Italy: Birthplace of the Renaissance



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Chapter 17

European Renaissance and Reformation, 1300–1600



Italy: Birthplace of the Renaissance

Italy’s Advantages

The Renaissance

• Renaissance—an explosion of creativity in art, writing, and thought

• Started in northern Italy

• Lasted from 1300-1600

City-States

• Crusades spur trade

• Growth of city-states in northern Italy

• In 1300s bubonic plague killed 60% of population, disrupts economy

Merchants and the Medici

• A wealthy merchant class develops

• More emphasis on individual achievement

Banking family, the Medici, controls Florence

Looking to Greece and Rome

• Artists, scholars study ruins of Rome and Latin, Greek manuscripts

• Scholars move to Rome after fall of Constantinople in 1453

Classical and Worldly Values

Classics Lead to Humanism

• Humanism—intellectual movement focused on human achievements

• Humanists studied classical texts, history, literature, philosophy

Worldly Pleasures

• Renaissance society was secular—worldly

• Wealthy enjoyed fine food, homes, clothes

Patrons of the Arts

• Patron—a financial supporter of artists

• Church leaders spend money on artworks to beautify cities

• Wealthy merchants also patrons of the arts

The Renaissance Man

• Excels in many fields: the classics, art, politics, combat

• Baldassare Castiglione’s The Courtier (1528

• The book teaches how to become a “universal” person

The Renaissance Woman

• Upper-class, educated in classics, charming

• Expected to inspire art but not create it

• Isabella d’Este, patron of artists, wields power in Mantua

The Renaissance Revolutionizes Art

Artistic Styles Change

• Artists use realistic style copied from classical art, often to portray religious subjects

• Painters use perspective—a way to show three dimensions on a canvas

Realistic Painting and Sculpture

• Realistic portraits of prominent citizens

• Sculpture shows natural postures and expressions

• The biblical David is a favorite subject among sculptors

Leonardo, Renaissance Man

• Leonardo da Vinci—painter, sculptor, inventor, scientist

• Paints one of the best-known portraits in the world: the Mona Lisa

• Famous religious painting: The Last Supper

Raphael Advances Realism

• Raphael Sanzio, famous for his use of perspective

• Favorite subject: the Madonna and child

• Famous painting: School of Athens

Anguissola and Gentileschi

• Sofonisba Anguissola: first woman artist to gain world renown

• Artemisia Gentileschi paints strong, heroic women

Renaissance Writers Change Literature

New Trends in Writing

• Writers use the vernacular—their native language

• Self-expression or to portray individuality of the subject

Petrarch and Boccaccio

• Francesco Petrarch, humanist and poet; woman named Laura is his muse

• Boccaccio is best known for the Decameron, a series of stories

Machievelli Advises Rulers

• Niccolò Machievelli, author of political guidebook, The Prince

• The Prince examines how rulers can gain and keep power

Vittoria Colonna

• Woman writer with great influence

• Poems express personal emotions



The Northern Renaissance

The Northern Renaissance Begins

Renaissance Ideas Spread

• Spirit of Renaissance Italy impresses visitors from northern Europe

• When Hundred Years’ War ends (1453), cities grow rapidly

• Merchants in northern cities grow wealthy and sponsor artists

• England and France unify under strong monarchs who are art patrons

• Northern Renaissance artists interested in realism

• Humanists interested in social reform based on Judeo-Christian values

Artistic Ideas Spread

Renaissance Styles Migrate North

• Artists, writers move to northern Europe fleeing war in Italy (1494)

German Painters

• Albrecht Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings emphasize realism

• Hans Holbein the Younger paints portraits, often of English royalty

Flemish Painters

• Flanders is the artistic center of northern Europe

• Jan van Eyck, pioneer in oil-based painting, uses layers of paint

• Van Eyck’s paintings are realistic and reveal subject’s personality

• Pieter Bruegel captures scenes of peasant life with realistic details

Northern Writers Try to Reform Society

Northern Humanists

• Criticize the Catholic Church, start Christian humanism

• Want to reform society and promote education, particularly for women

Christian Humanists

• Desiderius Erasmus of Holland is best-known Christian humanist

• His book, The Praise of Folly, pokes fun at merchants and priests

• Thomas More of England creates a model society in his book Utopia

Women’s Reforms

• Christine de Pizan, one of the first women writers

• She promotes education, equal treatment for boys and girls

The Elizabethan Age

Queen Elizabeth I

• Renaissance spreads to England in mid-1500s

• Period known as the Elizabethan Age, after Queen Elizabeth I

• Elizabeth reigns from 1558 to 1603

William Shakespeare

• Shakespeare is often regarded as the greatest playwright

• Born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564

• Plays performed at London’s Globe Theater

Printing Spreads Renaissance Ideas

Chinese Invention

• Around 1045 Bi Sheng of China invents movable type

• It uses a separate piece of type for each character

Gutenberg Improves the Printing Process

• Around 1440 Johann Gutenberg of Germany develops printing press

• Printing press allows for quick, cheap book production

• First book printed with movable type, Gutenberg Bible (1455)

