North Ren. art after the Reform. lost much classical and humanistic flavor. It became much simpler and less religious/mythical.
Renaissance humanism is a collection of intellectual Greek and Roman teachings, undertaken by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists, taking place initially in Italy, and then spreading across Europe. It developed during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of medieval scholastic education, emphasizing practical, pre-professional and scientific studies. Scholasticism focused on preparing men to be doctors, lawyers or professional theologians, and was taught from approved textbooks in logic, natural philosophy, medicine, law and theology. There were important centres of humanism at Florence, Naples, Rome, Venice, Mantua, Ferrara, and Urbino. Humanists reacted against this utilitarian approach and the narrow pedantry associated with it. They sought to create a citizenry (frequently including women) able to speak and write with eloquence and clarity and thus capable of engaging the civic life of their communities and persuading others to virtuous and prudent actions. This was to be accomplished through the study of the studia humanitatis, today known as the humanities: grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry and moral philosophy.
Early Italian humanism, which in many respects continued the grammatical and rhetorical traditions of the Middle Ages, not merely provided the old Trivium with a new and more ambitious name (Studia humanitatis), but also increased its actual scope, content and significance in the curriculum of the schools and universities and in its own extensive literary production. The studia humanitatis excluded logic, but they added to the traditional grammar and rhetoric not only history, Greek, and moral philosophy, but also made poetry, once a sequel of grammar and rhetoric, the most important member of the whole group.
As a programme to revive the cultural—and particularly the literary—legacy and moral philosophy of classical antiquity. Humanism was a pervasive cultural mode and not the programme of a small elite.
Early humanists, such as Petrarch, Coluccio Salutati and Poggio Bracciolini, were great collectors of antique manuscripts. Many worked for the organized Church and were in holy orders (like Petrarch), while others were lawyers and chancellors of Italian cities- like Petrarch's disciple, Salutati, the Chancellor of Florence- and thus had access to book copying workshops.
In Italy the humanist educational program won rapid acceptance and, by the mid-fifteenth century, many of the upper classes had received humanist educations. Some of the highest officials of the Church were humanists with the resources to amass important libraries. Such was Cardinal Basilios Bessarion, a convert to the Latin Church from Greek Orthodoxy, who was considered for the papacy and was one of the most learned scholars of his time. There were several fifteenth-century and early sixteenth-century humanist Popes one of whom, Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (Pius II), was a prolific author and wrote a treatise on "The Education of Boys". These subjects came to be known as the humanities, and the movement they inspired is shown as humanism.
With the adoption of large-scale printing after the end of the era of incunabula (or books printed prior to 1501), Italian Humanism spread northward to France, Germany, Holland and England, where it became associated with the Protestant Reformation. In France, pre-eminent Humanist Guillaume Budé (1467–1540) applied the philological methods of Italian Humanism to the study of antique coinage and to legal history, composing a detailed commentary on Justinian's Code. Although a royal absolutist (and not a republican like the early Italian umanisti), Budé was active in civic life, serving as a diplomat for Francis I and helping to found the Collège des Lecteurs Royaux (later the Collège de France). Meanwhile Marguerite de Navarre, the sister of Francis I, herself a poet, novelist and religious mystic, gathered around her and protected a circle of vernacular poets and writers, including Clément Marot, Pierre de Ronsard and François Rabelais.
Many humanists were churchmen, most notably Pope Pius II (Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini), Sixtus IV and Leo X, and there was often patronage of humanists by senior church figures. Much humanist effort went into improving the understanding and translations of Biblical and early Christian texts, both before the Protestant Reformation, on which the work of figures like Erasmus and Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples had a great influence, and afterwards.
The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy describes the rationalism of ancient writings as having tremendous impact on Renaissance scholars:
Nevertheless, the discovery of classical philosophy and science would eventually challenge old beliefs.
In 1417, for example, Poggio Bracciolini discovered the manuscript of Lucretius, De rerum natura, which had been lost for centuries and which contained an explanation of Epicurean doctrine, though at the time this was not commented on much by Renaissance scholars, who confined themselves to remarks about Lucretius's grammar and syntax. Lorenzo Valla, however, puts a defense of epicureanism in the mouth of one of the interlocutors of one of his dialogues. Valla's defense (or adaptation) of Epicureanism was later taken up in The Epicurean, by Erasmus, the "prince of humanists:"
This passage exemplifies the way in which the humanists saw pagan classical works such as the philosophy of Epicurus as being in harmony with Christianity, when properly interpreted.
Renaissance Neo-Platonists, such as Marsilio Ficino, whose translations of Plato were still used into the nineteenth century, attempted to reconcile Platonism with Christianity, according to the suggestions of the early Church fathers, Lactantius and Saint Augustine. In this spirit, Pico della Mirandola, who was not a humanist but an Aristotelian trained in Paris, attempted to construct a syncretism of all religions, but his work did not win favor with Church authorities.
Historian Steven Kreis expresses a widespread view (derived from the nineteenth-century Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt), when he writes that:
The period from the fourteenth century to the seventeenth worked in favor of the general emancipation of the individual. The city-states of northern Italy had come into contact with the diverse customs of the East, and gradually permitted expression in matters of taste and dress. The writings of Dante, and particularly the doctrines of Petrarch and humanists like Machiavelli, emphasized the virtues of intellectual freedom and individual expression. In the essays of Montaigne the individualistic view of life received perhaps the most persuasive and eloquent statement in the history of literature and philosophy.
Two noteworthy trends in Renaissance humanism were Renaissance Neo-Platonism and Hermeticism, which through the works of figures like Nicholas of Kues, Giordano Bruno, Cornelius Agrippa, Campanella and Pico della Mirandola sometimes came close to constituting a new religion itself. Of these two, Hermeticsm has had great continuing influence in Western thought, while the former mostly dissipated as an intellectual trend, leading to movements in Western esotericism such as Theosophy and New Age thinking. The "Yates thesis" of Frances Yates holds that before falling out of favour, esoteric Renaissance thought introduced several concepts that were useful for the development of scientific method, though this remains a matter of controversy.
Though humanists continued to use their scholarship in the service of the church into the middle of the sixteenth century and beyond, the sharply confrontational religious atmosphere following the Protestant reformation resulted in the Counter-Reformation that sought to silence challenges to Catholic theology, with similar efforts among the Protestant churches.
With the Counter Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent, positions hardened and a strict Catholic orthodoxy based on Scholastic philosophy was imposed, and some humanists, even moderate Catholics such as Erasmus, risked being declared heretics for their criticism of the church.
The historian of the Renaissance Sir John Hale cautions against too direct a linkage between Renaissance humanism and modern uses of the term: "Renaissance humanism must be kept free from any hint of either "humanitarianism" or "humanism" in its modern sense of rational, non-religious approach to life ... the word "humanism" will mislead ... if it is seen in opposition to a Christianity its students in the main wished to supplement, not contradict, through their patient excavation of the sources of ancient God-inspired wisdom"
According to George Makdisi, certain aspects of Renaissance humanism has its roots in the medieval Islamic world, including the "art of dictation, called in Latin, ars dictaminis," and "the humanist attitude toward classical language", in this case classical Arabic.
The unashamedly humanistic flavor of classical writings had a tremendous impact on Renaissance scholar.
Waldensians (12th century)
Avignon Papacy (1309–77)
John Wycliffe (1320–84)
Western Schism (1378–1417)
Jan Hus (c.1369–1415)
Hussite Wars (1420–c.1434)
95 Theses German Peasants' War Schmalkaldic League Magisterials Radicals Counter-Reformation
Luther Melanchthon Müntzer Simons Bucer Olaus / Laurentius Petri Zwingli Berquin Calvin Knox Trubar
Czech lands Denmark–Norway / Holstein England Germany Italy Netherlands Poland-Lithuania Scotland Sweden France Switzerland
The Protestant Reformation was the schism within Western Christianity initiated by John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other early Protestants. It was sparked by the 1517 posting of Luther's Ninety-Five Theses. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to ("protested") the doctrines, rituals, leadership, and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led to the creation of new national Protestant churches. The Reformation was precipitated by earlier events within Europe, such as the Black Death and the Western Schism, which eroded people's faith in the Catholic Church and the Papacy that governed it. This, as well as many other factors, such as spread of Renaissance ideas, the spread of the printing press, and the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, contributed to the creation of Protestantism.
The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent and spearheaded by the new order of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) specifically organised to counter the Protestant movement. In general, Northern Europe, with the exception of most of Ireland, turned Protestant. Southern Europe remained Roman Catholic, while fierce battles which turned into warfare took place in central Europe.
The first of the new churches was the Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren) dating their origins to Jan Hus in the early 15th century. The largest of the new churches were the Lutherans (mostly in Germany, the Baltics and Scandinavia) and the Reformed churches (mostly in Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scotland). There were many smaller bodies as well.
Although there had been a reformation movement significantly predating Luther, the most common dating of the Protestant Reformation begins in 1517, when Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses, and concludes in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia that ended years of European religious wars.
The Reformation began as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church, by priests who opposed what they perceived as false doctrines and ecclesiastic malpractice—especially the teaching and the sale of indulgences or the abuses thereof, and simony, the selling and buying of clerical offices—that the reformers saw as evidence of the systemic corruption of the Church's Roman hierarchy, which included the Pope.
In Germany, reformation ideals developed in 1517-1521 when Martin Luther expressed doubts over the legitimacy of indulgences and the plenitudo potestatis of the pope. Martin Luther's excommunication on 3 January 1521, from the Catholic Church, was a main cause for the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther's spiritual predecessors included John Wycliffe and Jan Hus, who likewise had attempted to reform the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestant Reformation began on 31 October 1517, in Wittenberg, Saxony, where Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the door of the Castle Church, in Wittenberg. The theses debated and criticised the Church and the Pope, but concentrated upon the selling of indulgences and doctrinal policies about purgatory, particular judgment, and the authority of the Pope. He would later in the period 1517-1521 write works on the Catholic devotion to Mary, "The Mother of God", the intercession of and devotion to the saints, the sacraments, the mandatory clerical celibacy, monasticism, further on the authority of the Pope, the ecclesiastical Ban (Law) (Censure and Excommunication), the prerogatives of the secular rulers in religious matters (To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation), the Freedom of a Christian, Good Works, and the sacraments (On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church). In the event, other religious reformers, such as Ulrich Zwingli, soon followed Martin Luther's example.
The reformers soon disagreed among themselves and divided their movement according to doctrinal differences—first between Luther and Zwingli, later between Luther and John Calvin—consequently resulting in the establishment of different and rival Protestant Churches. Denominations, such as the Lutheran, the Reformed, the Puritans, and the Presbyterian. Elsewhere, the religious reformation causes, processes, and effects were different; Anglicanism arose in England with the English Reformation, and most Protestant denominations derive from the Germanic denominations. The reformers also accelerated the development of the Counter-Reformation by the Catholic Church.
Protestant churches, such as the Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren), Moravian Church (Bohemian Brethren) date their origins to Jan Hus in the early 15th century. As it was led by a Bohemian noble majority, and recognised, for a time, by the Basel Compacts, the Hussite Reformation was Europe's first "Magisterial Reformation" because the ruling magistrates supported them; unlike the "Radical Reformation", which the State did not support. One hundred years later, in Germany the protests erupted simultaneously, whilst under threat of Islamic Ottoman invasion ¹, which especially distracted the German princes responsible for military defence. Mainline Protestants generally date their doctrinal separation from the Roman Catholic Church to the 16th century.
Unrest due to the Great Schism of Western Christianity (1378–1416) excited wars between princes, uprisings among the peasants, and widespread concern over corruption in the church. New perspectives came from John Wycliffe at Oxford University, then from Jan Hus at the University of Prague. Hus objected to some of the practices of the Roman Catholic Church and wanted to return the church in Bohemia and Moravia to early Byzantine-inspired practices: liturgy in the language of the people (i.e. Czech), having lay people receive communion in both kinds (bread and wine - that is, in Latin, communio sub utraque specie), married priests, and eliminating indulgences and the idea of Purgatory. Jan Hus rejected indulgences and adopted a doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone. The Roman Catholic Church officially concluded this debate at the Council of Constance (1414–1417). The conclave condemned Jan Hus, who was executed by burning in spite of a promise of safe-conduct. Wycliffe was posthumously burned as a heretic.
The Council of Constance confirmed and strengthened the traditional medieval conception of church and empire. It did not address the national tensions, or the theological tensions stirred up during the previous century. The council could not prevent schism and the Hussite Wars in Bohemia.
Sixtus IV (1471–1484) established the practice of selling indulgences to be applied to the dead, thereby establishing a new stream of revenue with agents across Europe. Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503) was one of the most controversial of the Renaissance Popes. He fathered seven children, including Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia, by at least two mistresses. Fourteen years after his death, the corruption of the papacy that Pope Alexander VI exemplified—particularly the sale of indulgences—prompted Luther to write The Ninety-Five Theses, which he nailed to the door of a church at Wittenberg in Saxony.
The protests against the corruption emanating from Rome began in earnest when Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk at the university of Wittenberg, called in 1517 for a reopening of the debate on the sale of indulgences and the authority to absolve sin and remit one from purgatory. The Reformation was born of Luther's dual declaration – first, the discovering of Jesus and salvation by faith alone; and second, identifying the Papacy as the Antichrist. The reformers were unanimous in agreement and this understanding of prophecy furnished importance to their deeds. It was the rallying point and the battle cry that made the Reformation nearly unassailable. The Reformers made heavy use of inexpensive pamphlets (using the relatively new printing press invented by Johannes Gutenberg) so there was swift movement of both ideas and documents, including The Ninety-Five Theses.
Parallel to events in Germany, a movement began in Switzerland under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli. These two movements quickly agreed on most issues, but some unresolved differences kept them separate. Some followers of Zwingli believed that the Reformation was too conservative, and moved independently toward more radical positions, some of which survive among modern day Anabaptists. Other Protestant movements grew up along lines of mysticism or humanism, sometimes breaking from Rome or from the Protestants, or forming outside of the churches.
After this first stage of the Reformation, following the excommunication of Luther and condemnation of the Reformation by the Pope, the work and writings of John Calvin were influential in establishing a loose consensus among various groups in Switzerland, Scotland, Hungary, Germany and elsewhere.
The Reformation foundations engaged with Augustinianism. Both Luther and Calvin thought along lines linked with the theological teachings of Augustine of Hippo. The Augustinianism of the Reformers struggled against Pelagianism, a heresy that they perceived in the Roman Catholic Church of their day. In the course of this religious upheaval, the German Peasants' War of 1524–1525 swept through the Bavarian, Thuringian and Swabian principalities, including the Black Company of Florian Geier, a knight from Giebelstadt who joined the peasants in the general outrage against the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Martin Luther, however, condemned the revolt, thus contributing to its eventual defeat. Some 100,000 peasants were killed.
Even though Luther and Calvin had very similar theological teachings, the relationship between their followers turned quickly to conflict. Frenchman Michel de Montaigne told a story of a Lutheran pastor who declared over dinner that he would rather hear a hundred masses than take part in one of Calvin's sacraments.
The political separation of the Church of England from Rome under Henry VIII, beginning in 1529 and completed in 1536, brought England alongside this broad Reformed movement. However, religious changes in the English national church proceeded more conservatively than elsewhere in Europe. Reformers in the Church of England accepted Protestant doctrine but the structure of the church ministry remained, and the Church alternated, for centuries, between sympathies for older traditions and radical Protestantism represented by the puritans, progressively forging a compromise between adherence to ancient tradition and Protestantism. In the Victorian period John Henry Newman reinterpreted this as the establishment of a via media.
The Reformation was a triumph of literacy and the new printing press. Luther's translation of the Bible into German was a decisive moment in the spread of literacy, and stimulated as well the printing and distribution of religious books and pamphlets. From 1517 onward, religious pamphlets flooded Germany and much of Europe.
By 1530, over 10,000 publications are known, with a total of ten million copies. The Reformation was thus a media revolution. Luther strengthened his attacks on Rome by depicting a "good" against "bad" church. From there, it became clear that print could be used for propaganda in the Reformation for particular agendas. Reform writers used pre-Reformation styles, clichés, and stereotypes and changed items as needed for their own purposes. Especially effective were writings in German, including Luther's translation of the Bible, his Small Catechism for parents teaching their children, and his Larger Catechism, for pastors.
Using the German vernacular they expressed the Apostles' Creed in simpler, more personal, Trinitarian language. Illustrations in the German Bible and in many tracts popularised Luther's ideas. Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), the great painter patronised by the electors of Wittenberg, was a close friend of Luther, and illustrated Luther's theology for a popular audience. He dramatised Luther's views on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, while remaining mindful of Luther's careful distinctions about proper and improper uses of visual imagery.
Parallel to events in Germany, a movement began in the Swiss Confederation under the leadership of Huldrych Zwingli. Zwingli was a scholar and preacher who moved to Zurich – the then-leading city state – in 1518, a year after Martin Luther began the Reformation in Germany with his 95 Theses. Although the two movements agreed on many issues of theology, as the recently introduced printing press spread ideas rapidly from place to place, some unresolved differences kept them separate. A long-standing resentment between the German states and the Swiss Confederation led to heated debate over how much Zwingli owed his ideas to Lutheranism. Although Zwinglianism does hold uncanny resemblance to Lutheranism (it even had its own equivalent of the 95 Theses, called the 67 Conclusions), historians have been unable to prove that Zwingli had any contact with Luther's publications before 1520, and Zwingli himself maintained that he had prevented himself from reading them. The German Prince Philip of Hesse saw potential in creating an alliance between Zwingli and Luther, seeing strength in a united Protestant front. A meeting was held in his castle in 1529, now known as the Colloquy of Marburg, which has become infamous for its complete failure. The two men could not come to any agreement due to their disputation over one key doctrine. Although Luther preached consubstantiation in the Eucharist over transubstantiation, he believed in the spiritual presence of Christ at the mass. Zwingli believed that the mass was only representative and memorial – Christ was not present. Luther became so angry that he famously carved into the meeting table 'Hoc Est Corpus Meum' – a Biblical quotation from the Last Supper meaning 'this is my body'. Some followers of Zwingli believed that the Reformation was too conservative, and moved independently toward more radical positions, some of which survive among modern day Anabaptists. One famous incident illustrating this was when radical Zwinglians fried and ate sausages during Lent in Zurich city square by way of protest against the Church teaching of good works. Other Protestant movements grew up along lines of mysticism or humanism (cf. Erasmus), sometimes breaking from Rome or from the Protestants, or forming outside of the churches.
