The Renaissance Period: (14th - 17th Centuries)

1. Meaning rebirth or revival --- historical period of approximately 300 years marked by a revival in art, literature, and learning.

2. The period served as a bridge or transition between medieval and modern Western Europe.

Distinctive Feature

1. It began with the rediscovery of Greco-Roman Civilization which had been neglected during the Middle Ages.

2. It emphasized reason, a questioning attitude, experimentation, and free inquiry.

This is contrasted with the medieval concern with faith, authority, and tradition.

3. It glorified the individual and approved worldly pleasures, viewing life as worthwhile for its own sake, not chiefly as a preparation for the life to come (salvation).

4. Focused attention upon secular society rather than the medieval preoccupation with the Church and religious affairs.

5. Featured great achievements in literature, art, and science.

Origin of the Renaissance in Italy:

1. It had been the center of Greco-Roman Culture, Italy contained sculpture, buildings, roads, and manuscripts that excited curiosity about classical civilization.

2. Located on the Mediterranean, Italy had absorbed stimulating new ideas from the more advanced Byzantine and Moslem Worlds.

3. Benefiting from the revival of trade that resulted from the Crusades, Italy had wealthy influential people who became patrons (supporters) of literature, art, and science.

Leading Patrons:

a. Certain Popes in Rome.

b. The Sforza family in Milan.

c. The Medici family in Florence.


1. 15th Century: Florence came under the control (rule) of the Medici family.

* Originally a merchant family who amassed a fortune in the wool trade and then expanded into banking.

2. The Medici's (especially Lorenzo the Magnificent, 1469-1492) became outstanding patrons of Renaissance Art.

3. Florence attracted people of talent from elsewhere in Italy, and the city acquired many priceless works of art.

The Renaissance Spreads

1. In the 15th Century, Renaissance ideas began to spread from Italy to France, the German states, Holland, and England.

2. The spread of these ideas resulted from religious, military, and commercial contacts.

3. Many northern scholars also traveled to Italy to absorb Italian art and learning.

HUMANISM: Illustrated the Spirit of the Renaissance (a literary movement that began in 14th Century Italy.)

1. Concerned themselves, not with religious matters, but with everyday human problems.

2. Drew inspiration from classical civilization - eagerly seeking, studying, and publicizing ancient Greek and Roman manuscripts.

3. Revived interest, chiefly among educated people, in literature and writing.

Early Humanist Writers:

1. Petrarch (1304-1374)

a. Italian who studied the classics and wrote in both Italian and Latin.

b. He imitated the style of classical writers.

2. Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494)

a. An Italian, who lived for a while near Florence, was a scholar of law, philosophy, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic.

b. He spoke in praise of the dignity of human beings.

3. Erasmus (1466?-1536)

a. He was Dutch and a brilliant classical scholar.

b. In his book, Praise of Folly, he ridiculed superstition, prejudice, upper class priveledges, and Church abuses.

c. By satirizing social evils, Erasmus encouraged people to think about reforms.

4. Sir Thomas More (1478-1535)

* An Englishman, he wrote Utopia, a book about an ideal country that was free from war, injustice, poverty, and ignorance.

The Vernacular Replaces Latin In Literature

1. In the Middle Ages, Latin was the language of literature, of the Church, and of educated people.

2. Over the centuries: other languages had been evolving through everyday usage.

* French, Italian, Spanish, German, and English are vernacular or national languages.

3. At the end of the Middle Ages, writers began to to use the vernacular.

Writers of the Vernacular

1. Dante (1265-1321)

a. An Italian, born in Florence, served that city in various governmental positions until he was exiled by political opponents.

b. Known as the "Father of Modern Italy", he was the first to write an important piece of literature in the Vernacular.

c. His Divine Comedy, a long poem in which Dante describes an imaginary trip through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven during which one of his guides is the Roman poet Virgil.

2. Boccassio (1313?-1375)

a. An Italian who lived in Florence during his formative years and was influenced by the Renaissance spirit of Humanism.

b. He is best known for his Italian Prose in a collection of short stories called The Decameron.

* these stories were related by a group of young men who fled to a villa outside Florence to escape the Black Death (plague).

3. Chaucer (1340?-1400)

a. An Englishman who became familiar with the works of Dante and Bocassio while traveling in Italy.

b. Chaucer used English in his collection of stories in verse, the Canterbury Tales.

