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HIST201: History of Europe, 1000 to 1800

Unit 2: Renaissance   In Italy during the late Middle Ages, the contours of a new cultural movement—the Renaissance—began to emerge in urban centers such as Rome, Venice, Florence, and Milan.  Meaning “rebirth” in French, “the Renaissance” refers to a revival of classical Greek and Roman sources, an emphasis on realism in art, and educational reform.  Renaissance thinkers emphasized humanism—a moral philosophy that considers humans to be of primary importance—in art, philosophy, politics, science, and religion.  This new interest in humanism represented a drastic shift away from the focus on the divine that had dominated medieval European thought for centuries.  By the sixteenth century, Renaissance culture had spread to other regions of Europe.
   
In this unit, we will study the profound impact that Renaissance ideas had on European society, religion, and politics.  We will also compare and contrast the Italian Renaissance with Renaissances in other parts of Europe.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 7 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2: 4.5 hours
☐    Subunit 2.2.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.2.2: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 2.2.3: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 2.2.4: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2.5: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 2.3: 1 hour

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the major features and personalities of the Renaissance.
  • Describe the importance of the Renaissance in revitalizing Europe.
  • Compare and contrast the Renaissance in different countries.

2.1 The Idea of the Renaissance   2.1.1 Origins of the Renaissance   - Reading: University of Kansas: Carrie Library: Professor William Gilbert’s Renaissance and Reformation: “The Italian City States of the Renaissance” and “The Meaning of the Italian Renaissance: Interpretation and Synthesis” Link: University of Kansas: Carrie Library: Professor William Gilbert’s Renaissance and Reformation: “The Italian City States of the Renaissance” and “The Italian Renaissance: Interpretation and Synthesis” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of both webpages.  These readings will give you an idea of the background of the Renaissance as well as how historians have interpreted it.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.1.2 From Medieval to Renaissance   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History: “Lecture 4: The Medieval Synthesis and the Discovery of Man: the Renaissance” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History: “Lecture 4: The Medieval Synthesis and the Discovery of Man: the Renaissance” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire lecture linked above.  This lecture is about how and why the medieval period paved the way for the emergence of the Renaissance.  
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.1.3 Portraits of the Renaissance   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History: “Lecture 1: Renaissance Portraits” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History: “Lecture 1: Renaissance Portraits” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire lecture linked above.  This reading discusses how Renaissance thinkers and modern-day scholars interpret the period known as the age of “rebirth.”  
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.2 Renaissance Thought and Thinkers   2.2.1 Humanism   - Reading: University of Kansas: Carrie Library: Professor William Gilbert’s Renaissance and Reformation: “Italian Humanism;” Peter Sadlon’s version of A.S. Kline’s translation of Francesco Petrarch’s Il Canzoniere, “Sonnet 264;” Peter Sadlon’s version of Holly Barbaciia’s “I Go Thinking: I’vo Pensando and Petrarch’s Paths of Desire” Links:  University of Kansas: Carrie Library: Professor William Gilbert’s Renaissance and Reformation:Italian Humanism”(HTML); Peter Sadlon’s version of A.S. Kline’s translation of Francesco Petrarch’s Il Canzoniere, “Sonnet 264”(HTML); Peter Sadlon’s version of Holly Barbaciia’s “I Go Thinking: I’vo Pensando and Petrarch’s Paths of Desire” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the “Italian Humanism” webpage.  Also, read the entire poem linked above.  Then, please read Holly Barbaccia’s analysis of the poem “Sonnet 264.”
 
The first reading will help you to better understand one of the defining characteristics of Renaissance thought—humanism.  Humanism emphasized the centrality of human beings—rather than God—in the world.  
 
Known as the “Father of Humanism,” Petrarch’s poetry revolutionized literature during the early Renaissance period.  He invented the Petrarchan sonnet—a 14-line poem about unattainable love with a set rhyme scheme of abba abba cdc dcd.  In this text, Petrarch writes about his unrequited love for a woman known only as “Laura.”
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.2.2 Renaissance Neo-Platonism   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Neoplatonism” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Neoplatonism” (PDF).
 
Instructions: Please read “Neoplatonism.” This reading provides a working definition of “Platonism” and discusses how Renaissance philosophers asserted Platonic principles to develop their own ideas.

2.2.3 Pico della Mirandola   - Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Brian Copenhaver’s “Giovanni Pico dell Mirandola” Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Brian Copenhaver’s “Giovanni Pico dell Mirandola” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the whole webpage linked above.  This reading will provide you with a sense of Pico della Mirandola’s philosophy, which synthesized classical, medieval, and Renaissance ideas.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.2.4 Niccoló Machiavelli   - Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Cary Nederman’s “Niccolò Machiavelli” and Columbia University: The Institute for Learning Technologies’ version of W.K. Marriott’s translation of Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince Links: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Cary Nederman’s “Niccolò Machiavelli" (HTML) and  Columbia University: The Institute for Learning Technologies’ version of W.K. Marriott’s translation of Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince (HTML)
 
Also available in:
ePub format on Google Books
 
PDF
 
Instructions: First, please read the background on Machiavelli on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy webpage linked here.  Then, read chapters I, XIV, XV, XVII, and XIX of The Prince, paying special attention to the manner in which Machiavelli separates ethics from political pragmatism. To access each chapter, click on the hyperlink for each chapter in the “Table of Contents” and/or then use the “Next Chapter” link on each webpage to move through the text.
 
This political treatise was written by Niccolò Machiavelli, a Florentine political theorist, in the sixteenth century.  In an era of constant conflict among Italian city-states, Machiavelli asserts that the greatest moral good is a virtuous and stable state.  Even if actions taken to preserve the state are immoral, Machiavelli argues, they remain justified.  The text, with its “end justifies the means” pragmatism, had a deep impact on Western philosophy. 
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.2.5 Leonardo da Vinci   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Leonardo da Vinci” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Leonardo da Vinci” (PDF).
 
Instructions: Please read “Leonardo da Vinci.” This reading broadly discusses Leonardo da Vinci, the famed Renaissance thinker, artist, inventor, writer, and scientist.

2.3 The Northern Renaissance   2.3.1 Renaissance Art in Northern Europe   - Reading: The Virtual Library: Bill Gilbert’s “Chapter 22: Renaissance Art in Northern Europe” Link: The Virtual Library: Bill Gilbert’s “Chapter 22: Renaissance Art in Northern Europe” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the chapter linked above.  This reading describes the artistic innovation that emerged in northern Europe, particularly in Germany and the Low Countries.  This information is hosted on the Virtual Library's CARRIE website, originally developed by Lynn H. Nelson, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Kansas.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.3.2 Christian Humanism   - Reading: The Virtual Library: Bill Gilbert’s “Chapter 9: The Northern Renaissance and the Background of the Reformation” Link: The Virtual Library: Bill Gilbert’s “Chapter 9: The Northern Renaissance and the Background of the Reformation” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the chapter linked above.  This chapter provides information on how the ideas of the Renaissance were modified differently in the northern European countries.  This information is hosted on the Virtual Library's CARRIE website, originally developed by Lynn H. Nelson, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Kansas.     
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.