Study Guide Ch. 12-14  ap european History Mr. Piersma  Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Chapter 12—The Crisis of the Later Middle Ages



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Study Guide Ch. 12-14  AP European History

Mr. Piersma  Santa Ynez Valley Union High School

Chapter 12—The Crisis of the Later Middle Ages

AP European History Style Questions



  • Analyze the Black Death's impact on Europe's late medieval economy, society, and culture.

  • Evaluate the relative importance of economic and political causes of the Hundred Years' War.

  • Compare and contrast the consequences of the Hundred Years' War on England and France.

  • Analyze the impact of late medieval political, economic, and cultural events on the growth of centralized political power.

  • To what extent did events during the late Middle Ages impact the Roman Catholic Church's authority and prestige (1300-1450)?

  • Evaluate the overall impact of an increasing sense of ethic and proto-national identity on late medieval historical development.

INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES

After reading and studying this chapter, students should be able to explain the process that brought the Black Death to Europe and how this disease spread throughout Europe in the later Middle Ages. They should be able to summarize the consequences of the Black Death in Europe. They should be able to discuss the impact of the Hundred Years' War on France and England, in particular on the English parliament. Students should be able to list the problems that led to disorder in the later medieval Catholic Church. Finally, students should be able to identify the most important consequences of the social and economic tensions that marked this period.

CHAPTER OUTLINE

I. Prelude to Disaster: The fourteenth-century climate changes in Europe led to reduced food production, which led to numerous social and economic problems.

A. Climate Change and Famine: The “Little Ice Age” caused a “Great Famine” (1315-1322), with related problems such as increased disease and reduced population and trade.


  1. Between 1300 and 1450, Europe experienced a "Little Ice Age."

  2. Harsh weather led to ruined harvests.

  3. Poor nutrition increased susceptibility to disease and facilitated epidemics (for example, typhoid).

  4. Social consequences of famines and epidemics included depopulation of some areas, a volatile land market, and unstable international trade.

B. Government Ineptitude: While the governments of both France and England attempted numerous solutions to alleviate the various problems, few solutions proved effective.

  1. Government measures, such as price controls, were ineffective.

  2. The starving scapegoated and attacked Jews, lepers, and the wealthy

II. The Black Death: Through international trade routes, the dreaded disease known as the Black Death entered Europe.



A. Arrival in Europe and Spread

  1. Genoese ships brought the plague to Italy in 1347.

  2. From there it spread to southern Germany, France, and then England.

B. Pathology: Generally identified as the bubonic plague, the Black Death was carried by fleas on rodents. The victim suffered terrible symptoms and pain before dying.

  1. Fleas often living on black rats bore the plague bacillus.

  2. Poor sanitary conditions and lack of bathing facilitated the spread of the disease.

  3. The appearance of a single boil was followed by bleeding under the skin, vomiting of blood, and death.

  4. Medieval doctors had no way of coping with the plague.

C. Spread of the Disease: First noticed in China, the plague entered Europe at Sicily and then followed trade routes into both eastern and western Europe. Both poor sanitation and poor personal hygiene in urban areas, in particular, aided the spread of the disease until it ultimately killed an estimated one-third of western Europe’s population. The plague would appear intermittently until 1721.

  1. Black rats mostly stayed in cities, so the disease was concentrated there.

  2. In England perhaps one-third of the population died-in some Italian cities more than one-half.

  3. The plague reached Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Russia.

D. Care: Europeans tried numerous tactics to either cure or ward off the plague, such as bloddletting, strong herbs or sounds, medicines, trying to avoid contact with the diseased, and religious acts. In some areas, Jews were blamed for the plague and then severely persecuted or even killed. Hospitals provided some care for the dying.

  1. Doctors could sometimes ease the pain of the disease, but they had no cure.

  2. Many believed the plague was caused by poisoned or "corrupted" air.

  3. Strong-smelling substances were used in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.

  4. Wealthy people often fled to the countryside.

  5. Many thousands of Jews were killed by people looking for a scapegoat.

  6. Hospitals served as a refuge for some sick people.

  7. Many people believed the plague was a sign of God's anger.

E. Social, Economic, and Cultural Consequences: The clergy’s mortality rate was exceptionally high as they fulfilled their duties toward the dying. The plague did solve the overpopulation problem and therefore produced at least some long-term positive economic results. However, the plague was accompanied by shortages and inflation. Psychologically, the plague ushered in a period of pessimism, evident in numerous cultural practices.

