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- "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 a cultural movement that spanned throughout the 15th to, and including, the 17th century, where it sparked a great interest and focus among the nobility on ideas such as humanism and individualism, as well as the revival of lost classical values.
Historians estimate that the Renaissance began in the Italian city-states, due to their success in trade and learning, specifically in Florence. The Renaissance began during the Late Middle Ages, and later spread to the rest of Europe.
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 da Vinci 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.