Chapter 12: The Age of the Renaissance Summary

Flashcard maker : Malcolm Bright
What characteristics distinguish the Renaissance from the Middle Ages?
People who lived in Italy between 1350 and 1550 believed they witnessed a rebirth of antiquity of Greco-Roman civilization; the 1000 years between the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of their era (the Middle Ages) was characterized by darkness due to lack of Classical culture
Renaissance was viewed as a distinct period of European history that began in Italy then spread to rest of Europe
Renaissance Italy was largely an urban society; northern Italy in the mid-fourteenth century was mostly a land of independent cities that dominated surrounding country districts; city-states were centers of Italian political, economic, and social life
Age of recovery accompanied by rediscovery of Classical antiquity which would lead to attempts to reconcile pagan philosophy; revived emphasis on individual ability became a characteristic of the IR
General features of the IR were primarily the preserve of the wealthy upper classes; the IR’s achievement was the product of an elite movement not a mass movement
Jacob Burckhardt
Swiss historian and art critic that created the modern concept of the Renaissance in his book “The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy” (1860)
Saw Italy as the birthplace of the modern world, the revival of antiquity, and secularism
l’uomo universale
Social ideal of a well-rounded personality or universal person who was capable of achievements in many areas of life caused by high regard for human dignity and worth and a realization of individual potentiality
What major social changes occurred during the Renaissance?
After the severe economic reversals and social upheavals of the 14th century, the European economy gradually recovered as the volume of manufacturing and trade increased
Economic Recovery
By the 14th century, Italian merchants were carrying on a flourishing commerce throughout the Mediterranean and had also expanded lines of trade north to the Atlantic seaboard. Great galleys of the Venetian Flanders Fleet maintained a direct sea route from Venice to England and the Netherlands, where Italian merchants came into contact with the increasingly powerful Hanseatic league of merchants. Hard hit by the plague, Italians lost their commercial preeminence while the Hanseatic League prospered.
Renaissance Banquet
As in Greek and Roman society, banquets during the Renaissance had good food, interesting conversations, music, and dancing. It was a symbol of status and opportunity to impress people with the power and wealth of one’s family. Held to celebrate public and religious festivals, official visits, anniversaries, and weddings.
Expansion of Trade
In the early in the thirteenth century, a number of North German coastal towns had formed a commercial and military association known as the Hansa or Hanseatic League. By 1500, more than 80 cities belonged to the League; the Hansa had a monopoly on northern European trade in timber, fish, grain, metals, honey, and wines for nearly 200 years. The southern outlet in Flanders, port city of Bruges, was the economic crossroads of Europe since it was a meeting place between Hanseatic merchants and the Flanders Fleet of Venice; however, silting of the port in the 15th century led to the slow decline of the Hansa which couldn’t compete with larger territorial states,
Trade recovered dramatically from the economic contraction of the 14th century; Italians (especially Venetians) maintained a wealthy commercial empire even with the new restrictive pressures caused by the Ottoman Turks; not until the 16th century when transatlantic discoveries gave new importance to states along the ocean, did Italian city-states suffer
Industries Old and New
Economic depression of the 14th century affected pattern of manufacturing. Woolen industries of Flanders and north Italian cities were devastated before the beginning of the 15th century, when the Florentine wool industry began to recover while Italian cities began to develop and expand luxury industries (silk, glassware, hand-worked items in metal and precious stones).
Other industries (mining, printing, metallurgy) rivalled the textile industry in importance in the 15th century; new machinery and techniques allowed for digging deeper mines and purification of metals. Entrepreneurs quickly developed large mining operations large mining operations to produce copper, iron, and silver; especially valuable were the mineral deposits in central Europe, Hungary, the Tyrol, Bohemia, and Saxony; efficient production of metals allowed for creation of effective firearms
Banking and the Medici
Florence regained preeminence in banking in the 15th century due to the Medici family. They expanded from cloth production into commerce, real estate, and banking. House of Medici was the greatest bank in Europe; the family had controlling interests in the enterprises for wool, silk, and the mining of alum. Were the principal bankers for the papacy; however, the Medici bank suffered a sudden decline at the end of the 15th century due to poor leadership and bad loans. In 1494, the French expelled the Medici from Florence, confiscated their property, and collapsed the Medici financial edifice.
Social Changes in the Renaissance
Inherited its social structure from the Middle Ages which were the three estates; this social order experienced adaptations throughout the Renaissance
The First Estate
Clergy who were grounded in the belief that people should be guided to spiritual ends
The Second Estate
Nobility whose privileges were based on the principle that nobles provided security and justice
Landholding nobles faced declining real incomes during the greater part of the 14th and 15th centuries while expenses to be a noble were rising
A reconstruction of the aristocracy was well under way by 1500; nobles, who were 2-3% of the population in most countries, dominated society like in the Middle Ages; by the 16th century, members of the aristocracy increasingly pursued education to maintain a role in govt.