  1. Priests often took great risks to minister to the sick and had a high mortality rate.

  2. Church officials sanctioned unorthodox measures in the emergency, such as laymen administering extreme unction.

  3. New evidence suggests that the medieval agrarian economy showed remarkable resilience in the face of the plague.

  4. Guilds accepted many new members, often unrelated to old guild members.

  5. The Black Death resulted in a general European inflation.

  6. The plague caused profound pessimism, religious fanaticism (flagellants), suspicion of travelers and pilgrims, and slighting of funeral rites.

  7. New colleges were endowed to deal with the shortage of priests.

  8. By traumatizing medieval society and the church, the plague ultimately contributed to the Reformation.

III. The Hundred Years' War: A war between England and France increased the problems of the fourteenth century.



  1. Causes: The war’s causes included the vassalage of the English king to the French king, French expansionist goals, disputed claims for the French throne, and economic factors involving the wool trade and control of Flemish towns.

  1. In 1328 French barons denied the claim of English King Edward III to the French throne and chose Philip VI of Valois as king.

  2. In 1337 Philip confiscated Edward III's holding of Aquitaine.

  3. The Hundred Years' War also became a French civil war as some French barons supported Edward III's claims to stop the centralizing drive of the French monarchy.

  4. Economic factors involving the wool trade and control of Flemish towns created tension between the English and the French.

B. The Popular Response: Both the French and English kings used various types of propaganda to successfully rally support for the war. The war also offered opportunities to gain wealth and advancement.

  1. Both English and French kings used priests to stimulate patriotism among the people.

  2. War provided poor knights and others (criminals who enlisted, for example) with opportunities for plunder and new estates.

C. The Course of the war to 1419: Even though the war was fought primarily in France and the Low Countries, the English, relying on their long bowmen, were winning throughout the first years of the war.

  1. The English scored successes early on.

  2. At Crecy (1346), Poitiers (1356), and Agincourt (1415), the English long bowmen were instrumental in defeating the French.

D. Joan of Arc and France's Victory: With religious zeal, Joan of Arc, a French peasant, inspired French troops to take Orleans and ultimately saved the French monarchy. However, she was captured and burned at the stake by an English Church court, and the new French King, Charles VII, failed to intervene on her behalf. The French, however, went on to win the war.

  1. In 1429, the French peasant girl Joan of Arc claimed divine inspiration and helped turn the tide in favor of the French.

  2. She was captured by the English, tried, and executed on charges of witchcraft.

  3. The war ended in 1453 with the English holding only the port of Calais in France.

E. Costs and Consequences: For the French, the war created a huge loss of life. It ruined farmland, disrupted trade, and led to dissatisfaction due to high taxes. The English were hurt by the huge cost, the loss of local governing officials to the war effort, and lost trade. The cannon would permanently change warfare. The English Parliament developed during the war, and both countries experienced a growing nationalism.

  1. The war was costly for both sides and local government in England fell into disarray as so many sheriffs were serving abroad as knights.

  2. To pay for the war, Edward III had to negotiate almost constantly with the barons in Parliament, thus strengthening the institution.

  3. The war promoted the growth of nationalism in both countries.

IV. Challenges to the Church: The failure of the Church to provide spiritual solace to the people during the difficult fourteenth century made both the official Christian Church and the pope vulnerable to attack.

A. The Babylonian Captivity and the Great Schism: The Babylonian Captivity, a time when the popes lived in Avignon under French dominance, hurt the pope’s authority and independence. Botched attempts at reforms led to the Great Schism, a period with two popes, which greatly damaged the Church’s reputation.


  1. From 1309-1376 the popes resided in Avignon, France, under control of the French monarchy.

  2. After returning to Rome in 1377, Urban VI succeeded to the papacy. Antagonized by Urban's anti-corruption campaign, a number of cardinals returned to France and chose a different Pope, Clement VII, who would reside in Avignon.

