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HIST302: Medieval Europe

Unit 9: Renaissance Ideas   *The advent of the Renaissance marked the end of the medieval period and the beginning of the early modern world.  Evidence of this transition could be seen in the fields of philosophy, art, architecture, and science.  Many thinkers looked to classical sources as a reference point: they wanted to both emulate and improve upon the ideas of the classical world.

In this unit, we will see how an emphasis on realism and rationalism was manifest in cathedrals, poetry, scientific treatises and paintings during the Renaissance era.*

Unit 9 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 15 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 9.1: 4 hours ☐    Sub-subunit 9.1.1: 0.5 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 9.1.2: 1 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 9.1.3: 1 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 9.1.4: 1 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 9.1.5: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 9.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 9.3: 4.5 hours ☐    Sub-subunit 9.3.1: 0.75 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 9.3.2: 0.25 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 9.3.3: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 9.4: 3.5 hours

Unit9 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Describe, in general terms, the importance of the Renaissance.
  • Describe the effects of the Renaissance on Europe.
  • Identify some of the general elements and ideals historians have come to associate with Renaissance culture and explain their reasons for doing so.
  • Identify, compare, and contrast the thematic and stylistic characteristics that distinguish some of the most influential Renaissance era artists.
  • Explain the values and principles associated with concepts such as humanism and their influence upon artistic and social movements during the period.
  • Identify and describe the interests and accomplishments of Renaissance thinkers in the realm of science and technology.

9.1 Renaissance Humanism   9.1.1 Emphasis on Classical Sources   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Petrarch’s “Letter to Cicero,” Part 1 and “Letter to Cicero” Part 2 Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Petrarch’s “Letter to Cicero,” Part 1 (HTML) and “Letter to Cicero” Part 2 (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read both parts of Petrarch's "Letter to Cicero" to learn about Petrarch's methods of relating to classical authors.
 
Francesco Petrarch was a papal secretary during the Avignon Papacy.  He used his position to gather various classical texts because he believed that the ancient Romans were more virtuous than people of his own time and could provide models of behavior for his contemporaries.
 
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9.1.2 Secular or Religious Renaissance?   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Petrarch’s “Ascent of Mount Ventoux” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Petrarch’s “Ascent of Mount Ventoux” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Petrarch's "Ascent of Mount Ventoux" to learn about the relationship between the religious and secular worlds during the renaissance.
 
Some scholars have claimed that the renaissance was a time of increased secularism, but Petrarch, the father of the renaissance, sought to reform the church as well as the secular world.
 
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9.1.3 Civic Humanism   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Civic Humanism” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Civic Humanism” (PDF).
 
Instructions: Please read "Civic Humanism."  As you read, answer the following questions: what are the main elements of “civic humanism?”  In what ways did it challenge medieval values?
 
Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

9.1.4 Neoplatonism   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Richard Hooker’s translation of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s “Oration on the Dignity of Man” Link Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Richard Hooker’s translation of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s “Oration on the Dignity of Man
 
Instructions: Read Giovanni Pico della Mirandola's "Oration on the Dignity of Man" as an example of neoplatonic thought during the renaissance.  After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, many high-ranking, well-educated Byzantines fled to Florence.  They brought with them texts written by the Greek philosopher Plato and many commentaries on his work written by later philosophers.  The introduction of Platonic ideas had a great deal of influence on later humanist philosophers.
 
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9.1.5 Education   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Petrus Paulus Vergerius’ “The New Education” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Petrus Paulus Vergerius’ “The New Education” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Petrus Paulus Vergerius' "The New Education" for an understanding of renaissance methods of education.
 
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9.2 Art   9.2.1 Changes in Artistic Method   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Changes in Artistic Method” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Changes in Artistic Method” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read "Changes in Artistic Method.”  As you read, answer the following questions: what are the major innovations of Renaissance painting?  How were they executed?  What characterized the “Renaissance style?”
 
Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

9.2.2 Realism   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Realism” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Realism” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read "Realism."  As you read, answer the following questions: in what ways did artists participate in and were influenced by the recovery of antiquity during the Renaissance?  What are the main characteristics of Renaissance realism?
 
Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

9.2.3 Beauty of Nature   - Web Media: Mark Harden's Artchive: Sandro Botticelli's "Primavera" Link: Mark Harden's Artchive: Sandro Botticelli's "Primavera" (HTML)
 
Instructions: View Sandro Botticelli's "Primavera."
 
Sandro Botticelli (1445–1510) was one of the favorite artists of Lorenzo "Il Magnifico" de' Medici.  He painted many pieces of art for the Medici's private rooms, including "Primavera," which depicts Venus, the Roman goddess of love, celebrating the coming of spring with a variety of nature gods.  The background provides realistic depictions of over 150 different species of plants.
 
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9.2.4 Italian and Dutch Artists   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Italian and Dutch Artists” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Italian and Dutch Artists” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read "Italian and Dutch Artists."  As you read, answer the following questions: what was the primay goal of Renaissance painters?  What are the main differences between Italian and Dutch and Flemish painting during the early Renaissance?  What new genres developed in the Netherlands, and how are these genres related to the characteristics of Dutch and Flemish painting of the period?
 
Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.

9.2.5 Political Effects in Germany   - Web Media: Fordham University's Internet Modern History Sourcebook: "The Religious Division of Europe" Link: Fordham University's Internet Modern History Sourcebook: "The Religious Division of Europe" (HTML)
 
Instructions: View "The Religious Division of Europe" to learn about the geographic distribution of various Christian sects by 1555.
 
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9.3 Architecture   9.3.1 Improvement and Emulation of Classical Forms   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Improvement and Emulation of Classical Forms” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Improvement and Emulation of Classical Forms” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read “Improvement and Emulation of Classical Forms.”  As you read, answer the following questions: in what ways does Renaissance sculpture represent classical principles?  Which particular aspects of ancient sculpture did Renaissance sculptors emulate?
 
Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. 

9.3.2 Brunelleschi and the Dome of the Florentine Cathedral   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Brunelleschi and the Dome of the Florentine Cathedral” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Brunelleschi and the Dome of the Florentine Cathedral” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read “Brunelleschi and the Dome of the Florentine Cathedral.”  As you read, answer the following questions: which aspects of classical design are perpetuated in Renaissance architecture?  What characteristics define Brunelleschi’s architectural designs, and how are these represented in the dome of the Florentine cathedral?
 
Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. 

9.3.3 Rebuilding St. Peter’s Basilica   - Reading: Saylor Foundation’s “Rebuilding St. Peter’s Basilica” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Rebuilding St. Peter’s Basilica” (PDF).
 
Instructions: Please read “Rebuilding St. Peter’s Basilica.”  As you read, answer the following questions: what motivations guided the renovation of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome?  How did plans for the new basilica reflect classical architectural principles?
 
Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. 

9.4 Science   9.4.1 Anatomy   - Reading: Fordham University's Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of William Harvey's "On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals" Link: Fordham University's Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of William Harvey's "On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read William Harvey's "On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals" to learn about developments in cardiovascular theory.
 
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9.4.2 Astronomy and Physics   - Reading: Fordham University's Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Nicolas Copernicus' "The Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies" Link: Fordham University's Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Nicolas Copernicus' "The Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Copernicus' "The Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies" to understand new developments in astronomy in the sixteenth century, in particular his proposal of a heliocentric universe.
 
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9.4.3 Mathematics   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Mathematics” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Mathematics” (PDF).
 
Instructions: Please read "Mathematics."  As you read, answer the following questions: what were the primary motivations for studying mathematics in the early Renaissance?  In what ways did the revival of trade and commerce contribute to the mathematics used by painters and architects during the period?
 
Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. 

9.4.4 Geography   - Reading: Fordham University's Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Geoffrey Chaucer's "A Treatise on the Astrolabe" Link: Fordham University's Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Geoffrey Chaucer's "A Treatise on the Astrolabe" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Geoffrey Chaucer's "A Treatise on the Astrolabe" to learn about the introduction and use of the astrolabe in navigation.
 
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  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Medieval Europe Reading Questions Part II” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Medieval Europe Reading Questions Part II” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please respond to the questions in the PDF linked above. After you are finished, read over the answer guidelines to check your work.

  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundations “Unit 9 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundations “Unit 9 Assessment” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please download the quiz linked above, and answer each question before checking your answers against The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 9 Assessment Answer Key” (PDF).