HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - Coluccio Salutati, Petrarch, Courtly Love

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Published on 28 Nov 2012
Renaissance Italy
Petrarch (1304-1374)
Coluccio Salutati (d. 1406)
Leonardo Bruni (d.1444)
Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero 106-43 B.C.)
-Fl. Was a city-state & was therefore seeing itself as a relatively coherent place, in which dominant
mercantile class didn’t have to compete w/ large monarchy
merchants saw culture of Middle Ages as opposed to their worldview & occupations (were looking for
a new ideology that would validate them found classical antiquity & began to see there was more in
common w/ this world than the immediate past of feudalism, there was a jisdunction between the
world they were living in & that of which they wanted to define)
-“what should they do with pagan antiquity?”
-Petrarch was a Florentine, as was his father, who was exiled & took a job in Avignon as a letter writer at
the Papal court: Petrarch grew up in south of France (courtly love) & was cut off from Italian society, his
social class
-Petrarch’s father sent him to become a lawyer in Bologna, where he became enamored w/ classical
literature & beauty of words (Cicero was “ultimate” writing to study: link between beautiful words &
good ideas) began to see that ancients like Cicero were good men b/c they had an essential humanity
& gave us advice about how to live on earth (help you sleep soundly, make ethical decisions)
Petrarch concluded: validation of human experience doesn’t have to have a divine meaning, it can
have a human meaning (begin to see huge separation that defines Western society between secular &
religious power) defined what secular life was based on values that were universally valuable,
regardless of religion (Petrarch: you can’t convince someone of one or the other beliefs ancients help
us get through the day)
he was speaking to political & economic leaders about morals & reasonable assessment
situations so they could make decisions that benefit the whole community
began to spread his influence by writing of poetry (he came to terms w/ classical learning b/c he
needed a guide for his own life) on Good Friday 1327 he fell in love w/ Laura & wrote 366 poems about
her in books (about the nature of human love, created genre: the sonnet)
poems are about how HE felt when he was in love & why his feelings mattered, not about
Laura & became so famous as a poem that he began to make people think that every type of human
love means something b/c it helps people find who they are as a human (every element of human
experience has an important part to play)
began to write letters (had to keep copies of letters b/c it took so long for it to reach ppl
across Europe, he began to change letters to create who he was: was inventing modern concept of the
individual) said everyone was an individual, not just saints, he was “inventing Petrarch” through who
he left in his writing, he wanted things to be coherent & make sense & he wanted to be remembered in
a particular way (this idea in the West began w/ Petrarch) defined himself as the creator of his own
universe (re-invents the psychological biography people in the middle ages had not written
autobiographies he believed that he controlled his own life) wrote that he had to do what he had to
do b/c it helps make him who he is: challenging tradition of medieval thought & practice & was
beginning to define idea of what we do on earth to be able to help other people to understand things
(validating idea of human experience unless this was accepted, Scientific Rev. couldn’t have
Petrarch was intellectual parent of modern world
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