The “Early Modern” Period

and the Northern Renaissance

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Desiderius Erasmus:
Christian Humanist

St. Thomas More:
Social Critic

Gutenberg Bible


Key Terms

1) “Early Modern Period”

2) Christian Humanism

3) Johannes Gutenberg

4) Desiderius Erasmus

5) St. Thomas More & Utopia

6) Francois Rabelais and “rabelaisian”


1) What defines the “Early Modern Period?”

2) What distinguished the Northern Renaissance from the Italian Renaissance?


I. Defining the Early Modern Period


Š    Increasing Secularism: Northern Renaissance and Scientific Revolution

Š    Religious Division: The Protestant Reformation and Religious War

Š    European Expansion: The Discovery of the “New World”

Š    New Market Economies: Toward Capitalism

Š    The Continued Rise of Centralized States:  Absolutism and Constitutionalism

II.  The Northern Renaissance


Š    Preconditions

o  Stability and Wealth, Strong Monarchies, Contact with Italy

o  The Printing Press: Johannes Gutenberg (1445) & The Book Revolution

The Index of Prohibited Books (1559)


Š    The Legacy of the 14th Century

o  Religious Piety and Criticism of the Church

o  The Desire for Church Reform


Š    Renaissance Humanism and Christianity

o  Searching for the True Meanings of Christianity

o  Toward a Simpler, More Rational Faith


Š    The New Satirical/Critical Literature

o  Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536):  In Praise of Folly (1509)

o  St. Thomas More (1478-1535): Utopia (1513)

o  Francois Rabelais (1494-1553): Gargantua and Pantegruel (1533)