Following the excommunication of Luther and condemnation of the Reformation by the Pope, the work and writings of John Calvin were influential in establishing a loose consensus among various groups in Switzerland, Scotland, Hungary, Germany and elsewhere. After the expulsion of its Bishop in 1526, and the unsuccessful attempts of the Berne reformer Guillaume (William) Farel, Calvin was asked to use the organisational skill he had gathered as a student of law to discipline the 'fallen city' of Geneva. His 'Ordinances' of 1541 involved a collaboration of Church affairs with the City council and consistory to bring morality to all areas of life. After the establishment of the Geneva academy in 1559, Geneva became the unofficial capital of the Protestant movement, providing refuge for Protestant exiles from all over Europe and educating them as Calvinist missionaries. These missionaries dispersed Calvinism widely, and formed the French Huguenots in Calvin's own lifetime, as well as causing the conversion of Scotland under the leadership of the cantankerous John Knox in 1560. The faith continued to spread after Calvin's death in 1563 and reached as far as Constantinople by the start of the 17th century.
The Reformation foundations engaged with Augustinianism. Both Luther and Calvin thought along lines linked with the theological teachings of Augustine of Hippo. The Augustinianism of the Reformers struggled against Pelagianism, a heresy that they perceived in the Roman Catholic Church of their day. Unfortunately, since Calvin and Luther disagreed strongly on certain matters of theology (such as double-predestination and Holy Communion), the relationship between Lutherans and Calvinists was one of conflict.
All of Scandinavia ultimately adopted Lutheranism over the course of the 16th century, as the monarchs of Denmark (who also ruled Norway and Iceland) and Sweden (who also ruled Finland) converted to that faith.
In Sweden, the Reformation was spearheaded by Gustav Vasa, elected king in 1523. Friction with the pope over the latter's interference in Swedish ecclesiastical affairs led to the discontinuance of any official connection between Sweden and the papacy from 1523. Four years later, at the Diet of Västerås, the king succeeded in forcing the diet to accept his dominion over the national church. The king was given possession of all church property, church appointments required royal approval, the clergy were subject to the civil law, and the "pure Word of God" was to be preached in the churches and taught in the schools—effectively granting official sanction to Lutheran ideas.
Under the reign of Frederick I (1523–33), Denmark remained officially Roman Catholic. But though Frederick initially pledged to persecute Lutherans, he soon adopted a policy of protecting Lutheran preachers and reformers, of whom the most famous was Hans Tausen. During his reign, Lutheranism made significant inroads among the Danish population. Frederick's son, Christian, was openly Lutheran, which prevented his election to the throne upon his father's death. In 1536, the authority of the Roman Catholic bishops was terminated by national assembly. The next year, following his victory in the Count's War, he became king as Christian III and continued the reformation of the state church with assistance of Johannes Bugenhagen.
The separation of the Church of England (or Anglican Church) from Rome under Henry VIII, beginning in 1529 and completed in 1537, brought England alongside this broad Reformation movement; however, religious changes in the English national church proceeded more conservatively than elsewhere in Europe. Reformers in the Church of England alternated, for centuries, between sympathies for ancient Catholic tradition and more Reformed principles, gradually developing into a tradition considered a middle way (via media) between the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions.
The English Reformation followed a different course from the Reformation in continental Europe. There had long been a strong strain of anti-clericalism and England had already given rise to the Lollard movement of John Wycliffe, which played an important part in inspiring the Hussites in Bohemia. Lollardy was suppressed and became an underground movement, so the extent of its influence in the 1520s is difficult to assess. The different character of the English Reformation came rather from the fact that it was driven initially by the political necessities of Henry VIII.
Henry had once been a sincere Roman Catholic and had even authored a book strongly criticising Luther, but he later found it expedient and profitable to break with the Papacy. His wife, Catherine of Aragon, bore him only a single child that survived infancy, Mary. As England had recently gone through a lengthy dynastic conflict (see Wars of the Roses), Henry feared that his lack of a male heir might jeopardise his descendants' claim to the throne. However, Pope Clement VII, concentrating more on Charles V's sack of Rome, denied his request for an annulment. Had Clement granted the annulment and therefore admitted that his predecessor, Julius II, had erred, Clement would have given support to the Lutheran assertion that Popes replaced their own judgment for the will of God.][
King Henry decided to remove the Church of England from the authority of Rome. In 1534, the Act of Supremacy made Henry the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Between 1535 and 1540, under Thomas Cromwell, the policy known as the Dissolution of the Monasteries was put into effect. The veneration of some saints, certain pilgrimages and some pilgrim shrines were also attacked. Huge amounts of church land and property passed into the hands of the Crown and ultimately into those of the nobility and gentry. The vested interest thus created made for a powerful force in support of the dissolutions.
There were some notable opponents to the Henrician Reformation, such as St. Thomas More and Bishop St. John Fisher, who were executed for their opposition. There was also a growing party of reformers who were imbued with the Zwinglian and Calvinistic doctrines now current on the Continent. When Henry died he was succeeded by his Protestant son Edward VI, who, through his empowered councillors (with the King being only nine years old at his succession and not yet sixteen at his death) the Duke of Somerset and the Duke of Northumberland, ordered the destruction of images in churches, and the closing of the chantries. Under Edward VI the reform of the Church of England was established unequivocally in doctrinal terms.
Yet, at a popular level, religion in England was still in a state of flux. Following a brief Roman Catholic restoration during the reign of Mary 1553–1558, a loose consensus developed during the reign of Elizabeth I, though this point is one of considerable debate among historians. Yet it is this "Elizabethan Religious Settlement" which largely formed Anglicanism into a distinctive church tradition. The compromise was uneasy and was capable of veering between extreme Calvinism on the one hand and Roman Catholicism on the other, but compared to the bloody and chaotic state of affairs in contemporary France, it was relatively successful until the Puritan Revolution or English Civil War in the 17th century.
The success of the Counter-Reformation on the Continent and the growth of a Puritan party dedicated to further Protestant reform polarised the Elizabethan Age, although it was not until the '40s that England underwent religious strife comparable to what its neighbours had suffered some generations before.
The early Puritan movement (late 16th–17th centuries) was Reformed or Calvinist and was a movement for reform in the Church of England. Its origins lay in the discontent with the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. The desire was for the Church of England to resemble more closely the Protestant churches of Europe, especially Geneva. The Puritans objected to ornaments and ritual in the churches as idolatrous (vestments, surplices, organs, genuflection), which they castigated as "popish pomp and rags". (See Vestments controversy.) They also objected to ecclesiastical courts. They refused to endorse completely all of the ritual directions and formulas of the Book of Common Prayer; the imposition of its liturgical order by legal force and inspection sharpened Puritanism into a definite opposition movement.
The later Puritan movement were often referred to as dissenters and nonconformists and eventually led to the formation of various reformed denominations.
The most famous and well-known emigration to America was the migration of the Puritan separatists from the Anglican Church of England, who fled first to Holland, and then later to America, to establish the English colony of Massachusetts in New England, which later became one of the original United States.
These Puritan separatists were also known as "the Pilgrims". After establishing a colony at Plymouth (which became part of the colony of Massachusetts) in 1620, the Puritan pilgrims received a charter from the King of England that legitimised their colony, allowing them to do trade and commerce with merchants in England, in accordance with the principles of mercantilism. This successful, though initially quite difficult, colony marked the beginning of the Protestant presence in America (the earlier French, Spanish and Portuguese settlements had been Roman Catholic), and became a kind of oasis of spiritual and economic freedom, to which persecuted Protestants and other minorities from the British Isles and Europe (and later, from all over the world) fled to for peace, freedom and opportunity. The Pilgrims of New England disapproved of Christmas and celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban was revoked in 1681 by Sir Edmund Andros, who also revoked a Puritan ban against festivities on Saturday night. Despite the removal of the ban, it wouldn't be until the middle of the 19th century that Christmas would become a popular holiday in the Boston region.
The original intent of the colonists was to establish spiritual Puritanism, which had been denied to them in England and the rest of Europe, to engage in peaceful commerce with England and the native American Indians, and to Christianize the peoples of the Americas.
The Reformation in Scotland's case culminated ecclesiastically in the establishment of a church along reformed lines, and politically in the triumph of English influence over that of France. John Knox is regarded as the leader of the Scottish reformation
The Reformation Parliament of 1560 repudiated the pope's authority by the Papal Jurisdiction Act 1560, forbade the celebration of the mass and approved a Protestant Confession of Faith. It was made possible by a revolution against French hegemony under the regime of the regent Mary of Guise, who had governed Scotland in the name of her absent daughter Mary, Queen of Scots (then also Queen of France).
The Scottish reformation decisively shaped the Church of Scotland and, through it, all other Presbyterian churches worldwide.
A spiritual revival also broke out among Roman Catholics soon after Martin Luther's actions, and led to the Scottish Covenanters' movement, the precursor to Scottish Presbyterianism. This movement spread, and greatly influenced the formation of Puritanism among the Anglican Church in England. The Scottish covenanters were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church. This persecution by the Catholics drove some of the Protestant covenanter leadership out of Scotland, and into France and later, Switzerland.
Protestantism also spread into France, where the Protestants were nicknamed Huguenots, and this eventually led to decades of civil warfare.
Though he was not personally interested in religious reform, Francis I (1515–47) initially maintained an attitude of tolerance, arising from his interest in the humanist movement. This changed in 1534 with the Affair of the Placards. In this act, Protestants denounced the Catholic Mass in placards that appeared across France, even reaching the royal apartments. The issue of religious faith having been thrown into the arena of politics, Francis was prompted to view the movement as a threat to the kingdom's stability. This led to the first major phase of anti-Protestant persecution in France, in which the Chambre Ardente ("Burning Chamber") was established within the Parlement of Paris to deal with the rise in prosecutions for heresy. Several thousand French Protestants fled the country during this time, most notably John Calvin, who settled in Geneva.
Calvin continued to take an interest in the religious affairs of his native land and, from his base in Geneva, beyond the reach of the French king, regularly trained pastors to lead congregations in France. Despite heavy persecution by Henry II, the Reformed Church of France, largely Calvinist in direction, made steady progress across large sections of the nation, in the urban bourgeoisie and parts of the aristocracy, appealing to people alienated by the obduracy and the complacency of the Catholic establishment.
French Protestantism, though its appeal increased under persecution, came to acquire a distinctly political character, made all the more obvious by the noble conversions of the 1550s. This had the effect of creating the preconditions for a series of destructive and intermittent conflicts, known as the Wars of Religion. The civil wars were helped along by the sudden death of Henry II in 1559, which began a prolonged period of weakness for the French crown. Atrocity and outrage became the defining characteristic of the time, illustrated at its most intense in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of August 1572, when the Roman Catholic party annihilated between 30,000 and 100,000 Huguenots across France. The wars only concluded when Henry IV, himself a former Huguenot, issued the Edict of Nantes, promising official toleration of the Protestant minority, but under highly restricted conditions. Roman Catholicism remained the official state religion, and the fortunes of French Protestants gradually declined over the next century, culminating in Louis XIV's Edict of Fontainebleau—which revoked the Edict of Nantes and made Roman Catholicism the sole legal religion of France. In response to the Edict of Fontainebleau, Frederick William I, Elector of Brandenburg declared the Edict of Potsdam, giving free passage to Huguenot refugees, and tax-free status to them for ten years.
In the late 17th century, many Huguenots fled to England, the Netherlands, Prussia, Switzerland, and the English and Dutch overseas colonies. A significant community in France remained in the Cévennes region. A separate Protestant community, of the Lutheran faith, existed in the newly conquered province of Alsace, its status not affected by the Edict of Fontainebleau.
The Reformation in the Netherlands, unlike in many other countries, was not initiated by the rulers of the Seventeen Provinces, but instead by multiple popular movements, which in turn were bolstered by the arrival of Protestant refugees from other parts of the continent. While the Anabaptist movement enjoyed popularity in the region in the early decades of the Reformation, Calvinism, in the form of the Dutch Reformed Church, became the dominant Protestant faith in the country from the 1560s onward.
Harsh persecution of Protestants by the Spanish government of Philip II contributed to a desire for independence in the provinces, which led to the Eighty Years' War and eventually, the separation of the largely Protestant Dutch Republic from the Roman Catholic-dominated Southern Netherlands (present-day Belgium).
Much of the population of the Kingdom of Hungary adopted Protestantism during the 16th century. After the 1526 Battle of Mohács, the Hungarian people were disillusioned by the ability of the government to protect them and turned to the faith they felt would infuse them with the strength necessary to resist the invader.][ They found this in the teaching of the Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther. The spread of Protestantism in the country was aided by its large ethnic German minority, which could understand and translate the writings of Martin Luther. While Lutheranism gained a foothold among the German- and Slovak-speaking populations, Calvinism became widely accepted among ethnic Hungarians.
In the more independent northwest the rulers and priests, protected now by the Habsburg Monarchy, which had taken the field to fight the Turks, defended the old Roman Catholic faith. They dragged the Protestants to prison and the stake wherever they could. Such strong measures only fanned the flames of protest, however.][ Leaders of the Protestants included Matthias Biro Devai, Michael Sztarai, and Stephen Kis Szegedi.
Protestants likely formed a majority of Hungary's population at the close of the 16th century, but Counter-Reformation efforts in the 17th century reconverted a majority of the kingdom to Roman Catholicism. A significant Protestant minority remained, most of it adhering to the Calvinist faith.
In 1558 the Transylvanian Diet of Turda declared free practice of both the Catholic and Lutheran religions, but prohibited Calvinism. Ten years later, in 1568, the Diet extended this freedom, declaring that "It is not allowed to anybody to intimidate anybody with captivity or expelling for his religion". Four religions (Unitarianism became official in 1583, following the faith of the only Unitarian King John II Sigismund Zápolya 1541-1571) were declared as accepted (recepta) religions, while Orthodox Christianity was "tolerated" (though the building of stone Orthodox churches was forbidden). During the Thirty Years' War, Royal (Habsburg) Hungary joined the Roman Catholic side, until Transylvania joined the Protestant side.
There were a series of other successful and unsuccessful anti-Habsburg (requiring equal rights and freedom for all Christian religions) uprisings between 1604 and 1711; the uprisings were usually organised from Transylvania. The constrained Habsburg Counter-Reformation efforts in the 17th century reconverted the majority of the kingdom to Roman Catholicism.
The Reformation in Ireland was a movement for the reform of religious life and institutions that was introduced into Ireland by the English administration at the behest of King Henry VIII of England. His desire for an annulment of his marriage was known as the King's Great Matter. Ultimately Pope Clement VII refused the petition; consequently it became necessary for the King to assert his lordship over the Roman Catholic Church in his realm to give legal effect to his wishes. The English Parliament confirmed the King's supremacy over the Church in the Kingdom of England. This challenge to Papal supremacy resulted in a breach with the Roman Catholic Church. By 1541, the Irish Parliament had agreed to the change in status of the country from that of a Lordship to that of Kingdom of Ireland.
Unlike similar movements for religious reform on the continent of Europe, the various phases of the English Reformation as it developed in Ireland were largely driven by changes in government policy, to which public opinion in England gradually accommodated itself. However, a number of factors complicated the adoption of the religious innovations in Ireland; the majority of the population there adhered to the Roman Catholic Church. However in the city of Dublin the reformation took hold under the auspices of George Browne (Archbishop of Dublin).
The Reformation spread to the Italian states in the 1520s, and quickly collapsed at the beginning of the 17th century. Its development was hindered by the Inquisition and also popular disdain. In Italy the Reformation exerted almost no lasting influence, except for strengthening the Roman Catholic Church, unlike the essential impact it had on other European countries (Switzerland, Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, and Transylvania among others).][ Many Italians were outstanding activists of the European Reformation, mainly in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (e.g. Giorgio Biandrata, Bernardino Ochino, Giovanni Alciato, Giovanni Battista Cetis, Fausto Sozzini, Francesco Stancaro and Giovanni Valentino Gentile) who propagated Nontrinitarianism there and were chief instigators of the movement of Polish Brethren.][
In 1532 the Waldensians adhered to the Reformation, adopting the Calvinist theology. So, their Church, survived in the Western Alps through many persecutions, has been for centuries the only Protestant Church in Italy.
In Italy the Biblical Unitarian Movement powered by the ideas of Sozzini and others is represented today by the churches associated with the Christian Church in Italy. This Movement in Italy claims a strong Christian and biblical soul. From the analysis of documents that you can find on the official site of the CCI, it is clear that the doctrinal position of this Christian confession of faith is therefore akin to the so-called Biblical Unitarian movement and on the other hand, far from that of Unitarian Universalist Association who, although they have the same origin in 1500 AD, through the centuries have suffered the influence of many non-biblical ideas (cf. Universalism). The Christian Church in Italy has significant similarities with the Biblical Unitarian movement, although it maintains a cautious position on some doctrinal points. Wilbur wrote about the Unitarian Movement: "The religious movement whose history we are endeavoring to trace...became fully developed in thought and polity in only four countries, one after another, namely Poland, Transylvania, England and America. But in each of these it showed, along with certain individual characteristics, a general spirit, a common point of view, and a doctrinal pattern that tempt one to regard them as all outgrowths of a single movement which passed from one to another; for nothing could be more natural than to presume that these common features implied a common ancestry. Yet such is not the fact, for in each of these four lands the movement, instead of having originated elsewhere, and been translated only after attaining mature growth, appears to have sprung independently and directly from its own native roots, and to have been influenced by other and similar movements only after it had already developed an independent life and character of its own.". From the analysis of documents that you can find on the official site of the CCI, it is clear that the doctrinal position of this Christian confession of faith is therefore akin to the so-called Biblical Unitarian movement and on the other hand, far from that of Unitarian Universalist Association who, although they have the same origin in 1500 AD, through the centuries, have suffered the influence of many non-biblical ideas (cf. Universalism).
