Q. 1. Discuss the contribution of universities to the rise and growth of Humanism.
Ans. Universities in Europe were set up first of all in Italian towns. From the eleventh century, the Universities of Padua and Bologna had been centres of legal studies. It was so because commerce was the chief activity in these cities. So there was an increasing demand for lawyers and notaries. These people wrote and interpreted rules and wrote agreements. Without these, trade on a large scale was not possible.
Therefore, law was a popular subject of study. But there came a change in the study of law. It was studied on the context of earlier Roman culture. This change was represented by Francesco Petrarch (1304–78). According to him antiquity was a distinctive civilisation which could be best understood with the help of actual ancient Greek and Roman words. Therefore, he stressed that these works of ancient writers must be thoroughly studied. The meaning of new educational programme was that lot of things are there which must be learnt and these things cannot be given by religious teachings alone.
This new culture was labelled ‘humanism’ by historians of the nineteenth century. By the early fifteenth century, the term ‘humanist’ was used for those teachers who used to teach poetry, grammar, rhetoric history and moral philosophy. The word ‘Humanities’ was derived from the Latin word ‘humanitas’ many centuries ago, the word ‘humanitas’ had been used by the Roman lawyer and essayist Cicero (106–43 BCE) to mean culture. Thus, humanism was called ‘humanist culture’. These revolutionary ideas also attracted attention of many other universities.
Among these was the newly established university in Petrarch’s own home town of Florence. Till the end of the thirteenth century, the city of Florence hardly became famous as a centre of trade or learning. But this situation changed very quickly in the fifteenth century. The city of Florence had come to be known because of Dante Alghieri and Giotto. As an artist, Dante wrote on religious themes and Giotto painted life-like portraits. Giotto’s portraits were very different from the stiff figures made by earlier artists. From then, the city developed as the intellectual city and a centre of artistic creativity in Italy.
Q. 2. What is meant by the Renaissance? Discuss its major characteristics.
Ans. The Renaissance stands for ‘rebirth’. The Renaissance in fact was a movement which took western nations from the darkness of the medieval age to the light of modern age. They were influenced by the ideas and styles of modern age. Man began to think freely which set new standards in literature, art and science. Major Characteristics of the Renaissance:
Major characteristics of the Renaissance were as follows:
(i) Dominance of Logic. The Renaissance freed society bound in medieval religion and customs and promoted logic. Aristotle’s logic guided to it Universities like Paris, Bolone, Oxford and Cambridge, etc., promoted significance of ideology of logic. Now any thing which proved right on the test of logic was accepted.
(ii) Importance of Experiment. According to Roger Baker (1214–1294), we obtain knowledge through two ways–through discussion and through experiment. But discussion ends a question and we also stop to think over it. It neither ends doubt nor does it satisfy our mind. It does not happen until we are able to achieve the truth through experience and experiment. These views of Roger Baker promoted experiment and investigation.
(iii) Humanism. Humanism was one of the basic features of the Renaissance. Humanism implies to taking interest in man and respecting him. Humanism studies problems of man, accepts importance of human life and tries to improve his life and make it prosperous. In the Renaissance Age, the existing world was given importance than the afterworld. The existing world is the world in which we live. This is humanism.
(iv) Worship of Beauty. Worship of beauty was another characteristic of the Renaissance. Artists tried to present an attractive face of man in their works. Mona Lisa’s fascinating smile is the greatest example.
Q. 3. Why did the Renaissance emerge only in Italy?
Ans. The Renaissance emerged in Italy between 1350 CE and 1550 CE. From Italy, it spread to Germany, France and other European nations. Following were the reasons for emergence of the Renaissance in Italy:
(a) Italy was a famous trade centre. Growing trade in Italy and her prosperity strengthened the tendencies of the Renaissance.
(i) Towns like Milan, Naples, Florence, Venice, etc., were set up in the country. Merchants of these towns visited the Balkans, western Asia, Byzantine and Egypt. There they met Iranian merchants. These contacts of exchange of ideas developed an ability to accept each other’s ideas. Besides, most of museums, public libraries and theatres were set up in owns, not in villages. It gave a new direction to the cultural life of Italy.
(ii) Prosperity of Italy gave birth to a middle class of merchants. This class did not care for the Pope and feudal lords and violated medieval age’s customs and traditions. It strengthened the feeling of the Renaissance in Italy.
(iii) Many merchants patronised writers and artists. As a result, writers and artists got a chance to freely show their abilities. Only Florence patronised numerous artists and writers. Writers and artists like Dante, Petrarch, Angelo, Leonardo, Machiavelli, etc., rose in this town. Thus, it is clear that increase in wealth diverted the learning of art and artists towards the Renaissance.
(b) Another reason for the emergence of the Renaissance in Italy was that it had been the birth place of the ancient Roman civilisation. Several monuments of the ancient Roman civilisation found in Italian towns remind people of the Renaissance even today. They wanted to see Italy as great as ancient Rome. Hence, the ancient Roman culture proved a source of information for the Renaissance.
(c) Rome was the centre of the whole western European Christian world. Here the pope resided. Inspired by the feeling of the Renaissance, some of the popes brought scholars to Rome and got the Greek manuscripts translated into Latin language by them. Pope Nicolas VI established the Vatican library. He also built St. Peter’s church. These works naturally showed their effect at other places also.
(d) Politically, Italy was a suitable place for the Renaissance. Along with the decline of the Holy Roman Empire, many independent city-states had been emerging in northern Italy. Besides, feudal system in Italy was also not so strong. Consequently, free atmosphere of these city-states developed new ideas in the minds of citizens.
(e) In the medieval age, religion had an influence on education. But in Italy, education was free from the bounds of religion because of growth of trade. Here professional learning, geographical learning, etc., possessed a proper place in the syllabus. As a result, science and logic got strength.
