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Renaissance (rĕnəsänsˈ, –zänsˈ) [Fr.,=rebirth], term used to describe the development of Western civilization that marked the transition from medieval to modern times. This article is concerned mainly with general developments and their impact in the fields of science, rhetoric, literature, and music. For a discussion of developments in the arts see Renaissance art and architecture.

Historical Background

In the 12th cent. a rediscovery of Greek and Roman literature occurred across Europe that eventually led to the development of the humanist movement in the 14th cent. In addition to emphasizing Greek and Latin scholarship, humanists believed that each individual had significance within society. The growth of an interest in humanism led to the changes in the arts and sciences that form common conceptions of the Renaissance.

The 14th cent. through the 16th cent. was a period of economic flux in Europe; the most extensive changes took place in Italy. After the death of Frederick II in 1250, emperors lost power in Italy and throughout Europe; none of Frederick's successors equaled him. Power fell instead into the hands of various popes; after the Great Schism (1378–1415; see Schism, Great), when three popes held power simultaneously, control returned to secular rulers.

During the Renaissance small Italian republics developed into despotisms as the centers of power moved from the landed estates to the cities. Europe itself slowly developed into groups of self-sufficient compartments. At the height of the Renaissance there were five major city-states in Italy: the combined state of Naples and Sicily, the Papal State, Florence, Milan, and Venice. Italy's economic growth is best exemplified in the development of strong banks, most notably the Medici bank of Florence. England, France, and Spain also began to develop economically based class systems.


Beginning in the latter half of the 15th cent., a humanist faith in classical scholarship led to the search for ancient texts that would increase current scientific knowledge. Among the works rediscovered were Galen's physiological and anatomical studies and Ptolemy's Geography. Botany, zoology, magic, alchemy, and astrology were developed during the Renaissance as a result of the study of ancient texts. Scientific thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler attempted to refine earlier thought on astronomy. Among Leonardo's discoveries were the revelation that thrown or shot projectiles move in one curved trajectory rather than two; metallurgical techniques that allowed him to make great sculptures; and anatomical observations that increased the accuracy of his drawings.

In 1543 Copernicus wrote De revolutionibus, a work that placed the sun at the center of the universe and the planets in semicorrect orbital order around it; his work was an attempt to revise the earlier writings of Ptolemy. Galileo's most famous invention was an accurate telescope through which he observed the heavens; he recorded his findings in Siderius nuncius [starry messenger] (1610). Galileo's Dialogo … sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo [dialogue concerning the two chief world systems] (1632), for which he was denounced by the current pope (because of Galileo's approval of Copernicus), resulted in his living under house arrest for the rest of his life. Tycho Brahe gave an accurate estimate of planetary positions and refuted the Aristotelian theory that placed the planets within crystal spheres. Kepler was the first astronomer to suggest that planetary orbits were elliptical.

Rhetoric and Literature

Humanism in Renaissance rhetoric was a reaction to Aristotelian scholasticism, as espoused by Francis Bacon, Averroës, and Albertus Magnus, among others. While the scholastics claimed a logical connection between word and thought, the humanists differentiated between physical utterance and intangible meditation; they gave common usage priority over sets of logical rules.

The humanists also sought to emulate classical values. Joseph Webbe wrote textbooks that taught Latin through reconstruction of the sentences of classical authors from individual phrases and clauses. Roger Ascham taught that one could learn to speak effectively by studying the speeches of ancient orators. Thomas Elyot wrote The Book Named the Governor, which suggested rules for effective statesmanship. Thomas More's most significant contribution to humanism was Utopia, a design for an ideal society based primarily on works by classical authors.

The effect of humanism on English literature was wide and far-reaching. It is evidenced, for example, in the works of Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare. The poems and plays of Jonson often center on the difference between virtue and vice; Jonson considers sincerity, honesty, self-discipline, and concern to be chief virtues, while dissimulation, lying, or masking of identity is vicious behavior. His Volpone and The Alchemist exemplify humanist values. In a play such as Shakespeare's Tempest, a main character (Prospero) embodies a full range of human abilities: father, creator, ruler, magician, master, and scholar. In addition, Shakespeare took subject matter for many plays from classical sources (e.g., Coriolanus, Troilus and Cressida, and Julius Caesar).

In France Michel de Montaigne and François Rabelais were the most important proponents of humanist thought. Montaigne's essays are memorable for their clear statement of an individual's beliefs and their careful examination of society. In “On the Education of Children,” he suggests a remaking of secondary education according to classical models; in “On Cannibals,” he writes that cannibals are more civilized than others because they are removed from the dissimulation and vice of human society. Rabelais was the author of Gargantua and Pantagruel, the satirical biographies of two giants; the characters may be said to represent the humanist belief in the immensity of human capability. Guillaume Budé, Pierre de Ronsard, Guillaume Du Bartas, Joachim Du Bellay, and Jean Bodin are other major French humanist figures.

In Italy Petrarch is considered a founder of the humanist movement. His De viris illustribus, a set of heroes' lives, included both ancient heroes and such men as Adam; he also wrote a series of letters to classical figures (e.g., Cicero and Ovid). Giovanni Boccaccio, a follower of Petrarch, wrote works that include De genealogia deorum gentilium [on the genealogy of the gods of the gentiles], a collection of classical myths, and the Decameron, a book of 100 stories told by Italian courtesans taking refuge from the Black Plague. Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406) was a Florentine political administrator who wrote treatises on humanism, taught thinkers Poggio and Bruni, and accumulated a large library of ancient Greek and Roman texts.

The Renaissance Italian Leone Battista Alberti is famed for a series of dialogues in which he teaches classical virtues in a vernacular tongue. Niccolò Machiavelli wrote Il Principe [the prince], in which he memorably described the various shapes a ruler must assume in order to become an effective leader, and Discorsi [the discourses], in which he studies Livy in a search for classical values. The Book of the Courtier by Baldassare Castiglione is essentially about Castiglione himself; in it the author delineates the characteristics of a perfect gentleman.


Renaissance music took great liberties with musical form. In 1300 the most popular music was French and secular. Although secular music gradually spread all over Europe, it flowered in Italy. In fact, in about 1330 an Italian school of musical composition developed in Padua, Verona, Bologna, Florence, and Milan. Often this music was written in the vernacular; its primary composers, thinkers such as Leonardo Giustiniani (1398–1446) and Marsilio Ficino, would often improvise words to the accompaniment of a lute-viola. This experimentation led to the development of contrapuntal music, or music that hinged on the pleasing interplay of two melodic lines.

Josquin Desprez composed masses, chansons, and motets, of which his Hercules Dux Ferriare mass and Misere motet are lasting examples; he was one of the first composers to use imitation, or repetition of melodies, successfully within a composition. Giovanni Pierluigi Palestrina also composed mainly religious music. He distinguished himself with his motets and masses, namely Veni creator spiritus, Missa brevis, and Accepit Jesus calicem; he also made full use of the cantus firmus, or pre-existing melody around which other melodies are intertwined, in his compositions. Orlando di Lasso was also a noted composer whose work included motets, chansons, and madrigals.

Madrigals were popular throughout Europe; the best known, The White and Gentle Swan, was by the Flemish composer Jacob Arcadelt. English composers rivaled the Flemish; leading English madrigal composers of the Renaissance include Thomas Weelkes, William Byrd, Thomas Morley, and Orlando Gibbons. Often, English madrigal composers were influenced by the work of Italians. The main Italian madrigal composers were Luca Marenzio, Carlo Gesualdo, and Claudio Monteverdi. Monteverdi was the most accomplished artist of the three; in addition to composing madrigals, he composed the first major operas, including L'Arianna and Orfeo.


See Burckhardt's oft-translated classic, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860); H. S. Lucas, The Renaissance and the Reformation (2d ed. 1960); J. H. Plumb, The Horizon Book of the Renaissance (1961); D. Weinstein, The Renaissance and the Reformation, 1300–1600 (1965); P. A. Ramsey, ed., Rome in the Renaissance (1982); A. B. Giamatti, Exile and Change in Renaissance Literature (1984); J. Snyder, The Northern Renaissance (1985); M. Elsky, Authorizing Words: Speech, Writing and Print in the English Renaissance (1986); J. Hale, The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance (1994); L. Jardine, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance (1996); J. R. Hale, ed., A Concise Encyclopedia of the Italian Renaissance (1981).

