Outdoors: Renaissance of trees

Jul 29, 2020

Cesare da Sesto (1480-1521), Study for a Tree

From 1450 to 1620, dramatic changes took place in Europe. The period, now called the Renaissance, resulted from a complex interaction of factors that brought about changes in politics, religion, economics and the arts.

I've recently read a number of articles that suggested that a pandemic led to the Renaissance - a hopeful thought, because during that time, educated people came to believe they could learn from nature.

Science as we know it came to be.

The rise of merchant princes led to a patronage system, which stimulated creativity in scholarship and literature and supported the fine arts.

But while pandemics and perhaps the institution of "buying on credit" certainly played a part, it seems to me that a major factor was that trees became available to the common people.

During the Middle Ages, forests were the exclusive property of nobility and the Church. With the rise of a merchant class, wood became available to all.

Common folk were able to acquire boxes, furniture and conveyances.

Artists could carve wood and paint on wooden panels.

Musical instruments, including the harpsichord, guitar and violin, were invented.

Wood was available for shipbuilding, which made world exploration, trade and the exchange of ideas possible.

I have yet to find a single historian who names trees as a major factor in the Renaissance.

But could this revival of the arts and sciences have occurred without trees?