There were many people who had influence and became famous during the Renaissance times. Here are some of the most famous:
Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519) - Leonardo is generally considered the perfect example of the Renaissance Man. He was an expert at many different things including painting, sculpture, science, architecture, and anatomy. He not only was one of the most celebrated artists of all time with paintings such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, but was also one of the most prolific inventors in history.
King Henry VIII (1491-1547) - King Henry the VIII could have been considered the prototypical "Renaissance Man" at his prime. He was tall, good looking, and confident. He was educated and intelligent and could speak four languages. He was also athletic, a good horseman, a musician, composer, and a strong fighter. Henry the VIII is also known for having six different wives and for separating the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church.
Martin Luther (1483 - 1546) - Luther was a German theologian and priest. He objected to many of the practices of the Catholic Church such as paying to get into heaven and the authority of the Pope. He thought the Bible should be the final authority and that it should be available to everyone. Luther's ideas caused the Reformation and a new type of Christianity called Protestantism.
Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach
Catherine de Medici (1519 - 1589) - Catherine was a member of the famed Medici family of Florence. As an 11 year old girl she was taken captive and held to try and stop her family from attacking. She convinced her captors that she wanted to become a nun and, as result, they didn't hurt her. A few years later she married the son of the King of France, Henry. Henry became king of France and Catherine a powerful queen. After Henry's death, her sons became kings of France and Poland and her daughter queen of Navarre.
Erasmus (1466 - 1536) - Erasmus was a Dutch priest and scholar. He was considered the greatest humanist of the north and helped to spread humanism and the Renaissance movement to northern Europe. He is also famous for his book Praise of Folly.
Erasmus by Hans Holbein the Younger
Paracelsus (1493 - 1541) - Paracelsus was a Swiss scientist and botanist who helped to make many advances in medicine. He studied current practices in medicine and found that most doctors actually made patient's conditions worse rather than healing them. His studies showed that certain chemicals and drugs could help patients to heal and get better. He also found that the environment and diet of person contributed to their health.
Christopher Columbus(1451 - 1506) - Columbus was a Spanish explorer who went to the Americas when trying to find the East Indies or Asia. His discovery began an era of exploration and expansion of European powers throughout the Americas and the world.
Other famous people from the Renaissance include:
Michelangelo - Artist, architect, and sculptor famous for his paintings in the Sistine Chapel.
Johannes Gutenberg - Inventor of the printing press.
Joan of Arc - A peasant girl who became a military leader in France. She was burned at the stake for being a heretic at the age of 19.
Mehmed II - Leader of the Ottoman Empire. He conquered Constantinople putting an end to the Byzantine Empire.
Vasco da Gama - Explorer who discovered a sea route from Europe to India by going around Africa.
Dante Alighieri - Writer of the Divine Comedy, an important work in world literature.
William Shakespeare - Playwright considered the greatest writer in the English language.