European Civilization – Part 1

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Serfdom
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Serfs had existed in existed for centuries even where the manorial system took hold. The development of manorialism increased the incidence of serfdom in northern Europe as compared with Spain, northern Italy, southern France and central Germany. Serfs were not allowed to leave their land without their lord’s permission, though many did to become town dwellers. They were forced to work for their lords without pay, paid humiliating fines to their lord when they fornicated illicitly, married, or died, and were subject to the jurisdiction of their lord’s manorial court. Their servile status was heritable but their obligations to their lord were fixed by custom and they weren’t sold apart from the lands they held.
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Serfdom And the Limits of Manorialism
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The manorial system was limited to England, northern France, and western Germany. Even in these areas, manorialism was breaking down because the lords started to commute labor services into cash payments, to free their serfs, and to live from rents rather than agricultural revenues. Reasons for the decline of serfdom are various and complex. Monetization greatly affected the decline of serfdom. There is no simple correlation between commercialisation and the decline of serfdom.
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Manorialism
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It started in the Middle Ages in England, Northern France, and Western Germany. Free peasants used to live freely on individual lands where they farmed with their own sources and paid the rent to the landlords. These individual peasants started to group in the ninth century and they all started to farm in large common fields and this complex because known as \”manor\” which was all about rents, renders, dues, fines and fields. These changes are believed to have been made by the peasants themselves since the investments cost lower and the large fields could be farmed more efficiently than small fields and the farmers can also experiment different kinds of crops in bigger fields and have diverse kinds of crop rotations. Beside these advantages, there also were unfortunately, disadvantages for the peasants since the lords had the major role in forcing the creation of the lands and also had a lot of benefits from them. The landlord also had a third to even a half of the peasant’s land and made it his \”demesne\” where he produced anything he wanted. However, to do that, the manorial lords forced the free peasants to work on their lands and as a result the free peasants slowly became serfs.
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Feudalism
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A fee or fief was contract where someone gave land, tolls, mills or even a sum of money to someone who would in return work for him. This sometimes was unfair especially when land was involved since this last one was known as the most valuable gift. When for example a man accepts land from another man in return for service, the recipient doesn’t usually do what he promises. In some areas, when this happens, the recipient might become the \”vassal\” of the \”boy\” of the gift giver who becomes the \”lord\”. This relation might be honoured by an act of \”homage\” where the vassal becomes \”the man\” of his lord. This system became an important element in ordering social and political relations between counts, castellans and knights. Feudal relationships were not hierarchical since counts help lands from knights and knights help lands from each other (there was no feudal pyramid).
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The Three Orders
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The three orders composed the dynamic of medieval society. They were those who pray (or the clergy, at the top of the ladder,) those who fight (the second estate or the medieval nobility,) and those who work (the last class or the European men and women who were peasants.)
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Pope Urban II
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The person who would become Pope Urban II was born around 1035 to a noble family in northern France and was church-educated. He was a Pope from 1088 to 1099 and is most known for starting the First Crusade (1096 – 1099). He was one of the most prominent and active supporters of the Gregorian reforms.
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The First Crusade
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The first crusade was launched in 1095 at a council in Clermont. Alexus Communus had asked Urban II for help to fight the Seljuk Turks. Urban II made it a personal affair & called for the recapture of Jerusalem. Some men were willing to fight for greed others wanted to be washed from their sins. About 100,000 men fought in the first Crusade. The first crusade was religious excluding some higher lords who wanted to gain lands in the east which was unlikely. From 1096, crusaders started persecuting Jews in large European cities. Though the Church tried to stop this the massacre remained. Crusaders were shocked by Alexius’ claim on the fact that they should restore the lands they recaptured. They didn’t understand why Byzantines allied with some Muslims against others. A belief that the Byzantines were with the Muslims emerged. The first Crusade was successful but this success was mainly attributed to the fact that Muslims were internally divided though crusaders had good military tactics (armored knights). Italian cities excluding Venice joined the crusades in hope of controlling Muslim trade. This made Byzantine commerce decline further. First Crusade contributed to the shifting balance of power between Byzantium and the West.
