The Italian Renaissance had placed human beings once more in the center of life's stage andinfused thought and art with humanistic values. In time the stimulating ideas current in Italyspread to other areas and combined with indigenous developments to produce a FrenchRenaissance, an English Renaissance, and so on.The term Renaissance, literally means "rebirth" and is the period in European civilizationimmediately following the Middle Ages, conventionally held to have been characterized by asurge of interest in classical learning and values. The Renaissance also witnessed the discoveryand exploration of new continents, the substitution of the Copernican for the Ptolemaic system ofastronomy, the decline of the feudal system and the growth of commerce, and the invention orapplication of such potentially powerful innovations as paper, printing, the mariner's compass,and gunpowder. To the scholars and thinkers of the day, however, it was primarily a time of therevival of classical learning and wisdom after a long period of cultural decline and stagnation.At all events the Renaissance was heralded through the recovery byItalian scholars of Greek andRoman classical literature. When the movement began, the civilization of Greece and Rome hadlong been exerting a partial influence, not only upon Italy, but on other parts of mediaeval Europeas well. But in Italy especially, when the wave of barbarism had passed, the people began to feela returning consciousness of their ancient culture, and a desire to reproduce it. To Italians theLatin language was easy, and their country abounded in documents and monumental recordswhich symbolized past greatness. Europe can be divided along many differing historical lines,normally corresponding to those parts that were inside or outside a particular culturalphenomenon, empire or political division. The areas varied at different times, and so it isarguable as to which areas fell into a big black hole of darkness and shadows(e.g. are Germany orBritain to be considered Roman Europe as they were only partly the lands of the Empire, and fora brief period, or are the countries of the former communistYugoslaviato be considered partofEastern Blocsince it was not in theWarsaw Pact). Prior to theRomanconquest, a large part ofWestern Europe had adopted the newly developedLa Tène culture. As the Roman domainexpanded, a cultural and linguistic division appeared between the mainlyGreek-speaking easternprovinces, which had formed the highly urbanizedHellenistic civilization, and the westernterritories, which in contrast largely adopted theLatinlanguage. This cultural and linguisticdivision was eventually reinforced by the later political east-west division of theRoman Empire.
storiography,the writing of history, especially the writing of history based on the criticalexamination of sources, the selection of particular details from the authentic materials in those