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A rebirth, revival or renewal.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


the revival of art, literature and learning in Western Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries which accompanied the rediscovery of the thought and work of the Ancients, e.g. the works of PLATO and ARISTOTLE. Typically, this has been seen not only as the rediscovery of the thought and work of the ancients, but as a rebirth of the human spirit, the birth of modern humanism.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a transitional period in the cultural development of the countries of Western Europe between the Middle Ages and the modern period. The approximate chronological boundaries of the Renaissance are the 14th and 16th centuries in Italy and the late 15th and the 16th centuries in other countries. The more distinctive features of Renaissance culture, which was fundamentally antifeudal, were its secular character, humanistic world view, and reliance upon the cultural heritage of antiquity. (The Renaissance was seen as a kind of rebirth of antiquity; hence, the term “Renaissance,” or rebirth, which is found in the writings of the Italian humanists—for example, G. Vasari’s Lives [1550]. Vasari was an artist and art historian. The term has been firmly established since the 18th century.)

The predecessor of Renaissance culture, which had an urban character, was medieval urban culture; long before the Renaissance there were within this medieval culture many tendencies that could develop completely only in a new historical period. Within the framework of medieval feudal culture there were well-known periods of the flowering of art and science, sometimes linked to an interest in antiquity (for example, the Carolingian Renaissance); elements of a humanistic ethic and realism in art also appeared. Distinct from these early features of the Renaissance, the real essence of the turning point in ideological and cultural life was connected with fundamental socioeconomic changes in European society in the 14th to 16th centuries. It responded to new social needs.

Renaissance culture arose in a period when old feudal relations were disintegrating and the first signs of early capitalist relations began to appear in the more economically developed countries and regions of Europe (first in the northern and central Italian cities), and the first elements of the bourgeoisie began to appear from among the medieval city dwellers. In these conditions of increasing business activity the human personality became more important; its flowering depended not on noble ancestry but on its own efforts, enterprise, intellect, knowledge, and good fortune. The bonds of estate-feudal relations, with their corporate ties, clericalascetic morality, and medieval traditions, became constricting to man. He began to view himself and the world of nature differently; his criteria for evaluations, his aesthetic tastes, and his relationship to reality and to the past changed. The bearers of this new world view were people of various professions and different social situations—the urban intelligentsia of that period, composed of poets, philologists, philosophers, and artists. These people represented the branches of knowledge whose subject was man and everything pertaining to him (in Latin, studia humaniora) as opposed to scholastic theological studies (studia divina). Because of this they were called humanists (from the Latin homo, man, and humanus, human) and their world view was called humanism. The humanists spoke out against the Catholic Church’s control over man’s activity and its ideology. Authorities, traditions, and dogmas that formed the basis of medieval morality and fettered the free development of thought were subjected to a critical review; the right to freedom of scientific investigation was proclaimed. Secular science, literature, and art arose. The destruction of the old feudal-religious concepts and the creation of a new system of values corresponding to the embryonic bourgeois epoch brought about the anthropocentrism of the new world view. Man was proclaimed the center of the universe and hence-forth understood to be a part of nature, its most perfect creation. His experiences, his inner being, and his earthly life became the major themes of literature and art. In counterposition to feudal-clerical asceticism and its encouragement of human passivity, the new humanist ethic exalted man’s right to fulfill his natural needs and inclinations and glorified human activity. The ideal of the harmonic, free, and comprehensively developed creative personality (universal man) began to take shape. A joyous optimism, the concept of the unlimited potentialities of man’s will and reason, “heroic enthusiasm” (G. Bruno’s phrase), and a harmoniousness and integrity of attitude were inherent in the humanistic world view in its most classic expression, particularly in Italy.

In affirming the new world view, the humanists turned to the heritage of antiquity which, although not completely forgotten during the Middle Ages, had been greatly distorted. The Renaissance discovered in the culture of antiquity a kindred humanistic, nonascetic spirit, a pagan interest in everything secular, and norms of morality and excellence based on the study of nature and man. The humanists accomplished a great deal for the restoration and diffusion of the classical heritage by collecting and studying thoroughly the manuscripts and monuments of ancient art. In the 15th century works by almost all of the ancient Greek poets (among them, Homer) and philosophers, including the majority of Plato’s dialogues, were translated by scholars who emigrated from Byzantium to Italy. Texts of ancient works that had already been known in medieval Europe were refined, freed of medieval accretions and errors, and reexamined.

But Renaissance culture was not simply a return to antiquity; the Renaissance developed classical culture and reinterpreted it, in conformity with new historical conditions. The influence of national tradition on Renaissance culture was just as important as that of classicism. The invention and spread of the printing of books in European countries (mid-15th century) played a great role in the diffusion of the classical heritage and the new humanistic views. The printing shops in Florence, Venice (Aldus Manutius), Basel (J. Froben), Paris (H. Estienne), Lyons (E. Dolet), Antwerp (C. Plantin), Niirnberg, and other cities published classical and humanistic literature. Many printers of the time were well-known humanists themselves.

Renaissance culture reflected the specific character of a transitional period. The old and the new were often strangely interwoven within it, forming an original and qualitatively new combination of the two.

During the Renaissance the heralding of new ethical and aesthetic principles signified primarily an inevitable and progressive struggle for the destruction of the feudal-corporate fetters and the liberation of the personality, thereby creating the ideological prerequisites for the future, newly emerging bourgeois society. However, the humanistic world view was bourgeois (more precisely, prebourgeois) only in the sense that the conclusions drawn from humanistic theories objectively met the needs of emerging bourgeois society. The bearers of the new world view, primarily the humanistic intelligentsia, reflected in their activity and creativity a broader and more progressive historical content than simply the interests of the wealthy urban upper strata, who were the actual bourgeoisie. Moreover, tendencies arose within Renaissance culture that did not confine them-selves to a bourgeois world view. On the one hand, Utopian socialism came to the fore precisely at this time (in the writings of T. More and T. Campanella), and genuine democratic tendencies began developing in literature and fine arts. On the other hand, the feudal aristocracy and the Catholic Church accepted new Renaissance cultural forms, adapting them to their own interests and at the same time being influenced by new ideas. Papal, imperial, and princely courts were frequently major patrons of Renaissance works of art.

The question of the chronological boundaries of Renaissance culture, its territorial diffusion, and its national peculiarities is complex and in many respects a subject of scholarly controversy. Not all of the cultural phenomena of the 15th and 16th centuries were Renaissance in character. The medieval culture continued to exist alongside Renaissance culture in this period. The degree of diffusion of Renaissance culture in different countries varied greatly. Italy was the country where urban life was most developed at the time and where the economic and political influence of the feudal nobles had been undermined early and considerably, and where in the 13th and 14th centuries the first rudiments of early capitalist production had already appeared. The Renaissance originated in Italy and exhibited its most complete and classical features there. (There is a point of view that one can only speak of the Renaissance as an integral period in reference to Italy.) The fact that Italian territory had earlier been the center of ancient civilization and that the influence of antiquity and national tradition came together there also exerted its influence on the origin and character of the Italian Renaissance. Art historians have developed a periodization of Renaissance culture (mainly in reference to Italy) on the basis of pieces of fine art and architecture. This scheme distinguishes the following periods of the Renaissance in Italy, excluding pre-Renaissance phenomena at the turn of the 14th century: Early Renaissance (15th century in fine arts and architecture, but beginning in the 14th century in Italian humanistic literature); High Renaissance (late 15th century and first quarter of the 16th century); and Late Renaissance (16th century). Modern researchers sometimes extend this periodization to other countries, but in such cases the chronological framework of the phases of Renaissance culture are different from the Italian.

National development in other countries, such as France, the Dalmatian cities, the Netherlands, Germany, England, and Spain, later paved the way for the spread of the Renaissance to them; but to a significant degree this spread occurred under the influence of the achievements of Italian humanistic culture. Italy became the real “school” of European humanism, and the advanced intelligentsia of other European countries rushed there. The Italian Wars of 1494-1559 increased the contact of several European countries (particularly France) with Italian humanistic culture. The spread of Renaissance culture north of the Alps basically took place in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and took on different characteristics in different countries, reflecting both the peculiarities of historical development and national traditions of each country and a new phase in the development of European history. The economic and social changes connected with the disintegration of feudalism and the emergence of a capitalist structure appeared all over Europe, in countries where the position of feudalism was significantly stronger than within the limits of the separate Italian city-states. The process of so-called primary accumulation and the great geographical discoveries influenced people’s thinking. In some countries (France, England, and Spain) the consolidation of national states and the growth of national self-consciousness, along with the hopes that the progressive social strata placed on strengthened royal power, constituted one set of peculiarities. In other countries (Germany and Italy) the struggle for political centralization manifested itself in other national peculiarities. Finally, the sharpest class, national, political, and religious conflicts (such as the Peas-ants’ Revolt of 1524-26 in Germany, the 16th-century Dutch bourgeois revolution, and the Religious Wars in France) exerted an essential influence on Renaissance culture in the 16th century. In a number of countries (particularly Ger-many), Renaissance ideas developed in connection and simultaneously in conflict with the ideas of the Reformation. This gave Renaissance culture north of the Alps a more contradictory character; the influence of antiquity was expressed more weakly than in Italy, and the influence of national traditions and feudal culture was stronger. In the north the Renaissance was of shorter duration than in Italy.

