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Chapter 15 Section 1. The Italian Renaissance. The Italian Renaissance. Main Idea In Italy the growth of wealthy trading cities and new ways of thinking helped lead to a rebirth of the arts and learning. This era became known as the Renaissance. Objectives:

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chapter 15 section 1

Chapter 15 Section 1

The Italian Renaissance


The Italian Renaissance

Main Idea

In Italy the growth of wealthy trading cities and new ways of thinking helped lead to a rebirth of the arts and learning. This era became known as the Renaissance.

  • Objectives:
  • Students will explore the changes in society and in cities that stimulated the beginning of the Renaissance.
  • Students will identify the ideas that formed the foundation of the Italian Renaissance.
  • Students will examine the contributions artists made to the Renaissance.
music comparison middle ages and renaissance



Lamb of God, * you take away the sins of the world : have mercy on us. Lamb of God, * you

take away the sins of the world : have mercy on us. Lamb of God, * you take away the sins of the world : grant us peace.

Music ComparisonMiddle Ages and Renaissance

With Good Company

Henry VIII

(Modern English)


Changes in Society

The Rise of City-States

  • 1300, Black Death, starvation, warfare had overtaken Europe
  • Catastrophic events, enormous loss of life may have led to changes of the 1300s
  • Decrease in population led to:
    • Increase in food production
    • Decline in food prices
    • More money to spend
    • Specialization in products
  • Urban areas specialized, particularly in Italy
  • Italy divided into several large city-states in north, various kingdoms, Papal States south
  • Catholic Church, nobles, merchants, artisans dominated society in city-states
  • Many sought to display new wealth with knowledge of arts

The Beginning of the Renaissance

Michelangelo’s painting was different from the art of the Middle Ages, and only one way in which European society began changing after the 1300s.



  • With access to sea, Venice built economy, reputation on trade
  • Had long history of trading with other ports on Mediterranean Sea
  • Shipbuilding prospered, sailors traveled to Near East
  • Wealthy Venetian merchants built unique city, “work of art”
  • Milan, Florence
  • Milan, west of Venice, based economy on agriculture, silk, weapons
  • Florence, to south, famous for banking, cloth
  • Monarchs appealed to Florentine bankers for money to fund wars
  • Merchants refined raw wool into fine cloth
  • Bankers, merchants created city to rival any in Europe
modern renaissance cities
Modern Renaissance Cities…

United Arab Emirates

Shanghai, China


Inspiration from the Ancients

New World of Ideas

Different Viewpoints

  • Venetian ships carried goods for trade and Greek scholars seeking refuge
  • Scholars brought ancient works thought to be lost
  • Italians who could read looked for more information
  • Read Arabic translations of original texts
  • Searched libraries, found lost texts
  • As they read, began to think about philosophy, art, science in different ways
  • Began to believe in human capacity to create, achieve

Renaissance Ideas

As the economy and society changed, new ideas began to appear. This period of interest and developments in art, literature, science and learning is known as the Renaissance, French for “rebirth.”



  • Interest in ancient Greek, Roman culture
  • Characteristics of good education
  • Scholastic education gave way to classics: rhetoric, grammar, poetry, history, Latin, Greek
  • Subjects came to be known as humanities, movement they inspired known as humanism
  • Humanists emphasized individual accomplishment

Renaissance Man

  • Ideal Renaissance man came to be “universal man,” accomplished in classics, but also man of action, who could respond to all situations.
  • Best Example Leonardo Da Vinci




  • Humanists argued that individual achievement, education could be fully expressed only if people used talents, abilities in service of cities.

