The development in arts and letters known as the Renaissance(rebirth) was a revived interest in classical learning and culture in the 1300's and the 1400's in Italy, but later spread to other parts of Europe.
The Renaissance involved new thought because it was a secular movement. During the feudal period, the Catholic Church was the center of learning; in fact, the medieval scholar had been concerned with the harnessing of reason in the defense and service of religion. But, with the end of feudalism and increased trading outside of Europe, new ideas emerged and the Renaissance scholar became more concerned with the secular side of things. Furthermore, poets and philosophers concerned themselves with the natural world, rather than theology. One reason for the scholarship in Italy is the fact that Greek scholars emigrated to Italy after the invasion of the Ottoman Turks who captured Constantinople. These scholars brought with them classical texts and manuscripts, which helped to revive interest in classical learning and arts.
Along with the Greek scholars, Italian scholar Petrarch is felt to be a major impetus to the rebirth of culture and learning. Having a passionate interest in the rediscovery of lost Roman manuscripts and a strong belief in the power of ancient thought to civilize, his ideas certainly complemented those who valued classical learning.