Some scholars interpret the Renaissance more broadly, not limiting it to the territorial framework of Western Europe (or even Italy). There is a trend among Orientalists to focus attention on Renaissance cultural features in a number of Asian countries and Transcaucasia in specific historical periods (for example, China in the eighth to 12th centuries and the Transcaucasian countries in the 12th and 13th centuries) and to speak of the Renaissance there. They regard the Renaissance as a universal historical phenomenon. This continues to be a subject of scholarly debate.

In the Late Renaissance many ideals and customs that had obtained their fullest expression during the High Renaissance in Italy were significantly transformed, even in Italy itself. In conditions of sharp class conflict and the triumph of the feudal-Catholic reaction in some countries and of Protestantism in others, the crisis of Renaissance humanism began; this crisis was also abetted by a recognition of the antihumanistic features of the bourgeois society that was taking shape. (When it was consolidated, Protestantism proved to be just as intolerant to humanistic free thought as the Catholic Church during the Counter-Reformation.) The humanists’ optimistic and Utopian belief that the newly emerging society was receptive to the free development of the individual was undermined. Aristocratic tendencies became more powerful in Renaissance culture, which arose on a popular basis and was closely connected to popular traditions that were in essence antifeudal and anticlerical. The crisis of Renaissance humanistic culture, its “aristocratization,” was reflected in the emergence of mannerism (beginning as early as the 1520’s in Italy) and related stylistic trends. At the same time, Late Renaissance humanism was enriched by a realization of the contradictoriness of life (“tragic humanism”) in the art of its major representatives, such as Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Michelangelo. Motifs of tragic doom and a struggle against evil appeared, along with a recognition of the contradiction between the individual and the national state, which was developing in the form of absolute monarchy. In new conditions, new trends arrived to replace Renaissance culture (for example, baroque and classicism).

The Renaissance played an enormously progressive role in the cultural and ideological life of Europe. In this period, major cultural works of worldwide importance and permanent value were created. The direct heirs to many of the Renaissance ideas became figures of the 18th-century Enlightenment—ideologists of the bourgeoisie who proceeded to a direct revolutionary attack on feudalism.

Renaissance culture is inseparable from the humanistic world view, the new philosophy. During the Renaissance the separate spheres of science and culture were not yet completely differentiated, and many philosophical ideas were formulated not by professional philosophers (there were not many of them) but by artists, poets, and scholars. The continually strengthened opposition to scholasticism produced a situation in which philosophy ceased being “the handmaiden of theology.” The earliest break with the medieval world view appeared in the area of ethics. Sometimes (as with Petrarch, the father of Renaissance humanism) it took the form of a return to the ideas of late Stoicism, but more often it took the form of a rebirth of the ethics of Epicureanism (for example, Lorenzo Valla’s dialogue On Pleasure, 1431).

A new phase in the development of antischolastic Renaissance philosophy was linked to the humanists’ acquaintance with the Greek language and the works of Greek philosophers (primarily in Florence), which allowed the humanists to become more completely and precisely familiar with the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers. (Byzantine scholars played a great role in this, especially Georgius Gemistus Pletho.) The influence of Platonist and Neoplatonist ideas was particularly great in the Renaissance. A circle of humanists in Florence (the so-called Platonic Academy, founded in 1459) became the center of the revival of these ideas, and Marsilio Ficino was one of their major propagators. Departing from the Platonic concept of man’s intermediate position between the corporeal-material and divine-heavenly worlds, the Italian humanist Pico della Mirandola, in his Oration on the Dignity of Man (1487), developed one of the basic ideas of Renaissance humanism: man himself creates his own destiny and is capable of the unlimited perfection of his own nature. Plato’s philosophy became the intellectual source of pantheism, on which Renaissance philosophy based their struggle against scholasticism and scholasticized Aristotelianism. The University of Padua was the main center of antischolastic Aristotelianism in 15th- and 16th-century Italy. Representatives of this trend, particularly the Italian philosopher P. Pomponazzi, significantly contributed to overcoming the church’s teaching on the immortality of the soul; their defense of the “dual truth” theory helped to free science and philosophy from the guardianship of religion.

One of the major achievements of Renaissance philosophical thought was the emergence of natural philosophy (the philosophy of nature), free from subordination to theology. The flowering of Renaissance natural philosophy took place in 16th-century Italy and Germany (in the works of Paracelcus, Cardano, Telesio, Patrizi, Campanella, and Bruno), but many of its ideas had already been advanced in the 15th century by Nicholas of Cusa. The most typical features of natural philosophy in the Renaissance were the following: (1) naturalistic pantheism, according to which the laws governing the world were interpreted as internal regularities of nature, and god became a force immanent in nature instead of an external, supernatural force and was dissolved into nature; (2) an organic view of the world as an enormous (in Bruno’s view, infinite) living and changing organism, animate both as a whole and in its parts (hylozoism); (3) an under-standing of man (the “microcosm”) as a part of nature (the “macrocosm”); and (4) elements of dialectics expressed in the understanding of the world as a unified whole and in the theory of the coincidence of opposites (in the works of Nicholas of Cusa and G. Bruno). The attempt to present an integral and universal picture of the world came up against the Renaissance thinkers’ lack of real knowledge, so that they were compelled to use poetic analogies and anthropomorphic and mystical conjectures as substitutes (the theory of a world spirit, a living force, and so forth). An indefatigable curiosity stimulated Renaissance thinkers to turn to the mystical teaching of the Cabala, magic, and other occult sciences and to take a great interest in astrology and alchemy. The half-scholar, half-fantasist, who was marked by the adventurous spirit of the age, has been immortalized in the legend of Faust that appeared at the end of the Renaissance. A combination of rational concepts and naive fantasies distinguished Renaissance thought from later thought, which was more systematic and scientific in its method.

However, the Renaissance (particularly the 16th century) is noted for major advances in science, especially the natural sciences. These advances, which directly stemmed from practical requirements of trade, navigation, construction, military affairs, and so forth and of embryonic capitalist production, were aided by the initial successes of the new, anti-dogmatic philosophy. The peculiarity of Renaissance science was its close connection with art. The processes of overcoming the religious-mystical abstractions and dogmatism of the Middle Ages proceeded simultaneously in science and in art and were sometimes united in the creativity of one personality. (A particularly outstanding example is the work of Leonardo da Vinci, who was an artist, scholar, and engineer.) Natural science gained its major victories in the fields of astronomy, geography, and anatomy. The great geographical discoveries (the voyages of Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magellan and others) demonstrated practically that the earth is spherical and led to the mapping of most of the earth’s land surface. Mid-16th-century discoveries in astronomy marked a revolutionary upheaval in science—with the great Polish astronomer Copernicus’ heliocentric system, which undermined the very basis of the religious view of the world. “The emancipation of natural science from theology begins its chronology” (F. Engels, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Sochineniia, 2nd ed., vol. 20, p. 347).