  3. Kings lined up behind one pope or the other based on political considerations.

  4. The schism confused common people and discredited the Church among some.

B. The Conciliar Movement: Conciliarists wanted to reform the Church through representative general councils, believing the pope’s authority came from the Christian community. Marsiglio of Padua said the Church was subordinate to the state; John Wyclif challenged papal authority and urged the translation of the scripture into the vernacular. A council did end the Great Schism, but Conciliarists had laid the foundation for the Reformation.

  1. Before the schism, Marsiglio, rector of the University of Paris, argued that the Church should be led by a council superior to the pope.

  2. The English scholar John Wyclif (ca 1330-1384) argued that there was no scriptural foundation for the pope's temporal power. He also argued that all Christians should read the Bible for themselves.

  3. The cardinals of Avignon and Rome summoned a council at Pisa in 1409 that deposed both popes and elected a third, but the old popes refused to step down, leading to a threefold schism.

  4. The German emperor Sigismund organized a council at Constance that met from 1414-1418 and resolved the schism, electing a new pope (and burning the heretic John Hus at the stake).

C. Lay Piety and Mysticism: Because Church leadership failed to provide for the spiritual needs of the people. Increasing numbers of laity began to control Church affairs, form religious volunteer groups known as confraternities, practice living in stark simplicity to imitate Christ, and have mystical experiences.

  1. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the laity began to exercise increasing control over parish affairs.

  2. Laymen and women often formed confraternities.

  1. In late fourteenth-century Holland, a group of laypeople formed the "Brethren and Sisters of the Common Life."

  2. For some people, lay piety found expression in mystical experiences.

V. Economic and Social Change: The numerous calamities of the fourteenth century impacted the economic and social structure of Europe in numerous ways.



A. Peasant Revolts: The worsening economic conditions, class strife, and high taxes produced widespread discontent that led to an increase in peasant uprisings throughout Europe.

  1. Frequent revolts provide evidence of the suffering and exploitation of peasants.

  2. Flanders was the most highly urbanized region in northern Europe.

  3. Uprisings in Flanders (1323-1328) represent the first mass movements of the fourteenth century.

  4. Following fighting along the French-Flemish border, heavy indemnities were placed on the peasants.

  1. In response, revolts broke out in 1323, revolts that evolved into a larger movement.

  2. A French army crushed the peasant forces in 1328.

  3. In 1358 French peasants, tormented by famine, plague, and high taxes to finance the Hundred Years' War, rebelled in the so-called Jacquerie.

  4. In 1381 rising peasant expectations of well-being in England collided with reimposition of a head tax on peasants to start a peasant rebellion, probably the largest of the Middle Ages.

B. Urban Conflicts: In some urban areas, workers also staged uprisings over high taxes, poor working conditions, and falling social and economic status.

  1. Rebellions also occurred in the late fourteenth century in Florence, Spain, and the cities of Germany.

  2. Revolts often occurred in cities where the conditions of work were changing for many people.

  3. Urban uprisings were most often touched-off by economic issues, but they were also sparked by issues involving honor.

  4. The sense of honor developed by craft and journeymen's guilds was a gendered one.

C. Sex in the City: As couples waited for economic security before marrying, both men and women tended to be of an older age at marriage. The late marrying age of males may have contributed to widespread prostitution, which was often regulated. Rape was a fairly common crime and received a relatively light punishment. The Church became more vocal in condemning homosexuality, suggesting that it may have become more common.

  1. The trend in this period was toward later marriage for women, especially peasant and poor urban women.

  2. Men of all social groups were older when they married.

  3. Letters between John and Margaret Paston of the gentry class show that Margaret managed family lands and business while John worked in London.

  4. Men in their mid-twenties generally married women in their mid-teens.

  5. Late age of marriage for most men and prohibitions on marriage for certain groups of men contributed to urban unrest.

  6. Many cities established rules for brothels and their customers.

  7. Unmarried women were often the victims of unwanted sexual contact.

  8. Hostility to same-sex relations increased over the course of this period.

  9. It is difficult to establish the prevalence of homosexuality in the Late Middle Ages.

  10. Same-sex relations involving women almost never came to the attention of legal authorities.

D. Fur-Collar Crime: Nobles, lacking adequate incomes, frequently financed their aristocratic lifestyles through crimes, often stealing from both the rich and the poor. Such crimes typically went unpunished.

