Renassainse is the French word for 'rebirth'. The Spanish Renaissance is the period between the mid-15th century and the 16th century. It comes immediately after the European medieval period and is the beginning of the 'Modern Age'. When refering to the whole world, not just European history, some people prefer to call this time the Early Modern period. The Spanish Renaissance has several characteristics:
European traits: Originated in Italy; Humanism—shift from interest in spiritual to human life; rise of experimentation; voyages of exploration; development of printing; interest in the Classics; the Reformation; the secularization of education.
Spanish traits: Old traditions continued along with the new; no sharp break with the Middle Ages; Strong unity and peace: the Inquisition helped avoid the religeous wars like those in northern Europe; political unity under Fernando and Isabel (ruled jointly 1474-1504); religious and territorial unity with the expulsion of the Jews and the Moors (1492); linguistic unity as literary language is dominated by Castilian. Carlos V (ruled 1516-1556) governed the great Spanish empire and established Spanish culture in the new world.