Difference Between Middle Ages and Renaissance

Key Difference – Middle Ages vs Renaissance

Renaissance is a period of cultural awakening in the European history. It is also referred to as rebirth or enlightenment period that is believed to have existed between the 14th and the 16th centuries. Middle Ages or the dark period is a timeline that extends from 5th century to 16th century in Europe. There are many differences between renaissance and middle ages that were reflected in the realms of art, culture, technology, lifestyle, education, religion, humanism, and so on. Let us take a closer look at the differences between middle ages and renaissance.

What is the Middle Ages?

The cultural movement that is labeled renaissance is characterized by art that symbolizes human beauty. Renaissance art is particular about perspective, and the artists during this period showed the difference in perspective in their paintings. Some of the famous artists of renaissance were Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Renaissance is characterized by individualistic feelings and the tendency of the people to move to cities in search of better opportunities and life.  It was during the renaissance that man realized the importance of education and learnt that man was the best creation of God. During renaissance, everything happened at a fast pace with many technological changes at a fast pace.

Difference Between Middle Ages and Renaissance


What is the Renaissance?

Though renaissance is a period encompassing the Middle Ages, it has features that are totally different from what was common during the middle ages. Art in the Middle Ages was Gothic in style. During the middle ages, people laid emphasis on community living, and the place where they lived was very important. While the feudalistic society was more rigid in Middle Ages, it was much more relaxed during the renaissance period.

During the middle ages, people were pessimistic about life, and the concept of sin and morality superseded everything that people did in life. It was ingrained in the minds of the people that God was everything and man was nothing. Middle Ages are characterized as static with not much happening in the lives of the people.

As far as religion is concerned, Middle Ages are characterized by the power of Roman catholic Church. On the other hand, the vice like grip of the Church slackened because of the reformation. However, religion continued to lay a major role in the lives of the people. Education was only for the clergy during the Middle Ages, the invention of printing press led to a revolution in the field of education, and it became available to all people.

 Middle Ages vs Renaissance


What is the difference between Middle Ages and Renaissance?

Definitions of Middle Ages and Renaissance:

Middle Ages: Middle Ages is a traditional period of Western history.

Renaissance: Renaissance is a period of Western history where a number of changes took place.

Characteristics of Middle Ages and Renaissance:


Middle Ages: Art in the Middle Ages was Gothic in style.

Renaissance: Art symbolizes human beauty.


Middle Ages: People laid emphasis on community living.

Renaissance: Renaissance is characterized by individualistic feelings.


Middle Ages: Middle Ages is static.

Renaissance: Renaissance is fast paced with many technological changes.


Image Courtesy:

1. “Batalha de Aljubarrota 02” by Jean d’Wavrin (Chronique d’Angleterre)  [Public Domain] via Commons

2. “Gerard van honthorst – the concert – 1623” by Gerard van Honthorst – National Gallery of Art: online database: entry 2013.38.1. [Public Domain] via Commons