Outline of Renaissance and Reformation

This post goes from 1400 to 1610 and covers history, philosophy, religion, literature, and art and architecture.

Renaissance means “rebirth.” The rebirth of what?

If you’re in a hurry, use the ctrl-f word search to find your term.

Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.

This post has a Conclusion section at the end, which asks the Western world to remember some things.

Let’s get started.

New Monarchies, Reformation, and Reactions

I. Introduction to Renaissance

A. Expanded Timeframe:

1.. 1400 is approximate

2. 1485: Richard III, Yorkist king, died

3. 1492: Columbus

4. 1517: Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

5. 1555: Religious Peace of Augsburg

6. 1603: Death of Elizabeth I of England

7. 1610: Assassination of Henry IV of France

B. Fine arts

1. Revolution

a. Architecture

b. Painting

c. Sculpture

d. Recovery of antique monuments

C. Literature, philosophy, and theology

1. Passion for antiquity

a. Discovery of manuscripts.

2. Turkish threat

a. In East made Greek scholars migrate to Italy (1400)

b. Constantinople fell in 1453

3. Philology and criticism

4. Result

a. Correct knowledge of classics

b. Fresh taste in poetry

c. New systems of thought

d. More accurate analysis of world

e. Finally to Lutheran reformation

D. Science

1. Copernicus and Galileo

a. Discovery of (or prominence given to) solar system

2. Anatomy

a. Vesalius’ and Harvey’s theory of blood circulation

3. True scientific method

E. Politics

1. Extinction of feudalism

2. Great nationalities of Europe develop

3. Growth of the monarchy

4. Limitation of ecclesiastical authority

5. Gradual sense of popular freedom

a. All this explodes in Revolutions later

F. Explorations and inventions

1. Exploration of America and East

2. Printing press and engraving

3. Compass and telescope

4. Paper and gunpowder (borrowed from Chinese)

G. Caution needed

1. Postulate four ages:

A = pre-Christian, classical world

B = Middle Ages

C = Contemporaries (1400’s)

D = Renaissance

a. Reacts to the values of Age B its immediate predecessor  A

b. Age C returns to Age A, the long-distant, idealized past

c. But Age C unconsciously retain many unacknowledged attitudes surviving from Age B

2. Result

a. Out of conscious interaction between C and A, and persistent influence of B upon C ….

b. Age D emerges

Early Renaissance

I.  Italy

A.  Time

1.  1400 is approximate

2.  French Invasion in 1494

II.  Communes in Cent. and N. Italy (1300-1494)

A.  Description

1.  Association

a.  Judges, notaries, merchants, and other men of substance, bound together by oaths

2.  Purpose

a.  Maintenance of peace

b.  Defence of the cities

c.  Promotion of general interests

3.  How

a.  Feuding of Emperor and Pope

1)  German Hohenstaufen in Italy

2)  Conrad III (r. 1138-1152)

3)  Frederick I (r. 1152-1190)

4)  Henry VI (r. 1190-1198)

5)  Frederick II (1194-1250)

6)  French kings rule Naples from 1266-1435 until driven out by Duke Alfonso of Sicily

b.  Guelphs and Ghibellines

1)  Guelphs supported the papacy

2)  Ghibellines supported emperor

3)  Guelphs split into Blacks and Whites

4)  Dante was a White and was exiled in 1302

c.  Result

1)  Any of these four could control

4.  Where

a.  Milan and its Duchy

b.  Florence and its Republic

c.  Venice and its Republic

d.  Rome and its papal state

e.  Naples and its kingdom

B.  Consuls

1.  Who

a.  Central officials

b.  Two to three to over twenty

c.  Name taken from Roman empire

2.  When and How

a.  Elected for not more than a year

b.  Elected by military families, their vassals (secundi milites or valvassores) and “commoners”

c.  Existence based on recognition of Western emperor

3.  What

a.  Exercised power alongside bishops in early days, but power of bishops beginning to fade

b.  Negotiate treaties

c.  Wage war

d.  Preside over high courts

C.  Magnati or grandi

1.  Who

a.  Patricians

b.  Old feudal, wealthy families

c.  Enriched by communes and commerce

D.  Populo Grosso (grasso)

1.  Who

a.  Guilds of artisans, manufacturers, merchants, and bankers

b.  Colleges of judges and notaries

c.  A few even forced themselves into the commune

d.  Newly arrived immigrants

2.  What

a.  Organized to protect themselves politically and economically

b.  Occasionally met in Assembly

c.  Had their own militia

d.  Demanded fair taxes and share of communal offices

E.  Populo Minuto

1.  Who

a.  Laborers

b.  Often remained unmarried

c.  In 1457 one-third of population of Florence (30k) was registered as paupers, that is, having no wealth at all

2.  What

a.  No corporate representation in the Florentine communes

b.  Outside the guild system

c.  Ciompi Revolt of 1378-1382

1)  Little people sick and tired

2)  Feuding btwn old and new rich

3)  Social anarchy after Plague which cut city pop. in half

4)  Collapse of banking, leaving poor vulnerable

3.  Where

a.  Live in destitution, paid minimal taxes

b.  Move from country village to working-class neighbors, or from city to city in search of day labor

4.  Renaissance?

a.  Prob. aware of a R only by seeing buildings and statues

F.  Italy was more urbanized than any other country:

1.  Naples: 210,000

2.  Venice: 160,000

3.  Milan, Palermo: 70,000

4.  Bologna, Florence: 60,000

5.  40 towns had more than 10,000

a. 20 of them had 25,000 or more

G.  Rural

1.  Who

a.  Farmers or otherwise attached to agriculture

b.  Only 13% of pop. live in towns with 10,000+

c.  87% did not

2.  What

a.  They provide the food for themselves and urbanites

3.  Renaissance?

a.  Probably never knew of any Renaissance

H.  Slaves

1.  Causes

a.  War with Muslims

b.  Bubonic Plague (1347-51) causes huge demand

2.  Result

a.  Many races go to many places

b.  By end of 14th cent., nearly every well-to-do household in Tuscany had at least one slave

c.  In Italy owners have complete control, even over bodies

d.  Quite a few children born, and many made legitimate

III.  Despotism

A.  Lord or signore

1.  Subtle

a.  a Few rich cooperate to control

b.  Sometimes de Medici family in Florence

2.  Podesta

a.  Rich hire a man

b.  Maintain law and order

c.  Executive, military and judicial powers

3.  How they emerge

a.  Despotism is the victory of landed power

b.  Wealth accumulated into hands of a few families

c.  Republican institutions factional; house divided

d.  Crises, such as war or decline in city’s revenues, were more quickly dealt with by a strong man

B.  Two Examples

1.  Florence fluctuates

1434: Cosimo de’Medici returned from exile and took over the state

1458: a Council of Two Hundred was set up

1494: Medici were driven out

1512: a kind of doge created

1512: Medici returned with an army

1527: they were driven out

1530: returned again

2.  Milan is stable

a.  Doge (duke) represents “monarchy” (weak)

b.  Senate aristocracy

c.  Great Council

1)  “Democracy”

2)  Patricians occupied Great Council

3)  Over 2,500 in 1500’s

d.  A Republic, but a de facto despotism with its stable ruling class

IV.  Social Organization and Artists and Writers

A.  Numbers

1.  600 elite

2.  43% of these have fully known origins

a.  Painters

b.  Sculptors

c.  Architects

d.  Humanists

e.  Writers

f.  “Composers”

g.  “Scientists” (called artists and writers)

B.  Geography

1.  Florence and environ

a.  Florence and Pisa have 10% of pop.

b.  They have 26% of elite

2.  Venice and environ

a.  Have 20% of pop.

b.  Have 23% of elite

3.  Papal States

a.  Bologna has 15% of pop. and has 18% of elite

b.  Rome made a poor showing, the eighth city

c.  Rome has only four of elite

4.  North

a.  Has 10% of pop.

