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The Renaissance

The renaissance first appeared in the Italian city states because of the similarity between their language and the Latin language. Humanism used classical works to improve speaking and writing skills; therefor the Italians had a great advantage. More manuscripts were made available for the Italians, which led to the production of more intellectual leaders. The writing and speaking skills of humanism was soon demanded at the princely courts. Humanism transformed art, literature and political and social values.

Eastern scholars were invited by the Italians to join the West, to bring more Greek manuscripts and to help regain command of the Greek language. The Italian states differed from other states in that they were the leaders of the renaissance, with the chancellor of Florence, Coluccio Salutati, and a group of humanists Italy collected the ancient manuscripts. They were called the civic humanists, since they felt that an active life was essential for full development.

Two scholars from Italy, Guarino de Verona and Vittorino de Feltre transformed education. They used the ideas of humanism to establish a curriculum that spread to Europe. The Florentine Neoplatonists led the way towards a new exploration of grand ideals of truth and perfection. Ficino and Pico were both gifted Neoplatonists, and with their philosophy they had a major influence on artists and thinkers for the next two centuries.

The Italian humanism left a deep imprint on European thought and education. The Italian city states stimulated the development of the Renaissance, since the movement first took place in Florence. Another advantage was that Florence was famous for its art, since the greatest artists of the 1200s and 1300s, Giotto and Cimabue, were identified with the city. The Florentine citizens were wealthy and ready to patronize art and the city had an excellent design of luxury goods, such as silk and gold.

Humanist ideas eventually spread to Northern Europe because of the need for better educated laity and the tension and violence in the society. Writers and artists were also seemed to have little grasp on reality and displayed deep emotional instability. The knights were becoming less important in battle and despite this the nobles pretended to act as if the knights were more important. There was also the instability of the religions, with the interest in death and trial of witches. Printing aided the spread of humanism.

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