Northern Humanism, Northern
Renaissance, Religious
Reformations, and Late
The Period
Literary Movement: Christian Humanism
Francois Rabelais, The Histories of Gargantua and
Marguerite of Angoulême
Desiderius Erasmus, The Praise of Folly
Two Artistic Styles
Northern Renaisance
Late Mannerism
Northern Humanism
Shared some values of High Renaissance
(idealism, rationalism, Classical emphasis), but…
Pre-occupied with condition of Church and wider
Christian world
Harks back to “simple” lay piety of Late Middle Ages
Devotio moderna/Brotherhood of Common Life
Thomas a Kempis
John Wycliffe/Lollards
Jan Hus
Goal: Imitation of early church and its simplicity
• Laity, not just clergy, could aspire to highest standards
• Carries national, anti-Italian (anti-papacy) implications
François Rabelais (1494-1553)
Major work was five-part satire,
The Histories of Garantua and
Attacks church abuses
Ridicules clergy
Affirms goodness of human
nature/power of reason
Skepticism, secularism, and
ribald humor put him outside
mainstream of northern
Marguerite of Angoulême (14921549)
Queen of Navarre, sister of
Francis I, protector of Rabelais,
Protestant reformers, other free
Associated with Heptameron, 70
frankly sexual tales in the spirit
of Boccaccio’s Decameron
Work is hostile to ethos of
monasticism, portraying monks
as gluttons, parasites, rapists, and
Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536)
Studied in school run by Brethren of
the Common Life, University of Paris
Believed in (1) Ciceronian humanitas
and (2) “philosophy of Christ”; Thomas
More was close friend.
Most famous work was Encomium
Moriae, or The Praise of Folly (note
pun on More’s name in title)
Supported Luther and wanted his
support, but two men disagreed –
violently – over freedom of human will.
The Northern Renaissance
Northern cultural scene influenced by
Italian Renaissance, but more affected by
contemporary events and religious
Result is art, architecture, and literature
markedly different from Italy, and marked
by competing styles.
Political Thought:
Jean Bodin (1530-1596)
Lived through eight civil/religious wars
in France (Huguenots v. Catholics)
Background combined humanistic
scholarship and government service
Reflected in Six Livres de la
Republique – essentially a work on
sovereignty, notably on types of
monarchy and the desirability of
uniform religion
With Machiavelli, one of the first to
focus on the structure of the ideal state
in the modern world.
Science and Medicine:
Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564)
Studied at elite universities (Louvain,
Paris, Padua)
Through dissection and study of anatomy
– learned at Paris – discovered that
Galen was wrong
Key work: De Humani Corporis Fabrica
Stands in Medicine in the same position
Copernicus stands in astronomy
Served as court physician to Charles V
and Philip II
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Balanced public career (judge and mayor)
with life of letters
Majors work is Essais, an autobiography
of his mind
Essais are an early example of
confessional literature, but are more than
that: also earliest work of “moralisme”
and the beginning of modern skepticism
Challenged both Christian ethic and
Renaissance view of humanity as
microcosm of universe
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Wrote in Elizabethan age, when London
achieved cultural prominence that rivaled
that of Florence
Age saw rise of drama (Kyd, Marlowe),
reversing Christian cultural outlook
While drew on multiple sources, many
reveal Mannerist aesthetic.
Hamlet , for example, (1) is presented from
multiple , ambiguous perspectives, and (2)
rejects the basic dignity of man
Northern Renaissance Painting
Era of cultural crisis brought multiple
influences to bear:
Late Gothic Style/Flemish School fades (Bosch
Impact of Italian art (notably Mannerism)
Reformation focuses attention on secular
subjects (religious topics viewed as idol
Northern Renaissance Painting
Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
Son of a goldsmith; traveled widely
in Italy; was both painter and –
notably – engraver, on both wood
and metal
Near end of life becomes
Lutheran; last paintings reveal his
new faith
Self-portrait, implicitly comparing
artist of Christ, unthinkable before
the Renaissance (but also well
within mystic tradition of imitatio
Northern Renaissance Painting
Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
Knight, Death, and the Devil
engraved at the time of
Luther’s revolt.
Combines Late Gothic
(exquisite details, grotesque
demon, varied landscape and
background) and Renaissance
elements (horse) to create a
disquieting scene
Northern Renaissance Painting
Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
Northern Renaissance Painting
Matthias Grunewald (1460-1528)
Details of life are unusually unclear;
even his name is certainly wrong
Ignored Renaissance classicism;
continued expressive , intense style of
late medieval Central European art into
the 16th century.