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The Capture of Jerusalem
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The first assault made by the Christians upon the walls of the city was repulsed; but the second was successful, and the city was in the hands of the crusaders by July 1099. Godfrey of Bouillon and Tancred were among the first to mount the ramparts. Once inside the city, the crusaders massacred their enemies without mercy. A terrible slaughter of the infidels took place. For seven days the carnage went on, at the end of which time scarcely any of the Muslim faith were left alive. The Christians took possession of the houses and property of the infidels, each soldier having a right to that which he had first seized and placed his mark upon.
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Kingdom of Jerusalem
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The kingdom was established after the occupation of the crusaders to Jerusalem in 1099. Gottfried Bulonsky, one of the leaders of the First Crusades, has been elected the first king. He refused to accept this title, not wishing to wear a royal crown, where the Savior was thorns but instead he took the title Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri ( \”Defender Sepulcher\”). Godfried died the following year, his brother and heir, Baldvin I, was not so religious, and immediately took the title \”The King of Jerusalem\”. Baldvin successfully expanded the kingdom, capturing the port city, Accra, Sidon and Beirut, as well as approving its sovereignty over the states of crusaders in the North – county Edessa (it is based), the Principality of Antioch and the county of Tripoli. When it increased the number of residents – latinyan that came with the rearguard crusade, as well as the Latin patriarch appeared. The Italian city-states (Venice, Pisa and Genoa) began to play an important role in the kingdom. Their fleet took over the port, where they received their neighborhoods for the trade. Baldvin died in 1118 and left no heirs, he was succeeded by his cousin Baldvin de Burke, Count Edessy. Baldvin II was also able ruler, and, although he several times during the rule went into captivity to the Seljuks, the borders of the state expanded, and in 1124 was taken Tire.
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Dante Alighieri
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The greatest work of medieval literature is the \”The Divine Comedy\” written by Dante Alighieri. Dante (1265-1321) was politically active in his native city (Florence). Throughout his life, he remained tightly connected to his native city. Dante was engaged and politics and he was a layman but he also acquired religious, philosophic and literary knowledge of his time. Though he was a layman, Dante knew the Bible and the church fathers and he absorbed the most recent Scholastic theology. He was familiar with Virgil, Cicero, Beothius and numerous other classical writers. Dante was familiar with troubadour poetry and Italian poetry of his time. In 1301, he was expelled from Florence because of political conflicts and was forced to live the rest of his life in exile. He wrote \”The Divine Comedy\” during his exile. \”The Divine Comedy\” is a narrative powerful rhyming Italian verse which recounts the author’s journey through hell, purgatory and paradise. At the beginning of the poem, Dante refers to his lost Christian faith by using metaphors such as a \”dark wood\”. Virgil then leads Dante out of the dark forest and through hell and purgatory. The character of Virgil represents the heights of classical reason and philosophy. Dante’s dead beloved; Beatrice (who represents blessedness) leads him to paradise. As his journey drifts from hell to heaven, Dante meets historical personages and his own contemporaries who instruct him and guide him. After his journey, Dante returns with more wisdom and understanding along with confidence and certainty to his lost Christian faith. Dante’s work is satisfying for many reasons which include the language and images used in his works, the subtle complexity and poetic symmetry, the author’s array of learning, the vitality of his characters and stories and by the poet’s rising imagination. Historians find it remarkable that Dante can use the best of medieval learning in such an artistic and satisfying manner. Dante focused on the precedence of salvation, but he viewed earth as existing for human benefit. He gave the right to choose between good and avoid evil and accepted Greek philosophy as authoritative in its own sphere. His hope and ultimate faith in humanity make him one of the most affirmative writers who ever lived.
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Dialectic
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It is a method of argument for resolving disagreement that has been central to Indic and European philosophy sine antiquity. Dialectics was one of the three liberal arts taught in the medieval universities as part of the trivium (rhetoric, grammar and dialectics). Boethius was the first medieval philosopher to work on this subject basing many of his teaching on Aristotle.
