European Renaissance Represents A Rebirth Term Paper

Length: 11 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Drama - World Type: Term Paper Paper: #89632125 Related Topics: Once Upon A Time, Niccolo Machiavelli, Utopia, European
Excerpt from Term Paper :

The Donations of Constantine were in fact a fraud - a fact that could only have been revealed through the subjecting of the "original" document to unbiased evaluation. Yet Leonardo Bruni, much more than Valla, deserves the credit for shaping the modern idea of history. Advancing on the style and technique of such Classical authors as Herodotus and Thucydides, Bruni developed a more modern, and scientific approach to the subject. Though not all of his writings can be taken as shining exemplars of the new commitment to accuracy and truth, Bruni at his best, charted new territory for historical scholarship.

Bruni's monumental Historiarum Florentini Populi Libri XII (hereafter Historiae) is often singled out as an exemplary work, one that set the whole enterprise of history writing on a new plane.... Bruni destroys the legends surrounding the founding and early history of Florence, and then recasts the story on the basis of hard evidence.... Bruni's recourse to... classical rhetorical devices did not in itself preclude the application of critical categories.... Bruni's Historiae are best seen as a projection of the values championed by the city's emerging political elites. Bruni's critique of earlier versions of the Florentine past is thus not the product of a pure scholar seeking to reconstruct the past. It corresponds instead to a new ethos, one of whose chief characteristics was a detached, skeptical attitude towards consolidated traditions, both cultural and political.

Once the questioning begins it is difficult to stop. Renaissance scholars soon took the fledgling historical method in new directions.

Niccolo Machiavelli extended the discussion of the past to a discussion of the present. Machiavelli's the Prince was meant to serve as a model for the rulers of his own day. Broadening the scope of scientific investigation, Machiavelli saw history as akin to medicine.

Medicine and history resembled one another in that both stored up past experience for present practical purposes. In the preface to the Discourses, he noted that the basis of medicine was "nothing other than the experiments made by the ancient physicians, on which present physicians base their judgements," and deplored the failure of princes and republics to use ancient experience of government in the same way.

To most individuals of the New Millennium, there can be few disciplines that are more scientific than medicine. To conceive of a connection in method between history and medicine, was to realize that history could be as minutely and factually dissected as the human body. It also meant that the lessons of the past could be seen as part of a genuinely verifiable formula for development. One could examine past "experiments," rate their effectiveness, and use the data gained therefrom to postulate new experiments, and new outcomes. In the Prince, Machiavelli was endeavoring to show the rulers and politicians of his own day that politics was a science, like anything else. It was his acceptance of the validity of investigation leading to proof - his validation of the scientific method - that gave added weight to his own theories. The new ideas postulated by Machiavelli could be shown to possess a firm factual underpinning. The rulers of Fifteenth Century Italy could understand the utility of things that had been proved to work. They could also glean the new lesson that logic, reason, and scientific methods of deduction were of value to themselves and their successors. The Prince encouraged rulers to govern in a rational manner. This great work of political science ushered in a new era in state administration, foreign relations, and the response of governments to a whole range of potential problems.

Machiavelli's ideas would be the inspiration for still others. Erasmus would, in the following century, put forth a clear statement of the historical method. He employed rigid theoretical guidelines in his work on St. Jerome.

Erasmus wrote a critical and well-documented life of Jerome which also had a definite rhetorical character and which shared in his basic aim to reform


In the opening section of the life he also set down the critical standards that would guide him in his narrative, and he produced a remarkable statement on historical method.

Erasmus' work once more expanded the range of the historical method, and scientific, rational thinking. By applying the historical method to a work of theology, the philosopher was recognizing that even the mystical cosmos conformed to certain recordable and reproducible laws. He also showed the way forward to a learned discussion of ideal situations based on real-life past instances, and a spirit of experimentation. Erasmus attempt to describe a possible Utopia represented a more comprehensive, and still more humane, use of the historical method than that which had been attempted by Machiavelli. Machiavelli had employed the rationality of the historical method, and historical perspective, in what was essentially a primer for dictatorship - a guide to the personal aggregation of absolute power.

The Utopia of St. Thomas More was the logical Renaissance outcome of applying the historical method, and historical perspective, in a scheme designed to effect the greatest possible good for the widest segment of society. Though contemporary with Erasmus, More's work employed historical science to postulate the existence of a world that, as of yet, had a reality only in the mind. It was the logical outcome of a firm belief in scientific exploration, of cause and effect, and of proof through experiment. More was showing that, through a judicious use of the historical method, and the kindred historical perspective, one could, based upon the lessons of history, formulate a plan for a better world - a world that had never actually existed, but which potentially could exist. "Since one of the universal elements of Western society in the Middle Ages -- corporative life above the level of the family -- is wholly lacking in Utopia, in this important respect Utopia is distinctly unmedieval."

More's work, like Erasmus', served as a synthesis of the beliefs of the time, combined with theories brought to their logical conclusion. Both men were postulating the existing of an ideal world that was founded on Christian Humanism - a world in which all men and women were dedicated to the creation of the best possible society, and to those plans that would benefit as much of humankind as scientifically possible.

