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Assignment #1: Introduction & Italy: The Right Conditions, pp. 209 - 217
Why was the medieval view of the world pessimistic?
- Life is short, full of suffering
2. What does the term “Renaissance” mean? What factors caused the Renaissance to happen first
in Italy and not in England or Germany?
- Renaissance = Rebirth
- A. still used old Roman law ( didn’t use medieval law, Roman law very clear so made it
easier to conduct business & trade b/w the city-states),
- B. have many remains of Ancient Roman stuff like buildings, sculpture, paintings which
inspired many Renaissance artists & architects
- C. geography – collection of city-states located near seas (transportation routes), mild
winter so can still travel, trade, lots of food to grow & sell all year, close ties to the East
because located near the East (easier and cheaper to trade w/ them)
3. What did the Renaissance people think of the Middle Ages?
- Fed-up of the art and negative world view of the Middle Ages
- Thought the time was dark, full of chaos, no learning and no growth
4. How was Italy different from Northern Europe? What was Italy like during the Renaissance?
5. Explain the significance of geography with the start of the Renaissance in Italy.
- geography – collection of city-states located near seas (transportation routes), mild winter
so can still travel, trade, lots of food to grow & sell all year, close ties to the East because
located near the East (easier and cheaper to trade w/ them)
6. What is a city-state? How did city-states manage to avoid becoming part of larger kingdoms or
empires? Name three famous Italian city-states.
- City w/ surrounding farmlands (hinterlands) to provide food & necessities
- Had their own gov’t. & armed forces (hired condotierri to fight their wars/battles)
7. Who are the condotierri? What did they do?
- Mercenary soldiers that protected the city-states
- Still working today for the Vatican
8. Compare Venice and Florence with respect to location, geographical location, geographical
advantages and disadvantages, population, source of wealth, political system, and important
artists. (Make a chart.)
Source of
Political System
- coastal, head of Adriatic Sea
-maritime location; navy controlled
trade routes on Med. Sea; easily
-built on marshlands; supported by
piles w/ canals for roads, prone to
- 150,000
- Merchant navy
Oligarchy; powerful & wealthy
families (like Medicis)
-interior, on road from Rome to
northern Italian cities
North-central location; controlled
kingdom of Naples
No direct outlet to the sea;
mountainous terrain; isolated
-cloth trade
Officially a republic, but also an
oligarchy (supreme ruler, the Doge,
chosen from among the wealthy
families and elected for life)
Leonardo, Michelangelo
9. What made Venice and Florence so wealthy and powerful? Did they both grow rich for the
same reasons?
- Wealthy & powerful families
- Also Venice located by coast so dominated Med. Trade
- Florence dominance in cloth trade
10. What functions did the early Florentine banks perform?
- Money changers, collected taxes, gave out lines of credit, made loans, invented cheques,
introduced some accounting methods
11. What is an oligarchy? Why was Florence considered an oligarchy?
- Gov’t. ruled by a few powerful people
- Ruled by the richest & most powerful families
- Starting in 1434, the Medici family ruled Florence
12. What is a republic? Is Venice a republic? Why or why not?
- Elected gov’t. (citizens elect representatives to form gov’t.)
- No because Doge (supreme leader) was elected for life
- - he, the Senate & the Great Council came from wealthy families (more of an oligarchy)
- - citizens live in fear of the most powerful part of gov’t., the secretive Council of Ten who
could put people in prison, torture them and execute whoever in secret
13. Describe the Venetian government.
- Comprised of Doge aka supreme leader who was elected for life, senators in the Senate,
Great Council who passed law, order kept by Council of Ten (had the power to imprison,
torture & execute any citizen of Venice.