The commonly accepted dates for the Renaissance are the 14th through the 17th centuries. It is not uncommon, however, for historians to cite much earlier dates as the start of the Renaissance.
The Renaissance was a historical period when the church-dominated Middle Ages gave way to an interest in learning and the arts. There were significant advances in science during the Renaissance, thanks to an increased interest in intellectual thought. Art, literature and music also thrived during the Renaissance. Though the word Renaissance is French for "rebirth," the Renaissance actually began in Italy before spreading throughout Europe. The term Middle Ages generally defines the period between classical and modern civilization.