Secular Writers

  • Early 1500s life in Italy seemed insecure, precarious
  • Church no longer served as source of stability, peace
  • Form of humanism developed from Petrarch’s ideas; focus was secular, was worldly rather than spiritual
  • How to Act
  • Italian diplomat Baldassare Castiglione wrote book, The Courtier
  • Described how perfect Renaissance gentleman, gentlewoman should act

How to Rule

  • Philosopher, statesman Niccolò Machiavelli also wrote influential book
  • Experiences with violent politics influenced opinions on how governments should rule in The Prince
  • Machiavellian advice seemed to encourage harsh treatment of citizens, rival states
  • Describes men as “ungrateful, fickle, liars, and deceivers”
  • Advises rulers to separate morals from politics
    • Power, ruthlessness more useful than idealism
    • Ruler must do whatever necessary to maintain political power, even if cruel
  • Machiavelli’s theory that “the end justifies the means” deviated from accepted views of correct behavior
  • Idea that state an entity in itself, separate from its ruler, became foundation for later political philosophy

“How we live is so different from how we ought to live that he who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to his downfall rather than to his preservation.” ― Niccolò Machiavelli


Cohn, Bill. Closing Pandora's Box. Digital image. Prague Post. N.p., 23 Apr. 2009. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <>.


Science of the Renaissance

  • Scientific Information
  • Humanists searched archives, Arab translations for classical texts
  • Discovered wealth of scientific information
  • Natural World
  • Focus of Renaissance on human sciences, history, politics, geography
  • New ideas about natural world began to be explored also
  • Scientific Challenges
  • Science soon became important avenue of inquiry
  • Church’s teachings about world were challenged, particularly that Earth center of universe
  • Earth, Sun
  • Nicholas Copernicus said Sun was center of universe
  • Galileo Galilei arrested by church officials for saying Earth orbited Sun

In a book called On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies

(that was published as Copernicus lay on his deathbed),

Copernicus proposed that the Sun, not the Earth,

was the center of the Solar System. Such a model is called a heliocentric system.

The ordering of the planets known to Copernicus in this new system is illustrated in the following figure, which we recognize as the modern ordering

of those planets.


Renaissance Art

The arts a reflection of the new humanist spirit

Medieval artists—idealized and symbolic representations

Renaissance artists depicted what they observed in nature

Renaissance artists wanted to paint the natural world as realistically as possible.



Sculpture, Painting

  • Studied anatomy
  • Age 24, won fame with Pietà, sculpture of Jesus’ mother Mary holding son’s dead body
  • Sculpture communicates grief, love, acceptance, immortality
  • Marble statue of David
  • Most famous painting, artwork on ceiling of Sistine Chapel
  • Scenes from Old Testament considered one of greatest achievements in art history

Leonardo da Vinci

  • Highly talented in all fields (renaissance man)
  • His paintings are still studied and admired
  • Wrote out ideas, filling 20,000 pages of notes
  • His interests, enthusiasm boundless
leonardo da vinci
Leonardo Da Vinci
  • The Last Supper

Leonardo Da Vinci’s

The Virgin of the Rocks





1499Marble, height 174 cm, width at the base 195 cmBasilica di San Pietro, Vatican


Statue of David





  • Renaissance architecture reached height with work of Donato Bramante
  • Had already achieved fame when chosen architect of Rome
  • Design for St. Peter’s Basilica influenced appearance of many smaller churches
  • Raffaello Sanzio, became known as Raphael
  • Renowned painter, accomplished architect
  • Most famous work, The School of Athens, fresco—painting made on fresh, moist plaster
  • Also well known for many paintings of the Madonna, mother of Jesus

Other Artists


Patrons of the Arts

Competition Among Patrons

  • Medieval times, anonymous artists who worked for church created art
  • Renaissance artists worked for whoever offered them highest price
  • Buyers of art, patrons, might be wealthy individuals, city governments, or church
  • Wealthy individuals competed, displaying wealth, modernity through purchase of artworks
  • Florence, Lorenzo de Medici supported most talented artists
  • Milan, ruling Sforza family benefactors of artists, others

Classical Influence

Artists Methods

  • Religious paintings focused on personality
  • Humanist interest in classical learning, human nature
  • Building design reflected humanist reverence for Greek, Roman culture
  • Classical architecture favored
  • Studied perspective, represented three-dimensional objects
  • Experimented with using color to portray shapes, textures
  • Subject matter changed; artists began to paint, sculpt scenes from Greek, Roman myths

Styles and Techniques


How did society and cities change in the 1300s?