Baldassare Castiglione
Published “The Book of the Courtier” in 1528; became popular throughout Europe and remained a fundamental handbook for aristocrats for centuries
Castiglione said the three attributes for the perfect courtier is to possess fundamental native endowments such as impeccable character, grace, talents, and noble birth; cultivate certain achievements through military and bodily exercises; and have a Classical education, play a musical instrument, draw, and paint. Aim of the perfect noble was to serve his prince in an effective and honest way
The Third Estate
Consisted of the peasants and inhabitants of the towns and cities
Peasants made up the overwhelming mass of the Third Estate and constituted 85-90% of the European population except in highly urbanized areas of Northern Italy and Flanders
Decline of the manorial system and continuing elimination of serfdom caused by the 14th century economic crisis; began in the 12th century due to the introduction of the money economy due to scutages; lords granted freedom to peasants and accepted their rents which was very convenient for them
Remainder of the Third Estate centered around the inhabitants of towns and cities, merchants/artisans known as the bourgeoisie
Patricians were the top of the urban society whose wealth came from capitalistic enterprises in trade, industry, and banking; below them were the burghers (shopkeepers, artisans, guild masters, guild members); below them were the propertyless workers who earned low wages and the unemployed which constituted 30-40% of the population in cities; urban poverty increased greatly in the late 14th and 15th centuries
Slavery in the Renaissance
Below everyone in the hierarchy were the slaves, especially in Italian cities
Agricultural slavery declined for economic reasons in the Early Middle Ages and was replaced by serfdom by the 9th century; slaves had largely disappeared by the 11th century; slavery first reappeared in Spain during the “Reconquista” where prisoners were enslaved; in the second half of the 14th century, shortage of workers caused by the Black Death led to Italian use of slavery; in 1363, Florence authorized unlimited importation of foreign slaves
Slaves were used for making handcrafted goods, household workers, nursemaids, and children playmates; most slaves were female which led to men buying slaves as mistresses which led to many illegitimate children; slaves in Italy came mainly from the eastern Mediterranean/Black Sea region and some other slaves came from Africa
By the end of the 15th century, slave trade had declined dramatically in Italian cities and slaves were freed for humanitarianism and slaves dried up from the Black Sea due to the Byzantine Empire which led to high prices
Number of black in Europe was small until importation of slaves
The Family in Renaissance Italy
Played an important role in Renaissance Italy
Families that were related and had the same last name lived near each other and may dominate an entire urban district
Family bond was a source of great security in a dangerous and violent world; a crime committed by one family member mean retaliation on the rest of the family
Parents gave careful attention to arranging marriages to strengthen business/family ties; details were worked out well in advance and reinforced by a legally binding marriage contract
Important aspect of the marriage contract was the dowry, money presented by the wife’s family to the husband upon marriage, which was an indication of whether the bride was moving upward or downward in society
Father-husband was the center of the Italian family; he gave it his name, responsible for all legal matters, managed all finances (wife had no share in his wealth), and had absolute authority over his children til he died or formally freed his children
Children only became adults when they went to a judge where formally emancipated
Wife managed the household which gave women a certain degree of autonomy in their daily lives. Women of upper and middle classes were expected to remain home under supervision of father/husband; upper-class wives were frequently pregnant and gave their children to wet nurses while poor women weren’t as frequently pregnant since they had to nurse their babies
10% of mothers died in childbirth; in 15th century Florence, almost 50% of children born to merchant families died before age of 20 so families had as many children as possible
Sexual Norms
Arranged marriages meant that marital relationships weren’t deep emotional attachments but purely formal ties; this led to extramarital relationships; however, only noblemen and princes had sexual license, women were supposed to follow separate guidelines
Great age difference between husbands and wives in IR marriage patterns also encourage tendency to seek sexual outlets outside marriage; prostitution was viewed as a necessary vice since it couldn’t be eliminated so it was regulated
How did Machiavelli’s works reflect the political realities of Renaissance Italy?
By the 15th century, five major powers dominated the Italian peninsula: Milan, Venice, Florence, the Papal States, and Naples
Northern Italy was divided between the duchy of Milan and the republic of Venice. After the death of Francesco Sforza, the last Visconti ruler of Milan in 1447, one of the leading condottieri of the time turned on his Milanese employers, conquered the city, and became the new duke. The Visconti and Sforza rulers worked to create a highly centralized territorial state; they were highly successful in devising systems of taxations that generated enormous revenues
The maritime republic of Venice remained an extremely stable political entity governed by an oligarchy of merchant-aristocrats; commercial empire brought in enormous revenues and gave it status of international power. At the end of the 14th century, Venice embarked on the conquest of a territorial state in Northern Italy to protect its food supply and overland trade routes. Although the expansion made sense to the Venetians, it frightened Milan and Florence which worked to curb what they perceived as the expansionary designs of Venice
Republic of Florence
Dominated the region of Tuscany
By the beginning of the 15th century, Florence was governed by a small merchant oligarchy by a small merchant oligarchy that manipulated the apparently republican government. In 1434, Cosimo de’ Medici (1434-1464) took control of the oligarchy. Cosimo and later his grandson, Lorenzo the Magnificent (1469-1492) were successful in dominating the city at a time when Florence was the center of the cultural Renaissance through lavish patronage and political allies
Papal States
Lay in central Italy
Although these lands were nominally under the political control of the popes, papal residence in Avignon and the Great Schism enabled individual cities and territories like Urbino, Bologna, and Ferrara to be independent of papal authority. Renaissance Popes of the 15th century directed much of their energy toward re-establishing their control over the Papal States
Kingdom of Naples
Encompassed most of southern Italy and the island of Sicily was fought over by the French and the Aragonese until the Aragonese established their domination in the 15th century. Throughout the Renaissance, the kingdom of Naples remained a backward monarchy with a population consisting largely of poverty-stricken peasants dominated by unruly nobles. Shared little in the cultural glories of the Renaissance
