conquer the princedom, noble estates, or any republic to merge.
The condition was that some dominant groups or individuals within the state would endeavor either through strength or surreptitiousness to acquire power and transform the nature of governance. A lot of them even accomplished. The choreography for improvements and advantages, the changing ambassadorial associations, conspires, fears of conflict, and armed measures like war made the politics at the time of Renaissance tremendously multifaceted and complex without any success to develop an effective political institution.