NCERT Textbook - Changing Cultural Traditions Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

History Class 11

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Changing Cultural Traditions Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


152  THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
THEME
7
Changing Cultural
Traditions
FROM the fourteenth to the end of the seventeenth century,
towns were growing in many countries of Europe. A distinct
‘urban culture’ also developed. Townspeople began to think of
themselves as more ‘civilised’ than rural people. Towns –
particularly Florence, Venice and Rome – became centres of art
and learning. Artists and writers were patronised by the rich
and the aristocratic. The invention of printing at the same time
made books and prints available to many people, including
those living in distant towns or countries. A sense of history
also developed in Europe, and people contrasted their ‘modern’
world with the ‘ancient’ one of the Greeks and Romans.
Religion came to be seen as something which each individual
should choose for himself. The church’s earth-centric belief was
overturned by scientists who began to understand the solar system,
and new geographical knowledge overturned the Europe-centric
view that the Mediterranean Sea was the centre of the world
(see Theme 8).
There is a vast amount of material on European history from
the fourteenth century – documents, printed books, paintings,
sculptures, buildings, textiles. Much of this has been carefully
preserved in archives, art galleries and museums in Europe
and America.
From the nineteenth century, historians used the term
‘Renaissance’ (literally, rebirth) to describe the cultural
changes of this period. The historian who emphasised these
most was a Swiss scholar – Jacob Burckhardt (1818–97) of
the University of Basle in Switzerland. He was a student
of the German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886).
Ranke had taught him that the primary concern of the
historian was to write about states and politics using papers
and files of government departments. Burckhardt was
dissatisfied with these very limited goals that his master had
set out for him. To him politics was not the be-all and end-
all in history writing. History was as much concerned with
culture as with politics.
In 1860, he wrote a book called The Civilisation of the
Renaissance in Italy, in which he called his readers’ attention
to literature, architecture and painting to tell the story of how
a new ‘humanist’ culture had flowered in Italian towns from
2020-21
Page 2


152  THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
THEME
7
Changing Cultural
Traditions
FROM the fourteenth to the end of the seventeenth century,
towns were growing in many countries of Europe. A distinct
‘urban culture’ also developed. Townspeople began to think of
themselves as more ‘civilised’ than rural people. Towns –
particularly Florence, Venice and Rome – became centres of art
and learning. Artists and writers were patronised by the rich
and the aristocratic. The invention of printing at the same time
made books and prints available to many people, including
those living in distant towns or countries. A sense of history
also developed in Europe, and people contrasted their ‘modern’
world with the ‘ancient’ one of the Greeks and Romans.
Religion came to be seen as something which each individual
should choose for himself. The church’s earth-centric belief was
overturned by scientists who began to understand the solar system,
and new geographical knowledge overturned the Europe-centric
view that the Mediterranean Sea was the centre of the world
(see Theme 8).
There is a vast amount of material on European history from
the fourteenth century – documents, printed books, paintings,
sculptures, buildings, textiles. Much of this has been carefully
preserved in archives, art galleries and museums in Europe
and America.
From the nineteenth century, historians used the term
‘Renaissance’ (literally, rebirth) to describe the cultural
changes of this period. The historian who emphasised these
most was a Swiss scholar – Jacob Burckhardt (1818–97) of
the University of Basle in Switzerland. He was a student
of the German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886).
Ranke had taught him that the primary concern of the
historian was to write about states and politics using papers
and files of government departments. Burckhardt was
dissatisfied with these very limited goals that his master had
set out for him. To him politics was not the be-all and end-
all in history writing. History was as much concerned with
culture as with politics.
In 1860, he wrote a book called The Civilisation of the
Renaissance in Italy, in which he called his readers’ attention
to literature, architecture and painting to tell the story of how
a new ‘humanist’ culture had flowered in Italian towns from
2020-21
  153
the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. This culture, he
wrote, was characterised by a new belief – that man, as an
individual, was capable of making his own decisions and
developing his skills. He was ‘modern’, in contrast to ‘medieval’
man whose thinking had been controlled by the church.
The Revival of Italian Cities
After the fall of the western Roman Empire, many of the towns that
had been political and cultural centres in Italy fell into ruin. There
was no unified government, and the Pope in Rome, who was sovereign
in his own state, was not a strong political figure.
