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The Renaissance saw the rise of strong central governments and an increasingly urban economy, based on commerce rather than agriculture.
Peter's basilica, pushed the reformers over the edge and into protest.
These feudal lords were constantly in battle during the early middle ages, their armies of peasants facing off to win land for their lords.
However, during the later Middle Ages, this situation changed greatly.
As monarchs brought peace to feudal society, feudal lords concentrated less upon defending their lands and more upon accruing large quantities of cash, with which they improved their style of living and dabbled in the growing market economy.
The practice of serfdom declined and former serfs soon became tenant farmers and even landowners rather than subservient slave-like laborers.
The Church suffered similarly at the hands of the humanist attack, which through the study of ancient history and documents, had proven many claims made by the Church to be false.
The result was a movement that shook the foundations of all of Europe and created a split in Christianity that remains a potent source of conflict even today.
Their appearance in painted portraits confirms that they continued to be worn on multiple fingers, suspended from chains and ribbons, sewn onto sleeves or hats, and so forth.
When not worn they were sometimes stored on parchment rolls or in neatly compartmentalized boxes, known from documents and paintings.
Whereas in the Middle Ages, religious salvation had occupied the position of utmost importance, during the Renaissance, humanism, stressing the need for individuals to reach their potential in this world, rose up to accompany and rival the goal of salvation.
During the Renaissance, changes also occurred in the political and economic structure of Italy that foreshadowed larger transformations for all of Europe.
Though the spirit of the Renaissance in Italy was crushed in the mid-sixteenth century, the ideas and ideals of Renaissance thinkers maintained their vibrancy, traveling over the alps to northern Europe where, following Italy's lead, learning, writing, and the arts experienced a great revival in support and importance.