A close examination of our American technology and our institutions will find many similarities that had their origin in the roots of the Italian Renaissance.
Prior to the Renaissance, almost all technical knowledge of science was outside the reach of the average person. It had been the sole property of the church and the elite and was available only through universities. A major technical innovation of the Renaissance period was its placing knowledge in the hands of the ordinary person. According to Thomas Carlyle in Sartor Resartus published in 1833, "He who first shortened the labor of copyists by device of movable types was disbanding hired armies [...] creating a whole new democratic world" (cited in Kreis). The invention of the printing press in 1440 gave the general public the access to knowledge and philosophy. The first bible was printed in 1452 gave the ordinary man regular access to the text and had a lasting effect on religion. Spurred by classical philosophy, religion turned from the worship of the abstract towards the morality of man (Anesi). This brought new thought to religion and brought about the Reformation and altered the Christian religion forever.
Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the greatest technical innovators of the Renaissance and he is often thought of as the father of engineering. However, Da Vinci was joined by others such as Filippo Brunelleschi, Mariano di Iacopo, and Francesco di Giorgio to spearhead an artist-engineer revolution (Bjerklie, 1). Their ideas were the basis of major changes in agricultural equipment and improvement in land management. One example was the heavy- wheeled plow and the horse harness and stirrup that allowed the ground to be worked on a more massive scale. This began the basis of large industrial crop farming and allowed the farmers to relocate to the industrial centers of commerce. This modernized agriculture and paved the way for the coming Industrial Revolution.
As people were moving from an agricultural based economy made possible by the new agricultural methods, trade was becoming more important. The newly developing nation-states required trading partners outside their own borders. Optics made a significant contribution to worldwide navigation during the Renaissance period. The science of optics was treasured by Kings as a method required for exploration, trade, and dominance. For example, in April 1541 an Italian offered a telescopic device to Henry VIII. "The French ambassador in London reported that 'there is an Italian here, aged about 70 years, who has shown this king that he would make a mirror and place it on top of Dover castle, in which mirror could be seen all ships that leave Dieppe'" (Dupre, 19). This may have been the description of the reflecting telescope that has become the mainstay of today's science of optics. Improved navigation aids and the evolving telescope made worldwide navigation, exploration, and trade a reality.
The Renaissance spirit of exploration also opened up curiosity to the other fields of science. Science of the Renaissance stressed observance and more importance began being placed on methodology and experimentation. It valued experience over abstract thought. The Renaissance is credited with being the era of the creation of the scientific method. The