The Christian Church in Italy believes that God is only One Person in direct contrast with the doctrine of the Trinity which defines God as Three coexisting Persons in one Substance (Essence), merged into one being. So CCI adheres to strict monotheism by believing that Jesus was a perfect and holy man, virginally begotten in Mary, the promised Christ, the Son of God and that, as the glorified man, now is at the right hand of God praying for the whole Church. The movement the Christian Church in Italy was inspired from, rejects other doctrines taught for centuries, including the soteriological doctrines of original sin and predestination.
In the first half of the 16th century, the enormous Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a country of many creeds, but Roman Catholic Church remained the dominating religion. Reformation reached Poland in the 1520s, and quickly gained popularity among mostly German-speaking inhabitants of such major cities, as Gdańsk, Toruń and Elbląg. In Koenigsberg, in 1530, Polish-language edition of Luther's Small Catechism was published. The Duchy of Prussia, which was a Polish fief, emerged as key center of the movement, with numerous publishing houses issuing not only Bibles, but also catechisms, in German, Polish and Lithuanian.
Lutheranism gained popularity in northern part of the country, while Calvinism caught the interest of szlachta, mainly in Lesser Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Several publishing houses were opened in Lesser Poland in mid-16th century, in such locations, as Słomniki and Raków. At that time, Mennonites and Czech Brothers came to Poland, with the latter ones settling mostly in Greater Poland, around Leszno. In 1565, Polish Brethren appeared as yet another reformation movement.
The 16th century Commonwealth was unique in Europe, because of widespread tolerance, confirmed by the Warsaw Confederation. In 1563, the Brest Bible was published (see also Bible translations into Polish). The period of tolerance ended during the reign of King Sigismund III Vasa, who was under strong influence of Piotr Skarga and other Jesuits. After the Deluge, and other wars of the mid-17th century, in which all enemies of Poland were either Protestant or Orthodox Christians, the attitude of Poles changed. Counter-Reformation prevailed, in 1658 Polish Brethren were forced to leave the country, and in 1666, the Sejm banned apostasy from Catholicism to any other religion, under punishment of death. Finally, in 1717, the Silent Sejm banned non-Catholics from becoming deputies of the Parliament.
Among most important Protestants of the Commonwealth, there are such names, as Mikołaj Rej, Marcin Czechowic, Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski and Symon Budny.
Primož Trubar was the key figure of the Protestant Church of the Slovene Lands, as he was its founder and its first superintendent. In 1547 he was expelled from Ljubljana. While a Protestant preacher in Rothenburg, Germany, he wrote first two books in Slovene, Catechismus and Abecedarium, which were published in 1550 in Tübingen, Germany. Since 2010, 8 June is commemorated in Slovenia as the Primož Trubar Day. He is notable for consolidating the Slovene language and is considered to be the key figure of Slovenian cultural history and in many aspects a major Slovene historical personality.
The Reformation led to a series of religious wars that culminated in the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), which devastated much of Germany, killing between 25 and 40% of its population. From 1618 to 1648 the Roman Catholic House of Habsburg and its allies fought against the Protestant princes of Germany, supported at various times by Denmark, Sweden and France. The Habsburgs, who ruled Spain, Austria, the Spanish Netherlands and much of Germany and Italy, were staunch defenders of the Roman Catholic Church. Some historians believe that the era of the Reformation came to a close when Roman Catholic France allied itself, first in secret and later on the battlefields, with Protestant states against the Habsburg dynasty. For the first time since the days of Luther, political and national convictions again outweighed religious convictions in Europe.
The main tenets of the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War, were:
The treaty also effectively ended the Pope's pan-European political power. Fully aware of the loss, Pope Innocent X declared the treaty "null, void, invalid, iniquitous, unjust, damnable, reprobate, inane, empty of meaning and effect for all times." European sovereigns, Roman Catholic and Protestant alike, ignored his verdict.
However, this treaty did not mean that the Reformation concluded. It would be about another century (ca. 1750) before the Reformation could truly be considered to have ended. Meanwhile, other reform movements continued to spring up, even within the Reformation churches. One such movement was Pietism, which impacted the Low Countries (hence the Reformed churches), Germany (hence also Lutheranism), and Great Britain, which lead to a split in Lutheranism and which brought about the creation of some new churches (most notably the Moravian Church and Methodism). In turn, Pietism would branch out into a "normative" form and Radical Pietism.
Further impact on the Reformation came from the Age of Enlightenment, and its preponderance of Rationalism. This would lead to redefined roles for religion, eventually relegating it to second-class status.
In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber first suggested that cultural values could affect economic success, arguing that the Protestant Reformation led to values that drove people toward worldly achievements, a hard work ethic, and saving to accumulate wealth for investment. The new religions (in particular, Calvinism and other more austere Protestant groups) effectively forbade wastefully using hard earned money and identified the purchase of luxuries a sin.
Historical chart of the main Protestant branches
Life of Martin Luther and the heroes of the Reformation
Chronological order of publication (oldest first)
Renaissance art is the painting, sculpture and decorative arts of that period of European history known as the Renaissance, emerging as a distinct style in Italy in about 1400, in parallel with developments which occurred in philosophy, literature, music and science. Renaissance art, perceived as a "rebirth" of ancient traditions, took as its foundation the art of Classical antiquity, but transformed that tradition by the absorption of recent developments in the art of Northern Europe and by application of contemporary scientific knowledge. Renaissance art, with Renaissance Humanist philosophy, spread throughout Europe, affecting both artists and their patrons with the development of new techniques and new artistic sensibilities. Renaissance art marks the transition of Europe from the medieval period to the Early modern age.
In many parts of Europe, Early Renaissance art was created in parallel with Late Medieval art. By 1500 the Renaissance style prevailed. As Late Renaissance art (Mannerism) developed, it took on different and distinctive characteristics in every region.
The influences upon the development of Renaissance man and women in the early 15th century are those that also affected Philosophy, Literature, Architecture, Theology, Science, Government and other aspects of society. The following list presents a summary, dealt with more fully in the main articles that are cited above.
In Italy in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, the sculpture of Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni Pisano, working at Pisa, Siena and Pistoia shows markedly classicising tendencies, probably influenced by the familiarity of these artists with ancient Roman sarcophagi. Their masterpieces are the pulpits of the Baptistery and Cathedral of Pisa. Contemporary with Giovanni Pisano, the Florentine painter Giotto developed a manner of figurative painting that was unprecedentedly naturalistic, three dimensional, lifelike and classicism, when compared with that of his contemporaries and teacher Cimabue. Giotto, whose greatest work is the cycle of the Life of Christ at the Arena Chapel in Padua, was seen by the 16th century biographer Giorgio Vasari as "rescuing and restoring art" from the "crude, traditional, Byzantine style" prevalent in Italy in the 13th century.
The painters of the Low Countries at this period included Jan van Eyck, his brother Hubert van Eyck, Robert Campin, Hans Memling, Rogier van der Weyden and Hugo van der Goes. Their painting developed independently of Early Italian Renaissance painting, and without the influence of a deliberate and conscious striving to revive antiquity. The style of painting grew directly out of the Medieval arts of tempera painting, stained glass and book illumination. The media used was oil paint, which had long been utilised for painting leather ceremonial shields and accoutrements, because it was flexible and relatively durable. The earliest Netherlandish oil paintings are meticulous and detailed like tempera paintings. The material lent itself to the depiction of tonal variations and texture, so facilitating the observation of nature in great detail.
The Dutch painters did not approach the creation of a picture through a framework of linear perspective and correct proportion. They maintained a Medieval view of hierarchical proportion and religious symbolism, while delighting in a realistic treatment of material elements, both natural and man-made. Jan van Eyck, with his brother Hubert painted The Altarpiece of the Mystical Lamb. It is probable that Antonello da Messina became familiar with Van Eyck's work, while in Naples or Sicily. In 1475, Hugo van der Goes' Portinari Altarpiece arrived in Florence where it was to have a profound influence on many painters, most immediately Domenico Ghirlandaio who painted an altarpiece imitating its elements.
Although both the Pisanos and Giotto had students and followers, the first truly Renaissance artists were not to emerge in Florence until 1401 with the competition to sculpt a set of bronze doors of the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral which drew entries from seven young sculptors including Brunelleschi, Donatello and the winner, Lorenzo Ghiberti. Brunelleschi, most famous as the architect of the dome of Florence Cathedral and the Church of San Lorenzo, created a number of sculptural works, including a lifesized Crucifix in Santa Maria Novella, renowned for its naturalism. His studies of perspective are thought to have influenced the painter Masaccio. Donatello became renowned as the greatest sculptor of the Early Renaissance, his masterpieces being his Humanist and unusually erotic statue of David, one of the icons of the Florentine republic, and his great monument to Gattamelata, the first large equestrian bronze to be created since Roman times.
The contemporary of Donatello, Masaccio, was the painterly descendant of Giotto, furthering the trend towards solidity of form and naturalism of face and gesture that he had begun a century earlier. Masaccio completed several panel paintings but is best known for the fresco cycle that he began in the Brancacci Chapel with the older artist Masolino and which had profound influence on later painters, including Michelangelo. Masaccio's developments were carried forward in the paintings of Fra Angelico, particularly in his frescos at the Convent of San Marco in Florence.
The treatment of the elements of perspective and light in painting was of particular concern to 15th century Florentine painters. Uccello was so obsessed with trying to achieve an appearance of perspective that, according to Vasari, it disturbed his sleep. His solutions can be seen in his masterpiece, the Battle of San Romano. Piero della Francesca made systematic and scientific studies of both light and linear perspective, the results of which can be seen in his fresco cycle of The History of the True Cross in San Francesco, Arezzo.
In Naples, the painter Antonello da Messina began using oil paints for portraits and religious paintings at a date that preceded other Italian painters, possibly about 1450. He carried this technique north and influenced the painters of Venice. One of the most significant painters of Northern Italy was Andrea Mantegna, who decorated the interior of a room, the Camera degli Sposi for his patron Ludovico Gonzaga, setting portraits of the family and court into an illusionistic architectural space.
The end of the Early Renaissance in Italian art is marked, like its beginning, by a particular commission that drew artists together, this time in cooperation rather than competition. Pope Sixtus IV had rebuilt the Papal Chapel, named the Sistine Chapel in his honour, and commissioned a group of artists, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli to decorate its wall with fresco cycles depicting the Life of Christ and the Life of Moses. In the sixteen large paintings, the artists, although each working in his individual style, agreed on principals of format, and utilised the techniques of lighting, linear and atmospheric perspective, anatomy, foreshortening and characterisation that had been carried to a high point in the large Florentine studios of Ghiberti, Verrocchio, Ghirlandaio and Perugino.
The artists of France, (including duchies such as Burgundy) were often associated with courts, providing illuminated manuscripts and portraits for the nobility as well as devotional paintings and altarpieces. Among the most famous were the Limbourg brothers, Flemish illuminators and creators of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. Jean Fouquet, painter of the royal court, visited Italy in 1437 and reflects the influence of Florentine painters such as Paolo Uccello. Although best known for his portraits such as that of Charles VII of France Fouquet also created illuminations, and is thought to be the inventor of the portrait miniature. There were a number of artists at this date who painted famed altarpieces, that are stylistically quite distinct from both the Italian and the Flemish. These include two enigmatic figures, Enguerrand Quarton to whom is ascribed the Pieta of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, and Jean Hey, otherwise known as "the Master of Moulins" after his most famous work, the Moulins Altarpiece. In these works realism and close observation of the human figure, emotions and lighting are combined with a Medieval formality, which includes gilt backgrounds.
The "universal genius" Leonardo da Vinci was to further perfect the aspects of pictorial art (lighting, linear and atmospheric perspective, anatomy, foreshortening and characterisation) that had preoccupied artists of the Early Renaissance, in a lifetime of studying and meticulously recording his observations of the natural world. His adoption of oil paint as his primary media meant that he could depict light and its effects on the landscape and objects more naturally and with greater dramatic effect than had ever been done before, as demonstrated in the Mona Lisa. His dissection of cadavers carried forward the understanding of skeletal and muscular anatomy, as seen in the unfinished St Jerome. His depiction of human emotion in The Last Supper set the benchmark for religious painting.
The art of Leonardo's younger contemporary Michelangelo took a very different direction. Michelangelo, in neither his painting nor his sculpture demonstrates any interest in the observation of any natural object except the human body. He perfected his technique in depicting it, while in his early twenties, by the creation of the enormous marble statue of David and the group the Pieta, in St Peter's Basilica, Rome. He then set about an exploration of the expressive possibilities of the human anatomy. His commission by Pope Julius II to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling resulted in the supreme masterpiece of figurative composition, which was to have profound effect on every subsequent generation of European artists.
Standing alongside Leonardo and Michelangelo as the third great painter of the High Renaissance was the younger Raphael, who in a short life span painted a great number of lifelike and engaging portraits, including those of Pope Julius II and his successor Pope Leo X, and numerous portrayals of the Madonna and Christ Child, including the Sistine Madonna.
In Northern Italy the High Renaissance represented by the religious paintings of Giovanni Bellini which include several large altarpieces of a type known as "Sacred Conversation" which show a group of saints around the enthroned Madonna. His contemporary Giorgione left a small number of enigmatic works, including The Tempest, the subject of which has remained a matter of speculation. The earliest works of Titian date from the era of the High Renaissance, including a massive altarpiece The Assumption of the Virgin which combines human action and drama with spectacular colour and atmosphere.
Hieronymus Bosch was a painter who employed the type of fanciful forms that were often utilised to decorate borders and letters in illuminated manuscripts, combining plant and animal forms with architectonic ones. When taken from the context of the illumination and peopled with humans, these forms give Bosch's paintings a surreal quality which have no parallel in the work of any other Renaissance painter. His masterpiece is the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights.
Renaissance artists painted a wide variety of themes. Religious altarpieces, fresco cycles, and small works for private devotion were very popular. For inspiration, painters in both Italy and northern Europe frequently turned to Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend (1260), a highly influential source book for the lives of saints that had already had a strong influence on Medieval artists. The rebirth of classical antiquity and Renaissance humanism also resulted in many Mythological and history paintings. Ovidian stories, for example, were very popular. Decorative ornament, often used in painted architectural elements, was especially influenced by classical Roman motifs.
Main articles: Early Netherlandish painting for 15th century artists, Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting for 16th century artists
The Renaissance (, , French pronunciation: , from French: "re-birth", Italian: , from rinascere "to be reborn") was a cultural movement that spanned the period roughly from the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. Though availability of paper and the invention of metal movable type sped the dissemination of ideas from the later 15th century, the changes of the Renaissance were not uniformly experienced across Europe.
As a cultural movement, it encompassed innovative flowering of Latin and vernacular literatures, beginning with the 14th-century resurgence of learning based on classical sources, which contemporaries credited to Petrarch, the development of linear perspective and other techniques of rendering a more natural reality in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform.
In politics, the Renaissance contributed the development of the conventions of diplomacy, and in science an increased reliance on observation. Historians often argue this intellectual transformation was a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renaissance man".
There is a consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy, in the 14th century. Various theories have been proposed to account for its origins and characteristics, focusing on a variety of factors including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time; its political structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici; and the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Conquest of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.
The Renaissance has a long and complex historiography, and in line with general scepticism of discrete periodizations, there has been much debate among historians reacting to the 19th-century glorification of the "Renaissance" and individual culture heroes as "Renaissance men", questioning the usefulness of Renaissance as a term and as a historical delineation. The art historian Erwin Panofsky observed of this resistance to the concept of Renaissance
It is perhaps no accident that the factuality of the Italian Renaissance has been most vigorously questioned by those who are not obliged to take a professional interest in the aesthetic aspects of civilization— historians of economic and social developments, political and religious situations, and, most particularly, natural science— but only exceptionally by students of literature and hardly ever by historians of Art.
Some have called into question whether the Renaissance was a cultural "advance" from the Middle Ages, instead seeing it as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for the classical age, while social and economic historians of the longue durée especially have instead focused on the continuity between the two eras, linked, as Panofsky himself observed, "by a thousand ties".
The word Renaissance, whose literal translation from French into English is "Rebirth", was first used and defined by French historian Jules Michelet (1798–1874), in his 1855 work, Histoire de France. The word Renaissance has also been extended to other historical and cultural movements, such as the Carolingian Renaissance and the Renaissance of the 12th century.
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence was felt in literature, philosophy, art, music, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry. Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art.
Renaissance humanists such as Poggio Bracciolini sought out in Europe's monastic libraries the Latin literary, historical, and oratorical texts of Antiquity, while the Fall of Constantinople (1453) generated a wave of émigré Greek scholars bringing precious manuscripts in ancient Greek, many of which had fallen into obscurity in the West. It is in their new focus on literary and historical texts that Renaissance scholars differed so markedly from the medieval scholars of the Renaissance of the 12th century, who had focused on studying Greek and Arabic works of natural sciences, philosophy and mathematics, rather than on such cultural texts. In the revival of neo-Platonism Renaissance humanists did not reject Christianity; quite the contrary, many of the Renaissance's greatest works were devoted to it, and the Church patronized many works of Renaissance art. However, a subtle shift took place in the way that intellectuals approached religion that was reflected in many other areas of cultural life. In addition, many Greek Christian works, including the Greek New Testament, were brought back from Byzantium to Western Europe and engaged Western scholars for the first time since late antiquity. This new engagement with Greek Christian works, and particularly the return to the original Greek of the New Testament promoted by humanists Lorenzo Valla and Erasmus, would help pave the way for the Protestant Reformation.
