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Renaissance Era: A Resource Guide

The cultural, artistic, political and economic “rebirth” in Europe, referred to as the Renaissance, occurred during the 14th-17th centuries. This guide highlights collection materials at the Library of Congress, as well as useful external online resources


The Renaissance was a period in European history which formed a bridge between the Middle Ages and the modern era. The Renaissance arrived at different countries at varying times- Italy was the first to experience this movement beginning in the 14th century while the it did not reach England until the sixteenth century. A general consensus among historians is that by the early 17th century, the Renaissance had come to an end. There are several important events which led to the emergence of the Renaissance. These include the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks which marks the end of the Byzantine Empire; the discovery of the New World in 1492 ushering in the age of exploration; the Protestant Reformation; the invention of printing press by Johannes Gutenberg around 1440; and the revival of classical Greek learning first in Italy and then in Northern Europe.

There are rich collections of primary and secondary materials from the Renaissance available in a handful of reading rooms at the Library Congress including the Rare Book and Special Collections, Performing Arts, Geography and Map, and Prints and Photographs reading rooms.