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Notes Ch. 2 Sec. 6: The Renaissance in Italy
I. The Renaissance in Italy.
a. Decay of medieval certainties.
b. Resumed a civilization similar to the Greco-Romans.
c. Italy of Quattrocento formed fields of thought and expression.
d. The Italian influence.
i. Apparent in books, art, and architecture.
ii. Moral and civic questions as to what humans ought to do and
ought to be.
II. The Italian Cities and the New Conception of Life.
a. Crafts in Italy were highly regarded.
i. Goldsmiths.
ii. Stone carvers.
b. Merchants made fortunes in commerce.
i. Bankers.
ii. Lent money to popes and princes.
iii. Bought wares of craftsmen and artists.
c. The Italian city-states
i. No centralized government.
ii. Merchants ruled oligarchies in each city.
1. Some formed republics.
iii. Florence was rapidly growing.
1. Home to many leading figures.
a. Ex.: Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, and Machiavelli.
2. Lost republican liberty and creative power.
d. The Medici family
i. Founded by Giovanni the banker and merchant.
ii. Lorenzo the Magnificent.
1. Poet, connoisseur, benefactor of art and learning.
iii. After family died out two Medici daughters became queens of
e. A secular conception of life.
i. The sense of the vast range of human powers.
ii. Life of involvement.
iii. Praise in enjoyment of wealth.
f. Individualism.
i. New civic consciousness and sense of public duty.
ii. Emphasized the outstanding attainments of extraordinary men.
1. Women pursued ordinary tasks of domestic life.
iii. “virtù”: the quality of being a man.
1. People who made the best uses of opportunities.
iv. Painting, sculpture, and architectures arose.
1. New sense of reality and space.
v. Architecture reflected the new tendencies.
1. Greco-Roman principles of design.
2. Most buildings were not of a religious character.
3. New substantial houses were built with gardens and
vi. Sculptures were now independent and free-standing art.
1. Subjects were mainly people.
vii. Painting was less influenced by Greco-Romans.
1. Used oils in painting.
2. Three-dimensional were achieved.
3. Explicit backgrounds and scenery.
4. Closely studied the human anatomy.
5. Paintings became less symbolic.
viii. The priest Savonarola was burned at the stake after staring a
movement for religious reforms.
III. Humanism: The Birth of “Literature”.
a. Humanists and Latin.
i. They were literate in Latin yet not members of the clergy.
ii. Humanists starting learning Greek and read classical texts.
b. The vernacular.
i. Florentine became the standard form of modern Italian.
ii. A vernacular is a common spoken tongue that is not Latin.
c. Petrarch.
i. The first man of letters.
ii. Denounced law and merchants as scholastic.
iii. His writings showed the complex, contradictory attitudes of early
Renaissance thought.
iv. He was a medium of more subtle expression.
d. The Humanists.
i. Men of letters founded schools and secretarial jobs.
ii. Coluccio Salutati glorified liberty and expanded their expansive
ambitions in the race against the Milan.
iii. Bruni adopted a flowing narrative form.
iv. Heightened civil consciousness and group identity.
v. Lorenzo Valla became a founder of textual criticism.
1. Proved that the Donation of Constantine could not have
been written by him after looking at the date.
vi. Pico della Mirandola looked through the truths behind Christian
IV. Schooling, Manners, and Family Life.
a. Renaissance education.
i. Put students into grades according to age.
ii. Rhetoric was the art of using language to influence others.
iii. Believed in teach students knowledge and how to use it.
iv. Etiquette became important.
b. The “courtier”.
i. The “courtier” should be a man of good birth but is chiefly the
product of training.
ii. Must be etiquette and proficient in sports and education.
iii. Needs to appreciate dance and music.
iv. Women were supposed to encourage good manners, polite
conversation, and cultural graces.
c. Renaissance marriages.
i. Arranged marriages and careful negotiations.
ii. Both families want to enhance their social positions.
iii. Women often outlived men and became widows.
V. Politics and the Italian Renaissance.
a. Merchants, bankers, connoisseurs, and courtly classes hired condottieri,
private leaders of armed bands.
b. Machiavelli.
i. Wrote the most lasting work of the Italian Renaissance, The
ii. Dreamed Italians would show virility in politics, fight for patriotic
causes, and uphold their dignity.
iii. Produced the first purely secular treatise on politics.
c. Italian vulnerability.
i. Vulnerable to the depredations of less easygoing peoples.
ii. Italy’s city-states could not compete against the rising national
iii. Italy was sacked.
1. Thousands killed.
2. Women killed and people looted.
3. The pope was imprisoned and the cardinals were paraded
through the streets facing backwards on mules.