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The Renaissance was one of the greatest moments in Western cultural history. It was the time of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; architects such as Brunelleschi and Palladio; composers such as Palestrina and Tallis; as well as innovative writers and philosophers. It was a time of great social change and remarkable flowering in science, exploration and politics; the age when medieval Christendom was split apart by the Reformation. The printing press played a key role, as did the development of the New World and the mapping of newly discovered lands. The Copernican view began to take hold, suggesting a new place in the universe for Earth itself. In this fascinating introduction, Peter Whitfield looks at this time of change as, from its epicentre in Italy, it spread to all parts of Europe.