The University of Padua’s pleiad of anatomists, with A. Vesalius at their head, laid the foundations of scientific anatomy in the 16th century by beginning to do systematic anatomical dissections. The Spanish scholar M. Servetus came close to discovering the circulation of the blood in an organism. There was a reexamination of the medical views that had been dominant in the Middle Ages and new methods of curing diseases were developed by Paracelcus, who founded iatrochemistry, and others. A number of mathematical discoveries were made, particularly in algebra. The methods for solving general third- and fourth-degree equations were discovered (by the Italian mathematicians G. Cardano, S. Ferro, N. Tartaglia, and L. Ferrari), modern letter symbolism was developed (by the French mathematician F. Viète), and decimal fractions were introduced (by the Dutch mathematician and engineer S. Stevin). Mechanics were further developed (by Leonardo da Vinci, Stevin, and others). The volume of knowledge in other branches of science also increased. The great geographical discoveries provided a huge supply of new facts not only in geography but also in geology, botany, zoology, and ethnography; and the body of knowledge of metallurgy and mineralogy also grew significantly in connection with the development of mining (the works of the German scholar G. Agricola and the Italian scholar, V. Biringuccio). The first breakthroughs in the development of the natural sciences and Renaissance philosophical thought paved the way for the formation of 17th- and 18th-century experimental science and materialism. The transition from Renaissance science and philosophy (with its interpretation of nature as multiqualitative, living, and even animate) to a new phase in their development—an experimental-mathematical natural science and a mechanistic materialism—was completed in the scientific activity of the English philosopher F. Bacon and the Italian scholar Galileo.

The Renaissance was marked by the beginning of a new outlook on human society and history, the state, and law. The major political thinkers of the 16th century (for example, N. Machiavelli and J. Bodin) broke away from the feudal-theological treatment of these subjects as divine-supernatural institutions and began to examine them as the result of human activities. These thinkers posed the question of the laws of historical development. Bodin emphasized the influence of the natural environment on the formation of society, and Machiavelli thought that political struggle and material interests were the driving forces of social life. In the Renaissance, when the formation of national centralized states was being completed in a number of European countries, questions about the state and its structure began to play a paramount role in political theorizing. Statements against the separatism of the feudal nobility, the dominance of the papacy and the Catholic Church, and the attempt to find the bases for national unification were reflected in the writings of Machiavelli (Italy), U. von Hutten (Germany), and A. Modrzewski (Poland). Bodin defended royal absolutism in France. And finally, the first works of Utopian socialism were written in this period (by T. More in England and T. Campanella in Italy), expressing secret hopes of the popular masses.

Skepticism (or indifferentism) was the typical attitude of the humanists toward religion. The majority of humanists preferred not to directly touch upon the fundamentals of Christianity and did not speak in favor of a direct overthrow of clerical dogmas. (Some humanists held prominent posts in the Catholic Church hierarchy, and one of these, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, even became the pope under the name Pius II.) But at the same time, their secular world view and natural philosophical and ethical theories broke with the dominant Christian religion and its belief in a personal, supernatural god-creator. Among some of the humanists the idea was spread that it was necessary to create a new, syncretic “philosophical religion” on the basis of a merging of ideas from the Cabala, Platonism, and Christianity (as expressed by Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, and J. Reuchlin). The diffusion of such ideas was characteristic of the epoch and quite bold, considering that it occurred under conditions of the undivided supremacy of Catholicism. Erasmus of Rotterdam, one of the most prominent humanists of the Renaissance, emphasized the moral essence of Christianity, which was concentrated in the Gospels, and relegated to the back-ground or even ignored completely its dogmatic content, which was connected to theological speculation and the world of the “miraculous.” Erasmus exerted an enormous influence on his contemporaries and paved the way to deism. Several humanists produced models of accusatory literature that castigated the vices and ignorance of the Catholic clergy and spoke against the secular power of the popes. (Lorenzo Valla, for example, had the distinction of exposing the “Donation of Constantine” as a forgery.)

In their application of historical criticism to the texts of the Holy Scriptures and in their rationalistic critique of the medieval Catholic world view, the humanists (Reuchlin, Erasmus, and others) paved the way for the Reformation to a certain extent. Several humanists, such as Lefevre d’Etaples in France and P. Melanchthon in Germany, became prominent figures in the Reformation. However, religious tolerance or a position critical of religion were more characteristic of the humanists. Some of them, such as B. Deperrier and M. Servetus, subjected Protestantism as well as Catholicism to sharp criticism. (Erasmus polemicized actively against Luther.) More than a few of the humanists were free-thinkers—among them, Pomponazzi, Valla, and Deperrier. E. Dolet and G. Bruno were found guilty of blasphemy and became sacrifices to the Inquisition, and M. Servetus was burned at the stake in Protestant Geneva. A number of humanists (for example, Pomponazzi and Bodin) advanced ideas about the natural origins of religion. In general, it was not so much the humanists’ actual views on religion as their secular world view that brought about, toward the end of the Middle Ages, a situation in which “the spiritual dictatorship of-the church was broken” (Engels, ibid., p. 346). At the same time, many humanists who held early bourgeois world views accepted “historical, positive” religions as politically necessary because they served as a spiritual bridle for the masses. In this respect, they anticipated many bourgeois philosophers of the 17th century and the bourgeois enlighteners of the 18th century.

A humanistic historiography began to be developed within the framework of the new world view from the 15th century by such figures as Leonardo Bruni, Poggio Bracciolini, Flavio Biondo, Machiavelli, and F. Guicciardini in Italy; J. Wimpheling, Aventinus, Beatus Rhenanus, and Sebastian Franck in Germany; Polydore Vergil and W. Camden in En-gland; and Matthias of Janov in Poland. Its most important achievements were the secularization of historical thought (that is, history breaking away from theology and becoming a branch of secular knowledge) and the initiation by the humanists of a systematic application of historical criticism to source materials. Responding to the new view of human society, historians aspired to discover the real causes of historical events, rejecting the explanation of interference by “other-worldly forces” and seeking explanations in the conscious activity of leading personalities such as rulers and military leaders. However, humanist historians, with the exception of Machiavelli, did not proceed further than this pragmatic view of history and attempt to discover the rational motives of political figures. The critique of historical sources (linked also to the breakthroughs in philology) be-came a powerful weapon in the humanists’ hands for over-coming concepts and notions that feudal historiography had developed. The appearance of works dedicated to history of a native land or city was a sign of the sharpening of national self-consciousness and patriotism. In liberating history from the burden of clerical-feudal concepts, the humanists rejected the theological periodization of history and focused attention on the qualitative distinction between antiquity and the Middle Ages. The classification of history into ancient, medieval, and modern history, which was begun by Biondo, arose during the Renaissance. At the same time the humanists, with their characteristically enthusiastic admiration of antiquity, had an extremely negative attitude toward the Middle Ages. (In this respect they are the direct predecessors of the Enlightenment historians.)

The humanists’ heightened interest in antiquity, their critical attitude toward medieval and clerical traditions, and the accelerated process of establishing national languages promoted their extraordinary attention to philology. Almost all the humanists were prominent philologists, and the knowledge of and ability to write in classical Latin were considered necessary attributes of the educated humanist. They valued highly beauty of style (usually in imitation of classical models, especially Cicero) and rhetoric. They restored authentic classical texts and discovered the rules of syntax, orthography, and metrics of classical Latin, using the methods of philological criticism (especially the Italian humanists). Along with the rebirth of classical Latin, which replaced barbaric medieval Latin in the humanists’ writings, the humanists studied Greek, Hebrew, and other ancient languages. The major philologists of the Renaissance included Lorenzo Valla, the 15th century’s most brilliant scholar of classical Latin, and Pico della Mirandola. Outside of Italy, Guillaume Budé, the foremost expert on the Greek language in France and the founder in 1530 of the College of Three Languages (the future Collège de France), J. Reuchlin in Germany, and Erasmus were also prominent philologists.

Characteristic features of the Renaissance humanistic world view were reflected in the humanists’ views on education and the pedagogical program of the best educational institutions. Humanists such as Erasmus, F. Rabelais, and M. Montaigne castigated and criticized the entire medieval school system and counterposed to it an education that would develop a person mentally and physically and train him for independent thought and high moral standards in conformity with humanistic morality. They considered it necessary to study Greek as well as Latin, the classical arts, literature, mythology, and subjects providing knowledge necessary in practical life, such as mathematics, history, and foundations of natural science. Returning to the ancient ideal of the well-rounded person, Renaissance educators were attentive to the physical development of children (giving a high priority to games) and opposed corporal punishment. The works of the Italian humanists P. Vergerius, L. Bruni, and M. Vegius, the Englishman R. Ascham, the French humanists Rabelais and Montaigne, and Erasmus express these ideas. The Utopian socialists More and Campanella went even further in their pedagogical ideals, advancing public education, general instruction in the native language, equality of education for men and women, the unification of instruction with work, and so forth. The major practical pedagogue of the Renaissance was the Italian humanist Vittorino da Feltre, who attempted to put humanistic educational ideas into practice in the school that he organized in 1424, called the House of Joy. However, this school and several others were rare—15th- and 16th-century schools, as a rule, continued to remain typically medieval. Toward the 16th century the basic instructional content even in the humanistic schools increasingly became a formalistic teaching of grammar and an imitation of Cicero’s style (Ciceronianism). Humanistic ideas on education in Germany were adapted to the interests of Protestantism in the 16th century (for example, P. Melanchthon’s reorganization of school and university education), and the attempt to dissemi-nate real knowledge through the schools became much weaker than it was in Italy and France. Renaissance ideas on education exerted a powerful influence on the subsequent development of the theory and practice of education.

