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The Italian Renaissance and Beyond: The Politics of Culture, 1350-1550 - Th...

The Renaissance Republics: Florence and Venice. Dynamic political and social life created an environment of competition and freedomDominant patriciates competed for public recognition and fame, through patronageArtistic and scholarly creativity fostered by competition between many patrons. Prince

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The Italian Renaissance and Beyond: The Politics of Culture, 1350-1550

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The italian renaissance and beyond the politics of culture 1350 1550

The Italian Renaissance and Beyond: The Politics of Culture, 1350-1550

The West


The renaissance republics florence and venice

The Renaissance Republics: Florence and Venice

  • Dynamic political and social life created an environment of competition and freedom

  • Dominant patriciates competed for public recognition and fame, through patronage

  • Artistic and scholarly creativity fostered by competition between many patrons

Princes and courtiers

Princes and Courtiers

  • Patronage confined to prince and his court

  • The ideal prince was a paternal figure: a warrior, a scholar, a diplomat and a generous patron - Frederico II da Montefeltro (1422-1482), Isabella d’Este (1474-1539)

  • Evolution of courtly manners based on the need to maintain appearance

  • The ideal courtier cultivated nonchalant ease - Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529)

The renaissance papacy

The Renaissance Papacy

  • The Renaissance pope was both priest and prince

  • Need to regain control of the Papal State

  • Political and military adventurism - Alexander VI (r. 1492-1503), Julius II (r. 1503-1513)

  • Transformation of Rome into a cultural capital - Leo X (r. 1513-1521)

The contradictions of the patriarchal family

The Contradictions of the Patriarchal Family

  • Renaissance ideal of patriarchy - Leon Battista Alberti Four Books on the Family

  • Family was insecure and survival was often tenuous

  • In reality, families were matriarchal - fathers were often absent or remote

  • Cultivation of distinct family theme

Petrarch and the illustrious ancients

Petrarch and the Illustrious Ancients

  • Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374)

  • Distinguished the human reality of the ancients from the ideals of their writings

  • Distinguished the ancient world as a historically specific time and place, rather than as a repository of timeless wisdom

  • Philological approach to ancient texts, to discern particular meanings

The humanists the latin point of view

The Humanists: The Latin Point of View

  • A literary movement that resurrected the use of classical Latin

  • Employed as teachers, bureaucrats, courtiers and ambassadors

  • Promoted an education that taught critical thinking

  • Organized experience by recovering words, models and categories of classical Latin - the Latin Point of View

Understanding nature

Understanding Nature

  • Humanist science looked to ancient texts, rather than to nature itself, for answers

  • In astronomy and anatomy, observation of nature provided knowledge that surpassed ancient learning

  • Application of mathematics, to art, advanced knowledge of optics

  • Invention of paper and the printing press - widened the distribution of new ideas and discoveries

Sculpture architecture and painting real and ideal

Sculpture, Architecture and Painting: Real and Ideal

  • Creativity fueled by desire to unite the ideal and the natural in art

  • Use of geometry and natural proportions to create harmony - linear perspective

  • Chiaroscuro (“light and shade”) - imitation of natural light in painting

  • New techniques of oil painting, to create depth

Music of the emotions

Music of the Emotions

  • Musical innovation was slower than artistic and literary developments

  • The Madrigal - musical expression of shades of meaning and emotion

  • Opera - continuous music to accompany a full drama

  • Opera became popular entertainment

Monarchies the foundation of the state system

Monarchies: The Foundation of the State System

  • Establishment of professional standing armies

  • Systematic expansion of taxation

  • Elimination or erosion of urban and regional autonomy

  • Constraint of aristocratic and clerical independence

  • Institution of sophisticated intelligence networks



  • Guarantee of autonomy to French Church opened clerical revenues and offices to monarch’s exploitation

  • Consolidation of power over nobility

  • Institution of the taille - direct annual tax

  • Patronage of Italian art and scholarship



  • Creation of a unified kingdom. through dynastic marriages

  • 1492: Completion of Spanish Reconquest

  • Suppression and expulsion of Jewish and Muslim minorities

  • Financing of westward exploration. to outflank Islamic caliphates and reach Asia

The holy roman empire

The Holy Roman Empire

  • Highly decentralized. with few unifying institutions

  • Creation of a Supreme Court and an Imperial Council

  • Institution of graded income and property taxes

  • Emperor dependant upon cooperation of German nobility and cities



  • Civil war between feuding factions of the royal family, 1455-1485

  • Recovery and stability achieved under Tudor dynasty

  • Court of Star Chamber punished unruly nobility

  • Confiscation of lands and prohibition of private armies

Historical and political thought

Historical and Political Thought

  • Key to understanding lay in the detail of human events

  • Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540)

  • Refined understanding of historical causation with psychological interpretations

  • Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527)

  • Developed ideas of political necessity and the obligation to preserve the state above all else

The politics of culture

The Politics of Culture

  • Attempt to re-fashion society on the model of ancient cultures

  • Development of a critical approach to past and present

  • Transformation of the Western identity, from one defined by Christianity to one based upon a common historical experience