The plague of 1350 to 1450, the "Black Death", killed half of Europe's population. How did Europe return to power after an age of "darkness" to an age of "discoveries"?
The word Renaissance comes from a French word that means "rebirth." It began when a new rebirth of art, literature and discovery became important. The Renaissance began in Italy because of the thought of rebirth by Giorgio Vasari in 1511. In the book that he wrote he explained that he believed that art had been reborn in about 1250 and continued to progress through the 16th century. During this time, artists, popes, and patrons of the arts were considered some of the most important forces of the age.
Florence was the most prominent of all the city-states in Europe at this time. Some of the most spectacular accomplishments of Renaissance occurred in Florence, and one of these spectacular events was the David being sculpted by Michelangelo in 1504. (Although every great accomplishment didn't occur in Florence.) The printing press invented by Johannes Gutenberg was most likely affected peoples lives forever. Without this invention new discoveries in some cases wouldn't have occurred. When the printing press was created in 1445 there was a new supply and demand for languages native to the country for which they were being made instead of being hand-copied in Latin by Monks like they were in the dark ages. Now more people were educated.
The Renaissance ended the Dark Ages and opened a new era for Europe. Part of the influence of the Renaissance led to the age of discoveries when European explorers ventured west and south to what had been believed to be the edge of the world.