Renaissance (UK: /rɪˈneɪsəns/, US: /rɛnəˈsɑːns/) is a
period in European history, covering the span between the 14th and
17th centuries. It is an extension of the Middle Ages, and is bridged
Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment to modern history. It grew in fragments,
with the very first traces found seemingly in Italy, coming to cover
much of Europe, for some scholars marking the beginning of the modern
The intellectual basis of the
Renaissance was its own invented version
of humanism, derived from the concept of Roman
Humanitas and the
rediscovery of classical Greek philosophy, such as that of Protagoras,
who said that "Man is the measure of all things." This new thinking
became manifest in art, architecture, politics, science and
literature. Early examples were the development of perspective in oil
painting and the recycled knowledge of how to make concrete. Although
the invention of metal movable type sped the dissemination of ideas
from the later 15th century, the changes of the
Renaissance were not
uniformly experienced across Europe.
As a cultural movement, the
Renaissance encompassed innovative
Latin and vernacular literatures, beginning with the
14th-century resurgence of learning based on classical sources, which
contemporaries credited to Petrarch; the development of linear
perspective and other techniques of rendering a more natural reality
in painting; and gradual but widespread educational reform. In
Renaissance contributed to the development of the
customs and conventions of diplomacy, and in science to an increased
reliance on observation and inductive reasoning. Although the
Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as
social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its
artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renaissance
Renaissance began in Florence, in the 14th century. Various
theories have been proposed to account for its origins and
characteristics, focusing on a variety of factors including the social
and civic peculiarities of
Florence at the time: its political
structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici; and
the migration of Greek scholars and texts to
Italy following the Fall
of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. Other major centres
Italian city-states such as Venice, Genoa, Milan,
Bologna, and finally
Rome during the
Renaissance has a long and complex historiography, and, in line
with general scepticism of discrete periodizations, there has been
much debate among historians reacting to the 19th-century
glorification of the "Renaissance" and individual culture heroes as
Renaissance men", questioning the usefulness of
Renaissance as a term
and as a historical delineation. The art historian Erwin Panofsky
observed of this resistance to the concept of "Renaissance":
It is perhaps no accident that the factuality of the Italian
Renaissance has been most vigorously questioned by those who are not
obliged to take a professional interest in the aesthetic aspects of
civilization—historians of economic and social developments,
political and religious situations, and, most particularly, natural
science—but only exceptionally by students of literature and hardly
ever by historians of Art.
Some observers have called into question whether the
Renaissance was a
cultural "advance" from the Middle Ages, instead seeing it as a period
of pessimism and nostalgia for classical antiquity, while social
and economic historians, especially of the longue durée, have instead
focused on the continuity between the two eras, which are linked,
as Panofsky observed, "by a thousand ties".
The word Renaissance, literally meaning "Rebirth" in French, first
appeared in English in the 1830s. The word also occurs in Jules
Michelet's 1855 work, Histoire de France. The word
also been extended to other historical and cultural movements, such as
Carolingian Renaissance and the
Renaissance of the 12th
Latin and Greek phases of
2.2 Social and political structures in Italy
2.3 Black Death/Plague
2.4 Cultural conditions in Florence
4.1 Northern Europe
4.11 Further countries
5.2 Debates about progress
6 Other Renaissances
7 See also
10 Further reading
10.2 Primary sources
11 External links
Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected
European intellectual life in the early modern period. Beginning in
Italy, and spreading to the rest of
Europe by the 16th century, its
influence was felt in literature, philosophy, art, music, politics,
science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry.
Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and
searched for realism and human emotion in art.
Renaissance humanists such as
Poggio Bracciolini sought out in
Europe's monastic libraries the
Latin literary, historical, and
oratorical texts of Antiquity, while the
Fall of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople (1453)
generated a wave of émigré Greek scholars bringing precious
manuscripts in ancient Greek, many of which had fallen into obscurity
in the West. It is in their new focus on literary and historical texts
Renaissance scholars differed so markedly from the medieval
scholars of the
Renaissance of the 12th century, who had focused on
studying Greek and
Arabic works of natural sciences, philosophy and
mathematics, rather than on such cultural texts.
Portrait of a Young Woman (c. 1480-85) (Simonetta Vespucci) by Sandro
In the revival of neo-Platonism
Renaissance humanists did not reject
Christianity; quite the contrary, many of the Renaissance's greatest
works were devoted to it, and the Church patronized many works of
Renaissance art. However, a subtle shift took place in the way that
intellectuals approached religion that was reflected in many other
areas of cultural life. In addition, many Greek
including the Greek New Testament, were brought back from Byzantium to
Europe and engaged Western scholars for the first time since
late antiquity. This new engagement with Greek
Christian works, and
particularly the return to the original Greek of the New Testament
promoted by humanists
Lorenzo Valla and Erasmus, would help pave the
way for the Protestant Reformation.
Well after the first artistic return to classicism had been
exemplified in the sculpture of Nicola Pisano, Florentine painters led
Masaccio strove to portray the human form realistically, developing
techniques to render perspective and light more naturally. Political
philosophers, most famously Niccolò Machiavelli, sought to describe
political life as it really was, that is to understand it rationally.
A critical contribution to Italian
Renaissance humanism Giovanni Pico
della Mirandola wrote the famous text "De hominis dignitate" (Oration
on the Dignity of Man, 1486), which consists of a series of theses on
philosophy, natural thought, faith and magic defended against any
opponent on the grounds of reason. In addition to studying classical
Latin and Greek,
Renaissance authors also began increasingly to use
vernacular languages; combined with the introduction of printing, this
would allow many more people access to books, especially the
In all, the
Renaissance could be viewed as an attempt by intellectuals
to study and improve the secular and worldly, both through the revival
of ideas from antiquity, and through novel approaches to thought. Some
scholars, such as Rodney Stark, play down the
Renaissance in favor
of the earlier innovations of the
Italian city-states in the High
Middle Ages, which married responsive government,
Christianity and the
birth of capitalism. This analysis argues that, whereas the great
European states (France and Spain) were absolutist monarchies, and
others were under direct Church control, the independent city
Italy took over the principles of capitalism invented on
monastic estates and set off a vast unprecedented commercial
revolution that preceded and financed the Renaissance.
Main article: Italian Renaissance
View of Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance
Many argue that the ideas characterizing the
Renaissance had their
origin in late 13th-century Florence, in particular with the writings
Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) and
Petrarch (1304–1374), as well
as the paintings of
Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337). Some writers date
Renaissance quite precisely; one proposed starting point is 1401,
when the rival geniuses
Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi
competed for the contract to build the bronze doors for the Baptistery
Florence Cathedral (Ghiberti won). Others see more general
competition between artists and polymaths such as Brunelleschi,
Ghiberti, Donatello, and
Masaccio for artistic commissions as sparking
the creativity of the Renaissance. Yet it remains much debated why the
Renaissance began in Italy, and why it began when it did. Accordingly,
several theories have been put forward to explain its origins.
During the Renaissance, money and art went hand in hand. Artists
depended entirely on patrons while the patrons needed money to foster
artistic talent. Wealth was brought to
Italy in the 14th, 15th, and
16th centuries by expanding trade into Asia and Europe. Silver mining
in Tyrol increased the flow of money. Luxuries from the Eastern world,
brought home during the Crusades, increased the prosperity of Genoa
Jules Michelet defined the 16th-century
Renaissance in France as a
period in Europe's cultural history that represented a break from the
Middle Ages, creating a modern understanding of humanity and its place
in the world.
Latin and Greek phases of
See also: Transmission of the Greek Classics
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In stark contrast to the High Middle Ages, when
Latin scholars focused
almost entirely on studying Greek and
Arabic works of natural science,
philosophy and mathematics,
Renaissance scholars were most
interested in recovering and studying
Latin and Greek literary,
historical, and oratorical texts. Broadly speaking, this began in the
14th century with a
Latin phase, when
Renaissance scholars such as
Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406), Niccolò de' Niccoli
Poggio Bracciolini (1380–1459) scoured the
Europe in search of works by such
Latin authors as
Livy and Seneca. By the early 15th century, the
bulk of such
Latin literature had been recovered; the Greek phase of
Renaissance humanism was under way, as Western European scholars
turned to recovering ancient Greek literary, historical, oratorical
and theological texts.
Latin texts, which had been preserved and studied in
Europe since late antiquity, the study of ancient Greek texts
was very limited in medieval Western Europe.
Ancient Greek works on
science, maths and philosophy had been studied since the High Middle
Ages in Western
Europe and in the medieval Islamic world (normally in
translation), but Greek literary, oratorical and historical works
(such as Homer, the Greek dramatists,
Demosthenes and Thucydides) were
not studied in either the
Latin or medieval Islamic worlds; in the
Middle Ages these sorts of texts were only studied by Byzantine
scholars. One of the greatest achievements of
Renaissance scholars was
to bring this entire class of Greek cultural works back into Western
Europe for the first time since late antiquity.
