Course Summary

Renaissance Italy

Unit 1 - The Idea Of "the Renaissance"

How the commonly accepted picture of the period was built during the nineteenth century, and how assumptions about what it was to be "modern" coloured what historians looked for in Renaissance Italy.

Unit 2 - Florentine Art In The Early Fifteenth Century

The new style of Masaccio, Donatello and Brunellesch. The introduction of perspective, "realism" and "classical revival". The coexistence of International Gothic style.

Unit 3 - The Humanists And Their Writings

The meaning of the studia humanitatis and the ideal of eloquence. The educational ideals of the humanists and interpreting what they wrote.

Unit 4 - Individual And Family

Leon Battista Alberti's book On the family is examined. What kind of book is it? What does it tell us about the family in Renaissance Florence?

Unit 5 - The Medici Regime In Fifteenth-century Florence

How three generations of the Medici family exercised power in a city proud of its republican liberty.

Unit 6 - Giovanni Pico's Oration

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, a young philosopher, composed an Oration beginning with a famous passage about man and his nature. Is it an example a Renaissance enthusiasm for man or something rather different?

Unit 7 - Savonarola's Bonfires Of The Vanities

Bonfires of the Vanities took place in Florence late 1490s while the preacher Savonarola was an influential figure. Were they a reaction against the Renaissance? Were they uncharacteristic of the times or out of place? How would people at the time have seen the bonfires?

Unit 8 - Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli's booklet The Prince has been seen as a notable example of Renaissance realism. What was its intended readership? For the readership would it have been a piece of shocking realism, or a witty variation on a familiar theme?

Unit 9 - The High Renaissance And Its Aftermath

Did the Italian Renaissance come to an end with the rise of a new artistic style in the 1520s, or the Sack of Rome in 1527?