.    Instructor: Dave Tamm / Term: Spring 2008    .




Decline of the middle ages? Dawn of a new era? Both. 14C and 15C were
both. First, what were the conditions of life? Broad trends persist
from 12C: centralization intensified where that was, increasing
fragmentation where that was. Single great political fact was the
Hundred Years War between England and France. Problems of the church
get a little worse, but it is still dominant. Yet, the popes were in
'babylonian captivity' in Avignon. But ordinary people had deep
religious faith.

Most dramatic effects during this time were the demographic
catastrophe: the Black Death. Economic consequences follow. But first,
the 100 Years War.

Inevitable outcome of Henry II's french holdings, many of which John
loses to Philip II. Well not all, and then in 1340 Edward III claimed
french land cause his wife was a French princess. Opened a war that
lasted till 1453. Only 3 major campaigns. Freebooters in France were
fighting both sides!

The English won all the great battles, had a total hold on France, but
then something totally bizarre. In 1429, Joan of Arc appeared and
rallied the French after the treaty of artois gave it all to England.
So England lost, but won all the battles.

Internal Consequences France: France bore the brunt of the fighting,
and yet it forged a provisional national consciousness, because of the
foreign invader. The French military almost got universal
conscription. Taxation was generalized to fund the war effort. King's
final victory was so amazing that they got a huge boost of morale
among the people, and put the monarch on the path to the Sun King,
Louis XIV.

Internal Consequences England: The war enhanced the role of
parliament, that accidental institution whose powers are unclear. Well
the english kings needed loot to fund the war, and petitioned the
nobles in parliament. They said ok, but demanded redress before
supply: You can't harass us, we have immunity. Parliament got right to
choose its own speaker and leaders, to initiate its own legislation
(as opposed to the previous way where only the king legislated. Set
parliament on the path to modernity.

Yet, the English were distracted by the war and swept internal and
factional bickering under the rug, which would emerge at the end of
the war: Wars of the Roses, 1455-1489.

In 1492 the crusading army entered Granada and the last Muslim
stronghold fell, ending the reconquista. At the same time, Jews were
told to convert or leave. At the same time Christopher Columbus was
sent out. And Spain becomes a huge power.

Ferndinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille united the two greatest
provinces by marriage, right at the right time. Now we can talk about
Spain, not Iberia.

Ruled in the north by German factions, the tripartite scheme is still
in effect. Germans in north, pope in middle, in the south, more
outside interference. French princes and then Aragon-ese. No one
really controlled southern Italy.

Great northern development: the rise of Milan, Florence and Venice.
These are the new powers, wealthy, spent that wealth on culture...
competition was intense... good and bad.

Riddled with paradoxes. Golden Bull of 1356 could have created a
federal regime and stability, but actually they just made a stable
framework for further fragmentation. If Otto was the most powerful
kingdom of 10C, in 17C there were 300+ independent political units.
Often well governed places, prosperous, great places. And the paradox?
There was always a Holy Roman Emperor... some had lots of influence,
some did not. Yet, they had no German state.

Union of Lublin 1569 became a powerful and stable kingdom until 1795.

They overthrew the Mongols, who put an end to Kievan Rus, in 1500s.
They expanded to what would be the Russian Empire.

Finally, it fell, in 1453, to the Ottoman Turks, who then moved in and
everything changed forever. They consolidated the dominant position in
the Eastern Mediterranean. They would extend further into Europe, and
finally be stopped at Vienna in 1683, and then as the 'sick man if
Europe', would be crumbled.

A french pope arose, Clement V in 1305. It was hoped he would settle
the disputes between the French kings and the popes. "I want to tax
the church, and be able to bring the clergy into court!" "no" says
Rome. King says "I am sovereign in my realm". Well, Pope Boniface VIII
died and Philip IV is still on thrown, the cardinals thought "if we
pick a French pope and located him in France, in Avignon temporarily,
he'll be able to sort it all out. To everyone's surprise, they stayed
most of 14C... till 1378.