Arab logicians had
inherited Greek ideas after they had invaded and conquered Egypt and
the Levant. Their translations and commentaries on these ideas worked
their way through the
Arab West into Iberia and Sicily, which became
important centers for this transmission of ideas. From the 11th to the
13th century, many schools dedicated to the translation of
philosophical and scientific works from Classical
Arabic to Medieval
Latin were established in Iberia. Most notably the Toledo School of
Translators. This work of translation from Islamic culture, though
largely unplanned and disorganized, constituted one of the greatest
transmissions of ideas in history. This movement to reintegrate
the regular study of Greek literary, historical, oratorical and
theological texts back into the Western European curriculum is usually
dated to the 1396 invitation from
Coluccio Salutati to the Byzantine
diplomat and scholar
Manuel Chrysoloras (c.1355–1415) to teach Greek
in Florence. This legacy was continued by a number of expatriate
Greek scholars, from
Basilios Bessarion to Leo Allatius.
Social and political structures in Italy
A political map of the Italian
Peninsula circa 1494
The unique political structures of late
Italy have led
some to theorize that its unusual social climate allowed the emergence
of a rare cultural efflorescence.
Italy did not exist as a political
entity in the early modern period. Instead, it was divided into
smaller city states and territories: the
Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples controlled
the south, the Republic of
Florence and the
Papal States at the
center, the Milanese and the Genoese to the north and west
respectively, and the Venetians to the east. Fifteenth-century Italy
was one of the most urbanised areas in Europe. Many of its cities
stood among the ruins of ancient Roman buildings; it seems likely that
the classical nature of the
Renaissance was linked to its origin in
the Roman Empire's heartland.
Historian and political philosopher
Quentin Skinner points out that
Otto of Freising
Otto of Freising (c. 1114–1158), a German bishop visiting north
Italy during the 12th century, noticed a widespread new form of
political and social organization, observing that
Italy appeared to
have exited from
Feudalism so that its society was based on merchants
and commerce. Linked to this was anti-monarchical thinking,
represented in the famous early
Renaissance fresco cycle Allegory of
Good and Bad Government in Siena by
Ambrogio Lorenzetti (painted
1338–1340), whose strong message is about the virtues of fairness,
justice, republicanism and good administration. Holding both Church
and Empire at bay, these city republics were devoted to notions of
liberty. Skinner reports that there were many defences of liberty such
Matteo Palmieri (1406–1475) celebration of Florentine genius
not only in art, sculpture and architecture, but "the remarkable
efflorescence of moral, social and political philosophy that occurred
Florence at the same time".
Even cities and states beyond central Italy, such as the Republic of
Florence at this time, were also notable for their merchant Republics,
especially the Republic of Venice. Although in practice these were
oligarchical, and bore little resemblance to a modern democracy, they
did have democratic features and were responsive states, with forms of
participation in governance and belief in liberty. The
relative political freedom they afforded was conducive to academic and
artistic advancement. Likewise, the position of Italian cities
Venice as great trading centres made them intellectual
Merchants brought with them ideas from far corners of the
globe, particularly the Levant.
Venice was Europe's gateway to trade
with the East, and a producer of fine glass, while
Florence was a
capital of textiles. The wealth such business brought to
large public and private artistic projects could be commissioned and
individuals had more leisure time for study.
One theory that has been advanced is that the devastation in Florence
caused by the Black Death, which hit
Europe between 1348 and 1350,
resulted in a shift in the world view of people in 14th-century Italy.
Italy was particularly badly hit by the plague, and it has been
speculated that the resulting familiarity with death caused thinkers
to dwell more on their lives on Earth, rather than on spirituality and
the afterlife. It has also been argued that the Black Death
prompted a new wave of piety, manifested in the sponsorship of
religious works of art. However, this does not fully explain why
Renaissance occurred specifically in
Italy in the 14th century.
Black Death was a pandemic that affected all of
Europe in the ways
described, not only Italy. The Renaissance's emergence in
most likely the result of the complex interaction of the above
The plague was carried by fleas on sailing vessels returning from the
ports of Asia, spreading quickly due to lack of proper sanitation: the
population of England, then about 4.2 million, lost 1.4 million people
to the bubonic plague. Florence's population was nearly halved in the
year 1347. As a result of the decimation in the populace the value of
the working class increased, and commoners came to enjoy more freedom.
To answer the increased need for labor, workers traveled in search of
the most favorable position economically.
The demographic decline due to the plague had economic consequences:
the prices of food dropped and land values declined by 30 to 40% in
most parts of
Europe between 1350 and 1400. Landholders faced a
great loss, but for ordinary men and women it was a windfall. The
survivors of the plague found not only that the prices of food were
cheaper but also that lands were more abundant, and many of them
inherited property from their dead relatives.
The spread of disease was significantly more rampant in areas of
poverty. Epidemics ravaged cities, particularly children. Plagues were
easily spread by lice, unsanitary drinking water, armies, or by poor
sanitation. Children were hit the hardest because many diseases, such
as typhus and syphilis, target the immune system, leaving young
children without a fighting chance. Children in city dwellings were
more affected by the spread of disease than the children of the
Black Death caused greater upheaval to Florence's social and
political structure than later epidemics. Despite a significant number
of deaths among members of the ruling classes, the government of
Florence continued to function during this period. Formal meetings of
elected representatives were suspended during the height of the
epidemic due to the chaotic conditions in the city, but a small group
of officials was appointed to conduct the affairs of the city, which
ensured continuity of government.
Cultural conditions in Florence
Lorenzo de' Medici, ruler of
Florence and patron of arts (Portrait by
It has long been a matter of debate why the
Renaissance began in
Florence, and not elsewhere in Italy. Scholars have noted several
features unique to Florentine cultural life that may have caused such
a cultural movement. Many have emphasized the role played by the
Medici, a banking family and later ducal ruling house, in patronizing
and stimulating the arts.
Lorenzo de' Medici
Lorenzo de' Medici (1449–1492) was the
catalyst for an enormous amount of arts patronage, encouraging his
countrymen to commission works from the leading artists of Florence,
including Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo
Buonarroti. Works by Neri di Bicci, Botticelli, da Vinci and
Filippino Lippi had been commissioned additionally by the convent di
San Donato agli Scopeti of the
Augustinians order in Florence.
Renaissance was certainly underway before
Lorenzo de' Medici
Lorenzo de' Medici came
to power – indeed, before the
Medici family itself achieved hegemony
in Florentine society. Some historians have postulated that Florence
was the birthplace of the
Renaissance as a result of luck, i.e.
because "Great Men" were born there by chance: Leonardo da Vinci,
Michelangelo were all born in Tuscany. Arguing that
such chance seems improbable, other historians have contended that
these "Great Men" were only able to rise to prominence because of the
prevailing cultural conditions at the time.
Pico della Mirandola
Pico della Mirandola wrote the famous Oration on the Dignity of Man,
which has been called the "Manifesto of the Renaissance".
In some ways humanism was not a philosophy but a method of learning.
In contrast to the medieval scholastic mode, which focused on
resolving contradictions between authors, humanists would study
ancient texts in the original and appraise them through a combination
of reasoning and empirical evidence. Humanist education was based on
the programme of 'Studia Humanitatis', the study of five humanities:
poetry, grammar, history, moral philosophy and rhetoric. Although
historians have sometimes struggled to define humanism precisely, most
have settled on "a middle of the road definition... the movement to
recover, interpret, and assimilate the language, literature, learning
and values of ancient Greece and Rome". Above all, humanists
asserted "the genius of man ... the unique and extraordinary
ability of the human mind".
Humanist scholars shaped the intellectual landscape throughout the
early modern period. Political philosophers such as Niccolò
Thomas More revived the ideas of Greek and Roman
thinkers and applied them in critiques of contemporary government.
Pico della Mirandola
Pico della Mirandola wrote the "manifesto" of the Renaissance, the
Oration on the Dignity of Man, a vibrant defence of thinking. Matteo
Palmieri (1406–1475), another humanist, is most known for his work
Della vita civile ("On Civic Life"; printed 1528), which advocated
civic humanism, and for his influence in refining the Tuscan
vernacular to the same level as Latin. Palmieri drew on Roman
philosophers and theorists, especially Cicero, who, like Palmieri,
lived an active public life as a citizen and official, as well as a
theorist and philosopher and also Quintilian. Perhaps the most
succinct expression of his perspective on humanism is in a 1465 poetic
work La città di vita, but an earlier work, Della vita civile (On
Civic Life), is more wide-ranging. Composed as a series of dialogues
set in a country house in the Mugello countryside outside Florence
during the plague of 1430, Palmieri expounds on the qualities of the
ideal citizen. The dialogues include ideas about how children develop
mentally and physically, how citizens can conduct themselves morally,
how citizens and states can ensure probity in public life, and an
important debate on the difference between that which is pragmatically
useful and that which is honest.
