What Is Patron in World History?

Patronage, in world history, is a practice of providing financial and societal support to individuals or groups, usually by wealthy or influential people. This practice has been prevalent throughout history and has played a significant role in shaping the world we live in today.

The Origin of Patronage

The concept of patronage can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as Greece and Rome, where wealthy patrons supported artists, philosophers, and scholars. These patrons would provide financial support to the individuals they deemed worthy, allowing them to focus on their craft without worrying about their livelihood.

In medieval Europe, patronage became even more prevalent as the Church and nobility became major patrons of the arts. The Church would commission artists to create religious works of art such as paintings and sculptures for churches and cathedrals. Similarly, nobility would commission artists to create portraits or decorate their homes with art.

The Role of Patronage in Renaissance

During the Renaissance period, patronage reached its peak in Italy. Wealthy and influential families such as the Medici family in Florence became major patrons of the arts. They would commission artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to create masterpieces that we continue to admire today.

Not only did patronage support art during this period but it also supported science. The Medici family supported scientists such as Galileo Galilei who made significant contributions to our understanding of astronomy.

Patronage in Modern Times

Even today, patronage continues to play a role in society. Wealthy individuals continue to provide financial support for various causes such as education, healthcare, and the arts.

In politics too, patronage is still prevalent with politicians providing support for their supporters through appointments or other means.

The Good and Bad Sides of Patronage

While patronage can be beneficial for those who receive it, it can also create a power dynamic that can be detrimental. It can lead to individuals being appointed to positions of power or receiving financial support based on their connections rather than their qualifications.

Additionally, patronage can be used as a tool for corruption with the powerful using their influence to extract favors in return for support.


In conclusion, patronage has played a significant role in shaping our world throughout history. While it has been a major force behind some of the greatest works of art and scientific discoveries, it has also been responsible for perpetuating power imbalances and corruption. It is up to us to recognize these issues and work towards creating a more equitable society.