• Amanda Roraback



1308 - Dante wrote "Divine Comedy"

1347 - Bubonic Plague

1378 - Ciompi Revolt in Florence

1405 - Christine de Pisan wrote The City of Ladies

1440 - Lorenzo Valla proved Donation of Constantine was a forgery

1440 - Gutenberg invented printing press

1453 - Fall of Constantinople

1469 - Lorenzo de Medici became head of Florence

1485 - Henry VII (first Tudor) became king of England

1486 - Botticelli finished Birth of Venus

1492 - Columbus first sailed to America

1494 - French King, Charles VIII invaded Italy

1494-1498 - Savonarola was de facto ruler of Florence

1495 - Leonardo da Vinci painted Last Supper

1498 - Vasco da Gama (Portugal) arrived in India

1501 - Michelangelo began David

1503 - Leonardo began Mona Lisa

1508 - Michelangelo began painting ceiling of Sistine Chapel

1509 - Henry VIII became king of England

1509 - Erasmus wrote Praise of Folly

1511 - Raphael painted School of Athens

1513 - First version of Machiavelli's Prince distributed

1516 - Thomas More published Utopia

1517 - Luther posted 95 Theses

1519 - Ferdinand Magellan began voyage around the world

1527-1600 - Mannerism

1527 - Rome sacked by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V

1528 - Castiglione wrote The Courtier

1534 - Henry VIII created Anglican Church - Thomas More executed by Henry VIII

1558 - Elizabeth I became queen of England

1588 - Spanish Armada

1599 - Shakespeare built Globe Theater

1610 - Galileo discovered moons of Jupiter

1618-1648 - Thirty Years War




  • Greek philosophy, science, art

  • Socrates

  • Argued with Sophists

  • Socratic method

  • Plato (427-347 BC)

  • Socrates student

  • Plato's Cave

  • Deductive reasoning

  • Believed humans should use powers of reason to conceive of things beyond our senses (like beauty or truth)

  • Aristotle (384-322 BC)

  • Epistemology - study of knowledge

  • Inductive reasoning

  • Tutor to Alexander the Great

  • "All men, by nature, desire to know" - valued human reason

  • Believed that natural laws of life could be discoverable by rational man

  • When man becomes self-aware, he becomes aware of nature as well

  • Science

  • Pythagoras, Euclid, Eratosthenes, Ptolemy

  • Humanism

  • Celebration of human being

  • Protagoras (490-420 BC)- "Man is the measure of all things"

  • Art

  • Glorification of human body (see also Olympics)

  • Ex. Discus thrower

  • Crusades (1095-1291)

  • Pope Urban II, Council of Clermont

  • Called on Christians to liberate the Holy Land (Palestine) from the Muslim "infidels" in 1095

  • 4th Crusade - crusaders turned on Constantinople (capital of Byzantine Empire) which never fully recovered

  • Route of crusaders through Italy (especially Venice) brought prosperity



  • Began after invasions by Germanic tribes

  • Rome fell to Odoacer (Odovacer) in 476 CE

  • Phases

  • Early Middle Ages - ca. 500-1000 (Dark Ages)

  • High Middle Ages - ca. 1000-1300

  • Late Middle Ages - ca. 1300-1500

  • Term "Dark Ages" coined by Petrarch

  • City life withered

  • Manorialism

  • People confined to villages ruled by lords, protected by knights, worked by serfs

  • Education declined

  • Replaced by superstition

  • Monks took responsibility for education

  • Technology in disrepair

  • No one knew how to maintain Roman technology

  • Aqueducts etc. broke down

  • Trade collapsed

  • Threat of Vikings, Magyars and Muslims made travel difficult

  • Feudalism

  • Lords (former Roman aristocrats) ruled the communities from manors

  • Knights got fiefs (land grants) from Lords in exchange for military service

  • They eventually became social elite passing land to their descendants

  • Serfs were peasants who worked the fields in exchange for military protection

  • Religion

  • Great fear of purgatory and hell

  • Reinforced by writers like Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) who wrote Divine Comedy

  • Dante led by Roman poet Virgil (who represented human reason)

  • Traveled through Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory)

  • Beatrice (represented divine knowledge) led Virgil to Paradiso (Heaven)

  • Superstition

  • Believed Bubonic Plague (Black Death 1346-1353) was a curse from God

  • Caused 25 million deaths in Europe

  • Feared hell and the afterlife

  • Feared natural world (cats, omens, witches etc.)

