Important Historical Figures, Term 1 (Main points)

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Kenneth Bartlett

Major figures in history in Semester 1 Petrarch Francisco Petrarch (1304 -1374) Was a Florentine, and do to his revival of classics made him a seminal figure in the literary Italian Renaissance. His primary contribution to the development of the Italian vernacular was made in his sonnets He is considered to be one of the greatest European lyric poets His sonnets were inspired by his love for a married lady name Laura In these sonnets Petrarch appeared less concerned to sing his ladys praise than to immortalise his own thoughts, this interest in his own personality reveals a sense of individuality stronger than in any previous literature Niccolo Machiavelli No one gave better expression to the Renaissance preoccupation with political power than Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) Entered the service of the Florentine republic in 1498 four years after the Medici family had been expelled from the city Since Italy been invaded in 1494, Machiavelli was active during a period of Italian tribulation and devastation In 1512, French defeat and Spanish victory led to the reestablishment of Medici power in Florence Staunch republicans, including Machiavelli, were sent into exile Machiavelli forced into exile now reflected on political power and wrote books including The Prince (1513) one of the most famous treatises on political power in the western world Machiavelli got his ideas on politics from two major sources; his preoccupation with Italys political problems and his knowledge of ancient Rome. His major concerns in The Prince were the acquisition and expansion of political power as the means to restore and maintain order in his time Since medieval political theorists believed that a ruler was justified in exercising political power only if it contributed to the common good of the people he served The ethical side of The princes was the focus of many late medieval treatises on politics Machiavelli stated that a princes attitude toward power must be based on an understanding of human nature Machiavelli was among the first to abandon morality as the basis for the analysis of political activity Desiderius Erasmus Born in Holland (1466-1536) Most influential of all the Christian humanists was Deisderius Erasmus Formulated and popularized the reform program of Christian Humanism The Handbook of the Christian knight printed in 1503, reflected his conception of religion the philosophy of Christ by which he meant that Christianity should be guiding philosophy for the direction of daily life rather than the system of dogmatic beliefs and practices that the medieval church seemed to stress. (emphasized inner piety and de-emphasized the external forms of religion such as; sacraments, pilgrimages fasts, veneration of saints, and relics) Erasmus edited the Greek text of the New Testament from the earliest available manuscripts and publish it, along with a new Latin translation, in 1516 To Erasmus the reform of the church meant spreading an understanding of the philosophy of Jesus, providing enlightened education in the sources of early Christianity and making common sense criticisms of the abuses in the church In Erasmus The Praise of Folly written in 1511 Erasmus engaged in humorous yet effective criticism of the most corrupt practices of his own society especially within the ranks of the clergy However Erasmuss program did not achieve the reform of the church His moderation and his emphasis on education were quickly overwhelmed by the passions of the reformation But contemporaries proclaim that Erasmus laid the egg that Luther hatched However Erasmus had no intentions on destroying the unity of the medieval Christian church rather, his whole program was based on reform within the church, and disapproved Luthers Protestant reforms responsibility Thomas More Son of a London Lawyer, Thomas More (1478-1535) received the benefits of a good education Proficient in both Latin and Greek Well acquainted with other English Humanists and became an intimate friend of Erasmus He made translation from Greek authors and wrote both prose and poetry in Latin Was a devout man and cont
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