While western Europe was being reshaped by feudal bonds and
unified under the Latin Church, and eastern Europe under the
Byzantine Empire, and Islam was creating a common civilisation
further west, Italy was weak and fragmented. However, it was these
very developments that helped in the revival of Italian culture.
With the expansion of trade between the Byzantine Empire and
the Islamic countries, the ports on the Italian coast revived. From the
twelfth century, as the Mongols opened up trade with China via the
Silk Route (see Theme 5) and as trade with western European countries
 CHANGING CULTURAL TRADITIONS
MAP 1: The Italian
States
2020-21
Page 3


152  THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
THEME
7
Changing Cultural
Traditions
FROM the fourteenth to the end of the seventeenth century,
towns were growing in many countries of Europe. A distinct
‘urban culture’ also developed. Townspeople began to think of
themselves as more ‘civilised’ than rural people. Towns –
particularly Florence, Venice and Rome – became centres of art
and learning. Artists and writers were patronised by the rich
and the aristocratic. The invention of printing at the same time
made books and prints available to many people, including
those living in distant towns or countries. A sense of history
also developed in Europe, and people contrasted their ‘modern’
world with the ‘ancient’ one of the Greeks and Romans.
Religion came to be seen as something which each individual
should choose for himself. The church’s earth-centric belief was
overturned by scientists who began to understand the solar system,
and new geographical knowledge overturned the Europe-centric
view that the Mediterranean Sea was the centre of the world
(see Theme 8).
There is a vast amount of material on European history from
the fourteenth century – documents, printed books, paintings,
sculptures, buildings, textiles. Much of this has been carefully
preserved in archives, art galleries and museums in Europe
and America.
From the nineteenth century, historians used the term
‘Renaissance’ (literally, rebirth) to describe the cultural
changes of this period. The historian who emphasised these
most was a Swiss scholar – Jacob Burckhardt (1818–97) of
the University of Basle in Switzerland. He was a student
of the German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886).
Ranke had taught him that the primary concern of the
historian was to write about states and politics using papers
and files of government departments. Burckhardt was
dissatisfied with these very limited goals that his master had
set out for him. To him politics was not the be-all and end-
all in history writing. History was as much concerned with
culture as with politics.
In 1860, he wrote a book called The Civilisation of the
Renaissance in Italy, in which he called his readers’ attention
to literature, architecture and painting to tell the story of how
a new ‘humanist’ culture had flowered in Italian towns from
2020-21
  153
the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. This culture, he
wrote, was characterised by a new belief – that man, as an
individual, was capable of making his own decisions and
developing his skills. He was ‘modern’, in contrast to ‘medieval’
man whose thinking had been controlled by the church.
The Revival of Italian Cities
After the fall of the western Roman Empire, many of the towns that
had been political and cultural centres in Italy fell into ruin. There
was no unified government, and the Pope in Rome, who was sovereign
in his own state, was not a strong political figure.
While western Europe was being reshaped by feudal bonds and
unified under the Latin Church, and eastern Europe under the
Byzantine Empire, and Islam was creating a common civilisation
further west, Italy was weak and fragmented. However, it was these
very developments that helped in the revival of Italian culture.
With the expansion of trade between the Byzantine Empire and
the Islamic countries, the ports on the Italian coast revived. From the
twelfth century, as the Mongols opened up trade with China via the
Silk Route (see Theme 5) and as trade with western European countries
 CHANGING CULTURAL TRADITIONS
MAP 1: The Italian
States
2020-21
154  THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
also increased, Italian towns played a central role. They no longer
saw themselves as part of a powerful empire, but as independent
city-states. Two of these – Florence and Venice – were republics, and
many others were court-cities, ruled by princes.
One of the most vibrant cities was Venice, another was Genoa.
They were different from other parts of Europe – the clergy were not
politically dominant here, nor were there powerful feudal lords. Rich
merchants and bankers actively participated in governing the city,
and this helped the idea of citizenship to strike root. Even when
these towns were ruled by military despots, the pride felt by the
townspeople in being citizens did not weaken.
The City-State
Cardinal Gasparo Contarini (1483-1542) writes about the democratic government
of his city-state in The Commonwealth and Government of Venice (1534).
