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EUH 3931
Katalin Rac

© 2008 All Rights Reserved AP European History: Unit 1.2 The Renaissance Note: While many AP courses cover the entire Renaissance from 1300-1600, the AP exam will only cover information after 1450. I. Background A. The Renaissance is considered the beginning of modern European History B. Renaissance (c. 1300-1600) 1. Occurred first in Italy around 1300 and lasted until the mid-16th century 2. Renaissance spread to Northern Europe around 1450 3. In England, the Renaissance did not begin until the 16th century and lasted until the early 17th century (Shakespeare) C. Origins of Renaissance: 19th century historian Jacob Burckhardt claimed the Renaissance period was in distinct contrast to the Middle Ages D. Renaissance culture applied almost exclusively to the upper classes. 1. Upper classes had the luxury of time to spend learning the classics. 2. Peasantry was largely illiterate and Renaissance ideas had little impact on common people. 3. Working classes and small merchants were far too preoccupied with the concerns of daily life. II. Rise of the Italian City-States A. Northern Italian cities developed international trade: Genoa, Venice, Milan 1. signori (despots) or oligarchies (rule of merchant aristocracies) controlled much of Italy by 1300 2. commenda: Contract between merchant and “merchant-adventurer” who agreed to take goods to distant locations and return with the proceeds (for 1/3 of profits) 3. As a result, Italy became more urban: more towns and cities with significant populations than anywhere else in Europe at this time. B. Politics among the Italian City-States 1. Competition among city-states meant that Italy did not unify politically a. In effect, an early balance-of-power pattern emerged where weaker states would ally with other states to prevent a single state from dominating the peninsula b. The political disunity of the Italian city-states led to their downfall in the late-15th and early16th centuries when French and Spanish armies invaded Italy. 2. Condottieri: mercenary generals of private armies hired by cities for military purposes C. Major city-states and figures 1. Republic of Florence (included Republic of Genoa) a. Center of the Renaissance during the 14th and 15 centuries. b. Dominated by the Medici family c. Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464): allied with other powerful families of Florence and became unofficial ruler of the republic d. Lorenzo de’ Medici (the “Magnificent”) (1449- 1492): significant patron of the arts (son of Cosimo) 2. Duchy of Milan – ruled by Sforza family after 1450 · Milan was a principal adversary of Venice and Florence until the Peace of Lodi (1454) created a relative 40-year period of peace among the Italian city-states 3. Rome, the Papal States: popes served both as religious and political leaders; controlled much of central Italy 4. Venice, Venetian Republic a. Longest lasting of the Italian states (did not succumb to foreign powers until Napoleon conquered it in the early 1800s) b. Greatest maritime power in Italy and one of the world’s great naval and trading powers during the 14th and 15th centuries. 5. Naples, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies a. Included south Italian region of Naples and the island of Sicily b. Only Italian city-state to officially have a “king” c. Controlled by France between 1266-1435 d. Controlled by Spain after 1435 D. Decline of the Italian city-states 1. French invasions began in 1494 (“First Italian War”) a. Milan’s despot, Ludovico “the Moor,” encouraged French King Charles VIII to invade Naples, the traditional enemy of Milan. b. This was the beginning of foreign invasions throughout the Italian peninsula. 2. Florence a. When Florence attempted to appease France during its invasion in 1494, it led to the overthrow of the Medici family. · Although the Medici family returned to power several years later, Florence by then was severely weakened. b. Girolamo Savonarola became the unofficial leader of Florence between 1494 and 1498. · Pledged to rid Florence of its decadence and corruption · In effect, oversaw a theocracy in Florence · He had earlier predicted the French invasions due to paganism and moral decay in the Italian city-states); became a puppet of the French · When France was removed from Italy in 1498, Savonarola was imprisoned and then burned at the stake. 3. Italy became a battleground in a series of power struggles between Spain and France · Spanish fears of a French-Italian alliance resulted in Spain’s alliance with Venice, the Papal States, and the Holy Roman Empire 4. Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) The Prince (15th) a. The quintessential political treatise of the 16 century b. Observed the political leadership of Cesare Borgia (son of Pope Alexander VI) who had ambitions of uniting Italy under his control c. Stated that politically, “the ends justifies the means” d. Stated that for rulers, “it was better to be feared than to be loved” e. Rulers had to be practical and cunning, in addition to being aggressive and ruthless · At times rulers should behave like a lion (aggressive and powerful) and at other times like a fox (cunning and practical) f. The Prince continued to influence European rulers for centuries. 5. Sack of Rome in 1527 by armies of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (who was also king of Spain) symbolized the end of the Renaissance in Italy III. Humanism: A. Characteristics 1. Revival of antiquity (Greece and Rome) in philosophy, literature and art · Sought to reconcile pagan writings with Christian thought 2. Strong belief in individualism and the great potential of human beings (in contrast to the Middle Ages where humans were seen as small, wicked and inconsequential and should focus solely on earning salvation) a. Virtú: “the quality of being a man”; idea of excelling in all of one’s pursuits b. Believed the key to a good life was Reason and Nature 3. Focused first on studying ancient languages: a. Initially, Latin of ancient Rome was the main focus. b. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, Greek came to be studied rigorously as well c. By 1500, virtually all of the significant ancient Roman and Greek texts that have been rediscovered, were translated and printed 4. Largely rejected Aristotelian views and medieval scholasticism in favor of: · Roman authors such as Cicero, Livy, Virgil, and Quintilian · Greek writings, especially those of Plato · early Christian writers, especially the New Testament o This occurred predominantly in northern Europe and became a cornerstone of the Northern Renaissance 5. Believed in a liberal arts educational program that included grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history, politics and moral philosophy 6. Civic Humanism: idea that education should prepare leaders who would be active in civic affairs · Some of the most important humanists also were important political leaders. 7. Often, humanism was more secular and lay dominated; however, most humanists remained deeply Christian, both in Italy and in Northern Europe B. Petrarch (1304-1374)—the “father of humanism” 1. Considered the first modern writer · In his writings, literature was no longer subordinate to religion 2. Claimed that the Middle Ages (the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of the Renaissance) were the “Dark Ages” 3. He was perhaps the first to use critical textual analysis to ancient texts. · Especially influenced by Cicero 4. Wrote his famous poetry in the Italian vernacular (as did Dante earlier in his Divine Comedy). C. Boccacio (1313-1375) 1. Compiled an encyclopedia of Greek and Roman mythology 2. Decameron is his most famous work a. Consisted of 100 earthy tales that comprise a social commentary of 14th century Italy b. Aimed to impart wisdom of human character and behavior (especially sexual and economic misbehavior). D. Leonardo Bruni (1370-1444) 1. First to use the term “humanism” 2. Among the most important of the civic humanists 3. Served as a chancellor in Florence 4. Wrote a history of Florence, perhaps the first modern history, and wrote a narrative using primary source documents and the division of historical periods E. Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457) 1. Foremost expert on the Latin language: Elegances of the Latin Language (1444) 2. On the False Donation of Constantine (1444) a. Exposed the Donation of Constantine as an 8 century fraud, using textual criticism b. The Church had claimed it was granted vast territories by the 4th-century Roman emperor Constantine. 3. Valla also pointed out errors in the Latin Vulgate (the authorized version of the Bible for the Catholic Church) 4. Ironically, Valla’s work gave challengers of Church authority ammunition, even though he remained a devoted Catholic and even served as a secretary under Pope Nicholas V. F. Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) 1. One of the most influential humanist philosophers of the 15th century 2. Founded the Platonic Academy at the behest of Cosimo de’ Medici in the 1460s · This served to spread the works and philosophy of Plato throughout much of Europe 3. Translated Plato’s works into Latin, giving modern Europeans access to these works for the first time. G. Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) 1. Member of the Platonic Academy 2. Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486) a. Perhaps the most famous Renaissance work on the nature of humankind. b. Humans were created by God and therefore given tremendous potential for greatness, and even union with God if they desired it. c. However, humans could, through neglect, also choose a negative course. Thus, humans had free will to be great or fail H. Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529) – The Book of the Courtier (1528) a. Perhaps most important work on Renaissance education b. Specified qualities necessary to be a true gentleman including physical and intellectual abilities and leading an active life · Rejected crude contemporary social habits (e.g. spitting on the floor, eating without utensils, wiping one’s nose with one’s sleeve, etc.) c. Described the ideal of a “Renaissance man” who was well-versed in the Greek and Roman classics, an accomplished warrior, could play music, dance, and had a modest but confident personal demeanor. a. This contrasted with the medieval view of being a master in only one area. b. virtú: the quality of being a great man in whatever noble pursuit I. Printing press: Johann Gutenberg (c. 1400-1468) 1. One of most important inventions in human history. 2. Gutenberg’s development of movable type made possible the spread of humanistic literature to rest of Europe with astonishing speed. 3. No longer would copies of works need to be done by hand, individually. 4. 1457-58, published the first printed Bible in the city of Mainz, Germany 5. Facilitated the phenomenal spread of the Reformation. IV. Italian Renaissance Art A. Patronage 1. Florence was the leader in Renaissance art especially in the quattrocento (1400s) a. Giorgio Vasari (1511-74): The Lives of the Artists · Contemporary Renaissance art historian who left much valuable information about Renaissance artists and their works. b. Massive patronage for the arts came from wealthy merchant-families (such as the Medicis) who commissioned countless works from the great artists. · In essence, the wealth of Florence was mirrored by the superb artistic output of the Renaissance o A good example is Donatello’s David which stood in the Medici courtyard during the wedding of Lorenzo de Medici. · In Milan, the Sforza’s commissioned such works as Leonardo’s The Last Supper c. Patronage also came from local churches who increasingly saw Renaissance art as a means of glorifying God. Some notable examples include · Brunelleschi’s Il Duomo built for the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral · Ghiberti’s two sets of doors for the baptistery opposite Il Duomo · Michelangelo’s David was originally commissioned for the cathedral (but was too heavy and thus placed elsewhere). 2. Rome became the center of Renaissance art iththe 1500s (cinquecento) a. With the decline of Florence in the late-15 century, Renaissance dominance shifted to Rome. b. Pope Alexander VI (r. 1492-1503): most notorious of the Renaissance popes; spent huge sums on art patronage (e.g. Bramante’s Tempietto) c. A few of the notable works commissioned by the Church in this period include · Michelangelo’s dome atop St. Peter’s Cathedral, his paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and the sculpture Pieta that is located within the cathedral · Raphael’s The School of Athens (a fresco painting inside the papal apartments) · Bramante’s Tempietto, a small church that is a masterpiece in classical architecture; and his floor plan for a newly rebuilt St. Peter’s cathedral. (Much of his plans were altered after his death) B. New artistic techniques 1. Painting a. perspective: 3-D effect
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