Why? Problems not only in France, but also because as time when on, in
Italy because after they'd been absent, they were disfavored. The
Papal States were broken up and not paying taxes, now not welcome to
return to Rome... and partly because Hundred Years War was putting a
vex on the whole thing, French thought popes favored the English,
English vice versa.

St. Catherine of Siena called the Avignion captivity like the
Babylonian. Other attempts to restore the pope to rome resutlted in
the Great Schism: Italian cardinals voted for Archbishop of Bari in
1378... relocates back to Rome, and the French cardinals returned to
France and voted for their own Avignion pope! Allegiances were divided
cause of the Hundred Years War. So, 1378-1417, 2 or even 3 men were
the pope!

Scholars at the University of Paris drafted a doctrine of 'councils'
power' ahead of the papal. this arbiter? this was an affront to the
office of the pope. Yet some churchmen called for councils to decide
on matters, popes did not like it. But it happened, and the
credibility of the papacy had been damaged, and in 1417 it was indeed
a Council, the Council of Constance, that ended the double pope
problem, the Great Schism. How else?

None of this meant the decline of Christian sentiment for regular
people. Chaucer has lots of anti-clerical characters in his books,
some are now classic anti-clericals, but he was not anti-pious!

Groups of lay people live, pray and work together like in a monastic
community, called Brethern of the Common Life.

Great book: a spiritual bestseller: Thomas Akempis' Imitation of
Christ. Ordinary people cared about how Jesus lived his life, and how
they could do that. Now, this exists in parallel to the church, not in
opposition to it.

But the first serious heretics did emerge which did challenge some
teachings of the church: The Lolards of Wycliffe, in England and
Hussites in Bohemia. Challenging the authority, not criticizing the
hierarchy, is something new.

The records speak of huge numbers of pilgrims. The most famous book of
the time, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, is about the trip of pilgrims

The Rosary grows in prominence in 14C, now a common devotion. So the
Renaissance is not irreligious. The church and clericalism is,
however, in some trouble.

A series of poor harvests between 1315-1322 weakened Europe severely.
Put and end to the demographic boom of the preceding centuries. And
then came the Great Plague. It came not to a happy and healthy Europe,
but a weakened one. First great plague in Europe in 600 years.

It is carried by fleas who inhabit rats who inhabit ships. Genoese
ships picked it up in the Black Sea, it originated in China and spread
overland to the Black Sea region. It spread quickly from 1347 on.
Crossed the Alps in 1348, spread all over Europe by 1349. The fast
spread tells us how interconnected it all was compared with early
medieval period.

This thing was a superkiller. No one knew why it happened or how it
spread, no one knew about germ theory. And this thing kept coming
back. 1363 it came back. It came back many times until 18C.

Tremendous mortality: 30% of all Europeans died, majority in cities,
killing productive urban peoples, priests who ministered to them,
children. Plague generated hysteria and this was reflected in art of
the time sometimes. Depression, but these were not the only sentiments
in Renaissance Europe, of course. Its good to remember it though, when
we see something odd, or macabre, in art.

Jews scapegoated. Trade and finance disrupted. Prices fluctuated
widely all over the place. Insurrections in England, France, Florence
and other Italian cities. And no economic recovery until the Age of
Exploration when Europe was infused with gold and other money from

Renaissance Europe was a tough place. So, what the hell was so
'Renaissance' about this???

Well after 1000 years of darkness, gloom and doom, humanity
rediscovered civilization. Well, not that easy. We've studied it like
this for 200 years. People of the period had no conception of a
"medieval world" changing into a "renaissance" world or "early modern"
world... just as the people of late antiquity had no idea of the
change into Medieval. Important things happening, but medieval people
didn't know they were 'medieval!' Not dull, dark or inferior or
impoverished or sad... During Charlemagne's time, in fact, Alquin
spoke of a "New Rome" rising in Aix la Capelle, finer than the old
Rome, because Rome of old had absorbed Athens, this new one has added
Jerusalem. This point of view has continuity, and even a sense of

In 12C Bernard was fond of saying "we are as dwarfs seated on the
shoulders of giants,  that we might see more and further than they,
not because of the keenness of our eyesight but because we are raised
aloft on that giant mass." We see more and further! Continuity and
superiority! Medieval? Yes.

