The Renaissance
Background of the Era
• 1. Renaissance--a rebirth of
European economic and
cultural activity that
originated in the Italian
states around 1350, spread
to northern Europe and
lasted until around 1550.
• Main Characteristics:
• 1. Urban and upper class-Hence, it began in the wellfunded Italian city-states
• 2. Secular--interested in
worldly pleasures (art,
architecture, food, etc.)
• 3. Age of recovery--return to
Greco-Roman culture.
• 4. Emphasis on the
individual--glorified the
capabilities of man
• 5. Humanism--a
program of study that
includes rhetoric,
philosophy, literature,
history! and classical
languages (Latin and
Greek). Today we call
these the humanities.
Background of Periods of the
Renaissance
• 1. Early Renaissance (1400-1500)--Florence
as epicenter
• 2. High Renaissance (1500-1530)-• Rome as epicenter
• 3. Late Renaissance (1530ish- late 1500s)
• 4. Northern Renaissance (1400s and 1500s)
Why in Italy First?
• 1. Trade routes
benefited Italy by the
end of the 14th century.
(Benefited by the
decline of Hanseatic
League)
• 2. New Industries (wool,
metals, glassware).
• 3. Italians let their
money work for them-bankers such as the
House of Medici in
Florence.
Social Changes
• 1.Nobility-- Shift from
military service to
education to maintain
their dominance
• 2. Baldassare
Castiglione’s The Book
of the Courtier (1528)
establishes the
description of the true
“Renaissance Man.”--Homo universalis
Third Estate
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Rural--peasants
Urban--Patricians-Shopkeepers,
burghers, artisans-those who produced
things
Working poor-propertyless
Slaves
Italian States in the
Renaissance
• Milan--Visconti and
Sforza
• Florence--Medicis
• Papal States
• Kingdom of NaplesSpain
• City States
– Urbino--Federigo de
Montefeltro
– Ferrara--d’Estes
– Mantua--Gonzagas
Warfare
• Balance of Power:
Milan, Florence, and
Naples vs. Venice
and the Papal
states: Peace of
Lodi 1454
• Spain vs. France in
Naples (1494-1559)
Intellectual Developments
• Humanism and secularism dramatically
altered views of philosophy and
education.
Petrarch (1304-74)
• Concerned with
secular and
ancient texts.
• Held Cicero as
his model for
prose and Virgil
for poetry.
• Called the Middle
Ages the “Dark
Ages”
Civic Humanism
• Leonardo Bruni
embraced this
idea in The New
Cicero.
• Develop yourself,
but also serve
your society, as
Cicero did.
Lorenzo Valla and Latin
• Focused on the
“pure” Latin of the
Romans in the
Elegance of the
Latin Language.
• Proved the
Donation of
Constantine to be
a fraud.
Philosophy--Neoplatonism
• Synthesis of
Platonism and
Christianity, by
Marsilio Ficino.
• Man has
unlimited
potential.
• Pico Della
Mirandola and
Oration on the
Dignity of Man
Education—Liberal Studies
• Pietro Paul
Vergerio and
Vittorino de Feltre
• Vergerio
• Concerning
Character by
Vergerio stressed
the importance of
a rounded
education
History
• Leonardo Bruni’s
History of the
Florentine People
• And Francesco
Guicciardini’s
History of Italy
and History of
Florence
• Both secular
historical studies
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The Renaissance