Difference Between Northern Renaissance and Southern Renaissance

Every nation or continent has a history that is prosperous and renowned for its greatness and uniqueness. There comes a period in every nation’s history wherein its rate of development and prosperity is escalated because of the efforts put in by its citizens.

Alike that, the continent of Europe has its independent era where its amelioration was witnessed by the entire world. 

The term used for this era is “Renaissance”. The Renaissance belonging to the northern part of the continent of Europe is the “Northern Renaissance”, and that belonging to the southern part of the continent of Europe is the “Southern Renaissance”.

Northern Renaissance vs Southern Renaissance

The main difference between the Northern Renaissance and the Southern Renaissance is that the Northern Renaissance embarked in the 16th century. On the other hand, the Southern Renaissance commenced in the 14th century. European countries like the Netherlands, France, Germany and England were a part of the Northern Renaissance. On the other hand, the Southern Renaissance had the inclusion of countries like Italy.

Northern Renaissance vs Southern Renaissance

The Northern Renaissance embarked on the 16th century. It was a “300-year golden age” that ameliorated the continent’s northern part in various fields like science, literature, religion, politics, art and architecture.

Countries like Belgium, France, England, Germany were a part of the Northern Renaissance. The Northern Renaissance has its focus majorly on the development of Christianity and churches.

The Southern Renaissance is also known as the Italian Renaissance. It commenced in the 14th century. States and cities like Florence, Milan, Naples, Venice and the Papal States from Italy were included in the Southern Renaissance.

The Southern Renaissance was under the patronage of the Medici Family, which was also the ruler of Florence city for nearly 60 years. The Medici Family was one of those wealthy families at that time who were ready to sponsor the blooming artists in Italy.

Comparison Table Between Northern Renaissance and Southern Renaissance

Parameters Of ComparisonNorthern Renaissance Southern Renaissance
Began in16th century14th century
Countries/states/cities includedGermany, France, Belgium, England, Netherlands Italy, Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples, Rome, Pisa, Siena, Genoa, Ferrara, Mantua, Verona
Main IdeasEarly Christian culture, the significance of churches.The ability of individuals to do something for society, recovery of the country from disasters faced in the 14th century, modern approach to society.
Basis of ArtworkHumanism, chorographyGreek and Roman folklores
Main FocusCreation and elucidation of Christianity once again. Improvement in science, architecture, literature
Key PeopleJan Van Eyck, Thomas More, William Shakespeare, Reuchlin, Erasmus, Roelef HuismanLorenzo de’ Medici, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francesco.
Famous for Stone sculpture, wood carving, oil painting skills, altarpiece art, portrait paintingsExploration in fields like music, philosophy, technology, science etc
Architecture and art.

What is Northern Renaissance?

The Northern Renaissance was the golden age in the history of Europe. It embarked in the 16th century in countries like Belgium, France, Germany, England and the Netherlands. The Northern Renaissance was that era where people focused on the amelioration of Christianity and churches.

Along with that, it expanded the fields like art, architecture and science as well.

Adaptations of the Italian Renaissance and its art forms were made by the artists belonging to countries that were a part of the Northern Renaissance. The ideas and theories put forth during the renaissance were exceptional and transformed the mindset of people regarding art.

Perspective towards art and various other fields was modified and reconstructed.

Apart from that, the Northern Renaissance aimed at transforming Christianity and developing churches in various parts of various countries that were a part of the renaissance.

Well known for its oil paintings, stone sculpture, wood carving, portrait paintings, altarpiece art, the Northern Renaissance was one of the most important periods of European history. The Northern Renaissance also has its influence on countries like Poland, Spain, Portugal, Scotland etc.

The Northern Renaissance was commenced because of the artist Jan van Eyck, along with him Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden are considered as the key people behind the Northern Renaissance. Renowned writers like William Shakespeare was a part of the renaissance. 

The various terminologies used for the artworks produced in the Northern Renaissance are illusionism, tempera, triptych, polyptych etc. The ideologies of the Renaissance reached the Northern part of Europe because of the increasing mounting of the sovereigns and developing cities.

northern renaissance

What is Southern Renaissance?

The Southern Renaissance is also known as the Italian Renaissance is also contemplated as one of the most exemplary periods in the history of the continent of Europe.

It began in the 14th century in the city of Florence under the patronage of Lorenzo de Medici, who was one of the members of the Medici family, the family which was also the ruling family in Florence for nearly 60 years. 

Although Florence is considered the home city of the Renaissance, there were other cities and states included in the Southern Renaissance such as Venice, Milan, Naples, Rome, Pisa, Siena, Genoa, Ferrara, Tuscany, Bologna, Urbino, Lucca, Pavia, Pienza, Arezzo, Cremona, Palmanova, Sabbioneta etc.

The Southern Renaissance aimed to recover the damage caused to the country during the shattering disasters of the 14th century and also aimed at bringing into focus the abilities possessed by humans that can mould society into a better place.

Unlike the Northern Renaissance, The Italian or Southern Renaissance did not focus mostly on the development of Christianity but also focused on the novelty of art and various other fields like science, architecture, literature, politics etc. 

Similar to the Northern Renaissance, many key figures helped in the success of the Southern Renaissance, such as Lorenzo de Medici, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francesco Petrarca, Raphael, Michel de Montaigne, Niccolo Machiavelli, Galileo Galilei.

The Italian Renaissance put forth its independent definition of humanity. It had numerous artistic endeavours which put the entire world in awe. The mannerism we see while creating an artwork lacked perspective and proportion before the Italian Renaissance.

The wealthy would entertain themselves by means of hunting in their pastimes.

The end of the Middle Ages marked the beginning of this golden era in European history.

One of the fundamental changes that took place during the Southern Renaissance was that people’s perspectives to see life which lacked creativity were transformed, and it became more harmonic for them to live their life because of the artistic, scientific, technological creations.

southern renaissance

Main Differences Between Northern Renaissance and Southern Renaissance

  1. The Southern Renaissance began before the Northern Renaissance, and the Northern Renaissance had some influence from the Southern Renaissance.
  2. The Southern Renaissance involved only one country which was Italy. On the other hand, the Northern Renaissance involved several countries, which were Belgium, Germany, France, England.
  3. The Northern Renaissance had more emphasis on the amelioration of Christianity; on the other hand, the Southern Renaissance had an emphasis on the development of society.
  4. The Southern Renaissance stimulated the renewal of fields like music and philosophy, and the Northern Renaissance promoted the artistic forms of oil painting, sculpture etc.
  5. Artwork created during the Northern Renaissance was mostly chorographical. On the contrary, the artwork created during the Southern Renaissance was based on Greek and Roman ideologies.


The Renaissance is also regarded as the golden era of the continent of Europe. Both the parts of the continent underwent tremendous growth and expansion in various fields such as culture, art, science, architecture, literature, religion, music, philosophy etc.

The creations, evolution and theories that were found during the Northern and Southern Renaissance we’re exceptional and the entire world that witnessed it was inspired.

As beautiful as the continent of Europe is, it is because of the Renaissance era. The continent of Europe did face some drawbacks back in the past, but the Renaissance period brought back its richness and dignity.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=5uo9DwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=italian+renaissance&ots=doxZEWpAuj&sig=gIt_JuqaAhBAzEkCw3Gd79qCE7M
  2. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/65ec/4dd556a1b2022fcba6c2e4f1a160a40065ec.pdf
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