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Scholasticism
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Scholasticism emerged as the result of the encounter between greek and Arabic philosophy and the christian faith. Although the word Scholasticism has many meanings, the root meaning is the method of teaching and learning in medieval schools. It was a world view. It taught that there was a connection between knowledge obtained naturally and that imparted by the divine revelations. Basically, Scholasticism is the theory of uniting philosophy with the christian faith. After the success of Abelard two further steps were taken to prepare for scholasticism; 1) writing of \”book of sentences\” by peter lompard abelards student. Which raised all the questions with answers by the bible and christian leaders. 2) the reacquisition of classical philosophy. Both of the steps allowed for the path of scholasticism to be a success.
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Universities
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The rise of universities was part of the educational boom. Universities were typically used for the advancement in studies that a cathedral school could not provide, such as Liberal arts, theology, law and medicine. The idea of \”University culture\” was a medieval creation; they were different to ancient schools, because universities awarded degrees, had a fixed curriculum and organized faculties. Universities were organized like guilds and corporations in the middle ages. Modern universities are derived from the medieval ones; despite this many courses have been changed. The length to achieve a degree in a medieval university was a very long a tedious process. For a student to receive a bachelor of arts he was required to begin his studies early in his teens and finish early twenties. He then would preform an extra 8 years for a M.A. If necessary a further 13 years was required to achieve a doctorate. Aside from the boisterous student life, the actual studying part of student culture was very strict and intense, requiring a great deal of memorization. During the middle ages many male Europeans above the peasant class were gaining a decent higher level education.
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Chivalry
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Chivalry was a knightly code of values stressing bravery, loyalty, generosity, skill with weapons, and proper manners as constituent elements in true nobility. This code sprang as the costs of knighthood and its prestige increased. Chivalry (which means horsemanship) was for long the defining element in the European nobility’s image of itself. Chivalry was so appreciated by knights and nobles mostly because it gave them a distinguished social image from the people who belonged to the high medieval society (who were their rivals). These people include prosperous free farmers, merchants, lawyers and artisans. The knights and nobles appreciated chivalry because it helped them distinguish themselves from the people of the medieval society who were their rivals in wealth and political power. Some noble families had noble ancestors while others didn’t. Some families who had noble ancestors lost their nobility because of a lack of wealth. The amalgamation between nobility and knighthood fostered by chivalry offered something to both sides. The old noble families were assured to have the virtue of noblemen and the chivalric values inhered in their blood; while for the knights (along with the merchants and lawyers who sometimes adopted the manners of noblemen) chivalry was a way of gaining social positions through their skill, loyalty and bravery. Chivalry was first a value system of socially diverse knightly kingdom but it changed and became the ideology of a social class used to demarcate from noble and not noble. These demarcations were perfectly clear during the battles because it was obvious that the chivalric code applied exclusively to the knights. Knights had to treat other knights with respect and if they were their enemies, they had to capture them for ransom instead of killing them. (They also had to trust their ‘parole’ that their ransom would be paid). Soldiers, urban militias and archers did not apply such chivalric code and they could be slaughtered by knights (instead of having to be captured and pay their ransom.)
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Courtly Love
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Courtly love was a cult which was closed to the ideology of chivalry. It made noblewomen objects of venerating for their knightly admirers. It was also a matter of classes. The noblewomen were offered \”refined\” love and respect while the peasant women could even be taken by force if they would not yield willingly to the desires of a nobleman. Our knowledge about courtly love comes from literature which is not really reliable and putting women on a pedestal is a gentler way of limiting women’s choices; therefore the question (does courtly love affect the attitudes of nobleman towards noblewomen) remains controversial. Though many questions remain about the time of courtly love, it is known that life improved for both women and mean during that time. Before, women were totally ignored and weren’t mentioned in literature (or they were portrayed as subservient wives and mothers) but as castles evolved to become locals with private places (even for women), women started to gain importance (even in literature). Though literature of courtly love was exaggerated and idealistic, it expressed a culture where the noblemen treated the noblewomen with respect. Royal women even had the chance to rule when their husbands or sons were dead or sick. (Examples are queen Urraca Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Blanche of Castille.) But queens aren’t typical women and high medieval women were still very constrained; however, it was still a progress for women. The progress of freedom of noblemen was shown through the history of the game of chess. In the Islamic world, chess was played using the piece of a king who could move only diagonally. During the progress, this piece changed to a queen who could move all over the board.