  • Art

  • Artist was humble servant honoring God

  • Hierarchical sealing (figures were sized in proportion to spiritual significance

  • Purpose was to tell a story and educate public about Bible

  • Not realistic

  • Architecture

  • Romanesque (ca. 800-1200)

  • Name: based on Roman architectural elements

  • When Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne was crowned in 800 CE he began building churches in the Roman style

  • Known in Britain as "Norman" because they were instigated by William the Conqueror who invaded Britain 1066 from Normandy

  • Result of monasticism which doubled as defensive structures

  • Features

  • Stone barrel vaults

  • Rounded Roman arches

  • Thick walls, massive, small windows

  • Horizontal

  • Dark and gloomy

  • Plain exterior

  • Examples: St. Sernin Basilica, Toulouse, France

  • Gothic (12th -16th centuries)

  • Name: From Goths (Visigoths, Ostrogoths) who eventually converted to Christianity

  • First one developed by Abbot Suger at Saint Denis in 1100s

  • Features

  • Exterior flying buttresses

  • Large stain-glass windows

  • Groin vaulted

  • Pointed arches

  • Ribbed stone vaults

  • Vertical, soaring

  • Exterior was ornate with a lot of delicate sculptures

  • Tall, light-filled

  • Examples: Church of Saint-Denis near Paris and Chartres Cathedral


  • Ottomans under Mehmet (Mehmed) II defeated Constantinople

  • Ended the Byzantine Empire

  • Greek scholars from Byzantine Empire fled to Western Europe

  • Brought Greek ideas and art

  • Some Greek and Roman texts had been translated and preserved by Muslims



FLORENCE (northwest Italy)

  • Ciompi Revolt 1378

  • The people (popolo) staged a violent revolt against the government

  • Government (Republic/Oligarchy)

  • Independent republic ruled by a small oligarchy

  • Ruled unofficially by Medici family

  • Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464)

  • Piero de Medici (1416-1469)

  • Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492)

  • Interrupted by Savonarola (1452-1498)

  • Franciscan friar

  • Puritanical rule, "bonfire of the vanities"

  • Excommunicated by Pope Alexander VI in 1497

  • Same year, Florence in war with Pisa - failed

  • New cases of the plague blamed on Savonarola

  • Burned at stake at the Piazza della Signoria in 1498

  • After Savonarola, Florence was under Piero Soderini

  • Democracy

  • Elected ruler for life

  • 1512 War of the League of Cambrai

  • Cardinal Giovanni de Medici captured Florence with help from Papal troops

  • Medici rule restored in Florence

  • Pope Julius II died 1513

  • Giovanni was elected new pope taking name Leo X (1513-1521)

  • Giovanni appointed his brother, Giuliano de Medici to rule in his place

  • Giuliano ruled until his death 1516

  • Succeeded by Lorenzo II, Duke of Urbino

  • Father of Catherine de Medici (married Henry II of France)

  • 1533 End of the Republic

  • Alessandro de' Medici created Duke of Florence by his uncle Pope Clement VII

  • His successor became Grand Duke of Tuscany

  • Medici ruled as grand dukes until 1737

  • Economics

  • Major center of handicrafts, textiles and banking


  • Charles of Anjou of France controlled the kingdom 1266

  • Charles was invited by pope

  • Charles moved capital from Palermo, Sicily, to Naples

  • Harsh rule led to Sicilian Vespers 1282

  • Resulted in separation of Sicily from mainland

  • Spanish house of Aragon took control of Sicily

  • Robert, king of Naples (1309-1343)

  • Dynastic disputes within Angevin house mid 14th -15th .