Independent City States
Besides the five major states, there were a number of independent city-states under the control of powerful ruling families that became brilliant centers of Renaissance culture in the 15th century. Included Mantua, under the enlightened rule of the Gonzaga lords; Ferrara, governed by the flamboyant d’Este family; and perhaps the most famous, Urbino, ruled by the Montefeltro dynasty
Federigo da Montefeltro, who ruled Urbino from 1444 to 1482, received a Classical education typical of the famous humanist school in Mantua run by Vittorino da Feltre (1378-1446); he also learned the skills of fighting since the family compensated for the poverty of Urbino by hiring themselves out as condottieri
Federigo was not only a good ruler by a rather unusual condottiere by 15th century standards. He didn’t break his promises even when urged to do so by a papal legate; at the same time, Duke Federigo was one of the greatest patrons of Renaissance culture. Under his direction, Urbino became a well-known cultural and intellectual center. Although the duke was a despot, he was benevolent; he could walk safely through the streets of the city without a bodyguard, a feat few Renaissance rulers dared to emulate
Role of Women
Noticeable feature of these smaller Renaissance courts was important role played by women. Battista Sforza, niece of the ruler of Milan, was the wife of Federigo da Montefeltro. The duke called his wife “the delight of both my public and my private hours.” She was an intelligent woman, well-versed in Greek and Latin and did much to foster art and letters in Urbino; since the duke was a prominent condottiere, she governed the state in his frequent absence
Isabella d’Este
Most famous of the Renaissance ruling women (1479-1539), daughter of the duke of Ferrara who married Francesco Gonzaga, marquis of Mantua
Their court was another important center of art and learning in the Renaissance. Educated at the brilliant court of Ferrara, she was known for her intelligence and political wisdom
Called the “first lady of the world” and responsible for amassing one of the finest libraries in all of Italy
Numerous letters to her friends, family, princes, and artists across Europe reveal her political acumen and sense of humor. She effectively ruled Mantua before and after her husband’s death and won reputation as a clever negotiator
Warfare in Italy
Fragmented world of the Italian territorial states gave rise to a political practice that was later used on a larger scale by competing European states. System was especially evident after the Peace of Lodi was signed by the Italian states in 1454 which ended almost a half-century of war and inaugurated a peaceful forty year era in Italy. Alliance system (Milan, Florence, Naples vs. Venice, Papal States) was created that led to a workable balance of power within Italy; the policy failed by established lasting cooperation among the major powers
Growth of monarchical states led to trouble for the Italians since they were now a battlefield for the struggle between France and Spain due to the breakdown of Italian balance of power
Ludovico Sforza, duke of Milan, invited French king Charles VIII (1483-1498) to intervene in Italian politics which ended up in the king occupying the kingdom of Naples with an army of 30,000 men; other Italian states turned to Spanish Ferdinand of Aragon; this all resulted in a fifteen year period where the two nations battled to control Italy; part of a long struggle for power throughout Europe between the Valois and Habsburg dynasties
Terrible sack of Rome in 1527 led to temporary end to the wars and Spanish domination of Italy. Italy didn’t achieve unification and nationhood til 1870
Birth of Modern Diplomacy
Modern diplomatic system was a product of the IR
Ambassador was regarded as the servant of all Christendom, not just his employer, and his business was peace
The concept of an ambassador changed during the IR due to the political situation of Italy. During the Italian wars, the practice of resident diplomats spread to the rest of Europe and the 16th and 17th centuries; Europeans developed the diplomatic machinery still in use today, such as right of ambassadors in host countries and proper procedures for conducting diplomatic business
With the use of permanent resident ambassadors, conception of the purpose of ambassadors changed to best serving the preservation and aggrandizement of his own state
Machiavelli and the New Statecraft
No one gave better expression to the Renaissance preoccupation with political power than Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527). He entered the service of the Florentine republic in 1498, four years after the expulsion of the Medici family. As a secretary to the Florentine Council of Ten, he made numerous diplomatic missions and saw the workings of statecraft at firsthand. His political activity occurred during the period of tribulation and devastation for Italy that followed the French invasion in 1494. In 1512, the Spanish victory over the French led to the reestablishment of Medici power in Florence. Staunch republicans like Machiavelli were exiled. Machiavelli, forced to give up the love of his life, politics, reflected on political power and wrote books including “The Prince” (1513), one of the most famous treatises on political power in the Western world
Chronology of the Italian States in the Renaissance
Duchy of Milan – The Viscontis (1311-1447); The Sforzas (1450-1494)
Florence – Cosimo de’ Medici (1434-1464); Lorenzo de’ Medici (1469-1492)
Peace of Lodi (1454)
Beginning of Italian Wars – French Invasion of Italy (1494)
Sack of Rome (1527)
“The Prince”
Machiavelli’s ideas on politics stemmed from 2 major sources, his knowledge of ancient Rome and his preoccupation with Italy’s political problems. As a result of his experiences, he fully realized that small Italian states were no match for larger monarchical states outside Italian borders and Italy was a battleground for foreign states. His major concerns in “The Prince” were the acquisition and expansion of political power as the means to restore and maintain order in his time. Late medieval political theorists believed that a ruler was justified in exercising political power only if it’s contributed to the common good of the people he served. The ethical side of a prince’s activity was the focus of many late medieval treatises which Machiavelli bluntly contradicted; he considered his approach far more realistic; he believed a prince’s attitude toward power must be based on an understanding of human nature which he perceived as self-centered. Political activity could not be restricted by moral considerations and the prince must be willing to let his conscience sleep for the sake of the state.
He found a good example of the Italian ruler, Cesare Borgia (son of Pope Alexander VI), who used ruthless measures to achieve his goal of carving out a new state in central Italy. Machiavelli was among the first to abandon morality as the basis for the analysis of political activity.
What was humanism, and what effect did it have on philosophy, education, attitudes toward politics, and the writing of history?
