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Renaissance and Reformation
During the middle ages much of the great advancements made by the Greeks and the Romans had been forgotten due to the decline of living conditions in Western Europe. People went from living comfortable lives with good jobs and educations, to living in very poor conditions, where there was constant disorder, war, poverty, and hunger. This time period is known as the Dark Ages The Dark Ages lasted for hundreds of years, as many generations of individuals lived and died in these terrible conditions. Then in the middle A.D. 1300s things slowly began to improve. People began again to discover the arts, and technologies of the Romans and Greeks, making life a little easier. With call this period of time the Renaissance. The Renaissance began around A.D. 1350 in Italy, and continued until about A.D. 1600.
The Renaissance In Italy
The Italian Peninsula had been home to the Roman Empire for centuries. It had been the world center of culture, power, business, and technology. The ideas that evolved and were developed in this region would have a lasting impact for thousands of years. Their location along important trade routes brought the peoples of the Italian Peninsula into close contact with many cultures throughout the world. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire became the most powerful nation in the region. Byzantine scholars had preserved much of the technology and culture of both the Romans as well as the Greeks.
During the middle ages, many people in Europe lived in terrible conditions. They believed that life was supposed to be difficult, and that they should not expect to have any comforts. As the Italians learned about the old Roman and Greek ways, they began to believe, as the ancients had, that life should be rich, and as comfortable as possible. They believed that a person should seek talents and skills, and that they should work to increase their standard of living, and the standards of living around them. The practice of studying ancient works by the Romans and Greeks became known as humanism. Those who studied these classical works became known as humanists. These humanists became popular throughout Italy in the mid A.D. 1300s.
The city-state of Florence in Italy was the location where the Italian Renaissance began. This city was ruled by a wealthy family known as the Medici family. The Medici’s were effective leaders.
Florence became one of the wealthiest cities in all of Western Europe. The Medici Family were avid supporters of the humanities. They donated money to help support the development of the arts in their city. They were an important reason why the humanist movement grew in strength and popularity.
Michelangelo was born near Florence, Italy in 1475. He died at the age of 89 years old in 1564. Although his first love was sculpture, he was also a incredible painter, artist and architect of the Renaissance period.
His most famous painting was the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where he painted many scenes from the Bible. It took him four years to complete his painting.
His most famous sculpture was David. The statue shows David ready to fight the giant Goliath. This statue is made out of marble. Michelangelo has depicted David before the battle. Davis is tense, but not so much in a physical as in a mental sense. The slingshot he carries over his shoulder is almost invisible, emphasizing that David's victory was one of cleverness, not sheer force.
He also sculpted Moses which Michelangelo felt that was his most lifelike creation. Legend has it that upon its completion he struck the right knee commanding, “Now speak!" as he felt that life was the only thing left inside the marble. There is a scar on the knee thought to be the mark of Michelangelo's hammer.
In 1546, Michelangelo was appointed architect of St’s Peter Basilica in the Vatican, and designed its dome.
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo (1452 – 1519) was a Florentine artist, one of the great masters of the High Renaissance, who was also celebrated as a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, and scientist. His profound love of knowledge and research was the keynote of both his artistic and scientific endeavors.
His innovations in the field of painting influenced the course of art for more than a century after his death, and his scientific studies—particularly in the fields of anatomy, optics, and hydraulics— anticipated many of the developments of modern science.
Although Leonardo produced a relatively small number of paintings, he was nevertheless an extraordinarily innovative and influential artist. The Giaconda Leonardo's most famous work, is as well known for its mastery of technical innovations as for the mysteriousness of its legendary smiling subject. This work is a consummate example of two techniques—sfumato and chiaroscuro. Sfumato is characterized by subtle transitions between color areas, creating a delicately atmospheric haze or smoky effect; it is especially evident in the enigmatic smile. Chiaroscuro is the technique of modeling and defining forms through contrasts of light and shadow.
Leonardo's many extant drawings, which reveal his brilliant draftsmanship and his mastery of the anatomy of humans, animals and plant life may be found in the principal European collections.
As a scientist Leonardo towered above all his contemporaries. His scientific theories, like his artistic innovations, were based on careful observation and precise documentation. Leonardo actually anticipated many discoveries of modern times. In anatomy he studied the circulation of blood and the action of the eye. He made discoveries in meteorology and geology, learned the effect of the moon on the tides, and surmised the nature of fossil shells. He invented a large number of ingenious machines. His flying devices, although not practicable, embodied sound principles of aerodynamics.
Raphael was an Italian painter and architect of the Italian Renaissance. Raphael is best known for his Madonnas and for his large figure compositions in the Vatican in Rome. The decoration of the Stanza della Segnatura was perhaps Raphael's greatest work. The four main fresco walls in the Stanza are occupied by the Disputa, Parnassus, Cardinal Virtues and School of Athens. The School of Athens (above) is a complex allegory of philosophy, showing Plato and Aristotle surrounded by philosophers, past and present, in a splendid architectural setting; it illustrates the historical continuity of Platonic thought. The School of Athens is perhaps the most famous of all Raphael's frescoes, and one of the culminating artworks of the High Renaissance. The general effect of the fresco is one of majestic calm, clarity, and equilibrium.