The humanists believed that it is important to transcend to the
afterlife with a perfect mind and body, which could be attained with
education. The purpose of humanism was to create a universal man whose
person combined intellectual and physical excellence and who was
capable of functioning honorably in virtually any situation. This
ideology was referred to as the uomo universale, an ancient
Greco-Roman ideal. Education during the
Renaissance was mainly
composed of ancient literature and history as it was thought that the
classics provided moral instruction and an intensive understanding of
Renaissance painting, and Renaissance
See also: Islamic influences on Western art
The tomb of
Michelangelo in the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence
Renaissance art marks a cultural rebirth at the close of the Middle
Ages and rise of the Modern world. One of the distinguishing features
Renaissance art was its development of highly realistic linear
Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337) is credited with first
treating a painting as a window into space, but it was not until the
demonstrations of architect
Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446) and the
subsequent writings of
Leon Battista Alberti
Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) that
perspective was formalized as an artistic technique.
The development of perspective was part of a wider trend towards
realism in the arts. Painters developed other techniques, studying
light, shadow, and, famously in the case of Leonardo da Vinci, human
anatomy. Underlying these changes in artistic method was a renewed
desire to depict the beauty of nature and to unravel the axioms of
aesthetics, with the works of Leonardo,
Michelangelo and Raphael
representing artistic pinnacles that were much imitated by other
artists. Other notable artists include Sandro Botticelli, working
Medici in Florence, Donatello, another Florentine, and Titian
in Venice, among others.
Leonardo da Vinci's
Vitruvian Man (c. 1490) demonstrates the effect
writers of Antiquity had on
Renaissance thinkers. Based on the
specifications in Vitruvius'
De architectura (1st century BC),
Leonardo tried to draw the perfectly proportioned man.
In the Netherlands, a particularly vibrant artistic culture developed.
The work of
Hugo van der Goes
Hugo van der Goes and
Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck was particularly
influential on the development of painting in Italy, both technically
with the introduction of oil paint and canvas, and stylistically in
terms of naturalism in representation (see
Renaissance in the
Netherlands). Later, the work of
Pieter Brueghel the Elder
Pieter Brueghel the Elder would
inspire artists to depict themes of everyday life.
Filippo Brunelleschi was foremost in studying the
remains of ancient classical buildings. With rediscovered knowledge
from the 1st-century writer
Vitruvius and the flourishing discipline
of mathematics, Brunelleschi formulated the
Renaissance style that
emulated and improved on classical forms. His major feat of
engineering was building the dome of the
Another building demonstrating this style is the church of St. Andrew
in Mantua, built by Alberti. The outstanding architectural work of the
High Renaissance was the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica, combining
the skills of Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael, Sangallo and Maderno.
During the Renaissance, architects aimed to use columns, pilasters,
and entablatures as an integrated system. The Roman orders types of
columns are used: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite.
These can either be structural, supporting an arcade or architrave, or
purely decorative, set against a wall in the form of pilasters. One of
the first buildings to use pilasters as an integrated system was in
the Old Sacristy (1421–1440) by Brunelleschi. Arches,
semi-circular or (in the Mannerist style) segmental, are often used in
arcades, supported on piers or columns with capitals. There may be a
section of entablature between the capital and the springing of the
arch. Alberti was one of the first to use the arch on a monumental.
Renaissance vaults do not have ribs; they are semi-circular or
segmental and on a square plan, unlike the Gothic vault, which is
Renaissance artists were not pagans, although they admired antiquity
and kept some ideas and symbols of the medieval past. Nicola Pisano
(c. 1220–c. 1278) imitated classical forms by portraying scenes from
the Bible. His Annunciation, from the Baptistry at Pisa, demonstrates
that classical models influenced Italian art before the Renaissance
took root as a literary movement 
History of science in the Renaissance
History of science in the Renaissance and Renaissance
Portrait of Luca Pacioli, father of accounting, painted by Jacopo de'
Barbari, 1495, (Museo di Capodimonte).
1543' Vesalius' studies inspired interest in human anatomy.
Galileo Galilei. Portrait in ink by
Renaissance sculptor Leone Leoni
The rediscovery of ancient texts and the invention of printing
democratized learning and allowed a faster propagation of more widely
distributed ideas. In the first period of the Italian Renaissance,
humanists favoured the study of humanities over natural philosophy or
applied mathematics, and their reverence for classical sources further
enshrined the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic views of the universe.
Writing around 1450, Nicholas Cusanus anticipated the heliocentric
worldview of Copernicus, but in a philosophical fashion.
Science and art were intermingled in the early Renaissance, with
polymath artists such as
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci making observational
drawings of anatomy and nature. Da Vinci set up controlled experiments
in water flow, medical dissection, and systematic study of movement
and aerodynamics, and he devised principles of research method that
led Fritjof Capra to classify him as the "father of modern
science". Other examples of Da Vinci's contribution during this
period include machines designed to saw marbles and lift monoliths and
new discoveries in acoustics, botany, geology, anatomy and
A suitable environment had developed to question scientific doctrine.
The discovery in 1492 of the
New World by Christopher Columbus
challenged the classical worldview. The works of
Galen (in medicine) were found to not always match
everyday observations. As the
Protestant Reformation and
Counter-Reformation clashed, the
Northern Renaissance showed a
decisive shift in focus from Aristotelean natural philosophy to
chemistry and the biological sciences (botany, anatomy, and
medicine). The willingness to question previously held truths and
search for new answers resulted in a period of major scientific
Some view this as a "scientific revolution", heralding the beginning
of the modern age, others as an acceleration of a continuous
process stretching from the ancient world to the present day.
Significant scientific advances were made during this time by Galileo
Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler. Copernicus, in De
Revolutionibus, posited that the Earth moved around the Sun. De humani
corporis fabrica (On the Workings of the Human Body), by Andreas
Vesalius, gave a new confidence to the role of dissection,
observation, and the mechanistic view of anatomy.
Another important development was in the process for discovery, the
scientific method, focusing on empirical evidence and the
importance of mathematics, while discarding Aristotelian science.
Early and influential proponents of these ideas included Copernicus,
Galileo, and Francis Bacon. The new scientific method led to
great contributions in the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, and
Applied innovation extended to commerce. At the end of the 15th
Luca Pacioli published the first work on bookkeeping, making
him the founder of accounting.
From this changing society emerged a common, unifying musical
language, in particular the polyphonic style of the Franco-Flemish
school. The development of printing made distribution of music
possible on a wide scale. Demand for music as entertainment and as an
activity for educated amateurs increased with the emergence of a
bourgeois class. Dissemination of chansons, motets, and masses
Europe coincided with the unification of polyphonic
practice into the fluid style that culminated in the second half of
the sixteenth century in the work of composers such as Palestrina,
Lassus, Victoria and William Byrd.
Protestant Reformation and Counter-Reformation
Alexander VI, a
Borgia Pope infamous for his corruption
The new ideals of humanism, although more secular in some aspects,
developed against a
Christian backdrop, especially in the Northern
Renaissance. Much, if not most, of the new art was commissioned by or
in dedication to the Church. However, the
Renaissance had a
profound effect on contemporary theology, particularly in the way
people perceived the relationship between man and God. Many of the
period's foremost theologians were followers of the humanist method,
including Erasmus, Zwingli, Thomas More, Martin Luther, and John
Adoration of the Magi
Adoration of the Magi and
Solomon adored by the
Queen of Sheba
Queen of Sheba from
Farnese Hours by
Giulio Clovio marks the end of the Italian
Renaissance of illuminated manuscript together with the Index Librorum
Renaissance began in times of religious turmoil. The late Middle
Ages was a period of political intrigue surrounding the Papacy,
culminating in the Western Schism, in which three men simultaneously
claimed to be true
Bishop of Rome. While the schism was resolved
Council of Constance
Council of Constance (1414), a resulting reform movement known
Conciliarism sought to limit the power of the pope. Although the
papacy eventually emerged supreme in ecclesiastical matters by the
Fifth Council of the Lateran
Fifth Council of the Lateran (1511), it was dogged by continued
accusations of corruption, most famously in the person of Pope
Alexander VI, who was accused variously of simony, nepotism and
fathering four children (most of whom were married off, presumably for
the consolidation of power) while a cardinal.
Churchmen such as
Erasmus and Luther proposed reform to the Church,
often based on humanist textual criticism of the New Testament. In
October 1517 Luther published the 95 Theses, challenging papal
authority and criticizing its perceived corruption, particularly with
regard to instances of sold indulgences.[note 1] The
95 Theses led to
the Reformation, a break with the
Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church that
previously claimed hegemony in Western Europe.
Humanism and the
Renaissance therefore played a direct role in sparking the
Reformation, as well as in many other contemporaneous religious
debates and conflicts.
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III came to the papal throne (1534–1549) after the sack of
Rome in 1527, with uncertainties prevalent in the Catholic Church
following the Protestant Reformation.
Nicolaus Copernicus dedicated De
revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial
Spheres) to Paul III, who became the grandfather of Alessandro Farnese
(cardinal), who had paintings by Titian, Michelangelo, and Raphael, as
well as an important collection of drawings, and who commissioned the
masterpiece of Giulio Clovio, arguably the last major illuminated
manuscript, the Farnese Hours.