Well after the first artistic return to classicism had been exemplified in the sculpture of Nicola Pisano, Florentine painters led by Masaccio strove to portray the human form realistically, developing techniques to render perspective and light more naturally. Political philosophers, most famously Niccolò Machiavelli, sought to describe political life as it really was, that is to understand it rationally. A critical contribution to Italian Renaissance humanism Pico della Mirandola wrote the famous text "De hominis dignitate" (Oration on the Dignity of Man, 1486), which consists of a series of theses on philosophy, natural thought, faith and magic defended against any opponent on the grounds of reason. In addition to studying classical Latin and Greek, Renaissance authors also began increasingly to use vernacular languages; combined with the introduction of printing, this would allow many more people access to books, especially the Bible.
In all, the Renaissance could be viewed as an attempt by intellectuals to study and improve the secular and worldly, both through the revival of ideas from antiquity, and through novel approaches to thought. Some scholars, such as Rodney Stark, play down the Renaissance in favor of the earlier innovations of the Italian city states in the High Middle Ages, which married responsive government, Christianity and the birth of capitalism. This analysis argues that, whereas the great European states (France and Spain) were absolutist monarchies, and others were under direct Church control, the independent city republics of Italy took over the principles of capitalism invented on monastic estates and set off a vast unprecedented commercial revolution which preceded and financed the Renaissance.
Many argue that the ideas that characterized the Renaissance had their origin in late 13th century Florence, in particular with the writings of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) and Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374), as well as the painting of Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337). Some writers date the Renaissance quite precisely; one proposed starting point is 1401, when the rival geniuses Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi competed for the contract to build the bronze doors for the Baptistery of the Florence Cathedral (Ghiberti won). Others see more general competition between artists and polymaths such as Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Donatello, and Masaccio for artistic commissions as sparking the creativity of the Renaissance. Yet it remains much debated why the Renaissance began in Italy, and why it began when it did. Accordingly, several theories have been put forward to explain its origins.
During the Renaissance, money and art went hand in hand. Artists depended totally on patrons while the patrons needed money to sustain geniuses. Wealth was brought to Italy in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries by expanding trade into Asia and Europe. Silver mining in Tyrol increased the flow of money. Luxuries from the Eastern world, brought home during the Crusades, increased the prosperity of Genoa and Venice.
Jules Michelet defined the 16th-century Renaissance in France as a period in Europe's cultural history that represented a break from the Middle Ages, creating a modern understanding of humanity and its place in the world.
In stark contrast to the High Middle Ages, when Latin scholars focused almost entirely on studying Greek and Arabic works of natural science, philosophy and mathematics, Renaissance scholars were most interested in recovering and studying Latin and Greek literary, historical, and oratorical texts. Broadly speaking, this began in the 14th century with a Latin phase, when Renaissance scholars such as Petrarch, Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406), Niccolò de' Niccoli (1364–1437) and Poggio Bracciolini (1380–1459 AD) scoured the libraries of Europe in search of works by such Latin authors as Cicero, Livy and Seneca. By the early 15th century, the bulk of such Latin literature had been recovered; the Greek phase of Renaissance humanism was now under way, as Western European scholars turned to recovering ancient Greek literary, historical, oratorical and theological texts.
Unlike the case of those Latin texts, which had been preserved and studied in Western Europe since late antiquity, the study of ancient Greek texts was very limited in medieval Western Europe. Ancient Greek works on science, maths and philosophy had been studied since the High Middle Ages in Western Europe and in the medieval Islamic world (normally in translation), but Greek literary, oratorical and historical works (such as Homer, the Greek dramatists, Demosthenes and Thucydides and so forth), were not studied in either the Latin or medieval Islamic worlds; in the Middle Ages these sorts of texts were only studied by Byzantine scholars. One of the greatest achievements of Renaissance scholars was to bring this entire class of Greek cultural works back into Western Europe for the first time since late antiquity. This movement to reintegrate the regular study of Greek literary, historical, oratorical and theological texts back into the Western European curriculum is usually dated to Coluccio Salutati's invitation to the Byzantine diplomat and scholar Manuel Chrysoloras (c.1355–1415) to Florence to teach Greek.
The unique political structures of late Middle Ages Italy have led some to theorize that its unusual social climate allowed the emergence of a rare cultural efflorescence. Italy did not exist as a political entity in the early modern period. Instead, it was divided into smaller city states and territories: the Kingdom of Naples controlled the south, the Republic of Florence and the Papal States at the center, the Milanese and the Genoese to the north and west respectively, and the Venetians to the east. Fifteenth-century Italy was one of the most urbanised areas in Europe. Many of its cities stood among the ruins of ancient Roman buildings; it seems likely that the classical nature of the Renaissance was linked to its origin in the Roman Empire's heartland.
Historian and political philosopher Quentin Skinner points out that Otto of Freising (c. 1114–1158), a German bishop visiting north Italy during the 12th century, noticed a widespread new form of political and social organization, observing that Italy appeared to have exited from Feudalism so that its society was based on merchants and commerce. Linked to this was anti-monarchical thinking, represented in the famous early Renaissance fresco cycle Allegory of Good and Bad Government in Siena by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (painted 1338–1340) whose strong message is about the virtues of fairness, justice, republicanism and good administration. Holding both Church and Empire at bay, these city republics were devoted to notions of liberty. Skinner reports that there were many defences of liberty such as Matteo Palmieri's (1406–1475) celebration of Florentine genius not only in art, sculpture and architecture, but "the remarkable efflorescence of moral, social and political philosophy that occurred in Florence at the same time".
Even cities and states beyond central Italy, such as the Republic of Florence at this time, were also notable for their merchant Republics, especially the Republic of Venice. Although in practice these were oligarchical, and bore little resemblance to a modern democracy, they did have democratic features and were responsive states, with forms of participation in governance and belief in liberty. The relative political freedom they afforded was conducive to academic and artistic advancement. Likewise, the position of Italian cities such as Venice as great trading centres made them intellectual crossroads. Merchants brought with them ideas from far corners of the globe, particularly the Levant. Venice was Europe's gateway to trade with the East, and a producer of fine glass, while Florence was a capital of textiles. The wealth such business brought to Italy meant large public and private artistic projects could be commissioned and individuals had more leisure time for study.
One theory that has been advanced is that the devastation caused by the Black Death in Florence, which hit Europe between 1348 and 1350, resulted in a shift in the world view of people in 14th-century Italy. Italy was particularly badly hit by the plague, and it has been speculated that the resulting familiarity with death caused thinkers to dwell more on their lives on Earth, rather than on spirituality and the afterlife. It has also been argued that the Black Death prompted a new wave of piety, manifested in the sponsorship of religious works of art. However, this does not fully explain why the Renaissance occurred specifically in Italy in the 14th century. The Black Death was a pandemic that affected all of Europe in the ways described, not only Italy. The Renaissance's emergence in Italy was most likely the result of the complex interaction of the above factors.
The plague was carried by fleas on sailing vessels returning from the ports of Asia, spreading quickly due to lack of proper sanitation: the population of England, then about 4.2 million, lost 1.4 million people to the bubonic plague. Florence's population was nearly halved in the year 1347. As a result of the decimation in the populace the value of the working class increased, and commoners came to enjoy more freedom. To answer the increased need for labor, workers traveled in search of the most favorable position economically.
The demographic decline due to the plague had some economic consequences: the prices of food dropped and land values declined by 30 to 40% in most parts of Europe between 1350 and 1400. Landholders faced a great loss but for ordinary men and women, it was a windfall. The survivors of the plague found not only that the prices of food were cheaper but also found that lands were more abundant, and that most of them inherited property from their dead relatives.
The spread of disease was significantly more rampant in areas of poverty. Epidemics ravaged cities, particularly children. Plagues were easily spread by lice, unsanitary drinking water, armies, or by poor sanitation. Children were hit the hardest because many diseases such as typhus and syphilis target the immune system and left young children without a fighting chance. Children in city dwellings were more affected by the spread of disease than the children of the wealthy.
The Black Death caused greater upheaval to Florence's social and political structure than later epidemics. Despite a significant number of deaths among members of the ruling classes, the government of Florence continued to function during this period. Formal meetings of elected representatives were suspended during the height of the epidemic due to the chaotic conditions in the city, but a small group of officials was appointed to conduct the affairs of the city, which ensured continuity of government.
It has long been a matter of debate why the Renaissance began in Florence, and not elsewhere in Italy. Scholars have noted several features unique to Florentine cultural life which may have caused such a cultural movement. Many have emphasized the role played by the Medici, a banking family and later ducal ruling house, in patronizing and stimulating the arts. Lorenzo de' Medici (1449–1492) was the catalyst for an enormous amount of arts patronage, encouraging his countrymen to commission works from Florence's leading artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo Buonarroti. Works by Neri di Bicci, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Filippino Lippi had been commissioned additionally by the convent di San Donato agli Scopeti of the Augustinians order in Florence.
The Renaissance was certainly underway before Lorenzo came to power; indeed, before the Medici family itself achieved hegemony in Florentine society. Some historians have postulated that Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance as a result of luck, i.e. because "Great Men" were born there by chance. Da Vinci, Botticelli and Michelangelo were all born in Tuscany. Arguing that such chance seems improbable, other historians have contended that these "Great Men" were only able to rise to prominence because of the prevailing cultural conditions at the time.
In some ways Humanism was not a philosophy but a method of learning. In contrast to the medieval scholastic mode, which focused on resolving contradictions between authors, humanists would study ancient texts in the original, and appraise them through a combination of reasoning and empirical evidence. Humanist education was based on the programme of 'Studia Humanitatis', that being the study of five humanities: poetry, grammar, history, moral philosophy and rhetoric. Although historians have sometimes struggled to define humanism precisely, most have settled on "a middle of the road definition... the movement to recover, interpret, and assimilate the language, literature, learning and values of ancient Greece and Rome". Above all, humanists asserted "the genius of man ... the unique and extraordinary ability of the human mind."
Humanist scholars shaped the intellectual landscape throughout the early modern period. Political philosophers such as Niccolò Machiavelli and Thomas More revived the ideas of Greek and Roman thinkers, and applied them in critiques of contemporary government. Pico della Mirandola wrote what is often considered the manifesto of the Renaissance, a vibrant defence of thinking, the Oration on the Dignity of Man. Matteo Palmieri (1406–1475), another humanist, is most known for his work Della vita civile ("On Civic Life"; printed 1528) which advocated civic humanism, and his influence in refining the Tuscan vernacular to the same level as Latin. Palmieri's written works drawn on Roman philosophers and theorists, especially Cicero, who, like Palmieri, lived an active public life as a citizen and official, as well as a theorist and philosopher and also Quintilian. Perhaps the most succinct expression of his perspective on humanism is in a 1465 poetic work La città di vita, but an earlier work Della vita civile (On Civic Life) is more wide-ranging. Composed as a series of dialogues set in a country house in the Mugello countryside outside Florence during the plague of 1430, Palmieri expounds on the qualities of the ideal citizen. The dialogues include ideas about how children develop mentally and physically, how citizens can conduct themselves morally, how citizens and states can ensure probity in public life, and an important debate on the difference between that which is pragmatically useful and that which is honest.
The humanists believed that it is important to transcend to the afterlife with a perfect mind and body. This transcending belief can be done with education. The purpose of humanism was to create a universal man whose person combined intellectual and physical excellence and who was capable of functioning honorably in virtually any situation. This ideology was referred to as the uomo universale, an ancient Greco-Roman ideal. The education during Renaissance was mainly composed of ancient literature and history. It was thought that the classics provided moral instruction and an intensive understanding of human behavior.
The Renaissance marks the period of European history at the close of the Middle Ages and the rise of the Modern world. It represents a cultural rebirth from the 14th through the middle of the 17th centuries. Early Renaissance, mostly in Italy, bridges the art period during the fifteenth century, between the Middle Ages and the High Renaissance in Italy. It is generally known that Renaissance matured in Northern Europe later, in 16th century. One of the distinguishing features of Renaissance art was its development of highly realistic linear perspective. Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337) is credited with first treating a painting as a window into space, but it was not until the demonstrations of architect Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446) and the subsequent writings of Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) that perspective was formalized as an artistic technique. The development of perspective was part of a wider trend towards realism in the arts. To that end, painters also developed other techniques, studying light, shadow, and, famously in the case of Leonardo da Vinci, human anatomy. Underlying these changes in artistic method, was a renewed desire to depict the beauty of nature, and to unravel the axioms of aesthetics, with the works of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael representing artistic pinnacles that were to be much imitated by other artists. Other notable artists include Sandro Botticelli, working for the Medici in Florence, Donatello another Florentine and Titian in Venice, among others.
Concurrently, in the Netherlands, a particularly vibrant artistic culture developed, the work of Hugo van der Goes and Jan van Eyck having particular influence on the development of painting in Italy, both technically with the introduction of oil paint and canvas, and stylistically in terms of naturalism in representation. (see Renaissance in the Netherlands). Later, the work of Pieter Brueghel the Elder would inspire artists to depict themes of everyday life.
In architecture, Filippo Brunelleschi was foremost in studying the remains of ancient classical buildings, and with rediscovered knowledge from the 1st-century writer Vitruvius and the flourishing discipline of mathematics, formulated the Renaissance style which emulated and improved on classical forms. Brunelleschi's major feat of engineering was the building of the dome of Florence Cathedral. The first building to demonstrate this is claimed to be the church of St. Andrew built by Alberti in Mantua. The outstanding architectural work of the High Renaissance was the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica, combining the skills of Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael, Sangallo and Maderno.
The Roman orders types of columns are used: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite. These can either be structural, supporting an arcade or architrave, or purely decorative, set against a wall in the form of pilasters. During the Renaissance, architects aimed to use columns, pilasters, and entablatures as an integrated system. One of the first buildings to use pilasters as an integrated system was in the Old Sacristy (1421–1440) by Filippo Brunelleschi.
Arches, semi-circular or (in the Mannerist style) segmental, are often used in arcades, supported on piers or columns with capitals. There may be a section of entablature between the capital and the springing of the arch. Alberti was one of the first to use the arch on a monumental. Renaissance vaults do not have ribs. They are semi-circular or segmental and on a square plan, unlike the Gothic vault which is frequently rectangular.
The Renaissance artists were not pagans although they admired antiquity and they also kept some ideas and symbols of the medieval past. Nicola Pisano (c. 1220–c. 1278) imitated classical forms by portraying scenes from the Bible. The Annunciation by Nicola Pisano, from the Baptistry at Pisa, demonstrates that classical models influenced Italian art before the Renaissance took root as a literary movement
The rediscovery of ancient texts and the invention of printing democratized learning and allowed a faster propagation of ideas. In the first period of Italian Renaissance, humanists favoured the study of humanities over natural philosophy or applied mathematics. And their reverence for classical sources further enshrined the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic views of the universe.
Even though, around 1450, the writings of Nicholas Cusanus were anticipating Copernicus' heliocentric world-view, it was made in a philosophical fashion. Science and art were very much intermingled in the early Renaissance, with polymath artists such as Leonardo da Vinci making observational drawings of anatomy and nature. He set up controlled experiments in water flow, medical dissection, and systematic study of movement and aerodynamics; he devised principles of research method that led to Fritjof Capra classifying him as "father of modern science".
In 1492 the "discovery" of the "New World" by Christopher Columbus challenged the classical world-view, as the works of Ptolemy (geography) and Galen (medicine) were found not always to match everyday observations: a suitable environment was created to question scientific doctrine. As the Protestant Reformation and Counter-Reformation clashed, the Northern Renaissance showed a decisive shift in focus from Aristotelean natural philosophy to chemistry and the biological sciences (botany, anatomy, and medicine). The willingness to question previously held truths and search for new answers resulted in a period of major scientific advancements.
Some have seen this as a "scientific revolution", heralding the beginning of the modern age. Others as an acceleration of a continuous process stretching from the ancient world to the present day. Regardless, there is general agreement that the Renaissance saw significant changes in the way the universe was viewed and the methods sought to explain natural phenomena. Traditionally held to have begun in 1543, when were first printed the books De humani corporis fabrica (On the Workings of the Human Body) by Andreas Vesalius, which gave a new confidence to the role of dissection, observation, and mechanistic view of anatomy, and also De Revolutionibus, by Nicolaus Copernicus. The famous thesis of Copernicus's book was that the Earth moved around the Sun. Significant scientific advances were made during this time by Galileo Galilei, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler.
One important development was not any specific discovery, but rather the further development of the process for discovery, the scientific method. It focused on empirical evidence, the importance of mathematics, and discarded Aristotelian science. Early and influential proponents of these ideas included Copernicus and Galileo and Francis Bacon. The new scientific method led to great contributions in the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, and anatomy.
The new ideals of humanism, although more secular in some aspects, developed against a Christian backdrop, especially in the Northern Renaissance. Much, if not most, of the new art was commissioned by or in dedication to the Church. However, the Renaissance had a profound effect on contemporary theology, particularly in the way people perceived the relationship between man and God. Many of the period's foremost theologians were followers of the humanist method, including Erasmus, Zwingli, Thomas More, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.
The Renaissance began in times of religious turmoil. The late Middle Ages saw a period of political intrigue surrounding the Papacy, culminating in the Western Schism, in which three men simultaneously claimed to be true Bishop of Rome. While the schism was resolved by the Council of Constance (1414), the 15th century saw a resulting reform movement known as Conciliarism, which sought to limit the pope's power. Although the papacy eventually emerged supreme in ecclesiastical matters by the Fifth Council of the Lateran (1511), it was dogged by continued accusations of corruption, most famously in the person of Pope Alexander VI, who was accused variously of simony, nepotism and fathering four illegitimate children whilst Pope, whom he married off to gain more power.
Churchmen such as Erasmus and Luther proposed reform to the Church, often based on humanist textual criticism of the New Testament. It was Luther who in October 1517 published the 95 Theses, challenging papal authority and criticizing its perceived corruption, particularly with regard to its sale of indulgences. The 95 Theses led to the Reformation, a break with the Roman Catholic Church that previously claimed hegemony in Western Europe. Humanism and the Renaissance therefore played a direct role in sparking the Reformation, as well as in many other contemporaneous religious debates and conflicts.