Individualism and secularism, two characteristics of the IR, were most noticeable in the intellectual and artistic realms. Italian culture had matured by the 14th century. For the next two centuries, Italy was the cultural leader of Europe. This new Italian culture was primarily the product of a relatively wealthy, urban lay society, The most important literary movement associated with the Renaissance was humanism
Italian Renaissance Humanism
Renaissance humanism was an intellectual movement based on the study of the Classical literary works of Greece and Rome. Humanists studied the “studia humanitatis” (the studies of humanity) of grammar, rhetoric, poetry, moral philosophy (ethics), and history based on Classical writing; these studies are the humanities
Central importance of literary preoccupations in Renaissance humanism is evident in the professional status or occupations of humanists; some were teachers at secondary schools and universities; others served as secretaries and other largely secular jobs
Emergence of Humanism
Petrarch (1304-1374) was often called the father of Italian Renaissance humanism. Took up literary career instead of his father’s dream of being a lawyer; lived in Avignon for a time but his last decades were spent in Italy as guest of various princes and govts.
First intellectual to characterize the Middle Ages as a period of darkness, promoting the mistaken belief that medieval culture was ignorant of Classical antiquity; his interest for the classics led him on a search through monastic libraries for Latin manuscripts; he worried at times whether he was sufficiently attentive to spiritual ideals. His qualms did not prevent him from inaugurating human emphasis on the use of pure Classical Latin and making it fashionable for humanists to use Cicero as a model or prose and Virgil for poetry; he said “Cicero is the prince of the language”
Humanism in 15th Century Italy
In Florence, the humanist movement took a new direction at the beginning of the 15th century when it became closely tied to Florentine civic spirit and pride, giving rise to what one modern scholar has labeled civic humanism. 14th century humanists such as Petrarch had described the intellectual life as one of solitude. The Classical Roman Cicero became a model and inspired the Renaissance ideal to live an active life for one’s state; Leonardo Bruni (1370-1444), a humanist, Florentine patriot, and chancellor of the city, wrote a biography of Cicero called “The New Cicero”.
In the first half of the 15th century, there was a growing interest in Classical Greek civilization. Leonardo Bruni was one of the first Italian humanists that gained a thorough knowledge of Greek; he was a pupil of Byzantine scholar, Manuel Chrysoloras, who taught in Florence from 1396-1400. Humanists eagerly perused the works of Greek poets like Plato.
Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457), brought up in Rome and educated in Latin and Greek, wrote “The Elegances of the Latin Language” to purify medieval Latin and restore Latin over the vernacular.
Humanism and Philosophy
In the second half of the 15th century, a dramatic upsurge in the interest of Plato’s works occurred, especially among the members of the informal discussion group known as the Florentine Platonic Academy. Cosimo de’ Medici became its patron and commissioned a translation of Plato’s dialogues by Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499). Ficino dedicated his life to the translation and exposition of Platonic philosophy known as Neoplatonism.
Ficino undertook the synthesis of Christianity and Platonism into a single system in two major works; his Neoplatonism was based on Neoplatonic hierarchy of substances and theory of spiritual love; he believed humans were the link between the material and spiritual world and their highest duty was to ascend toward that union with God that was the true end of human existence. Ficino’s theory of spiritual or Platonic love maintained that all parts of the universe are held together by bonds of sympathetic love.
Renaissance Hermeticism
Hermeticism was another product of the Florentine intellectual environment of the late 15th century. At the request of Cosimo de’ Medici, Ficino translated a Greek work into Latin which was called “Corpus Hermeticum”. The Hermetic manuscripts contained writings that stressed the occult sciences, with an emphasis on astrology, alchemy, and magic, and focused on theological and philosophical beliefs and speculations. Some Hermetic writings espoused pantheism, which is seeing divinity embodied in all aspects of nature and in the heavenly bodies as well as earthly objects. Renaissance intellectuals believed humans had been created as divine beings given divine creative power but had freely chosen to enter the material world; however, they could recover this divinity through a regenerative experience/purification of the soul
Some of the prominent magi, true sages, in late 15th century Italy were Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494). Mirandola wrote the “Oration on the Dignity of Man”, which used the works of many philosophers for common “nuggets of universal truth”. He believed that humans had unlimited potential and can become whatever they will to become.
Education in the Renaissance
Renaissance humanists believed humans could be dramatically changed by education and developed secondary schools based on their ideas. Most famous school was founded in 1423 by Vittorino da Feltre at Mantua, where Gian Francesco I Gonzaga, wished to provide a humanist education for his children; Vittorino based his educational system of Classical authors, particularly Cicero and Quintilian
Vittorino offered the liberal studies at the core of his academic training; Pietro Paolo Vergerio (1370-1444) wrote “Concerning Character” that stressed the importance of liberal studies as the key to true freedom. Liberal studies included history, moral philosophy, eloquence (rhetoric), letters (grammar and logic), poetry, math, astronomy, and music. Humanist schools were geared for higher class children and the occasional few girls in these schools weren’t taught math or rhetoric. However, some women in Italy were educated in humanist fashion went on to have literary careers such Isotta Nogarola who wrote numerous letters and treatises, Cassandra Fedele who became prominent in Venice for her public recitals of orations, and Laura Cereta who defended the ability of women to pursue scholarly pursuits.
Aim was to produce complete citizens that could participate in the community civic life
Humanism and History
Influenced by Roman and Greek historians, the humanists approached the writing of history differently from the chroniclers of the Middle Ages. The humanist belief had a new sense of chronology after identifying Classical civilization, Middle Ages, and their current age; they were also responsible for the secularization of history writing. Bruni wrote the “History of the Florentine People” which involved emphasizing political forces and role of individuals instead of divine intervention in history.