By the late A.D. 1500s the center of the Renaissance in Italy began to shift from Rome to the more wealthy city-state of Venice. Venice was located in the Mediterranean Sea among hundreds of tiny islands on the northeast edge of the Italian Peninsula. Its location made it ideal for trade.
Many in Venice grew wealthy, which allowed them to afford the finer pleasures of art, and the humanities. Their money attracted the attention of many of the artists, writers, and scholars in Rome. There was more money in Venice than in Rome, and as a result, it was easier for a humanist to make a living in Venice. Venice quickly became world famous for the high quality of art and literature that they were producing.
The Northern Renaissance
By the late A.D. 1400s the Renaissance was in full swing in the Italian Peninsula. As a result of the Renaissance, the Italian economy had grown stronger, and the living standards of those in the region had been greatly improved. As other people in Western Europe visited Italy they became fascinated with their ways of life, their Erasmus of Rotterdam culture, art, literary works, and customs. In A.D. 1494 the French invaded Italy. They brought a number of Italian artists and scholars back to France. Among them was an artist by the name of Leonardo Da Vinci. Soon many other monarchies including the English, Spanish, Germany, and even as far away as the Netherlands were actively employing humanists in their courts to help improve life. They adopted many of the beliefs of the humanists in Italy, but also modified them to suit their own needs and circumstances.
The English Renaissance
One of the last places to be reached by the Renaissance was the English countryside.
England was locked in a bloody civil war known as the War of The Roses. In the late A.D. 1400s this civil war was ended, and the Tudor family began to rule the nation. The newly enthroned king Henry VII invited Italian humanists to join his court, and teach his people. The Renaissance in England focused much more on literary works than in other areas. One of the most famous playwrights during this time period was a man named William Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote immensely popular plays that were attended by thousands of people.
The Spanish Renaissance
The Renaissance in Spain emerged from the Italian Renaissance and spread out to Spain during the 15th and 16th centuries. The year 1492, during the reign of the Catholic Kings, is commonly accepted as the beginning of the influence of the Renaissance in Spain.
This new focus in art, literature and science, inspired by Classical antiquity and especially the Greco-Roman tradition, receives the transcendental impulse in this year by various successive historical events, as the unification of the longed-for Christian kingdom (with the definitive taking of Granada and the successive expulsions of thousands of Muslim and Jewish believers) or the official discovery of the America.
Bartolomé de las Casas (14741566) defended that force does not have to be used against the native people. Francisco de Vitoria (1483-1546), professor of Salamanca, was among the first in establishing the basic concepts of the modern human rights. Among the most important artists in the Spanish Renaissance, there are important writers, as Jorge Manrique, Garcilaso de la Vega, Fray Luis de Leon and the Spanish mystics San Juan de la Cruz and Santa Teresa de Jesús. The Spanish humanist Miguel Servet (1511 –1553) was the first European to describe the function of blood circulation. His interests included many sciences: mathematics, astronomy and meteorology, geography, human anatomy, medicine and pharmacology. He is renowned in the history of several of these fields, particularly medicine and theology. He participated in the Protestant Reformation. Condemned by Catholics and Protestants alike, he was arrested and burnt at the stake as a heretic by order of the Protestant Geneva governing council.
Spanish Renaissance Art
The most important painter in Spanish Renaissance was El Greco (1541 – 1614) who was born in Crete. His style reflects elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance. In 1577, he moved to Toledo, where he lived and worked until his death. El Greco's style, which was not appreciated until the 20th century, is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation.
Entierro del Conde Orgaz
Caballero con la mano en el pecho
Entierro del Conde Orgaz
Spanish renaissance architecture In Spain there was a specifically Spanish Renaissance, that brought the influence of South Italian architecture, mixed with Gothic tradition and local idiosyncrasy. The new style is called Plateresque, because of the extremely decorated facades, that brought to the mind the decorative motifs of the intricately detailed work of silversmiths, the “Plateros”. The Palacio del Infantado, in Guadalajara, is a good example of this mix of gothic, mudejar and mendocino style influences. As decades passed, the Gothic influence disappeared and the research of an orthodox classicism reached high levels. From the mid 16th century, under such architects as Pedro Machuca, Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera there was a much closer adherence to the art of ancient Greece and Rome. A new style emerged with the work of Juan Bautista de Toledo, and Juan de Herrera in the Escorial: the Herrerian style, extremely sober and naked.
