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Introduction to
the Renaissance
A cultural awakening, or
rebirth, that signaled the
beginning of the modern era.
Rebirth of classical ideas:
art, architecture, philosophy, literature,
finance, views of the world, etc.
Inspired by . . .
Years: 1400-1600 (approximately)
Began in Italy
Spread to Northern Europe
Never hit certain countries like
Holy Roman Empire
Setting the Stage
Went through war and plague
Want to celebrate life
More about the individual
Start to question previous institutions
Why Italy?
One of the first effected by the plague =
first country to return to health and city life
Less work force, Increase wages
Low business, pursue other interests
Church weakened by plague and closest to
Italy (Vatican) = more secular approach,
more concern for the arts
Why Italy
more food
more specialization
Loose confederation of states
much easier to change one or two parts, like
Venice or Florence than a whole country,
like England
Breeding ground for intellectual revolution
The City States
of Italy
Rich merchants or traders emerged in
dominate politics
They didn't inherit positions like nobles,
so to be successful, they used their
felt they deserved riches because of their
individual merit
Individual achievement becomes a
cornerstone of Renaissance
Florence falls under control of a rich
banking family
the Medici’s
Cosimo de Medici rules Florence by
using his wealth to loan money and
create debt
Dictator of Florence for 30 years
Philosophy: Humanism
Intellectual movement focused on
secular, or worldly, themes.
Strong belief in the individual
Enjoy life, not to worry about
offending God
Wanted to use classical beliefs to renew
Focus of Humanities 
The Renaissance Man
A man who excelled in many fields was praised
as a “universal man”
The ideal individual tried to master almost
every area of study—WELL EDUCATED
Young men should be charming, witty and well
Dance, sing, write poetry, also a skilled athlete
The Renaissance Woman
Upper class should know the classics
as well as be charming
However, not to seek fame
Should inspire art, but not create it
 Art becomes everything
 Wealthy people become patrons of art
Financially supporting artists
Would have their own portraits painted and displayed in
public – huge ego boost
 Change in style
Medieval: religion to show spiritual idea
Renaissance: religion to show realistic style copied from
Greeks and Romans
 Perspective: three dimensions on a flat surface
Duccio-November 1308
Danse Macabre
School of Athens by Raphael, fresco, St. Peter’s Basilica,
 Leonardo Da Vinci
 Painter, sculptor, inventor and scientist
 The ultimate renaissance man
 Had a large number of notebooks filled with his creations
 Mona Lisa, The Last Supper
 Raphael Sanzio
 Studied from the best
 Famous for use of perspective
Renaissance Writing
 Works often reflected the time
 The use of vernacular
 Self-expression or individuality
 New trends begin – still used today
Petrach and Boccaccio
 Wrote sonnets – 14 line poems
 Decameron
 Realistic and off color stories
 Tragic and comic views of life
 Imperfect human conduct
 The Prince
 Political guidebook
 People are selfish and corrupt
The Northern Renaissance
 After war and plague the cities grew rapidly and the
new culture idea begin to spread
Artistic ideas spread
 People visited Italy and brought the ideas back home
 Focus on realism
 Albrecht Durer
 Hans Holbein
 Jan Van Eyck
 Oil paintings
 Peter Bruegel
Writers spread reform
 Critical about the failure of the Church
 Christian Humanism movement
 Education became the most important
 Desiderius Erasmus & Thomas More
 The Praise of Folly
 Utopia
 Writings become translated into multiple languages
William Shakespeare
 Inspired by the classics
 Dramatic conflict
 Human flaws
 Known as one of the greatest playwright
The Printing Press
 Chinese invented block printing
 Brought to England, but process was too slow
 Johann Gutenberg created the printing press
 Books could be produced quick and cheap
 The Gutenberg Bible was the first book
 Everyone could now afford books
 A copyist would take up to five months
 Press could make 500 books in the same time
Renaissance Legacy
 Artistic and social change
 Gradual rise in democratic ideas – individual
 Secular ideas rather than religious
 Vernacular even more popular
 Increased desire for learning
 All these idea will lead to the Reformation