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.
HUNDRED 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
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.
IBERIA 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.
ITALY 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
RENAISSANCE HRE 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.
LITHUANIA Union of Lublin 1569 became a powerful and stable kingdom until
MUSKOVY They overthrew the Mongols, who put an end to Kievan
Rus, in 1500s. They expanded to what would be the Russian
BYZANTIUM 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.
THE POPES MOVE TO AVIGNON 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.
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.
SCHISM 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
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.
PILGRIMS 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 together.
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
PLAGUE AND MATERIAL CONDITIONS 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
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 afar.
Renaissance Europe was a tough place.
So, what the hell was so 'Renaissance' about this???
A WORD (41) 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 superiority!
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?
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 unvarnished?
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
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.
WHAT CONSTITUTED THE
RENAISSANCE 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.
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 real.
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."
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.
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
WHY ITALY? 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
SPREAD OF THE RENAISSANCE 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
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
RENAISSANCE PORTRAITS (42) individual
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
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
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
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.
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 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."
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,
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
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.
THE RENAISSANCE CROSSES
THE ALPS (43) 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