‘…to come to the institution of our Venetian commonwealth, the whole
authority of the city…is in that council, into which all the gentlemen of the City
being once past the age of 25 years are admitted...
Now first I am to yield you a reckoning how and with what wisdom it was
ordained by our ancestors, that the common people should not be admitted into
this company of citizens, in whose
authority [lies] the whole power of
the commonwealth... Because many
troubles and popular tumults arise
in those cities, whose government is
swayed by the common people…
many were of contrary opinion,
deeming that it would do well, if
this manner of governing the
commonwealth should rather be
defined by ability and abundance of
riches. Contrariwise the honest
citizens, and those that are liberally
brought up, oftentimes fall to
poverty...  Therefore our wise and
prudent ancestors... ordered that
this definition of the public rule
should go rather by the nobility of
lineage, than by the estimation of wealth: yet with that temperature [proviso],
that men of chief and supreme nobility should not have this rule alone (for that
would rather have been the power of a few than a commonwealth) but also
every other citizen whosoever not ignobly born: so that all which were noble by
birth, or ennobled by virtue, did...obtain this right of government.’
G. Bellini’s ‘The Recovery of the Relic of the Holy
Cross’ was painted in 1500, to recall an event of
1370, and is set in fifteenth-century Venice.
2020-21
Page 4


152  THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
THEME
7
Changing Cultural
Traditions
FROM the fourteenth to the end of the seventeenth century,
towns were growing in many countries of Europe. A distinct
‘urban culture’ also developed. Townspeople began to think of
themselves as more ‘civilised’ than rural people. Towns –
particularly Florence, Venice and Rome – became centres of art
and learning. Artists and writers were patronised by the rich
and the aristocratic. The invention of printing at the same time
made books and prints available to many people, including
those living in distant towns or countries. A sense of history
also developed in Europe, and people contrasted their ‘modern’
world with the ‘ancient’ one of the Greeks and Romans.
Religion came to be seen as something which each individual
should choose for himself. The church’s earth-centric belief was
overturned by scientists who began to understand the solar system,
and new geographical knowledge overturned the Europe-centric
view that the Mediterranean Sea was the centre of the world
(see Theme 8).
There is a vast amount of material on European history from
the fourteenth century – documents, printed books, paintings,
sculptures, buildings, textiles. Much of this has been carefully
preserved in archives, art galleries and museums in Europe
and America.
From the nineteenth century, historians used the term
‘Renaissance’ (literally, rebirth) to describe the cultural
changes of this period. The historian who emphasised these
most was a Swiss scholar – Jacob Burckhardt (1818–97) of
the University of Basle in Switzerland. He was a student
of the German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886).
Ranke had taught him that the primary concern of the
historian was to write about states and politics using papers
and files of government departments. Burckhardt was
dissatisfied with these very limited goals that his master had
set out for him. To him politics was not the be-all and end-
all in history writing. History was as much concerned with
culture as with politics.
In 1860, he wrote a book called The Civilisation of the
Renaissance in Italy, in which he called his readers’ attention
to literature, architecture and painting to tell the story of how
a new ‘humanist’ culture had flowered in Italian towns from
2020-21
  153
the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. This culture, he
wrote, was characterised by a new belief – that man, as an
individual, was capable of making his own decisions and
developing his skills. He was ‘modern’, in contrast to ‘medieval’
man whose thinking had been controlled by the church.
The Revival of Italian Cities
After the fall of the western Roman Empire, many of the towns that
had been political and cultural centres in Italy fell into ruin. There
was no unified government, and the Pope in Rome, who was sovereign
in his own state, was not a strong political figure.
While western Europe was being reshaped by feudal bonds and
unified under the Latin Church, and eastern Europe under the
Byzantine Empire, and Islam was creating a common civilisation
further west, Italy was weak and fragmented. However, it was these
very developments that helped in the revival of Italian culture.
With the expansion of trade between the Byzantine Empire and
the Islamic countries, the ports on the Italian coast revived. From the
twelfth century, as the Mongols opened up trade with China via the
Silk Route (see Theme 5) and as trade with western European countries
 CHANGING CULTURAL TRADITIONS
MAP 1: The Italian
States
2020-21
154  THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
also increased, Italian towns played a central role. They no longer
saw themselves as part of a powerful empire, but as independent
city-states. Two of these – Florence and Venice – were republics, and
many others were court-cities, ruled by princes.