By the 15th century, writers, artists, and architects in
well aware of the transformations that were taking place and were
using phrases such as modi antichi (in the antique manner) or alle
romana et alla antica (in the manner of the Romans and the ancients)
to describe their work. In the 1330s
Petrarch referred to
Christian times as antiqua (ancient) and to the
as nova (new). From Petrarch's Italian perspective, this new
period (which included his own time) was an age of national
Leonardo Bruni was the first to use tripartite
periodization in his
History of the Florentine People (1442).
Bruni's first two periods were based on those of Petrarch, but he
added a third period because he believed that
Italy was no longer in a
state of decline.
Flavio Biondo used a similar framework in Decades of
History from the Deterioration of the
Roman Empire (1439–1453).
Humanist historians argued that contemporary scholarship restored
direct links to the classical period, thus bypassing the Medieval
period, which they then named for the first time the "Middle Ages".
The term first appears in
Latin in 1469 as media tempestas (middle
times). The term la rinascita (rebirth) first appeared, however,
in its broad sense in Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists, 1550,
revised 1568. Vasari divides the age into three phases: the
first phase contains Cimabue, Giotto, and Arnolfo di Cambio; the
second phase contains Masaccio, Brunelleschi, and Donatello; the third
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci and culminates with Michelangelo. It was
not just the growing awareness of classical antiquity that drove this
development, according to Vasari, but also the growing desire to study
and imitate nature.
Château de Chambord
Château de Chambord (1519–1547), one of the most famous examples of
In the 15th century, the
Renaissance spread rapidly from its
Florence to the rest of
Italy and soon to the rest of
Europe. The invention of the printing press by German printer Johannes
Gutenberg allowed the rapid transmission of these new ideas. As it
spread, its ideas diversified and changed, being adapted to local
culture. In the 20th century, scholars began to break the Renaissance
into regional and national movements.
Main article: Northern Renaissance
Renaissance in Northern
Europe has been termed the "Northern
Renaissance ideas were moving north from Italy,
there was a simultaneous southward spread of some areas of innovation,
particularly in music. The music of the 15th century Burgundian
School defined the beginning of the
Renaissance in music, and the
polyphony of the Netherlanders, as it moved with the musicians
themselves into Italy, formed the core of the first true international
style in music since the standardization of
Gregorian Chant in the 9th
century. The culmination of the Netherlandish school was in the
music of the Italian composer Palestrina. At the end of the 16th
Italy again became a center of musical innovation, with the
development of the polychoral style of the Venetian School, which
spread northward into
Germany around 1600.
The Triumph of Death
The Triumph of Death (c. 1562) reflects the social
upheaval and terror that followed the plague that devastated medieval
The paintings of the
Italian Renaissance differed from those of the
Italian Renaissance artists were among the first
to paint secular scenes, breaking away from the purely religious art
of medieval painters.
Northern Renaissance artists initially remained
focused on religious subjects, such as the contemporary religious
upheaval portrayed by Albrecht Dürer. Later, the works of Pieter
Bruegel influenced artists to paint scenes of daily life rather than
religious or classical themes. It was also during the Northern
Renaissance that Flemish brothers Hubert and
Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck perfected
the oil painting technique, which enabled artists to produce strong
colors on a hard surface that could survive for centuries. A
feature of the
Northern Renaissance was its use of the vernacular in
Latin or Greek, which allowed greater freedom of expression.
This movement had started in
Italy with the decisive influence of
Dante Alighieri on the development of vernacular languages; in fact
the focus on writing in Italian has neglected a major source of
Florentine ideas expressed in Latin. The spread of the printing
press technology boosted the
Renaissance in Northern
Venice becoming a world center of printing.
Main article: English Renaissance
"What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in
faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how
like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!" — from William
In England, the sixteenth century marked the beginning of the English
Renaissance with the work of writers William Shakespeare, Christopher
Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Sir Thomas More, Francis Bacon, Sir Philip
Sidney, as well as great artists, architects (such as
Inigo Jones who
introduced Italianate architecture to England), and composers such as
Thomas Tallis, John Taverner, and William Byrd.
Main article: French Renaissance
The word "Renaissance" is borrowed from the French language, where it
means "re-birth". It was first used in the eighteenth century and was
later popularized by French historian
Jules Michelet (1798–1874) in
his 1855 work, Histoire de France (
History of France).
In 1495 the
Italian Renaissance arrived in France, imported by King
Charles VIII after his invasion of Italy. A factor that promoted the
spread of secularism was the inability of the Church to offer
assistance against the Black Death. Francis I imported Italian art and
artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, and built ornate palaces at
great expense. Writers such as François Rabelais, Pierre de Ronsard,
Joachim du Bellay
Joachim du Bellay and Michel de Montaigne, painters such as Jean
Clouet, and musicians such as
Jean Mouton also borrowed from the
spirit of the Renaissance.
In 1533, a fourteen-year-old Caterina de'
Medici (1519–1589), born
Florence to Lorenzo II de'
Medici and Madeleine de la Tour
d'Auvergne, married Henry II of France, second son of King Francis I
and Queen Claude. Though she became famous and infamous for her role
in France's religious wars, she made a direct contribution in bringing
arts, sciences and music (including the origins of ballet) to the
French court from her native Florence.
Main article: German Renaissance
The Arnolfini Portrait, by Jan van Eyck, 1434
In the second half of the 15th century, the
Renaissance spirit spread
Germany and the Low Countries, where the development of the
printing press (ca. 1450) and early
Renaissance artists such as the
Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck (1395–1441) and
Hieronymus Bosch (1450–1516)
and the composers
Johannes Ockeghem (1410–1497), Jacob Obrecht
Josquin des Prez
Josquin des Prez (1455–1521) predated the
influence from Italy. In the early Protestant areas of the country
humanism became closely linked to the turmoil of the Protestant
Reformation, and the art and writing of the German Renaissance
frequently reflected this dispute. However, the gothic style and
medieval scholastic philosophy remained exclusively until the turn of
the 16th century. Emperor Maximilian I of
1493–1519) was the first truly
Renaissance monarch of the Holy Roman
Renaissance in the
Netherlands and Dutch and Flemish
Erasmus of Rotterdam in 1523, as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger
Culture in the
Netherlands at the end of the 15th century was
influenced by the
Italian Renaissance through trade via Bruges, which
made Flanders wealthy. Its nobles commissioned artists who became
known across Europe. In science, the anatomist Andreas Vesalius
led the way; in cartography, Gerardus Mercator's map assisted
explorers and navigators. In art, Dutch and Flemish Renaissance
painting ranged from the strange work of Hieronymus Bosch to the
everyday life depictions of Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
Main article: Spanish Renaissance
Renaissance arrived in the Iberian peninsula through the
Mediterranean possessions of the Aragonese Crown and the city of
Valencia. Many early
Spanish Renaissance writers come from the Kingdom
of Aragon, including
Ausiàs March and Joanot Martorell. In the
Kingdom of Castile, the early
Renaissance was heavily influenced by
the Italian humanism, starting with writers and poets such as the
Marquis of Santillana, who introduced the new Italian poetry to Spain
in the early 15th century. Other writers, such as Jorge Manrique,
Fernando de Rojas, Juan del Encina,
Juan Boscán Almogáver and
Garcilaso de la Vega, kept a close resemblance to the Italian canon.
Miguel de Cervantes's masterpiece
Don Quixote is credited as the first
Renaissance humanism flourished in the early 16th
century, with influential writers such as philosopher Juan Luis Vives,
Antonio de Nebrija
Antonio de Nebrija and natural historian Pedro de Mexía.
Spanish Renaissance tended towards religious themes and
mysticism, with poets such as fray Luis de León,
Teresa of Ávila
Teresa of Ávila and
John of the Cross, and treated issues related to the exploration of
the New World, with chroniclers and writers such as Inca Garcilaso de
la Vega and Bartolomé de las Casas, giving rise to a body of work,
now known as
Spanish Renaissance literature. The late
Spain produced artists such as
El Greco and composers such as Tomás
Luis de Victoria and Antonio de Cabezón.
Main article: Portuguese Renaissance
São Pedro Papa, 1530-1535, by
Grão Vasco Fernandes. A pinnacle piece
from when the
Portuguese Renaissance had considerable external
Italian Renaissance had a modest impact in Portuguese arts,
Portugal was influential in broadening the European worldview,
stimulating humanist inquiry.
Renaissance arrived through the
influence of wealthy Italian and Flemish merchants who invested in the
profitable commerce overseas. As the pioneer headquarters of European
Lisbon flourished in the late 15th century, attracting
experts who made several breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy and
naval technology, including Pedro Nunes, João de Castro, Abraham
Zacuto and Martin Behaim. Cartographers Pedro Reinel, Lopo Homem,
Estêvão Gomes and
Diogo Ribeiro made crucial advances in mapping the
Tomé Pires and physicians
Garcia de Orta
Garcia de Orta and
Cristóvão da Costa collected and published works on plants and
medicines, soon translated by Flemish pioneer botanist Carolus
In architecture, the huge profits of the spice trade financed a
sumptuous composite style in the first decades of the 16th century,
the Manueline, incorporating maritime elements. The primary
painters were Nuno Gonçalves,
Gregório Lopes and Vasco Fernandes. In
Pedro de Escobar and
Duarte Lobo produced four songbooks,
including the Cancioneiro de Elvas. In literature, Sá de Miranda
introduced Italian forms of verse.
