We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Phil ... This is what your airport security people are planning to bring to you, courtesy the new body scanners. You'd better start getting into top condition so you'll be a star, and the security people will keep your picture as a pin-up.
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Or if you lived in England, Francis Bacon. Or possibly Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus. Yep, it occurred at different times within different cultures.
The people who seriously think that Burckhardt invented it are embittered Medievalists who are tired of hearing their magnificent era slandered as "the Dark Ages." They tend to see the Renaissance as a mere continuation of Medieval themes. I studied grad level European history from the classical era through about 1950 and disagree, viewing the Renaissance as a rejection of many Medieval themes, particularly the rejection of Platonism and Aristotelianism as the bases for knowledge of the physical world. So this is my semi-informed take on the question. YMMV.
I'd go so far as to agree Burckhardt invented the modern spin on the Renaissance, but if you look at it even-handedly, he just shaped our conception of it.
I would agree with Jim somewhat and push the shaping of our views about the period from 1300-1600 back to the thinkers of the (ahem) Enlightenment.
CS Lewis was one who believed the Renaissance was an artificial construction for the reason Jim notes. He thought the stirrup and the moldboard plow were technical advances every bit as dramatic as anything the Renaissance could offer.
In the parlor game of declaring when the purported period began, I like to pick 1275 around Venice, where the improvement in Venetian glass made mirrors better and more commonly available. The resulting consciousness of self changed the culture of the West. Don't take that too seriously, though.
Assistant Village Idiot