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Franciscans & Dominicans
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A new order of friars (they resembled monks in their normal conduct) were added: the Franciscans and the Dominicans. They wandered around towns offering spiritual guidance. They were poor and begged for food just like the Waldensians however, they fought heresy. The Dominican order was founded by Saint Dominic and they fought against heresy and also to the change of Jews and Muslims. Many members were teachers in European universities and contributed in the development of philosophy and theology Saint Thomas Aquinas had a theological work about the conversion of non-Christians.) The Dominicans were very intellectual and became the strongest administrators. The Franciscans were different from the Dominicans because they weren’t as intellectual and were more emotionally focused. The founder was Saint Francis of Assisi and he was a normal man who behaved as a rebel even if his father was a rich merchant. He gave away all his properties, took off his clothes in public and wore only beggar clothes, he began to preach salvation. He imitated the life of the Christ and hoped to have the pope’s support. He finally did and the Franciscan order spread and became more civilised, however it continued with the outdoor preaching. Until the thirteenth century the Franciscans and Dominicans worked closely with the papal monarchy. The friars combated heresy, helped preach papal crusades and were active in missionary work.
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Portolan Maps
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Portolan charts are navigational maps based on descriptions of coasts and harbors. First made in the 14th century in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, they were considered State secrets because of the advent of the Age of Discovery. Portolans failed to take into account the curvature of the earth; as a result, they were unhelpful in crossing the open ocean, as navigational tools. Instead they derived their use in close quarters identification of landmarks. Portolani were useful for navigation in smaller bodies of water, such as the Mediterranean, Black, or Read Seas.
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Marco Polo
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Marco Polo (1254-1324) was a Venetian and probably the most famous Westerner traveled on the Silk Road. He excelled all the other travelers in his determination, his writing, and his influence. His journey through Asia lasted 24 years.
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Genghis Khan
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(12-13th centuries) He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. After founding the Mongol Empire and being proclaimed \”Genghis Khan\”, he started the Mongol invasions that resulted in the conquest of most of Eurasia. TThese campaigns were often accompanied by wholesale massacres of the civilian populations. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China. Before Genghis Khan died, he assigned Ogedei Khan as his successor and split his empire into khanates among his sons and grandsons. He died in 1227 after defeating the Western Xia. His descendants went on to stretch the Mongol Empire across most of Eurasia by conquering and/or creating vassal states out of all of modern-day China, Korea, the Caucasus, Central Asian countries, and substantial portions of modern Eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Many of these invasions resulted in the large-scale slaughter of local populations, which have given Genghis Khan and his empire a fearsome reputation in local histories. Mongol campaigns may have resulted in the deaths of 40 million people. Genghis Khan also advanced the Mongol Empire in other ways. He decreed the adoption of the Uyghur script as the Mongol Empire’s writing system and promoted religious tolerance in the Mongol Empire, and created a unified empire from the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. Present-day Mongolians regard him as the founding father of Mongolia.
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The Silk Road
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The Silk Road is a historical network of trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian area connecting East, South, and Western Asia to the Mediterranean and European world (as well as parts of North and East Arica).
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Siege of Caffa
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The Great Famine
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The Great Famine of 1315-1317 was the first of a series of large scale crises that struck Northern Europe early in the fourteenth century. From the Pyrenee to Russia and Scotland to italy, it caused millions of deaths over an extended number of years and marks a clear end to a period of growth and prosperity during the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. Starting with bad weather in spring 1315, universal crop failures lasted through 1316 until summer harvest in 1317; Europe did not fully recover until 1322. It was a period marked by extreme levels of crime, disease, mass death and even cannibalism and infanticide. It had consequences for Church, State, European society and future calamities to follow in the fourteenth century.