In an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and prevalent with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation, Pope Paul III came to the papal throne (1534–1549), to whom Nicolaus Copernicus dedicated De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) and who became the grandfather of Alessandro Farnese (cardinal), who had paintings by Titian, Michelangelo, and Raphael, and an important collection of drawings and who commissioned the masterpiece of Giulio Clovio, arguably the last major illuminated manuscript, the Farnese Hours.
By the 15th century, writers, artists, and architects in Italy were well aware of the transformations that were taking place and were using phrases such as, modi antichi (in the antique manner) or alle romana et alla antica (in the manner of the Romans and the ancients) to describe their work. In the 1330s Petrarch referred to pre-Christian times as antiqua (ancient) and to the Christian period as nova (new). From Petrarch's Italian perspective, this new period (which included his own time) was an age of national eclipse. Leonardo Bruni was the first to use tripartite periodization in his History of the Florentine People (1442). Bruni's first two periods were based on those of Petrarch, but he added a third period because he believed that Italy was no longer in a state of decline. Flavio Biondo used a similar framework in Decades of History from the Deterioration of the Roman Empire (1439–1453).
Humanist historians argued that contemporary scholarship restored direct links to the classical period, thus bypassing the Medieval period, which they then named for the first time the "Middle Ages". The term first appears in Latin in 1469 as media tempestas (middle times). The term la rinascita (rebirth) first appeared, however, in its broad sense in Giorgio Vasari's Vite de' più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori Italiani (The Lives of the Artists, 1550, revised 1568). Vasari divides the age into three phases: the first phase contains Cimabue, Giotto, and Arnolfo di Cambio; the second phase contains Masaccio, Brunelleschi, and Donatello; the third centers on Leonardo da Vinci and culminates with Michelangelo. It was not just the growing awareness of classical antiquity that drove this development, according to Vasari, but also the growing desire to study and imitate nature.
In the 15th century, the Renaissance spread with great speed from its birthplace in Florence, first to the rest of Italy, and soon to the rest of Europe. The invention of the printing press by German printer Johannes Gutenberg allowed the rapid transmission of these new ideas. As it spread, its ideas diversified and changed, being adapted to local culture. In the 20th century, scholars began to break the Renaissance into regional and national movements.
The Renaissance as it occurred in Northern Europe has been termed the "Northern Renaissance". While Renaissance ideas were moving north from Italy, there was a simultaneous southward spread of some areas of innovation, particularly in music. The music of the 15th century Burgundian School defined the beginning of the Renaissance in that art and the polyphony of the Netherlanders, as it moved with the musicians themselves into Italy, formed the core of what was the first true international style in music since the standardization of Gregorian Chant in the 9th century. The culmination of the Netherlandish school was in the music of the Italian composer, Palestrina. At the end of the 16th century Italy again became a center of musical innovation, with the development of the polychoral style of the Venetian School, which spread northward into Germany around 1600.
The paintings of the Italian Renaissance differed from those of the Northern Renaissance. Italian Renaissance artists were among the first to paint secular scenes, breaking away from the purely religious art of medieval painters. At first, Northern Renaissance artists remained focused on religious subjects, such as the contemporary religious upheaval portrayed by Albrecht Dürer. Later on, the works of Pieter Bruegel influenced artists to paint scenes of daily life rather than religious or classical themes. It was also during the Northern Renaissance that Flemish brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck perfected the oil painting technique, which enabled artists to produce strong colors on a hard surface that could survive for centuries. A feature of the Northern Renaissance was its use of the vernacular in place of Latin or Greek, which allowed greater freedom of expression. This movement had started in Italy with the decisive influence of Dante Alighieri on the development of vernacular languages; in fact the focus on writing in Italian has neglected a major source of Florentine ideas expressed in Latin. The spread of the technology of the German invention of movable type printing boosted the Renaissance, in Northern Europe as elsewhere; with Venice becoming a world center of printing.
In England, the Elizabethan era marked the beginning of the English Renaissance with the work of writers William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Sir Thomas More, Francis Bacon, Sir Philip Sidney, John Milton, as well as great artists, architects (such as Inigo Jones who introduced Italianate architecture to England), and composers such as Thomas Tallis, John Taverner, and William Byrd.
The word "Renaissance" itself belongs to the French language, meaning literally "Re-birth" in English. It was first used and defined by French historian Jules Michelet (1798–1874), in his 1855 work, Histoire de France (History of France). His work is at the origin of the use of the French word "Renaissance" in other languages.
In 1495 the Italian Renaissance arrived in France, imported by King Charles VIII after his invasion of Italy. A factor that promoted the spread of secularism was the Church's inability to offer assistance against the Black Death. Francis I imported Italian art and artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, and built ornate palaces at great expense. Writers such as François Rabelais, Pierre de Ronsard, Joachim du Bellay and Michel de Montaigne, painters such as Jean Clouet and musicians such as Jean Mouton also borrowed from the spirit of the Renaissance.
In 1533, a fourteen-year-old Caterina de' Medici (1519–1589), born in Florence to Lorenzo II de' Medici and Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, married Henry, second son of King Francis I and Queen Claude. Though she became famous and infamous for her role in France's religious wars, she made a direct contribution in bringing arts, sciences and music (including the origins of ballet) to the French court from her native Florence.
In the second half of the 15th century, the spirit of the age spread to Germany and the Low Countries, where the development of the printing press (ca. 1450) and early Renaissance artists such as the painters Jan van Eyck (1395–1441) and Hieronymus Bosch (1450–1516) and the composers Johannes Ockeghem (1410–1497), Jacob Obrecht (1457–1505) and Josquin des Prez (1455–1521), predated the influence from Italy. In the early Protestant areas of the country humanism became closely linked to the turmoil of the Protestant Reformation, and the art and writing of the German Renaissance frequently reflected this dispute. However, the gothic style and medieval scholastic philosophy remained exclusively until the turn of the 16th century. Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg (Ruling 1493–1519) was the first truly Renaissance monarch of the Holy Roman Empire, later known as "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" (Imperial Diet of Cologne, 1512).
After Italy, Hungary was the first European country where the renaissance appeared. The Renaissance style came directly from Italy during the Quattrocento to Hungary first in the Central European region, thanks to the development of early Hungarian-Italian relationships – not only in dynastic connections, but also in cultural, humanistic and commercial relations – growing in strength from the 14th century. The relationship between Hungarian and Italian Gothic styles was a second reason – exaggerated breakthrough of walls is avoided, preferring clean and light structures. Large-scale building schemes provided ample and long term work for the artists, for example, the building of the Friss (New) Castle in Buda, the castles of Visegrád, Tata and Várpalota. In Sigismund's court there were patrons such as Pipo Spano, a descendant of the Scolari family of Florence, who invited Manetto Ammanatini and Masolino da Pannicale to Hungary. The new Italian trend combined with existing national traditions to create a particular local Renaissance art. Acceptance of Renaissance art was furthered by the continuous arrival of humanist thought in the country. Many young Hungarians studying at Italian universities came closer to the Florentine humanist center, so a direct connection with Florence evolved. The growing number of Italian traders moving to Hungary, specially to Buda, helped this process. New thoughts were carried by the humanist prelates, among them Vitéz János, archbishop of Esztergom, one of the founders of Hungarian humanism. During the long reign of emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg the Royal Castle of Buda became probably the largest Gothic palace of the late Middle Ages. King Matthias Corvinus (r. 1458–1490) rebuilt the palace in early Renaissance style and further expanded it. After the marriage in 1476 of king Matthias to Beatrice of Naples, Buda became one of the most important artistic centres of the Renaissance north of the Alps. The most important humanists living in Matthias' court were Antonio Bonfini and the famous Hungarian poet Janus Pannonius. András Hess set up a printing press in Buda in 1472. Matthias Corvinus's library, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was Europe's greatest collections of secular books: historical chronicles, philosophic and scientific works in the 15th century. His library was second only in size to the Vatican Library. (However, the Vatican Library mainly contained Bibles and religious materials.) In 1489, Bartolomeo della Fonte of Florence wrote that Lorenzo de' Medici founded his own Greek-Latin library encouraged by the example of the Hungarian king. Corvinus's library is part of UNESCO World Heritage. Other important figures of Hungarian Renaissance: Bálint Balassi (poet), Sebestyén Tinódi Lantos (poet), Bálint Bakfark (composer and lutenist)
An early Italian humanist who came to Poland in the mid-15th century was Filip Callimachus. Many Italian artists came to Poland with Bona Sforza of Milan, when she married King Zygmunt I of Poland in 1518. This was supported by temporarily strengthened monarchies in both areas, as well as by newly established universities. The Polish Renaissance lasted from the late 15th to the late 16th century and is widely considered to have been the Golden Age of Polish culture. Ruled by the Jagiellon dynasty, the Kingdom of Poland (from 1569 known as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) actively participated in the broad European Renaissance. The multi-national Polish state experienced a substantial period of cultural growth thanks in part to a century without major wars – aside from conflicts in the sparsely populated eastern and southern borderlands. The Reformation spread peacefully throughout the country (giving rise to the Polish Brethren), while living conditions improved, cities grew, and exports of agricultural products enriched the population, especially the nobility (szlachta) who gained dominance in the new political system of Golden Liberty.
Although Italian Renaissance had a modest impact in Portuguese arts, Portugal was influential in broadening the European worldview, stimulating humanist inquiry. Renaissance arrived through the influence of wealthy Italian and Flemish merchants who invested in the profitable commerce overseas. As the pioneer headquarters of European exploration, Lisbon flourished in the late 15th century, attracting experts who made several breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy and naval technology including Pedro Nunes, João de Castro, Abraham Zacuto and Martin Behaim. Cartographers Pedro Reinel, Lopo Homem, Esteban Gómez and Diogo Ribeiro made crucial advances to help mapping the world. Apothecary Tomé Pires and physicians Garcia de Orta and Cristóbal Acosta collected and published works on plants and medicines, soon translated by Flemish pioneer botanist Carolus Clusius.
In architecture, the huge profits of the spice trade financed a sumptuous composite style in the first decades of the 16th century, the Manueline, incorporating maritime elements. The main painters being Nuno Gonçalves, Gregório Lopes and Vasco Fernandes. In music, Pedro de Escobar and Duarte Lobo, and four songbooks, including the Cancioneiro de Elvas. In literature, Sá de Miranda introduced Italian forms of verse, Bernardim Ribeiro developed pastoral romance; Gil Vicente plays fused it with popular culture, reporting the changing times, and Luís de Camões inscribed the Portuguese feats overseas in the epic poem the Lusiads. Travel literature specially flourished: João de Barros, Castanheda, António Galvão, Gaspar Correia, Duarte Barbosa, Fernão Mendes Pinto, among others, described new lands and were translated and spread with the new printing press. After joining the Portuguese exploration of Brazil in 1500, Amerigo Vespucci coined the term New World, in his letters to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici.
The intense international exchange produced several cosmopolitan humanist scholars: Francisco de Holanda, André de Resende and Damião de Gois, a friend of Erasmus who wrote with rare independence on the reign of King Manuel I; Diogo and André de Gouveia, who made relevant teaching reforms via France. Foreign news and products in the Portuguese factory in Antwerp attracted the interest of Thomas More and Durer to the wider world. There, profits and know-how helped nurture the Dutch Renaissance and Golden Age, especially after the arrival of the wealthy cultured Jewish community expelled from Portugal.
Renaissance trends from Italy and Central Europe influenced Russia in many ways, though this influence was rather limited due to the large distances between Russia and the main European cultural centers, on one hand, and the strong adherence of Russians to their Orthodox traditions and Byzantine legacy, on the other hand.
Prince Ivan III introduced Renaissance architecture to Russia by inviting a number of architects from Italy, who brought new construction techniques and some Renaissance style elements with them, while in general following the traditional designs of the Russian architecture. In 1475 the Bolognese architect Aristotele Fioravanti came to rebuild the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin, damaged in an earthquake. Fioravanti was given the 12th-century Vladimir Cathedral as a model, and produced a design combining traditional Russian style with a Renaissance sense of spaciousness, proportion and symmetry.
In 1485 Ivan III commissioned the building of a royal Terem Palace within the Kremlin, with Aloisio da Milano being the architect of the first three floors. Aloisio da Milano, as well as the other Italian architects, also greatly contributed to the construction of the Kremlin walls and towers. The small banqueting hall of the Russian Tsars, called the Palace of Facets because of its facetted upper story, is the work of two Italians, Marco Ruffo and Pietro Solario, and shows a more Italian style. In 1505, an Italian known in Russia as Aleviz Novyi or Aleviz Fryazin arrived in Moscow. He may have been the Venetian sculptor, Alevisio Lamberti da Montagne. He built 12 churches for Ivan III, including the Cathedral of the Archangel, a building remarkable for the successful blending of Russian tradition, Orthodox requirements and Renaissance style. It is believed that the Cathedral of the Metropolitan Peter in Vysokopetrovsky Monastery, another work of Aleviz Novyi, later served as an inspiration for the so-called octagon-on-tetragon architectural form in the Moscow Baroque of the late 17th century.
Between the early 16th and the late 17th centuries, however, an original tradition of stone tented roof architecture had been developed in Russia. It was quite unique and different from the contemporary Renaissance architecture elsewhere in Europe, though some researches call that style 'Russian Gothic' and compare it with the European Gothic architecture of the earlier period. The Italians, with their advanced technology, may have influenced the invention of the stone tented roof (the wooden tents were known in Russia and Europe long before). According to one hypothesis, an Italian architect called Petrok Maly may have been an author of the Ascension Church in Kolomenskoye, one of the earliest and most prominent tented roof churches.
By the 17th century the influence of Renaissance painting resulted in Russian icons becoming slightly more realistic, while still following most of the old icon painting canons, as seen in the works of Bogdan Saltanov, Simon Ushakov, Gury Nikitin, Karp Zolotaryov and other Russian artists of the era. Gradually the new type of secular portrait painting appeared, called parsúna (from "persona" – person), which was transitional style between abstract iconographics and real paintings.
In the mid 16th-century Russians adopted printing from Central Europe, with Ivan Fyodorov being the first known Russian printer. In the 17th century printing became widespread, and woodcuts became especially popular. That led to the development of a special form of folk art known as lubok printing, which persisted in Russia well into the 19th century.
A number of technologies of Renaissance period was adopted by Russians from Europe rather early, and perfected subsequently to became a part of strong domestic tradition. Mostly these were military technologies, such as cannon casting adopted at least in the 15th century. The Tsar Cannon, which is the world's largest bombard by caliber, is the masterpiece of Russian cannon making. It was cast in 1586 by Andrey Chokhov, and is notable also by its rich relief decoration. Another technology, that according to one hypothesis originally was brought from Europe by Italians, resulted in the development of vodka, the national beverage of Russia. As early as 1386 the Genoese ambassadors brought the first aqua vitae ("the living water") to Moscow and presented it to Grand Duke Dmitry Donskoy. The Genoese likely got this beverage with the help of the alchemists of Provance, who used the Arab-invented distillation apparatus to convert grape must into alcohol. A Moscovite monk called Isidore used this technology to produce the first original Russian vodka c. 1430.
The Renaissance arrived in the Iberian peninsula through the Mediterranean possessions of the Aragonese Crown and the city of Valencia. Indeed, many of the early Spanish Renaissance writers come from the Kingdom of Aragon, including Ausiàs March and Joanot Martorell. In the Kingdom of Castile, the early Renaissance was heavily influenced by the Italian humanism, starting with writers and poets starting with the Marquis of Santillana, who introduced the new Italian poetry to Spain in the early 15th century. Other writers, such as Jorge Manrique, Fernando de Rojas, Juan del Encina, Juan Boscán Almogáver and Garcilaso de la Vega, kept a close resemblance to the Italian canon. Miguel de Cervantes's masterpiece Don Quixote is credited as the first Western novel. Renaissance humanism flourished in the early 16th century, with influential writers such as philosopher Juan Luis Vives, grammarian Antonio de Nebrija or natural historian Pedro de Mexía.
Later Spanish Renaissance tended towards religious themes and mysticism, with poets such as fray Luis de León, Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross, and treated issues related to the exploration of the New World, with chroniclers and writers such as Inca Garcilaso de la Vega or Bartolomé de las Casas, giving rise to a body of work, now known as Spanish Renaissance literature. The late Renaissance in Spain also saw the rise of artists such as El Greco, and composers such as Tomás Luis de Victoria and Antonio de Cabezón.
The term was first used retrospectively by the Italian artist and critic Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) in his book The Lives of the Artists (published 1550). In the book Vasari was attempting to define what he described as a break with the barbarities of gothic art: the arts had fallen into decay with the collapse of the Roman Empire and only the Tuscan artists, beginning with Cimabue (1240–1301) and Giotto (1267–1337) began to reverse this decline in the arts. According to Vasari, antique art was central to the rebirth of Italian art.
However, it was not until the 19th century that the French word Renaissance achieved popularity in describing the self-conscious cultural movement based on revival of Roman models that began in the late-13th century. The Renaissance was first defined by French historian Jules Michelet (1798–1874), in his 1855 work, Histoire de France. For Michelet, the Renaissance was more a development in science than in art and culture. He asserted that it spanned the period from Columbus to Copernicus to Galileo; that is, from the end of the 15th century to the middle of the 17th century. Moreover, Michelet distinguished between what he called, "the bizarre and monstrous" quality of the Middle Ages and the democratic values that he, as a vocal Republican, chose to see in its character. A French nationalist, Michelet also sought to claim the Renaissance as a French movement.
The Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897) in his Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italien (1860), by contrast, defined the Renaissance as the period between Giotto and Michelangelo in Italy, that is, the 14th to mid-16th centuries. He saw in the Renaissance the emergence of the modern spirit of individuality, which had been stifled in the Middle Ages. His book was widely read and was influential in the development of the modern interpretation of the Italian Renaissance. However, Buckhardt has been accused of setting forth a linear Whiggish view of history in seeing the Renaissance as the origin of the modern world.