Francesco Guicciardini
High point of Renaissance historiography was reached at the beginning of the 16th century with the works of Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540). He was considered the greatest historian between Tacitus of the 1st century and Voltaire and Gibbon in the 18th century. He wrote “History of Italy” and “History of Florence” to represent the beginning of “modern analytical historiography.” His purpose of writing history was to teach lessons. He emphasized political and military history and relied heavily on personal examples and documentary sources
Impact of Printing
Renaissance witnessed the invention of printing; the new system of printing in 15th century Europe was printing with movable metal type; Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz played an important role in the completion of movable type from 1445-1450; Gutenberg’s Bible was completed in 1455 or 1456 and was the first true book in the West produced from movable type; printing presses spread rapidly throughout Europe in the second half of the 15th century; 50% of the 8-10 million copies of books in 1500 were religious
Printing of the books encouraged development of scholarly research and desire to attain knowledge; printing press allowed for rapid spread of Reformation ideas in the 16th century
What were the chief characteristics of Renaissance art and how did it differ in Italy and northern Europe?
Renaissance artists considered the imitation of nature their primary goal. Their search for naturalism became an end in itself: to persuade onlookers of the reality if the object or event they were portraying. At the same time, the new artistic standards reflected a new attitude of mind, as well, one in which human beings became the focus of attention, the “center and measure of things,” as one artist proclaimed.
Leonardo and other Italians maintained that Giotto of the 14th century began imitation of nature; however, what Giotto began wasn’t taken up again until the work of Masaccio (1401-1428) in Florence.
Masaccio’s cycle of frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel have long been regarded as the first masterpiece of Early Renaissance art. He used monumental figures, a more realistic relationship between figures and landscape, and visual representation of the laws of perspective.
Paolo Uccello and Antonio Pollaiuolo
Development of an experimental trend which emphasized the mathematical side of painting, (working out of the laws of perspective, and organization of outdoor space and light by geometry and perspective) and the investigation of movement and anatomical structure
Paolo Uccello (1397-1475) used figures as stage props to show off his mastery of the laws of perspective
“The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian” by Antonio Pollaiuolo (c. 1432-1498) attempts to portray the human boy in stress. Indeed, the realistic portrayal of the human nude became one of the foremost preoccupations of Italian Renaissance art. The 15th century was period of experimentation and technical mastery
Sandro Botticelli
During the last decades of the 15th century, a new sense of invention emerged in Florence especially in the circle of artists and scholars who formed the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent. One of the prominent members of this group was Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), whose interest in Greek/Roman mythology was shown in one of his most famous works, “Primavera” (Spring).
Donato di Donatello
Spent time in Rome studying and copying statues of antiquity; among his numerous works was a statue of David, which is the first known life-size, freestanding bronze nude in European art since antiquity. “David” may have a symbol of Florence’s victory of Milan in 1428 and it radiated a simplicity and strength that reflected dignity of humanity
Filippo Brunelleschi
Friend of Donatello’s, accompanied Donatello to Rome. He drew much inspiration from architectural monuments of Roman antiquity and when he returned to Florence, he poured his new insights into the creation of the dome for an unfinished cathedral which had a 140-ft opening which was built from 1420 to 1436
The Medici commissioned him to design a church so Brunelleschi was inspired by Roman models and created the Church of San Lorenzo with an interior different of medieval cathedrals, columns, rounded arches, and a coffered ceiling that didn’t overwhelm churchgoers as Gothic cathedrals did.
New assertion of human individuality, evident in Early Renaissance art, was reflected in new emphasis on portraiture. Patrons appeared in corners of sacred pictures, monumental tombs, and portrait statues honored many of Florence’s prominent citizens. By the mid 15th century, artists were giving an accurate rendering of their subjects’ facial features while revealing the inner qualities of their personalities. This is shown in the portraits of the duke and duchess of Urbino by Piero della Francesca.
Artistic High Renaissance
By the end of the fifteenth century, Italian painter, sculptors, and architects had created a new artistic environment. Many artists had mastered the new techniques for a scientific observation of the world around them and were now ready to move into individualist forms of creative expression. This final stage of Renaissance art, which flourished between 1480-1520, is called the High Renaissance. The shift to the High Renaissance was marked by the increasing importance of Rome as a new cultural center of the IR.
Dominated by the work of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo
Leonardo da Vinci
Represented a traditional figure in the shift to High Renaissance principles. He carried on the 15th century experimental tradition by studying everything and even dissecting human bodies to see more clearly how nature worked; stressed the need to advance beyond such realism and initiated the High Renaissance’s preoccupation with the idealization of nature or the attempt to generalize from realistic portrayal to an ideal form. His “Last Supper”, painted in Milan, used perspective to depict subjects three-dimensionally in a two-dimensional medium; each one of the apostles’ personalities are shown through their gesture and movement; da Vinci was hoping to reveal a person’s inner life
Blossomed as painter at an early age; at 25, he was already regarded as one of Italy’s best painters. He was acclaimed for his numerous madonnas, in which he attempted to achieve an ideal of beauty far surpassing human standards. Well known for his frescoes in the Vatican Palace; his “School of Athens” reveals a world of valance, harmony, and order-the underlying principles of the art of the Classical world of Greece and Rome
Accomplished painter, sculptor, and architect; fiercely driven by his desire to create and worked with great passion and energy on a remarkable number of projects; influenced by Neoplatonism which is evident in his figures on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome; in 1508, Pope Julius II called Michelangelo to Rome and commissioned him to decorate the ceiling which was completed in 1512. He attempted to tell the story of the Fall of Man from the book of Genesis. In his “Creation of Adam”, Adam awaits the divine spark; the more beautiful the figures, the more God-like the figure
The colossal marble statue, “David”, was commissioned by the Florentine govt. in 1501 and completed in 1504; it was the largest sculpture in Italy since the time of Rome (14-ft high)
Was called “Il Divino” – the Divine One.
