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[3] Humanism & Renaissance Italy.doc

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Kenneth Bartlett

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October 4, 2010 Humanism - Urban townsmen wanted to use what happened in city walls to benefit them --> need- ed political power - Growing new perspective = ideological - People were replacing the old feudal laws with new ideology - Needed ideology to define what they were doing + give comfort - New class: people who made their own way (not born into riches => product of social mobility i.e. they worked for their wealth, and rose from obscure origins to have power, influence) - These people were part of the secular world (but weren’t knights or artisans or ser- vants) - They had to find their own mechanisms to define their position - They were educated (usually only clergy was educated in order to teach the masses; nobility didn’t need education to attack people and kill them; they weren’t educated in crafts) laymen (did own work) - Their education was for business, etc. --> they weren’t like the other classes - Secular education = very important to merchants, which kept them going - Italian cities developed culture of urban, secular life (secular education never really died out b/c trade in the Mediterranean passed through Italy) - Italy had advantage of wealth, opportunity, privilege, education - All the values they held were actually in place for others’ purposes (i.e. it didn’t benefit the merchants) - e.g. merchants need to take usury to make money, even though it’s against Christian values - Merchants didn’t fit into the Middle Ages’ society: couldn’t fight on horseback, they were educated unlike the masses... - They looked for ways to reconcile the discomfort they felt about “not fitting in” to the Middle Age society - The solution: return to Classical ideologies (which were never altogether lost in Italy) - New Latin: used in legal docs, used in Middle Ages for prayer etc. - Old Latin: used in Ancient Rome - They looked to Ancient Roman Latin to expand their vocabulary (b/c Medieval Latin was dull and didn’t suit their lifestyle --> they wanted something “cultured”, something they could relate to) - They found people in Ancient Rome who were like them: merchants, educated, lived secular life, worked for a living, married and had children, and worked out own morality based on what you think is right, rather than doing it b/c a book tells you - They found books by: Cicero (who was much like them) - Elements of humanism: use of secular (not religious) values, individual can create him- self - Problem: Romans were pagans! - Beauty of Roman writings were too great that it would make you think too much of this world and not spiritual world - Petrarch: 1304-1374 - Grew up in Avignon; part of urban bourgeois class, realized Latin had value - He wasn’t part of a group, clan, etc. b/c father was exiled - Father wanted him to become a lawyer to become part of that class - He realized men like Cicero were good men - good people to get you through the day; they can give you good life lessons - So what if these people were pagans? So they won’t give you salvation - they can help you in your family life, in your business life, in this life - He said Cicero was a good man b/c he produced good words (your words reflect your personality) - What matters to him is nature of individual human; human agency (we make ourselves who we are) mattered - Becomes obsessed with himself: was one of first since antiquity who wrote psychologi- cal autobiography and defined who he was - Language (words) = tool to describe the essence of your personality, who you are - Learned about love and writing of love (poetry) from Ancients --> he wrote love songs/poems but not about the person he was in love with, but he wrote how he feels about that person, every perspective about how he felt - Petrarch offered an ideology for humanism to take deep roots because of his explo- ration of deep feelings and that you need language to express how you feel - “Father of humanism” - Ideas became so powerful --> he had followers - Boccaccio d. 1375 --> was Petrarch’s good friend and moved his ideas to Florence - C. Salutati d. 1406 - Salutati took Petrarch’s ideas and applied them to his life, so imbued with concepts of the human condition, secularism - Salutati suddenly became the most important job in Florence - Hired people who were like him and applied concepts of secular humanism to daily life --> it became part of their education so that other people could rise to important occupa- tions/positions - Christianity was still there as moral imperative, but humanism enabled them to make daily decisions they felt comfortable doing - L. Bruni - Became Chancellor of Florence - Salutati felt guilty b/c he liked pagan literature, life too much (hard to compromise b/w religion and secularism) --> Bruni did not - “The State” ---> religion has no role to play in running government; use morals we make (e.g. taking care of orphans not only churches’ responsibility) October 6, 2010 - People believed fundamental change will happen - Italian Renaissance = people believed s/t fundamenta
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