a.  11% of elite

5.  South Italy

a.  Has 7% of elite

6.  Piedmont

a.  Has 1.5% of elite

7.  Liguria (close to France)

a.  Has 1% of elite

8.  Unknown regions

a.  7% of elite

C.  Social Origin

1.  Peasantry

a.  90% majority of population is of peasantry

b.  But only seven make it to elite

c.  Two climb up the traditional ladder: Church

2.  Artisans or shopkeepers

a.  114 of elite

3.  Nobility

a.  84 of elite

b.  Michelangelo’s father a patrician

4.  Merchants and professional men

a.  48 of elite

5.  No direct connection

a.  In 26 cases, no direct connection between artistic elite and occupation of father

b.  Father is tailor or poultry seller

6.  Indirect connection

a.  In 34 cases, indirect connection

b.  Father is mason or stone cutter

7.  Direct connection

a.  In 36 cases artist is son of artists

b.  Raphael

8.  Origins and Careers

a.  Nobility

1)  Men of literature

2)  Humanism and science

3)  Reason:  university education

b.  Artisans

1)  Visual artists

c.  Major innovators

1)  Break the barriers

2)  Brunelleschi (architect), son of notary

3)  Masaccio (painter), son of notary

4)  Leonardo, son of notary

D.  Political environment:  Republic or Principality?

1.  Venice is a stable republic

a.  The more stable Venetians were slower to welcome the Renaissance

b.  Though a republic, government was a de facto principality since controlled by nobility

c.  Built on trading or services

2.  Florence fluctuates and volatile

a.  Stronger in the arts, where system was more open, more competitive

b.  Dante says Florence was like a sick woman, tossing and turning in bed (Purgatory, canto 6)

c.  Built more on crafts and manufacturing

3.  Conclusion

a.  The more open and competitive a government, the better it is for the arts

b.  Artists flourish in craft-industrial cities

c.  Venice turned from trade to industry at the end of 1400’s and caught up with Florence

4.  Significance

a.  Social forces cannot produce a talented artist, but they can break down obstacles

V.  Early Renaissance Literature

A.  Pico della Mirandola, Count Giovanni (1463-1494)

1.  Life

a.  Son of noble house, Mirandola

b.  Studies

1)  Humanities at home

2)  Canon law at fourteen in Bologna

3)  Aristotelian philosophy in Padua

4)  Aramaic, Arabic, and Hebrew

c.  In 1486 travels to Rome to defend nine hundred theses drawn from Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, and Roman philosophies, even willing to pay travel expenses of debaters

d.  Pope Innocent VIII forbids this, for seven or nine theses declared heretical

e.  Retreats to Paris

f.  Lorenzo de’ Medici invites him to Florence (1488), where he studies Platonic philosophy with Ficino

g.  In 1491 he renounces all inherited lands and riches to become an itinerant preacher

h.  Dies of unknown causes in 1494

2.  Work

a.  On the Dignity of Man

1)  Reflects the optimism of Renaissance, that man is god-like

2)  He can even be “equal” with god, Pico says in poetic license

3)  Free will is assumed, but man should use it to pursue spiritual matters

VI.  Early Renaissance Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting

A.  Artistic Ideals and Innovations

1.  Classical in architecture, sculpture, painting

2.  Vanishing Point.

B.  Architecture

1.  Before, they were regarded as stonemasons, with some famous ones

2.  Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446)

a.  Cathedral Dome

b.  Pazzi Chapel (classically harmonious proportions)

3.  Battista Alberti (1404-1472)

a.  Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini (post-and-lintel, symmetrical, plain facade)

C.  Sculpture

1.  Donatello (?1386-1466)

a.  David (standing male nude, contrapposto)

2.  Lorenzo Ghiberti (?1381-1455)

a.  Sculpture on Florence’s Baptistry Doors (Mary is somewhat Gothic: niche, swaying body, and angel in flight;)

b.  Story of Cain and Abel on doors: (linear perspective, vanishing point in middle of tree trunks, no niche)

D.  Painting

1.  Massaccio (1401-1428)

a.  Holy Trinity fresco (linear perspective, vanishing point, light from single source [left], mathematical tidiness)

b.  The Tribute Money fresco (narrative, back to us, contrapposto with a swagger)

2.  Fra Angelico (?1400-1455)

a.  Annunciation (vanishing point in small window, light source, simple architecture [monastery])

3.  Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510)

a.  Influenced by neo-platonism

b.  Venus is Christian belief “God is Love”

c.  Primavera or Allegory of Spring (somewhat out of step with Early Renaissance)

d.  Birth of Venus (flattened perspective, but like baptism of Jesus)

4.  Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)

a.  The Virgin on the Rocks (pyramid structure, which is standard in High Ren)

b.  Chiaroscuro: dark background with figures in light,

c.  Sfumato:  softening edges into fine haze

High Renaissance

Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.

I. Italy:

A. Timeframe:

1. 1494: French Invasion in 1494

2. 1527: Sack of Rome

3. 1564: Death of Michelangelo

II. Players

Italy Popes and Papal States in Italy Holy Roman Empire France Spain




Alexander VI

r. 1492-1503

Julius II

r. 1503-1513

Leo X

r. 1513-1521

Clement VII

r. 1523-1534



Maximilian I

r. 1499-1519


Charles V

r. 1519-1556

Charles VII

r. 1483-1498

Louis  XII

r. 1498-1515

Francis I

r. 1515-1547

Ferdinand of Aragon

r. 1479-1516

See below for genealogical tables.

III. Decline of Italy (1494-1527)

A. Treaty of Lodi (1454)

1. Terms

a. Cooperation between feuding city-states

b. Milan (north), Naples (south), and Florence

2. Purpose: To repel foreign invaders

3. Breakdown

a. Milanese despot Ludovico il Moro rises to power

b. He resumes hostilities with Naples

c. Naples, Florence and Borgia Pope Alexander VI (r. 1492-1503) prepare to attack Milan

d. Ludovico appeals to France

e. Mistake:  France greedy for Italy based on dynastic claim to Naples

B. France’s Charles VIII

1. March through Italy

a. He is an eager youth in his twenties

b. He crosses Alps in Aug. 1495

c. Charles enters Florence without resistance

d. Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498), a Dominican preacher, persuades fearful Florentines that this is God’s judgment

e. Savonarola flatters them and pays ransom to spare Florence promised destruction

1) He rules only four years until ousted for moral rigor and antipapal policies

f. Charles races through Florence and Papal states into Naples

2. League of Venice (Mar. 1495)

a. Spain has an interest in Italy

b. Ferdinand of Aragon forms League of Venice in March 1495

1)  Spain

2)  Venice

3)  Papal States

4)  Emperor Maximilian I

c. Ludovico of Milan, having called on France, now joins League of Venice; dies in French jail

d. This alliance able to repel France when Charles dies in 1498 in Italy

C. France’s Louis XII (r. 1498-1515)

1. Pope Alexander VI (r. 1492-1503) invites Louis XII to help him gain territory and power

2. France successfully invades Milan in 1499

3. League of Venice too weak to resist

4. Result

a. In 1500 Spain and France divide Naples

b. Pope conquers Romagna between Venice and Papal state and gives it to his son Cesare Borgia

D. Pope Julius II

1. Identity

a. Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere

b. Opponent of Borgia Pope and sons

c. Very secular papacy

d. Erasmus (?1466-1536) witnesses Bullfight in papal palace during a visit to Rome

e. Erasmus anonymously writes satire, Julius Excluded from Heaven

f. Pope gains all of Papal states in 1509, driving out Venetians and placing Romagna under papal jurisdiction

2.  Holy League (Oct. 1511)

a. Pope Julius

b. Spain

c. Venice

d. This repels France

E. Francis I of France and Pope Leo X

1. France enters Italy to make good on his claims on Milan and Naples

a. This will lead to Spanish-French wars in first half of sixteenth century

b. Concordat of Bologna in Aug. 1516 while Pope Leo X reigns

1)  French king has control over French clergy

2)  France recognizes pope’s superiority over Councils

3)  Pope may collect annates in France

4)  This keeps France Catholic when Protestant Reformation breaks out

F. Result

1. France and Italy

a. Invasions leave Italy in shambles

2. Spain and Italy

a. This divides Italy between France and Spain

b. This will cause war between France and Spain in first half of sixteenth century