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The Black Death
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Around the 1300 agricultural expansion of the High Middle Ages has reached its limit. Thereafter yields and areas under cultivation began to decline because of the bad weather and it started ruining crops and leaving people with famine, Many people died because of the unsanitary conditions people lived in weakened by malnutrition that became in high risks of death causing downturn in the whole European economy that was accelerated by the disruptive effects of war . To complete the crisis there came the \”Black Death\” in 1347 .Many people died of the plague. But still Europe was still overpopulated relatively to its food supply. However, between roughly 1350 and 1450 Europeans learned how to adjust to the new economic circumstances and succeeded in placing their economy on a sounder basis. The Black Death did not have negative effects alone but it also benefited the wages and little farmers. Also after the Black Death in about the 1450 Europe was wealthier per capita than it was in the 1300.The food prices also went down because there were fewer mouths to be feed.
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International Zionist Conspiracy
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Avignon Papacy
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It was a period of time after Boniface VIII’s death when the papacy was in Avignon under French rule.the Avignon Papacy was the period during which seven popes, all French, resided in Avignon. The papacy was located in Avignon instead of Rome and was generally subservient to the interest of the French Crown. The period has been called the \”Babylonian captivity\” by, Petrarch, an Italian who lamented the absence of the papacy from his native land. This nickname is polemical, in that it refers to the claim by critics that the prosperity of the church at this time was accompanied by a profound compromise of the Papacy’s spiritual integrity, especially in the alleged subordination of the powers of the Church to the ambitions of the French kings. Indulgences
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The Great Schism
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It was a period of time when the Catholic Church was split into France and Italy. There was a French Pope in Avignon and an Italian one in Rome. Both Popes cursed at each other. Later another Pope was elected in the hope of ending the schism. It only created three parties cursing at each other. The death or the other pope did not end the schism; each camp had its own set of cardinals, which named either French or Italian successor. But neither French nor Italian pope accepted the Council’s decision and both had enough political support to command some obedience. The great Schism was ended in 1417 by the Council of Constance.
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The Hundred Years’ War
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The Hundred Years War was a series of connected conflicts between England, the Valois kings of France, factions of French nobles and other allies over both claims to the French throne and control of land in France. It ran from 1337 to 1453. The conflict was punctuated by several periods of peace, before it finally ended in the expulsion of the Plantagenets from France (except from the Pas de Calais. The final outcome was a victory for the house of Valois, which succeeded in recovering early gains made by the Plantagenets and expelling them from the majority of France by the 1450s. However, the war nearly ruined the Valois, while the Plantagenets enriched themselves with plunder. France suffered greatly from the war, since most of the conflict occurred in that country. The \”war\” was in fact a series of conflicts and is commonly divided into three or four phases: the Edwardian War, the Caroline War, the Lancastrian War, and the slow decline of Plantagenet fortunes after the appearance of Joan of Arc. The war owes its historical significance to a number of factors. Though primarily a dynastic conflict, the war gave impetus to ideas of both French and English nationalism. Militarily, it saw the introduction of new weapons and tactics, which eroded the older system of feudal armies dominated by heavy cavalry in Western Europe. The first standing armies in Western Europe since the time of the Western Roman Empire were introduced for the war, thus changing the role of the peasantry For all this, as well as for its long duration, it is often viewed as one of the most significant conflicts in the history of medieval warfare.
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Margaret Paston
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Margaret Paston was the daughter of a wealthy farmer from Mautby in Norfolk. When her father died Margaret inherited his land. In about 1440 Margaret married John Paston, who was also a large landowner in Norfolk. John Paston was a lawyer and spent a lot of time away on business, so she had the responsibility of looking after the family estates. When they were separated Margaret kept in contact with John by letter. Over a hundred of these letters have survived and their contents provide an interesting insight into life in the 15th century. Margaret Paston died in 1484. She is noted for her strength and fortitude as an English wife, who took on her husband’s duties while he was away and held her family together through disastrous events.
