Global History I mr. Mintzes The Renaissance as a Turning Point Introduction: why Italy?



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Renaissance literally means rebirth, in this case the rebirth of classical Greek and Roman culture.  The traditional view of the Renaissance was that it suddenly emerged as a result of the fall of Constantinople in 1453, which drove Greek scholars to seek refuge in Italy and pass classical culture to Italy.  Historians now take this as too simplistic an explanation.  For one thing, knowledge of Greek and Roman culture had never completely died out in medieval Europe, being kept alive during the Dark Ages in the monasteries, and during the High Middle Ages in the growing universities.  Secondly, a revived interest in classical culture can be traced back to the Italian authors, Dante and Petrarch, in the early 1300's.  Thus the Italian Renaissance was more the product of a long evolution rather than a sudden outburst. Still, the term "renaissance" has some validity, since its conscious focus was classical culture.  The art and architecture drew heavily upon Greek and Roman forms.  Historical and political writers used Greek and Roman examples to make their points.  And renaissance science, in particular, relied almost slavishly upon Greek and Roman authorities, which was important, since it set up rival authorities to the Church and allowed Western Civilization to break free from the constraints of medieval thought and give birth to the Scientific Revolution during the Enlightenment.



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