1)  Hapsburg-Valois wars, none of which France will win

3. Invasion of Rome while Pope Clement VII reigns

a. In 1527 imperial army invades Rome looking for payment

Renaissance Education

I. Humanism

A. Book Gathering and Collecting

1. Pope Nicholas V, first of Renaissance popes (r. 1447-55), sent out teams to get them from monasteries, sometimes by buying them, other times by taking them

2. Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464) collected books in a special library built for that purpose

3. Federigo da Montefeltre, duke of Urbino, where Castiliogne wrote, collected

B. Medieval Education

1. Trivium

a. Grammar

b. Rhetoric

c. Dialectic


a. Arithmetic

b. Astronomy

c. Geometry

d. Music

3. Description

a. Creation of the church

b. Defensive or apologetic, esp. in Paris

c. It privileges certain intellectual authorities, such as Aristotle

d. Dante’s Divine Comedy is, despite its beauty, totalitarian

C. Renaissance Education

1. Moral Philosophy

a. Examples or models from history of how or how not to live

2. History

a. Linked with moral philosophy because of examples to live by;

b. Linked to grammar because of finding meaning of word in historical context

3. Improvements

a. Grammar non-speculative (textual criticism)

b. Rhetoric

1)  For citizen individual (not in huge “corporations” such as church, state, convent or guild)

c. Poetry

1) It can be construed, for Boccaccio, as a form of theology and religion if it gives profound and perceptive insights into God, humans, and Nature

2) It is also the ultimate use of grammar, as it plays with the rules

d. Revolt

1)  Revolt against the privileging of old authorities

2)  Revolt against Medieval grammar studies, which was based on Scholastic “modes of signification,” which were based on Aristotle’s scheme of causes

“No one is denied the title grammarian because he does not know which modi significandi are essential and which accidental, which material and which formal, and which absolute and which representative of the parts of a sentence . . . .” (Hegius)

3)  Revolt against Medieval method of justifying, ordering, inculcating, and criticizing the received doctrines in a particular field.

4)  Revolt against the Medieval tendency to indoctrinate Medieval professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, and theologians, to carry on the received traditions

5)  Renaissance humanism investigates all traditional fields of study even if the investigation cuts across the grain

D. Studia Humanitatis (humanistic studies)

1. Classicism

a. Latin in the Middle Ages and not much Greek

b. Greek in the Renaissance because scholars from Byzantium migrate to Florence in 1400s

c. Raphael’s School of Athens:

1) Leonardo da Vinci is Plato

2) Architect Bramante (1444-1514) is Euclid

3) Michelangelo is thought to be Heraclitus

d.Thus Renaissance men seek to identify with themselves with ancient Greeks

e. Ad Fontes! Back to the Sources!

2.  Dignitasea. Cicero’s word for dignity of humankind, and Petrarch borrows from it

3. Humanitas means that one is striving to attain the full potential as a human

Renaissance Thought

Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.

I.  Cosmos

A.  Time:  Mechanization

1.  In towns from the late 1300’s, mechanical clocks came into use

2.  Late 1400’s portable clocks coming in

B.  Space: Precision

1.  Pictorial perspective were developed

2.  Paintings used precise measurements

3.  Narrative paintings are located in more precise space and time than Medieval analogues

C.  Earth composed of four elements: earth, water, air and fire

D.  Planets

1.  Traditional view (i.e., in Dante) coexisted with new view of heliocentric

a.  Earth surrounded by seven spheres in which moved a planet

b.  Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn

c.  Moved by “intelligence”;

E.  God

1.  Found above seven heavens and stars

2.  Religion everywhere

a.  Commercial docs might begin with YHS (Jesus Hominum Salvator)

b.  Name of God in private letters

3.  Emphasis on the “sweetness of God” and the “pathetic tenderness” of attitudes to Christ;

a.  Address Christ with endearing words, “my dear Lord,” or “sweet spouse”

4.  But this coexisted with a detached God

5.  Superstition

a.  Despite intellectual advances, alchemy, magic and witchcraft existed, to understand and manipulate the world

b.  Literature of era steeped in magic

c.  High-level clergy regarded this with suspicion

II.  Man

A.  Overview

1.  Renaissance is effort of man

2.  Effort of humanity for the attainment of self-conscious freedom of the human spirit

3.  Intellectual energy, spontaneous outburst of intelligence

4.  Contemporaries of R believed they were rejecting  old ideas, values and techniques, and reviving those of an idealized past; antiquarian revival

a.  Boccaccio said that Giotto, a Florentine painter, “brought back to light that art which had for many ages lain buried beneath the blunders of those who painted rather to delight the eyes of the ignorant than to satisfy the intelligence of the wise” (B. Pullan, History of Early Renaissance Italy, 167);

b.  Boccaccio also said that Dante opened the way for the return of the Muses who had been banished from Italy.

B.  Four personality types still taken seriously

1.  Choleric (hot-tempered)

2.  Sanguine (confident, optimistic)

3.  Phlegmatic (slow, sluggish)

4.  Melancholy (pensive, depressed)

C.  Individualism is misleading

1.  Should be confined to the writer or painter for they sought individual styles and were acknowledged as such

a.  At court of Urbino, poet Bernardo Accolti went by nickname L’unico Aretino

b.  Poet Vittorio Colonna described Michelangelo as unico

2.  Self-assertion is better

a.  Words:  competition, emulation, glory, envy, honor, shame, valor, virtù (last one hard to define, opposite of fortune)

b.  Humanists described life as a race

c.  Leonardo da Vinci recommended artists to draw in company because “a sound envy” would act as a stimulus to do better

d.  Autobiographies of journals and diaries in first person, of which a hundred survive from Florence alone

e.  Portraits of families burgeoned

f.  Self-portraits of artists common, though artist is represented in corner of painting devoted to something else

g.  Books about proper conduct:  Castiglione’s Courtier

D.  Dignity of man

1.  Mirandello’s treatise should be contrasted with pope Innocent III’s (1198-1216) treatise on misery of man

2.  Both concepts flourished in both Renaissance and Middle Age

3.  Concepts complementary, not contradictory

4.  However, Renaissance does appear to emphasize dignity (even divinity) more often with intellectuals

III. Resurgence of Platonism

A. Marsilio Ficino (1433-99)

1. Platonic Academy in Florence

a. What?

1) A loosely organized gathering of scholars and artists to learn about Plato, who was recently re/discovered

b. Money:  Medici family

2. Translated Plato into Latin

3. Ideas on Beauty

Now, in order to reflect more easily upon the divine aspect of the mind from the corresponding likeness of the beautiful body, refer each aspect of the body to an aspect of the mind.  For the body is the shadow of the soul; the form of the body represents, as best it can, the form of the soul.

Beauty, which is determined by the proportions of the body and a becoming complexion, shows us the harmony of splendor and splendor of justice.

But when those whose spirit is drawn away and freed from the clay of the body first see form and grace in anyone, they should rejoice, as at the reflection of divine beauty.

IV. Philosophic Writings in Italy

A. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-94)

1. Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486)

God talking to Adam: “Thou, constrained by no limits, in accordance with thine own free will, in whose hands We have placed thee, shalt ordain for thyself the limits of thy nature.  We have set thee at the world’s center that thou mayest from thence more easily observe whatever is in the world.  We have made thee neither of heaven nor of earth . . . so that with freedom of choice and with honor, as though the maker and molder of thyself, thou mayest fashion thyself in whatever shape thou shalt prefer . . .  .  Thou shalt have the power, out thy soul’s judgement, to be reborn into the higher forms, which are divine.” (Kristeller [ed.], p. 225)

B. Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

1. Life

a. Born in Florence to a distinguished family

b. Appointed Secretary of Second Chancery of the Signoria in 1498

1)  Involves military and diplomatic missions and serves well in Rome and Paris

c. In 1502 he serves Piero Solderini, who was a chief magistrate

1)  High-level functionary

d. In 1509 he directs Florence’s sack of Pisa thru army and naval blockade

e. Florence was a “Republic” during his service

1) Solderini sides with France

2)  Solderini loses the war in 1512

3)  France is driven out of Italy

4)  In 1512 Medici assume control over Florence

5)  Solderini sent in exile

f. In 1513 he is accused of complicity in plot to overthrow Medici government

1)  Tortured and

2)  Withdraws to meager farm near San Casciano

2.  Work

a. The Prince

1)  During idle time

“I have set down what I have gained from their conversation [with ancient authors in private study] and composed a little book, De principatibus…” (Letter to Francesco Vettori, friend, Dec. 10, 1513)

The Reformation

Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.

