1 Rebirth Responses to the changing demographics and increases in wealth also manifested themselves in art and thinking the Renaissance. Humanism
2 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.
3 When did it start? What did it mean, really?
4 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
5 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
6 What did people of the age say The following is an excerpt from Petrarch's Secret, translated by W. H. Draper, My principle is that, as concerning the glory from which we may hope for here below [on earth], it is right for us to seek it while we are here below. One may expect to enjoy that other more radiant glory in heaven, when we shall have there arrived, and when one will have no more care or wish for the glory of earth. Therefore, as I think, it is in the true order that mortal men should first care for mortal things... According to Petrarch, a humanist, with what should man be concerned? Is this similar or different from the interests of medieval man? Explain
7 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.
8 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?"
9 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").
10 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")?
11 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.
12 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?
13 Background According to the humanist writers and thinkers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Middle Ages were a thousand years of ignorance and superstition. These Renaissance men who saw themselves as leaders in an era of rebirth and learning looked to the ancient Greeks and Romans for models in literature and art as their view of man and his world. Some historians have questioned this interpretation, with its sharp division between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Instead they pointed out evidence of increased intellectual activity starting in the medieval universities. The debate centers around whether the Renaissance was a unique age or a continuation of the Middle Ages. Keep track of some perspectives from the next few sources.
14 This excerpt is from The Renaissance by Wassace K. Ferguson (New York: Holt, 1940, pp. 1-3). The idea that there was a great revival or rebirth of literature and the arts, after a thousand years of cultural sterility, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries originated with the Italian writers of the Renaissance themselves. Finding the feudal and ecclesiastical literature and Gothic art of the Middle Ages uncongenial to their taste, they turned for inspiration to the civilization of Roman and Greek antiquity... Thus, from the beginning, the double conception of medieval darkness and subsequent cultural rebirth was colored by the acceptance of classical standards. According to Ferguson, how did writers and thinkers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries view themselves? Were they part of the Middle Ages or a different era-the Renaissance?
15 This excerpt is from A History of Europe from 1378 to 1494 written by W. T. Waugh in It has become evident that there was no suspension of intellectual life in medieval Europe. If there was a Revival of Learning, it occurred about the year A.D. 1000, since when human knowledge has never ceased to advance. It cannot even be said that the Humanists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries revived the study of the classics. Scholars had been nourished on the classics for centuries... In the first place, the classical writer most studied in the Middle Ages was a Greek, Aristotle... And actually the medieval scholars of Western Europe were acquainted with most of the Latin authors familiar to us... The merits of the artists and the influence of the Humanist scholars must be acknowledged. But one must beware of exaggerating the practical results of their work. It is undeniable that very few people knew or cared anything about the sayings or doings of the Humanists... [and] the plain fact remains that the masterpieces of Renaissance sculpture can have been seen by few, those of Renaissance painting by fewer. And in those days, unless you actually saw them, you could not tell what they were like... According to historian W. T. Waugh, when did modern culture and the work of the humanists begin? Was there a Renaissance? What evidence does he cite for his point of view?
16 French, 1350 Byzantine, 1280
17 Masaccio s The Trinity with the Virgin (1427).
18 Botticelli, Madonna of the Eucharist, late 15 th century
20 Raphael, Pope Leo X, HIST418 Unit Eight
21 Creation of Eve from Adam s Rib, Bishop Bernward Bronze Doors, 1050 (Hildesheim Cathedral, Germany)
22 The Creation, Michelangelo, , Sistine Chapel
23 These sketches were done by Leonardo davinci. What do these drawings tell you about the interests and abilities of davinci? Explain.
24 Nave of the Church of San Lorenzo, Florence, 1419, Brunelleschi
25 Dome of the Church of Santa Maria del Fiori, Florence, , Brunelleschi
26 Moses, in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, early 16 th century, Michelangelo
27 Harlech Castle, Wales, 1200s.
28 Villa Medici, Rome, 1540
29 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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