History & Fantasy for Writers #1

Here, you'll find occasional historical facts. Why? Because writers use History in one way or another as inspiration for their stories. Are all writers historians? Perhaps. Are they all certified teachers with more than one title on their resumes? Probably. But do they have a place where to find data? Of course... wait. 
In any case, this is a writer's tool. The main idea is to place interesting historical events that can be used as setup for writers. To provide background sources for detailing fully fleshed worlds. To have a space where to find images and maps and records of our History so as to make their stories better.

That's it. 

Here... let's start with aesthetics and go from there:

Introduction to Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Art

                  500 BC   AD 500 AD 1400       AD 1650

Classical Period

The Classical Period covered the height of the Greek culture and the Roman Empire, from its rise to its fall, about 500 BC to AD 500.  The people of these ancient societies developed many of the ideas that, today, make up our mathematics, science, literature, and art.

Forms of Art: sculpture, painted pottery, murals, mosaics

Purposes: to show the importance of people and leaders, as well as gods and goddesses.

Characteristics of Classical Art 

  • figures look idealized, perfect

  • bodies look active, move convincingly

  • bodies are often nude, sometimes draped in togas

  • faces are bland and clam, without emotion 

  • scenes show heroic figures or real people doing real tasks of daily life

  • little background or sense of perspective (when distant objects look smaller and far away)

Medieval Period

The Medieval Period in Europe, which lasted roughly from AD 500 to AD 1400, was characterized by the rise of feudalism and the controlling power of the Catholic Church in people’s lives.

Forms of Art: stained-glass windows, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, paintings, tapestries

Purposes: to teach religion to people who cannot read or write.

Characteristics of Medieval Art

  • subjects mostly religious

  • figures look flat and stiff with little real movement

  • important figures are large

  • fully clothed, draped in deeply carved, still-looking clothes

  • faces are solemn with little emotion

  • paintings use vibrant colours

  • flat, two-dimensional painted figures

  • backgrounds a single colour, often gold, no interest in creating a realistic space


The Renaissance included a rebirth of interest in Classical culture.  It began around 1400 and lasted until 1650.  People rediscovered the writings and artworks of the Greeks and Romans, borrowed their ancient ideas, and combined them in new ways.

Forms of Art: sculptures, murals, drawings, paintings

Purposes: to show the importance of people and nature, not just religion

Characteristics of Renaissance Art

  • both religious and nonreligious scenes

  • figures look idealized, perfect

  • bodies may look active, moving

  • bodies may be nude or clothed

  • real people doing real tasks of daily life

  • faces express what people are thinking

  • colours respond to the light that falls on them

  • interest in nature, lots of natural detail

  • paintings are symmetrical (balanced on both sides)

How can you use this?

understanding the progression of art and the time between these progressions you may visualise the changes in your own fantasy worlds. Ask questions like:
  • How long before an art style changes? 
  • How long before influences from afar change a people's idea of beauty?
  • Which elements belong to pre-modern societies (classical or feudal) and which to a proto-modern (Renaissance)?

The Wedding of Ariadne, Roman mosaic, 2nd century AD | Ancient roman art, Roman  art, Roman mosaic

Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna: The Kiss of Judas | Arte bizantino, Arte,  Museos

Renaissance Period: Timeline, Art & Facts - HISTORY

Can you tell which belongs to which?


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