|This article is about the cultural movement. You may be looking for the novel.|
- "1476 – the dawn of a new era for Italy. Art, culture, and science are flourishing under the guidance of inspired minds. Renaissance. This is probably the way history will remember us."
- ―Giovanni Auditore, on the birth of the Renaissance, 1476.[src]
The Renaissance was an intellectual and artistic cultural movement which fostered the revival of classical Greco-Roman studies in Europe. Originating in Italy in the 15th century, it spread across western and northern Europe before fizzling out in the 16th century. It is conventionally regarded as a transitional period in European history between the Middle Ages and the modern era. With a foundation in the new philosophy of humanism, it catalyzed an outpouring of novel feats in fields such as sculpture, painting, literature, and architecture.
Prominent individuals of this era whose works earned widespread acclaim include the polymath Leonardo da Vinci, the artists Michelangelo and Raphael, the political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli, and the architect Filippo Brunelleschi. Italian city-states flowered as major cultural centres, most notably Florence and Venice, with nobles, merchants, and the Roman Catholic Church passionately patronizing the movement with their wealth.
In the context of the Assassin-Templar War, the era is also notable for the conspiracies of Grand Master Rodrigo Borgia, who emerged as Pope Alexander VI, and his conflict with the legendary Florentine Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The Borgia power over the Church led to a reign of terror and corruption across the Papal States which underlay the beauty and exuberance of the Renaissance.
The term Renaissance, originating from the Italian terms rinascimento and rinascita, literally meaning "rebirth", is also used more loosely to refer to the historic era. However, since the changes of the Renaissance were not uniform across Europe, this has existed as a general use of the term.
During this time period, the wealthy and educated began to perceive the world in a new light, as developments in all aspects of society began to emerge. As a cultural movement, it encompassed a resurgence of learning based on rediscovered classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform.
Traditionally, this intellectual transformation had resulted in the Renaissance being viewed as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the modern era. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, such as literature, philosophy, architecture, art, politics, science, and religion, it also affected social and political upheaval, and is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths.
Perception of perfection
During the Renaissance, perfection was to strive to be a polymath, or a "Renaissance man". An exemplary polymath was mainly Leonardo da Vinci, though Michelangelo and Niccolò Machiavelli also inspired the term.
Being a polymath meant to be omnipotent; mankind had to pursue perfection in self-development of all aspects. For example, Leonardo was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, botanist, and writer.
It has long been a discussion of why the Renaissance had started in Florence, and not elsewhere in Italy, to which some have noted the unique features to the Florentine cultural life, that may have caused such a movement. However, many believe that it was the Medici family who played a vital role in this development, by encouraging countrymen to commission works from Florence's leading artists, such as Leonardo and Sandro Botticelli.
Others say it was pure luck that the Renaissance had started in Florence, as all "Great Men" were born in Tuscany. The chances of such men being born at the same place in the same time period seem improbable, though it could be that they were only able to rise due to the prevailing cultural conditions at the time.
Another proposition is that Florence was where many Byzantine Greek scholars fled both before and after the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, and several Byzantine scholars had also been part of the entourage accompanying the Byzantine Emperor to the Council of Florence in 1438. This was important due to the Byzantine intellectuals having advanced philosophies and ancient Roman and Greek knowledge that the West had never seen before, and as such, that it was the collaboration of Italian and Byzantine intellectuals that began the Renaissance.
Ezio Auditore was born in the forming stage of growing Renaissance Italy, June 1459, as the second son of the Auditore family amidst the Florentine noble class. He grew up to be a banker, until he was seventeen years old, when the Borgia executed his brothers Petruccio and Federico, along with his father, Giovanni.
After this incident, Ezio found out about his Assassin lineage, with his uncle, Mario Auditore, and the Italian faction leaders of the courtesans, thieves, and mercenaries training him along his journey. These faction leaders were also Assassins, which Ezio later discovered on his initiation into the Assassin Order.
The House of Medici
The Medici family ruled over Florence during the 15th and 16th century, boosting wealth and culture, and eventually making Florence the starting point of the Renaissance's expansion. In 1478, while attending High Mass, the Medici were attacked by the Pazzi family, a group of Tuscan nobles affiliated with the Templars. Ezio overpowered the conspiracy behind the events, killing all of those who plotted against the Medici.
In 1497, Ezio returned to Florence, only to find the city in the hands of Savonarola. Over the course of a year, Ezio worked to remove Savonarola's influence, and by 1498, he assassinated Savonarola, after a group of disgruntled civilians attempted to burn the monk at a stake in the Piazza della Signoria. This allowed the Medici to regain control, to which the family watched over Florence for another seventeen years.
By the time the 16th century arrived, Rome had fully fallen under the influence of the Borgia and the Papacy, which were connected to the Templars, leaving the city to the decay of its corruption. Later, after the siege of Monteriggioni, Ezio traveled to Rome and established an Assassins Guild there, while taking out the Borgia towers that oppressed the citizens of Rome.
Following this, the Assassins began to take on apprentices, slowly liberating the city from the corrupt Borgia control. Thanks to this freedom, Rome was finally opened to the progress that Renaissance influences brought.