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Chapter 12
Renaissance and Reformation, 1350–1600
The Italian Renaissance introduced Europe to a secular worldview and a boom in artistic and
intellectual development. Intellectual change led to Christian humanism and, finally, the
Reformation—a break with the Catholic Church and the birth of Lutheranism.
Section 1: The Renaissance
A. The Renaissance began with the emergence of a secular worldview in the wealthy city-states of
1. The city-states were the dominant force in Italy's economic, social, and political life.
2. It was in this context that the writer Machiavelli developed his famous thesis on political
B. Milan, Venice, and Florence were particularly prosperous trading centers.
1. Italy's riches prompted France to invade.
2. Spain came to Italy's defense, leading to war and Spanish domination.
C. Italy was a largely urban society.
1. However, most people in Europe were peasants, and nobles held considerable power.
2. In the towns and cities, there were clear divisions between the classes, ranging from the
wealthy and influential patricians to the miserably poor.
3. The family was an important source of security in Italy's dangerous cities.
II. Section 2: The Intellectual and Artistic Renaissance
Humanism was a key intellectual movement of the Renaissance, focusing on the study of the
ancient Greek and Roman classics.
1. While early humanists emphasized solitary learning, fifteenth century humanists stressed
intellectualism in the service of the state.
2. Humanism encouraged the use of classical Latin.
3. However, European writers such as Dante and Chaucer wrote in their own vernacular.
4. Humanist schools taught a broad range of liberal studies.
World History Chapter 12
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Renaissance artists sought to imitate nature, but also to make human beings the focus of their
1. Painting, sculpture, and architecture were among the revolutionary achievements of
Renaissance art.
2. Some Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, produced
masterpieces in all three disciplines.
3. Artistic developments in Italy were a major influence on art in northern Europe.
III. Section 3 The Protestant Reformation
A. Changes in intellectual thought set the stage for the Protestant Reformation.
1. Christian humanists such as Erasmus were critical of Church corruption and said the Church
had become involved in politics rather than matters of the spirit.
2. The widespread selling of indulgences prompted a monk and professor named Martin Luther
to issue his famous Ninety-Five Theses criticizing Church abuses.
3. Luther also rejected some Catholic doctrines.
B. Luther's movement sparked a religious revolution.
1. Many German states became key allies for Luther as he broke with the Catholic Church and
established a new religion.
2. The emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was ultimately forced by the Peace of Augsburg to let
German states choose between Catholicism and the new Lutheran church.
IV. Section 4: The Spread of Protestantism and the Catholic Response
A. Division in Protestantism appeared in Switzerland under the leadership of Huldrych Zwingli and
then John Calvin.
1. Calvinists’ belief in predestination spurred missionaries to spread their faith.
2. In England, the Reformation was based on the political need of Henry VIII to remarry and
produce a male heir.
B. Although Queen Mary later tried to reverse the break with the Catholic Church, by the end of
her reign Protestantism was firmly entrenched.
1. Anabaptists believed in the complete separation of church and state and were regarded as a
danger to society.
2. Although a new view of the family emerged, women were still considered subservient to their
3. In the meantime, the Catholic Reformation revitalized the Catholic Church through the Jesuits,
the reform of the papacy, and the Council of Trent.
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World History Chapter 12
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