Renaissance literature is inseparable from the Renaissance world view as a whole, with its ideal of a harmonic, free, creative, and comprehensively developed personality. Renaissance artistic thought, like its philosophy, leaned toward the “coincidence of opposites” and the rationalistic foundations of this coincidence combined with poetic fantasies (frequently originating in folklore), particularly as an expression of the “living spirit” of the whole. Two traditions, those of popular poetry and bookish antiquarian scholarship, were organically combined in the more important artistic works of the period, particularly Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel (1535-56), a genuine encyclopedia of the ideas of Renaissance humanism in the form of popular grotesque. These traditions were also combined in Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1605-55) and in Shakespeare’s plays. Popular oral stories intellectually and stylistically refined and written in the tone of classical prose were the subjects of Renaissance short stories, beginning with Boccaccio’s Decameron (1350-53). The Italian fantastic poem developed from the tradition of street singers, transformed under the influence of Homer’s and Vergil’s images and poetic forms. The mythologization of nature in P. Ronsard’s and Shakespeare’s poetry was integrally related to the pagan sense of nature in folklore, which was not yet a conventional ornamentation, as it was later in classicism. The figure of the jester appeared in all Renaissance literature with the “wise madness” that combined popular common sense and enlightened free thought.

The basic stages and genres of Renaissance literature were connected with the evolution of humanistic concepts in the Early, High, and Late Renaissance. The short story, particularly its comic versions (like those written by Boccaccio, F. Sacchetti, T. Guardati, Marguerite d’Angoulemê, M. Bandello, and B. Deperrier), was typical of the Early Renaissance, with its anticlerical and antifeudal tendency and praise of the enterprising personality free of prejudices. The High Renaissance was noted for the flowering of the heroic poem—for example, in Italy, the cheerfully clownish poems of L. Pulci, F. Berni, and T. Folengo and the fantastic heroic poems of M. Boiardo and L. Ariosto. In Spain and Portugal, the “conquistador” poem was common (for example, A. Ercilla y Zuniga’s La Araucana [1569-89] and L. Camoes’ Os Lusiadas [1572]), and its adventurous-chivalric content poeticized the Renaissance concept of the man who is born for great deeds. Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel was the High Renaissance’s original epos, which was completely different from the ancient epos characteristic of the 14th- to 16th-century heroic poems, provided a complete picture of Renaissance society and its heroic ideals in popular-fabulous and philosophic-comic forms. In the Late Renaissance, which was characterized by a crisis in the conception of humanism and a realization of the prosaic quality of emerging bourgeois society, pastoral genres of the novel and drama developed that counterposed the peaceful life and ideal shepherds to the disharmony of civilized manners (for example, J. Sannazaro’s Arcadia [1504] and T. Tasso’s Aminta [1580] in Italy; J. Montemayor’s Diana [155&;-59] and Cervantes’ Galatea [1585] in Spain; and P. Sidney’s Arcadia [1590] in England). The satirical picaresque novel of everyday life emerged with a new hero engaged in the “prosaic adventures” of private life. The highest achievements of the Late Renaissance were Shakespeare’s plays and Cervantes’ novel, based on tragic or tragicomic conflicts between the heroic personality and a social system unworthy of man.

The first literatures that were national, in the sense of both language and theme, arose in the Renaissance and were distinct from the estate literature (literature about specific groups in society) of the Middle Ages, which was written in local dialects or Latin. The literary language of a nation was defined and theoretically substantiated in J. Du Bellay’s treatise The Defense and Illustration of the French Language (1549).

In Italy, Dante’s work had already heralded the Renaissance at the turn of the 14th century. Petrarch’s love sonnets discovered the importance of the inner world of the personality and the dynamics of emotional life, and his patriotic canzonets (My Italy and others) proclaimed the supraestate nature of the new civic consciousness. The flowering of Italian literature in the 14th to 16th centuries (as manifested in Petrarch’s lyrics, Boccaccio’s novellas, the humanists’ ethical and political writings from Petrarch to Machiavelli, and Ariosto’s and Tasso’s poems) and the development of fine arts pushed Italian culture to the foreground as the third “classical” culture that served as a source for cultures in other countries. (The first and second were the two ancient cultures.) Tasso’s poem Jerusalem Delivered (1580) reflected the crisis of the Renaissance and the influence of Catholicism, with its spiritual dualism, in the style of mannerism.

The flowering of Renaissance literature in Germany and the Netherlands occurred at the time of the initial stages of the Reformation (first quarter of the 16th century) and was embodied in the works of Erasmus, who was the leader of European humanism at this time, J. Reuchlin, and U. von Hutten, as well as in brilliant works of publicism and anti-scholastic and anticlerical satire (S. Brant’s Ship of Fools, 1494; Erasmus’ Praise of Folly, 1511; and Hutten’s Letters of Obscure Men, 1515-17, and his dialogues).

In France, Renaissance literature outside the influence of ancient and Italian culture was based on the popular “Gallic” tradition of freethinking. Renaissance features were already present in F. Villon’s lyrics (mid-15th century), and later, in a more complete form, in C. Marot’s witty poetry and the novellas of the first half of the 16th century. The summits of Renaissance literature were reached in Rabelais’s novel and Ronsard’s harmonious and sensitive lyrics. Ronsard and Du Bellay were leading figures in the renewal of French poetry. M. Montaigne’s Essays (second half of the 16th century, in the period of the Religious Wars) were a great monument of the Late Renaissance in France, marking a farewell to the heroic illusions of the period. His essays were distinguished by a skeptical tendency in the evaluation of man, as opposed to fantastic exaggerations and all types of dogmatism; with his natural style of analysis, he founded the essay genre in European literature.

In Slavic literatures, the Renaissance appeared most clearly in South Slavic (the so-called Dalmatia-Dubrovnik Renaissance) and Polish. The neo-Latin poetry of the Slavic writers was important to all of European literature—for ex-ample, the writings of the Croatians J. Pannonius (Ivan Česmički), E. Tservin, and M. Marulič and the Poles K. Janicius and J. Dantiscus. As in Italy, neo-Latin prose and poetry constituted for Slavic writers and poets a school for the subsequent development of the norms of the national literary language and new poetic genres. In the independent city-republic of Dubrovnik and in other Dalmatian cities literature closely related to the neighboring Italian one began to flower at the end of the 15th century; lyric poetry (S. Menčetić, D. Držić), satirical and pastoral poetry (N. Vetranović-Čavčićl), and realistic comedy (M. DrŽic) predominated. The reflection on contemporary manners and the interest in popular art and the native language and folk-lore combined with the classical and Italian traditions to give the “Dubrovnik Renaissance” the character of a sort of Romano-Slavic synthesis. In Poland, in distinction from Dalmatia, the Renaissance was linked primarily not with urban culture but with the rise of the gentry in the 16th century and with the Reformation. The Calvinist M. Rey, a passionate defender of gentry democracy, created the first important secular prosaic and poetic works in the Polish language, which were still somewhat crude in style. The greatest Polish Renaissance poet was J. Kochanowski, and his fol-lowers were the satirist S. Klonowich and the idyllist S. Szymonowicz. The transition to the baroque was apparent in the mannerist poetry of M. Sep-Szdrzyriski, which was also influenced by the mood of the Counter-Reformation.

In England the flowering of humanistic literature occurred in the late 16th century. The aristocratic point of view was represented by the poetry of P. Sidney and E. Spenser (the poem The Faerie Queene, 1590) and the refined novel (J. Lyly’s Euphues, 1579-80); but the satirical novel of everyday life was already on the rise (T. Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller, 1594). The theater of the late 16th and early 17th centuries represented the international glory of the English Renaissance. Interest in the “titanic” personality, popular ideas, the poeticization of the national past, and the free (“unbookish”) dramatic form were already noted in the works of Shakespeare’s predecessors (C. Marlowe and R. Greene), but these features came together in Shake-speare’s plays as the highest convergence of Renaissance humanism and national features. The English humanists gave for their time classic formulations of the role that material-social relations play in the development of personality. The greatness of Shakespeare’s realism in tragedy, particularly in King Lear (1608), is due to his bold depiction of the world of property interests. The plays of Shakespeare’s contemporaries dealt more with everyday life (T. Dekker and T. Hey wood) or were satiric (B. Jonson) or pessimistic (J. Webster and J. Ford).

