The Sistine Chapel. “After the darkness has been dispelled, our grandsons will be able to walk back into the pure radiance of the past.” (Petrarch). Renaissance Italy. Unit 3, Area of Study 1: The Italian Peninsula and the Renaissance Presenter: Nick Frigo – Genazzano FCJ College.
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Different types of City-States in the 14th and 15th centuries: republic, principality, kingdom and papal state, and how they interacted economically, politically and culturally.
“The first person to use the term [renaissance] was the French historian Jules Michelet . . . [writing in 1855] To him the renaissance represented a progressive, democratic condition that celebrated the great virtues to be valued – Reason, Art and Beauty . . . Michelet was the first thinker to define the Renaissance as a decisive historical break with the Middle Ages . . . “(Jerry Brotton, 2006)
Michelet’s own agenda his important to remain aware of.
If the view that Michelet invented the idea of the renaissance, it is generally held that the Swiss academic Jacob Burckhardt “defined it as an Italian 15th-century phenomenon.”
Much of what Burckhardt focussed on which he identified as peculiar to the renaissance he sought to highlight as a distinct difference from life in the Middle Ages.
Burckhardt’s contribution was “what has become the now familiar account of the Renaissance: the birthplace of the modern world, created by Petrarch, Alberti, and Leonardo, characterized by the revival of classical culture, and over by the middle of the 16th century.”
Johan Huizinga’s The Waning of the Middle Ages (1919) “looked at how northern European culture and society had been neglected in previous definitions of the Renaissance.” (Brotton, 2006)
Huizinga challenged some of Burckhardt’s terminology of ‘Middle Ages’ and ‘Renaissance’.
Hans Baron’s The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance (1955) argued that “one of the defining moments in Renaissance humanism emerged in Florence as a result of the second Milanese war.” (Brotton, 2006).
In the aftermath of WWII and the social upheavals of the 1960s saw a reappraisal of the renaissance, along with all studies of the past (Feminist, Marxist, Queer).
“The majority of Italians who lived in the 13th and 14th centuries never heard the word ‘Italy’. It was a country in which only the literate lived. Consciousness of its meaning arose from three sources: the classics, xenophobia and exile.” – John Larner, Italy in the Age of Dante and Petrarch (1980).
“The legacy of the Renaissance in the 21st century remains as contested as ever. Since the attacks on the USA in September 2001, the rhetoric of the clash of civilisation between east and west ha taken its lead from the assumption that the renaissance represented the global triumph of the superior values of western humanity.” (Brotton, 2006)