Well, some saw a change. "Where was the painter's art before Giotto
restored it? Only now are in the process of rescue from obscurity
(1450). It is but in our own day that men dare to boast that they see
the dawn of better things... now indeed every spirit must thank God
that they have been born in this new age, of hope and promise, greater
than the 800 years preceding it."

Rabelais: "Out of the thick gothic night, our eyes were awakened to
the glorious light of the Sun." So, they saw it. Complete and

Irwin Panofski's Renaissance and Renaesaences in Art says that some
great moments like Charlemagne's France, Ottonian Germany, 12C France,
and there were truly distinguished achievements. But what happened in
the 14C and 15C was different... because here and now people looked
back as from a fixed point in time. Panofski's point: this is a
Renaissance, not a renaesaence. People thought of selves as different.
Renaissance is french for being reborn.

The term appeared in 16C in a book by Vesari on the history of
painting. He was talking about the rebirth of painting! It was not a
term for an entire culture.

Since protestant reformers liked renaissance attacks on the church,
but didn't like the hedonism, they drew the line between medieval and
renaissance sharply. medieval people were not all so superstitious,
and renaissance people were not all that rational. But the
Enlightenment and the Romantics said that the Renaissance 'crowned
reason', ahead of superstition, and somehow killed the Natural Man.
Again a sharp thing.

Then in 1860 the real modern attempt: Swiss Burkhart Jakub,
"Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy." He wanted to find the
'spirit of the age.' And found humanism, individualism, classicism.
Wanted to find zeitgeist, spirit of the time. Like Gibbon, Burkhart he
asked the right questions and laid down the paths of scholarship. So,
we are the dwarves perched up on these.

Humanism: a love and concern for human beings. Pico Della Morandas' On
the Dignity of Man, a moving oration. Why is he dignified? Why does
God bother with him? Because God endowed him with freewill and he may
soar with the angels or wallow with the beasts. Exactly that moment
when God touches Adam on the Sistine Ceiling.

Realism: Machiavelli's The Prince: a look at politics through a brutal
eye, no idealism, no romance. None of that medieval reflection on
gov't... he tells it in the real. Doesn't say its good or bad, just

Humanism is a devotion to the humane desciplines. Liberal arts
education is a humanist education. Not theology. Also, a particular
fascination with the classical canon. "In our own day we are bringing
it back again."

Civic Humanism: To travel around Italy is to see great boosterism.
Bouyant competition of cities made them adorned with great buildings
during the Renaissance: Florence, Venice, Milan etc. If your neighbor
puts up a new cathedral, you put a better one up. Town hall, yours had
to be better. New Port Richey vs. Tarpon Springs?

Human beings can be most fully human in a free city, a free republic.
Irony that many of these cities are despot ruled, but hey, oh well.

Economically problematic
After Carlemagne, most prominant medieval achievments were in the north
(yes dante wrote in Italy, but this is not very renaissance)
Marco Polo, a prominant italian, wrote in French!
Late Medieval architecture (gothic, which was called "opus
frankagania" the french style
The crusades were a french phenemenon
the university of paris was the best in europe
French kingdom was large and stable

stop the clock in 1300: "somethin great will happen in France"
but it doesn't. It happens in Italy. why?

