During the Renaissance, scholars who studied nature and the environment focused heavily on its spiritual qualities. They did not look into the more modern scientific aspects as much as later researchers would.
The Humanists of the Renaissance period
searched for original writings by the ancient authors to use in their studies.
They believed that man was the center of the universe, and that everything in the environment existed for people. The key to understanding nature was thus to understand its purpose for humanity.
Many books from the Renaissance period depicted animals, as well as plants and minerals. Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci also took an interest in nature.
Conrad Gesner wrote
Historia Animalium, which discussed all of the information that had been accumulated about nature to date. His book covered the naming and use of each animal by humans. He continued to include mythical animals in his book.
In De Plantis, Andrea Cesalpino categorized plants based on their qualities. In opposition to the herbalists, he did not look at how plants benefited people.
Renaissance scholars retained the beliefs in magic that would die out in
later years, when people increasingly began to expect scientific proof. However, the Renaissance study of nature would affect philosophy and present new topics for debate.