On the birth and simultaneous rebirth of European civilization

A New World had been discovered overseas, but a new world was also being created at home, one where vibrant new ideas were encouraged, where new tastes were indulged, where intellectuals and scientists jostled and competed for patrons and funding. The rise in disposable incomes for those directly involved in the exploration of the continents and the wealth they brought back funded a cultural transfusion that transformed Europe. A swathe of rich patrons emerged in a matter of decades, keen to spend on luxury.

The task was now to reinvent the past… In truth, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal and England had nothing to do with Athens and the world of the ancient Greeks, and were largely peripheral in the history of Rome from its earliest days to its demise. This was glossed over as artists, writers and architects went to work, borrowing themes, ideas and texts from antiquity to provide a narrative that chose selectively from the past to create a story which over time became, not only increasingly plausible, but standard. So although scholars have long called this period the Renaissance, this was no rebirth. Rather it was a Naissance – a birth. For the first time in history, Europe lay at the heart of the world.

– From ‘The Silk Roads: a New History of the World’ by Peter Frankopan, p 218-219.

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