Bernardim Ribeiro developed
pastoral romance, plays by
Gil Vicente fused it with popular culture,
reporting the changing times, and
Luís de Camões
Luís de Camões inscribed the
Portuguese feats overseas in the epic poem Os Lusíadas. Travel
literature especially flourished: João de Barros, Castanheda,
António Galvão, Gaspar Correia, Duarte Barbosa, and Fernão Mendes
Pinto, among others, described new lands and were translated and
spread with the new printing press. After joining the Portuguese
exploration of Brazil in 1500,
Amerigo Vespucci coined the term New
World, in his letters to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici.
The intense international exchange produced several cosmopolitan
humanist scholars, including Francisco de Holanda, André de Resende
and Damião de Góis, a friend of
Erasmus who wrote with rare
independence on the reign of King Manuel I. Diogo and André de
Gouveia made relevant teaching reforms via France. Foreign news and
products in the Portuguese factory in
Antwerp attracted the interest
of Thomas More and Dürer to the wider world. There, profits
and know-how helped nurture the
Dutch Renaissance and Golden Age,
especially after the arrival of the wealthy cultured Jewish community
expelled from Portugal.
After Italy, Hungary was the first European country where the
renaissance appeared. The
Renaissance style came directly from
Italy during the
Quattrocento to Hungary first in the Central European
region, thanks to the development of early Hungarian-Italian
relationships – not only in dynastic connections, but also in
cultural, humanistic and commercial relations – growing in strength
from the 14th century. The relationship between Hungarian and Italian
Gothic styles was a second reason – exaggerated breakthrough of
walls is avoided, preferring clean and light structures. Large-scale
building schemes provided ample and long term work for the artists,
for example, the building of the Friss (New) Castle in Buda, the
castles of Visegrád, Tata and Várpalota. In Sigismund's court there
were patrons such as Pipo Spano, a descendant of the Scolari family of
Florence, who invited Manetto Ammanatini and Masolino da Pannicale to
The new Italian trend combined with existing national traditions to
create a particular local
Renaissance art. Acceptance of Renaissance
art was furthered by the continuous arrival of humanist thought in the
country. Many young Hungarians studying at Italian universities came
closer to the Florentine humanist center, so a direct connection with
Florence evolved. The growing number of Italian traders moving to
Hungary, specially to Buda, helped this process. New thoughts were
carried by the humanist prelates, among them Vitéz János, archbishop
of Esztergom, one of the founders of Hungarian humanism. During
the long reign of emperor
Sigismund of Luxemburg
Sigismund of Luxemburg the Royal Castle of
Buda became probably the largest Gothic palace of the late Middle
Matthias Corvinus (r. 1458–1490) rebuilt the palace in
Renaissance style and further expanded it.
After the marriage in 1476 of King Matthias to Beatrice of Naples,
Buda became one of the most important artistic centres of the
Renaissance north of the Alps. The most important humanists living
in Matthias' court were
Antonio Bonfini and the famous Hungarian poet
András Hess set up a printing press in
1472. Matthias Corvinus's library, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was
Europe's greatest collections of secular books: historical chronicles,
philosophic and scientific works in the 15th century. His library was
second only in size to the Vatican Library. (However, the Vatican
Library mainly contained Bibles and religious materials.)
In 1489, Bartolomeo della Fonte of
Florence wrote that Lorenzo de'
Medici founded his own Greek-
Latin library encouraged by the example
of the Hungarian king. Corvinus's library is part of UNESCO World
Heritage. Other important figures of Hungarian
Bálint Balassi (poet),
Sebestyén Tinódi Lantos
Sebestyén Tinódi Lantos (poet), Bálint
Bakfark (composer and lutenist), and
Master MS (fresco painter).
Renaissance in Poland
Poznań Town Hall
Poznań Town Hall rebuilt from the
Gothic style by Giovanni Batista di
An early Italian humanist who came to
Poland in the mid-15th century
was Filippo Buonaccorsi. Many Italian artists came to
Poland with Bona
Sforza of Milan, when she married King
Sigismund I the Old
Sigismund I the Old in
1518. This was supported by temporarily strengthened monarchies in
both areas, as well as by newly established universities. The
Renaissance lasted from the late 15th to the late 16th century
and was the Golden Age of Polish culture. Ruled by the Jagiellon
dynasty, the Kingdom of
Poland (from 1569 known as the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth) actively participated in the broad
European Renaissance. The multi-national Polish state experienced a
substantial period of cultural growth thanks in part to a century
without major wars – aside from conflicts in the sparsely populated
eastern and southern borderlands. The
Reformation spread peacefully
throughout the country (giving rise to the Polish Brethren), while
living conditions improved, cities grew, and exports of agricultural
products enriched the population, especially the nobility (szlachta)
who gained dominance in the new political system of Golden Liberty.
Renaissance architecture has three periods of development.
The greatest monument of this style in the territory of the former
Duchy of Pomerania
Duchy of Pomerania is the Ducal Castle in Szczecin.
Renaissance trends from
Italy and Central
many ways. Their influence was rather limited, however, due to the
large distances between
Russia and the main European cultural centers
and the strong adherence of Russians to their Orthodox traditions and
Ivan III introduced
Renaissance architecture to
inviting a number of architects from Italy, who brought new
construction techniques and some
Renaissance style elements with them,
while in general following the traditional designs of Russian
architecture. In 1475 the Bolognese architect Aristotele Fioravanti
came to rebuild the
Cathedral of the Dormition
Cathedral of the Dormition in the
which had been damaged in an earthquake. Fioravanti was given the
12th-century Vladimir Cathedral as a model, and he produced a design
combining traditional Russian style with a
Renaissance sense of
spaciousness, proportion and symmetry.
Palace of Facets
Palace of Facets on the Cathedral Square of the
Ivan III commissioned the building of the royal residence,
Terem Palace, within the Kremlin, with
Aloisio da Milano as the
architect of the first three floors. He and other Italian architects
also contributed to the construction of the Kremlin walls and towers.
The small banquet hall of the Russian Tsars, called the Palace of
Facets because of its facetted upper story, is the work of two
Marco Ruffo and Pietro Solario, and shows a more Italian
style. In 1505, an Italian known in
Aleviz Novyi or Aleviz
Fryazin arrived in Moscow. He may have been the Venetian sculptor,
Alevisio Lamberti da Montagne. He built 12 churches for Ivan III,
including the Cathedral of the Archangel, a building remarkable for
the successful blending of Russian tradition, Orthodox requirements
Renaissance style. It is believed that the Cathedral of the
Metropolitan Peter in Vysokopetrovsky Monastery, another work of
Aleviz Novyi, later served as an inspiration for the so-called
octagon-on-tetragon architectural form in the
Moscow Baroque of the
late 17th century.
Theotokos and The Child, the late 17th century Russian icon by Karp
Zolotaryov, with notably realistic depiction of faces and clothing.
Between the early 16th and the late 17th centuries, an original
tradition of stone tented roof architecture developed in Russia. It
was quite unique and different from the contemporary Renaissance
architecture elsewhere in Europe, though some research terms the style
'Russian Gothic' and compares it with the European Gothic architecture
of the earlier period. The Italians, with their advanced technology,
may have influenced the invention of the stone tented roof (the wooden
tents were known in
Europe long before). According to one
hypothesis, an Italian architect called
Petrok Maly may have been an
author of the Ascension Church in Kolomenskoye, one of the earliest
and most prominent tented roof churches.
By the 17th century the influence of
Renaissance painting resulted in
Russian icons becoming slightly more realistic, while still following
most of the old icon painting canons, as seen in the works of Bogdan
Saltanov, Simon Ushakov, Gury Nikitin,
Karp Zolotaryov and other
Russian artists of the era. Gradually the new type of secular portrait
painting appeared, called parsúna (from "persona" – person), which
was transitional style between abstract iconographics and real
In the mid 16th-century Russians adopted printing from Central Europe,
with Ivan Fyodorov being the first known Russian printer. In the 17th
century printing became widespread, and woodcuts became especially
popular. That led to the development of a special form of folk art
known as lubok printing, which persisted in
Russia well into the 19th
A number of technologies from the European
Renaissance period were
Russia rather early and subsequently perfected to become a
part of a strong domestic tradition. Mostly these were military
technologies, such as cannon casting adopted by at least the 15th
century. The Tsar Cannon, which is the world's largest bombard by
caliber, is a masterpiece of Russian cannon making. It was cast in
Andrey Chokhov and is notable for its rich, decorative relief.