In Spain and Portugal literature began to flower at the end of the Renaissance. These countries were hardly prepared for bourgeois development but experienced a brief national up-surge in connection with geographical discoveries and colonial conquests. Literature appeared in the form of “neochivalric” adventures (Amadís de Gaula, 1508, and others) and “conquistador” poems. The picaresque novel (for example, the anonymous Lazarillo de Tormes, 1554, and the novels of M. Alemán y de Enero and F. Quevedo y Villegas) portrayed the catastrophic collapse of national life, general demoralization, and parasitism that were beginning and founded a new genre for all the European literature of the 17th and 18th centuries. Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote marked the culmination of the Spanish and general European Renaissance. Elements of the neochivalric, pastoral, and picaresque genres were combined in it, and the “Don Quixote situation” expressed with unsurpassed realism the prosaic nature of the newly born bourgeois system, with which “subjectively heroic” human nature cannot be reconciled. Thus the leading theme of the modern European novel was discovered. A transition to the baroque period was noticeable in the drama of the Golden Age, which lasted from the time of Lope de Vega (1562-1635) to that of P. Calderón (1600-81).

The progressive humanistic content of Renaissance culture was very clearly expressed in the art of the theater, which was significantly influenced by ancient drama, dramatic theory, and theater architecture. An original drama emerged in a number of countries. Theater art of the Renaissance was characterized by its interest in the inner world of personalities, with its emphasis on individuality. An epic force and passion distinguished the actor’s art, corresponding to the poetic quality that was established in the works of the period’s great dramatists. A new system of aesthetics for the theater demanded that performers become profoundly involved in the playwrights’ ideas and create complex, multifaceted characters. Renaissance theater art was characterized by the following: a reproduction of the contradictions of reality, the development of the traditions of popular art, a life-affirming pathos, and a bold combination of tragic and comic and poetic and clownish elements. The professsionalization of the theater began in the Renaissance and theories about drama and acting arose. The first theatrical buildings were constructed. The most brilliant flowering of Renaissance dramatic art was achieved in Italy, Spain, and England. The commedia dell’arte (16th century) became the highest achievement of the Italian theater; it inherited the realistic traditions of popular farce, masquerade, and carnival buffoonery. The dramas of Cervantes and Lope de Vega in Spain (second half of the 16th century and early 17th century) realized a synthesis of popular theater and literary drama. The art of Shakespeare marked the most complete achievement in the development of Renaissance theater.

In the Renaissance professional music ceased to be purely a church art and experienced the influences of popular music and humanism. The art of vocal and vocal-instrumental polyphony reached a high level in the Ars Nova (“new art”) of Italy and France in the 14th century and in the new polyphonic schools, such as the English (15th century), Dutch (15th and 16th centuries), Roman, Venetian, French, German, Polish, and Czech (all 16th century). Different genres of secular music appeared—the frottola and villanella in Italy, the villancico in Spain, the ballad in England, the madrigal, which arose in Italy (L. Marenzio, J. Arcadelt, and Gesualdo di Venosa) but spread all over Europe, and French vocal part-music (C. Jannequin and C. Le Jeune). Secular humanist aspirations even penetrated religious music—for example, that of the Franco-Flemish masters (Josquin Des Prés and Orlande de Lassus) and composers of the Venetian school (A. and G. Gabrieli). In the Counter-Reformation elimination of polyphony from church music was considered, and only the reform of Palestrina, the leader of the Roman school, preserved polyphony for the Catholic Church—in a “purified” and “clarified” form. At the same time, some valuable achievements in the secular music of the period were reflected in Palestrina’s art. New genres of instrumental music came into being, and national performing schools for the lute, organ, and virginal were established. In Italy, string instrument-making flourished, and the new instruments were richly expressive. A conflict of different aesthetic attitudes appeared in the “struggle” of two types of string instruments—viols, which were common in aristocratic milieus, and violins, instruments of popular origin. The appearance of new musical genres—the solo song, cantata, oratorio, and opera—completed the Renaissance and aided the gradual strengthening of the homophonic style.

Architecture and fine arts were fields in which the importance of the Renaissance as a turning point emerged with particular force and clarity, defining the paths of development of modern world art. A realistic understanding of man and the earthly world, a love of life, and a faith in man and the power of his will and reason replaced the religious spiritualism, ascetic ideals, and dogmatic conventionalities of medieval art. The emotion of affirming the beauty and harmony of reality, a turn to man as the highest principle of existence, a sensing of the integrity and structured regularity of the universe, and an energetic mastery of an objective view of the natural world provided Renaissance art as a whole with great intellectual grandeur, integrity, and intrinsic greatness. The unified world view and collective experience of the medieval masters were replaced by the individual creativity of the artist and the educated architect. Secular buildings—public buildings, palaces, and urban residential houses—began to be important in architecture. In art, religious subjects acquired an earthly look, and secular subjects and depictions of real people (among them, the nude) were portrayed in a realistic setting, with their physical and spiritual qualities given equal importance.

Renaissance fine arts and architecture took shape first in Italy, where they underwent a particularly strong development and reached classical heights. The poetic joy of discovering the sensual wealth of the diversified earthly world was combined in Italian Renaissance art with a spirit of inquisitive analytical investigation; thus, the paths of artistic and scientific knowledge were closely linked. A system of realistically describing life was consequently developed and theoretically substantiated and strengthened by the scientific study of anatomy, perspective, proportion, and the treatment of light and shade in modeling. This allowed the depiction of real figures and subjects in three-dimensional space. Ancient art served not only as a classical heritage and model for Italian art but also as a basis for turning artists toward nature and the harmonic patterns of life.

The first signs of Italian Renaissance art appeared in the second half of the 13th century and the early 14th century (the so-called proto-Renaissance), when the sculptors Nicola Pisano and Arnolfo di Cambio and the painter Pietro Cavallini, basing their work on late Roman tradition, took the first steps toward a convincing realism and corporal tangibility, and the Florentine Giotto achieved in his frescoes not only clarity in space and rhythmic scenic construction but also a vivid clarity of narration, spiritual force, plastic wholeness of forms, and dramatic emotional power. The Gothic reaction that began in the 14th century restrained this development, but even then new ways of defining the real world—landscapes, interiors, details of everyday life, and personal portraits—were noted in Sienese painting (the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini) and the painting of Northern Italy (Altichiero and Avanzo).

The flowering of Renaissance art began in the 15th century, first in the advanced commercial-industrial city of Florence, which became the focus of innovation in all aspects of art. The architecture of the Early Italian Renaissance had its origins here (Filippo Brunelleschi, Michelozzo, Leon Battista Alberti, Bernardo Rossellini, Giuliano da Maiano, and Giuliano da Sangallo), and its clarity, majestic harmony, and life-affirming power corresponded to the new heroic ideal of man. The ancient system of orders, which was used in diverse and creative ways in Renaissance architecture, introduced logic and proportionality to man and helped in the creation of structures by means of a rich and resourceful artistic medium. The complex dynamic of Gothic buildings was counterposed to clarity of structure, the clear-cut breaking up of solid volumes, and light spacious interiors. Palaces with powerful street facades and attractive arcades in the courtyards, villas with terraced gardens, porticoes, and loggias, and basilican and central-planned churches and chapels demonstrated the variety of possibilities in forms, which emerged with different arrangements in the classic order of walls and vaults. Beyond the borders of Tuscany, the refined harmonic art of Luciano Laurana, who worked in Urbino, was outstanding, as were the cheerful and beautiful Venetian structures, still Gothic in many respects. Experimentation with regular planning and with the use of integral complexes of buildings in city squares or districts and even an entire city (Pienza) introduced new perspectives on urban construction. Early Renaissance Italian artists began systematically to study nature and united realistic motifs through a complete and integral plastic conception of the world; they filled religious scenes with worldly subjects, engraved scenes observed in life, and turned to classical subject matter.