One of the most vibrant cities was Venice, another was Genoa.
They were different from other parts of Europe – the clergy were not
politically dominant here, nor were there powerful feudal lords. Rich
merchants and bankers actively participated in governing the city,
and this helped the idea of citizenship to strike root. Even when
these towns were ruled by military despots, the pride felt by the
townspeople in being citizens did not weaken.
The City-State
Cardinal Gasparo Contarini (1483-1542) writes about the democratic government
of his city-state in The Commonwealth and Government of Venice (1534).
‘…to come to the institution of our Venetian commonwealth, the whole
authority of the city…is in that council, into which all the gentlemen of the City
being once past the age of 25 years are admitted...
Now first I am to yield you a reckoning how and with what wisdom it was
ordained by our ancestors, that the common people should not be admitted into
this company of citizens, in whose
authority [lies] the whole power of
the commonwealth... Because many
troubles and popular tumults arise
in those cities, whose government is
swayed by the common people…
many were of contrary opinion,
deeming that it would do well, if
this manner of governing the
commonwealth should rather be
defined by ability and abundance of
riches. Contrariwise the honest
citizens, and those that are liberally
brought up, oftentimes fall to
poverty...  Therefore our wise and
prudent ancestors... ordered that
this definition of the public rule
should go rather by the nobility of
lineage, than by the estimation of wealth: yet with that temperature [proviso],
that men of chief and supreme nobility should not have this rule alone (for that
would rather have been the power of a few than a commonwealth) but also
every other citizen whosoever not ignobly born: so that all which were noble by
birth, or ennobled by virtue, did...obtain this right of government.’
G. Bellini’s ‘The Recovery of the Relic of the Holy
Cross’ was painted in 1500, to recall an event of
1370, and is set in fifteenth-century Venice.
2020-21
  155
The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries
1300 Humanism taught at Padua University in Italy
1341 Petrarch given title of ‘Poet Laureate’ in Rome
1349 University established in Florence
1390 Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales published
1436 Brunelleschi designs the Duomo in Florence
1453 Ottoman Turks defeat the Byzantine ruler of Constantinople
1454 Gutenberg prints the Bible with movable type
1484 Portuguese mathematicians calculate latitude by observing
the sun
1492 Columbus reaches America
1495 Leonardo da Vinci paints The Last Supper
1512 Michelangelo paints the Sistine Chapel ceiling
Universities and Humanism
The earliest universities in Europe had been set up in Italian
towns. The universities of Padua and Bologna had been centres
of legal studies from the eleventh century. Commerce being the
chief activity in the city, there was an increasing demand for
lawyers and notaries (a combination of solicitor and record-keeper)
to write and interpret rules and written agreements without which
trade on a large scale was not possible. Law was therefore a
popular subject of study, but there was now a shift in emphasis.
It was studied in the context of earlier Roman culture. Francesco
Petrarch (1304-78) represented this change. To Petrarch,
antiquity was a distinctive civilisation which could be best
understood through the actual words of the ancient Greeks and
Romans. He therefore stressed the importance of a close reading
of ancient authors.
This educational programme implied that there was much to be
learnt which religious teaching alone could not give. This was the
culture which historians in the nineteenth century were to label
‘humanism’. By the early fifteenth century, the term ‘humanist’ was
used for masters who taught grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history and
moral philosophy. The Latin word humanitas, from which
‘humanities’ was derived, had been used many centuries ago by the
Roman lawyer and essayist Cicero (106-43 BCE), a contemporary of
Julius Caesar, to mean culture. These subjects were not drawn from
or connected with religion, and emphasised skills developed by
individuals through discussion and debate.
ACTIVITY 1
Locate Venice on
the map of Italy,
and look
carefully at the
painting on
p. 154. How
would you
describe the
city, and in
what ways was
it different from
a cathedral-
town?