The Legacy of the Renaissance

Changes in the Arts

• Art influenced by classical Greece and Rome

• Realistic portrayals of individuals and nature

• Art is both secular and religious

• Writers use vernacular

• Art praises individual achievement

Changes in Society

• Printing makes information widely available

• Illiterate people benefit by having books read to them

• Published accounts of maps and charts lead to more discoveries

• Published legal proceedings make rights clearer to people

• Political structures and religious practices are questioned

Luther Leads the Reformation

Causes of the Reformation

Church Authority Challenged

Secularism, individualism of Renaissance challenge Church authority

• Rulers challenge Church’s power

• Printing press spreads secular ideas

• Northern merchants resent paying church taxes

Criticisms of the Catholic Church

• Corrupt leaders, extravagant popes

• Poorly educated priests

Early Calls for Reform

• John Wycliffe and Jan Hus stress Bible’s authority over clergy’s

• Desiderius Erasmus and Thomas More are vocal critics of the Church

• Reading religious works, Europeans form own opinions about Church

Luther Challenges the Church

The 95 Theses

• Martin Luther protests Friar Johann Tetzel’s selling of indulgences

• Indulgence—a pardon releasing a person from penalty for a sin

• In 1517 Luther posts his 95 Theses attacking “pardon-merchants”

• Luther’s theses circulate throughout Germany

• Luther launches the Reformation—a movement for religious reform

• Reformation rejects pope’s authority

Luther’s Teachings

• People can win salvation by good works and faith

• Christian teachings must be based on the Bible, not the pope

• All people with faith are equal, can interpret Bible without priests

The Response to Luther

The Pope’s Threat

• Pope Leo X issues decree threatening to excommunicate Luther (1520)

• Luther’s rights of Church membership are taken away

• Luther refuses to take back his statements and is excommunicated

The Emperor’s Opposition

• Charles V is Holy Roman Emperor

• He issues Edict of Worms (1521), declaring Luther a heretic

• Luther and followers begin a separate religious group—Lutherans

The Peasants’ Revolt

Inspired by Reformation, German peasants seek end to serfdom (1524)

Princes crush revolt; about 100,000 people die

Germany at War

• Some princes side with Luther, become known as Protestants

• Charles V fails to return rebellious princes to Catholic Church

• Peace of Augsburg (1555)—each prince can decide religion of his state

England Becomes Protestant

Henry VIII Wants a Son

• Henry has only daughter, needs male heir to rule England

• Henry wants a divorce; Pope refuses to annul—set aside—his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon

The Reformation Parliament

• Parliament passes laws ending pope’s power in England

• Henry remarries, becomes official head of England’s Church

• Thomas More refuses to go against Catholic Church and is beheaded

Consequences of Henry’s Changes

• Henry has six wives and three children

• Religious turmoil follows Henry’s death (1547)

• Protestantism under King Edward, then Catholicism under Queen Mary

Elizabeth Restores Protestantism

• Henry’s second daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, forms Anglican Church

• Anglican Church is acceptable to moderate Catholics and Protestants

Elizabeth Faces Other Challenges

• Some Protestants and Catholics oppose Elizabeth

• Phillip II, Catholic King of Spain, threatens England

• Elizabeth’s need for money brings conflict with Parliament

The Reformation Continues

Calvin Continues the Reformation

Religious Reform in Switzerland

• Swiss priest Huldrych Zwingli calls for Church reforms (1520)

• War breaks out between Catholics, Protestants; Zwingli killed (1531)

Calvin Formalizes Protestant Ideas

• John Calvin writes Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536):

- we are sinful by nature and cannot earn salvation

- God chooses who will be saved—predestination

• Calvinism—religion based on Calvin’s teachings

Calvin Leads the Reformation in Switzerland

• Calvin says ideal government is theocracy—rule by religious leaders

• Geneva becomes a strict Protestant theocracy led by Calvin

Calvinism Spreads

• John Knox brings Calvinism to Scotland, followers are Presbyterians

• Church governed by laymen called presbyters, or elders

• Calvin’s followers in France called Huguenots

• Catholics massacre Huguenots in Paris (1572)

Other Protestant Reformers

The Anabaptists

• Anabaptists believe in separation of church and state, oppose wars

• Forerunners of Mennonites and Amish

Woman’s Role in the Reformation

• Marguerite of Navarre protected Calvin in France

• Katrina Zell also protects reformers

• Katherina von Bora, Luther’s wife, promotes equality in marriage

The Catholic Reformation

A Counter Reformation

• Catholic Reformation—seeks to reform Catholic Church from within

Ignatius of Loyola

• Leading Catholic reformer

• His Spiritual Exercises (1522) calls for meditation, prayer, and study

• Pope creates Society of Jesus religious order, the Jesuits

• Jesuits follow Ignatius, start schools, convert non-Christians

Reforming Popes

• Pope Paul III and Pope Paul IV lead reforms

• Paul III calls Council of Trent to lay out reforms:

- Church’s interpretation of Bible is final

- Christians need faith and good works for salvation

- Bible and Church traditions equally important

- Indulgences are valid expressions of faith

• Use Inquisition to seek out heresy

• Paul IV issues Index of Forbidden Books (1559); books burned

The Legacy of the Reformation

Religious and Social Effects of the Reformation

• Catholic Church is unified; Protestant denominations grow

• Catholics and Protestants create schools throughout Europe

• Status of women does not improve

Political Effects of the Reformation

• Catholic Church’s power lessens, power of monarchs and states grow



• Reformation’s questioning of beliefs brings intellectual ferment

• Late 18th century sees a new intellectual movement—the Enlightenment


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