The main theme of art became man, a hero full of vital energy. The new school of art took shape in Florence in the early 15th century and gradually spread all over Italy and supplanted survivals from the Middle Ages. In sculpture the statue, relief, bust, monumental statue of a figure on horse-back, altar composition, and wall tomb were developed as single pieces and also in connection with architectural structures (Lorenzo Ghiberti, Donatello, Jacopo della Quercia, the della Robbia family, Antonio Rossellino, Desiderio da Settignano, Benedetto da Maiano, and Andrea del Verrocchio). Real plasticity of the human figure, either nude or draped and depicted at rest or in motion, busy scenes with complex perspectives, and a brilliant liveliness and characterization of portrait busts lay the basis for realism in sculpture.

In painting, the important shift from religious to secular painting was achieved, and fresco art increased. Life-affirming heroic ideals and a sense of the orderliness of the world organized and directed the enthusiasm that was expressed in the fresh beauty of observations of life, detailed narrative, and the play of fantasy. Fifteenth-century Italian painters (Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, Andrea del Castagno, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Sandro Botticelli in Florence; Piero della Francesca in Urbino; Francesco del Cossa in Ferrara; Andrea Mantegna in Mantua; Pietro Perugino in Perugia; and Giovanni Bellini in Venice) created realistic figures ranging from the tenderly lyrical to the severely masculine, and from the harmonically joyful to the expressively dramatic.

In the High Renaissance (late 15th century and first quarter of the 16th century) the struggle for Renaissance ideals in Italy acquired a tense and heroic character, reflecting the dream of liberating and consolidating the motherland. A national spiritual enthusiasm was expressed most clearly in architecture and fine arts, which were filled with heroic aspirations and were notable for the scope of their social importance and synthetic generalization and the strength of images full of spiritual and physical energy. Specific observations of reality were elevated to ideals and at the same time subordinated to the precise structure and majestic harmony of the whole. The classical style of the High Renaissance took shape in Florence and left its most monumental traces in Rome and later in Venice, as the latter became one of the leading cities. In architecture perfect harmony, monumental ity, and a clear consistency of architectural forms reached their culmination with Donato Bramante, Raphael, and An-tonio da Sangallo the Elder. Large architectural complexes arose that were striking in their integrity of conception and richness of composition, and plans for “ideal” cities were projected. Major artists of the period occupied an honorable position in public life, and in the eyes of their contemporaries they personified the spirit and glory of the nation. Their art was of an unprecedented breadth and scope, including Leonardo da Vinci’s psychologically profound figures, the harmonic perfection of Raphael’s paintings, the Venetian painters’ Giorgione and Titian’s love of life, Correggio’s grace and sensuality, and the powerful dramatism and enormous scope of Michelangelo.

But in the second quarter of the 16th century, Renaissance art in Italy experienced a sharp crisis. The subjectively refined art of mannerism appeared and expressed disillusionment with Renaissance ideals. The art of those who remained loyal to these ideals acquired a complex and dramatic character. In Late Renaissance architecture (Michelangelo, Giacomo da Vignola, Giulio Romano, and Baldassare Peruzzi), strict tectonics yielded to a greater tension and sometimes to a conflict of forces; at the same time, interest in the spatial development of composition grew, and building lost its isolated character and became connected with city planning, building complexes, and the natural environment. This phenomenon was also apparent in the architecture of northern Italy (Jacopo Sansovino, Galeazzo Alessi, Michele Sanmichele, and Andrea Palladio), which preserved a cheerful tone for a longer time. Renaissance types of public buildings, villas, and palaces and principles of planning city squares and quarters developed with particular richness and complexity at this time. The tragic irreconcilability of conflicts and the struggle and inevitable death of the hero became one of the main themes in the late art of Michelangelo and Titian, in which the psychological characterization of man achieved an unprecedented depth and complexity. Late Renaissance realism (Veronese, Tintoretto, and Jacopo Bassano) was enriched by an understanding of the contradictoriness of the world and an interest in dramatic mass action, popular imagery, the complex interconnection between man and his environment, and the dynamics of space. The crisis of Renaissance culture thus laid the basis for new tendencies that developed in subsequent periods.

In the Renaissance art of countries north of the Alps there was greater contradictoriness, constraint, tension, and un-even development. In the northern European countries bold and independent realistic trends arose early that were concerned with the individualized human form, the human environment, the interior, the still life, and the landscape. (These trends, however, were not carried into the integral system that emerged in Italy.) At the turn of the 15th century in Burgundy, the former center of refined court-chivalric Gothic art, artists from the Netherlands—the painters Jean Malouel, Henri Bellechose, and Melchior Broederlam and particularly the sculptors Claus Sluter and Claus de Werve—paved the way for the development of realism in the Netherlands and France with their enthusiasm for clearness and vivacity of forms. A school of painting emerged in the Netherlands in the 15th century and empirically reached a definitive description of man and his world quickly and boldly. Dutch painting was more closely connected to Gothic traditions than Italian painting; it inherited from them an interest in specific phenomena that were not subordinated to suprasensory principles but were accepted as an inseparable part of a whole, harmonically unified picture of the world. Dutch Renaissance artists such as Jan van Eyck, Robert Campin, Petrus Christus, Rogier van der Weyden, Dierik Bouts, Geertgen tot Sint Jans, Hugo van der Goes, and Hans Memling did not attempt a rationalistic understanding of the patterns of existence, were far from scientific and theoretical interests, and had no passion for ancient culture. But they successfully mastered the depiction of spatial depth, light, the subtlest details of structure, and the surfaces of objects, and they filled every detail with a profound poetic spirituality. Following Gothic traditions, they showed a special interest in man’s individual appearance and the structure of his spiritual world. The borrowing of Italian art of the 16th century had a basically conservative and aristocratic character that removed art from life—Romanism. All that was progressive in the development of Dutch art in the late 15th century and the 16th century was connected with a turn toward the real world and popular life and the consequent flourishing of the portrait, elements of an everyday-life genre, the landscape, and the still life (Quentin Massyis, Lucas van Leyden, Joachim Patinir, and Pieter Aertzen). This development was also connected with a strengthened interest in folklore and popular imagery (Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Brueghel). The evolution of Dutch realism in the 16th century and the social concreteness of forms and reflection of the real contradictions of life that it led to (especially in Brueghel’s art) eased the direct transition from Renaissance art to 17th-century principles of art. In the 15th century, architecture in the Netherlands, as in other Western European countries outside of Italy, preserved the tradition of Gothic form, although the structure of buildings was modified according to their connection with the new system of urban life. In the 16th century, principles of order borrowed from Italy led to the development of a local style in which order played primarily a decorative role (Christian Sixdenirs, Cornelius Floris). City halls, buildings of crafts and guilds, and urban homes with narrow facades and high pediments were built in this style.

The height of Renaissance art was most dramatic and short-lived in Germany. In the 15th century, nonreligious life-affirming elements in painting began to appear there only slowly and sporadically (Lukas Moser, Hans Multscher, Martin Schongauer, and Conrad Witz, who worked in Switzerland), absorbing the influences of both the Netherlands and Italy. (The latter was more strongly felt in southern Germany and particularly in Austria through the works of Michael Pacher.) The German Renaissance proper—an un-usually briliant burst of creative energy in the late 15th century and first quarter of the 16th century —was remarkable for its complex interweaving of old and new, national and Italian, and secular and religious, and its combination of the ideas of the Reformation and humanism with those of popular movements. The universality and complexity of Albrecht Diirer’s art, which sought a synthesis of passionate emotionalism of expression and rationalistic accuracy of idealized forms; the ecstatic enthusiasm for colors; the intensity of joyous and tragic emotions in the art of Mathis Nithardt; the decoration and fantasy combined with vivid features of real life in the works of Lucas Cranach and the landscapes of Albrecht Altdorfer; the humanistic mood and deliberate clarity and completeness of the portraits of Hans Holbein; and the sharply social content of printed and book graphics—all these qualities defined the German Renaissance. It manifested itself brilliantly in sculpture, based on the realistic popular features of German Gothic (Tilman Riemenschneider, Veit Stoss, Adam Krafft, and Peter Vischer). A wave of brilliant experiments in German architecture spread from the south (Augsburg and Nürnberg) to the north, encompassing church, public, and palace construction, private homes, and city planning. An imposing quality and a rich and sometimes extremely capricious decor were characteristic of stone, brick, and frame-built structures. The feudal reaction rapidly and tragically ended the development of the German Renaissance and paved the way for decadent mannerist art.

