This chapter focuses on the birth of the Renaissance in Italy as Europe emerges from the Middle Ages after the devastation of the Black Plague and chaos of the Hundred Years War and Great Schism. As educated people began to embrace a new form of learning called humanism- a more secular way to learn which requires creativity, critical thinking, and to seek out original ideas and new knowledge- new styles of art and literature emerged which celebrated the human mind, body, and soul. This led many Europeans to slowly pull away from the authority of the Catholic Church, while still retaining their faith in God. Meanwhile, Italian cities were ruled by despotic families like the Medici and Borgia, which paved the way for modern Machiavellian politics. While Italy was divided and run by rival ruling families, national monarchies were beginning to form in France, England, and Spain. Finally, due to the drastic changes that had shaken the Catholic Church in the 14th century, the Catholic Church began to slowly address its loss of influence, but reform would take a far more drastic catalyst.