Another technology, that according to one hypothesis originally was
Europe by the Italians, resulted in the development of
vodka, the national beverage of Russia. As early as 1386 Genoese
ambassadors brought the first aqua vitae ("water of life") to Moscow
and presented it to Grand Duke Dmitry Donskoy. The Genoese likely
developed this beverage with the help of the alchemists of Provence,
who used an Arab-invented distillation apparatus to convert grape must
into alcohol. A Moscovite monk called Isidore used this technology to
produce the first original
Russian vodka c. 1430.
Renaissance in Croatia
Renaissance in Scotland
A cover of the Lives of the Artists by Giorgio Vasari
The Italian artist and critic
Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) first used
the term rinascita retrospectively in his book The Lives of the
Artists (published 1550). In the book Vasari attempted to define what
he described as a break with the barbarities of gothic art: the arts
(he held) had fallen into decay with the collapse of the Roman Empire
and only the Tuscan artists, beginning with
Cimabue (1240–1301) and
Giotto (1267–1337) began to reverse this decline in the arts. Vasari
saw antique art as central to the rebirth of Italian art.
However, only in the 19th century did the French word Renaissance
achieve popularity in describing the self-conscious cultural movement
based on revival of Roman models that began in the late-13th century.
Jules Michelet (1798–1874) defined "The
Renaissance" in his 1855 work Histoire de France as an entire
historical period, whereas previously it had been used in a more
limited sense. For Michelet, the
Renaissance was more a
development in science than in art and culture. He asserted that it
spanned the period from Columbus to Copernicus to Galileo; that is,
from the end of the 15th century to the middle of the 17th
century. Moreover, Michelet distinguished between what he called,
"the bizarre and monstrous" quality of the
Middle Ages and the
democratic values that he, as a vocal Republican, chose to see in its
character. A French nationalist, Michelet also sought to claim the
Renaissance as a French movement.
The Swiss historian
Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897) in his The
Civilization of the
Italy (1860), by contrast, defined
Renaissance as the period between
Italy, that is, the 14th to mid-16th centuries. He saw in the
Renaissance the emergence of the modern spirit of individuality, which
Middle Ages had stifled. His book was widely read and became
influential in the development of the modern interpretation of the
Italian Renaissance. However, Buckhardt has been accused[by
whom?] of setting forth a linear Whiggish view of history in seeing
Renaissance as the origin of the modern world.
More recently, some historians have been much less keen to define the
Renaissance as a historical age, or even as a coherent cultural
movement. The historian Randolph Starn, of the University of
California Berkeley, stated in 1998:
"Rather than a period with definitive beginnings and endings and
consistent content in between, the
Renaissance can be (and
occasionally has been) seen as a movement of practices and ideas to
which specific groups and identifiable persons variously responded in
different times and places. It would be in this sense a network of
diverse, sometimes converging, sometimes conflicting cultures, not a
single, time-bound culture".
Debates about progress
See also: Continuity thesis
Painting of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, an event in the French
Wars of Religion, by François Dubois
There is debate about the extent to which the
Renaissance improved on
the culture of the Middle Ages. Both Michelet and Burckhardt were keen
to describe the progress made in the
Renaissance towards the modern
age. Burckhardt likened the change to a veil being removed from man's
eyes, allowing him to see clearly.
Middle Ages both sides of human consciousness – that which
was turned within as that which was turned without – lay dreaming or
half awake beneath a common veil. The veil was woven of faith,
illusion, and childish prepossession, through which the world and
history were seen clad in strange hues.
— Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the
Renaissance in Italy
On the other hand, many historians now point out that most of the
negative social factors popularly associated with the medieval period
– poverty, warfare, religious and political persecution, for example
– seem to have worsened in this era, which saw the rise of
Machiavellian politics, the Wars of Religion, the corrupt Borgia
Popes, and the intensified witch-hunts of the 16th century. Many
people who lived during the
Renaissance did not view it as the "golden
age" imagined by certain 19th-century authors, but were concerned by
these social maladies. Significantly, though, the artists,
writers, and patrons involved in the cultural movements in question
believed they were living in a new era that was a clean break from the
Middle Ages. Some Marxist historians prefer to describe the
Renaissance in material terms, holding the view that the changes in
art, literature, and philosophy were part of a general economic trend
from feudalism towards capitalism, resulting in a bourgeois class with
leisure time to devote to the arts.
Johan Huizinga (1872–1945) acknowledged the existence of the
Renaissance but questioned whether it was a positive change. In his
book The Waning of the Middle Ages, he argued that the
a period of decline from the High Middle Ages, destroying much that
was important. The
Latin language, for instance, had evolved
greatly from the classical period and was still a living language used
in the church and elsewhere. The
Renaissance obsession with classical
purity halted its further evolution and saw
Latin revert to its
classical form. Robert S. Lopez has contended that it was a period of
deep economic recession. Meanwhile,
George Sarton and Lynn
Thorndike have both argued that scientific progress was perhaps less
original than has traditionally been supposed. Finally, Joan
Kelly argued that the
Renaissance led to greater gender dichotomy,
lessening the agency women had had during the Middle Ages.
Some historians have begun to consider the word
Renaissance to be
unnecessarily loaded, implying an unambiguously positive rebirth from
the supposedly more primitive "Dark Ages", the Middle Ages. Most
historians now prefer to use the term "early modern" for this period,
a more neutral designation that highlights the period as a
transitional one between the
Middle Ages and the modern era.
Others such as Roger Osborne have come to consider the Italian
Renaissance as a repository of the myths and ideals of western history
in general, and instead of rebirth of ancient ideas as a period of
Renaissance has also been used to define periods outside of
the 15th and 16th centuries.
Charles H. Haskins
Charles H. Haskins (1870–1937), for
example, made a case for a
Renaissance of the 12th century. Other
historians have argued for a
Carolingian Renaissance in the 8th and
9th centuries, and still later for an
Ottonian Renaissance in the 10th
century. Other periods of cultural rebirth have also been termed
"renaissances", such as the Bengal Renaissance, Tamil Renaissance,
Nepal Bhasa renaissance, al-Nahda or the Harlem Renaissance.
Main article: Outline of the Renaissance
Age of Enlightenment
^ It is sometimes thought that the Church, as an institution, formally
sold indulgences at the time. This, however, was not the practice.
Donations were often received, but only mandated by individuals that
were condemned. (See Indulgence.)
^ French pronunciation: [ʁənɛsɑ̃s], from French:
Renaissance "re-birth", Italian: Rinascimento [rinaʃʃiˈmento], from
rinascere "to be reborn" "Online Etymology Dictionary: "Renaissance"".
Etymonline.com. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
Science and Nature,
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci Retrieved May 12, 2007
^ BBC History,
Michelangelo Retrieved May 12, 2007
^ Burke, P., The European Renaissance: Centre and Peripheries 1998)
^ a b Strathern, Paul The Medici: Godfathers of the
^ Peter Barenboim, Sergey Shiyan, Michelangelo: Mysteries of Medici
Chapel, SLOVO, Moscow, 2006. ISBN 5-85050-825-2
^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Renaissance, 2008, O.Ed.
^ Har, Michael H.
History of Libraries in the Western World, Scarecrow
Press Incorporate, 1999, ISBN 0-8108-3724-2
^ Norwich, John Julius, A Short
History of Byzantium, 1997, Knopf,
^ a b c d Brotton, J., The Renaissance: A Very Short Introduction,
OUP, 2006 ISBN 0-19-280163-5.
Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art 1969:38;
Panofsky's chapter "'Renaissance— self-definition or
self-deception?" succinctly introduces the historiographical debate,
with copious footnotes to the literature.
^ a b Huizanga, Johan, The Waning of the
Middle Ages (1919, trans.
^ a b c Starn, Randolph (1998). "
Renaissance Redux". The American
Historical Review. 103 (1): 122–124. doi:10.2307/2650779.
^ Panofsky 1969:6.
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary cites W Dyce and C H Wilson’s Letter
to Lord Meadowbank (1837): "A style possessing many points of rude
resemblance with the more elegant and refined character of the art of
the renaissance in Italy." And the following year in Civil Engineer
& Architect’s Journal: "Not that we consider the style of the
Renaissance to be either pure or good per se." See Oxford English
^ a b Murray, P. and Murray, L. (1963) The Art of the Renaissance.
London: Thames & Hudson (World of Art), p. 9.
ISBN 978-0-500-20008-7. "...in 1855 we find, for the first time,
the word 'Renaissance' used — by the French historian Michelet —
as an adjective to describe a whole period of history and not confined
to the rebirth of
Latin letters or a classically inspired style in the
^ Perry, M.
