1 Terrell DG, Short Notes on the Renaissance II Short Notes on the Renaissance II David G Terrell May 2010 Comparing Zophy

and Burckhardt As I reviewed Zophy (Chapter 4) and Burckhardt (Part 1) again, I noticed two differences that might affect the reader’s perceptions of the Renaissance. I labeled them:   Temporal versus Geospatial orientation Evidentiary/Deductive versus Pedagogical presentation

Burckhardt primarily presents the information in a temporal sequence and in a deductive manner. He leads the reader through the political history of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Italy, delving into the nature of the despotic city-states; developing understanding on the locations such as Naples, Milan, the Papacy, and Venice that provide a basis for understanding the depth of difference—the contrast—exhibited by Florence. Only then does he pause to briefly delve into regional diplomacy, military issues, and the Papacy in topical asides. In summary, Burckhardt leads us through the evidence that caused him to assess Florence’s preeminent position in the Renaissance; helping the reader to construct a nuanced model of the status quo existing in the fourteenth century and the characteristics of the dynamic changes wrought by thinking experimentation in politics, art, architecture, and the other arts and sciences of the Trivium and the Quadrivium. Zophy chooses to address the period from a geospatial perspective through the presentation of stated facts. He begins with Florence, tracing the city’s political leaders through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Then, he separately examines the Papal States, Naples, Sicily, Milan, Mantua, and Venice; treating each one to a separate chronology. This presentation fragments the city-states into separate mental domains and minimizes the reader’s ability to sense the interrelations between the cities, during these two centuries. Where Burckhardt weaves a tapestry, Zophy threads beads upon a string. Audience of the two books. I have to keep reminding myself that the two books were written for two different audiences. Zophy tells us he intends his book to be "a student friendly text…more representative than comprehensive.‖ (Zophy 2009, xv) Burckhardt, on the other hand expresses doubts that his book will meet ―the approval of competent judges.‖ (Burckhardt 1904, 4)

2 Terrell DG, Short Notes on the Renaissance II I feel like I fit somewhere in between the two; being a little underwhelmed at Zophy while Burckhardt is not quite like drinking from a fire hose. Not quite. How did the Europeans rediscover the wisdom from past? What role did geography have in where the Renaissance started? Why did the Renaissance start in Italy? Hay takes his start by asserting three truths. First, the Renaissance occurred between c1325 and c1700. Second, it started in Italy during the 14th and 15th centuries. Third, the ―style of living‖ experienced by persons of the Renaissance is demonstrably different from that of people who lived before and after the period. This style, encompassing the entirety of the physical, social, religious, spiritual and metaphysical environment, witnessed many significant innovations. While he acknowledges that the innovations only affected a privileged minority, that minority was dominant in European society and politics (Hay 1961, 1-9). Geography. The geography of Italy, in a literal sense, made Italy. The Alps provided a protective arch around the northern plain that, in large measure, moderated the winters, kept back the barbarians and formed a linguistic barrier. The Alps and the seas deterred all but the hardiest and most determined of outsiders from invading the peninsula. Internally, the Apennine ridge down the length of Italy worked against unifying forces. The two geographic forces protected the peninsula from external tampering, while insuring local socio-cultural dynamics were never completely able to integrate. (Hay 1961, 26-28) Origins. The significant events that spawned the Renaissance were taken by Italians and more especially, by people living in Florence (Hay 1961, 10). The geographic factors, already briefly discussed, made Italy an enclave that allowed for a period of uninhibited political and cultural development (Hay 1961, 58-59). In some respects, this paralleled the isolation thrust upon the Hellenic peninsula after the end of the Bronze Age in 1200 BC. Though the Italian experience was neither as prolonged nor intense as the proto-Grecian experience, the isolation allowed each civilization to develop in isolation from influences surrounding cultures would have injected into the nascent society. Rediscovery. Medieval Europe had taken much from the Roman Empire, predominately its urban orientation and its law. The first provided an environment for the rapid prototyping and evolution of social and political structures. The second created an interest in learning outside of theology and a respect for the ―wisdom of the ancients.‖ It is not, therefore, unusual to this historian to see that in the early part of the fourteenth century, some scholars became interested in other antique writings. The Renaissance consisted of cultural changes that shifted attitudes. A new educational program taught new attitudes about literature and morality. A new art, exemplified in painting, sculpture and architecture, inserted itself into the life of the community, and of the person. A few individuals, especially Petrarch, Boccaccio and Giotto, exercised the