What were some important new ideas of the Renaissance?

What was the ideal of Renaissance art?


Trading Goods

Trading Ideas

  • As cities grew, vast trading network spread across northern Europe
  • Network dominated by Hanseatic League, merchant organization, 1200s to 1400s
    • Protected members from pirates, other hazards
    • Built lighthouses, trained ship captains
  • Northern Europeans traded ideas, goods; spread Italian Renaissance north
  • Fleeing violence, Italian artists brought humanist ideas, painting techniques north
  • Northern scholars traveled to Italy, brought ideas home
  • Universities started in France, Netherlands, Germany

The Renaissance Spreads North

Trade, the movement of artists and scholars, and the development of printing helped spread Renaissance ideas north from Italy.


A Book Revolution

  • Printing Press
  • Mid-1400s, Johannes Gutenberg cast letters of alphabet on metal plates, locked metal plates on wooden press; perfected movable type printing
  • Result, one of most dramatic upheavals world has ever known
  • Printed Word Available to More
  • Before only way to reproduce writing was by hand; long, painstaking process
  • With movable type, text quickly printed; producing books faster, cheaper
  • Easier access to books prompted more people to learn to read
  • Italics
  • Gutenberg’s first publication, 1,282-page Bible
  • Printers soon appeared in other cities, made books quickly, inexpensively
  • Explosion of printed material quickly spread Renaissance ideas

Philosophers and Writers

Desiderius Erasmus

Sir Thomas More

Christine de Pisan

  • Combined Christian ideas, humanism
  • Wrote of pure, simple Christian life, educating children
  • Fanned flames of discontent
  • Roman Catholic Church censored, condemned works
  • More’s best-known work, Utopia, contains criticisms of English government, society
  • Presents vision of perfect, non-existent society based on reason
  • Italian-born writer focused on role of women in society
  • Grew up in French court of Charles V; turned to writing when widowed
  • Championed equality, education for women

Northern humanists expressed their own ideas

Combined interests of theology, fiction and history

Created philosophical works, novels, dramas, and poems


Spread Renaissance Ideas

William Shakespeare

  • Use of language, choice of themes made plays appealing even to uneducated
  • Plays helped spread ideas of Renaissance to mass audience
  • Focused on lives of realistic characters, unlike morality plays
  • By Shakespeare’s death, 1616, London scene of thriving theatre district
  • Many believe English playwright WilliamShakespeare greatest writer
  • Plots not original, but treatments of them masterful
  • Deep understanding of human nature
  • Drew inspiration from ancient, contemporary literature
  • Knowledge of natural science, humanist topics expressed in plays

Shakespeare and His Characters



Like literary counterparts, northern European artists influenced by Italian Renaissance

  • Adopted Italian techniques
  • Works reflected more realistic view of humanity
    • Italian artists tried to capture beauty of Greek, Roman gods in paintings
    • Northern artists tried to depict people as they really were

Flemish School

Everyday Life

  • Artists of Netherlands developed own style, Flemish School
  • Used technique perfected by Jan van Eyck, 1400s
  • Fused the everyday with religious; lit candle represents God’s presence
  • 1500s, Pieter Brueghel the Elder used Italian techniques
  • Paintings showed scenes from everyday peasant life
  • Different from mythological scenes of Italian paintings

Dürer and Others

  • 1400s, German artist Albrecht Dürer visited Italy
  • On return, used Italian techniques of realism, perspective
  • Oil paintings exhibit features unique to northern Renaissance
  • Oils reproduced textures; reflection of objects, scenes outside window