I. Background

A. Popes

1. Leo X (r. 1513-1521)

2. (H)Adrian VI (r. 1522-1523)

3. Clement VII (r. 1527-1534)

4. Paul III (r. 1534-1549)

5. Julius III (r. 1550-1555)

6. Marcellus II (r. 1555)

7. Paul IV (r. 1555-1559)

8. Pius IV (r. 1559-1565)

9. Gregory XIII (r. 1572-1585)

10. Sixtus V (r. 1585-1590)

11. Urban VII (r. 1590)

12. Gregory XIV (r. 1590-1591)

13. Innocent IX (r. 1591)

14. Clement VIII (r. 1592-1605)

B. Some Church Problems

1. Avignon Papacy (1309-1370)

2. Great Schism (1378-1417)

3. Secularism

a. Popes interested in secular business

b. Commodity was ecclesiastical appointments, dispensations, and indulgences

1) Result:  upper-level clergy did not live in diocese but in capitol, usually Rome

2) They were out of touch with people

c. Clergy had wives and concubines and families and illegitimate children

4. Indulgences

a. Began in 11th C to support crusades

b. Pope had a vast reservoir of good deeds, those of Christ and saints, which Christ had entrusted to Peter

c. As spiritual heir of Peter, Pope had control over this reservoir or account

d. One could absolve sins by donating money

e. Prince Albrecht wanted to own another diocese, but canon law allowed only one (he owned two), so he needed to contribute money to Pope Leo X to get special dispensation to become archbishop of Mainz; indulgences allowed as security to repay Fugger loan

f. John Tetzel (?1465-1519) in “Germany,” under Pope’s authority, sold them to subsidize St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome

C. Renaissance Education and Thought

1. Contribution

a. Poured in new ideas

b. Permission to question

c. Nationalism weakens international hold on churches

d. Improved language skills in Greek and Hebrew, and textual criticism

D. Early Reformers

1. John Wycliffe (1320-1384)

a. Authority to Grace

b. Salvation not dependent on services, pope or priest

c. Translated Bible into common language

2. Gerard (Geert) Groote (1340-1384)

a. Dutch

b. He lives with devout men

c. No monastic vows, in chastity and piety

d. He preaches throughout country

e. Dies in a plague

3. John Hus (?1370-1415)

a. Bohemia (Czech)

b. Sought reforms of a corrupt, undisciplined, simoniacal clergy

c. Radical followers rejected anything not explicit in New Testament

d. Put on trial and burned at stake

4. Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)

a. Born near Cologne

b. Brethren of Life Community in N. Europe

c. Influences Erasmus, Luther and German humanists

d. Imitation of Christ

e. Devotio Moderna (New or Modern Devotion)

1) Reaction against philosophy and scholasticism

2) Contrasts with Aquinas’s marriage of faith and reason (Via Antiqua or Old Way) and with Ockham’s divorce of faith and reason (Via Moderna or New Way)

A Kempis:

“Never read anything just to seem more learned or wise . . . But woe to those who spend their lives rooting out esoteric learning, caring little about how to serve me [Jesus].  The time to come when Christ the Teacher of teachers, the Lord of angels, will appear to conduct the final exam, that is to examine each person’s conscience . . . and he will bring to light the things hidden in darkness, and all those scholars, so quarrelsome in their learning, will fall silent . . . I am he who, in an instant, can raise the humble mind to understand the principles of eternal truth better than anyone who has studied for ten years in graduate school.”

“Human reason is weak and can be misled; true faith, on the other hand, cannot be fooled.  All reasoning and natural enquiry should follow faith, not precede it or weaken it . . .  God– eternal, boundless, and of infinite power– does great things in heaven and on earth that are a complete mystery to us.  There is no searching out his wondrous works.  If God’s works were such that human reason could easily figure them out, they could not be said to be wonderful, nor would they be too marvelous for words to express.”

E. Economic

1. Clergy exempt from taxes

2. Money going down to Rome

II. Reformers

A. William Tyndale (?1494-1536)

1. Life

a. Born in West England

b. Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford

c. Becomes convinced that it is impossible to establish laity without a translation of Bible in their language

d. He receives no help from Bishop of London, Cuthbert Tunstall, so he moves to Cologne, never to return

e. He begins translation in 1525

f. A police raid confiscates property

g. He resumes work in Worms in same year

h. He is arrested near Brussels in 1535 and strangled and burned in 1536

2. Work

a. He completes all New Testament and most of Old Testament

B.  Martin Luther (1483-1546)

1. Life

a. University of Leipzig in 1501

b. B.A. in 1502 and M.A. in 1505

c. July 1505 entered chapter house of Hermits of St. Augustine (Augustinian friar)

1) Younger, he had moment of terror when thrown to the ground by lightning bolt

2) He vowed to give himself to the Lord

d. Transfers to Wittenberg in 1508 and earns doctor of theology in 1512 and lectures there

e. Wrestles with personal salvation, performing all the right tasks

f. He comes to knowledge of grace ca. 1514

g. Oct. 31, 1517, nails Ninety-Five Theses on Wittenberg Church door for a debate

h. Diet of Worms (1521)

1) He stands before emperor and clergy

2) Refuses to recant unless overcome by Scripture

3) Condemned as outlaw by Edict of Worms

i. Marries Katherine von Bora

2.  Works

a. Theological output is vast

b. Completes translation of Bible into German in 1534

3.  Tenets

a. Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone

b. Sola Fide: Faith Alone

c. Sola Gratia: Grace Alone

d. As Luther said: God doesn’t need my good works (for salvation), but my neighbor does

C. Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

1. Life

a. Son of village magistrate

b. Attended Univ. of Bern, Basle, Vienna, and then back to Basle; came in direct contact with Erasmus and humanism

c. In 1512 and then in 1515, he served as mercenary and won a victory, but then lost, so he advocated mercenary reform

d. In 1518 called to be people’s priest at Zurich Great Church; confirmed after his rival was more immoral than he was

e. In his own reading he became more radical in reform than Luther did

f. Two disciples, Grebel and Manz were even more radical

g. Anyway, he reached similar conclusions to those of Luther: justification by faith, abuse of the papacy, celibacy, “superstition,” no musical   instruments, and communion in both kinds

h. Death: five Catholic cantons marched against Zurich, and Z was killed


a. Colloquy at Marburg in 1527 between Z and Luther

1) at first Eucharist is memorialism, but later in life Z seems to have supported a spiritual presence

D. Anabaptists

1. Conrad Grebel

a. Disciple of Zwingli, but broke with him because Z didn’t go far enough

b. CG and Felix Manz (c. 1498-1527) began their own church

c. in 1525 Z and CG held a baptism disputation, and Z was declared the winner, so adult baptism was forbidden, but CG and disciples promptly baptized each other in a public fountain

d. Z recommends Council of Government take action, and they did; and Catholics declare Anabaptists heretics, so they’re surrounded

e. They’re persecuted by the thousands over the years

f. Views:

1) Split between church and society

2) Pacifism

3) Adult baptism

2. Menno Simons (1496-1561)

a. Priest who began reading Luther and believed his views

b. 1536: joined Anabaptists, but not a revolutionary

c. Views:

