The Renaissance
and the Foundations of Western Modernity
I. Cultural change in crisis
A. Theological challenges
1. John Wycliffe
- quality of sacrament
- Church authority
1320-1384
2. Jan Hus
1369-1415
- religion and nationalism
- language
čšž
3. Increased threat of Heresy
- Waldensians
no authority but the Bible
- Albigensians
extreme ascetism
“Heretics” often preached austerity not found in Church,
popular w/ peasants
The Inquisition
“what a show”
4. William of Ockham
1285-1349
- Argued against Aristotelian theory
- must argue from specific to general
Ockham’s razor
scientific method
B. Vernacular literature
1. Reliance on Latin declines
- expression of cultural, national, religious independence
(Gutenberg press)
2. Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy
1321
allegory – historical figures, contemporary critique
Redemption of Man – in Italian!
“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”
1308-
3. Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales
1342-1400
- middle English
- ribald, low brow comedy, social satire
4. Christine de Pizan City of Ladies
a. status of aristocratic women
improving
b. all levels of patriarchy
challenged
1364-1430
Giovanni Boccaccio
Juan Ruiz
The Decameron
The Book of Good Love
- “Mr. Melon of the Vegetable Garden”
II. Awakenings
Rebirth
Overcoming constraints of the Middle Ages by re-discovering
ancient ideas
Humanism
Theocratic culture vs. Humanism
It ain‘t no sin to be glad you‘re alive.
A. Luxury and lifestyle
1.
Plague and commodities
2. Merchant republics
Byzantine trade routes
“bourgeois” culture
(1100s)
the Medici family

Lorenzo de Medici, il
magnifico
The Florence trade
route
 Platonic Academy of
Florence
 Papal creditor

Jakob Fugger
Multinational
company, mining,
banking, fur&textile
trade
 „Creditor of the
Empire“

Augsburg
B. Crafts and guilds
1. primacy of skilled workers
- art and status
C. Fall of the Byzantine Empire
1. “Practical” humanism
1453, Constantinople falls to Ottoman Turks
- liberal arts education
- monasticism v. humanism
= contemplative v. activist lifestyle
III. Renaissance Idealism
A. The Humanistic Tradition
1. Petrarch
“Father of Humanism” 1304-1374
- Study of classical history, philosophy, language
- artist (writer) at center of art
2. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
1463-1494
- Oration on the Dignity of Man
Great Chain of Being v. Neo-Platonism
- “progressive” outlook on politics, psychology & history
B. Christian Humanism
1.
Thomas Moore
1478-1535
- Utopia
tolerance, equality, pacifism
- Social Gospel: revolutionary or reactionary?
2. Erasmus
In Praise of Folly
1509
- Church inconsistencies
Moore/Erasmus
- restore direct connection between individual &
textual basis of Christianity
3. Literary Criticism
- methods and goals
- philology
Polyglot Bible
IV. Renaissance Style, 1400 - 1500
A. Reason and art
1. Use of proportion/ perspective (da Vinci)
Scientific rebirth –
Leonardo da Vinci
 The Last Supper, 1483

2. Study of anatomy
Scientific research
by artists
 Leonardo da Vinci –
„Anatomic Studies“,
1480s

B. Classicism
1. Neoplatonism (Michelangelo)
fused classical with newer techniques
art should reflect spiritual, metaphysical
evolution
art should reflect man’s
rise to “godliness”
Donatello
Bronze sculptures
 Greek myths –
perfection of nature

Men as God´s children

Albrecht
Dürer – „Self
Portrait“,
1500
B. The Northern Renaissance
Flemish painters
Albrecht Durer
Jan van Eyck
Jan Vermeer
Peter Bruegel
Rembrandt van Rijn
interest in business class

„Burgeois paintings“

Jan van Eyck –
„Portrait of Jan de
Leeuw“, 1436
Perfection – St. Peter´s Basilica
1546-1564
A Medici becomes Pope
 Italy´s best:

–
–
–
–
Bramante
Bernini
Raphael
Michelangelo
Humanism – the new theology
The icing on the cake –
The Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo, „Last
Judgement“, 1530s
The Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo
, „Genesis“,
1530s
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The Renaissance - University of South Alabama