University of Alcalá de Henares, by Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón
El Escorial (by Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera)
University of Salamanca
Hostal de los Reyes Católicos en Santiago (by Enrique Egas)
As the Renaissance spread throughout Europe the standard of living among Europeans greatly improved. As this happened, more people could afford to have their children receive a formal education. With more people being able to read and write, the number of individuals who read the bible increased. Many began to criticize the Catholic Church for its abuses. There were many people who felt that the practices and teachings of the Church were not consistent with the teachings found in the scriptures. The result was what historians call the Protestant Reformation. The protestant reformation gathered support, beginning with the efforts of a German monk born in A.D. 1483. This monk’s name was Martin Luther.
Martin Luther Martin Luther dedicated his life to learning and teaching theology. The more he studied, the more he felt that the Catholic Church had gone astray. He collected a list of 95 different points of doctrine where he felt that the Church was incorrect. On October 31st, 1517 Martin wrote these 95 points of doctrine on a placard, which he nailed to the door of the Catholic Church in Wittenberg, Germany. These 95 points of doctrine were copied and sent throughout Germany, resulting in the Catholic Church loosing out on the collection of money that they collected in exchange for indulgences. The sale of indulgences was one of the 95 practices that Martin Luther disagreed with. This practice allowed people to buy forgiveness for their sins.
As the money from the sale of indulgences greatly declined, Pope Leo X grew upset, and sent convoys to Martin Luther in an attempt to get him to recant his disagreement. Martin Luther refused to do so stating that he had an obligation to God to do what he felt was right. By A.D. 1520 the Catholic Church had had enough. They declared Martin Luther a heretic. A crime punishable by death. Luther escaped and went into hiding, where he translated the Bible into German. Martin Luther founded a new religion known as Lutheranism.
As Lutheranism gained influence in Germany religious leaders in the neighboring country of Switzerland began a reformation of their own. Unlike Martin Luther, however, these leaders wanted to establish a religious theocracy, or a government, based on their new religion. The first of these leaders was a man named Zwingli. Zwingli established his theocracy in the city of Zurich. His government successfully ruled the city for six years. Then in A.D. 1531 a Catholic army of 8,000 soldiers conquered and overthrew them. In the mid A.D. 1500s another religious leader by the name of John Calvin began working to bring about reform in the Catholic Church. By A.D. 1541 John Calvin had managed to setup his theocracy in Geneva. The city government forced all citizens to attend church several times a week, and had very strict rules about what people could and could not do. According to this doctrine, certain people were predestined to heaven, while others were predestined to hell. They believed that an individual could do nothing to change their predestination: calvinism.
The Church of England The protestant movement arrived in England after the Pope would not grant King Henry VIII Tudor the right to divorce his wife Catherine. After being denied the right to divorce, King Henry VIII convinced Parliament to declare the Church in England separate from that of the Catholic Church, and to place himself at the head of the Church. It would be name the Anglican Church. After becoming the head of the newly formed church, King Henry VIII granted his divorce. He married Anne Boleyn. After she failed to produce a male heir, King Henry VIII had her executed on charges of treason. He would marry four more times, and would have only one son, who would rule as King Edward VI.
Edward would only rule for a short time, and would die in A.D. 1553. Following his death Henry’s Catholic daughter came to the throne. Her name was Mary. Queen Mary attempted to use fear and death to bring the Catholic Church back into England. After putting many people to death, she became known as Bloody Mary. Queen Mary was overthrown by her half-sister Elizabeth I. Queen Elizabeth was protestant, and helped to strengthen the Church of England. She brought all the people together by making the Church of England more like the Catholic Church, while still maintaining it as a separate church.
The Counter Reformation
In Spain and Italy, where Spanish power posed a significant block to Protestantism, the internal reform of the Catholic Church was pushed forward by the foundation of many new religious Orders devoted to charitable and evangelical work in the lay world, as well as by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) founded by Ignatius Loyola in 1534, during the reign of Charles V.
Within the Catholic Church, the resistance to Protestantism was a priority. The Council of Trent, held between 1545 and 1563, prohibited reunion with protestants, and a series decrees aimed at reforming the clergy and church organization was issued. Although the pronouncements of the Council of Trent were not immediately translated into actions, the Council signaled that the Catholic Church was to become an evangelical movement, seeking to win converts both among heretics in Europe and the “pagans” of the overseas world. Crucial in this process was the growing identification between the Catholic Church and absolute monarchs.
In France a resurgence of Catholic piety and fundamentalism eventually put a limit to any further expansion of Protestantism. In 1685 around 200,000 Protestants (Huguenots) were forced to convert to Catholicism. In the Netherlands a Calvinist minority seized power in 1572 but had to fight a prolonged war with Spain which was to last until 1648. In Germany the Peace of Augsburg (1555) began to break down. Some princes converted to Calvinism in defiance of the Peace, and the spread of Catholic evangelism created enormous tension in Europe, culminating in the start of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). By the end of the war in 1648, when the Treaty of Wesphalia recognized a new order in Europe, Catholicism had been re-established in France, Poland, Hungary and Bohemia.
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