the Middle Ages, the universities dominated the highest levels
of scholarship. While one might study Roman law or medicine at
the university, the purpose of scholarship was ultimately religious
and the "Queen of the Sciences" was Theology. This was particularly
true north of the Alps, where the University of Paris dominated.
Italy, there emerged a new kind of scholar who explored different
kinds of learning. Renaissance humanists and artists worked to
recover ancient works of art, philosophy, politics, and science,
and to apply what they discovered to contemporary concerns. Their
work was accompanied by a new attitude about mankind and its abilities,
shaped in large measure by their desire to recreate the literary,
political, and artistic greatness of antiquity. What do the readings
in the PRR and The Courtier suggest to you about
Renaissance attitudes and concerns?
for a tour of Florence
Renaissance began in Italy, and then spread northward in the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries. Renaissance humanists and artists comprised
a truly international community, bound together by a strong sense
of connection to the ancient past, the desire to share and show
off their accomplishments, and, in the case of the humanists, the
Latin language in which they published their works.
about the origins of the Renaissance abound. Some attribute the
Renaissance to the wealth and number of Italy's cities: only in
northern Italy was there the concentration of population, talent,
and wealth necessary for such an efflorescence of art and scholarship.
Some argue that geography determined the course of scholarship
and art: where else in western Europe could one find so many examples
of ancient architecture, art, and scholarship than in Italy, the
birthplace of the Roman Empire?
Map of Renaissance
theories point to the special needs of the Italian city republics
for a capable and educated citizenry to serve in government. These
cities were also important patrons of artists and architects.
Works of art and architecture commissioned by cities like Florence
spoke to their political vision of themselves. By the fifteenth
century, princely courts also used art and scholarship to promote
themselves. Other theories about the origins of the Renaissance
note its connection to the past. The exploration of ancient scholarship
and a growing interest in the individual and in the things of
this world had its origins in the Twelfth-century Renaissance.
reading the selections in the PRR, do you find one of these
theories more convincing than the others?