  1. To maintain their standard of living as prices rose, some nobles and gentry turned to outright robbery and extortion.

  2. Fur-collar criminals often got away with their crimes.

E. Ethnic Tensions and Restrictions: Through migration, various ethnic groups came to live as neighbors. Typically, each group maintained its own law code and customs. The Irish, however, suffered persecution from the English. With economic hard times, ethnic tensions would often rise, which led to laws prohibiting intermarriage.

  1. In early periods of conquest and colonization in the Middle Ages, newly arrived populations tended to live under their own laws, while the "native" populations retained their own laws and customs. Only in Ireland did England impose its legal system, and exclude the Irish from it.

  2. In the fourteenth century, regulations, laws, and customs discriminating among different ethnic groups on the basis of "blood descent" multiplied. These separated Germans from Slays in Eastern Europe, Irish from English in Ireland, Spanish from Moors in Spain, and so on.

F. Literacy and Vernacular Literature: Increasingly, the vernacular languages were used for literature producing such great works as Dante’s Divine Comedy and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The period also saw an increase in literacy rates.

  1. In the fourteenth century, writers began writing in their vernacular languages all over Europe.

  2. Dante Alighieri of Florence wrote the Divine Comedy in Italian.

  3. Geoffrey Chaucer of London wrote The Canterbury Tales in English.

  4. Beginning in the fourteenth century, literacy rates rose among men and women, reflecting the greater complexity of society, the growth of commerce, and government bureaucracy.

Review Questions

Check your understanding of this chapter by answering the following questions.



  1. What were the causes of the population decline that began in the early fourteenth century?

  2. How did governments try to deal with the problems created by climate change? How successful were their attempts?

  3. What impact did the plague have on Europeans socially, economically, and culturally?

  4. Describe the psychological effects of the plague. How did people explain this disaster? Did the explanations of Muslim scholars differ from their Christian contemporaries?

  5. What were the immediate and other causes of the Hundred Years' War?

  6. Who was winning the Hundred Years' War through 1419 and why?

  7. What were the results of the Hundred Years' War? Who were the winners and losers within both countries?

  8. How did the Babylonian Captivity weaken the power and prestige of the Church?

  9. What was the Great Schism and how did it weaken the Church?

  1. What was the Conciliar Movement and who were its advocates? Was this a revolutionary idea?

  2. Why was Wyclif a threat to the institutional Church?

  3. What were the reasons for the French Peasants' Revolt of 1358 and the English Peasants' Revolt of 1381?

  4. What was fur-collar crime, and why was it so common in the period? How did the public perceive this type of crime?

  5. What is vernacular literature? Who were some of the most notable vernacular authors of the later Middle Ages, and what did they write about?

Chapter 13—European Society in the Age of the Renaissance
Brainstormed List of Causes of the Italian Renaissance

  • Venice grows wealthy through overseas trade.

  • Genoa and Milan benefit from international trade with the Middle East and northern Europe.

  • Better ships allow for year-round trade, more cargo, and speedier transportation.

  • Florence benefits from newly gained control of papal banking.

  • Florentine bankers pump profits from loans, money exchanges, and investments into the economy.

  • Driving enterprise, technical knowledge, and a drive to succeed help Florence overcome challenges experienced during the fourteenth century.

  • Rise of merchant oligarchs and signori takes place.

  • Rise of the popolo occurs.

  • Merchant oligarchs and signori use the pageantry of the court to demonstrate wealth and power.

  • The arts are used to overawe the masses.

  • Merchant oligarchs and signori flaunt their patronage of learning and the arts.

  • Furious competition develops between city-states for territory and power.


Categorization Exercise

Category 1: Economic causes

  • Venice grows wealthy through overseas trade.

  • Genoa and Milan benefit from international trade with the Middle East and northern Europe.

  • Florence benefits from newly gained control of papal banking.

  • Florentine bankers pump profits from loans, money exchanges, and investments into the economy.