* Supposedly these stories were related by pilgrims journeying to the religious shrine at Canterbury.

The Invention of Printing: Encourages Literature

1. ca. 1450: printing with movable type was invented by a German, Johan Gutenberg.

2. During the Middle Ages books had to be hand copied (time consuming and expensive) on parchment (goat skin).

3. 12th Century: Europeans discovered paper from the Moslems.

4. Impact: printing tremendously increased output and accuracy and decreased the cost.

* Inexpensive printed materials afforded all people opportunities for literacy & learning,and encouraged talented people to write.

Renaissance Literary Achievements:

1. Machiavelli (1469-1527)

a. An Italian born in Florence, served the Florentine Republic as a secretary and diplomat.

b. When the Medici family was restored to power in Florence, Machiavelli was dismissed from office and permitted to retire to his country home where he de-voted himself to writing.

c. The Prince: major work on ethics and government describing how rulers maintain power by methods that ignore right or wrong and accept the philosophy that

"the end justifies the means".

d. The word Machiavellian has come to mean "cunning and unscrupulous" -- a prototype for a totalitarian dictator, right or left wing.

2. Rabelais (1494?-1553)

a. A Frenchman who wrote the romance Gargantua andPanatagruel.

b. A humorist who portrayed a comic world of giants whose adventures satirized education, politics, and philosophy.

3. Montaigne (1533-1592)

a. A Frenchman who wrote a series of essays.

b. He expressed skepticism toward accepted beliefs, condemning superstition and intolerance and urging people to live nobly.

4. Cervantes (1547-1616)

A Spaniard who ridiculed feudal society, especially knighthood and chivalry, in relating the adventures of the mad knight of La Mancha, Don Quiote.

5. Shakespeare (1564-1616)

a. His plays employed a dramatic technique to probe historical events and human character.

b. Best Known Plays:


Henry IV and Henry V


Twelfth Night and Midsummer Night's Dream


Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth.

6. Milton (1608-1674)

a. Englishman:

Paradise Lost: retold the Biblical story of Creation and the Garden of Eden in this epic poem.

b. Areopagitica: in which Milton advocated freedom of the press.

7. Moliere (1622-1673)

a. Dominated French literature as its leading comic dramatist.

b. Best known plays: the Misanthrope and the Imaginary Invalid.

Characteristics of Renaissance Art:

1. Influenced by the artistic achievements of Classical Greece and Rome. Particularly in sculpture and architecture---Renaissance artists often imitated classical works.

2. Renaissance painting emphasized realism, attention to detail, and a desire for perfection.

3. Early Renaissance painters dealt with religious themes but with a lifelike approach.

Later Renaissance painters also employed a realistic style and continued to recreate Biblical themes.

In Addition: they also depicted worldly subjects, landscapes, portraits, and scenes of everyday life.



1. Giotto (1266?-1337)

a. A painter and architect born near Florence.

b. Portrayed religious themes in many frescos (wall paintings)--------- he also designed the Cathedral of Florence with its famous bell tower known as Giotto's Tower.

2. Ghiberti (1378-1455)

A Florentine who sculpted a series of exquisite biblical scenes for the bronze doors of the baptistry in Florence.

3. Donatello (1386?-1466)

A Florentine sculptor best known for his life size statue of St. George.

4. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

a. He worked in Florence, Milan, and Rome.

b. He was a skilled painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, and scientist.

c. In military engineering - he improved the method of loading cannons and devised equipment for scaling walls.

d. He devised the possibility of a parachute and a flying machine.

e. In painting he is best known for his Self Portrait, The Last Supper, and the Mona Lisa.

5. Michelangelo (1475-1564)

a. He worked in Florence and Rome; he was talented as a painter, sculptor, poet, and architect.

b. Famed for the biblical scenes he painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

c. As a sculptor - he is best known for his Pieta, David, and Moses.

d. Michelangelo also designed the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

6. Titian (1477-1576)

A painter associated with Venice and known for his portraits of famous people and his scenes from mythology and the Bible, such as the Assumption of the Virgin.

7. Raphael (1483-1520)

a. Worked in both Florence and Rome.

b. Known for the Frescos he painted in the Papal Library at Rome.


1. El Greco (1547-1614)

A Greek who settled in Spain, painted religious scenes such as the Assumption, portraits of church officials, and the famous landscape, View of Toledo.