1) Adult baptism

2) Separate from the world

3) Pacifism

4) Scripture alone, so not unbiblical terms, such as the Trinity

E. Spiritualists

1. Thomas Müntzer (?1480-1525)

a. Univ. Leipzig and Frankfurt an der Oder

b. Revolutionary prophet who believed God communicated through him without Scripture

c. Concerned about peasants and supported them

d. Muhlhausen was his base of battle

e. executed during revolt after he led some peasants out against a larger force

f. Believed Luther was too soft and conformist

F. John Calvin (1509-1564)

1. Life

a. Born 60 miles northeast of Paris (parents named Cauvin)

b. Studies law

c. Lead Reformation movement in Paris

d. marries Idelette de Bure (d. 1549) in Strasbourg, widow of Anabaptist; she bore him a son, who died early

e. In 1541 re-enters Geneva to reform it, which was notoriously immoral and corrupt

f. Aims to make it a “holy city”

g. Burned Michael Servetus, a Spaniard under death sentence by Inquisition for denying Trinity, who was there to cause trouble

h. Education system for young and helped poor and sick

2. Works

a. Psychopannychia (1534) against soul sleep after death

b. Instruction in Faith (1537)

c. Institute of the Christian Religion (1536, 1559)

3.  Tenets:  TULIP

a. Total depravity of man (Total Inability or man can’t save himself)

b. Unconditional election (God sees no condition in us that prompts him to bestow his love on us; he simply chooses to do so)

c. Limited (particular) atonement (Christ died for elect, not for everyone)

d. Irresistible grace (once God regenerates you or gives you new life, you willingly respond in faith to his salvation)

e. Perseverance of saints (God will preserve his regenerated people to the very end)

III. Social Significance of Reformation

A. Peasant Revolt of 1524-1525

1. Estimated 70-100K peasants died

B. Religious reform

1. People favor simplicity within society, not within monasticism

C. Education

a. Even Catholic scholars share skepticism of scholasticism

b. Scholasticism was limiting of Greek and other humanist studies, such as poetry and history

c. Protestantism should endorse curriculum of humanists

D. Role of Women

1. They reject clerical celibacy

2. This leads them to avoid Medieval tendency to see women as temptresses

3. Luther and Calvin have high regard for wives

4. Companionate marriage, wives and husbands working together for ministry and society

E.  Work

1. Business and profit are not evil

2. So-called Protestant work ethic

IV. Counter-Reformation

A. Christian Humanists

1. Desiderius Erasmus (1460?-1536)

a. Christian man is decent, wise, and virtuous, and follows Christ’s teaching

b. Reconciles renaissance with dogma

c. Religion should be simple, tolerant, free

d. Praise of Folly

2. Thomas More’s (1478-1535)

a. Utopia in Latin 1516

B. Religious Orders

1. Theatines (1524)

a. Founded by several in Italy, notable Bishop Gian Pietro Carafa, future Pope Paul IV

b. They wish to reform church leaders

c. Their success keeps Protestantism from spreading in Italy

2. Capuchins (1525)

a. Founded by Matteo da Bascio in Italy

b. They wish to return to austerity and simplicity of Francis

c. They care for the sick

d. Almost stamped out when third general, Bernardino Ochino, becomes Protestant

3. Ursulines for women (1535)

a. Founded at Bescia by Angela Merici

b. Live in chastity

c. Dedicated to Christian home education for girls of all classes

4. Jesuits (1530s)

a. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) begins work in 1530 and is joined by several others

1) He was a dashing courtier and caballero

2) A war wound lays him up

3) He reads spiritual classics and is impressed with their self-sacrifice

b. In 1539 they adopt name Company of Jesus

c. They work in hospitals and go forth preaching

d. They live a disciplined life, esp. in complete obedience to pope

e. They refuse a monastic life

f. This makes them popular and fast-growing, so that in a century they grow from 10 to 15k

C. Council of Trent (1545-1563)

1. Background

a. Caspar Contarini (1483-1542)

1) Chairing a reform commission he reports   in 1537 the fiscality and simony of church

2) Pope tries to suppress it, but Protestants publish it and use it as justification

b. Emperor Charles V urges Pope to convene council to establish church doctrine

c. They meet over 18 years, interrupted by plagues, war, and imperial and papal politics

1) 1545-1547

2) 1551-1552

3) 1562-1563

4) Four different popes

d. Convenes in Trent, N. Italy

2. Council

a. Pope controls this one

b. Prominent Constituents

1) Four of five archbishops were Italians

2) 21 of 23 bishops were Italians

3) By end of 1562 more than three-quarters were Italians

c. Voting

1) High-level churchmen

2) Lower clergy

3) University theologians

4) Laity not permitted

3. Result

a. Curtail selling of offices and religious goods

b. Bishops residing in Rome forced to move back to diocese

c. Bishops must preach regularly in church

d. Priests

1) Neatly dressed

2) Better educated

3) Strictly celibate

4) Active among parishioners

e. Doctrines upheld

1) Scholastic education

2) Authority of tradition

3) Transubstantiation

4) Clerical celibacy

5) Reality of Purgatory

6) Veneration of saints, relics, and sacred images

V. Peace of Augsburg (1555)

A. Charles I → V (r. 1519-1556)

1. Territory

a. Netherlands

b. Belgium

c. Milan

d. Austria

e. Czechoslovakia

f. Naples

g. Spain

2. Wars

a. He was at war with Turks in East

b. And with French in Italy

3. Augsburg Interim

a. In 1547 Charles crushes Protestant army

b. He imposes unity and offers only a few concessions to Protestants

1)  Clerical marriages with papal approval

2)  Communion with bread and wine

B. Treaty

1. Capitulation

a. Charles recognizes that Reformation too widespread to stamp out with brute force

b. In 1552 he suffers defeat by Protestant army

2. Terms

a. cuius regio, eius religio

b. Ruler of the land would determine the religion of the land

New Monarchies and their Reactions to the Reformation

(And to other things too)

Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.

Genealogical Table

Source of above table: L. W. Cowie, Sixteenth Century Europe (Oliver and Boyd, 1977)

I. Spain (1474-1500s)

A. Isabella (r. 1474-1504) and Ferdinand (r. 1479-1516)

1. Identity: Castilian

2. Marriage

a. In 1469 she marries Ferdinand (r. 1479-1516), king of Aragon in Northeast, linking two crowns

b. She had choice of Portuguese heir

3. Children

a. Joanna marries Archduke Philip, son of Emperor Maximilian I

1)  They will have Charles I in 1500

b. Catherine of Aragon marries Arthur, son of English king Henry VII

1)  Arthur dies in 1501, and she marries King Henry VIII in 1509

4. Unity of Spain

a. Before marriage both lands ruled ineffectively and Spain was divided

b. Castile was richer and had five million

c. Aragon had pop. of under one million

d. Religious unity

1)  Spain had been a meld of Judaism, Islam and Christianity

2)  Now it is Christian and state controlled

3)  They support Inquisition run by Tomas de Torquemada (d. 1498)

4)  Result

a)  This is base of operation of Counter-Reformation

e. Caution:  Each area, however, retains its own laws, customs, and money

5. Exploration

1. Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) and others

2. Result

a. Gold and silver mines in Mexico and Peru make Spain a world power in 16 century

B.  Charles I → V (r. 1519-1556)

1. Identity

a. Son of Joanna and Archduke Philip, dau of Ferdinand and Isabella, and son of Emperor Maximilian I

b. Born in 1500

c. Becomes Charles V in 1519 at death of Emperor Maximilian I

2. Empire

a. Habsburg

1)  Small part of Switzerland and Germany

b. Burgundy

1)  Large pocket in France near Swiss border

2) Holland

c. Austria, including Moravia, Bohemia, Hungary

d. Italy (parts):  Milan, Naples, Sicily Is., Sardinia Is.