More recently, historians have been much less keen to define the Renaissance as a historical age, or even a coherent cultural movement. Randolph Starn, Historian at the University of California Berkeley, stated:
There is debate about the extent to which the Renaissance improved on the culture of the Middle Ages. Both Michelet and Burckhardt were keen to describe the progress made in the Renaissance towards the modern age. Burckhardt likened the change to a veil being removed from man's eyes, allowing him to see clearly.
On the other hand, many historians now point out that most of the negative social factors popularly associated with the medieval period – poverty, warfare, religious and political persecution, for example – seem to have worsened in this era which saw the rise of Machiavellian politics, the Wars of Religion, the corrupt Borgia Popes, and the intensified witch-hunts of the 16th century. Many people who lived during the Renaissance did not view it as the "golden age" imagined by certain 19th-century authors, but were concerned by these social maladies. Significantly, though, the artists, writers, and patrons involved in the cultural movements in question believed they were living in a new era that was a clean break from the Middle Ages. Some Marxist historians prefer to describe the Renaissance in material terms, holding the view that the changes in art, literature, and philosophy were part of a general economic trend from feudalism towards capitalism, resulting in a bourgeois class with leisure time to devote to the arts.
Johan Huizinga (1872–1945) acknowledged the existence of the Renaissance but questioned whether it was a positive change. In his book The Waning of the Middle Ages, he argued that the Renaissance was a period of decline from the High Middle Ages, destroying much that was important. The Latin language, for instance, had evolved greatly from the classical period and was still a living language used in the church and elsewhere. The Renaissance obsession with classical purity halted its further evolution and saw Latin revert to its classical form. Robert S. Lopez has contended that it was a period of deep economic recession. Meanwhile George Sarton and Lynn Thorndike have both argued that scientific progress was perhaps less original than has traditionally been supposed. Finally, Joan Kelly argued that the Renaissance led to greater gender dichotomy, lessening the agency women had had during the Middle Ages.
Some historians have begun to consider the word Renaissance to be unnecessarily loaded, implying an unambiguously positive rebirth from the supposedly more primitive "Dark Ages" (Middle Ages). Many historians now prefer to use the term "Early Modern" for this period, a more neutral designation that highlights the period as a transitional one between the Middle Ages and the modern era. Others such as Roger Osborne have come to consider the Italian Renaissance as a repository of the myths and ideals of western history in general, and instead of rebirth of ancient ideas as a period of great innovation.
The term Renaissance has also been used to define periods outside of the 15th and 16th centuries. Charles H. Haskins (1870–1937), for example, made a case for a Renaissance of the 12th century. Other historians have argued for a Carolingian Renaissance in the 8th and 9th centuries, and still later for an Ottonian Renaissance in the 10th century. Other periods of cultural rebirth have also been termed "renaissances", such as the Bengal Renaissance, Nepal Bhasa renaissance, al-Nahda or the Harlem Renaissance.
The Protestant Reformation during the 16th century in Europe ushered in a new artistic tradition that embraced the Protestant agenda and diverged drastically from the southern European tradition and the humanist art produced during the high Renaissance. In turn, the Catholic Counter-Reformation both reacted against and responded to Protestant criticisms of art in Roman Catholicism to produce a more stringent style of Catholic art. Protestant religious art both embraced Protestant values and assisted in the proliferation of Protestantism, but the amount of religious art produced in Protestant countries was hugely reduced. Artists in Protestant countries diversified into secular forms of art like history painting, landscape painting, portrait painting and still life.
The Reformation was a religious movement that occurred in Western Europe during the 16th century that resulted in a divide in Christianity between Roman Catholics and Protestants. This movement “created a North-South split in Europe, where generally Northern countries became Protestant, while Southern countries remained Catholic.”
The Reformation produced two main branches of Protestantism; one was the Evangelical churches, which followed the teachings of Martin Luther, and the other the reformed churches, which followed the ideas of John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. Out of these branches grew four main sects, Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist, and Anglican, which caused even more fragmentation within the Christian tradition.
Protestant theology centered on the individual relationship between the worshipper and the divine. The movement’s focus on the individual’s personal relationship with God was reflected in the number of common people and day-to-day scenes that were depicted in art. Protestantism taught that since God created man in his own image, humanity is perfection. Art that did seek to portray religious figures or scenes followed Protestant theology by seeking to portray people and stories that emphasized salvation through divine grace and not through personal deeds or by intervention of church bureaucracy. In terms of subject matter, iconic images of Christ and scenes from the Passion became less frequent, as did portrayals of the saints and clergy. Narrative scenes from the Bible, and, later, moralistic depictions of modern life were preferred. Some scenes showed sinners accepted by Christ, in accordance with the Protestant view that salvation comes only through the grace of God.
The Protestant Reformation induced a wave of iconoclasm, or the destruction of religious imagery. All forms of Protestantism showed a degree of hostility to religious images, as idolatry, especially sculpture and large paintings. Book illustrations and prints were more acceptable, because they were smaller and more private. Protestant leaders, especially Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin, actively eliminated imagery from churches within the control of their followers, and regarded the great majority of religious images as idolatrous, even plain crosses. Martin Luther, in Germany, initially more hostile, finally allowed, indeed encouraged, the display of a restricted range of religious imagery in churches so long as viewers were reminded that images are symbolic of the divine, and are not holy in themselves (in fact the Catholic position also). The use of images was one of the issues where Luther strongly opposed the more radical Andreas Karlstadt. For a few years Lutheran altarpieces like by the younger CranachLast Supperthe were produced in Germany, especially by Luther's friend Lucas Cranach, to replace Catholic ones, often containing portraits of leading reformers as the apostles or other protagonists, but retaining the traditional depiction of Jesus. Stories even grew up of "indestructible" images of Luther, that had survived fires, by divine intervention, it was suggested; on the other hand reformers pointed out how often crosses and crucifixes were struck by lightning.
The destruction was often extremely divisive and traumatic within communities, an unmistakable physical manifestation, often imposed from above, that could not be ignored. It was just for this reason that reformers favoured a single dramatic coup, and many premature acts in this line sharply increased subsequent hostility between Catholics and reformers in communities - for it was generally at the level of the city, town or village that such actions occurred, except in England and Scotland. But reformers often felt impelled by strong personal convictions, as shown by the case of Frau Göldli, on which Zwingli was asked to advise. She was a Swiss lady who had once made a promise to Saint Apollinaris that if she recovered from an illness she would donate an image of the saint to a local convent, which she did. Later she turned Protestant, and feeling she must reverse what she now saw as a wrong action, she went to the convent church, removed the statue and burnt it. Prosecuted for blasphemy, she paid a small fine without complaint, but flatly refused to pay the additional sum the court ordered be paid to the convent to replace the statue, putting her at risk of serious penalties. Zwingli's letter advised trying to pay the nuns a larger sum on condition they did not replace the statue, but the eventual outcome is unknown. By the end of his life, after iconoclastic shows of force became a feature of the early phases of the French Wars of Religion, even Calvin became alarmed and criticised them, realizing that they had become counter-productive.
Subjects prominent in Catholic art other than Jesus and events in the Bible, such as Mary and saints were given much less emphasis or disapproved of in Protestant theology. As a result in much of northern Europe, the church virtually ceased to commission figurative art, placing the dictation of content entirely in the hands of the artists and lay consumers. Calvinism even objected to non-religious funerary art, such as the heraldry and effigies beloved of the Renaissance rich.
After a few decades Lutheran commissions for new altarpieces effectively ceased, and Lutherans often had to struggle to defend their existing art from a new wave of Calvinist-on-Lutheran iconoclasm in the second half of the century, as Calvinist rulers or city authorities attempted to impose their will on Lutheran populations in the "Second Reformation" of about 1560-1619. The beeldenstorm, a large and very disorderly wave of mob destruction of images and church fittings that spread through the Low Countries in the summer of 1566 was the largest outbreak of this sort, with drastic political repercussions. Similar patterns to the German actions were seen in England in the English Civil War and English Commonwealth in the next century, when more damage was done to art in medieval parish churches than during the English Reformation.
A major theological difference between Protestantism and Catholicism is the question of transubstantiation, or the literal transformation of the Communion wafer and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Protestant churches that were not participating in the iconoclasm often selected as altarpieces scenes depicting the Last Supper. This helped the worshippers to recall the symbolic meaning behind the Eucharist, as opposed to Catholic churches, which often chose crucifixion scenes for their altarpieces to remind the worshippers of the literal transformation of the Eucharist.
The Protestant Reformation also capitalized on the popularity of printmaking in northern Europe. Printmaking allowed images to be mass-produced and widely available to the public at low cost. This allowed for the widespread availability of visually persuasive imagery. The Protestant church was therefore able, as the Catholic Church had been doing since the early 15th century, to bring their theology to the people, and religious education was brought from the church into the homes of the common people, thereby forming a direct link between the worshippers and the divine.
There was also a violent propaganda war fought partly with popular prints by both sides; these were often highly scurrilous caricatures of the other side and their doctrines. On the Protestant side, portraits of the leading reformers were popular, and the likenesses were sometimes shown as Apostles and other figures in Biblical scenes such as the Last Supper.
After the early years of the reformation artists in Protestant areas painted far fewer religious subjects for public display, although there was a conscious effort to develop a Protestant iconography of Bible illustration in book illustrations and prints. In the early Reformation artists, especially Cranach the Elder and Younger and Holbein, made paintings for churches showing the leaders of the reformation in ways very similar to Catholic saints. Later Protestant taste turned from the display in churches of religious scenes, although some continued to be displayed in homes. There was also a reaction against large images from classical mythology, the other manifestation of high style at the time. This brought about a style that was more directly related to accurately portraying the present times. The traditions of landscapes and genre paintings that would fully flower in the 17th century began during this period.
Peter Bruegel (1525–1569) of Flanders is the great genre painter of his time, who worked for both Catholic and Protestant patrons. In most of his paintings, even when depicting religious scenes, most space is given to landscape or peasant life in 16th century Flanders. Bruegel’s Wedding Feast, portrays a Flemish-peasant wedding dinner in a barn, which makes no reference to any religious, historical or classical events, and merely gives insight into the everyday life of the Flemish peasant. Another great painter of his age, Lucas van Leyden (1489–1533), is known mostly for his engravings, such as The Milkmaid, which depicts peasants with milk cows. This engraving, from 1510, well before the Reformation, contains no reference to religion or classicism, although much of his other work features both.
Bruegel was also an accomplished landscape painter. Frequently Bruegel painted agricultural landscapes, such as Summer from his famous set of the seasons, where he shows peasants harvesting wheat in the country, with a few workers taking a lunch break under a nearby tree. This type of landscape painting, apparently void of religious or classical connotations, gave birth to a long line of northern European landscape artists, such as Jacob van Ruisdael.
With the great development of the engraving and printmaking market in Antwerp in the 16th century, the public was provided with accessible and affordable images. Many artists provided drawings to book and print publishers, including Bruegel. In 1555 Bruegel began working for The Four Winds, a publishing house owned by Hieronymus Cock. The Four Winds provided the public with almost a thousand etchings and engravings over two decades. Between 1555 and 1563 Bruegel supplied Cock with almost 40 drawings, which were engraved for the Flemish public.
The courtly style of Northern Mannerism in the second half of the century has been seen as partly motivated by the desire of rulers in both the Holy Roman Empire and France to find a style of art that could appeal to members of the courtly elite on both sides of the religious divide. Thus religious controversy had the rather ironic effect of encouraging classical mythology in art, since though they might disapprove, even the most stern Calvinists could not credibly claim that 16th century mythological art really represented idolatry.
During the Reformation a great divergence arose between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformers of the north regarding the content and style of art work. The Catholic Church viewed Protestantism and its iconoclasm as a threat to the church and in response came together at the Council of Trent to institute some of their own reforms. The church felt that much religious art in Catholic countries (especially Italy) had lost its focus on religious subject-matter, and became too interested in material things and decorative qualities. The council came together periodically between 1545 and 1563. The reforms that resulted from this council are what set the basis for what is known as the Counter-Reformation.
Italian painting after 1520, with the notable exception of the art of Venice, developed into Mannerism, a highly sophisticated style, striving for effect, that concerned many churchman as lacking appeal for the mass of the population. Church pressure to restrain religious imagery affected art from the 1530s and resulted in the decrees of the final session of the Council of Trent in 1563 including short and rather inexplicit passages concerning religious images, which were to have great impact on the development of Catholic art. Previous Catholic Church councils had rarely felt the need to pronounce on these matters, unlike Orthodox ones which have often ruled on specific types of images.
It is often said that “The decrees of the Council of Trent stipulated that art was to be direct and compelling in its narrative presentation, that is was to provide an accurate presentation of the biblical narrative or saint’s life, rather than adding incidental and imaginary moments, and that it was to encourage piety", but in fact the actual decrees of the council were far less explicit than this, though all of these points were probably in line with their intentions. The very short passage dealing with art came only in the final session. The decree confirmed the traditional doctrine that images only represented the person depicted, and that veneration to them was paid to the person themself, not the image, and further instructed that:
...every superstition shall be removed ... all lasciviousness be avoided; in such wise that figures shall not be painted or adorned with a beauty exciting to lust... there be nothing seen that is disorderly, or that is unbecomingly or confusedly arranged, nothing that is profane, nothing indecorous, seeing that holiness becometh the house of God. And that these things may be the more faithfully observed, the holy Synod ordains, that no one be allowed to place, or cause to be placed, any unusual image, in any place, or church, howsoever exempted, except that image have been approved of by the bishop ...
The number of decorative treatments of religious subjects declined sharply, as did "unbecomingly or confusedly arranged" Mannerist pieces, as a number of books, notably by the Flemish theologian Molanus, Saint Charles Borromeo and Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, and instructions by local bishops, amplified the decrees, often going into minute detail on what was acceptable. Many traditional iconographies considered without adequate scriptural foundation were in effect prohibited, as was any inclusion of classical pagan elements in religious art, and almost all nudity, including that of the infant Jesus. According to the great medievalist Émile Mâle, this was "the death of medieval art".
When looking at the reforms of Catholic art instituted during the Counter-Reformation it can be seen that while the Protestants largely removed public art from religion and Protestant societies moved towards a more “secular” style of art which embraced the concept of glorifying God through the portrayal of the “natural beauty of His creation and by depicting people who were created in His image,” the Church of the Counter-Reformation continued to promote art with “sacred” or religious content. Art for the church was strictly to be religious art for the purpose of glorifying God and Catholic traditions, including the sacraments and the saints. “The Holy Council prohibits placing in churches any image inspired by false doctrine that might mislead the simple… To eliminate all lures of impurity and lasciviousness, images must not be decked in shameless beauty… To enforce this decision the Holy Council prohibits setting up in any place or church, no matter what its exemptions, any irregular image unless authorized by the bishop."
Scipione Pulzone's (1550–1598) painting of the Lamentation which was commissioned for the Gesu Church in 1589 is a contra-maniera work that gives a clear demonstration of what the holy council was striving for in the new style of religious art. With the focus of the painting giving direct attention to the crucifixion of Christ, it complies with the religious content of the council and shows the story of the passion while keeping Christ in the image of the ideal human.
Ten years after the Council of Trent's decree Paolo Veronese was summoned by the Inquisition to explain why his Last Supper, a huge canvas for the refectory of a monastery, contained, in the words of the Inquisition: "buffoons, drunken Germans, dwarfs and other such scurrilities" as well as extravagant costumes and settings, in what is indeed a fantasy version of a Venetian patrician feast. Veronese was told that he must change his indecorous painting within a three-month period - in fact he just changed the title to The Feast in the House of Levi, still an episode from the Gospels, but a less doctrinally central one, and no more was said. No doubt any Protestant authorities would have been equally disapproving. The pre-existing decline in "donor portraits" (those who had paid for an altarpiece or other painting being placed within the painting) was also accelerated; these become rare after the Council.
The rather extreme pronouncement by a synod in Antwerp in 1610 that in future the central panels of altarpieces should only show New Testament scenes was certainly ignored in the cases of many paintings by Rubens and other Flemish artists (and in particular the Jesuits continued to commission altarpieces centred on their saints, but nonetheless New Testament subjects probably did increase. Altarpieces became larger and more easy to make out from a distance, and the large painted or gilded carved wooden altarpieces that were the pride of many northern late medieval cities were often replaced with paintings.
Some subjects were given increased prominence to reflect Counter-Reformation emphases. The Repentance of Peter, showing the end of the episode of the Denial of Peter, was not often seen before the Counter-Reformation, when it became popular as an assertion of the sacrament of Confession against Protestant attacks. This followed an influential book by the Jesuit Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621). The image typically shows Peter in tears, as a half-length portrait with no other figures, often with hands clasped as at right, and sometimes "the cock" in the background; it was often coupled with a repentant Mary Magdalen, another exemplar from Bellarmine's book.
As the Counter-Reformation grew stronger and the Catholic Church felt less threat from the Protestant Reformation, Rome once again began to assert its universality to other nations around the world. The religious order of the Jesuits or the Society of Jesus, sent missionaries to the Americas, parts of Africa, India and eastern Asia and used the arts as an effective means of articulating their message of the Catholic Church's dominance over the Christian faith. The Jesuits' impact was so profound during their missions of the time that today very similar styles of art from the Counter-Reformation period in Catholic Churches are found all over the world.
Despite the differences in approaches to religious art, stylistic developments passed about as quickly across religious divisions as within the two "blocs". Artistically Rome remained in closer touch with the Netherlands than with Spain.