3 Terrell DG, Short Notes on the Renaissance II moderate freedom allowed by the social turmoil to investigate writings outside the accepted domains of law, medicine, theology and metaphysics—and to write of them in their vernacular language. These men found guidance in the classical authors. Guidance that seemed more applicable to the problems of their lives than that they received from traditional, more recent, teachings (Hay 1961, 69-80) What is Humanism? Ever since Italian university students started referring to their professors of studia humanitatis as umanisti – as opposed to their various legisti, juristi, canonisti and artisti – we have had humanists. The humanism they taught was more strictly defined than that denoted by the word today (Kristeller, 22). The humanities as they were understood during the mid-fifteenth century in Italy consisted of earning simultaneously the functional equivalent of two graduate certificates. The first was in Public Communications and required one to learn and demonstrate significant verbal and written communication skills (grammar, rhetoric and poetry) in Latin and Greek. The second was in Ethics, and consisted of absorbing moral lessons and paradigms through the deep study of various exemplary ancient texts. The course work required for the two certificates were integrated in that the understanding of the ethics taught by, or absorbed from, the orations, poems, letters and speeches that made up ancient literature was to be expressed in clear verbal and written forms, based upon those used by the ancient authors. Humanism was a course of study based upon ancient literature and did not include the other social sciences and intellectual skills coming into their own during the Renaissance, which we have since grouped under the headings of logic, mathematics, natural philosophy, metaphysics, sociology, anthropology, etc. The fundamental goal was to learn how to speak and write ―well‖ and the standards of measure were the writings of the ancients (Kristeller, 23-25). Renaissance as generational memory loss What would be your estimate as to the number of years required to make the Renaissance's shift in artistic attitude? The traditional length of a generation is 20-25 years and I wonder if the shift was a generational one. For example, my children are the fourth generation since my grandfather became an adult in the Great Depression. My father grew up in that time and suffered the effects. I heard the stories first hand but my father died before he could relate them to my children. I told a few of them to my children but they almost certainly seemed like myth.

4 Terrell DG, Short Notes on the Renaissance II Their attitude towards economics is "less morbid" than mine and would have elicited harsh warnings from my father and predictions of doom from my grandfather. I suppose they also have a "brighter feeling" about the future than I do. Post-Black Death world as a Low Place Pondering the question, ―But I wonder if some of the early humanists were trying to mentally escape more than lift humanity?‖ To answer this question, we would have to know whether the early humanists believed they were at a "very low place." I have not started Zieglar’s The Black Death but I have thumbed through it. The last chapter is called ―The Effects on the Church and Man’s Mind.‖ (Ziegler 1969, 210) Scanning the chapter, I see Ziegler making an argument that mental scars were inevitable, and most certainly were connected with the Church. He says things like ―medieval man felt that his Church had let him down.‖ (Ziegler, 210) I think the survivors would have been beset with the mixed feelings of guilt and relief that I have experienced myself after a close brush with impersonal death. There is guilt over having survived when the man next to you did not; mingled with relief over having escaped to see your family again. I saw the extremes of response that Ziegler mentions; the dichotomy of those who get extremely religious and those who abandon social norms in an ecstasy of criminal and libertine behaviors – with rarely anyone acting unscathed (Ziegler, 221). The plague damaged the relationship between clergy and laity, to be sure. The shattering of faith; or, at least, the shattering of man’s demanding expectations of their paternal God, created a gap between man and God. The gap was possible only because the clergy had completely assumed the role of mediator between God and man and now, the clergy was shown, in their eyes, to be lacking in their ability to invoke God’s action in the lives of men. It was in this vacuum that the ancient writings came to be so important. It was an alternative way of life that shut out the priest. These writings held sway until the scriptures became widely available. When they became a more accessible and familiar form of classical literature, and promised a personal relationship with deity, the Reformation created a synthesis of Christian Deism and Humanism. Machiavelli and Erasmus Machiavelli and Erasmus evoked two views of the archetypical Prince that are very telling. In a sense, the differences their ideals exists in the nature of their virtues. Interestingly, these are the

5 Terrell DG, Short Notes on the Renaissance II same virtues Martin Luther classified in his comments on rulers. As Luther considered those who rule and their position relative to God, he made a distinction between the natural man and the Christian based upon the values one should expect from them. To Luther, the natural man was not evil, except when acting with self-interest. Such a person, acting with integrity, could be entrusted with ruling a nation if they did so ―with justice, equity, and even magnanimity.‖ (Bainton 1950, 186, 188) These same virtues seem to permeate Machiavelli, whose ideal prince deals prudently; treats men well, or crushes them; and, does not shun being feared, acting as a beast when necessary, in the pursuit of a peaceful society (Machiavelli 2009 (org. 1532), 4, 47-49). Luther also speaks of several Christian virtues and enumerates them as charity, patience, humility, and long-suffering. He attributes the presence of these virtues to the influence of Christ and the Church. To him, these virtues are alien to the natural man and only attainable through the grace of God (Bainton 1950, 188-189). These are also the virtues Erasmus extols in his Education of the Christian Prince, who is enjoined to‖ ―Follow the right, do violence to no one, plunder no one, sell no public office, be corrupted by no bribes. To be sure, your treasury will have far less in it than otherwise, but take no thought for that loss, if only you have acquired the interest from justice. … If you cannot defend your realm without violating justice, without wanton loss of human life, without great loss to religion, give up and yield to the importunities of the age!‖ (Erasmus 1963 (org. 1516), 154-5) Therefore, I believe the natural versus Christian view of virtues well characterizes the differences between Machiavelli’s and Erasmus’ ideal prince. Allegory in describing complexity. With respect to my work, I have been thinking much lately about the use of metaphor and allegory to describe complex concepts in fewer words than would normally be needed. Metaphor is very dependent on language, cultural referents and relative age of the transmitter and receiver but, when their use hits the mark, they are most useful in helping one convey a tacit but complex thought model of a similarly complex phenomenon. (Smith 2006, 84-87). More Definition of Humanism John,