Only 10 paintings and 35 drawings
survive, all religious; many others were
lost at sea in the Baltic on way to
Sweden as war booty.
Many of his paintings were attributed to
Dürer, now seen as stylistic antithesis.
Northern Renaissance Painting
Matthias Grunewald (1460-1528)
Grunewald: Isenheim Altarpiece
Northern Renaissance Painting
Matthias Grunewald (1460-1528)
Northern Renaissance Painting
Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516)
Personal life a mystery
Treats common religious subjects in
fantastic, enigmatic ways
Influenced – perhaps – political
upheavals, sense of dread fostered by
plague, religious troubles, private
In paintings, seems torn between Late
Gothic and emerging Mannerist styles,
but overall defies classification
Northern Renaissance Painting
Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516)
Northern Renaissance Painting
Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569)
First truly modern painter in northern
Europe; subjects – landscapes, country
life scenes, and folk narratives – often
are devoid of religious content and set
him apart
Northern Renaissance Painting
Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569)
Northern Renaissance Painting
Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569)
Northern Renaissance Painting
Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569)
Northern Renaissance Painting
Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569)
The Breakup of Christendom: Causes of
the Religious Reformations
Radical reshaping of society (1350 forward)
Human yearnings
Historical trends:
Church abuses
Rise of sovereign states
Decay of medieval thought
Revival of Humanism
The German Setting
Germany focal point of Reformation
Purgatory-centered faith
No unified nation state
No secular control over church (courts/taxes)
Conflict with Charles V (Holy Roman
Anger turns against Rome/Church/Papacy
The Pillars of the Church
Mass and Purgatory
Mass was center of “intercession industry”
Works/money could buy grace
Papal Primacy
Structure essentially created by Pope Gregory
VII (1073-85)
While never achieved goal of fully unified
Christendom, did develop elaborate structure
Spain and Portugal
Iberian Peninsula is a “special case”
Adopted crusading ideal which arose from
advance of Islam
Latin Christendom became central to identity
Had early “Reformation”
• Inquisition
• Brutal empire building/export of Christianity
• Rise of African slavery which was to last three
The Protestant Order
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Published 95 Theses in 1517 (antiindulgence, but implicitly challenged
confession, penance, papal authority.
Major beliefs:
(1) Salvation through grace, not works
(2) Bible sole source of religious
(3) No need for mediated relationship
with God
(4) Repudiation of sacraments (except
Baptism and Eucharist)
Martin Luther
Luther’s Criticisms of Catholicism
Venality: Indulgences/relics
Church hierarchy unsupported in gospels
Sacraments/good works ineffective in assuring
Luther’s Theology
Justification by faith
Priesthood of all believers
Rejection of all practices not
explicitly laid out in Bible
Martin Luther
Practices Luther Rejected:
Veneration of saints
Monsatic orders
Ecclesiastical hierarchy, including Papacy
Five sacraments (baptism and communion excepted)
Elements of transfiguration
Latin mass
Martin Luther
Pope Leo orders Luther to recant or face trial for
Luther publically burns Pope’s order
Frederick convenes Diet of Worms (1521),
administered by Charles V
Charles V – for political more than religious
reasons –presses Luther to recant
Luther refuses
Frederick sends Luther into hiding
German princes choose sides
Advantages of Lutheranism
To Princes:
No tribute/taxes to Rome
No need to enforce ecclesiastical dues on subjects
Close monasteries/seize lands and wealth
Assert primacy of State/appoint own ministers
To People:
Bible contained no justification of power of aristocrats.
Or feudal dues and rents
Led to peasant rebellions (which horrified Luther)
The Protestant Order
Martin Luther
Never meant to set Europe ablaze,
but radical followers fomented revolt
Frederick the Wise
Major impacts on:
(1) Familial, non-celibate tradition
(2) Education
(3) Distance from anti-government
political and social reforms
von Bora
The Protestant Order
John Calvin (1509-1564)
After “joining” Reformation movement,
fled from Paris to Basel. There,
published Institutes of the Christian
Major beliefs:
(1) Predestination
(2) Theocratic state
(3) Strict ethical demands -- thrift,
industry, sobriety, discipline –
furthered pursuit of wealth in the
The Protestant Order
Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547)
Founded Anglican church, largely for
political, not religious, reasons.
