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What we normally refer to as the Renaissance in Western European history marks a break or

transition from the Medieval period and

leads toward our modern era. The Renaissance embraces a series of religious, economic, scientific and political changes which ripple into areas of science, literature, and philosophy.

The profound social and cultural changes of the 15th and 16th

centuries are known as the Renaissance, meaning rebirth One of the most important features of the Renaissance was the growth of Humanism: a cultural and intellectual movement which developed in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Birth of Venus, Botticelli (Uffizi Gallery, Florence)

Medieval culture was entirely focused on God & the man was sinful due to the fallen state. Yet, in Renaissance, people attempted to break away form the rigid discipline of the church & began to concern with human beings. Humanists: studied human thought, history and anatomy. were inspired by the literature, philosophy and art of Antiquity. studied original books in Latin and Greek, without using medieval translations or interpretations. defended the search for truth through reason and experience. investigated, discussed their results, and defended the value of personal reflection. were curious about everything including science, philosophy, geography & new inventions, etc. did not want to be specialist in one field but to be scholars in many disciplines.

The Printing Press In 1440, a German businessman, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. It was a revolutionary invention because: Books didnt have to be copied by hand. Books became cheaper, so more were sold. Humanist ideas reached more people.

The academies Academies were a place where they showed humanist studies. In these academies clever people met to exchange their ideas. The most important centre was the Platonic Academy of Florence.

He emphasised the need to base human knowledge on reason and nature.

He wrote Utopia, a book proposing a society with religious tolerance and no private property.

He criticised abuse of the Catholic Church and promoted the value of humanist learning.

Humanism stimulated the desire to investigate and learn. This affected the development of science.
In the 16th century, Nicolaus Copernicus developed the heliocentric theory. This maintained that the Sun was the centre of the Universe, and that the Earth and other planets revolved around it.

Which picture represents the heliocentric theory? And the geocentric?

Discoveries were also made in human anatomy. For example, Andrea Vesalius studied anatomy and Miguel Servet studied blood circulation. Geographical discoveries led to the development of other sciences and disciplines, such as geography, zoology, botany and cartography.

Miguel Servet studied blood circulation

Andrea Vesalius studied anatomy

represented a shift from the "contemplative life" to the "active life. In the Middle Ages, great value had often been attached to the life of contemplation and religious devotion, away from the world. In medieval times, the man was sinful. Due to this fact, his/her place in the Great Chain was certain.

The Great Chain of Being

In medieval times, the Great Chain was seen as a God-given ordering: God at the top, dirt at the bottom, every grade of creature in its place. Just as rock never turns to flowers, and worms never turn to lions, humans never turn to angels.

For Renaissance thinkers, humans occupied a unique position on the Chain of Being, lying on both the world of spiritual beings and the world of physical creation. They viewed a human being as a microcosm (literally, a "little world") that reflected the structure of the world as a whole. Humans were thought to possess divine powers such as reason, love, and imagination. Like angels, humans were spiritual beings.

Yet, unlike angels, human souls were "knotted" to a physical body. As such, they were subject to passions and physical sensationspain, hunger, thirst, sexual desirejust like other animals lower on the Chain of the Being. That is, humans were capable of both intellectual sin and physical sins such as lust and gluttony if they let their animal appetites overrule their divine reason.

When things were properly ordered, reason ruled the emotions, just as a king ruled his subjects, the parent ruled the child, and the sun governed the planets. To act against human nature by not allowing reason to rule the emotions--was to descend to the level of the beasts. In the other direction, to attempt to go above one's proper place, as Eve did when she was tempted by Satan, was to court disaster.

Yet Renaissance writers at times were fascinated by the thought of going beyond boundaries set by the chain of being. A major example was the title character of Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus.
Simultaneously displaying the grand spirit of human aspiration and the more questionable hunger for super human powers, Faustus seems in the play to be both exalted and punished. Marlowe's drama has often been seen as the embodiment of Renaissance ambiguity fear of and its
fascination with pushing beyond human limitations.


MORE!!! DO NOT LET THE DOGMAS RULE YOU!! Human beings are the reflection of THE IDEAL ONEThus, trust on your reason

& continue to search.




The lowest line: IMAGINATION (shadows on the wall) BELIEF (but, mistaken belief - statues) THOUGHT (the images / forms) UNDERSTANDING (sun the FORM of the GOOD)

The Protestant Reformation

Just as Renaissance Humanists rejected medieval learning, the Reformation seemed to reject the medieval form of Christianity. (It should be noted, however, that both Catholics and Protestants were Humanists, though often with different emphases.) In the early sixteenth century, the German monk Martin Luther reacted against Church corruption & its abuses (selling indulgences)

Many Catholics like Erasmus wanted to reform the Church from within. However, Luther's disagreements with Church policy ultimately led him to challenge some of the most fundamental doctrines of the Church, which in turn led him and his followers to break away from the Catholic Church in protest; hence they were known as Protestants. Protestantism broke up the institution that had for so long unified all Europe under the Pope (nationalism is about to bloom out)

A closely related Protestant doctrine was the rejection of the authority of the Church and its priests to mediate between human beings and God. Protestants believed that the Church as an institution could not grant salvation; only through a direct personal relationship with God--achieved by reading the Bible--could the believer be granted such. BIBLE & Literary Ramifications

Protestants stressed the need for all believers to read the Bible for themselves. To make that possible, they were active in translating the Bible into the vernacular languages so that all laymen could read it. Protestants also stressed the need to understand the Bible in its original languages (Hebrew and Greek) so that it could be properly translated. In their interest in such learning, particularly of ancient languages, Protestants were similar to Humanists.

This emphasis on the Bible had a significant impact on literature because the Bible became a renewed source of literary inspiration, both in literary form and subject matter; it also became a rich source of symbols. The other way the Reformation impacted on literature was perhaps more subtle, and the effects did not appear till much later in literary history. Certainly the emphasis on inner feeling found later in the Romantic Movement received at least some of its inspiration and reinforcement from the religious thrust of the Protestant Reformation.

Renaissance in England (1485-1660) Early Tudor Monarchs (1500 - 1558)


Henry VII diminishes the dominance of Vatican & gives more power to

Henry VIII breaks off from the Catholic Church & establishes the Anglican Church (1531 Act of Supremacy) to be able to get married to Anne Boleyn. Many actually recognize him as a Renaissance Man. He wrote poetry, played many musical instruments, and was a formidable athlete and hunter.

Elizabethan Period (1558-1603)

Stuart Monarchs (Jacobean) (1603-1649) Puritan Period (1649-1660)

Major English Renaissance figures :

Sir Thomas More Utopia Francis Bacon New Atlantis Thomas Wyatt sonnets dedicated to Anne Boleyn Edmund Spenser The Faerie Queen Sir Philip Sidney Astrophel & Stella, Arcadia, Defense of Poetry Thomas Nash The Unfortunate Traveler (picaresque novel) Shakespeare & Marlowe (dramas) Metaphysical Poetry (Baroque) - J. Donne & A. Marwell The Puritans J. Milton & J. Bunyan

Lots to read. Lots to do.

Lets get started!

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