The Renaissance was a period of significant social, political and cultural change. This intellectual movement began in Italy and then spread north to the rest of Europe. The Renaissance began roughly in the 14th century and continues to the present day.

During the Middle Ages, Italy was a collection of city-states and principalities. Cities like Florence and Genoa were dominated by wealthy banking and merchant families. These families competed with one another to make their cities the best and most beautiful on the Italian peninsula. This competition helped spread the art and literature of the ancient Greeks and Romans; and in so doing encouraged a rebirth of cultural development and progress which transformed Europe.

The period of time during which the European Renaissance fell was between the end of the Middle Ages (or medieval period) and the beginning of the Modern Age. For some historians, the European Renaissance is considered as the dawn of the Early Modern Era.