2. Velasquez (1599-1660)

a. Official painter to the court of King Philip IV of Spain; also did many paintings of royalty.

b. He commemorated a Spanish victory against the Dutch in his Surrender of Breda.


1. Hals (1580-1666)

Painted portraits of ordinary people and scenes of everyday life. He is famous for his Laughing Cavalier.

2. Rembrandt (1606-1669)

a. Considered the greatest painter of Northern Europe.

b. Portrayed everyday life and common people in his paintings.

Notable Works: The Night Watch, The anatomy Lesson, and Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer.


Rubens (1577-1640) -- depicted action in religious and historical paintings. The Adoration of the Magi


1. Early Middle Ages: superstition and belief in alchemy held back scientific development.

2. The practice and use of experimentation, observation and the use of mathematics were introduced in the late Renaissance.

3. Scientists formed societies to discuss and publish their discoveries.

4. Leonardo da Vinci

a. Anatomy: dissected bodies of executed criminals at first to improve his painting -- learned much about the human body.

b. Devised pumps and canals: attempted to discover the scientific principle behind waves.

c. Invented improved cannons, movable bridges, and evenan armored vehicle.

d. Never published the results of his experimentation.

5. Copernicus - Astronomy

a. Aristarchus-200's B.C.-theorized that the sun was the center of the universe.

Theory: Heliocentric

b. Ptolemy-100's A.D.-theorized the earth was the center of the universe.

Theory: Geocentric

c. 1543: The Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus published On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres.

1.) He supported the heliocentric theory of planetary revolution.

2.) He was not believed, it appeared to disagree with logic and the Church disagreed with it also.

3.) Unable to prove his theory: had to publish an introduction stating it was only a possible alternative to Ptolemy's theory.

6. Kepler and Galileo

a. Early 1600's: Kepler proved Copernicus correct, but only mathematically. He discovered that revolutions were not circles but were ovals.

b. Galileo made a telescope from work that had been done by a Dutchman. He observed mountains and valleys on the Moon, rings around Saturn, and that Jupiter's moons revolved around it.

1632: Galileo published his Dialogue on the Two Great Systems of the World.

Church Opposition: Galileo was called before the Inquisition and was forced to recant or face being accused a heretic.

Galileo also discovered that all objects fall at the same speed when friction and air are absent.


1. Religious revolt against the authority and certain doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.

2. Protestant: a Christian who is not of the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox faiths.

Causes of the Reformation

1. Political

a. Resentment of Church Courts and claims of supremacy over civil authority.

b. Nationalism: the Pope was considered to be a foreign ruler with no right to interfere in the affairs of other nations.

2. Economic: "Jealousy of the Church's Wealth"

a. Desire to confiscate Church property.

b. The Tithe: too heavy a burden for the people; also, a constant flow of money out of the country to the Papacy.

c. Prohibiting Usury restricted the growth of business.

3. Intellectual: Impact of the Renaissance

a. Individualism: a desire for a direct relationship between the individual and God.

b. Questioning Attitude: some doubted the Church's religious authority (powers).

4. Church Abuses:

a. Worldliness: materialistic life of some Popes and higher clergy.

b. Nepotism: appointing of relatives to Church positions.

c. Simony: selling appointments to Church offices.

d. Sale of Indulgences: accepting money for church forgiveness of sins.

Indulgences: a grant of forgiveness for sins committed during the Crusades.

5. Decline of Church Prestige:

a. Babylonian Captivity (1309-1377)--- Papacy headquartered in Avignon, France under the domination of the French king.

b. Great Schism (1378-1417)--- Rival popes at both Avignon and Rome claiming to be the true pope and struggling for Church supremacy.


1. Renaissance Popes began the practice of selling them, in order to meet financial needs.

2. 1514: Pope Leo X needed funds for the rebuilding of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome.

3. Northern Germany: Johann Tetzel, a dominican monk.

* Claimed indulgences would not only bring pardon for sins, but also pardon for sins not yet committed.

Martin Luther

1. Maintained that Tetzel's claims were contrary to Church Doctrine.

2. Luther: teacher of Theology at Wittenberg University.

a. Shocked at the tactics of Tetzel.

b. Refused to grant forgiveness when presented with an indulgence.

3. 1517: Luther's 95 Theses

a. Stated his position on the question of indulgences.

b. It was an invitation for scholars to debate the issue with him.

c. This action is viewed as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

4. Johann Eck

a. Refused to deal with the question of indulgences.

b. Admission: attempted to force Luther to state whether he was a rebellious clergyman or not.

c. Luther was asked if he would accept the decision of a Church Council.

