The renaissance
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The Renaissance. 1450 -1600. THE RENAISSANCE. What does “renaissance” mean? A re-birth of what?. The Early Renaissance 1400s – 1490s. Where did the Renaissance begin? Why did it begin there? What were the driving factors behind the Renaissance?. The Italian City-States.

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The Renaissance

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The Renaissance

1450 -1600


  • What does “renaissance” mean?

  • A re-birth of what?

The Early Renaissance1400s – 1490s

Where did the Renaissance begin?

Why did it begin there?

What were the driving factors behind the Renaissance?

The Italian City-States

What is a City-State?

The Italian City-States

What were the advantages?

The Italian City-States

What were the disadvantages?

The Italian City-States

Florence and Milan were ruled by rival families, the Medici’s and the Sforza Family respectively.

The Italian City-States

Venice was a Republic, ruled by a Senate which elected a Doge to head the government. The Doge remained in power for life but the position was not hereditary.

The Italian City-States

The Papal states were run by the Pope elected by the Bishops for life. The power of which was diminishing as the Renaissance ideas of humanism and secularism were expanding.

Western Schism

Florence, Italy

  • The Cultural Center of Europe in the Early Renaissance

    • Art

    • Commerce

    • Banking

The Social Structure

POPULO GROSSO: “fat people” – 5% of the population – elite/nobles, wealthy merchants, and manufacturers.

MEDIOCI: middle – smaller merchants and master artisans. SKILLED WORKERS

POPULO MINUTO: “little people” – bulk of the urban population. UNSKILLED WORKERS

The Social Structure

There was some social mobility – Why?

The Medici Family

Cosimo established the Medici Bank and “unofficially” ruled Florence from 1434-1464

He was a patron of the humanities and supporter of Bunelleschi and Donatello among others

Catherine de’Medici married Henry of Navarre and became the Queen of France

Piero lost control of Florence in 1492. He died in exile

Lorenzo de’Medici was known as The Magnifient. He was also a patron of humanities and supported Botticello, da Vinci, and Michelangelo

Piero’s son Lorenzo gained control of Florence back and ruled at the height of the Medici’s power over Florence

The Medici Family

  • Wealthy Banking Family – provided stability

  • Banished rival clans

  • Manipulated electoral process

  • Cosimo’s Grandson – survived an assassination attempt – hours later enemies of the family were hanging upside down from a government building – including the archbishop of Pisa

    • Botticello was commissioned to paint them as they swung.

The Beginning of the Modern Banking System


The Medici’s set up the first modern banking system with branches in England and Bruges as well as throughout the Italian peninsula

The Gold Florin became the standard currency in European trade





A transition from the scholasticism of the Middle Ages

Revival of Greek and Roman beliefs

Appreciation of physical beauty

Emphasis on man’s own achievements


PETRARCH – considered the first humanist

Science and Technology


Influenced by Humanism which encouraged curiosity and questioning of accepted beliefs

Experimentation and observation

Define and understand the laws of nature and the physical world.


  • 1400-1490s

  • Patronage of the Medici family made:

    • Florence the center of the Early Renaissance

    • Allowed artists to become successful celebrities



8 sided dome of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral

The symbol of Florence



Devised a way to draw and paint using linear perspective

“chiaroscuro” – the illusion of 3D


David, de Donatello

1430 – commissioned by Cosimo de Medici

Humanism – first free standing nude statue since ancient times


Titian & Giorgione


Developed method of painting with oil directly on canvas

Allowed artists to reword an image which they couldn’t do with fresco painting

Transitioning into the Northern Renaissance

Desiderius ERASMUS

Erasmus of Rotterdam

promoted religious toleration

wanted the Church to reform

The High Renaissance

1490s – 1527

Rome replaced Florence as the center of culture

Pope Leo X – he was the son of Lorenzo de Medici


David 1501- 1504– became the symbol of Florence

Dominant sculptor of the Renaissance

Humanism – reflected the ideals of the Greek Gods



Pieta, 1498 - 1499


The Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, 1508 - 1512

Leonardo da Vinci

  • Mona Lisa, 1503-1506

  • “Renaissance Man”

    • Artist

    • Scientist

    • Architect

    • Philosopher

    • Engineer

Leonardo da Vinci

The Virgin of the Rocks, 1483

Unparalleled ability to portray light and shadow

And to portray the physical relationship between figures and the landscape

Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper, 1494 - 1498


The School of Athens, 1509-1511

Learned from Michelangelo and da Vinci

Humanism – expressed classical ideals of beauty, serenity and harmony

Northern Renaissance

Northern “Christian” Humanism – applied the Classical beliefs and ideals to the traditional understandings of the gospel.

Art was more detailed and more focused on color than in the Italian Renaissance

Sir Thomas More - Utopia

Jan Van Eyck

Arnolfini Portrait – 1434


Techniques allowed for deeper and more vibrant color

Considered one of the first painting of “everyday life”

Albrecht Durer


Self Portrait, 1500


Hans Holbein the Younger

Portrait of Henry VIII, 1536


Became the Court Painter for Henry VIII


Pieter Bruegel, the Elder

The Peasant Wedding, 1567

Flemish (Belgian)

Transitions of the Renaissance







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