MARS 1F90 Lecture Notes - Giovanni Boccaccio, Jacob Burckhardt, Petrarch

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The Renaissance (Lec 1)
Piero de 'Medici portrait bust - an icon of the renaissance.
It's called the renaissance because of different periods, to distinguish
the uniques of each period. The renaissance is unique because it was
the first period in western history in which the people who lived in that
time thought of themselves as living in a different period/new age, they
would call it a unique/different time. Divvided it into different parts
ancient times, the middle ages and the modern period (the
Renaissance). The name "Renaissance" became popular in the 19th
Was the Renaissance really that much different from the middle Ages?
(a cultural movement)
- Establishing the chronology of the Renaissance ( began somewhere int
he middle of the 14th century, somewhere in Italy.)
- Renaissance in Itlay
- The Renaissance and the Late Middle Ages: are they one and the
Began approxmiately the 1450's and ended sometime around 1650,
over laps with Late Middle Ages. Its unlike the Late Middle Ages because
of its cultue instead of just history.
Jacob Burckhardt and his (book) The Civilization of Renaissance
Italy (1860)
- It is the founder of Renaissance studies. What set the Renaissance
apart from the middle Ages
1) Individualism
2) Modernity
He claimed that men and women of the Middle Ages, of thinkign as
themselves as part of the family/or race. 1) In the Renaissance peole
moved away from this and began to think of themselves as an individual
with a unique identity. 2) he agrued that the Renaissance was a
beginning of the modern era. In otherwords the Middle Ages were
completely different from the Renaissance. People who studied the
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Middle Ages challenged his view since innovations came from MA's then
continued into the Renaissance. It was not competely unique, since alot
of the origins came from the MA's.
Giovanni Boccaccio (1375) and the other Renaissance
Truely believed that thier age was truely unique and different. Most of
them claimed that the Middle Ages were a time of decline, a dark age.
And they thought of themselves as being at the beginning of a new age.
Believed the Middle Ages were lacking in schooling that people lacked
intectual language and that people were ignorant of Latin.
-Did they reject the entrie past?
Believed there was nothing they could learn from the Middle Ages, but
the time of the Ancient Greeks and Romans (rediscovery). Ancient Rome
was considered the golden age of Western Civilization. So they tried to
recover (Rome the center of the world, so they wanted to reclaim the
center of the world) They felt close to Ancient Greece because of the
ruins and the close language to Latin. (Latinize your name became
popular, height of fashion) Tried to imtate the Romans as much as they
could (an attempt to resolve the political, social and moral problems of
their age).
They needed to do research of the past civilization. They took the texts
from monsteries and rewrote them in their own style of writing,
commented on them as well. [Slogan: To the Sources : Ad Fontes] this
resulted in scholars becoming experts in Greek and Latin eventually.
Also they went back to the ancient Roman education system. Putting in
effort to study Roman and Greek texts instead of old Antiquity texts
(Religious texts) as well instead of just Christanity texts. Thus resulted in
people believing there was more to study then just Christanity.
Petrarch wrote letters to Cicero as if he was still alive since they felt so
close to the Ancient Romans. Distant ancestors.
--> They went back to the past for change because people thought the
best was in the past (If its good its already been invented theres no such
thing as something new being useful). No conception of evolutionary
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