Italian Renaissance


The Italian Renaissance was a time of rebirth, questioning and exploration in Italy beginning in the early 1300’s. During this time the arts, sciences, and literary philosophy flourished. Italian scholars and artists studied the work, learnings, and art of the ancient Roman and Greeks in attempts to recapture the works of ancient Greece and Rome in their own literary and philosophic works.

The Italian Renaissance overlapped a period called the Middle or Dark Ages. This was a time when men were either high nobles (kings, princes, counts, etc.) or lowly serfs (slave-like people who traded labor with the king in exchange for protection in his manor). Later during this period the crusades, or holy wars, broke out causing most men (serfs and nobles alike) to go off to distant lands to battle to defend the catholic religion. Once the wars were over, serfs did not return to their manors but rather stayed in the land where they presently were and became either merchants or craftsmen. Old manors soon broke up and the fighting/invasions ceased causing a more peaceful environment where men could not concentrate on more sophisticated things that could improve society. Now that men could concentrate more on practical matters rather than battles, wars, and defending one’s self, Italian thinkers, philosophers and Humanists (studiers of literature of the ancient great thinkers, philosophers and book writers in order to achieve a better understanding of one’s self and one’s environment) began thinking, studying and philosophizing once again.
Their first idea that was spread around Italy was that people should stop wasting their lives trying to achieve salvation but should rather enjoy the world around them, explore it and leave your mark on it when you do leave it. When the people of Italy began living by these words, the true start of the Renaissance occurred. People were “reborn” and could not set out to conquer the world.
People began seeing the world through different eyes. They the literature of ancient Rome and Greece and began fulfilling their responsibilities to society in terms of improving it. The artists began to portray people as things of beauty in their more life-like works. The people began educating others and sharing knowledge in many different fields such as: science, art, literature, political sciences, history and philosophy. The Renaissance was the dawn of modern human history.
Before the Renaissance, Italy was divided into 250 states under 250 different forms of government, but once the Pope lost power and Manors declined Italy became divided into only a few states under only two forms of government: Republicanism and Signoria. As dominant Italian cities became even more dominant, states became larger and fewer. These states’ government, for the most part, were one of the two types listed above:
 Signoria: This form of government was run by the Signor and his associates. His associate’s usually included masters of each field of knowledge and his close relatives. The sole power was placed on the shoulders of these men. These men also supported artists, intellectuals, philosophers and scientists with their money. This helped in the advancement in society that was the Renaissance.
 Republicanism: This form of government was a branch of democracy which had a senate along with other decision making councils. However, members of wealthy families were the only ones allowed to participate in this government. These family members saw themselves as “better” than everyone else in the community but despite these feelings they still upheld their duty as Renaissance people by supporting the arts and sciences with their obvious abundance of money.
These two governments of the more unified Italy both assisted in helping the arts and sciences flourish. Making a clear path for thinkers and masters of the Renaissance period to improve and conquer the world.
The most significant intellectual movement of the Renaissance is Humanism. Humanism is the study of ancient philosophy/literature/history in attempts to further understand oneself, human problems and one’s thoughts. Humanists believed that trying to understand humanity and earthly situations was more important than trying to understand God’s will. Humanists studied philology (the science of the meaning and history of words) history and literature. Through this, many new ideas and ideals were created.
Petrach and Giovanni Boccaccio were the first two Renaissance men to create new ideas and ideals through Humanistic methods. By