In italy there was a higher literacy level, market was good, because
of contracts due to the competition of cities

to live in Italy was to live with the ghosts of the classical past.
Italians constantly felt "holy cow, we made this?" ancient world was
everywhere, you couldnt escape it.

wealth in italy, possibilities for patronage. elites supported the
learned and talented.
less feudal and less chivalric. Experiment: Get Canterbury Tales and
the Decameron: read any two pages at random and you will FEEL, you
will see the difference between northern and southern europe. You will
see the freedom of Italy, openness, awareness of the world is accepted

Italians traveled throughout Europe, looking for books. They carried
the idea of it to other places in Western Europe, and they knew that
carolingian scholars copied manuscripts, and the cathedral and
monestary libraries had them. 95% of all classical latin lit survives
due to the carolingian copies. These Italians stayed on as teachers,
they were ornaments to courts, and spread "the new learning."

conversely, foreigners came in 15C to Italy, to study and visit.
scholars made grand tours, painters came. Funny thing: one can go to
dutch museums and see italian landscapes by dutch painters, and go
through italian museums and find all the paintings by dutchmen on the
wall. Another reason: 15C the printing press.

it was a city thing. a courtly thing. an intellectual phenemenon, and
later a fashionable way of life. what italians called bella figura.

1300-1370: individual geniuses, but no "movement"
1370-1470: Florentine period: great things done in Florence, or by
florentines elsewhere
                   and great things done by foreingers in florence...
a [city] thing
1440-1500: spread to other italian cities and courts
1500-1600: spread over the alps to northern europe's courts and then cities

individual genius period

Boccaccio (1313-75) merchants son, dad wanted him to be lawyer, went
to naples and hung out with french court there(!), settled in
florence. wrote Decameron in Italian, set in the plague year, of 1348,
at the church of santa maria novella. The people ran out of town to
the countside... get away from the noxious air of the city, told 10
stories each day for 10 days... 100 tales. Immensely popular work, and
revealed a totally free, open spirit. But he also wrote an
encyclopedia of the classical gods, so the lay person could understand
latin classics! friend of petrarch, wrote a bio of dante. gave
lectures on the divine comedy. he was the first 'professor' of dante's

Petrarch (1304-1374) dad thrown out of florence and got a job in
france, at avignon, helping the pope. Petrarch grew up there, studied
law and said the 7 years were wasted ones. "I couldn't face the idea
of making a merchandise of my mind." In 1327 he caught sight of laura,
who inspired 366 poems. written in absolutely exquisite italian. in
1341 named poet laureate in rome. death of brother inspired his
'secret book', the most profound introspection since Augustine, and
its a diologue between petrarch and augustine... in which augustine
points out the flaws in petrarch's character. worked for sforzas. he
found lost works of cicero, translated homer into latin.

on books, he said "they are welcome companions, who are ready to
appear in public or go back onto their box. to speak or be silent, to
stay at home or go to the woods with you, to travel, to gossip, joke,
encourage, reprove, advise you, comfort you, and take care of you. to
teach you the worlds secrets, records of great deeds, rules of life,
moderation and good fortune, fortutide and ill, calmness and constancy
of behavior. these are learned and happy useful and ready companions,
who will never bring you tedium or lamentations, jealous mermers or
deception." how many of us would stand before our bookshelves and say

Petrarch said theology is a poem that has God as its subject.
renaissance does not equal the middle ages minus religion! it was very
religous. petrarch did criticise the papacy of course. but not the

PORTRAITS: 2. Florentine Movement. 24 hours ago i saw the sun explode
After death of petrarch and boccaccio, florence took it up. One city
big shot, callucio salutate 1341-1406. he founded many schools, there
was no univ at the time. he was a social and scholarly prolific:
maintains connections everywhere in europe, and attracted many figures
to florence. callucio brought them and secured them the means to live
while they did some great stuff. patronage. took cicero as his ideal:
family life and public service: are the great and stablizing factors.
not penance... civic republican humanism, created a place that people
can flourish. booster of florence, as well as profound belief in the
republican government and participation of citizens.