 CHANGING CULTURAL TRADITIONS
2020-21
Page 5


152  THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
THEME
7
Changing Cultural
Traditions
FROM the fourteenth to the end of the seventeenth century,
towns were growing in many countries of Europe. A distinct
‘urban culture’ also developed. Townspeople began to think of
themselves as more ‘civilised’ than rural people. Towns –
particularly Florence, Venice and Rome – became centres of art
and learning. Artists and writers were patronised by the rich
and the aristocratic. The invention of printing at the same time
made books and prints available to many people, including
those living in distant towns or countries. A sense of history
also developed in Europe, and people contrasted their ‘modern’
world with the ‘ancient’ one of the Greeks and Romans.
Religion came to be seen as something which each individual
should choose for himself. The church’s earth-centric belief was
overturned by scientists who began to understand the solar system,
and new geographical knowledge overturned the Europe-centric
view that the Mediterranean Sea was the centre of the world
(see Theme 8).
There is a vast amount of material on European history from
the fourteenth century – documents, printed books, paintings,
sculptures, buildings, textiles. Much of this has been carefully
preserved in archives, art galleries and museums in Europe
and America.
From the nineteenth century, historians used the term
‘Renaissance’ (literally, rebirth) to describe the cultural
changes of this period. The historian who emphasised these
most was a Swiss scholar – Jacob Burckhardt (1818–97) of
the University of Basle in Switzerland. He was a student
of the German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886).
Ranke had taught him that the primary concern of the
historian was to write about states and politics using papers
and files of government departments. Burckhardt was
dissatisfied with these very limited goals that his master had
set out for him. To him politics was not the be-all and end-
all in history writing. History was as much concerned with
culture as with politics.
In 1860, he wrote a book called The Civilisation of the
Renaissance in Italy, in which he called his readers’ attention
to literature, architecture and painting to tell the story of how
a new ‘humanist’ culture had flowered in Italian towns from
2020-21
  153
the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. This culture, he
wrote, was characterised by a new belief – that man, as an
individual, was capable of making his own decisions and
developing his skills. He was ‘modern’, in contrast to ‘medieval’
man whose thinking had been controlled by the church.
The Revival of Italian Cities
After the fall of the western Roman Empire, many of the towns that
had been political and cultural centres in Italy fell into ruin. There
was no unified government, and the Pope in Rome, who was sovereign
in his own state, was not a strong political figure.
While western Europe was being reshaped by feudal bonds and
unified under the Latin Church, and eastern Europe under the
Byzantine Empire, and Islam was creating a common civilisation
further west, Italy was weak and fragmented. However, it was these
very developments that helped in the revival of Italian culture.
With the expansion of trade between the Byzantine Empire and
the Islamic countries, the ports on the Italian coast revived. From the
twelfth century, as the Mongols opened up trade with China via the
Silk Route (see Theme 5) and as trade with western European countries
 CHANGING CULTURAL TRADITIONS
MAP 1: The Italian
States
2020-21
154  THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
also increased, Italian towns played a central role. They no longer
saw themselves as part of a powerful empire, but as independent
city-states. Two of these – Florence and Venice – were republics, and
many others were court-cities, ruled by princes.
One of the most vibrant cities was Venice, another was Genoa.
They were different from other parts of Europe – the clergy were not
politically dominant here, nor were there powerful feudal lords. Rich
merchants and bankers actively participated in governing the city,
and this helped the idea of citizenship to strike root. Even when
these towns were ruled by military despots, the pride felt by the
townspeople in being citizens did not weaken.
The City-State
Cardinal Gasparo Contarini (1483-1542) writes about the democratic government
of his city-state in The Commonwealth and Government of Venice (1534).
‘…to come to the institution of our Venetian commonwealth, the whole
authority of the city…is in that council, into which all the gentlemen of the City
being once past the age of 25 years are admitted...
Now first I am to yield you a reckoning how and with what wisdom it was
ordained by our ancestors, that the common people should not be admitted into
this company of citizens, in whose
authority [lies] the whole power of
the commonwealth... Because many
troubles and popular tumults arise
in those cities, whose government is
swayed by the common people…
many were of contrary opinion,
deeming that it would do well, if
this manner of governing the
commonwealth should rather be
defined by ability and abundance of
riches. Contrariwise the honest
citizens, and those that are liberally
brought up, oftentimes fall to
poverty...  Therefore our wise and
prudent ancestors... ordered that
this definition of the public rule
should go rather by the nobility of
lineage, than by the estimation of wealth: yet with that temperature [proviso],
that men of chief and supreme nobility should not have this rule alone (for that
would rather have been the power of a few than a commonwealth) but also
every other citizen whosoever not ignobly born: so that all which were noble by
birth, or ennobled by virtue, did...obtain this right of government.’