  • 1442 Naples fell to ruler of Sicily, Alfonso V of Aragon

  • Became "king of the Two Sicilies" (Sicily and Naples)

  • Title kept by his son (Ferdinand I) and grandson (Ferdinand II)

  • 1495 Kingdom of Naples held by Charles VIII (France)


  • Governed by the Pope

  • Church had tremendous wealth because it owned land and collected tithes from all Catholics

VENICE (northeast Italy)

  • Government (Oligarchy)

  • Great Council elected doge (duke), the chief executive of Venice for life.

  • Doge was figurehead ruler under control of oligarchy (Council of Ten)

  • Ruled by sons of wealthy merchants - names in Golden Book.

  • Economics

  • At northern end of Adriatic = prosperity from trade

  • Had monopoly of spices and luxury goods from East

DUCHY OF MILAN (northern Italy)

  • Visconti family

  • Lords of Milan from 1277-1447

  • After the Florence Ciompi Revolt (1378)

  • Milan was ruled by a tyrant (signor), Gian Galeazzo Visconti

  • Golden Ambrosian Republic (1447-1450)

  • After Filippo Maria Visconti died with no male heirs.

  • Caused succession battle

  • Sforza

  • 1450 Milan dominated by family of a mercenary (condottiero) named Sforza

  • Francesco Sforza became duke in 1450, then despotic ruler

  • Ludovico Sforza (il Moro) ruled as duke 1480-1494

  • Dark-skinned (Moor), ruthless prince

  • Second son of Francesco Sforza

  • Patron of Leonardo da Vinci

  • Became part of Spanish empire 1535

  • Political decline early 16th c.

  • Economics

  • Center of overland trade between Italy's seaports

  • Produced silk and armor




  • Term came from Leonardo Bruni, Italian Humanist and Chancellor of Florence

  • Considered first modern historian (wrote History of Florentine people)


  • Rejected medieval scholarship ("scholasticism")

  • Scholasticism = based on Aristotelian logic + writings of early Church fathers

  • To reconcile Christian theology with classical philosophy

  • Turned to the classical world (ancient Greece and Rome) for inspiration

  • Human experience

  • Celebration of life and experience of being human

  • As opposed to fear of God and fixation on afterlife.

  • Focus on worldly knowledge (as opposed to transcendental spirituality)

  • Didn't reject Christianity, but shifted to intellectual approach

  • Emphasis on free will and human reason ("liberal" arts)

  • Liberal Arts

  • Subjects studied by free men - not slaves

  • Subjects that impart a general knowledge and develop rational thought

  • As opposed to vocational subjects that required specialization.


  • Petrarch (1304-1374)

  • Considered "father of humanism"

  • First to coin term "Dark Ages" - a culture in decline

  • Distinguished between primary and secondary sources

  • One of first to study literary classics in their original form (not commentaries)

  • Especially the works of Cicero (106-43 BCE)

  • Roman statesmen who wrote about collapse of Rome

  • Goal of humanists was to write in the Ciceronian style

  • Inspired "civic humanists" - using classical education for public good.

  • Leonardo Bruni (1370-1444)

  • First modern historian

  • Said history was "a subject which must not be neglected by one who aspires to true civilization"

  • Study of past can help us understand the present and predict the future

  • Wrote biography of Cicero

  • And History of the Florentine People

  • Said Italy was going through a new age, a Renaissance (Rebirth)

  • Also created educational program for women (without rhetoric)

  • Lorenzo Valla (1406-1457)

  • Italian Humanist

  • Critical textual analysis (language can tell a story on its own)

  • Donation of Constantine (1440)

  • Document about Emperor Constantine (272-337 CE) donating control of western half of his empire to the papacy

  • Valla said it was not authentic because word "fief" was used - a term that was not in use until 8th c. CE

  • Valla examined the Vulgate Bible - standard Latin Bible of the Middle Ages

  • Determined that author Jerome mistranslated passages from Greek

  • Pico de Mirandola

  • Wrote "Oration on the Dignity of Man" (1486)




  • Art style

  • Patrons wanted naturalistic style

  • New techniques - no more hierarchical scaling

  • Used oil painting (instead of frescoes on wet plaster or tempera on wood)

  • Some employed chiaroscuro - contrast between light and dark.