In France, very rich local Gothic traditions, acquaintance with the classical tradition (especially in the south of the country), and regular ties with Italy and the Netherlands favored the development of Renaissance art. In the second half of the 15th century (after the end of the Hundred Years’ War), the centralization of the national state began to be a powerful factor in cultural unification. In the middle of the 14th century, Dutch miniaturists working in France—especially the Limburg brothers—began to prepare the way by their subtle perception of reality and their striving toward a correct depiction of space and volume for the success of French art in the 15th century, with its elegance, lyricism, and rare acuteness of observation (the sculpture of Michel Colombe, the miniatures of Jean Fouquet and Simon Marmion, and the pictures of the Master of Moulins and Jean Fouquet). In the 16th century, under conditions of a developing absolutism, the French Renaissance reached its height in the secular realistic art that was imbued with the spirit of humanism; some prominent artists were the sculptors Jean Goujon, Germain Pilon, and Pierre Bontemps; and the masters of painting and the pencil portrait Jean and Francois Clouet, Corneille de Lyon, and Étienne Dumonstier. However, court culture stimulated the development of mannerism (the so-called Fontainebleau school). A brilliant development of secular architecture was characteristic of the French Renaissance; in the 15th century, a type of “mansion-hotel” was designed, and in the 16th century, palace architecture flourished (Pierre Lescot, Philibert Delorme, Jacques Ducerceau, and Jean Bullant), strengthened by theoretical research, technological innovations, and a creative conversion of the Italian system of order. An original fusion of Gothic and Renaissance forms was replaced in the second half of the 16th century by the consistent application of regular planning and classical orders.

In England, clear and independent realistic trends that appeared in the late 14th century and the 15th century in religious and portrait painting were impeded by internal wars and Henry VIII’s Reformation. In the 16th century, elements of a Renaissance style (to a great extent under the influence of H. Holbein, who worked in England) found their expression in the miniature portrait (Nicholas Hilliard, Isaac Oliver); these elements also appeared in estate building (rationally planned brick homes with halls and galleries) and in more eclectic palace architecture. In Denmark and Sweden, Renaissance features appeared mainly in the architecture of castles, estates, and public buildings.

Renaissance culture developed very peculiarly on the Iberian Peninsula, where, under conditions of a war of liberation against the Arabs that was not completed until the end of the 15th century, religious asceticism and heroic ideals were combined and strong influences of Arab culture were merging with a brilliant national character. The first signs of a realistic perception of the world in Spanish art were evident in 14th-century Catalonian painting (Ferrer Bassa) under the influence of Giotto and Sienese painting. In the 15th century (Luis Dalmau, Jaime Huguet, and Pedro Berruguete) the influence of Italy and the Netherlands aided the formation of a national school with a severe ascetic representation of figures and faces and a solemn decorativeness. In 16th century Spain, unified and a world power, the love of abundant deco-ration inherited from the Arabs was expressed anew in the plateresque style, a very rich synthesis of architecture and jewelry-like plastic ornamentation connected at first with late Gothic and later with Italian classical forms (Hanequin and Enrique Egas, Gil and Diego de Siloe, and Alonso de Covarrubias). Stronger Italian influences were creatively reinterpreted in the dramatic sculpture of Alonso Berruguete and Juan de Juni, the painting of Alejo Fernandez, and the por-traits of Alonso Sánchez Coello. But in the second half of the 16th century, a period of feudal-clerical reaction, these influences were the cause of a cold asceticism in J. B. de Herrera’s structures and a wave of mannerist subjectivism and spiritualism (El Greco’s paintings). Portuguese art, which developed along similar lines, was brilliantly original—for example, the altar of St. Vincent’s Church (15th century), striking in the severe realism of its portrait figures, and the manueline architectural style of Boytac and others (early 16th century), distinct from the plateresque in its strong, laconic decor and imbued with the romance of geo-graphical discoveries. Renaissance elements in the art of Spain and Portugal were passed on to their colonies in America and became the first step in the development of Latin American artistic culture.

The countries of Central and Eastern Europe also experienced the strong renewing influence of Renaissance ideas and contributed to the development of Renaissance culture themselves. In 14th-century Bohemia, realistic personal features appeared in the sculpture of Petr Parlér and the painting of Master Theoderic (still Gothic in many respects); secular architecture began to develop intensively in the 15th century (the city of Tábor), and in the 16th century it received a classically ordered character (the Summer Palace in Prague). In Slovakia, then part of Hungary, the master of painting “M. S.” and sculptor Pavel Levocski (turn of the 16th century) used features of realistic Renaissance art, and in the 16th century motifs of Renaissance architecture characterized a number of cities (for example, Levoca and Presov). In Hungary, Renaissance ideas had their greatest influence in the late 15th and early 16th centuries (the palaces in Buda and Visegrad, the chapel of Bakócz in Esztergom, and miniature painting). Renaissance ideas penetrated Slovenia at the turn of the 16th century; Renaissance culture was then developing in Croatia in the Adriatic coastal cities connected with Venice—Dubrovnik, Sibenik, Rijeka, and Split. Major artists worked there (for example, the architect and sculptor Juraj the Dalmatian), architecture, sculpture, and painting flourished, and an intensive cultural exchange took place with Italy. Poland’s broad international ties stimulated the growth of realistic aspirations in late Gothic art (15th century), which were most fully and brilliantly expressed in the works of V. Stoss—for example, the altar of the Church of St. Mary in Krakow, which signified the transition to the Renaissance proper. Principles adopted from the Italian classical style were manifested in regular city construction (the city of Zamosc), palaces with arcaded courts, central mausoleums, homes (with attics, Renaissance ornamentation, and ordered elements), and sometimes in fine arts (tombstones and miniatures). In the 16th century, the influences of Renaissance art penetrated far into Eastern Europe and were reflected in the architecture of Rumania (Bra§ov, Hunedoara), the Western Ukraine (for example, houses in the marketplace of L’vov), and Lithuania (Vilnius, Kaunas, and others) and sometimes in portraits and religious painting. At the turn of the 16th century, Renaissance influences penetrated Russia through the work of Italian architects in the Moscow Kremlin.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. the. the period of European history marking the waning of the Middle Ages and the rise of the modern world: usually considered as beginning in Italy in the 14th century
a. the spirit, culture, art, science, and thought of this period. Characteristics of the Renaissance are usually considered to include intensified classical scholarship, scientific and geographical discovery, a sense of individual human potentialities, and the assertion of the active and secular over the religious and contemplative life
b. (as modifier): Renaissance writers
3. of, characteristic of, or relating to the Renaissance, its culture, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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A good example is the crucial debate over the origins of the early Ottoman State, which corresponds chronologically to the early Renaissance in Europe.
The Barber Institute celebrated the arrival of two priceless sketches by the early Renaissance artist Pisanello, lent by the Louvre Museum, Paris, with a private view sponsored by the French Embassy.
Designed in late gothic and early Renaissance style by renowned architectural firm Willauercar, Shape & Bready, the property was once the tallest structure in Midtown Manhattan.
This is a short report on teaching a course on late medieval and early renaissance art in Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, in the summer of 2004.
During the early Renaissance, clothing and other possessions of plague victims were often burned.
James Helgeson's short book on the role of music in the work of Maurice Seve offers a series of elegant and sophisticated analyses of Sceve's poetry illuminated by a discussion of the status of music, and of the theoretical discourses applied to it, in antiquity, the later Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. Individual chapters address Sceve's response to the myth of Orpheus, which is seen as an ambivalent expression of both the instrumental power and the limitations of music (and poetry), the impact of the beloved as musician, and the importance of the notion of concordia discors, with special reference to the Platonic androgyne.
NEW YORK CITY -- The Metropolitan Museum of Art has made its largest-ever art purchase: $45 million for Madonna and Child by the early Renaissance painter Duccio de Buoninsegna.
The Black Death Transformed: Disease and Culture in Early Renaissance Europe.
Running through our section on Europe is an annotated survey of a few European artists, from Albrecht Durer in the early Renaissance to Dadaist Max Ernst.
Inspired by the early Renaissance and the medieval era, the style was thought to be pure and sincere, expressing ideas on gender, love, Christianity and marriage.
The stress of the popularity and diffusion of Ficinian idealism, primarily characteristic of the early Renaissance, can, however, lead to the false impression that Aristotle simply disappeared from literary and historical thinking until the full-fledged rediscovery of the Poetics in the seventeenth century.
Western science, religion, art and architecture of the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance were motivated by the attempt to find, and then represent, the underlying truths of zero nature--or the abstract laws.

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