The Italian Renaissance

Florence at the Height of the Renaissance (Giorgio Vasari, 1511-1571)


Š      What was the Renaissance?

Š      What distinguished the Renaissance worldview from the medieval worldview?  Does it mark the birth of modern Europe?

Š      What is Renaissance humanism? Who are some of the key humanists?



Key Terms

1) humanism                       5) Francesco Petrarch

2) virtú                                 6) Giovanni Boccaccio & Decameron

3) Pico della Mirandola     7) Leonardi Bruni

4) The Medici                     8) Baldassare Castiglione &

                                                The Book of the Courtier


I.  An Age of Transition  (Early 1300s to Early 1500s)


Š    The Birth of the Modern World or a Part of Medieval Culture?


Š    Toward a New Worldview


o   Humanism:  The Wisdom of the Ancients

o   Secularism and Reason:  This World Matters

o  Individualism, Human Agency, and Virtú:  The Rebirth of Arete

            Innocent III vs. Pico della Mirandola (BBC)


o  A New Culture of Merit:  Talent, Ambition, and Accomplishment in the City of Man



II.  The Northern Italian Context  (1300-1400)


Š      Urban Life, Urbane Nobles, and Weak Central Government


Š      Trade, Commerce, and Banking


Š      The New Greece?  The Italian City States


Š      Republicanism, Elites, and Civic Identity


Š      Milan, Venice, and Florence 1 2 3: The Medici


Š      Secular Elites, Education, and Virtú



III. Renaissance Humanism and Literature


Š    Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374): The Father of Humanism


Š    Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375)

o  Decameron (1350-1353)


Š    Leonardi Bruni (1370-1444) and the “Humanities”


Š    Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529)

o  Book of the Courtier (1528)


Š    Niccolė Machiavelli (1429-1527)