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Humanism
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The great intellectual movement of Renaissance Italy was humanism. The humanists believed that the Greek and Latin classics contained both all the lessons one needed to lead a moral and effective life and the best models for a powerful Latin style. They developed a new, rigorous kind of classical scholarship, with which they corrected and tried to understand the works of the Greeks and Romans, which seemed so vital to them. Humanists believed that their own educational program was the best way to produce virtuous citizens and able public officials.
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Francesco Petrarca
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Francesco Petrarca, known as Petrarch, was born on July 20, 1304, in Arrezo, Italy. He followed his father, who had been exiled for political reasons, first to Pisa, then to Avignon where he received instruction in grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic. He began studying law in Bologna for a time, then in Montepellier, but he never finished his course of studies. During his time in Montepellier, he had the chance to experience the art of the troubador, which awakened his interest in Roman poetry and literature and decidedly influenced his later creative work. He returned to Avignon in 1326 and met the married Madonna Laura for the first time. She was his source of inspiration until her death. He dedicated his famous \”Canzoniere\” to her, a poetry collection dealing with his unrequited love for her. With this form of love poetry, Petrarch had such a great influence on European poetry of the Middle Ages that a new style was named for him, Petrarchism, which lived late into modern times and influenced, among other traditions, the German Minnesang. After journeys through France, Belgium, Germany, and Italy, during which he met his later students Boccaccio and Cola di Rienzo, he returned to Vaucluse in 1337. For the next few years, he dedicated himself exclusively to his work. Within the context of Italian literature, Petrarch’s work represents the transition from a medieval tradition, beholden to Dante, to a modern literature. This is mainly because of his introduction of Italian as the langauge of his poetry. In his \”Epistulae,\” Petrarch’s humanistic attitude is shown in full. Also, the first depiction of nature in European literature appears here: a description of climbing Mount Ventoux, from whose pinnacle Petrarch described the surrounding landscape. Another work in Italian is the allegorical-didactic poem \”Trionfi,\” a religious work in which his humanistic education is fully revealed. In 1341, Rome reintroduced the old Roman tradition of the crowning of the \”poeta laurentis\” (poet laureate), in order to appropriately honor Petrarch. In 1353, he went to Milan in order to put his diplomatic abilities to use in the service of the viscount. He stayed in Venice in 1362. Petrarch returned to Argua in 1368, where he died on July 18, 1374.
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The Florentine Duomo
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The Duomo (dome) in Florence was planned by Arnolfo di Cambio at the end of the 13th century. Shaped in the Roman style and dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore, it represents one of the age’s greatest works. It took 140 years to build it; it was finished in 1367, but numerous artists contributed to its realization in the course of time. The façade was finished in the 19th century.
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The Communal Renaissance
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The Princely Renaissance
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The Northern Renaissance
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By 1450 the population of northern Europe, which had declined due to bubonic plague, was beginning to grow again. When the destructive Hundred Years’ War between France and England ended in 1453, many cities grew rapidly. Urban mer- chants became wealthy enough to sponsor artists. This happened first in Flanders, which was rich from long-distance trade and the cloth industry. Then, as wealth increased in other parts of Northern Europe, patronage of artists increased as well. Italy was divided into city-states. In contrast, England and France were unified under strong monarchs. These rulers often sponsored the arts by purchasing paintings and by supporting artists and writers. For example, Francis I of France invited Leonardo da Vinci to retire in France, and hired Italian artists and architects to rebuild and decorate his castle at Fontainebleau. The castle became a showcase for Renaissance art. As Renaissance ideas spread out of Italy, they mingled with northern tradi- tions. As a result, the northern Renaissance developed its own character. For example, the artists were especially interested in realism. The Renaissance ideal of human dignity inspired some northern humanists to develop plans for social reform based on Judeo-Christian values.