Donato Bramante
Came from Urbine but took up residence in Rome where he designed a small temple on the supposed site of Saint Peter’s martyrdom. The Tempietto or little temple, with its Doric columns summarized the architectural ideals of the High Renaissance; columns, dome, and sanctuary form a monumental and harmonious whole. Recaptured the grandeur of ancient Rome. His achievement led Pope Julius II to commission him to design a new basilica for Rome, which eventually became the magnificent Saint Peter’s.
The Artist and Social Status
Early Renaissance artists started their careers as apprentices to masters in craft guilds before they became masters and ran their own workshops. Patrons played an important role in the art of the Early Renaissance since guilds depended on commissions for their projects and wealthy patrons determined the content and purpose of the artwork.
By the end of the 15th century, talented individuals like da Vinci were considered artistic geniuses with artistic geniuses with divine energy instead of artisans like in the past; as respect for artists grew, they gained much more profit and were welcomed into upper class circles; the Platonic Academy and Renaissance Neoplatonism were especially important for Florentine painters.
The Northern Artistic Renaissance
Artists of the north (especially the Low Countries) and Italy had different approaches to art; Italians used the human form as the primary vehicle of expression, sought to master technical skills to portray humans in realistic settings, and gave rise to frescoes; in the North, there was prevalence of Gothic cathedrals, stained glass windows, and painters becoming masters of rendering details.
Jan van Eyck
(c. 1390-1441)
Most influential northern school of art in the 15th century was centered in Flanders; Jan van Eyck was one of the first to use oil paint, which allowed for creation of fine details
In his famous “Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride”, he put great detail into the glittering chandelier, mirror reflections, and precise portraits; however, it isn’t a sure thing he knew the laws of perspective instead he most likely imitated nature and followed empirical observation of visual reality; by the end of the 15th century, Northern artists began to study in Italy and became influenced by them
Albrecht Durer
Northern artist of the later period that was greatly affected by the Italians; from Nuremberg, Albrecht Durer made two trips to Italy and absorbed most of the teachings of the Italians which is shown in his mastery of the laws of perspective and proportion
Wrote detailed treatises on perspective and proportion; at the same time, he didn’t reject the use of minute details characteristic of northern artists in his “Adoration of the Magi”; he tried to integrate these details into his works and achieve a standard of ideal beauty by careful examination of the human form
Guillaume Dufay
(c. 1400-1474)
Courts of dukes attracted some of the best artists and musicians, such as Guillaume Dufay.
Considered the most important composer of his era; born in northern France, lived a few years in Italy, combined late medieval style of France and early Renaissance style of Italy in his music
Was the first to use secular tunes to replace Gregorian chants as the fixed melody that served as the basis for Mass; composed a number of secular songs
In Italy and France, the chief form of secular music was the madrigal
Poem set to music which originated in 14th century Italian courts; usually 12-line poems written in the vernacular with an emotional or erotic love theme
By the mid 16th century, they were written for 5 or 6 voices and employed text painting, where the music tried to portray the literal meaning of the text; thus, the melody would rise for the word heaven or use wavelike motion for the word water
By the mid 16th century, madrigal had spread to England where the most popular form was characterized by the “fa-la-la” refrain like “Deck the Halls”
Why do historians sometimes refer to the monarchies of the late 15th century as “new monarchies” or “Renaissance states”?
In the first of the 15th century, European states continued the disintegrative patterns of the previous century, while in the second half of the century, attempts were made to reestablish centralized power of monarchical governments. To characterize the results, some historians used the label “Renaissance states” and others used the label “new monarchies”, especially those of France, England, and Spain at the end of the 15th century. Although monarchs in western Europe succeeded to varying degrees at extending their political authority, rulers in central and eastern Europe were often weak and unable to impose their authority.
Growth of the French Monarchy
Depopulation, desolate farmlands, ruined commerce, and unruly nobles in France after the Hundred Years’ War made it difficult for kings to assert their authority; however, the war developed a strong degree of French nationalism toward a common enemy the kings could use to reeestablish monarchical power. With the consent of the Estates-General, king Charles VII established a royal army with a cavalry and archers and gained the right to levy the taille, an annual direct tax usually on land/property, without any further approval.
Process of developing a French territorial state was greatly advanced by King Louis XI (1461-1483), known as the Spider due to this wily and devious ways; Louis secured a sound source of income from the taille but wasn’t successful in repressing the French nobility; Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy (1467-1477) attempted to create a middle kingdom between France and Germany stretching from the Low Countries to Switzerland which ended up in Louis’ opposition and the killing of Charles in 1477 while fighting the Swiss; Louis took Charles’ possessions and took the provinces of Anjou, Maine, Bar, and Provence three years later; Louis created the base for the later development of the French Monarchy
England: Civil War and a New Monarchy
Cost of the war in its final years and losses in manpower strained the English economy; even greater domestic turmoil occurred due to the War of Roses in the 1450s which pitted the ducal house of Lancaster against the ducal house of York; in 1485, Henry Tudor, duke of Richmond, defeated the last Yorkist king, Richard III (1483-1485), at Bosworth Field and established the Tudor dynasty. Henry Tudor became the first Tudor king, Henry VII (1485-1509). Henry VII worked to reduce internal dissension and establish a strong monarchical government; he abolished “livery and maintenance”, the practice where wealthy aristocrats maintained private armies of followers to end the private wars of the nobility; England relied on specific commissions to trusted nobles to raise troops since England didn’t have a standing army; he established the Court of Star Chamber
Henry VII was successful in extracting funds from traditional finance resources to prevent wars and avoid asking Parliament for funding; didn’t overburden landed gentry and middle class with taxes which resulted in Henry VII winning their favor and him leaving England with a stable, prosperous government, and enhanced status for the monarchy
Court of Star Chamber
Established by Henry VII
Didn’t use juries and allowed torture to be used to extract confessions
Unification of Spain
Several independent Christian kingdoms emerged in the course of the long reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Muslims during the Middle Ages. A major step towards the unification of the two Iberian kingdoms was the marriage of Isabella of Castile (1474-1504) and Ferdinand of Aragon (1479-1516); the two reorganized the Spanish military forces and developed a strong infantry force which made it the best European army by the 16th century. Ferdinand and Isabella secured the right to select the most important Spanish church officials and instituted reform in the clergy; not only that, Ferdinand and Isabella wanted religious uniformity in Spain so they asked the Pope to put in place the Inquisition in 1478.