* Luther: "He would appeal to the teachings found in the Bible."

5. Two Alternatives for Luther:

a. Admit he was wrong and ask for forgiveness.

b. Break with the Church in Rome.

6. Luther issued an Open Declaration to the rulers of Germany.

a. He attacked the Church as a religious and political institution.

b. He encouraged them to reform the Church within their borders.

c. He also said that they should forbid interference by the Pope in the affairs of their own states.

7. 1520: the Pope excommunicated Luther.

a. Luther translated the New Testament into German.

b. Wrote many pamphlets criticizing the Church and appealing to German Nationalism.

Lutheran Doctrine

1. Question: How can salvation be achieved?

a. Catholic: through good works and the sacraments.

b. Lutheran: Justification By Faith --- salvation would be granted through faith alone.

2. Luther retained only two sacraments: baptism and communion ------- he maintained the others were not authorized in the Bible.

Reaction To Luther

1. Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

a. Called for meeting of a Diet in the city of Worms in 1521.

b. It issued the Edict of Worms: this edict prohibited the printing and sale of Luther's works and for anyone to give aid and shelter to Luther.

c. The edict was openly defied in areas of the German States (Holy Roman Empire).

2. 1529: another Diet met --- ended toleration for Lutherans in Catholic German States.

3. Civil War broke out after Luther's death in 1546.

4. The Peace of Augsburg: 1555

a. Individual rulers would decide which religion his people would follow. (Catholic or Lutheran)

b. Protestant Rulers: could keep all Church Land seized prior to 1552.

c. Lutheranism was the only recognized Protestant Creed.

d. Bishops and Abbots who had become protestants had to resign and give up their land (it remained the property of the Catholic Church).

5. Lutheranism Spread to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark and it became the Established Church: in Norway and Sweden.


1. Born in France in 1509.

2. Realized their was little chance of religious reform in Catholic France.

3. Migrated to Geneva, Switzerland where he became the leader of the Protestant Movement.

* Established a Theocracy.

4. 1536: Institutes of the Christian Religion

a. Basic Doctrine: Predestination ------- God has chosen those who would be saved before birth.

ie. the Elect.

b. Living a pure and righteous life was the only way one could prove he was one of the Elect.

5. Created a Theocracy in Geneva: regulated the lives and conduct of the citizens.


a. Dancing

b. Card Playing

c. Fashionable Clothing

d. Profane Language

Spread of Calvinism

1. Church Government

a. It was used to maintain discipline.

b. Resisted control by the state.

c. Loyalty was stronger to the Church than to a nation or political leader.

d. Congregation: governed by a group of men called a Consistory.

Composed of laymen (presbyters) and clergymen.

2. 1550: Calvinism had spread,but had not become dominant in all areas.

a. Switzerland: The Swiss Reformed Church

b. Northern Netherlands: The Dutch Reformed Church

Southern Netherlands: remained Roman Catholic

c. England: Calvinists were known as Puritans.

In the New World:they founded the Congregational Church.

d. Scotland - John Knox

1.) He had worked with Calvin in Geneva.

2.) Returned to Scotland and overthrew Catholic authority and established the Presbyterian Church.

e. France - The Huguenots

1.) Minority: Calvinist members of the French Middle Class.

2.) They were viewed as a threat to the French Crown-Civil War broke out in 1562.

3.) Henry of Navarre (Huguenot leader) became king of France in 1589 (Henry IV).

4.) Henry converted to Catholicism: political com promise to gain control of Paris.

5.) 1598: Henry issued the Edict of Nantes (religious toleration and guaranteed political rights for Hugenots) ending the Civil War.


1. Henry VIII came to the English Throne in 1509.

2. Devout Catholic:

a. Wrote: Defense of the Seven Sacraments.

* it was a criticism of Martin Luther.

b. The Pope gave Henry the title: "Defender of the Faith".

* it is still retained by the present British Monarch.

3. Political Problem: Henry was opposed to the interference of any outside power or the influence of the Catholic Church within England.

4. Family and Marital Problems:

a. Arthur: older brother of Henry who died before he could become king.

b. Henry received a Papal Dispensation to marry Catherine of Aragon, Arthur's widow.