6 Terrell DG, Short Notes on the Renaissance II The ancient writings certainly provided artists, philosophers and the rest with an alternative to Scriptures. So, they had new material (well, old stuff rediscovered) to talk about and use in their orations, poetry, paintings and sculpture. But to say they "learned to use Humanism" is a very broad statement akin to saying that I learned to use my History degree. There is a great deal of detail behind the world "humanism,‖ even in the limited sense the word had during the fifteenth century. For example, Kristeller puts it this way: By the first half of the fifteenth century, the studia humanitatis came to stand for a clearly defined cycle of scholarly disciplines, namely grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry, and moral philosophy, and the study of each of these subjects was understood to include the reading and interpretation of its standard ancient writers in Latin and, to a lesser extent, in Greek. This meaning of the studia humanitatis remained in general use through the sixteenth century and later, and we may still find an echo of it in our use of the term "humanities.‖ Thus Renaissance, humanism was not as such a philosophical tendency or system, but rather a cultural and educational program which emphasized and developed an important but limited area of studies. This area had for its center a group of subjects that was concerned essentially neither with the classics nor with philosophy, but might be roughly described as literature. (Kristeller 1979, 22-23) As to the uses of humanities, as defined above, it seems to me that they were more properly the skills used by the secretaries and advisors of politicians; and by teachers. Now, after the mid-fifteenth century, the prestige of the universities and the fact that practically every scholar had been grounded in the humanities greatly expanded the influence of the humanist subjects. This was when the main thinkers began to include philosophy in the curriculum (Kristeller 1979, 29). This muddied the definition of ―humanist studies‖ but the inclusion did have an influence on the society, and its leaders. This is where the ―individualism,‖ to which you refer, originates. Quoting Kristeller again: Another characteristic feature [of the influence of humanism on Renaissance culture] is the tendency to express, and to consider worth expressing, the concrete uniqueness of one's feelings, opinions, experiences, and surroundings, a tendency which appears in the biographical and descriptive literature of the time as well as in its portrait painting, which is present in all the writings of the humanists, and which finds its fullest philosophical expression in Montaigne, who claims that his own self is the main subject matter of his philosophy (Kristeller 1979, 30). As to humanism as a tenant of Machiavelli, I would be interested in hearing more on your ideas when (of if) we get the opportunity.

7 Terrell DG, Short Notes on the Renaissance II Machiavelli, to me, exemplifies the aspect of humanism that places an emphasis on the privileged place that a human being, particularly a ―noble‖ human being, has in society and in the universe. Nobility meant freedom from coercion through the ability to coerce others to do one’s will. Life for the Prince centered in the exercise of one’s personal power in a manner that protected and expanded that personal power. This is why Machiavelli gives so much advice about how to push one’s subjects, but only so much, lest they rebel – to be nice, as long as they obey. The fact that Machiavelli was able to voice his opinions were due to the relative freedom of expression and the basis of his thought could be somewhat supported by appealing to historians like Suetonius.

David G Terrell Herndon, Virginia

Bainton, Roland H. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1950. Burckhardt, Jacob. "The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy." Google Books. 1904. http://books.google.com/books?id=2EZdAAAAMAAJ (accessed May 11, 2010). Erasmus, Desiderius. The Education of a Christian Prince. Translated by Lester K Born. New York: Octagon Press for Columbia University Press, 1963 (org. 1516). Hay, Denys. The Italian Renaissance in its Historical Background. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961. Kristeller, Paul Oscar. Renaissance Thought and its Sources. Edited by Michael Mooney. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979. Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Lexington, Kentucky: CreateSpace, 2009 (org. 1532). Smith, Edward A. Complexity, Networking and Effects-Based Approaches to Operations. Online (http://www.dodccrp.org/files/Smith_Complexity.pdf). Washington, DC: DoD Command and Control Research Program, 2006. Ziegler, Philip. The Black Death. Phoenix Mill, Gloucerstershire: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1969.

8 Terrell DG, Short Notes on the Renaissance II Zophy, Jonathan W. A Short History of the Renaissance and Reformation Europe. 4th Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009.
© David G. Terrell, 2009-2011, except where otherwise noted, content is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. For permission to reprint under terms outside the license, contact davidterrell80@hotmail.com.

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