Question 1: How would you describe the relationship between political power and personal wealth in the Renaissance? Your response should consider both Italy and other areas in Europe.
The relationship between political power and personal wealth in the Renaissance is intimately connected with a strong positive correlation. With all of the new trends, trade, standards, and attitudes, society came to no longer acknowledge status without the wealth that was expected to accompany it. It is through one’s wealth, not family blood, that a certain level of political power may be achieved and acknowledged. “Money = Power”
During the Middle Ages, a family retained their status even if they lost all of their wealth and, if a person was born poor, they remained so and could do nothing to change their social status or income. With the birth of the Renaissance, a new social order began to form as increased amount of trade and the fluidity of wealth resulted in a new age of economic prosperity. The resulting transformation from the feudal system and the medieval manor led to a new dynamic in individual economic freedom resulting in the exponential growth and development of trade and urban industries. The trade and communication continued to improve, not only from the contact with alien cultural patterns which influenced Europeans, but also with the wealth brought back from Asia and the Americas which catapulted a new class of merchants into prominence, displacing the old aristocracy. This new economic atmosphere undermined the previous power structure and transferred power to the new merchant class who, as they began to rise in power, worked to effectively utilize their new found wealth to leverage greater economic freedom and political independence2. To go farther, this new breed of merchants had their own ideas about the sort of world they wanted to inhabit, and became major agents of change – in the arts, in the government,... [continues]
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