Discovering the Renaissance

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1 Discovering the Renaissance People still argue about what the Renaissance meant, when it began and if it even existed. What is undeniable is that something extraordinary happened at the heart of the last millennium. It happened in art, in architecture, in politics, in religion. See if you can discover anything notable in this display of text and images. HIST416 Unit Eight

2 Pressures As the Mongols and then Ottomans put more and more pressure on the Byzantine world Greek speaking intellectuals fled to Italy bringing their books and their knowledge with them. This meant a serious challenge to the way people made sense of the world. Some wanted to reintroduce the methods of the classical world. Those that could acquire this virtuous life sought intellectual and artistic treasures with renewed vigor. There was a competition to find and display such artifacts

3 The most basic ingredient was Humanism This was a program of study that aimed to replace the scholastic emphasis on logic and theology with the study of ancient literature, rhetoric, history, and ethics. That means the goal of a humanist education was the understanding of the human experience as viewed through the classical lens devoted to fulfillment of human potential in the present. A scholastic pursuit was aimed at salvation as the ultimate goal

4 Humanist Moral Thought Rejection of monastic lifestyle in favor of morally virtuous life while engaged in the world Marriage, business Reconciliation of Christianity with rapidly changing European society and economy. While remaining deeply religious, people of the Renaissance concerned themselves more with the secular, physical world than medieval people did.

5 Reading a Source When reading a written primary source such as the following selection from A Letter to Boccaccio, try to think of every line as evidence. Think of questions as you read a primary source. This can keep you alert to how words and lines and sections of the source can be used as evidence. A general question to keep in mind might be, "What does this tell me about this civilization, about how people behaved, how they thought, what they believed?"

6 Reading a Source Read the first sentence. It might be argued that this line is evidence that some opposed literary humanism on religious grounds. ("Neither exhortations to virtue nor the argument of approaching death should divert us from literature.") The same line may provide evidence for how literary humanism was defended and even what helped account for its appeal ("in a good mind it excites the love of virtue, and dissipates... the fear of death"). Read the second sentence. It may provide additional evidence that there was opposition to the study of literature on religious grounds ("To desert our studies...") and that for the elite, educated members of society ("the properly constituted mind") humanistic literature ("letters") is beneficial ("facilitate our life").

7 Read the rest of the paragraph. Here Petrarch adds to his argument that for the right people (those with "an acute and healthy intellect"), literary humanism is good, and in the process of making this argument, he provides evidence that central to literary humanism was an admiration of Classical literature and the values expressed in Classical writings. Petrarch cites with admiration Roman figures (Cato, Varro, and Livius Drusus), Roman literature ("Latin literature"), Greek literature, and secular literature (Livius Drusus' "interpretation of the civil law"). Read the second paragraph. Here there may be evidence that literary humanism ("literature" and "secular learning") was not in opposition to Christianity ("our own religion"). Read the third paragraph. What does this paragraph tell us about how different people perceived the relationship between literary humanism and Christianity ("no one... has been prevented by literature from following the path of holiness")? For whom might literary humanism have the most appeal ("one takes a lower, another a higher path")?

8 After working on various parts of the source, pull back and consider the source as a whole. Among other things, this aggressive defense of literary humanism provides evidence for what literary humanism was (a movement to revive Classical literature), what it was not (it did not reject Christian virtue or piety), and to whom it appealed (the educated elite). Further, consider the author. Here, the headnote tells us that the letter was written by Francesco Petrarch, who was important in spreading literary humanism; consider whether this colors the source or gives it greater weight as evidence.

9 Reading Secondary Sources Your job is to try to understand what the writer's interpretation is, to evaluate whether any arguments or evidence the writer presents seems to support it adequately, and to decide in what ways you agree or disagree with that interpretation. Also, try to think of questions as you read a secondary source. This can keep you alert to why the author selects and presents only certain information and what conclusions the author is trying to convey to the reader. Perhaps the two most important questions to keep in mind are, 1. What question is this author trying to answer? 2. What does all of what the author has written add up to?

10 French, 1350 Byzantine, 1280

11 Masaccio s The Trinity with the Virgin (1427).

12 Botticelli, Madonna of the Eucharist, late 15 th century

13

14 Raphael, Pope Leo X, HIST418 Unit Eight

15 Creation of Eve from Adam s Rib, Bishop Bernward Bronze Doors, 1050 (Hildesheim Cathedral, Germany)

16 The Creation, Michelangelo, , Sistine Chapel

17 Nave of the Church of San Lorenzo, Florence, 1419, Brunelleschi

18 Dome of the Church of Santa Maria del Fiori, Florence, , Brunelleschi

19 Moses, in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, early 16 th century, Michelangelo

20 Harlech Castle, Wales, 1200s.

21 Villa Medici, Rome, 1540

22 A Revival of the Classical World Three important changes occurred in art from the medieval to the Renaissance periods: The evolving role of the artist from craftsman to independent artist. (How was this possible?) A more widespread incorporation of secular subjects into works of art, particularly mythological subjects. The development of individual artistic styles and techniques.

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