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Federico da Montefeltro
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Federico da Montefeltro, also known as Federico III da Montefeltro (June 7, 1422 – September 10, 1482), was one of the most successful condotierri of the Italian Renaissance, and lord of Urbino from 1444 (as Duke from 1474) until his death. In Urbino he commissioned the construction of a great library, perhaps the largest of Italy after the Vatican, with his own team of scribes in his scriptorium and assembled around him a large humanistic court in the Ducal Palace of Urbino.
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Desiderius Erasmus
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Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1467-1536) was the most famous and influential humanist of the Northern Renaissance, a man of great talent and industriousness who rose from obscure beginnings to become the leading intellectual figure of the early sixteenth century, courted by rulers and prelates who wanted to enhance their own reputations by association with the greatest scholar of the age. He was his generation’s finest Latin stylist, in a society that revered good Latin, even more impressive for his much rarer mastery of Greek that no contemporary could equal. He was a phenomenally productive writer (the most complete edition of his collected works fills ten large folio volumes) and was the first European intellectual to exploit fully the power of the printed word, making the true center of his career not a university or the court of a secular prince or high prelate but the greatest publishing houses of the Netherlands, Paris, Venice, and—above all—Basel. He was a leading writer on education, author of five influential treatises on humanist educational theory and even a greater number of widely used and often reprinted textbooks taught in humanistic schools throughout Europe, especially north of the Alps; the producer of excellent critical editions of the works of classical Greek and Latin authors, including translations of Greek texts into the Latin that all educated people of his time could read; and the editor and translator of the works of early Latin and Greek Church Fathers, especially important for translations of Greek patristic literature, which had been little known to the Western church during the Middle Ages; the author of books of spiritual counsel addressed mainly to educated laymen of his time, all written in Latin but several of them quickly translated by other hands into most of the European vernacular languages and frequently reprinted; he even wrote and published Latin poems on both secular and religious themes, the one genre in which he had no lasting influence. The guides to theological method and exegesis of the Bible that he wrote as prefaces to the 1516 and 1518 editions of the New Testament mark a major turn in theology and the interpretation of Scripture and posed a serious challenge to the scholastic theology that had dominated university faculties of theology since the thirteenth century. He was also an active letter-writer, corresponding with contemporaries high and low, famous and obscure, and carefully preserving his letters and publishing some of them since like his Roman models, he regarded the letter as an important literary genre. The one genre in which Erasmus wrote no works at all was philosophy, though he often cited ancient philosophers and dealt (normally in a non-philosophical way) with several intellectual problems of interest to philosophers.
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Leonardo da Vinci
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A painter, a sculptor, an architect and an engineer, Leonardo Da Vinci’s numerous skills have earned him the title of renaissance master. Da Vinci’s fascination with science and his in-depth study of human anatomy aided him in mastering the realist art form. While Leonardo’s counterparts were known to create static figures in their works, Leonardo always tried to incorporate movement and expression into his own paintings. All the personages in his works are painted with great accuracy and detail that it is sometimes said that Da Vinci painted from the bones outward.
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Caravel
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The caravel (also spelled carvel) is a light sailing ship that that was developed by the Portuguese in the late 1400’s, and was used for the next 300 years. The Portuguese developed this ship to help them explore the African coast. It was an improvement on older ships because it could sail very fast and also sail well into the wind (windward). Caravel planking on the hull replaced thinner, less effective planking. Caravels were broad-beamed ships that had 2 or 3 masts with square sails and a triangular sail (called a lanteen). They were up to about 65 feet long and could carry roughly 130 tons of cargo. Caravels were smaller and lighter than the later Spanish galleons (developed in the 1500’s). Two of Columbus’ three ships were caravels (the Niña and the Pinta).
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Prince Henry the Navigator
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Prince Henry the Navigator (1394 – 1460) was a Portuguese royal prince, soldier, and patron of explorers. H e ordered explorations of the west African coast during the 1400’s. Prince Henry sent out more that 50 expeditions but was not on any of these explorations himself. He had the goal of bringing Christianity to the continents of Asia and Africa and to explore ocean routes.

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