3. Spain

a. He is first to rule over unified Spain

C. Philip II (r. 1556-1598)

1. Identity

a. Son of Charles V

2. Spain

3. Church

a. Renaissance?  Does not appreciate it

b. Inquisition: Set up by Pope Sixtus IV in 1478 for getting rid of enemies

D. By 1570 one million men, not counting women, in holy orders out of pop. of 9-10 million

E. Protestants

1. Philip II sees himself as protector of Catholicism and protector of empire

F. Economy

1. Contradictions

a. One of richest nation in Europe with explorations

b. Yet unproductive use of land, left stagnant, not bought or sold

2. Wheat imports increased

3. Sheep farming major industry

4. Taxes

a. Fall on non-nobles least able to pay

b. This keeps towns small

5. New Wealth

a. American wealth flow to established aristocracy, not an entrepreneurial merchant class

b. Of course some money does, but not nearly enough

G. Spain and France

1559 Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis wins control of disputed parts of Italy

1584 Philip II signs secret Treaty of Joinville, pledging support for Cardinal Charles of Bourbon and for money for armed forces

H. Spain and Turks

1568-1570 Don John of Austria, illegit son of Charles V checks Turks in Mediterranean

1571    Holy League of Spain, Venice and Pope crush Turkish fleet of Ali Pasha in Corinthian Gulf

I. Spain and England

1554    Philip II Marries Mary Tudor (July 25)

1585    Elizabeth signs Treaty of Nonsuch, intervening in Netherlands

1588    Armada defeated by English

J. Netherlands

1567    Duke of Alba (d. 1582) and 10,000 troops march north; pope’s army was part of 10,000; Brussels in Aug

1609    Spain signs Twelve Years Truce, after exhaustion and overextension

K. Aftermath

1. Philip dies in 1598 after long and painful illness in his palace of the Escorial

2. Never quite able to stay out of debt despite wealth coming in from new world

3. So ends Spanish hegemony

II. France (1515-1610)

Genealogical Table

Source of above table: L. W. Cowie, Sixteenth Century Europe (Oliver and Boyd, 1977)

A. Francis I (r. 1515-1547)

1525 King captured at Battle of Pavia by Holy Roman Emperor; released under high payment and harsh terms

1534 Day of the Placards (Oct 18); retaliation drives Calvin from France

1536 Institutes by Calvin appears in Basel; dedicated to Francis I

1540 Edict of Fontainebleau subjects Protestants to Inquisition

1542 Royal edict condemns Institutes by Calvin

B. Henry II (r. 1547-1559) and Catherine de Medici (1519-1589)

1551 Edict of Chateaubriand equates heresy with political sedition and public disorder

1557 Edict of Compiègne subjects Calvinists to death penalty

1559 Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis; Henry concedes Italy to Philip II of Spain, but keeps Lorraine and Calais

Henry II dies, wounded from jousting accident (July 10)

C. Francis II (r. 1559-1560)

1559-1560: Powerful Guise (Catholic) family take control of young king

1560:   Edict of Romorantin restores distinction of heresy from sedition and public disorder (May), this time applied to church courts; Chancellor Michel de L’Hôpital is behind edict, first politique

Tumult of Amboise exposed; Protestants executed

Francis II dies of illness (Dec. 5)

D. Charles IX (r. 1560-1574)

1562-1598: French Wars of Religion

Families: Royal Valois: Catholic, but manipulates one side against   the other

Guise: Catholic

Bourbon: Protestant (mostly) Condé is leader

Montmorency-Chatillon: Protestant (mostly) Coligny is leader

Politiques: loose-knit connection of men; they put state and peace over religion; join religion to state, not state to religion; advocate strong monarchy to restore peace

1562 Edict of St. Germain of January 1562 again separates heresy from political sedition; formulated by Chancellor L’Hôpital

Massacre of Protestants by Francis of Guise at Vassy in Champagne (Mar); considered 1st War of Religion

Queen Elizabeth of England sends money and 6,000 men for Rouen (Sept)

1567 Protestants attempt to seize royal court (Sept) (2nd War of Religion)

1568 Edict of Pacification, which repeats Amboise terms

Government plans to arrest Condé and Coligny, which ignites 3rd War

1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (Aug 23); counts as 4th War

1573 Royal army seize La Rochelle, but lift it due to stubborn resistance; counts as 5th War

E. Henry III (r. 1574-1589)

1577 Henry renews hostilities, but does not pursue it vigorously, since no funds levied for it; counts as 6th War

Edict of Pacification in place, similar to Peace of Monsieur

1577-1584 Quiet years, except flare-up in 1579; counts as 7th War;

New edict reaffirms Edict of 1577

1586: War of Three Henries breaks out: Henry III, Henry of Guise, Henry Bourbon of Navarre

1588 “Day of Barricades” (May 12) in Paris, first time barricades used as instrument of rebellion; Henry of Guise made “King of Paris”

1589 Henry Bourbon becomes Henry IV (Aug 2)

1593  Conversion (July 25)

1598 Edict of Nantes (April 13) provides for general amnesty and freedom of worship for France; Calvinists may worship in one town in every district, except in towns where small bands of Catholic Leaguers still held on; they may have special courts; and no exclusion from government and universities; Calvinist ministers receive royal pay

1601: Louis born (will become Louis XIII)

1610: Henry IV assassinated by fanatic

III. England (1455-1603)

Genealogical Tables

Plantagenets, and Houses of Lancaster, York, and Tudor

Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.

This table gives a good overview of the Plantagenets, before the Wars of the Roses got underway:

Dan Jones, the Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings Who Made England, rev. ed. (Penguin, 2014).

In the table, above, Edward III, on the left, four “rows” from the bottom, had too many children! Their descendants are about to struggle for the throne: .

Let’s continue with the later Plantagenets, as they divided into the Houses of Lancaster and York. Here is the House of Lancaster, which eventually won the struggle, thanks to Henry Tudor (later Henry VII).

Dan Jones, The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors (Penguin, reprint ed. 2015).

In the above table, note Henry VII at bottom, center. His grandfather was Owen Tudor, a minor figure. Henry VII’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, descends from John of Gaunt through Katherine Swynford, John’s mistress. Their relationship had to be legitimized with marriage after their children were born. It is easy to see why, during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs, the royal descendants of the Plantagenets believed the Tudors had a weaker claim to the throne than they did. But Henry could claim Catherine of Valois, a female, as his grandmother, and her ancestry was very illustrious, as we saw in Stage One. But she was a female, and womankind did not count as much as mankind did, back then.

Let’s fill out the bigger picture and include the House of York, because Henry VII, a Lancastrian, married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, thus bringing together the two (formerly) warring houses, next: 

Dan Jones, The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors (Penguin, reprint ed. 2015).

Henry VII, the first Tudor king, is on the bottom left. So Henry’s father-in-law was Edward IV. Henry VII defeated Richard III, who fought bravely enough, at the Battle of Bosworth, in 1485. And so the Wars of the Roses ended, apart from some skirmishes and resentment afterwards.

Source of above table J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, English Monarch Series (New Haven, Yale UP, 1997)


Henry II Plantagenet: Interesting Facts and Stories

Eleanor of Aquitaine: Interesting Facts and Stories (married to Henry II)

King Richard I, Lion-Heart: Interesting Facts and Stories

King John: Interesting Facts and Stories

Henry III: Interesting Facts and Stories

Eleanor of Provence: Interesting Facts and Stories (married Henry III)

Edward I: Interesting Facts and Stories

Eleanor of Castile: Interesting Facts and Stories (married to Edward I)

Edward II: A King of Bad Judgment

Edward III: Better Than Most

Richard II: The Weak King

Henry IV King of England

Henry V King of England

Henry VI King of England

Edward IV King of England

Edward V: Prince in the Tower

Richard III, King of England



Henry VII: First Tudor King

Henry VIII, Part 1: Early Life and Divorce from Catherine of Aragon

Henry VIII, Part 2: Marriages after His Divorce

Henry VIII, Part 3: Reformation and National Policies

Henry VIII, Part 4: International Policies

Henry VIII, Part 5: Personal Life, Death, and Conclusions

Edward VI: the Boy King

(Jane Grey, Queen of Nine Days: she was not a Tudor)

Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen

Elizabeth, Part 1: Early Years

Elizabeth, Part 2: Sibling Rivalry with Queen Mary

Elizabeth I, Part 3: The Coronation

Elizabeth I, Part 4: Mary Queen of Scots

Elizabeth I, Part 5: Reformation and International Policies

Elizabeth I, Part 6: Personal Life

Elizabeth I, Part 7: Her Male Favorites

Elizabeth I, Part 8: Summary and Death

A. War of Roses (1455-1485)

1. Lancasters

a. They defeat Yorkist Richard III in 1485 at Bosworth

2. Result

a. Economically, England is weakened

B. Henry VII, a Tudor (r. 1485-1509)

1. Domestic Policy

a. Court of Star Chamber (1487), pushed through Parliament, subdues nobility

b. His counselors are judges, so will not take bribes

c. Civil war devastated aristocracy so that one-fifth of land left without master

d. King now greatest landowner and power

C.  Henry VIII, a Tudor (r. 1509-1547)

1. Economic Policy

a. He engages in costly and useless enterprises (building and conspicuous consumption, soldiers, armaments)

b. Inflation makes landowners create laws so that they could snatch land from poor landowners

2. Uprising

a. Pilgrim of Grace (1536)

3. Catherine of Aragon (m. 1509)

a. His marriage with Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, produced only a female, Mary

b. He had married her with special dispensation from Pope because she had been married to his brother, Arthur, who died prematurely

c. He wants to divorce Catherine because of miscarriages and still births

d. Wanting to marry Anne Boleyn, Catherine’s lady-in-waiting, without special permission

e. In 1527 Rome was sacked, so Pope could not grant dispensation for divorce, esp. when Pope had granted it for marriage

f. Cardinal Wolsey fails to get dispensation and falls out of power in 1529

4. Reformation!

a. A staunch Catholic and even opposed Luther, with help of Sir Thomas More

b. Thomas Cranmer (1485-1556) and Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540), who harbor Lutheran sympathies, become king’s close advisors

c. They advise him to become supreme spiritual leader as he was in natural affairs

d. This is done in 1533 through a “Reformation Parliament”

1)  They pass a flood of reformation legislation

a)  No more money to Rome

5. Anne Boleyn (m. 1533)

a. Anne is pregnant when he marries her

b. Thomas Cranmer is officiating at wedding

c. They have Elizabeth

d. Anne is put to death for alleged treason and adultery

6. Jane Seymour (m. 1536)

a. She is his third wife

b. She gives birth to Edward VI shortly before her death

c. She dies in 1537 shortly after his birth

7. Three other wives

a. Anne of Cleves

1)  Sight unseen, he marries her to ally with protestant princes on Cromwell’s advice, an assistant

2)  Henry thought her to resemble remarkably a horse

3)  Not worth the trouble, so marriage annulled by Parliament

4)  Cromwell dismissed and eventually executed

b. Catherine Howard

1)  Beheaded for adultery in 1542

c. Catherine Parr

1)  Outlives him and remarries again, for her a fourth marriage

D. Edward VI, a Tudor (r. 1547-1553)

1. Problem

a. Only ten years old when Henry VIII dies

2. Edward Seymour

a. Becomes duke of Northumberland (1550-1553)

b. Power-broker for young king

3. Protestant reformation

a. King and Northumberland correspond directly with John Calvin

b. In 1549 Act of Uniformity imposed Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer

c. In 1550 Second Act of Uniformity imposes revised version

1)  Justification by faith

2)  Supremacy of Scripture

3)  Denied transubstantiation

4) Only two sacraments

4. Uprising: Ket’s rebellion (1549)

F. Mary I, a Tudor (r. 1553-1558)

1. Identity: Daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon

2. Religious Policy

a. Marries Philip II in 1554, a powerful Catholic king

b. Under his direction, she executes Thomas Cranmer, John Hooper, Hugh Latimer, powerful Protestants, for heresy

c. Hundreds joined them in martyrdom of fled

3. Uprising: Wyatt’s rebellion (1554)

G. Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603)

1. Identity

a. Half-sister of Mary, child of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII

2. Sir William Cecil (1520-1598)

a. Adviser

b. Restore modified version of Protestantism

1)  Broadly define Protestant doctrine

2)  Catholic ritual

3)  Act of Supremacy (1559) passes Parliament, repealing anti-Protestant legislation, asserting Elizabeth’s supremacy

4)  Catholics could worship privately, provided they pay a fine

3. Domestic Policy

a. Prosperity increases even more than previous reigns

b. Age of comparative tolerance and peace

c. Arts and letters flourish (Shakespeare and others)

4. Foreign Policy

a. Occasional Catholic conspiracy made Elizabeth hold Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, prisoner, who was executed in 1587, daughter of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise

1)  She had fled to England because of scandal

b. In 1588, the Spanish Armada was defeated

c. Nationalism


Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.

I. Italy

A. Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529)

1. Life

a. B. in Mantua of distinguished Lombard family

b. Educated in Milan

c. Brief attachments to courts of Milan and Mantua

d. Diplomat for Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino

1)  Duke’s wife is Elisabetta

2)  After duke’s death (1508) continues to serve successor Francesco Maria della Rovere

e. Marries Ippolita Torelli in 1516

f. She died in 1520

2. Work

a. Courtier (1528)

1)  Begins it in 1507 at Urbino in Papal States, where pope ultimately gets the advantage in French invasions

2)  Published in 1528

3)  Quest for aristocratic ideals

4)  The “lady” is Elisabetta, wife of duke

5)  Translated into many languages by 1600

6)  Becomes the standard for conduct in courts throughout Europe

7)  Women should be equally educated

B. Gaspara Stampa (?1524-1554)

1.. Life

a. Flourished in Venice, a city famous for its love of pleasure and sensuality

b. Models her sonnets and themes after Petrarch, who revived classicism

c. Has several unsuccessful affairs, and she transforms her disappointment into biographical

II. Spanish Literature of Golden Age (1500s-1600s)

A. Italian Connection

1.  Spanish rule: Naples (S. Italy), Sicily Island, Milan (north)

B. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616)

1.  Life

a.  In army

b.  Then tax-collector

c.  Remains poor despite his creativity

2.  Work

a.  Don Quixote

III. Northern Humanism

A. Desiderius Erasmus (?1460-1536)

1. Context

a. Holland was prospering economically

b. Holland was tolerant in religion

2. Life

a. B. in Rotterdam, Holland

b. Illegitimate son of a priest and physician’s daughter

c. Educated at schools of Brethren of the Common Life

d. Enters Augustinian Order in 1487/88

e. On orders, he goes to University of Paris as secretary to bishop of Cambrai (1492)

f. In 1499 he visits England and meets Thomas More

1)  He turns away from subjecting theology to scholastics and referring it to original sources

2)  He revives classical learning and

3)  He exposes abuse of church

g. From 1500 on, he moves around Continent and England

1)  In England he teaches at Cambridge (1509-14)

h. He edits the Greek New Testament, basing it on latest sources (1516)

i. Dies in Basel, Switzerland

3. Work

a. Praise of Folly (1516) (Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.)

1)  Dame Folly is personified

2)  Playful satire of life

3)  Individuals, such as scholars, lawyers, clerics and heroes of classical times and even in Bible acted in folly, thereby supporting Folly

B. Sir Thomas More (1478-1535)

1. Context

a. He flourishes under Henry VII (r. 1485-1509) and Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547)

b. Economy prospers

c. England changes from Catholicism to Protestantism

d. Politically dangerous for him

2. Life

a. B. in London of prominent burgess family

b. Educated at Oxford

c. A devout Catholic, he thinks about becoming a priest but turns to law

d. He lives an ascetic or (simple?) life

e. In 1504 he enters Parliament and rose to position of Chancellor

f. He is knighted in 1521

g. He opposes Luther and wrote a treaties against William Tyndale

h. He helps Henry VIII write a treatise on seven sacraments

i. Did not agree with Henry’s wish for a divorce and would not renounce Pope when Henry changed to Anglicism

j. He is executed, but beatified in 1866 by Leo XIII

3. Work

a. Utopia (1516) (Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.)