During the Renaissance, great advances occurred in geography, astronomy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, manufacturing, and engineering. The rediscovery of ancient scientific texts was accelerated after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, and the invention of printing which would democratize learning and allow a faster propagation of new ideas. But, at least in its initial period, some see the Renaissance as one of scientific backwardness. Historians like George Sarton and Lynn Thorndike have criticized how the Renaissance affected science, arguing that progress was slowed for some amount of time. Humanists favored human-centered subjects like politics and history over study of natural philosophy or applied mathematics. Others have focused on the positive influence of the Renaissance, pointing to factors like the rediscovery of lost or obscure texts and the increased emphasis on the study of language and the correct reading of texts.
Marie Boas Hall coined the term Scientific Renaissance to designate the early phase of the Scientific Revolution, 1450–1630. More recently, Peter Dear has argued for a two-phase model of early modern science: a Scientific Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries, focused on the restoration of the natural knowledge of the ancients; and a Scientific Revolution of the 17th century, when scientists shifted from recovery to innovation.
During and after the Renaissance of the 12th century, Europe experienced an intellectual revitalization, especially with regard to the investigation of the natural world. In the 14th century, however, a series of events that would come to be known as the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages was underway. When the Black Death came,it wiped out so many lives it affected the entire system. It brought a sudden end to the previous period of massive scientific change. The plague killed 25–50% of the people in Europe, especially in the crowded conditions of the towns, where the heart of innovations lay. Recurrences of the plague and other disasters caused a continuing decline of population for a century.
The 14th century saw the beginning of the cultural movement of the Renaissance. The rediscovery of ancient texts was accelerated after the Fall of Constantinople, in 1453, when many Byzantine scholars had to seek refuge in the West, particularly Italy. Also, the invention of printing was to have great effect on European society: the facilitated dissemination of the printed word democratized learning and allowed a faster propagation of new ideas.
But this initial period is usually seen as one of scientific backwardness. There were no new developments in physics or astronomy, and the reverence for classical sources further enshrined the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic views of the universe. Philosophy lost much of its rigour as the rules of logic and deduction were seen as secondary to intuition and emotion. At the same time, Humanism stressed that nature came to be viewed as an animate spiritual creation that was not governed by laws or mathematics. Science would only be revived later, with such figures as Copernicus, Francis Bacon, and Descartes.
Alchemy is the study of the transmutation of materials through obscure processes. It is sometimes described as an early form of chemistry. One of the main aims of alchemists was to find a method of creating gold from other substances. A common belief of alchemists was that there is an essential substance from which all other substances formed, and that if you could reduce a substance to this original material, you could then construct it into another substance, like lead to gold. Medieval alchemists worked with two main elements, sulphur and mercury.
Paracelsus was an alchemist and physician of the Renaissance. The Paracelsians added a third element, salt, to make a trinity of alchemical elements.
The astronomy of the late Middle Ages was based on the geocentric model described by Claudius Ptolemy in antiquity. Probably very few practicing astronomers or astrologers actually read Ptolemy's Almagest, which had been translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona in the 12th century. Instead they relied on introductions to the Ptolemaic system such as the De sphaera mundi of Johannes de Sacrobosco and the genre of textbooks known as Theorica planetarum. For the task of predicting planetary motions they turned to the Alfonsine Tables, a set of astronomical tables based on the Almagest models but incorporating some later modifications, mainly the trepidation model attributed to Thabit ibn Qurra. Contrary to popular belief, astronomers of the Middle Ages and Renaissance did not resort to "epicycles on epicycles" in order to correct the original Ptolemaic models—until one comes to Copernicus himself.
Sometime around 1450, mathematician Georg Purbach (1423–1461) began a series of lectures on astronomy at the University of Vienna. Regiomontanus (1436–1476), who was then one of his students, collected his notes on the lecture and later published them as Theoricae novae planetarum in the 1470s. This "New Theorica" replaced the older theorica as the textbook of advanced astronomy. Purbach also began to prepare a summary and commentary on the Almagest. He died after completing only six books, however, and Regiomontanus continued the task, consulting a Greek manuscript brought from Constantinople by Cardinal Bessarion. When it was published in 1496, the Epitome of the Almagest made the highest levels of Ptolemaic astronomy widely accessible to many European astronomers for the first time.
The last major event in Renaissance astronomy is the work of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543). He was among the first generation of astronomers to be trained with the Theoricae novae and the Epitome. Shortly before 1514 he began to explore a shocking new idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun. He spent the rest of his life attempting a mathematical proof of heliocentrism. When De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was finally published in 1543, Copernicus was on his deathbed. A comparison of his work with the Almagest shows that Copernicus was in many ways a Renaissance scientist rather than a revolutionary, because he followed Ptolemy's methods and even his order of presentation. In astronomy, the Renaissance of science can be said to have ended with the truly novel works of Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) and Galileo Galilei (1564–1642).
With the Renaissance came an increase in experimental investigation, principally in the field of dissection and body examination, thus advancing our knowledge of human anatomy. The development of modern neurology began in the 16th century with Vesalius, who described the anatomy of the brain and other organs; he had little knowledge of the brain's function, thinking that it resided mainly in the ventricles. Understanding of medical sciences and diagnosis improved, but with little direct benefit to health care. Few effective drugs existed, beyond opium and quinine. William Harvey provided a refined and complete description of the circulatory system. The most useful tomes in medicine used both by students and expert physicians were Materia Medica and Pharmacopoeia.
In the history of geography, the key classical text was the Geographia of Claudius Ptolemy (2nd century). It was translated into Latin in the 15th century by Jacopo d'Angelo. It was widely read in manuscript and went through many print editions after it was first printed in 1475. Regiomontanus worked on preparing an edition for print prior to his death; his manuscripts were consulted by later mathematicians in Nuremberg.
The information provided by Ptolemy, as well as Pliny the Elder and other classical sources, was soon seen to be in contradiction to the lands explored in the Age of Discovery. The new discoveries revealed shortcomings in classical knowledge; they also opened European imagination to new possibilities. Thomas More's Utopia was inspired partly by the discovery of the New World.
Humanism is a group of philosophies and ethical perspectives which emphasize the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers individual thought and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism). The term humanism can be ambiguously diverse, and there has been a persistent confusion between several related uses of the term because different intellectual movements have identified with it over time. In philosophy and social science, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of a "human nature" (contrasted with anti-humanism). In modern times, many humanist movements have become strongly aligned with secularism, with the term Humanism often used as a byword for non-theistic beliefs about ideas such as meaning and purpose, however early humanists were often religious, such as Ulrich von Hutten who was a strong supporter of Martin Luther and the Reformation.
Before the word was associated with secularism, German historian and philologist Georg Voigt used humanism in 1856 to describe the movement that flourished in the Italian Renaissance to revive classical learning; this definition won wide acceptance. During the Renaissance period in Western Europe, humanist movements attempted to demonstrate the benefit of gaining learning from classical, pre-Christian sources in and of themselves, or for secular ends such as political science and rhetoric. The word "humanist" derives from the 15th-century Italian term umanista describing a teacher or scholar of classical Greek and Latin literature and the ethical philosophy behind it, including the approach to the humanities.
During the French Revolution, and soon after in Germany (by the Left Hegelians), humanism began to refer to philosophies and morality centred on human kind, without attention to any notions of the divine. Religious humanism developed as more liberal religious organisations evolved in more humanistic directions. Religious humanism integrates humanist ethical philosophy with the rituals and beliefs of some religions, although religious humanism still centres on human needs, interests, and abilities.
As the ethical movement began using the word in the 1930s, the term "humanism" became increasingly associated with philosophical naturalism, and with secularism and the secularisation of society. The first Humanist Manifesto, formalised at the University of Chicago in 1933, identified secular humanism as an ideology that espouses reason, ethics, and justice, while specifically rejecting supernatural and religious ideas as a basis of morality and decision-making. The International Humanist and Ethical Union and other organisations describe it simply as 'Humanism', capitalised and without qualification.
The term "humanism" is ambiguous. Around 1806 Humanismus was used to describe the classical curriculum offered by German schools, and by 1836 "humanism" was lent to English in this sense. In 1856, German historian and philologist Georg Voigt used humanism to describe Renaissance humanism, the movement that flourished in the Italian Renaissance to revive classical learning, a use which won wide acceptance among historians in many nations, especially Italy. This historical and literary use of the word "humanist" derives from the 15th-century Italian term umanista, meaning a teacher or scholar of Classical Greek and Latin literature and the ethical philosophy behind it.
But in the mid-18th century, a different use of the term began to emerge. In 1765, the author of an anonymous article in a French Enlightenment periodical spoke of "The general love of humanity ... a virtue hitherto quite nameless among us, and which we will venture to call 'humanism', for the time has come to create a word for such a beautiful and necessary thing". The latter part of the 18th and the early 19th centuries saw the creation of numerous grass-roots "philanthropic" and benevolent societies dedicated to human betterment and the spreading of knowledge (some Christian, some not). After the French Revolution, the idea that human virtue could be created by human reason alone independently from traditional religious institutions, attributed by opponents of the Revolution to Enlightenment philosophes such as Rousseau, was violently attacked by influential religious and political conservatives, such as Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre, as a deification or idolatry of man. Humanism began to acquire a negative sense. The Oxford English Dictionary records the use of the word "humanism" by an English clergyman in 1812 to indicate those who believe in the "mere humanity" (as opposed to the divine nature) of Christ, i.e., Unitarians and Deists. In this polarised atmosphere, in which established ecclesiastical bodies tended to circle the wagons and reflexively oppose political and social reforms like extending the franchise, universal schooling, and the like, liberal reformers and radicals embraced the idea of Humanism as an alternative religion of humanity. The anarchist Proudhon (best known for declaring that "property is theft") used the word "humanism" to describe a "culte, déification de l’humanité" ("cult, deification of humanity") and Ernest Renan in L’avenir de la science: pensées de 1848 ("The Future of Knowledge: Thoughts on 1848") (1848–49), states: "It is my deep conviction that pure humanism will be the religion of the future, that is, the cult of all that pertains to man—all of life, sanctified and raised to the level of a moral value".
At about the same time, the word "humanism" as a philosophy centred around humankind (as opposed to institutionalised religion) was also being used in Germany by the so-called Left Hegelians, Arnold Ruge, and Karl Marx, who were critical of the close involvement of the church in the repressive German government. There has been a persistent confusion between the several uses of the terms: philosophical humanists look to human-centred antecedents among the Greek philosophers and the great figures of Renaissance history.
The first instance of ancient humanism as an organised system of thought is found in the Gathas of Zarathustra, composed circa 2nd millennium B.C (1700-1200 BCE) in Greater Iran. Zarathustra's philosophy in the Gathas lays out a conception of mankind as thinking beings dignified with choice and agency according to the intellect which each receives from Ahura Mazda (God in the form of supreme wisdom). The idea of Ahura Mazda as a non-intervening deistic divine God/Grand Architect of the universe tied with a unique eschatology and ethical system implying that each person is held morally responsible for their choices, made freely in this present life, in the afterlife. The importance placed on thought, action, responsibility, and a non-intervening creator was appealed to by, and inspired a number of, Enlightenment humanist thinkers in Europe such as Voltaire and Montesquieu.
Human-centred philosophy that rejected the supernatural can be found also circa 1000 BCE in the Lokayata system of Indian philosophy. In the 6th-century BCE, Gautama Buddha expressed, in Pali literature, a skeptical attitude toward the supernatural:
Since neither soul, nor aught belonging to soul, can really and truly exist, the view which holds that this I who am 'world', who am 'soul', shall hereafter live permanent, persisting, unchanging, yea abide eternally: is not this utterly and entirely a foolish doctrine?
In China, Huangdi is regarded as the humanistic primogenitor. Sage kings such as Yao and Shun are humanistic figures as recorded. King Wu of Zhou has the famous saying: "Humanity is the Ling (efficacious essence) of the world (among all)." Among them Duke of Zhou, respected as a founder of Rujia (Confucianism), is especially prominent and pioneering in humanistic thought. His words were recorded in the Book of History as follows (translation):
What the people desire, Heaven certainly complies?
Heaven (or "God") is not believable. Our Tao (special term referring to "the way of nature") includes morality (derived from the philosophy of former sage kings and to be continued forward).
In the 6th century BCE, Taoist teacher Lao Tzu espoused a naturalistic and humanistic philosophy which gave rise a loose-knit collection of movements known as Taoism with some sects adopting forms of Chinese Yoga and meditation, while yet some other sects incorporated magical rites.
Confucius also taught secular ethics. The Silver Rule of Confucianism from Analects XV.24, is an example of ethical philosophy based on human values rather than the supernatural. Humanistic thought is also contained in other Confucian classics, e.g., as recorded in Zuo Zhuan, Ji Liang says, "People is the zhu (master, lord, dominance, owner or origin) of gods. So, to sage kings, people first, gods second"; Neishi Guo says, "Gods, clever, righteous and wholehearted, comply with human."
6th-century BCE pre-Socratic Greek philosophers Thales of Miletus and Xenophanes of Colophon were the first in the region to attempt to explain the world in terms of human reason rather than myth and tradition, thus can be said to be the first Greek humanists. Thales questioned the notion of anthropomorphic gods and Xenophanes refused to recognise the gods of his time and reserved the divine for the principle of unity in the universe. These Ionian Greeks were the first thinkers to assert that nature is available to be studied separately from the supernatural realm. Anaxagoras brought philosophy and the spirit of rational inquiry from Ionia to Athens. Pericles, the leader of Athens during the period of its greatest glory was an admirer of Anaxagoras. Other influential pre-Socratics or rational philosophers include Protagoras (like Anaxagoras a friend of Pericles), known for his famous dictum "man is the measure of all things" and Democritus, who proposed that matter was composed of atoms. Little of the written work of these early philosophers survives and they are known mainly from fragments and quotations in other writers, principally Plato and Aristotle. The historian Thucydides, noted for his scientific and rational approach to history, is also much admired by later humanists. In the 3rd century BCE, Epicurus became known for his concise phrasing of the problem of evil, lack of belief in the afterlife, and human-centred approaches to achieving eudaimonia. He was also the first Greek philosopher to admit women to his school as a rule.
Many medieval Muslim thinkers pursued humanistic, rational and scientific discourses in their search for knowledge, meaning and values. A wide range of Islamic writings on love, poetry, history and philosophical theology show that medieval Islamic thought was open to the humanistic ideas of individualism, occasional secularism, skepticism, and liberalism.
According to Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, another reason the Islamic world flourished during the Middle Ages was an early emphasis on freedom of speech, as summarised by al-Hashimi (a cousin of Caliph al-Ma'mun) in the following letter to one of the religious opponents he was attempting to convert through reason:
According to George Makdisi, certain aspects of Renaissance humanism has its roots in the medieval Islamic world, including the "art of dictation, called in Latin, ars dictaminis", and "the humanist attitude toward classical language".
Renaissance humanism was an intellectual movement in Europe of the later Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The 19th-century German historian Georg Voigt (1827–91) identified Petrarch as the first Renaissance humanist. Paul Johnson agrees that Petrarch was "the first to put into words the notion that the centuries between the fall of Rome and the present had been the age of Darkness". According to Petrarch, what was needed to remedy this situation was the careful study and imitation of the great classical authors. For Petrarch and Boccaccio, the greatest master was Cicero, whose prose became the model for both learned (Latin) and vernacular (Italian) prose.
Once the language was mastered grammatically it could be used to attain the second stage, eloquence or rhetoric. This art of persuasion [Cicero had held] was not art for its own sake, but the acquisition of the capacity to persuade others – all men and women – to lead the good life. As Petrarch put it, 'it is better to will the good than to know the truth'. Rhetoric thus led to and embraced philosophy. Leonardo Bruni (c.1369–1444), the outstanding scholar of the new generation, insisted that it was Petrarch who "opened the way for us to show how to acquire learning", but it was in Bruni's time that the word umanista first came into use, and its subjects of study were listed as five: grammar, rhetoric, poetry, moral philosophy, and history".
The basic training of the humanist was to speak well and write (typically, in the form of a letter). One of Petrarch’s followers, Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406) was made chancellor of Florence, "whose interests he defended with his literary skill. The Visconti of Milan claimed that Salutati’s pen had done more damage than 'thirty squadrons of Florentine cavalry'". Contrary to a still widely current interpretation that originated in Voigt's celebrated contemporary, Jacob Burckhardt, and which was adopted wholeheartedly, especially by those moderns calling themselves "humanists", most specialists now do not characterise Renaissance humanism as a philosophical movement, nor in any way as anti-Christian or even anti-clerical. A modern historian has this to say:
Humanism was not an ideological programme but a body of literary knowledge and linguistic skill based on the "revival of good letters", which was a revival of a late-antique philology and grammar, This is how the word "humanist" was understood by contemporaries, and if scholars would agree to accept the word in this sense rather than in the sense in which it was used in the nineteenth century we might be spared a good deal of useless argument. That humanism had profound social and even political consequences of the life of Italian courts is not to be doubted. But the idea that as a movement it was in some way inimical to the Church, or to the conservative social order in general is one that has been put forward for a century and more without any substantial proof being offered.
The nineteenth-century historian Jacob Burckhardt, in his classic work, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, noted as a "curious fact" that some men of the new culture were "men of the strictest piety, or even ascetics". If he had meditated more deeply on the meaning of the careers of such humanists as Abrogio Traversari (1386–1439), the General of the Camaldolese Order, perhaps he would not have gone on to describe humanism in unqualified terms as "pagan", and thus helped precipitate a century of infertile debate about the possible existence of something called "Christian humanism" which ought to be opposed to "pagan humanism". --Peter Partner, Renaissance Rome, Portrait of a Society 1500–1559 (University of California Press 1979) pp. 14–15.
The umanisti criticised what they considered the barbarous Latin of the universities, but the revival of the humanities largely did not conflict with the teaching of traditional university subjects, which went on as before.
Nor did the humanists view themselves as in conflict with Christianity. Some, like Salutati, were the Chancellors of Italian cities, but the majority (including Petrarch) were ordained as priests, and many worked as senior officials of the Papal court. Humanist Renaissance popes Nicholas V, Pius II, Sixtus IV, and Leo X wrote books and amassed huge libraries.