  • Driving enterprise, technical knowledge, and a drive to succeed help Florence overcome challenges experienced during the fourteenth century.

Category 2: Political causes

  • Urban nobility use the pageantry of the princely court to demonstrate wealth and power.

  • The arts are used to overawe the masses.

  • Furious competition develops between city-states for territory and power

  • Merchant oligarchs and signori flaunt their patronage of learning and the arts.

Category 3: Social causes

  • Rise of merchant oligarchs and signori takes place.

  • Rise of the popolo takes place.

Category 4: Cultural causes

  • Better ships allow for year-round trade, more cargo, and speedier transportation.

  • Technical knowledge and a drive to succeed help Florence overcome challenges experienced during the fourteenth century.

AP European History Style Questions



  • Assess the relative importance of political, economic, and social factors as causes of the Italian Renaissance.

  • Evaluate whether or not Renaissance is an appropriate label for Italian history from 1450 to 1550. "European" or "women's" could replace Italian in this question.

  • Analyze the impact of Renaissance humanism on the development of Italian art from 1450 to 1550.

  • To what extent are secularism, individualism, and humanism reflected in the art of two Renaissance artists of your choice?

  • Compare and contrast the Renaissance in Italy and the Netherlands.

  • Analyze the impact of women on the Renaissance and the impact of the Renaissance on women.

  • Describe and analyze the changing relationship between the monarchy, church, and nobility in Renaissance France, England, and Spain.

INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES

After reading and studying this chapter, students should be able to identify the key economic and political developments that provided the setting for the Renaissance. They should be able to discuss the key ideas of the Renaissance and note differences between the experience of the Renaissance for men and women and for southern and northern Europeans. They should also be able to describe the basic structure of Renaissance society. Finally, students should be able to elaborate on the evolution of medieval kingdoms into early modern nation-states.

CHAPTER OUTLINE

I. Economic and Political Developments: Economic growth in Italy provided the basis for merchants to buy political power and, ultimately, to hire artists, thus paving the way for the Renaissance.

A. Commercial Developments: The basis of Italian economic strength was the increased shipping of the northern cities. Though not a shipping center, Florence gained wealth and economic stability by acquiring control of pap banking, which gave bankers, such as the Medici family, enormous political and culture influence.


  1. Venice, Genoa, and Milan grew rich on commerce between 1050 and 1300.

  2. Florence, where the Renaissance originated, was an important banking center by the fourteenth century.

B. Communes and Republics: Beginning as communes, most northern Italian cities gained their independence and evolved into oligarchies. Pressure from the common people, the popolo, led to the creation of republican governments. However, the republic often served as facades for governments controlled by either signori or merchant oligarchies. The wealthy used their money for elaborate lifestyles that included patronizing the arts.

  1. In northern Italy the larger cities won independence from local nobles and became self-governing communes of free men in the twelfth century.

  2. Local nobles moved into the cities and married into wealthy merchant families.

  3. This new class set up property requirements for citizenship.

  4. The excluded, the popolo, rebelled and in some cities set up republics.

  5. By 1300 the republics had collapsed, and despots or oligarchies governed most Italian cities.

C. The Balance of Power among the Italian City-States: Fiercely loyal to their city-states, Italians failed to achieve political unity in this period. Five powers dominated the peninsula (Venice, Milan, Florence, the Papal States, and the kingdom of Naples) and invented modern diplomacy as they achieved a balance of power. The states’ lack of unity would make them prey to invasion by France and the Holy Roman Empire in the late fourteenth century.

  1. In the fifteenth century, five powers dominated the Italian peninsula: Venice, Milan, Florence, the Papal States, and the kingdom of Naples.

  2. City patriotism and constant competition for power among cities prevented political centralization on the Italian peninsula.

  3. As cities strove to maintain the balance of power among themselves, they invented the apparatus of modern diplomacy.

  4. In 1494, the city of Milan invited intervention by the French King Charles VIII.

  5. Italy became a battleground as France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Emperor vied for dominance.

  6. In 1527 the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sacked Rome.

II. Intellectual Change: Italian intellectuals, especially Francesco Petrarch, believed they were part of a new age of intellectual achievement.