The Inquisition
Introduced in 1478 by Ferdinand and Isabella
Worked with cruel efficiency to guarantee the orthodoxy of the converts but had no authority over practicing Jews
In 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella expelled all professed Jews from Spain which meant that an estimated 150,000 out of 200,000 Jews fled
Ferdinand and Isabella attacked the kingdom of Granada for 11 years until 1492 so that there were no Muslims in the country; Muslims were recommended to convert but in 1502, Isabella issued a decree expelling all Muslims from her kingdom; being Spanish meant that you were Catholic; Spain would end up being a staunch pillar of the Catholic Church during the 16th century reformation
The Holy Roman Empire: The Success of the Habsburgs
Failed to develop a strong, monarchical authority. After 1438, the position of Holy Roman Emperor remained in the hands of the Habsburg dynasty, one of the wealthiest landholders in the empire.
The Habsburg success in the 15th century was due to well-executed policy of dynastic marriages which included marriages of Maximilian (son of Emperor Frederick III) and Mary (daughter of Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy) which led to Emperor Frederick III (1440-1493) gaining Frenche-Comte, Luxembourg, and a large part of the Low Countries; the addition of these territories made French rulers fear they’d be surrounded by the Habsburgs
Maximilian I (1493-1519) became emperor and attempted to centralize the administration which failed; however, he got his son, Philip of Burgundy, to marry Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, who then had a son, Charles, who became the heir to the Habsburg, Burgundian, and Spanish lines.
Struggle for Strong Monarchy in Eastern Europe
Rulers struggled to achieve centralization of territorial states but faced serious obstacles in Eastern Europe. Although the population was mostly Slavic, religious differences (Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox Christians, pagans) caused trouble in the area.
Much of Polish history revolved around a bitter struggle between the crown and the landed nobility until the end of the 15th century, when the preoccupation of Poland’s rulers with problems in Bohemia and Hungary, as well as war with the Russians and Turks, enabled the aristocrats to reestablish their power. Through their control of the Sejm or national diet, the magnates reduced the peasantry to serfdom by 1511 and establish right to elect their kings; Polish kings proved unable to establish a strong royal authority.
Neighbor of Poland and was a part of the Holy Roman Empire but distrusted the Germans; due to this and close ties to the Poles and Slovaks, the Czechs of Bohemia were encouraged to associate with their northeastern Slavic neighbors. The Hussite Wars led to further dissension and civil war; due to a weak monarchy, the Bohemian nobles increased their authority and wealth at the expense of both crown and church
History of Hungary was closely tied to that of central and western Europe by its conversion to Roman Catholicism by German missionaries
For a brief while, Hungary were an important and dominant European state due to King Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490) who broke the power of wealthy lords and created a well-organized bureaucracy. He patronized the new humanist culture, brought italian scholars and artists to his capital at Buda, and made his court one of the most brilliant outside of Italy; however, after the death of Corvinus, Hungary returned to weak rule and Corvinus’ was largely undone
Since the 13th century, Russia was under the domination of Mongols; gradually, the princes of Moscow rose to prominence by using their close relationship to the Mongol khans to increase their wealth and expand possessions
In the reign of the great prince Ivan III (1462-1505), a new Russian state, the principality of Moscow, was born. Ivan III annexed other Russian principalities and took advantage of dissension among the Mongols to throw off their yoke by 1480.
The Ottoman Turks and the End of the Byzantine Empire
Eastern Europe was increasing threatened by the steadily advancing Ottoman Turks; however, the Byzantine Empire was severely weakened by the sack of Constantinople in 1204 and its occupation by the West. Threat from the Turks doomed the long-lasting Byzantine Empire.
Beginning in northeastern Asia Minor in the 13th century, the Ottoman Turks spread rapidly seizing lands of the Seljuk Turks, the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, and the Balkans. Under Sultan Murad, they moved through Bulgaria and into Servia. In 1389, at the battle of Kosovo, Ottoman forces defeated the Serbs but both King Lazar of Serbia and Sultan Murad died. In 1480, Bosnia, Albania, and the rest of Serbia were added to the Ottoman Empire. In the meantime, in 1453, Ottomans completed the demise of the Byzantine Empire laid siege to Constantinople and used massive cannons to breach the walls under the rule of Sultan Mehmet II. They took the Romanian territory of Wallachia in 1476, but couldn’t take Hungary; internal problems and need to consolidate eastern frontiers at the end of the 15th century prevented from further attacks on Europe; but, the beginning of the 16th century was when the Ottomans renewed their offensive against the West.