G. Bellini’s ‘The Recovery of the Relic of the Holy
Cross’ was painted in 1500, to recall an event of
1370, and is set in fifteenth-century Venice.
2020-21
  155
The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries
1300 Humanism taught at Padua University in Italy
1341 Petrarch given title of ‘Poet Laureate’ in Rome
1349 University established in Florence
1390 Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales published
1436 Brunelleschi designs the Duomo in Florence
1453 Ottoman Turks defeat the Byzantine ruler of Constantinople
1454 Gutenberg prints the Bible with movable type
1484 Portuguese mathematicians calculate latitude by observing
the sun
1492 Columbus reaches America
1495 Leonardo da Vinci paints The Last Supper
1512 Michelangelo paints the Sistine Chapel ceiling
Universities and Humanism
The earliest universities in Europe had been set up in Italian
towns. The universities of Padua and Bologna had been centres
of legal studies from the eleventh century. Commerce being the
chief activity in the city, there was an increasing demand for
lawyers and notaries (a combination of solicitor and record-keeper)
to write and interpret rules and written agreements without which
trade on a large scale was not possible. Law was therefore a
popular subject of study, but there was now a shift in emphasis.
It was studied in the context of earlier Roman culture. Francesco
Petrarch (1304-78) represented this change. To Petrarch,
antiquity was a distinctive civilisation which could be best
understood through the actual words of the ancient Greeks and
Romans. He therefore stressed the importance of a close reading
of ancient authors.
This educational programme implied that there was much to be
learnt which religious teaching alone could not give. This was the
culture which historians in the nineteenth century were to label
‘humanism’. By the early fifteenth century, the term ‘humanist’ was
used for masters who taught grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history and
moral philosophy. The Latin word humanitas, from which
‘humanities’ was derived, had been used many centuries ago by the
Roman lawyer and essayist Cicero (106-43 BCE), a contemporary of
Julius Caesar, to mean culture. These subjects were not drawn from
or connected with religion, and emphasised skills developed by
individuals through discussion and debate.
ACTIVITY 1
Locate Venice on
the map of Italy,
and look
carefully at the
painting on
p. 154. How
would you
describe the
city, and in
what ways was
it different from
a cathedral-
town?
 CHANGING CULTURAL TRADITIONS
2020-21
156  THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-94), a humanist of Florence,
wrote on the importance of debate in On the Dignity of Man (1486).
‘For [Plato and Aristotle] it was certain that, for the attainment
of the knowledge of truth they were always seeking for themselves,
nothing is better than to attend as often as possible the exercise of
debate. For just as bodily energy is strengthened by gymnastic
exercise, so beyond doubt in this wrestling-place of letters, as it
were, energy of mind becomes far stronger and more vigorous.’
These revolutionary ideas attracted attention in many other
universities, particularly in the newly established university in
Petrarch’s own home-town of Florence. Till the end of the thirteenth
century, this city had not made a mark as a centre of trade or of learning,
but things changed dramatically in the fifteenth century. A city is known
by its great citizens as much as by its wealth, and Florence had come
to be known because of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), a layman who
wrote on religious themes, and Giotto (1267-1337), an artist who
painted lifelike portraits, very different from the stiff figures done by
earlier artists. From then it developed as the most exciting intellectual
city in Italy and as a centre of artistic creativity. The term
‘Renaissance Man’ is often used to describe a person with many
interests and skills, because many of the individuals who became
well known at this time were people of many parts. They were scholar-
diplomat-theologian-artist combined in one.
The Humanist View of History
Humanists thought that they were restoring ‘true civilisation’ after
centuries of darkness, for they believed that a ‘dark age’ had set in
after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Following them, later scholars
unquestioningly assumed that a ‘new age’ had begun in Europe from
the fourteenth century. The term ‘Middle Ages’/‘medieval period’ was
Florence, a sketch
made in 1470.
Giotto’s painting of the
child Jesus, Assisi,
Italy.
2020-21
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