A. Humanism: Renaissance humanists studied the classics to learn about human nature, although they approached the subject form a Christian perspective. Through their interest in human achievement, they also focused on the individual and the individual’s potential to achieve.

  1. The revival of antiquity took the form of interest in archaeology, recovery of ancient manuscripts, and study of the Latin classics.

  1. The study of the classics became known as the "new learning," or humanism.

  1. Humanists studied the Latin classics to learn what they reveal about human nature.

  2. Humanism emphasized human beings, their achievements, interests, and capabilities.

  3. Interest in human achievements led humanists to emphasize the importance of the individual and individualism.

  1. Humanists derided what they viewed as the debased Latin of the medieval churchmen.

B. Education: Humanists emphasized the importance of an education that prepared one to actively contribute to public life. Establishing numerous schools, the humanists stressed studying the classics for training in how to live such a life. Their programs did focus on influential in defining a Renaissance education for young upper-class men.

  1. Humanists placed heavy emphasis on education and moral behavior.

  2. Humanists opened schools and academies throughout Italy.

  3. They were ambivalent about education for women.

  4. Baldassare Castiglione's The Courtier had a broad influence.

C. Political Thought: The most significant political treatise of the Renaissance is Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, based on the premise that humans are out to advance their own interests. Ultimately, Machiavelli maintained that a perfect, godly social order is not possible and, therefore, politics has its own laws, based on the necessity of maintaining power, not morality.

  1. Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince addressed the subject of political power.

  2. Starting with assumptions about human nature, Machiavelli outlined a vision of power that rested on a realistic understanding of the political environment.

D. Secular Spirit: The Renaissance emphasis on secularism or concern with the material world over spiritual matters focused on understanding through the limits of sensual discovery. While Renaissance thinkers still maintained spiritual interests and did not question basic Christian tenets, they increasingly focused on worldly wealth and material pleasures, including appreciating the arts.

  1. The secular way of thinking focuses on the world as experienced rather than on the spiritual and/or eternal.

  2. Renaissance thinkers came to see life as an opportunity rather than a painful pilgrimage toward God.

  1. Lorenzo Valla argued that sense pleasures were the highest good.

  2. Giovanni Boccaccio wrote about an acquisitive, sensual, worldly society.

  3. Renaissance popes expended much money on new buildings, a new cathedral (St. Peter's), and on patronizing artists and men of letters.

E. Christian Humanism: Northern humanists sought to combine the best elements of classical and Christian cultures to develop Christian social reforms. Christian humanists included Sir Thomas More, who described an ideal socialist community in Utopia, and Desiderius Erasmus, who saw education as the means to reform and said that Christianity was an inner attitude reflecting the philosophy of Christ.

  1. Christian humanists in northern Europe interpreted Italian ideas in the context of their own traditions.

  2. Christian humanists were interested in an ethical way of life.

  3. Utopia by Thomas More (1478-1535) described an ideal socialistic community.

  1. Erasmus (1466-1536) was the leading Christian humanist of his era.

  1. Two fundamental themes run through. Erasmus's work.

  1. Commitment to education is the key to moral and intellectual improvement

  2. Adherence to "the philosophy of Christ"

F. The Printed Word: Nothing changed public and private life and culture more than the invention of the printing press with movable type, which was developed by several metalsmiths, most notably John Gutenberg. The increased use of more affordable paper, the growing literacy rate, and expanded educational opportunities magnified the impact of the printing press.

  1. The advent of movable metal type had a huge impact on the spread of new ideas.

  2. Printing with movable metal type developed in Germany in the middle of the fifteenth century.

  3. Increased urban literacy, the development of primary schools, and the opening of new universities expanded the market for printed materials.

  4. Within fifty years of the publication of Gutenberg's Bible of 1456, movable type and brought about radical changes.

III. Art and the Artist: The creative artistic spirit of the Renaissance, found primarily in Florence, Rome, and Venice, is perhaps its most distinctive and admired feature.

A. Art and Power: Early in Renaissance Italy, artistic works were typically religious and commissioned by powerful urban groups, such as guilds or religious confraternities, to demonstrate their dominance. By the late fifteenth century, changing patterns of consumption led powerful individuals and oligarchs to sponsor art works for their private palaces and chapels to glorify themselves and their families.


