Even though this period lasted only a hundred years, many explorers and reformers have lived in this century. A lot has also changed in art and science. The 16th century is therefore called an important part of the new age. This new time is called Renaissance. This is the French name and means 'rebirth'.
During this period there was renewed interest in the classical arts and knowledge of the Greeks and Romans. A new philosophy of life was also discovered. A philosophy of life is a way of life. From the Middle Ages onwards, one lived his life mostly as religion prescribed it. But from about 1453, Europeans discovered humanism. Until 1453, Constantinople was still in the hands of the Europeans. In that year, however, Constantinople was conquered by the Turks. They brought with them humanism.
Humanism had different sides. It meant appreciating and imitating the civilization of the Greeks and Romans. Especially in art. It also meant that people started to believe in self-development. Nowadays it is quite normal that you want to use and deepen your qualities. But at the beginning of this era, this was a whole new worldview.
An important humanist in history is Erasmus. Erasmus was born in Rotterdam in 1466. He became famous for reminding the church of mistakes in the first Bible translation. This first translation is called the Vulgate. At first, no one wanted to believe Erasmus. The church can't make mistakes. She's infallible. But Erasmus was sure of his case. He eventually made a new translation of the Bible. By 1516, he had finisheded on this translation. He thought it would be good if all people could read the Bible in their own language. This would make people understand their own faith better.
Another very important and famous book by Erasmus was 'Praise of Zotheid'. With this new translation he had already pointed out mistakes of the Church, but in this book he pointed out more errors. He also described abuses in society. It was as if he wanted people to join the reformers like Luther. Luther had also criticized the Catholic Church and eventually left the church. This was a very important point in the history of Christianity, because many people followed him. But Erasmus believed that everyone should remain Catholic. According to Erasmus, people could form their own opinions without giving up their allegiance to the Catholic Church.