  • Used single-point perspective

  • Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

  • From Vinci

  • Painted

  • Mona Lisa

  • Last Supper

  • Vitruvian Man

  • Raphael (1483-1520)

  • From Urbino

  • Painted "The School of Athens"

  • At Vatican

  • Shows Plato, Aristotle and a number of other Greek and Roman philosophers

  • Single-point perspective

  • Michelangelo (1475-1564)

  • From Florence

  • Sculpted David

  • Commissioned by Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican


  • Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446)

  • Designed the dome of the Florence Cathedral (feat of engineering)


  • Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529)

  • ​Wrote The Courtier (1528)

  • Described the ideal man of the age ("Renaissance Man") who knew several languages and skilled in the arts.

  • Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527)

  • Was Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence 1498-1512

  • When Medici were not in power

  • When the Medici, with the help of papal troops, defeated the government, Machiavelli was imprisoned and tortured for "conspiring against the Medici"

  • Wrote "The Prince" in 1513 while in exile (published 1532)

  • Dedicated to Giuliano de Medici - then Lorenzo II after Giuliani died in 1516

  • In an attempt to regain his status.

  • Christine de Pizan (Pisan) (1364-1430)

  • Daughter of physician to French King Charles V

  • Wrote "The City of Ladies" (1405) to counter notion that women were intellectually inferior to men

  • Said women have to carve out their own space or move to a "City of the Ladies" to allow their abilities to flourish.

  • Inspiration for Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" (1929)




  • North of the Alps


  • Focused more on religion than Italian Renaissance

  • Looking for ways to deepen their Christian beliefs and understanding

  • Christian Humanist (e.g. Erasmus)

  • Criticized Catholic Church - but didn't want to abandon it like Martin Luther


  • Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

  • Northern Humanism

  • Wrote "In Praise of Folly" using satire to criticize problems of the church.

  • In "Handbook of the Christian Knight" he emphasized inner faith rather than outward worship like sacraments.

  • Latin translation of New Testament

  • Textual analysis of Acts of the Apostles.

  • At first impressed with Martin Luther but then disagreed because Erasmus wanted to reform the Church, not abandon it.

  • Sir Thomas More

  • From England

  • Wrote Utopia (1516) (which means "nowhere")

  • Depicted a future that minimized social and political injustice by having property in common.

  • In 1534, More refused to take an oath recognizing Henry VIII as the head of the Anglican Church - he was executed.


  • Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)

  • German painter and printmaker

  • Engravings

  • Altarpieces, portraits

  • Like Saint Jerome in his Study (1514)

  • Woodcuts

  • Like Apocalypse series (1498) - more gothic


  • Geoffrey Chaucer

  • Wrote Canterbury Tales based on The Decameron by Boccaccio




  • After Great Schism

  • Pope Martin V (r. 1417-1431) (papacy back to Rome)

  • Pope Eugenius IV (r. 1431-1447)

  • Pope Nicholas V (1447-1455)

  • Pope Callixtus III (1455-1458)

  • Pope Pius II (1458-1464)

  • Pope Paul II (1464-1471)

  • Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484)

  • Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492)

  • Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503)

  • Pope Pius III (1439-1503)

  • Pope Julius II (1503-1513) ("Warrior Pope," built St. Peter's Basilica)

  • Pope Leo X (1513-1521) (Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, fought War of Urbino to protect nephew Lorenzo II, Indulgences criticized by Martin Luther)

  • Pope Adrian VI (1522-1523)

  • Pope Clement VII (1523-1534) (Giulio di Guliano de' Medici)

  • Pope Paul III (1534-1549)

  • Pope Julius III (1550-1555)

  • Pope Marcellus II (1501-1555)

  • Pope Paul IV (1555-1555)

  • Pope Pius IV (1559-1565)

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