  1. In the early Renaissance, corporate groups such as guilds sponsored religious art.

  2. By the late fifteenth century, individual princes, merchants, and bankers sponsored art to glorify themselves and their families. Their urban palaces were full of expensive furnishings as well as art.

B. Subjects and Style: Several new artistic styles developed in the Renaissance, including the individual portrait, realism, and perspective. Changing subject matter included the individual portrait and more secular subjects, often with classical themes. Architects also relied on classical inspiration.

  1. Classical themes, individual portraits, and realistic style characterized Renaissance art.

  2. Renaissance artists invented perspective and portrayed the human body in a more natural and scientific manner than previous artists did.

  3. Art produced in northern Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries tended to be more religious in orientation than that produced in Italy.

  4. Rome and Venice rose to artistic prominence in the sixteenth century.

C. Patronage and Creativity: Almost all Renaissance artwork was commissioned by a patron. Distinguished artists were generally well respected and often well paid, and the Renaissance saw the emergence of the idea of artist as genius who should be allowed creative license. Still many patrons strongly influenced content, and the “artist as genius” designation was reserved for educated males.

  1. Medieval masons were viewed as mechanical workers/artisans. Renaissance artists were seen as intellectual workers.

  2. The princes and merchants who patronized artists paid them well.

  3. Artists themselves gloried in their achievements. During the Renaissance, the concept of artist as genius was born.

  4. Renaissance culture was only the culture of a very wealthy mercantile elite; it did not affect the lives of the urban middle classes or the poor.

IV. Social Hierarchies: Renaissance social hierarchies, originally based on medieval concepts, developed new features that would evolve into modern social hierarchies.

A. Race: In the Renaissance, the term race was not used in the contemporary sense but was closely linked with ideas about ethnicity, blood, and culture. Renaissance Europeans did, however, distinguish people by skin color. Black slaves were sought after in parts of Europe for a variety of jobs.


  1. Renaissance ideas about "race" were closely linked with those about ethnicity and "blood."

  2. The contemporary meaning of "race" originated in the eighteenth century.

  3. Renaissance people did make distinctions based on skin color.

  4. Beginning in the fifteenth century, sizable numbers of black slaves entered Europe.

  5. African slaves served in a variety of positions.

  6. Fifteenth-century Europeans knew little about Africans and their cultures.

B. Class: While the term class is nineteenth-century concept, its roots are found in the medieval system of social oders. In the Renaissance, particularly in urban arrears, a hierarchy based on wealth meshed with the inherited hierarchy of orders. Te distinction between nobles and commoners continued, reinforced with sumptuary laws. Wealthy commoners could buy or marry into noble status.

  1. The contemporary notion of class was developed in the nineteenth century.

  2. The medieval system of social differentiation was based on theoretical function.

  3. During the Renaissance the inherited hierarchy of social orders was interwoven with a more fluid hierarchy based on wealth.

  4. Social status was also linked with considerations of honor.

  5. Cities had the most complex and dynamic social hierarchies.

C. Gender: The development of the printing press and the emergence of several women rulers fueled the continuing debate in the Renaissance about the character and nature of women. Stereotypical ideas about women and men’s roles shaped lives. The idea that men should be dominant and women subordinate for society to function properly received considerable emphasis.

  1. Gender is a concept that grew out of the women's movement that began in the 1970s.

  2. The Renaissance witnessed a debate about the character and nature of women.

  3. Beginning in the sixteenth century, the debate about women also became one about female rulers.

  4. Ideas about men and women's roles shaped the actions and options of Renaissance people.

  5. Maintenance of proper gender relationships served as a symbol for the maintenance of a well-functioning society.

V. Politics and the State in the Renaissance (ca 1450-1521): The Renaissance proved crucial to building strong states because rulers aggressively worked to rebuild governments after the destructive events of the fourteenth century.



A. France: Charles VII began rebuilding France after the Hundred Years’ War through such acts as reconciling the civil war between the Burgundians and Armagnacs, expelling the English form French soil (except in Calais), strengthening royal finances, creating a permanent royal army, and affirming the rights of the French crown over the Church. France became stronger under Louis XI, who promoted new industries and extended French territory.

