Resources for Teaching about the Renaissance and the Reformation

The Renaissance in Europe was a time of renewed interest in classical Greek and Roman art, architecture, literature, and learning. During this time period, from the mid-1300's to around 1600, many advances were made in science, literature, and art.

During the Renaissance, the Reformation took place. This was the time when people tried to change the Roman Catholic Church. It began in 1517, when Martin Luther, a German priest, nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg Germany,

Here are lists of names, dates, and events to include in a unit study about the Renaissance and Reformation.

People to Remember

John Wycliffe (mid-1320s - 1384) - Translated the Bible from Latin into the common language of the English people

Cosimo de'Medici (1389 – 1464) - Founder of the Medici political dynasty in Florence

Johannes Gutenberg - First to use movable type printing (around 1439), and the inventor of the printing press

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) - Painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, engineer, and inventor who painted the Mona Lisa and the The Last Supper

Ferdinand (1452-1516) and Isabella (1451-1504) - King and Queen of Spain who sponsored the exploration of Christopher Columbus

The Spanish Inquisition was a court established by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella, with the approval of Pope Sixtus IV. The purpose of the Inquisition was to find, suppress, and punish heretics, often through torture and death.

Bartholomeu Dias - Portuguese explorer who sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488.

Christopher Columbus - Italian explorer who is credited with the European discovery of America in 1492

The Conquest of Granadain 1492 ended Muslim rule in southern Spain

Ferdinand Magellan(1480-1521) - Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition to sail around the world and named the Pacific Ocean

Vasco da Gama(1460 - 1524) - Portuguese explorer who discovered an ocean route from Portugal to the East

Michelangelo(1475 –1564) - Italian painter, sculptor, architect, and engineer. Two of his most famous scultures are David and Pietà. He also painted scenes from Genesis and The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel in Rome

Raphael(1483 -1520) - Italian painter and architect who lived at the same time as Michelangelo and Leonardo de Vinci. He painted the School of Athens

Martin Luther(1483 - 1546) - German priest who rejected the teachings of the Pope and the Catholic Church. In 1517, he nailed 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg Germany

William Tyndale(1494 - 1536) English scholar and theologian who traslated the New Testament of the Bible into English, had it printed, and smuggled it into England. He was burned at the stake

Henry VIII - King of England from 1509 to 1547 who separated from the Roman Catholic Church and established himself as the head of the Church of England

Henry VIII's six wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves , Katherine Howard , Catherine Parr

Thomas More(1478 - 1535) - Chancellor in the reign of Henry VIII who was executed for refusing to recognize the English church's break with Rome and Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon. He was the author of 'Utopia' and was against the Reformation

Mary, Queen of Scotts -Queen of Scotland from 1542 to 1567.After she was forced to abdicate the throne, she fled to England, where she sought protection from her first cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. She was held prisoner in England for almost 20 years, and eventually tried and sentenced to death for treason.

John Calvin(1509 - 1564) Theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation who taught that Scripture alone is the only source of truth, and emphasized salvation by grace rather than by works

John Knox (1510 - 1572) - Leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland

Nicolaus Copernicus (1543) - Polish astronomer who published his theory in 1543 that the sun is the center of the universe

Edward VI (1537 - 1553) - Son of Henry VIII who became King of England and Ireland in 1547 when King Henry VIII died. Although he died when he was only 15, he helped reform the Church to Protestantism.

Lady Jane Grey (1536/1537 - 1554) - Queen of England for just over one week in July 1553 before she was beheaded

Mary I - Queen of England and Ireland from 1553 until 1558. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, and the granddaughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. She returned England to Roman Catholicism and had over 300 religious dissenters burned at the stake, earning her the nickname "Bloody Mary"

Elizabeth I - Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 until 1603. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn , who was beheaded when she was only two and a half years old. She supported the establishment of an English Protestant church. Her reign is known as the Elizabethan era.

The Spanish Armada - Spanish fleet that sailed against England in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England. It was defeated.

Sir Francis Drake (1545-1596) - British explorer who led the second expedition to sail around the world. He helped the British defeat the Spanish Armada.

James VI of Scotland added the title James I of England when Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603. The King James Version of the Bible was dedicated to him.

William Shakespeare(1564 - 1616) - English playright and poet

Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) - English explorer who gained new territories for England. He tried to colonize Virginia.

Galileo Galilei 1564 - 1642) - Italian scientist who was accused of heresy for his support of the theory that the sun was at the center of the solar system

Isaac Newton(1643 - 1727) English physicist and mathematician who discovered laws of gravity and motion


Dates to Remember for the Renaissance and Reformation

Which dates should you memorize? Here are twelve to get you started.


1337-1453 Hundred Years' War

1439 - Johannes Gutenberg invents printing press.

1453 - Constantinople is conquered by the Ottoman Turks.

1455-1487: Wars of the Roses in England

1492 - Columbus arrives in the New World.

1517 - Martin Luther nails his 95 thesis to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.

1521 - Hernando Cortes conquers the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.

1522 - Ferdinand Magellan's crew circumnavigates the globe.

1534 - Henry VIII becomes Head of the Church of England.

1558 - Elizabeth I becomes Queen of England and Ireland.

1584 - Sir Walter Raleigh founds Roanoke Colony.

1620 - Mayflower Pilgrims arrive at Cape Cod and establish a colony at Plymouth.


Here is a matching game for the dates and events listed above. You can print the cards on heavy paper, and play concentration.

There is also a matching game these dates at


Other Resources for the Renaissance and Reformation is a great resource for lessons about the Renaissance.

BBC History has an interactive timeline for British history.

The Baldwin Project has Tales from Shakespeare online.

Garden of Praise has art appreciation lessons online. There are lots of activties on this site!

The Baldwin Project has books and short stories about people who lived during the Renaissance. The stories are great for reading aloud, and often have very nice illustrations.

NeoK12 has a video series called Great Scientists with Dr. Allan Chapman. There is a video about Sir Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei. The website is free, but you do have to register to use it.

Interactives has a unit about the Renaissance.