Chronology of Europe in the Renaissance
France – Charles VII (1422-1461); Louis XI the Spider (1461-1483)
England – War of the Roses (1450s-1485); Richard III (1483-1485); Henry VII (1485-1509)
Spain – Isabella of Castile (1474-1504); Ferdinand of Aragon (1479-1516); Marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella (1469); Introduction of the Inquisition (1478); Expulsion of the Jews (1492); Expulsion of the Muslims (1502)
Holy Roman Empire – Frederick III (1440-1493); Maximilian I (1493-1519)
Eastern Europe – Battle of Kosovo (1389); Hungary: Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490); Russia: Ivan III (1462-1505); Fall of Constantinople and Byzantine Empire (1453)
What were the policies of the Renaissance popes and what impact did those policies have on the Catholic Church?
As a result of the efforts of the Council of Constance, the Great Schism had finally been brought to an end in 1417. The ending of the schism proved to be the council’s easiest task; it was much less successful in dealing with the problem of heresy and reform.
The Problems of Heresy and Reform
Heresy was not a new problem and in the 13th century, the church developed inquisitorial machinery to deal with it. But two widespread movement in the 14th and early 15th centuries, Lollardy and Hussitism, posed new threats to the church.
John Wyclif
English Lollardy was product of the Oxford theologian, John Wyclif (c. 1328-1384), whose disgust with clerical corruption led him to make a far-ranging attack on papal authority and medieval Christian beliefs and practices; alleged that there was no basis in Scripture for papal claim of temporal authority and advocated popes should be stripped of authority and property. Believed Bible should be a Christian’s sole authority and urged it should be made available in all vernacular languages so every Christian can read it. Condemned pilgrimages, veneration of saints, whole series of rituals and rites developed by the church, and all practices not mentioned in the Scripture; his followers were known as Lollards
John Hus
Marriage between royal families of England and Bohemia allowed Lollard ideas to spread to Bohemia, where they reinforced the ideas of a group of Czech reformers led by John Hus (1374-1415), chancellor of the university at Prague
Urged elimination of the worldliness, corruption of the clergy; attacked excessive power of the papacy within the Catholic Church
He was summoned to the Council of Constance and was arrested, condemned as a heretic, and burned at the stake in 1415. This ended up resulting in the Hussite wars until a truce was arranged in 1436.
Reform of the Church
Efforts of the Council of Constance to reform the church were even less successful than its attempt to eradicate heresy; the council passed “Sacrosancta”, that stated a general council of church received its authority from God, and “Frequens”, that provided for the regular holding of general councils to ensure that church reform would continue; both these decrees provided a legislative system within the church superior to the popes; however, these decrees were insufficient to reform the church and the conciliar movement ended in 1460 when Pope Pius II issued the papal bull, “Execrabilis”, that condemned appeals to a council over the head of a pope as heretical.
By the mid 15th century, popes had reasserted supremacy over the Catholic, couldn’t assert supremacy over temporal governments as in medieval times, and lost much moral prestige; the Renaissance papacy contributed to the decline of moral leadership of 15th century popes
Renaissance Papacy
Encompasses line of popes from end of the Great Schism (1417) to the beginnings of the Reformation in the early 16th century. Primary concern of the papacy was governing the Catholic Church as its spiritual leader.
Pope Julius II
Warrior-pope who was most involved in war and politics out of all Renaissance popes
Personally led armies against his enemies, much to the disgust of pious Christians, who saw the pope as a spiritual leader
Nepotism in the Papacy
Popes couldn’t build dynasties over several generations but came to rely on the practice of nepotism to promote family interests. Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) made five of his nephews cardinals and gave them an abundance of church offices to build up their finances. Alexander VI (1492-1503), member of the Borgia family, raised one son, one nephew, and the brother of one mistress to cardinalate; Alexander scandalized the church by encouraging his son Cesare to carve out a state for himself from the territories of the Papal states
Patronage of the Papacy
Renaissance popes were great patrons of Renaissance culture. Pope Julius II endeavored to add to the splendor of his pontificate by tearing down the Basilica of Saint Peter and begin construction of the greatest building in Christendom, the present Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Leo X, Julius’ successor, Medici family member, and patron of Renaissance culture, was made an archbishop at the age of 8 and cardinal at 13 and pope at 37; he acquired a refined taste in art, manners, and social life
The Church in the Renaissance Chronology
Council of Constance: (1414-1418); Burning of John Hus: (1415); End of the Great Schism (1417)
Pius II issues the papal bull “Execrabilis”: (1460)
The Renaissance Papacy:
Sixtus IV: (1471-1484)
Alexander VI: (1492-1503)
Julius II: (1503-1513)
Leo X: (1513-1521)
Chapter Summary
Beginning in Italy, the Renaissance was an era that rediscovered the culture of ancient Greece and Rome and was a time of recovery from the 14th century.
Movement in which intellectuals and artists proclaimed a new vision of humankind and raised fundamental questions about the value and importance of the individual; humanism was an intellectual movement based on the study of Classical literary works, humanist education’s goal was to produce individuals of virtue and wisdom, and civic humanism wanted the ideal citizen to be an active participant in the life of the state.
IR artists sought not only to persuade onlookers of the reality of the object but to focus attention on human beings as “the center and measure of all things”; at the end of the 15th century, the new cultural center moved from Florence to Rome; the works of da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo portrayed the beauty of the High Renaissance
Renaissance in Europe brought on an era of centralized monarchies (England, France, Spain) as well as the private armies of the aristocracy, rising taxes, and creation of professional armies; popes also became mired in political and temporal concerns instead of their spiritual responsibilities
The Renaissance raised new questions about medieval traditions; humanists raised issues about the Catholic Church which would lead to a religious renaissance known as the Reformation
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