  1. In France, Charles VII (r. 1422-1461) created the first permanent royal army, set up new taxes on salt and land, and allowed increased influence in his bureaucracy from middle-class men. He also asserted his right to appoint bishops in the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges.

  1. Charles's son Louis XI (r. 1461-1483) fostered industry from artisans, taxed it, and used the funds to build up his army. He brought much new territory under direct Crown rule.

  1. The marriage of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany added Brittany to the French state.

  1. The Concordat of Bologna gave French kings effective control over church officials within the kingdom.

B. England: Following the Hundred Years' War, the English monarch continued to decline until the reign of Edward IV. He and his two successors restored royal prestige, weakened the nobility, and restored local law and order. These rulers relied less on Parliament, which was controlled by nobles, and instead depended on a royal council as the center of royal authority. Henry VII kept the support of the wealthy by promoting trade and industry

  1. In England, Edward IV (r. 1461-1483) ended the war of the Roses between rival baronial houses.

  2. Henry VII (r. 1485-1509) ruled largely without Parliament, using as his advisers men with lower-level gentry origins.

  3. Under Henry, the center of royal authority was the royal council.

  4. Henry's Court of the Star Chamber tried cases involving aristocrats and did so with methods contradicting common law, such as torture.

  5. The Tudors won the support of the influential upper middle class.

C. Spain: The various Spanish kingdoms remained a loose confederation until about 1700. Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon exerted authority over the aristocracy by using local groups (hermandades) for law enforcement, by making the royal council the basis of their government, and by creating a national Catholic Church. The conquest of Granada marked the conclusion of the reconquista. Spain witnessed a rise in anti-Semitism

  1. Although Spain remained a confederation of kingdoms until 1700, the wedding of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon did lead to some centralization. Ferdinand and Isabella stopped violence among the nobles, recruited "middle-class" advisers onto their royal council, and secured the right to appoint bishops in Spain and in the Spanish empire in America.

  2. Popular anti-Semitism increased in fourteenth-century Spain. In 1478, Ferdinand and Isabella invited the Inquisition into Spain to search out and punish Jewish converts to Christianity who secretly continued Jewish religious practices.

  3. To persecute converts, Inquisitors and others formulated a racial theory-that conversos were suspect not because of their beliefs, but because of who they were racially.

  4. In 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain.

Review Questions

Check your understanding of this chapter by answering the following questions.



  1. What role did economic developments play in creating an environment that could produce the intellectual and artistic creativity associated with the Renaissance? What was the basis of Italian economic strength, both in the northern cities and in Florence?

  1. What five powers dominated the Italian peninsula in the fifteenth century? How did the Italian city-states contribute to modern diplomacy? What is balance of power?

  1. What is humanism? How did humanism foster an increased emphasis on the individual? How is that emphasis important in producing the creative thrust of the Renaissance?

  2. What was the humanist view of the proper role of education? What was the role of the classics in such an education? Identify The Courtier and its role in Renaissance education.

  1. What is secularism? To Renaissance thinkers, did secularism conflict with their Christian beliefs? What was the role of secularism in fostering the creative thrust of the Renaissance?

  1. What is Christian humanism? What were its main goals, and who were its leading spokesmen?

  2. How did the invention of movable type revolutionize European life?

  3. How did patronage of artwork change from the early Renaissance to the late fifteenth century? How did this change the nature of the artwork?

  4. How did the perception and status of the artist change in the Renaissance?

  5. How did Renaissance people categorize people of different ethnic groups? How were blacks valued in Renaissance society? What roles did they play in the economic and social life of the times?

  6. To what extent did the social hierarchy change in the Renaissance from the medieval concept of social orders or estates? How were distinctions between nobles and commoners enforced? How could wealthy commoners achieve upward social mobility?

  1. What troubles did England face in the fifteenth century? What devices did Henry VII of England use to check the power of the aristocracy and strengthen the monarchy?

  1. What were the achievements of Ferdinand and Isabella in the areas of national power and national expansion? What role did religion and the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition play in their attempts to consolidate royal power? Who were the New Christians (conversos) in Spain, and why were so many of them ultimately killed or expelled?


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