World History: Patterns of Interaction Modern European History (Birdsall S. Viault,)
The events that occured prior to the start of the Renaissance period were catastrophic.
Europeans suffered from both war and plague hence many, if not all, wanted to enjoy life after.
Scholars began to question the teachings of the Church which seemed to oppose the people’s wanting.
They also questioned the structures of medieval society and began to reject medieval values.
The people at this time found inspiration from Greek and Roman civilizations. Consequently, they borrowed ideas from these two classical cultures.
Historians consider this period as an “explosion of creativity” in Europe.
This period would be known as the Renaissance.
The term was introduced by the Italian art historian named Giorgio Vasari, writer of the riniscita of art in Italy during the 15 th and 16 th centuries.
The period is said to have been started in Italy. Why Italy?
The concept of the Renaissance was applied more broadly to describe a dramatic rebirth of civilization in Western Europe. This includes two erroneous concepts:
1. There is the idea that the Middle Ages had few cultural accomplishments to their credit.
2. Sometime around 1350, a sudden rebirt of literature, art, and scholarship started in Italy.
A counterargument could be found in Birdsall Viault’s (PhD) book which states that “Renaissance in the 14 th century was not a sudden rebirth but a continuation of what had been underway for several centuries.” Though, Dr. Viault also believed that certain aspects were greatly emphasized during this period.
The Italian Renaissance
Intensified people’s interest on classical Greece and Rome
Particularly classical literature, thought, art, and architecture.
Intensified the secular spirit in Western European civilization.
There was an increase in concern with the worldly things. Less on the concept of “eternity”.
There was also an emphasis on the individual and individual accomplishment.
The civilization of the Italian Renaissance was urban.
Towns became prosperous because of manufacturing, trade, and banking.
A part of the wealth Italians received from these three was used to support writers, scholars, and artists.
Italy, during the Renaissance period, was divided politically.
Northern Italy- city-states of Florence, Milan, and Venice
Central Italy- Rome (dominating the Papal States)
Southern Italy- the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Florence emerged as a major center of handicraft industry, specializing in textiles (woolens, in particular).
It also became an important banking center.
An independent republic, Florence was ruled by a small oligarchy. What does oligarchy mean?
The Medici family dominated Florence during the most of the 15 th century.
They were very much interested in industry, trade, and banking.
The first Medici to gain influential role in the Florentian politics was Giovanni di Bicci de Medici (1360-1429).
He was succeeded by Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464)
Piero de Medici (1416-1469)
The most famous of the Medici, Lorenzo the Magnificent succeeded Piero (1449-1492)
Savonarola - a Franciscan friar, strict and puritanical in ruling the city.
He was overthrown and burned at the stake.
Known during the Renaissance as the Duchy of Milan
It is an important center of the overland trade between Italy’s seaport and Northern Europe.
It gained its wealth mainly from Agriculture and Industry (production of silk and armor)
From 1227-1447, the Visconti Family dominated Milan.
It was during the time of Gian Galeazzo Visconti when Milan developed into a commercial city.
Milan was a republic for three years after the death of the last Visconti ruler. The son-in-law of the last Visconti would succeed as the duke of Milan. He was Francesco Sforza .
TRIVIA: The founder of the House of Sforza was not Francesco but his father named Muzio Attendolo , a condotierre (professional soldier of fortune who commanded mercenaries).
Ludovico il Moro (Ludovico the Moor) is the most famous of all Sforza dukes.
Dominated Milan from 1480-1499.
He and Francesco both shared the same enthusiasm in the arts.
He is the man who commissioned The Last Supper.
Milan experienced political and economic instability in the early 16 th century. In 1535, it became under the Spanish Empire.
Reputed to have one of the most effective governments in Europe.
It was an oligarchy.
Venetian Political power was the exclusive preserve of the male descendants of the wealthy merchants who had served as the councillors of the city-state prior to 1297.
The Venetian Oligarchy comprised the Great Council , which elected the doge (duke), the chief executive of Venice.
Because of the Greek works available even prior to the Renaissance period, scholars were greatly influenced by the the classical ideas. These led to the development of a new outlook in life. The Renaissance, that is.
There are several characteristics of the period that is said to be the explosion of human creativity. To further understand this historical era and to go on with the lecture on Italian Renaissance, let us discuss the following characteristics.
Enjoyment of Worldly Pleasures
People as Patrons of the Arts
Focusing on human potentials and achievements .
Scholars (humanists) studied ancient Greek values and less on Church teachings.
It popularized the study of subjects common to classical education (history, literature, philosophy).
Person might enjoy life without offending God
In Renaissance Italy, the wealthy openly enjoyed material luxuries, fine music, and tasty food.
SECULAR- became the basic spirit of Renaissance society.
The term means worldly and concerned with the here and now .
Physiological (belongs to the bottom of the pyramid)- breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion.
Safety- security of body, employment resources, morality, the family, health, property.
Love/belonging- friendship, family, sexual intimacy.
Esteem- self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others.
Self-actualization- morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts.
Renaissance popes beautified Rome by spending huge amounts of money for the arts.
Renaissance merchants were also patrons of the arts
Commissioning people to do artworks was their way of showing their importance to the society.
Writers produced works not only reflected their time but also used techniques that writers rely on today.
Vernacular in writing literatures
Emphasis on self-expression or portraying the individuality of their subjects
PETRARCH- sonnets (14-line poems) on Laura.
BOCCACCIO- Decameron which presentes the follies of his characters with some sarcasm.
MACHIAVELLI- The Prince
Examines the imperfect conduct of human beings.
Began with the idea that most people are selfish, fickle, and corrupt.
To succeed, a “prince” must be strong as a lion and shrewd as a fox.