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Jacob Schulman
AP Euro
September 26, 2006
Ms. Kim
Days 2&3: The Intellectual Hallmarks of the Renaissance
I. Intellectual Hallmarks of the Renaissance:
A. Renaissance characterized by self-conscious awareness among 14th-15th century Italians
who realized they were living in a new era
B. Francesco Petrarch: Poet and Humanist of the Renaissance
1. Thought he was living at the start of a new age, a period of light following Gothic gloom
2. Considered the first 2 centuries of the HRE to be the peak of human civilization
3. Germanic invasions caused a sharp cultural break with the glories of Rome”Dark
4. Believed that he was witnessing a new golden age of intellectual achievements
- Renaissance (“rebirth”)
C. Manifested itself in a new attitude toward men, women and the worldIndividualism
D. Individualism:
1. Few people in the Middle Ages were “remarkable”: Christian humility discouraged self
2. In the Renaissance, intellectuals developed a new sense of historical distance from
earlier periods
3. Emergence of many personalities who gloried their uniqueness
- Leon Battista Alberti: writer, architect, mathematician- “Men can do all things if they
4. Individualism: Stressed personality, uniqueness, genius, full development of one’s
capabilities and talents
- A person’s abilities should be stretched until fully realized
5. Quest for glory was a central component of Renaissance individualism
E. Humanism:
1. In Italy, leaders and the wealthy should respect for manuscripts, statues, monuments
- Pope Nicholas V planned the Vatican Library for 9,000 manuscripts he collected
Pope Sixtus IV built that library
2. Revival took the form of interest in and study of Latin classics”New learning”
3. “Humanism”: Term of Florentine historian Leonardo Bruni
- Derive from Latin humanitas- literary culture needed by anyone who would be
considered educated and civilized
4. Humanists studies Latin classics to learn what they reveal about human nature
5. Humanism emphasized human beings, their achievements, interests, and capabilities
6. Appreciation for Roman literature never died in the West; But medieval writers studied
the ancients in order to come to know GodInterpret the work in a Christian sense
7. Renaissance humanists were skeptical of their authority, conscious of the distance
separating themselves from the ancients
- Studied the classics to understand human natureViewed humanity from a strongly
Christian perspective: men and women were made in god’s image
- On the Dignity of Man: Pico della Mirandola stressed that man has dignity because
he was made as Adam in the image of God before the Fall and as Christ after the
- Renaissance humanists were more self-conscious about what they were doing and
they stressed the realization of human potential
8. 14th-15th Cent humanists preferred language of the classics and considered it superior
to LatinBecame more concerned with form than with content
F. Secular Spirit:
1. Secularism: Basic concern with the material world instead of with the eternal world of
2. Renaissance people held strong and deep spiritual interests, but their attention became
concentrated on the acquisition of material things
Ex. Church doctrine frowned upon usury (lending money on interest)But it became
widespread and almost acceptable in the Renaissance due to the possibilities for
considerable wealth
3. Economic changes and rising prosperity turned attitudes more towards business and
not much time for thoughts about spiritual issues
- People came to see life more as an opportunity to be enjoyed than as a painful
pilgrimage to the City of God
4. Lorenzo Valla: On Pleasure: defends the pleasures of the senses as the highest good
- On the False Donation of Constantine: Proves that an anonymous document that
gave the papacy jurisdiction over vast territories in Western Europe was a forgery
5. Giovanni Boccaccio: The Decameron: describes ambitious merchants, lecherous friars,
cuckolded husbandsPortrays a worldly society
- Renaissance writers justified their enjoyment of wealth to ancient authors
6. Church leaders didn’t do much to condemn the spirit:
- Papal court and households of cardinals were just as worldly as those of great urban
- Most popes and high church officials came from the aristocracy
- Renaissance popes beautified Rome, patronized artists
- Pope Julius II: tore down the old Saint Peter’s Basilica and began work on the new
one in 1506Hired Michelangelo to paint it
7. Broad mass of people and intellectuals and leaders remained faithful to the Church
- Pious paintings, sculptures, processions proved that religious feeling persisted
Petrarch: “The Father of Humanism”
- He says how people of educations shouldn’t be put in the same category as non-educated
- He thinks it’s ridiculous that people condemn Plat and Aristotle and Socrates
Leonardo Bruni:
- History of His Own Times in Italy: Bruni struggles to decide to study law or lose a chance of
studying Greek literature
- He thinks that Italy should use Greek language because all knowledge is from them
- Bruni believes that the foundations of learning must come from knowledge of Latin
- History is the most important study: It understands the origins of our own history and the
achievements of people and kings
- The great poets are responsible for giving us the deep speculations upon Nature and the
causes and origins of things
Renaissance Philosopher: Pico Mirandola (Stressed Humanism)
“Oration on the dignity of man”
1. God is the supreme architect of the universe but he needs someone to
admire the beauty and wonder of the universe
Angels: spiritual beings, immortal
Humans: Have free will (Can change their destiny/Shape it)
Beasts: will never be more than what they are
*Man will be whatever he wants to be
Humans have intelligence (Given by god) We chose how to use it
Humans are Awesome: have the ability to change (free will)
Niccolo Machiavelli
A. Born in Italy: 1469, died 1527
B. Famous Renaissance political philosopher
C. Wrote The Prince
1. Main concern was how should rulers get and keep power?
2. Tried to impress Italian political leaders to get a job
3. Famous Question: Is it better to be feared or loved?
It is best to be both feared and loved
It is difficultbetter to be feared
Love is subject to change, fear is more powerful and permanent
4. Negative view on human nature (Thinks people are fickle, selfish, and
change minds too easily)
5. Idea of Fox and Lion:
Fox=Clever, can avoid traps; Lion=strong + powerful
As a leader, it is best to be both (You can’t just be smart, not tough)
6. Key Concept: “The ends justify the means”
As long as you achieve your goals, it doesn’t matter how you do it
7. To keep power: A person should be strong, lie if necessary
8. Unlike Middle Ages: Rulers believed in Christian ethics + morals
Machiavelli believed that lying, dishonesty and less emphasis on ethics were crucial to
(Unethical behavior is encouraged as long as the ends justify the means)