Marino of Verone (d. 1460) we have a shift in educational theory: yes
latin and greek in purity are the cornerstone... yes the literacy is
important, but the arts of the notary (producing public and private
documents too) are important. Guarino wants people going back to latin
and greek, and have people read the classical texts. "If people read
and read and read again classical literature, and people will emulate
the values found there. the virtues found there would permeate the
people reading them. they would become one." Logic too, a trivium
class, was the top dog in 12 and 13C, like grammar had been in
carolingian period. now rhetoric in 15C. Why? an astounding reason:
republic of virtue needs rhetoric- graceful language helps people
think properly, and cultivates public life of a great city.

the the leader: Lorenzo de medici: 1449-92. from nothing to the cloth
industry and to the banking houses, and in lorenzo's time, grandpas
bank was rich, and medici were the richest family in europe. you can
find the medici bank in florence today. head of state at 21. astute.
posed as a popular leader, dallied with the lower classes. also
diplomat of accomplishment. in 1444, peace of lodi was signed, and
everyone was at peace. so in lorenzo's time, it was quiet. french
invaded in 1494, but this is later.  Lorenzo cultivated culture during
these decades. wanted to make florence the cultural capital of europe.
it was. he spent half the public budge buying books! he was promoting
civic humanism alright. but by his patronage, he ushered in the
courtly phase of the renaissance.

Aenius Silvius 1405-1464... he was from tuscany from impovrished
family, went to sienna and wound up in florence. ambitious, attached
himself to the house of a famous family. after council of basle,
wandered all over europe. wrote learned treatises in latin on
education and history, also verses in Italian. went to rome in 1445,
1447 was a priest, 1448 a bishop, 1456 cardinal, 1458 elected Pope
Pius II. "I cast aside aeneus and took up pius." good joke... gave up
wild and randy wanderings... and became a serious pope. tried to set
up a crusade... failed, wrote a comprehensive refutation of the koran.
sounds medieval, it was.

Leonardo Da Vinci, illigitimate son of a lawyer and servant. studied
for 6 years then went to florence. handsome, graceful, singer,
interested in everything. but, latin was bad, greek was not existing.
he went to sforzas in 1482 and did : protraits, stage sets, maps,
irrigation plans for Po valley, installation of heating system in
sforza palace, and over 5000 sketches. some in code, some in mirror
image. tons of stuff. 1499 lost paycheck as sforzas lost power. went
to france. not a single finished statue, 12 paintings, but thousands
of drawings, restless and tireless. What else? he raised interest in
awareness of the structure and fucntion of nature. "A bird is working
in mathematical ways, it can be replicated by man."

High birthed Michaelangelo's family opposed his becoming an artist,
and he became incredibly famous and wealthy. Greek art is rediscovered
due to the Fall of Constantople- lots of the greek stuff was taken out
by the christians. they brought books, sculpture, tradition and other
art. so it was the model again! michaelangelo loved it and sculpted on
greek models, but finally, in the end, surpassed them.

during his time, there was a great increase in medical study, of the
studying of the human body through dissecting it. M studied it and
attended many of these. he studied human form and is realistic as it
had never been. went to rome and was commission to do a pieta, (pee
aye tah) (a mary holding a dead jesus), and did an astonishing
synthesis in 1496, of gothic, greek and christian art, which surpassed
anything that came before.

he went back to florence and did David. a study of the heroic. then
for Julius II in rome, did tomb sculptures... only parts finished, and
decided to undertake Julius II new desire: "but im not a painter!"
"but you can design it yourself and make a new comment on art and
philosophy and theology." On 31 oct 1512 it was unveiled. from the
creation of adam to the drunkenness of noah. the history of art
changed forever. the height and depravity of human beings. He was
patronized for others, and was a titan.

Why did it go up north? what happened to it when it moved into a
different cultural and politcial and social environment. This event is
crucial intellectual background to the reformation of european
civilization. its the bridge.

"The new learning" struck deep roots up north, and yet looked
different. in the north they spoke of Christian Humanism. Like regular
Humanism but different: "back to the sources" was the clarion cry, and
in italy those sources were more likely to be the greek and roman
classics in italy, they were usually the bible and church fathers in
the north. Both saw that one could become more like the person or
things being read about. the close analysis of a text was a magical
transfomation and that study is a path to improvement. Man is a flawed
creature, but perfectable through effort, through study. in both north
and south.

Eventual catholic protestant divide: the degree to which people could
improve themselves.

Now go back