* Catherine: was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

c. Mary Tudor: the only child of Henry and Catherine of Aragon to survive.

5. Need for a male heir.

a. 1527: Henry asked the Pope to annul his marriage to Catherine.

b. Henry wanted to marry a younger woman, Anne Boleyn.

c. Position of the Pope

1.) Question of the dispensation ------ yet annulments were possible for monarchs of the day.

2.) Charles V: nephew of Catherine of Aragon. He opposed the annulment of Henry and Catherine.

* Charles sent an army to Rome to prevent the Pope from taking action in favor of Henry.

d. English efforts failed: Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas More.

6. Henry VIII appointed Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury.

a. Cranmer called together a Church Court.

b. Henry's marriage to Catherine was dissolved and he married Anne Boleyn.

c. The Pope excommunicated both Henry and Cranmer.

7. 1534: The Act of Supremacy passed by Parliament.

a. It recognized the King not the Pope as the head of the Church in England.

b. Additional Law: abolished all monasteries and the king seized all Church Land.

c. Much of the land was given to supporters of Henry---creating a "new nobility" personally loyal to him and his policies.

8. Break With Rome

a. More political than religious.

b. Doctrine and ritual remained Catholic.

c. Difference: Henry not the Pope was the head of the Church.

Further Change In England

1. Anne Boleyn:

a. She gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, but no sons.

b. Henry had her condemned and put to death for treason.

2. Jane Seymour:

a. She was married to Henry after the death of Anne Boleyn.

b. She gave birth to a son, Edward.

c. Jane died of natural causes shortly after Edward's birth.

3. Henry was married six times: He was only survived by Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward.

4. Henry VIII

a. He died in 1547.

b. Act of Succession had been passed by Parliament prior to Henry's death.

Provided that Edward would succeed Henry as king; if he died with no heirs, Mary would succeed and Elizabeth would succeed if Mary died with no heirs.

5. Edward VI

a. Sickly boy of ten when he became king.

b. Jane Seymour's family controlled the throne as regents for Edward.

c. Lutheran and Calvinist in attitude: making the Church of England more Protestant.

d. 1553: Edward died after a reign of only six years.

6. Mary I

a. She was a devout Catholic, and held a great deal of resentment over what had happened to her mother.

b. Goal: The Restoration of the Catholic Church and the authority of the Pope in England.

c. She married Philip, son of Charles V and heir to the Spanish throne (her cousin).

d. Parliament abolished the Act of Supremacy and all religious legislation passed under Edward.

e. Persecution: "Bloody Mary"

1.) Many Protestants were killed.

2.) Among them: Two bishops and Archbishop Cranmer (67 years old) were burned at the stake.

f. Calais: the last English possession in France was lost during her reign.

g. Mary died in 1558 leaving no heir to succeed her after a reign of five years.

h. Result: her reign strengthened Protestant feeling in England.

7. Elizabeth I

a. Her reign was to last 45 years.

b. Not as Protestant as Edward's advisors -- she wanted a strong national church that would unite the English People.

c. The Church of England or the Anglican Church:

1.) Established Church with the monarch as its head.

2.) Everyone was not required to be a member.

3.) Many doctrines were the same as the Catholic Church ----- however, it had been influenced by Protestant teachings.

4.) Many of the ceremonies and the organization of the Church were also the same as the Catholic Church.

* Differences: Services in English not Latin.

* Clergy could marry/not celibates.

THE COUNTER REFORMATION: The Church to defend itself against further successes of the Protestant Movement.

1. Effective Leadership:

a. A series of capable Popes.

b. These popes demanded devotion to duty and the highest religious standards.

2. The Council of Trent: 1545-1563

a. Called by Pope Paul III.

b. It reaffirmed basic Catholic Doctrines such as Papal Supremacy and the authority of the Church to interpret the Bible.

c. It Prohibited Certain Church Abuses:

* Nepotism, Simony, and the Sale of Indulgences.

d. It required the clergy to renounce worldly pleasures.

e. The Council also prepared an Index of Prohibited Books: a list of heretical books forbidden to Catholics.

3. The Society of Jesus

a. Founded by Ignatius Loyola in 1534.

b. Spiritual leaders (soldiers) to fight Protestantism: priests and teachers.

c. Helped to preserve Catholicism in Poland, Southern Germany, and Belgium.

d. Missionaries: gained converts for the Church in India, China, Japan, and North America.