(f) In 1453 CE, the Turks occupied Constantinople. Most of the Greek scholars, artists and merchants escaped to Italian towns and resided there. These scholars also brought with them many valuable manuscripts of the ancient Greek literature.Some of the scholars took to teaching in schools and universities of Italy and thus created a new awakening.
Q. 4. Which were the leading personalities of the Renaissance Age? Discuss their achievements in art, literature and science.
Ans. Many great personalities were born in the Renaissance Age. They set new standards in art, literature and science with their brilliance and inventions. Some of the major personalities and their achievements are discussed below:
(i) Petrarch. Petrarch was a great writer and poet of Italy. He was honoured with the title of State Poet by the Roman emperor in 1341 CE. He was considered a symbol of humanism. He criticised the contemporary society and attacked the existing educational system.
(ii) Michelangelo. Michelangelo was a great artist of the Renaissance Age. He was a painter and sculptor of high level. The best works of his painting can be witnessed on the ceiling of the Roman Church. A painting of his ‘The Fall of Man’ is world-famous. He is regarded as a messenger of humanism.
(iii) Raphael. This great painter of Italy was contemporary of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. His most favourite work was the painting of Jesus’s mother Madonna, which is the pride of Rome even today. He drew several pictures on topics related to Christianity and decorated walls of churches and palaces with didactic subjects.
(iv) Thomas More. Thomas More was born in London. He had been a Chancellor of England. He portrayed a picture of an ideal society in his famous book. The British Government filed a suit against Thomas More and in 1353 CE he was sentenced to death.
(v) Machiavelli. This resident of an Italian town of Florence is considered as the Father of Modern Political Science. In his world famous book, ‘The Prince’ he has presented a picture of a new imagination of the state. In it, he has also described the art of governance. In his view, there is no relationship between religion and politics. His ideas deeply influenced the modern system of government.
(vi) Leonardo da Vinci. He possessed multidimensional brilliance. He was a printer, sculptor, engineer, scientist, philosopher and poet. He also tried to design an aeroplane. Among his printings, the ‘Last Supper’ is very famous.
(vii) Gutenberg. He was a German. In the beginning, he used to polish diamonds and mirrors. He invented material and machines essential for printing. He was the first man who set up a printing press in 1450 CE.
(viii) Martin Luther. Martin Luther was also a German. In 1517 CE, he visited Rome. There he witnessed weaknesses of the Pope and the Church. When he returned to Germany, he launched the Reformation Movement against these evils. As a result of the Reformation Movement, the Protestant branch of Christianity emerged. He translated the Bible into German. His book the ‘Table Talk’ is famous among the books written by him against the Church. He strongly opposed the indulgences.
(ix) John Wycliffe. He lived in England and is called the ‘Morning Star of the Reformation Movement’, because he tried reformation in Christianity before Luther. He translated the Bible into his mother tongue with the help of his students. The Church declared him atheist and burnt many of his writings.
(x) Galileo. Galileo was born in the Italian town of Pisa. He was a mathematician of high level. In 1609 CE, he invented the telescope, which made the sea-journeys convenient. He was amongst the first persons who declared that the earth is a planet which rotates around the sun.
(xi) Copernicus. Copernicus lived in Poland. He was an astronomer who provided knowledge of speed of different planets in the sky. He also said that the earth and other planets rotate around the sun.
(xii) Dante. He was the greatest poet of Italy. He also worked in army and had been a judge. He suffered many hardships in his life. It was those hardships that made him the greatest poet. The ‘Divine Comedy’ is his greatest work. Dante has described an imaginary journey to heaven and hell in it.
(xiii) John Huss. He was a lecturer in the Prague University. He raised voice against ills of the Church. Consequently, he was burnt alive in accordance with the Pope’s command.
(xiv) Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon was an English politician and writer. He is best known for his great essays.
(xv) William Harvey. Harvey lived in England. In 1610 CE, he explained how blood circulated from heart to different parts of body and again returned to heart.
(xvi) Andreas Vesalius. He lived in Belgium. He was the first who gave a complete description of human body in his book, ‘De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septum’.
(xvii) Cervantes. Cervantes lived in Spain. He was a great warrior and successful writer. His book ‘Don Quixote’ is counted in world’s greatest works and it has been translated into almost all languages. In this book, there are described stories of bravery of medieval age’s feudal lords.
Q. 5. What were the consequences of the Reformation Movement?
Ans. Following were the consequences of the Reformation Movement:
(i) Social Consequences. This movement ended the superstitions and pretentiousness. A common citizen was able to study the Bible. Scientists also got freedom in their studies. The Church’s property began to be distributed amongst peasants and middle class and people were free from the burden of the Church’s taxes.
(ii) Reformation Movement in Catholicism. Several reforms were made in Catholicism. A council was called at Trent for reforms in the Catholic Church. Meetings of this council continued for eighteen years. The Pope’s dominance and his rights of interpreting the Church and scriptures were accepted. The Bible’s version of Latin was also authenticised. The Church stopped the sale of ‘Letters of Indulgences’. Training of the Church’s officials was made more effective.
(iii) Political Consequences. The Church’s influence in political life decreased. As a result, kings’ power increased. The Pope’s external influence ended. All this contributed to the rise of nation-states.
(iv) Promotion of Commerce and Trade. The Renaissance abolished feudal system and progressed trade. A prosperous middle class emerged as a result of the progress in trade.
(v) Spread of National Language and Literature. Public languages and literature developed as a result of the Renaissance. Martin Luther translated the Bible into German. He published many articles on religion in German language. Religion was preached in other countries in their respective public languages. The respect once enjoyed by Latin language was now begun to be enjoyed by public languages.