After reading and studying this chapter, you should be able to discuss the meanings of the term renaissance. You should be able to explain the economic context for the Renaissance, the new status of the artist in Renaissance Italy, and the meanings of the terms humanism, secularism, and individualism as applied by scholars to the Renaissance. Also, you should be able to explain how the Italian Renaissance affected politics, the economy, and society. Finally, be able to elaborate on the evolution of medieval kingdoms into early modern nation-states, and the spread of Renaissance humanism northward.
I. The Evolution of the Italian Renaissance
A. Economic Growth as the Basis of the Renaissance
1. Venice, Genoa, and Milan grew rich on commerce between 1050 and 1300. 2. Florence, where the Renaissance originated, was an important banking center by the fourteenth century. B. Communes and Republics
1. In northern Italy the larger cities won independence from local nobles and became self-governing communes of free men in the twelfth century. 2. Local nobles moved into the cities and married into wealthy merchant families. 3. This new class set up property requirements for citizenship. 4. The excluded, the popolo, rebelled and in some cities set up republics. 5. By 1300 the republics had collapsed, and despots or oligarchies governed most Italian cities. C. The Balance of Power among the Italian City-States
1. City patriotism and constant competition for power among cities prevented political centralization on the Italian peninsula. 2. As cities strove to maintain the balance of power among themselves, they invented the apparatus of modern diplomacy. 3. In 1494 the city of Milan invited intervention by the French King Charles VIII. 4. Italy became a battleground as France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Emperor vied for dominance. 5. In 1527 the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sacked Rome. II. Intellectual Hallmarks of the Renaissance
1. Renaissance writers stressed individual personality, greatness, and achievement, in contrast to the medieval ideal of Christian humility. B. Humanism
1. The revival of antiquity took the form of interest in archaeology, recovery of ancient manuscripts, and study of the Latin classics. 2. The study of the classics became known as the “new learning,” or humanism. 3. Humanist scholars studied antiquity not so much to find God as to know human nature and understand a different historical context. 4. Humanists derided what they viewed as the debased Latin of the medieval churchmen. C. Secular Spirit
1. The secular way of thinking focuses on the world as experienced rather than on the spiritual and/or eternal. 2. Renaissance thinkers came to see life as an opportunity rather than a painful pilgrimage toward God. 3. Lorenzo Valla argued that sense pleasures were the highest good. 4. Giovanni Boccaccio wrote about an acquisitive, sensual, worldly society. 5. Renaissance popes expended much money on new buildings, a new cathedral (St. Peter’s), and on patronizing artists and men of letters. III. Art and the Artist
A. Art and Power
1. In the early Renaissance, corporate groups such as guilds sponsored religious art. 2. By the late fifteenth century individual princes, merchants, and bankers sponsored art to glorify themselves and their families. Their urban palaces were full of expensive furnishings as well as art. 3. Classical themes, individual portraits, and realistic style characterized Renaissance art. 4. Renaissance artists invented perspective and portrayed the human body in a more natural and scientific manner than previous artists did. B. The Status of the Artist
1. Medieval masons were viewed as mechanical...