Humanities in the Western Tradition, Ch. 13
^ a b c d Open University, Looking at the Renaissance: Religious
Context in the
Renaissance (Retrieved May 10, 2007)
^ Open University, Looking at the Renaissance: Urban economy and
government (Retrieved May 15, 2007)
^ Stark, Rodney, The Victory of Reason, Random House, NY: 2005
^ Walker, Paul Robert, The Feud that sparked the Renaissance: How
Brunelleschi and Ghiberti Changed the Art World (New York,
Perennial-Harper Collins, 2003)
^ Severy, Merle; Thomas B Allen; Ross Bennett; Jules B Billard;
Russell Bourne; Edward Lanoutte; David F Robinson; Verla Lee Smith
Renaissance – Maker of Modern Man. National Geographic
Society. ISBN 0-87044-091-8.
^ Brotton, Jerry (2002). The
Renaissance Bazaar. Oxford University
Press. pp. 21–22.
^ For information on this earlier, very different approach to a
different set of ancient texts (scientific texts rather than cultural
Latin translations of the 12th century, and Islamic
contributions to Medieval Europe.
^ Reynolds and Wilson, pp. 113–123.
^ Reynolds and Wilson, pp. 123, 130–137.
^ Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, Marvin Perry,
Myrna Chase, Margaret C. Jacob, James R. Jacob, 2008, 903 pages,
^ Reynolds and Wilson, pp. 119, 131.
^ Kirshner, Julius, Family and Marriage: A socio-legal perspective,
Italy in the Age of the Renaissance: 1300–1550, ed. John M. Najemy
(Oxford University Press, 2004) p.89 (Retrieved on May 10, 2007)
^ Burckhardt, Jacob, The Revival of Antiquity', The Civilization of
Italy Archived April 7, 2007, at the Wayback
Machine. (trans. by S.G.C. Middlemore, 1878)
^ Skinner, Quentin, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, vol
I: The Renaissance; vol II: The Age of Reformation, Cambridge
University Press, p. 69
^ Skinner, Quentin, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, vol
I: The Renaissance; vol II: The Age of Reformation, Cambridge
University Press, p. 69)
^ Stark, Rodney, The Victory of Reason, New York, Random House, 2005
^ Martin, J. and Romano, D.,
Venice Reconsidered, Baltimore, Johns
Hopkins University, 2000
^ a b Burckhardt, Jacob, The Republics:
Venice and Florence, The
Civilization of the
Italy Archived April 7, 2007, at
the Wayback Machine., translated by S.G.C. Middlemore, 1878.
Barbara Tuchman (1978) A Distant Mirror, Knopf
^ The End of Europe's Middle Ages: The
Black Death University of
Calgary website. (Retrieved on April 5, 2007)
^ Netzley, Patricia D. Life During the Renaissance.San Diego: Lucent
Books, Inc., 1998.
^ Hause, S. & Maltby, W. (2001). A
History of European Society.
Essentials of Western Civilization (Vol. 2, p. 217). Belmont, CA:
Thomson Learning, Inc.
Reformation France" Mack P. Holt pg.30,39,69,166
^ Hatty, Suzanne (1999). "Disordered Body:
Epidemic Disease and
Cultural Transformation". ebscohost. State University of New York.
p. 89. Missing or empty url= (help)
^ Guido Carocci, I dintorni di Firenze, Vol. II, Galletti e Cocci,
Firenze, 1907, pagg. 336-337
^ a b Burckhardt, Jacob, The Development of the Individual, The
Civilization of the
Italy Archived October 3, 2008, at
the Wayback Machine., translated by S.G.C. Middlemore, 1878.
^ Stephens, J.,
Individualism and the cult of creative personality,
The Italian Renaissance, New York, 1990 p. 121.
Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486) wsu.edu Archived January 4,
2011, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Burke, P., "The spread of Italian humanism", in The Impact of
Humanism on Western Europe, ed. A. Goodman and A. MacKay, London,
1990, p. 2.
^ As asserted by Gianozzo Manetti in On the Dignity and Excellence of
Man, cited in Clare, J., Italian Renaissance.
^ Hause, S. & Maltby, W. (2001). A
History of European Society.
Essentials of Western Civilization (Vol. 2, pp. 245–246). Belmont,
CA: Thomson Learning, Inc.
^ Clare, John D. & Millen, Alan, Italian Renaissance, London,
1994, p. 14.
^ Stork, David G. Optics and Realism in
Renaissance Art Archived June
14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved May 10, 2007)
^ Vasari, Giorgio, Lives of the Artists, translated by George Bull,
Penguin Classics, 1965, ISBN 0-14-044164-6.
^ Peter Brueghel Biography, Web Gallery of Art (Retrieved May 10,
^ Hooker, Richard, Architecture and Public Space Archived May 22,
2007, at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved May 10, 2007)
^ Saalman, Howard (1993). Filippo Brunelleschi: The Buildings.
Zwemmer. ISBN 0-271-01067-3.
^ Hause, S. & Maltby, W. (2001). A
History of European Society.
Essentials of Western Civilization (Vol. 2, pp. 250–251). Belmont,
CA: Thomson Learning, Inc.
^ Capra, Fritjof, The
Science of Leonardo; Inside the Mind of the
Great Genius of the Renaissance, New York, Doubleday, 2007. Exhaustive
2007 study by Fritjof Capra shows that Leonardo was a much greater
scientist than previously thought, and not just an inventor. Leonardo
was innovative in science theory and in conducting actual science
practice. In Capra's detailed assessment of many surviving
manuscripts, Leonardo's science in tune with holistic non-mechanistic
and non-reductive approaches to science, which are becoming popular
^ Columbus and Vesalius—The Age of Discoverers. JAMA.
^ Allen Debus, Man and Nature in the
Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1978).
^ Butterfield, Herbert, The Origins of Modern Science, 1300–1800, p.
^ Shapin, Steven. The Scientific Revolution, Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1996, p. 1.
^ "Scientific Revolution" in Encarta. 2007. 
^ a b Brotton, J., "
Science and Philosophy", The Renaissance: A Very
Short Introduction Oxford University Press, 2006
^ Van Doren, Charles (1991) A
History of Knowledge Ballantine, New
York, pp. 211–212, ISBN 0-345-37316-2
^ Burke, Peter (2000) A Social
History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to
Diderot Polity Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 40,
^ Joseph Ben-David wrote:
Rapid accumulation of knowledge, which has characterized the
development of science since the 17th century, had never occurred
before that time. The new kind of scientific activity emerged only in
a few countries of Western Europe, and it was restricted to that small
area for about two hundred years. (Since the 19th century, scientific
knowledge has been assimilated by the rest of the world).
^ Hunt, Shelby D. (2003). Controversy in marketing theory: for reason,
realism, truth, and objectivity. M.E. Sharpe. p. 18.
^ DIWAN, Jaswith. ACCOUNTING CONCEPTS & THEORIES. LONDON: MORRE.
pp. 001–002. id# 94452.
^ Catholic Encyclopedia,
Western Schism (Retrieved May 10, 2007)
^ Catholic Encyclopedia,
Alexander VI (Retrieved May 10, 2007)
^ a b Mommsen, Theodore (1942). "Petrarch's Conception of the 'Dark
Ages'". Speculum. Cambridge MA: Medieval Academy of America. 17 (2):
226–242. doi:10.2307/2856364. JSTOR 2856364.
^ Leonardo Bruni, James Hankins,
History of the Florentine people,
Volume 1, Books 1–4 (2001), p. xvii.
^ Albrow, Martin, The Global Age: state and society beyond modernity
(1997), Stanford University Press, p. 205 ISBN 0-8047-2870-4.
^ a b Panofsky, Erwin.
Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art, New
York: Harper and Row, 1960.
^ The Open University Guide to the Renaissance, Defining the
Renaissance Archived July 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved
May 10, 2007)
^ Sohm, Philip. Style in the Art Theory of Early Modern Italy
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) ISBN 0-521-78069-1.
^ a b Láng, Paul Henry (1939). "The So Called
The Musical Quarterly. 25 (1): 48–59. doi:10.1093/mq/xxv.1.48.
Painting in Oil in the
Low Countries and Its Spread to Southern
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art website. (Retrieved April 5, 2007)
^ Celenza, Christopher (2004), The Lost Italian Renaissance:
Humanists, Historians, and Latin's Legacy. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins
^ a b Michelet, Jules.
History of France, trans. G. H. Smith (New
York: D. Appleton, 1847)
Vincent Cronin (30 June 2011). The Florentine Renaissance. Random
House. ISBN 978-1-4464-6654-4.
^ Strauss, Gerald (1965). "The Religious
Renaissance of the German
Humanists". English Historical Review. 80 (314): 156–157.
^ a b Heughebaert, H.; Defoort, A.; Van Der Donck, R. (1998).
Artistieke opvoeding. Wommelgem, Belgium: Den Gulden Engel bvba.
^ Janson, H.W.; Janson, Anthony F. (1997).
History of Art (5th, rev.
ed.). New York:
Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Harry N. Abrams, Inc. ISBN 0-8109-3442-6.
^ a b University, Brown, The John Carter Brown Library. "Portuguese
Overseas Travels and European Readers". Portugal and Renaissance
Europe. JCB Exhibitions. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
^ Bergin, Speake, Jennifer and Thomas G. (2004). Encyclopedia of the
Renaissance and the Reformation. Infobase Publishing.
