The Renaissance 1485 – 1660
The Renaissance brought about a renewed interest in the literature and art have Ancient Greece and Rome. It was also a time of religious struggle as the new Protestant Reformation threatens the hold of the Roman Catholic Church. With all of this, a new sense of being able to conquer even death has arisen in the literature The seeming rebirth of interest into classical literature began in Italy but eventually did spread to England where it was fostered by members of the monarchy such as Elizabeth I. With men such as Leonardo Da Vinci with incredible breadth of learning and interest, the ideal for the time moved away from the warrior persona. Now labeled the Renaissance Man, the ideal was an incredible interest, curiosity and learning that would span into all areas. However, there was still room for military prowess and charm. This can be seen in Sir Philip Sydney who was thought to be, by
some, the embodiment of the ideal Renaissance man with his charm, political ideas coupled with his military ability. Even from this it would be safe to judge that the literature of the Renaissance will be substantially different from that of previous periods where ability as a warrior was considered among the most desirable traits. During the period, many believed in the `Great chain of being` wherein everything had its place
within its own group. Some of the highest were gold in the metal group, lions from the animal kingdom and the rose from the plant kingdom. Part of the advantages of this system was the wealth of allusions and symbols available to writers of the time that would have been understood easily by the reader. Some of the most well known poets were metaphysical poets who could string together elaborate and complex extended metaphors in love poems or religious and meditative lyrics.