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Giorgio Vasari (30 July 1511 – 27 June 1574) was an Italian painter, architect, writer and historian, most famous today for his Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing. As the first Italian art historian, he initiated the genre of an encyclopedia of artistic biographies that continues today. Vasari was the first to use the term "Renaissance" in print, though an awareness of the ongoing "rebirth" in the arts had been in the air from the time of Alberti. 

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci  (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519, Old Style) was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. His genius more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived. One of the most famous Leonardo’s wok is Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and The Creation of Adam.

The Italian Renaissance and Humanism
The word “Renaissance” means “re-birth”. This re-birth refers to the “re-birth” of the spirit of classical antiquity and the cultural forms and styles of ancient Greece and Rome. The revival of ancient cultural forms was paired with the emergence of distinctly modern attitudes. The movement of “rebirth” began in Italy during the fourteenth century. France, Germany, England, and Spain followed the same path in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. By the time of the Plague epidemic, the Feudal states of Europe had been absorbed by the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the German Emperor. All feudal kings and lords had promised or pledged allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor. But the Holy Roman Empire was constantly fighting with the Papal State. These wars had weakened the empire. In this environment, northern Italian city states emerged into autonomous political entities: Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice, Mantua, Ferrara, Padua, Bologna, and Genoa. These Italian city states were different from the rest of Europe in two respects: 1. They developed as commercial centers of trade and banking; monopolized the trade between the Mediterranean and the East; and whenever Popes, Kings, feudal lords of Europe needed money, they borrowed it from Italian, especially Florentine merchants. 2. With the rise of this commercial culture, the feudal nobility, which held the lands beyond the city-walls, played a much less important role in government than they did in other places of Europe.

Important developments of the Renaissance
1200-1300: Legal studies rise in the cities of Bologna, Padua, and Ravenna. 1300-1450: Republicanism is the rule in Northern Italian city-states. 1304-1374: Petrarch “father of humanism”
1378: Ciompi revolt in Florence
1407-1457: Lorenzo Valla writes Declamation Concerning the False Decretals of Constantine 1445: Johann Gutenberg invents movable metal type
1454: Peace of Lodi is signed2
1494: Charles VIII of France invades northern Italy; Pope Julius II commissions frescoes by Michelangelo for the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel 1513: Machiavelli writes The Prince
1528: The Book of the Courtier by Baldesar Castiglione is published. 1535: Sir Thomas More, English humanist and author of Utopia is executed for treason.

Political Life in Italian City States
Two Periods: 1300-1450: the defense of republicanism 1450-1550: the triumph of despotism (all despotic except Florence: Medici dominated; and Republican Venice)

The Peace of Lodi (1454) - 1. Five Powers participated in this peace treaty: Naples and Sicily, Papacy, Florence, Venice, Milan. 2. Important because it laid the foundations of the diplomatic principle of “balance of power”

Renaissance Society:
1. Feudalism lost importance.
2. Marriage and...
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