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Lecture 4

Week 4 History Readings.docx

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Kenneth Bartlett

Week 4 History Readings 9/30/2012 7:20:00 AM Renaissance ideals and Realities c.1350-1550  Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) who discovered Cicero’s letters long after they were written o Petrarca believed the time b/w the ancients and middle ages separated him from communion with the classics  Tried to bridge this gab o Italian poet, Latin stylist & advocate for resurrection of past o Values him & his contemporaries began to adopt gave rise to intellectual & artistic movement  Movement critical of present & admiring of the past  RENAISSANCE, “rebirth”  Sig. changes in education & outlook that transformed the culture of Italy (& rest of Europe) o Changes were fueled by warfare, political comp., & commercial expansion of this area  New approaches to edu., scholarship, civic engagement, history, lit. and art Medieval and Renaissance?  Word “Renaissance” is taken literally = cultural accomplishments of antiquity had ceased to be appreciated & imitated & therefore, needed to be “reborn”  No single set of ideals for Renaissance as they kept reshaping based on political, economic and social relations o Renaissance didn’t reject Christianity of the Middle Ages  Renaissance Classism o Medieval scholars knew many Roman authors but discovery or “new” works expanded the classical canon for them  Recovered Greek lit. that no one could read o Renaissance thinkers not only knew may more classical texts but used them in diff ways too  Medieval intellects used ancient sources to confirm their own assumptions, whereas, new reading methods of Renaissance increased awareness of gap b/w present and past o Structural similarities b/w ancient Greek poleis & city-states of Italy encouraged political theorists to use ancient forms of govt as models o Renaissance culture was overtly materialistic & more commercialized o Weakness of Church = growth of secular power & worldly look  Renaissance Humanism o Humanism aimed to replace the scholastic emphasis on logic & metaphysics w/study of language, lit., history & ethics o Preference of Latin or Greek < Vernacular  Insisting on ancient standards of grammar, syntax & diction, they turned Latin into fossilized language that creased to have any direct relevance to daily life  Triumph of vernaculars & death of Latin o Condemned present works & read ancient works o Believed their own educational program, which placed Lain language & lit. at the core and encouraged Greek studies, was the best  Education of women was little concern to them  This lost connection w/increasing autocratic rulers Renaissance of Italy  Renaissance develop. in Italy b/c after Black Death, northern Italy became most urbanized region in Europe o Italian aristocrats were more involved in urban pubic affairs o A lot more commercialized o Medici family = originally physicians & apothecaries but made fortune in banking & commerce = merge into aristocracy  Tied to new humanist education as there was demand for skills of reading/accounting = necessary to become success. Merchants o = demand for educators & best-educated urban elites  Political situation of the time led to birth of Renaissance in Italy o Unlike rest of Europe, Italy had no unifying political instit.  Looked at classical past for time of glory (Rome)  Intent on appropriating their classical heritage b/c they were seeking to establish independ. cultural identity to help them oppose France  Roman literature, art, architecture  Renaissance couldn’t have occurred w/o structure of Italian wealth gained through increasing commercial ventures o Meant men were likely to stay home then seek jobs abroad Literary and Intellectual Activity  Petrarca is considered founder of Renaissance movement o Believed scholastic theology taught in universities was misguided as it concentrated on abstract speculation rather than achievement of virtue & ethical conduct o Classical tests were best models = had ethical wisdom o He was prolific vernacular poet o His ideal for human conduct was a solitary life of contemplation and asceticism  Goal of education for other thinkers/scholars was civic o Humanists like Leonardo Bruni (1370-1444) agreed with Petrarca on importance of classical lit. but also taught that man’s nature equipped him for action, usefulness to his family/society & serving the state  Thought ambition and quest for glory were noble impulses  Refused to condemn accumulation of material posses.  Humanist ideals were expressed in Alberti’s treatise “On the Family”  The Emerge of Textual Scholarship o Humanists went far beyond Petrarca in knowledge of classical lit./philosophy, making journeys far to bring back classical works, which they translated and sold  New texts spurred a new interest in textual criticism  Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457) was pioneer in this but he had no allegiance to humanists  Wanted to show that study of lang. could discredit old assumptions about these texts’ meanings & unmask texts are forgeries  Renaissance Neoplatonism o Italian thought became dominated by a new interest in philosophy of Plato & in Neoplatonism of Plotinus o Marsilio Ficino’s (1433-1499) greatest achieve. = translation of Plato’s work into Latin  His Platonic philo. moved away from ethics of civic humanism  Taught that the ind. should look primarily to salvation of the immortal soul from its “always miserable” mortal body  Argued that man has capacity to achieve union w/God through his unique talents in life & death  The Influence of Machiavelli o Era’s greatest philosophical pragmatist, the Florentine Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)  His political writings both reflect the unstable condition of Italy & strive to address it o Became prominent official in govt of the Florentine Republic & his duties = diplomatic missions to other Italian city-states  After Medici family returned to overthrow the Florence, he was stripped of his position  Retired & devoted time to new political philo. o Influenced by Saint Augustine, who said that in a fallen world populated by sinful ppl, a ruler’s good intentions do not guarantee his policies will have good results o Argued that “the necessity of preserving the state will often compel a prince to take actions which are opposed to loyalty, charity, humanity and religion… So far as he is able, a prince should stick to the path of good but, if the necessity arises, he should know how to follow evil” o Believer in the free city-state as ideal form of human govt o Wasn’t endorsing power for its own sake but b/c it was the only hope left to revitalize the spirit of independ.  The Ideal of the Courtier o Guidelines for proper aristocratic conduct offered in “The Book of the Courtier (1528), by diplomat/nobleman, Baldassare Castiglione  Taught how to attain the elegant & seemingly effortless skills necessary for advancement in Italy’s courts  Set standard for polite behaviour  Developed/popularized set of talents associated w/the Renaissance Man  One accomplished in many pursuits, witty, canny, stylish Renaissance Arts  New techniques & approaches to painting o Important tech. = mastering of a vanishing (one-point) perspective that gave painting illusion of 3-d space o Effects of shade and light o Studied anatomy & proportions of human body  Artists were free of working on-site and on commission b/c they were able to create portable paintings o Helps reach diff markets & be widely distributed  Not just religious images, but the depiction of classical subjects  Portraiture also pop. as ppl wanted to glorify themselves in arts  Painting in Florence o Masaccio’s (1401-1428) greatness rested on successful employment of one-point persp
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