Catherine of Aragon failed to produce
male heir; sought annulment, but Pope
essentially held hostage in Rome by
Charles V’s troops
Pushed laws setting up Church of
England through Parliament
Solidified under daughter, Elizabeth
The Counter Reformation
Reform movement within Church had begun
quietly even before Luther took his stand,
focused on:
Revitalized Papacy
New Monastic Orders
Effective Reforming Council
Reformed Papacy: Paul III
Starting with Paul III, Church
sees series of reform-minded
Pope Paul III:
(1) Convened council of Trent
(2) Reclaimed moral leadership
(3) Reorganized papal
New Monastic Orders
Company of St. Ursula
Founded by Angela Merici in Brescia
Intended to be exclusively for laywomen, who
were to live in own homes, practice chastity
without vows, serve the sick, and educate the
After Merici’s death in 1540, however, order
cloistered and placed under male control by
Church leaders – a typical fate for women in
New Monastic Orders
Society of Jesus
Founded by Ignatius Loyola , recognized by
pope in 1540
Initially concerned with working with the
unchurched and poor, focusing specifically
on teaching
Guided by Francis Xavier, however, mission
expanded; major missionaries to China and
the Far East, North America, and South
Served as Church’s chief weapon against
Council of Trent
Met in three separate sessions
between 1545 and 1563.
(1) Took unyielding position
toward Protestants, based
on belief that the Bible
and church tradition – not
the Bible alone – were
bases for understanding
the word of God.
(2) Affirmed that salvation
was to be sought by faith
and works; reaffirmed
seven sacraments
(3) Took Vulgate as “official”
Indigenous Peoples and New Spain
As religious wars in the 1500s were altering the map of
Europe, the rise of European colonies in the New World
was changing the geography of Western culture. Spain led
the way with its vast overseas empire covering much of
North and South America. In 1535 Spain organized its
overseas possessions into four viceroyalties—regional
governments, each headed by a viceroy—to rule the
conquered lands.The viceroyalty of New Spain held sway
over much of its vast domain until 1821, when it collapsed
in the wake of the wars of revolution that swept the
Americas in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Warfare as a Response to Religious
Dissent, 1520-1603
War between Charles V’s armies and
Lutheran forces erupted in Germany in
1546, lasted until 1555.
Peace of Augsburg tolerated Lutheran states,
but made ruler’s faith the religion of each
Philip II tried to created united, Catholic
Christendom, but defeat of Spanish Armada
ended hope.
Slice of Life:
The Conscience of Sixteenth-Century Christian
Bartolomé de las Casas: A Short Account of the
Destruction of the Indies
Bartolome de las Casas, a Dominican friar, was
an eyewitness to Spain’s quest for empire.
Outraged by the massacres committed during the
1502 conquest of Cuba, he eventually denounced
Spain’s entire overseas mission as misguided
and even genocidal, in A Short Account of the
Destruction of the Indies. By “Indies,” he
meant the lands of the Indians in the New
World. In his book, las Casas, speaking as the
Christian conscience, called for justice for
indigenous peoples.
Late Mannerism
Strongest impact of Counter-Reformation
felt after Council of Trent in Spain and Italy
Major themes were accessibility, intelligibility,
simplicity, and decency
On collision curse with Mannerism’s
complexity and ambiguity
Affected visual arts, not literature
Spanish Painting
El Greco (1541-1614)
Epitomizes spirit of Late
Native of Crete, arrived in
Toledo in 1576
Though not a favorite of Philip
II, painting catch the essence of
Spanish emotionalism and
religious zeal in spritualized
El Greco
The Burial of Count Orgaz
recounts miracle said to have
happened during founder of
Church of Santo Tome’s burial –
assistance from Sts. Stephen and
Two distinct styles depict earthly
burial and heavenly reception of
St. Stephen’s gown also depicts
event within event…a Mannerist
El Greco
Cardinal Guevara depicts chief
Subject seems to have uneasy
conscience, reflected in “shifty” eyes and
firm grip on chair.
Sofonisba Anguissola
Chosen by Philip II to be
court painter – a career
unusual for a noble women
of her time
Here she shows her mentor,
Bernardino Campi, painting
her – a new development in
a genre that previously had
shown subjects in static
Sofonisba Anguissola
The Portait of Don Carlos
shows the painter’s attention
to detail as well as the
Mannerist concern with
revealing inner nature
through outward
Spanish Literature
Lope de Vega -- Drama
Lazarillo de Tormes – Picaresque Novel
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra – Don
Italian Painting: Tintoretto
The Last Supper reflects the artist’s feverish, emotional style,
as well as his trademark placement of people in positions that
suggest a sculptural frieze.
Late 16th Century Italy and England
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Madrigal: Thomas Weelkes
World culture and economy began during
this period
Rise of system of sovereign and mutually
hostile states
Long conflict between Protestants and
Arts and Humanities: Cervantes and Spain’s
Golden Age authors …and Shakespeare