The Renaissance's discovery of the concept of historical perspective was to have dramatic consequences at the time, but even more astounding consequences for the future. The realization that actions had direct consequences, that a provable pattern actually existed, forced human beings to look at, and analyze their actions. Things could be seen to work because they truly made sense; and those things that "did not make sense" could be dispensed with - dispensed with the full understanding of what it was that was wrong with them. Our generation has inherited the taste for scientific experimentation that began in those far-off centuries. A reliance on the firm belief that there is a real logic to the world, and the cosmos, has permitted us to make discoveries that would have been impossible for our ancestors. Once upon a time, human beings took everything on Faith. Yet, Faith left many things unexplained, and many problems without answers. The understanding of historical perspective has taught us that the human world is what we make it. Faith and Divinity are not illogical - they are part of the rational scheme. Understand the Past, and we can hope to make a better future.

Works Cited

Dover, K.J., et al., eds. Ancient Greek Literature. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Ferguson, Arthur B. Utter Antiquity: Perceptions of Prehistory in Renaissance England. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993.

Garraghan, Gilbert J. A Guide to Historical Method. Ed. Jean Delanglez. New York: Fordham University Press, 1946.

Grafton, Anthony and Ann Blair, eds. The Transmission of Culture in Early Modern Europe. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.

Hexter, J.H. The Vision of Politics on the Eve of the Reformation: More, Machiavelli, and Seyssel. New York: Basic Books, 1973.

Ianziti, Gary. "Bruni on Writing History." Renaissance Quarterly 51.2 (1998): 367+.

Leinhardt, Gaea. "6 Learning to Reason in History: Mindlessness to Mindfulness." Cognitive and Instructional Processes in History and the Social Sciences. Eds. Carretero, Mario and James F. Voss. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994. 131-156.

Levine, Joseph M. The Battle of the Books: History and Literature in the Augustan Age. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Olin, John C. Erasmus, Utopia, and the Jesuits: Essays on the Outreach of Humanism. New York: Fordham University Press, 1994.

Siraisi, Nancy. "Anatomizing the Past: Physicians and History in Renaissance Culture [*]." Renaissance Quarterly 53.1 (2000): 1.

Works Cited

Boehm, Christopher. Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Schweitzer, Peter R. "Chapter 1 Russian Anthropology, Western Hunter-Gatherer Debates, and Siberian…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited" target="_blank" REL="NOFOLLOW">

Boehm, Christopher. Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999." target="_blank" REL="NOFOLLOW">

Schweitzer, Peter R. "Chapter 1 Russian Anthropology, Western Hunter-Gatherer Debates, and Siberian Peoples." Hunters and Gatherers in the Modern World: Conflict, Resistance, and Self-Determination. Eds. Schweitzer, Peter P., Megan Biesele, and Robert K. Hitchcock. New York: Berghahn Books, 2000. 29-51.


Cite this Document:

"European Renaissance Represents A Rebirth" (2005, April 30) Retrieved June 16, 2021, from

"European Renaissance Represents A Rebirth" 30 April 2005. Web.16 June. 2021. <>

"European Renaissance Represents A Rebirth", 30 April 2005, Accessed.16 June. 2021,

Related Documents
Renaissance of Europe
Words: 1039 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Mythology - Religion Paper #: 6881691

Renaissance of Europe The European Renaissance is characterized, in part, by the sweeping changes that took place with regards to religion, in particular, in the Catholic Church. The papacy was becoming increasingly corrupt during this time and was full of hypocrisy. This ultimately led to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. This paper will examine just how corrupt the church was at this time and how this led to its

Reformation and Renaissance Thinkers' Criticism
Words: 1450 Length: 5 Pages Topic: Mythology - Religion Paper #: 8003963

Luther's thought incited anti-Roman sentiment and thought initially in his native Germany. He strongly influenced sympathetic local princes to confiscate church lands and property and to redistribute these. He urged for the end of the practice of granting indulgences. Through his work, 95 Theses, he questioned the worth and truthfulness of indulgences. The Roman Catholic Church "granted" indulgences to absolve one's sin from a "treasury of merits" of the

Art During Renaissance the Evolution of Art
Words: 2107 Length: 7 Pages Topic: Art  (general) Paper #: 43948005

Art During Renaissance The Evolution of Art During the Renaissance The Renaissance period is defined as a cultural movement that spanned approximately from the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe (Brotton 2006, p. 6). This period in the history of art included the painting, decorative arts and sculpture of the period and for many was considered a

Italian Renaissance
Words: 2739 Length: 8 Pages Topic: Art  (general) Paper #: 50223202

Italian Renaissance Renaissance ("Rebirth") refers to the period after the Middle Ages when a series of dynamic intellectual, cultural and artistic movements from the 14th to 16th century catapulted Europe towards rapid development leading to the Age of Enlightenment, the industrial revolution and the modern time. During this rich period of exciting developments in arts, sciences and politics, Italy was the major catalyst and became the cultural leader of Europe. It

Da Vinci and Michaelangelo During the Renaissance,
Words: 1115 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Art  (general) Paper #: 99065534

Da Vinci and Michaelangelo During the Renaissance, artists evolved many of the techniques which are now employed in creating works of art. There are many great artists who came out of this historical time period and while they have somewhat similar techniques and similar subject matters, they all have unique attributes as well. In this time, one of the biggest differences between artists of the Renaissance and ones that came before

Italian Renaissance the Dignity of
Words: 2316 Length: 8 Pages Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy Paper #: 24276403

People were traveling to lands like Jerusalem or Egypt, the Greek Islands and to cities like Barcelona, Lisbon or Bruges. Merchandise and aliens were bringing along traditions and civilizations different from their own. Another factor that influenced a cultural unity in Italy during the Renaissance was according to Welch the claim of being the inheritor of Rome every major Italian city had. The culture of the antiquity, Latin or Greek