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1.3 Northern Renaissance



⏱️  2 min read

written by

christine lin

Dalia Savy

dalia savy


The Northern Renaissance

The Northern Renaissance occurred after the Italian Renaissance, in the beginning of the 15th century. It affected northern countries in Europe such as Germany, France, England, Belgium and the Netherlands. 

The Northern Renaissance and its scholars were a catalyst for the Protestant Reformation, in part because they began reading the original Latin text of the Church⛪ and recognized discrepancies between those readings and the Catholic teachings. Those in the Northern Renaissance were from diverse backgrounds and were passionate about religious reform, unlike those in the Italian Renaissance.

The biggest societal change during the Northern Renaissance was the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg. The printing press🖶 with moveable type was created in Germany during the 15th century. This invention led to the ability for the Church, northern humanists, and statesmen to spread their ideas and viewpoints to a wider audience and books on religion as well.

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The impact of the Northern Renaissance

The Northern Renaissance, with the new values in secularism and individualism that challenge religious, political and intellectual institutions, focused heavily on religious reforms. As Christian humanism arose, religious reform and the creation of new religious sectors away from the Catholic Church was promoted.

The most important part of the Northern Renaissance is the printing press. As mentioned before, it led to an increase in literacy, which led to individuals beginning to question religious text and in turn, led to the demand for religious reform across northern Europe.

Italian Renaissance vs. Northern Renaissance 

Italian Renaissance:

  • Heavily emphasized on the teaching of Classical text📖 

  • Less detailed depictions in art of everyday life “naturalism” and more mythological deceptions

  • Linked less on Religious issues, but more in intellectual reforms in history, literature and human anatomy


Image Courtesy of Artyfactory

Northern Renaissance:

  • Studied less on Classical texts

  • More domestic and religious depictions in art🎨 and everyday life (in greater detail)

  • Linked more with religious issues and reforms (the religious reforms that challenged and questioned❔ the practices of the Church)


Image Courtesy of My Modern Met

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