^ Bergin, Speake, Jennifer and Thomas G. (2004). Encyclopedia of the
Renaissance and the Reformation. Infobase Publishing. p. 490.
^ Bietenholz, Peter G.; Deutscher, Thomas Brian (2003). Contemporaries
of Erasmus: a biographical register of the
Reformation, Volumes 1–3. University of Toronto Press. p. 22.
^ Lach, Donald Frederick (1994). Asia in the making of Europe: A
century of wonder. The literary arts. The scholarly disciplines
(University of Chicago Press, 1994 ed.). ISBN 0-226-46733-3.
Retrieved July 15, 2011.
^ Peter Farbaky; Louis A. Waldman (November 7, 2011).
Humanism and Art in the Early Renaissance. Harvard University
Press. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
^ Title: Hungary (4th edition)Authors: Zoltán Halász / András Balla
(photo) / Zsuzsa Béres (translation) Published by Corvina, in 1998
ISBN 963-13-4129-1, 963-13-4727-3
^ "the influences of the florentine renaissance in hungary".
Fondazione-delbianco.org. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
History section: Miklós Horler: Budapest műemlékei I, Bp: 1955,
^ Post-war reconstruction: László Gerő: A helyreállított budai
vár, Bp, 1980, pp. 11–60.
^ a b Czigány, Lóránt, A
History of Hungarian Literature, "The
Renaissance in Hungary" (Retrieved May 10, 2007)
^ Marcus Tanner, The Raven King:
Matthias Corvinus and the Fate of his
Lost Library (New Haven: Yale U.P., 2008)
^ Documentary heritage concerning Hungary and recommended for
inclusion in the Memory of the World International Register.
Bona Sforza (1494–1557). poland.gov.pl (Retrieved April 4, 2007)
^ For example, the re-establishment Archived November 20, 2002, at the
Wayback Machine. of
Jagiellonian University in 1364.
^ The first stone tented roof church and the origins of the tented
roof architecture by
Sergey Zagraevsky at RusArch.ru (in Russian)
Pokhlebkin V. V. / Похлёбкин В. В. (2007). The history of
vodka / История водки. Moscow: Tsentrpoligraph /
Центрполиграф. p. 272.
^ "Defining the Renaissance, Open University". Open.ac.uk. Retrieved
July 31, 2009.
^ Burckhardt, Jacob. The Civilization of the
Renaissance in Italy
Archived September 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. (trans. S.G.C
Middlemore, London, 1878)
^ Gay, Peter, Style in History, New York: Basic Books, 1974.
^ Burckhardt, Jacob. "The Civilization of the
Renaissance in Italy".
Archived from the original on October 3, 2008. Retrieved August 31,
^ Savonarola's popularity is a prime example of the manifestation of
such concerns. Other examples include Philip II of Spain's censorship
of Florentine paintings, noted by Edward L. Goldberg, "Spanish Values
and Tuscan Painting",
Renaissance Quarterly (1998) p.914
Renaissance Forum at Hull University, Autumn 1997 (Retrieved on May
^ Lopez, Robert S. & Miskimin, Harry A. (1962). "The Economic
Depression of the Renaissance". Economic
History Review. 14 (3):
^ Thorndike, Lynn; Johnson, F. R.; Kristeller, P. O.; Lockwood, D. P.;
Thorndike, L. (1943). "Some Remarks on the Question of the Originality
of the Renaissance". Journal of the
History of Ideas. 4 (1): 49–74.
doi:10.2307/2707236. JSTOR 2707236.
^ Kelly-Gadol, Joan. "Did Women Have a Renaissance?" Becoming Visible:
Women in European History. Edited by Renate Bridenthal and Claudia
Koonz. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977.
Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to
Shakespeare, University of Chicago Press, 1980.
^ Osborne, Roger (November 1, 2006). Civilization: a new history of
the Western world. Pegasus Books. pp. 180–.
ISBN 978-1-933648-19-4. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
^ Haskins, Charles Homer, The
Renaissance of the Twelfth Century,
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927 ISBN 0-674-76075-1.
^ Hubert, Jean, L'Empire carolingien (English: The Carolingian
Renaissance, translated by James Emmons, New York: G. Braziller,
Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the
Renaissance in Italy
(1860), a famous classic; excerpt and text search 2007 edition; also
complete text online.
Reynolds, L. D. and Wilson, Nigel, Scribes and Scholars: A guide to
the transmission of Greek and
Latin Literature, Clarendon Press,
Cronin, Vincent (1969), The Flowering of the Renaissance,
Cronin, Vincent (1992), The Renaissance, ISBN 0-00-215411-0
Campbell, Gordon. The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance. (2003).
862 pp. online at OUP
Davis, Robert C.
Renaissance People: Lives that Shaped the Modern Age.
(2011). ISBN 978-1-60606-078-0
Ergang, Robert (1967), The Renaissance, ISBN 0-442-02319-7
Ferguson, Wallace K. (1962),
Europe in Transition, 1300–1500,
Fisher, Celia. Flowers of the Renaissance. (2011).
Fletcher, Stella. The Longman Companion to
1390–1530. (2000). 347 pp.
Grendler, Paul F., ed. The Renaissance: An Encyclopedia for Students.
(2003). 970 pp.
Hale, John. The Civilization of
Europe in the Renaissance. (1994). 648
pp.; a magistral survey, heavily illustrated; excerpt and text search
Hall, Bert S. Weapons and Warfare in
Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder,
Technology, and Tactics (2001); https://www.amazon.com/dp/0801869943
excerpt and text search]
Hattaway, Michael, ed. A Companion to
English Renaissance Literature
and Culture. (2000). 747 pp.
Jensen, De Lamar (1992),
Renaissance Europe, ISBN 0-395-88947-2
Johnson, Paul. The Renaissance: A Short History. (2000). 197 pp.;
excerpt and text search
Keene, Bryan C. Gardens of the Renaissance. (2013).
King, Margaret L. Women of the
Renaissance (1991) excerpt and text
Kristeller, Paul Oskar, and Michael Mooney.
Renaissance Thought and
its Sources (1979); excerpt and text search
Nauert, Charles G. Historical Dictionary of the Renaissance. (2004).
Patrick, James A., ed.
Reformation (5 vol 2007), 1584
pages; comprehensive encyclopedia
Plumb, J. H. The
Italian Renaissance (2001); excerpt and text search
Paoletti, John T. and Gary M. Radke. Art in
Italy (4th ed.
Potter, G.R. ed. The New Cambridge Modern History: Volume 1: The
Renaissance, 1493–1520 (1957) online; major essays by multiple
scholars. Summarizes the viewpoint of 1950s.
Robin, Diana; Larsen, Anne R.; and Levin, Carole, eds. Encyclopedia of
Women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England (2007) 459p.
Rowse, A. L. The Elizabethan Renaissance: The Life of the Society
(2000); excerpt and text search
Ruggiero, Guido. The
Renaissance in Italy: A Social and Cultural
History of the Rinascimento (Cambridge University Press, 2015). 648
pp. online review
Rundle, David, ed. The Hutchinson Encyclopedia of the Renaissance.
(1999). 434 pp.; numerous brief articles online edition
Turner, Richard N.
Florence (2005); excerpt and text
Ward, A. The Cambridge Modern History. Vol 1: The
older essays by scholars; emphasis on politics
Bouwsma, William J. "The
Renaissance and the drama of Western
history." American Historical Review (1979): 1-15. in JSTOR
Caferro, William. Contesting the
Renaissance (2010); excerpt and text
Ferguson, Wallace K. "The Interpretation of the Renaissance:
Suggestions for a Synthesis." Journal of the
History of Ideas (1951):
483-495. online in JSTOR
Ferguson, Wallace K. "Recent trends in the economic historiography of
the Renaissance." Studies in the
Renaissance (1960): 7-26.
Ferguson, Wallace Klippert. The
Renaissance in historical thought (AMS
Grendler, Paul F. "The Future of Sixteenth Century Studies:
Reformation Scholarship in the Next Forty Years,"
Sixteenth Century Journal Spring 2009, Vol. 40 Issue 1, pp 182+
Ruggiero, Guido, ed. A Companion to the Worlds of the Renaissance.
(2002). 561 pp.
Starn, Randolph. "A Postmodern Renaissance?"
2007 60(1): 1–24 in Project MUSE
Summit, Jennifer. "
Humanism and the Future of the
Humanities." Literature Compass (2012) 9#10 pp: 665-678.
Trivellato, Francesca. "
Italy and the Muslim Mediterranean
in Recent Historical Work," Journal of Modern
History (March 2010),
82#1 pp: 127–155.
Woolfson, Jonathan, ed. Palgrave advances in Renaissance
historiography (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
Bartlett, Kenneth, ed. The Civilization of the Italian Renaissance: A
Sourcebook (2nd ed. 2011)
Ross, James Bruce, and Mary M. McLaughlin, eds. The Portable
Renaissance Reader (1977); excerpt and text search
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