In the high Renaissance, in fact, there was a hope that more direct knowledge of the wisdom of antiquity, including the writings of the Church fathers, the earliest known Greek texts of the Christian Gospels, and in some cases even the Jewish Kabbalah, would initiate a harmonious new era of universal agreement. With this end in view, Renaissance Church authorities afforded humanists what in retrospect appears a remarkable degree of freedom of thought. One humanist, the Greek Orthodox Platonist Gemistus Pletho (1355–1452), based in Mystras, Greece (but in contact with humanists in Florence, Venice, and Rome) taught a Christianised version of pagan polytheism.
The humanists' close study of Latin literary texts soon enabled them to discern historical differences in the writing styles of different periods. By analogy with what they saw as decline of Latin, they applied the principle of ad fontes, or back to the sources, across broad areas of learning, seeking out manuscripts of Patristic literature as well as pagan authors. In 1439, while employed in Naples at the court of Alfonso V of Aragon (at the time engaged in a dispute with the Papal States) the humanist Lorenzo Valla used stylistic textual analysis, now called philology, to prove that the Donation of Constantine, which purported to confer temporal powers on the Pope of Rome, was an 8th-century forgery. For the next 70 years, however, neither Valla nor any of his contemporaries thought to apply the techniques of philology to other controversial manuscripts in this way. Instead, after the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Turks in 1453, which brought a flood of Greek Orthodox refugees to Italy, humanist scholars increasingly turned to the study of Neoplatonism and Hermeticism, hoping to bridge the differences between the Greek and Roman Churches, and even between Christianity itself and the non-Christian world. The refugees brought with them Greek manuscripts, not only of Plato and Aristotle, but also of the Christian Gospels, previously unavailable in the Latin West.
After 1517, when the new invention of printing made these texts widely available, the Dutch humanist Erasmus, who had studied Greek at the Venetian printing house of Aldus Manutius, began a philological analysis of the Gospels in the spirit of Valla, comparing the Greek originals with their Latin translations with a view to correcting errors and discrepancies in the latter. Erasmus, along with the French humanist Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples, began issuing new translations, laying the groundwork for the Protestant Reformation. Henceforth Renaissance humanism, particularly in the German North, became concerned with religion, while Italian and French humanism concentrated increasingly on scholarship and philology addressed to a narrow audience of specialists, studiously avoiding topics that might offend despotic rulers or which might be seen as corrosive of faith. After the Reformation, critical examination of the Bible did not resume until the advent of the so-called Higher criticism of the 19th-century German Tübingen school.
The ad fontes principle also had many applications. The re-discovery of ancient manuscripts brought a more profound and accurate knowledge of ancient philosophical schools such as Epicureanism, and Neoplatonism, whose Pagan wisdom the humanists, like the Church fathers of old, tended, at least initially, to consider as deriving from divine revelation and thus adaptable to a life of Christian virtue. The line from a drama of Terence, Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto (or with nil for nihil), meaning "I am a human being, I think nothing human alien to me", known since antiquity through the endorsement of Saint Augustine, gained renewed currency as epitomising the humanist attitude.
Better acquaintance with Greek and Roman technical writings also influenced the development of European science (see the history of science in the Renaissance). This was despite what A. C. Crombie (viewing the Renaissance in the 19th-century manner as a chapter in the heroic March of Progress) calls "a backwards-looking admiration for antiquity", in which Platonism stood in opposition to the Aristotelian concentration on the observable properties of the physical world. But Renaissance humanists, who considered themselves as restoring the glory and nobility of antiquity, had no interest in scientific innovation. However, by the mid-to-late 16th century, even the universities, though still dominated by Scholasticism, began to demand that Aristotle be read in accurate texts edited according to the principles of Renaissance philology, thus setting the stage for Galileo's quarrels with the outmoded habits of Scholasticism.
Just as artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci — partaking of the zeitgeist though not himself a humanist – advocated study of human anatomy, nature, and weather to enrich Renaissance works of art, so Spanish-born humanist Juan Luis Vives (c. 1493–1540) advocated observation, craft, and practical techniques to improve the formal teaching of Aristotelian philosophy at the universities, helping to free them from the grip of Medieval Scholasticism. Thus, the stage was set for the adoption of an approach to natural philosophy, based on empirical observations and experimentation of the physical universe, making possible the advent of the age of scientific inquiry that followed the Renaissance.
It was in education that the humanists' program had the most lasting results, their curriculum and methods:
were followed everywhere, serving as models for the Protestant Reformers as well as the Jesuits. The humanistic school, animated by the idea that the study of classical languages and literature provided valuable information and intellectual discipline as well as moral standards and a civilised taste for future rulers, leaders, and professionals of its society, flourished without interruption, through many significant changes, until our own century, surviving many religious, political and social revolutions. It has but recently been replaced, though not yet completely, by other more practical and less demanding forms of education.
The progression from the humanism of the renaissance to that of the 19th and 20th centuries came about through two key figures: Galileo and Erasmus. Cultural critic, Os Guinness explains that the word humanist during the renaissance initially only defined a concern for humanity, and many early humanists saw no dichotomy between this and their Christian faith. See Christian Humanism
Yet it was from the Renaissance that modern Secular Humanism grew, with the development of an important split between reason and religion. This occurred as the church's complacent authority was exposed in two vital areas. In science, Galileo's support of the Copernican revolution upset the church's adherence to the theories of Aristotle, exposing them as false. In theology, the Dutch scholar Erasmus with his new Greek text showed that the Roman Catholic adherence to Jerome's Vulgate was frequently in error. A tiny wedge was thus forced between reason and authority, as both of them were then understood.
The phrase the "religion of humanity" is sometimes attributed to American Founding Father Thomas Paine, though as yet unattested in his surviving writings. According to Tony Davies:
Paine called himself a theophilanthropist, a word combining the Greek for "God", "love", and "man", and indicating that while he believed in the existence of a creating intelligence in the universe, he entirely rejected the claims made by and for all existing religious doctrines, especially their miraculous, transcendental and salvationist pretensions. The Parisian "Society of Theophilanthropy" which he sponsored, is described by his biographer as "a forerunner of the ethical and humanist societies that proliferated later" ... [Paine's book] the trenchantly witty Age of Reason (1793) ... pours scorn on the supernatural pretensions of scripture, combining Voltairean mockery with Paine's own style of taproom ridicule to expose the absurdity of a theology built on a collection of incoherent Levantine folktales.
Davies identifies Paine's The Age of Reason as "the link between the two major narratives of what Jean-François Lyotard calls the narrative of legitimation": the rationalism of the 18th-century Philosophes and the radical, historically based German 19th-century Biblical criticism of the Hegelians David Friedrich Strauss and Ludwig Feuerbach. "The first is political, largely French in inspiration, and projects 'humanity as the hero of liberty'. The second is philosophical, German, seeks the totality and autonomy of knowledge, and stresses understanding rather than freedom as the key to human fulfilment and emancipation. The two themes converged and competed in complex ways in the 19th century and beyond, and between them set the boundaries of its various humanisms. Homo homini deus est ("Man is a god to man" or "god is nothing [other than] man to himself"), Feuerbach had written.
Victorian novelist Mary Ann Evans, known to the world as George Eliot, translated Strauss's Das Leben Jesu ("The Life of Jesus", 1846) and Ludwig Feuerbach's Das Wesen Christianismus ("The Essence of Christianity"). She wrote to a friend:
the fellowship between man and man which has been the principle of development, social and moral, is not dependent on conceptions of what is not man ... the idea of God, so far as it has been a high spiritual influence, is the ideal of goodness entirely human (i.e., an exaltation of the human).
Eliot and her circle, who included her companion George Henry Lewes (the biographer of Goethe) and the abolitionist and social theorist Harriet Martineau, were much influenced by the positivism of Auguste Comte, whom Martineau had translated. Comte had proposed an atheistic culte founded on human principles—a secular Religion of Humanity (which worshiped the dead, since most humans who have ever lived are dead), complete with holidays and liturgy, modeled on the rituals of a what was seen as a discredited and dilapidated Catholicism. Although Comte's English followers, like Eliot and Martineau, for the most part rejected the full gloomy panoply of his system, they liked the idea of a religion of humanity. Comte's austere vision of the universe, his injunction to "vivre pour altrui" ("live for others", from which comes the word "altruism"), and his idealisation of women inform the works of Victorian novelists and poets from George Eliot and Matthew Arnold to Thomas Hardy.
The British Humanistic Religious Association was formed as one of the earliest forerunners of contemporary chartered Humanist organisations in 1853 in London. This early group was democratically organised, with male and female members participating in the election of the leadership, and promoted knowledge of the sciences, philosophy, and the arts.
In February 1877, the word was used pejoratively, apparently for the first time in America, to describe Felix Adler. Adler, however, did not embrace the term, and instead coined the name "Ethical Culture" for his new movement – a movement which still exists in the now Humanist-affiliated New York Society for Ethical Culture. In 2008, Ethical Culture Leaders wrote: "Today, the historic identification, Ethical Culture, and the modern description, Ethical Humanism, are used interchangeably".
Active in the early 1920s, F.C.S. Schiller labelled his work "humanism" but for Schiller the term referred to the pragmatist philosophy he shared with William James. In 1929, Charles Francis Potter founded the First Humanist Society of New York whose advisory board included Julian Huxley, John Dewey, Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann. Potter was a minister from the Unitarian tradition and in 1930 he and his wife, Clara Cook Potter, published Humanism: A New Religion. Throughout the 1930s, Potter was an advocate of such liberal causes as, women’s rights, access to birth control, "civil divorce laws", and an end to capital punishment.
Raymond B. Bragg, the associate editor of The New Humanist, sought to consolidate the input of Leon Milton Birkhead, Charles Francis Potter, and several members of the Western Unitarian Conference. Bragg asked Roy Wood Sellars to draft a document based on this information which resulted in the publication of the Humanist Manifesto in 1933. Potter's book and the Manifesto became the cornerstones of modern humanism, the latter declaring a new religion by saying, "any religion that can hope to be a synthesising and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age. To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present." It then presented 15 theses of humanism as foundational principles for this new religion.
In 1941, the American Humanist Association was organised. Noted members of The AHA included Isaac Asimov, who was the president from 1985 until his death in 1992, and writer Kurt Vonnegut, who followed as honorary president until his death in 2007. Gore Vidal became honorary president in 2009. Robert Buckman was the head of the association in Canada, and is now an honorary president.][
After World War II, three prominent Humanists became the first directors of major divisions of the United Nations: Julian Huxley of UNESCO, Brock Chisholm of the World Health Organisation, and John Boyd-Orr of the Food and Agricultural Organisation.
In 2004, American Humanist Association, along with other groups representing agnostics, atheists, and other freethinkers, joined to create the Secular Coalition for America which advocates in Washington, D.C. for separation of church and state and nationally for the greater acceptance of nontheistic Americans. The Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America is Sean Faircloth, a long-time state legislator from Maine.
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged in by civic and ecclesiastical chancellors, book collectors, educators, and writers, who by the late fifteenth century began to be referred to as umanisti – "humanists". It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of scholastic university education, which was then dominated by Aristotelian philosophy and logic. Scholasticism focused on preparing men to be doctors, lawyers or professional theologians, and was taught from approved textbooks in logic, natural philosophy, medicine, law and theology. There were important centres of humanism at Florence, Naples, Rome, Venice, Mantua, Ferrara, and Urbino.
Humanists reacted against this utilitarian approach and the narrow pedantry associated with it. They sought to create a citizenry (frequently including women) able to speak and write with eloquence and clarity and thus capable of engaging the civic life of their communities and persuading others to virtuous and prudent actions. This was to be accomplished through the study of the studia humanitatis, today known as the humanities: grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry and moral philosophy. As a program to revive the cultural—and particularly the literary—legacy and moral philosophy of classical antiquity, Humanism was a pervasive cultural mode and not the program of a few isolated geniuses like Giotto or Leon Battista Alberti as is still sometimes popularly believed.
Secular humanism is a comprehensive life stance or world view which embraces human reason, metaphysical naturalism, altruistic morality and distributive justice, and consciously rejects supernatural claims, theistic faith and religiosity, pseudoscience, and perceived superstition. It is sometimes referred to as Humanism (with a capital H and no qualifying adjective).
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world union of 117 Humanist, rationalist, irreligious, atheistic, Bright, secular, Ethical Culture, and freethought organisations in 38 countries. The "Happy Human" is the official symbol of the IHEU as well as being regarded as a universally recognised symbol for secular humanism.
According to the IHEU's bylaw 5.1:
Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.
Religious humanism is an integration of humanist ethical philosophy with religious rituals and beliefs that centre on human needs, interests, and abilities. Though practitioners of religious humanism did not officially organise under the name of "humanism" until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, non-theistic religions paired with human-centred ethical philosophy have a long history. The Cult of Reason (French: ) was a religion based on deism devised during the French Revolution by Jacques Hébert, Pierre Gaspard Chaumette and their supporters. In 1793 during the French Revolution, the cathedral Notre Dame de Paris was turned into a "Temple to Reason" and for a time Lady Liberty replaced the Virgin Mary on several altars. In the 1850s, Auguste Comte, the Father of Sociology, founded Positivism, a "religion of humanity". One of the earliest forerunners of contemporary chartered humanist organisations was the Humanistic Religious Association formed in 1853 in London. This early group was democratically organised, with male and female members participating in the election of the leadership and promoted knowledge of the sciences, philosophy, and the arts. The Ethical Culture movement was founded in 1876. The movement's founder, Felix Adler, a former member of the Free Religious Association, conceived of Ethical Culture as a new religion that would retain the ethical message at the heart of all religions. Ethical Culture was religious in the sense of playing a defining role in people's lives and addressing issues of ultimate concern.
Polemics about humanism have sometimes assumed paradoxical twists and turns. Early 20th century critics such as Ezra Pound, T.E. Hulme, and T.S. Eliot considered humanism to be sentimental "slop" (Hulme) or overly feminine (Pound) and wanted to go back to a more manly, authoritarian society such as (they believed) existed in the Middle Ages. Postmodern critics who are self-described anti-humanists, such as Jean-François Lyotard and Michel Foucault, have asserted that humanism posits an overarching and excessively abstract notion of humanity or universal human nature, which can then be used as a pretext for imperialism and domination of those deemed somehow less than human. Philosopher Kate Soper notes that by faulting humanism for falling short of its own benevolent ideals, anti-humanism thus frequently "secretes a humanist rhetoric".
In his book, Humanism (1997), Tony Davies calls these critics "humanist anti-humanists". Critics of antihumanism, most notably Jürgen Habermas, counter that while antihumanists may highlight humanism's failure to fulfil its emancipatory ideal, they do not offer an alternative emancipatory project of their own. Others, like the German philosopher Heidegger considered themselves humanists on the model of the ancient Greeks, but thought humanism applied only to the German "race" and specifically to the Nazis and thus, in Davies' words, were anti-humanist humanists. Such a reading of Heidegger's thought is itself deeply controversial, Heidegger includes his own views and critique of Humanism in Letter On Humanism. Davies acknowledges that after the horrific experiences of the wars of the 20th century "it should no longer be possible to formulate phrases like 'the destiny of man' or the 'triumph of human reason' without an instant consciousness of the folly and brutality they drag behind them". For "it is almost impossible to think of a crime that has not been committed in the name of human reason". Yet, he continues, "it would be unwise to simply abandon the ground occupied by the historical humanisms. For one thing humanism remains on many occasions the only available alternative to bigotry and persecution. The freedom to speak and write, to organise and campaign in defence of individual or collective interests, to protest and disobey: all these can only be articulated in humanist terms."
Modern Humanists, such as Corliss Lamont or Carl Sagan, hold that humanity must seek for truth through reason and the best observable evidence and endorse scientific skepticism and the scientific method. However, they stipulate that decisions about right and wrong must be based on the individual and common good, with no consideration given to metaphysical or supernatural beings. The idea is to engage with what is human.
Contemporary humanism entails a qualified optimism about the capacity of people, but it does not involve believing that human nature is purely good or that all people can live up to the Humanist ideals without help. If anything, there is recognition that living up to one's potential is hard work and requires the help of others. The ultimate goal is human flourishing; making life better for all humans, and as the most conscious species, also promoting concern for the welfare of other sentient beings and the planet as a whole. The focus is on doing good and living well in the here and now, and leaving the world a better place for those who come after. In 1925, the English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead cautioned: "The prophecy of Francis Bacon has now been fulfilled; and man, who at times dreamt of himself as a little lower than the angels, has submitted to become the servant and the minister of nature. It still remains to be seen whether the same actor can play both parts".
Humanism increasingly designates an inclusive sensibility for our species, planet, and lives. While retaining the definition of the IHEU with regard to the life stance of the individual, inclusive Humanism enlarges its constituency within homo sapiens to consider humans' broadening powers and obligations.
This accepting viewpoint recalls Renaissance Humanism in that it presumes an advocacy role for Humanists towards species governance, and this proactive stance is charged with a commensurate responsibility surpassing that of individual Humanism. It identifies pollution, militarism, nationalism, sexism, poverty and corruption as being persistent and addressable human character issues incompatible with the interests of our species. It asserts that human governance must be unified and is inclusionary in that it does not exclude any person by reason of their collateral beliefs or personal religion alone. As such it can be said to be a container for undeclared Humanism, instilling a species credo to complement the personal tenets of individuals.
Dwight Gilbert Jones writes that Humanism may be the only philosophy likely to be adopted by our species as a whole – it is thus incumbent on inclusive Humanists to not place unwarranted or self-interested conditions on its prospective adherents, nor associate it with religious acrimony.
Humanistic psychology is a psychological perspective which rose to prominence in the mid-20th century in response to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory and B.F. Skinner's Behaviorism. The approach emphasizes an individual's inherent drive towards self-actualization and creativity. Psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow introduced a positive, humanistic psychology in response to what they viewed as the overly pessimistic view of psychoanalysis in the early 1960s. Other sources include the philosophies of existentialism and phenomenology.