London experienced a cultural and artistic movement in between early 16th and early 17th century which is known as the English Renaissance Period. The English Renaissance was much influenced by the pan-European Renaissance which is said to have originated in the 14th century in northern Italy. Often known as the “age of the Shakespeare” or “the Elizabethan era,” the English Renaissance created stimulation in art, architecture, literature and music of whole of England. The transition in the England was accepted with reluctance and it was rather a medley of the forgotten Gothic and the naive Renaissance.
No field in England was untouched by the revolution caused by Renaissance. The English literature was marked by the works of poets like Edmund Spenser and John Milton, playwrights like William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe and philosophers like Sir Thomas More and Sir Francis Bacon. Some produced works which explained the English Christian beliefs; some represented English thought on life and death and also covered the glorious history of London; and some printed their works on their ideas on humanity and on Utopian society.
Renaissance also had great impact on the music. From renowned ballads to church songs and sophisticated court music, many inventive steps were taken and the music during the Renaissance period had become varied and more delightful. The comedy and tragedy plays used music to make it livelier. A new school of music also developed in this period which was known as the English Madrigal School. The English Madrigal was either copies of Italian musical works or their direct translations. Mostly in three to six voices, the English madrigals were light in style.
Renaissance also influenced the architectural style of that period. Emphasis was laid upon symmetry, proportion, geometry and on maintaining the regularity in the architecture. Inigo Jones is credited for propounding Renaissance architecture in England. He had studied architecture in Italy, the country influenced by the Andrea Palladio who transformed the architectural style of both palaces and churches. He designed great buildings such as the Queen’s House at Greenwich and the Banqueting House at Whitehall.
Even the style of making furniture was influenced by Renaissance. It cannot be denied that England was much influenced by the Italian style of art and architecture. Though Oak wood was used to make furniture but now apple, pear, chestnut, walnut, holly and pine were also used to improve the quality of the furniture. Earlier the ornate-furniture was only limited to the churches and ecclesiastical houses. With the improvement in the position of the citizen, English people also beautified their home with magnificent furniture.
However, many historians argue that English Renaissance was nothing but just a transition towards a modern world. They contend that English Renaissance does not level with the artistic achievements and aims similar to their Italian counterparts. The English literature had been seeing its growth since the time of Geoffrey Chaucer. Nevertheless, most of the historians still are of the opinion that there was an artistic flowering in London and other regions of England in the period between early 16th and early 17th century.