1)  Out of concern for humanity and social reform

2)  Religious tolerance

3)  Working conditions are ideal

4)  Education for everyone

IV. France

A. Context

1. Economy

a. Continues its progress with expanding trade and industry

b. E.g. lucrative silk industry at Lyons (later transferred to Tours

c. About 14 million by 1500

2. Religion

a. Francis I, French king, captured by Emperor Charles V of Spain, and to pacify Charles, France persecutes Huguenots (1525)

b. Protestants plaster anti-Catholic placards in Paris, and France cracks down, driving Calvin out of France (1534)

c. Edict of Fontainebleau (1540) subjects Protestants to Inquisition

d. Edict of Chateaubriand (1551) subjects Protestants to new measures

e. Religious Wars against Potestants (1559-1598)

f. St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (1572)

1)  After bloody wars and St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre (Aug. 24, 1572) 23k Huguenots executed in three days

2)  At this news, Pope Gregory XIII and Philip II of Spain celebrate with religious festivals

g. Edict of Nantes

1)  Signed April 13, 1598 religious tolerance

3. Foreign Policy

a. War with Spain in Italy (1490’s-1559)

b. Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) ends war with victory for Spain

c. Spain now holds much of Italy

d. No pride in foreign policy

B. François Rabelais (ca. 1494-1553)

1. Life

a. Born into a family of lawyers

b. Prob. studies at Angers

c. Becomes a Franciscan (ca. 1521) to pursue humanist studies

d. Transfers to Benedictines (1523)

e. But after U. of Paris prohibits study of Greek (1527), he travels south

f. Enters U. of Montpellier to study medicine (1530)

g. Practices law in Lyons (1532-34)

h. Leaves for Rome (1534) as doctor for Jean du Bellay, bishop of Paris, later cardinal

1)  Du Bellay was studying in Rome

i. Returns to Lyons

j. In 1536-46 he practices medicine

k. It is not known where he dies in 1553

2. Works

a. Pantagruel (1532)

1)  Under anagram Alcofrybas Nasier

2)  Condemned by Sorbonne for obscenity

b. Gargantua (1534)

1)  Story of Pantagruel’s father

2)  Now printed first in set

3)  Condemned by Sorbonne

4)  Rabelais has to leave Lyons

c. Third Book of Pantagruel (1546)

1)  He flees to Metz

2)  Then with du Bellay in Rome (1548-155)

3)  Rabelais returns to serve briefly as vicar of Meudon and Jambet (1151)

d. Fourth Book of Pantagruel (1552)

e. All books satirize theologians, scholasticism, lawyers, social customs

C.  Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592)

1. Life

a. Born in a chateau at Montaigne into a merchant family recently ennobled

b. Learns Latin before French

c. Attends College de Guyenne at Bordeaux (1539-46)

1)  Studies law

d. He is a judge (1555-70)

e. Occasionally serves as ambassador of Henry of Navarre

f. He retires from legal career to his home to write his Essays

g. He serves as mayor of Bordeaux (1581-85)

2. Work

a. Essays (1570)

1)  First to analyze thoroughly human nature

2)  He turned to classics and recorded his thoughts on his readings, orderless and purposeless

3)  To him his writings were never more ambitious than the title he gave them, Essays, “attempts”

4)  Though steeped in classical writings, he reveals a growing skepticism about these authorities, and treats them as opinions

V. England

A. Context of Elizabethan Age

1. Economy

a. Prosperity increases even more than previous reigns

2. Religion

a. Restore modified version of Protestantism

1)  Broadly define Protestant doctrine

2)  Catholic ritual

3)  Act of Supremacy (1559) passes parliament, repealing anti-Protestant legislation, asserting Elizabeth’s supremacy

4)  Catholics could worship privately, provided they pay a fine

b. Age of comparative tolerance and peace

c. Arts and letters flourish (Shakespeare)

d. Occasional Catholic conspiracy made Elizabeth hold Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, prisoner, who was executed in 1587, daughter of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise

1)  She had fled to England because of scandal

3.  Foreign Policy

a. In 1588, the Spanish Armada was defeated

b. Nationalism

B. William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

1. Life

a. Son of respected, property-owning parents in Stratford-on-Avon

b. Marries Anna Hathaway

1)  She is eight years older

2)  Have three children

a. Susanna (1583)

b. Twins Hamnet and Judith (1585)

c. From 1585 to 1592 his exact whereabouts are unknown

d. By 1592 he is established as a playwright in London

2.  Works

a. Hamlet (1600-01) (Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.)

b. Measure for Measure (1604)

1) A grab for power, just like in Machiavelli’s The Prince

C.  Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

1.  Life

a.  B. in same year as Shakespeare

b.  A shoemaker’s son

c.  Cambridge University (B.A. 1584; M.A. 1587)

d.  Moves to London and joins “university wits”

1)  Robert Greene, John Lyly, Thomas Nashe, Thomas Lodge

e.  Part of Earl of Nottingham’s theatrical company

f.  Moves in London underworld

g.  May have been a spy

h.  May have been an atheist

i.  May have been a homosexual

j.  Dies at 29, murdered at a tavern in Deptford

2.  Works

a.  Doctor Faustus (acted ca. 1588; publ. 1604)

b.  Other plays

1)  Tamburlaine (parts I acted ca. 1587; parts I & II publ. in 1590)

2)  Jew of Malta (acted ca. 1589; publ. 1633)

3)  Edward II (acted ca. 1592; publ. 1594)

Art and Architecture

Please click on the corresponding post Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation for reorganized information.

I.  Italy

A. Timeframe:

1. 1494:  French Invasion of Italy

2. 1564:  Death of Michelangelo

B.  Painting

1. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)

a. The Last Supper (highly idealized, vanishing point behind his head, six followers on both sides and divided into four groups of three figures for balance, and Judas shadowy and other brighter for symbolism)

b. Mona Lisa (commissioned by wealthy Florentine merchant; likeness of real person with an everlasting ideal; mystery heightened by sfumato

2. Michelangelo (1475-1564)

a. Heroic male nude, just as in Greco-Roman culture, with robust bodies and serene faces

b. But in 1530s his sculpture begins to change with distorted body proportions and unusually expressive faces

c. Delphica and Creation of Adam (Both idealistic of High Ren.)

d. The Last Judgment mannerist: chaotic composition, large no. of male nudes, and bizarre perspective and odd postures)

3. Raphael (1483-1520)

a. Influenced in Florence, and patronized by popes in Rome

b. The School of Athens (classical ideals and forms, rounded arches, coffered ceilings, vanishing point just above heads of Aristotle and Plato; Apollo [Plato?] and Athena [Aristotle]

4. Titian (?1488-1576)

a. Adheres of classicism with some innovations like his last supper (in film)

b. Presentation of the Virgin in Temple (classical serenity, but right side architecture is not like left side; and egg seller seems oblivious and unnecessary

C. Sculpture

1. Michelangelo

a. David (ideal high Renaissance, nude, calm, contrapposto)

b. Pieta, serenity even in sorrow

c. Pieta (before 1555) (mannerist distortions but still serene)

D. Architecture

1. Donato Bramante (1444-1514)

a. Tempietto (classical forms, devoid of decoration, harmonious)

2. Michelangelo

a. Dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral started by Bramante, but he died, took over by some other architects, but finally given over to Michel, but finished by Giacomo della Porta in 1590; classical ideals: Corinthian in order)

3. Andrea di Pietro (a.k.a. Palladio) (1508-1580)

a. Villa Rotunda (Villa Capra) (classical features with Mannerist surprises)

II. Northern Europe

A. Painting in Northern Europe

1. Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)

a. Son of a goldsmith, traveled to Italy;

b. Blends Medieval with Ren.

c. Knight, Death and the Devil

2. Matthias Grünewald (?1460-1528)

a. Less influenced by Italian art

b. Continuation of Late Gothic style

c. Isenheim Altarpiece (Late Gothic emotionalism and gory details)

3. Pieter Bruegel (?1525-1569)

a. Innovated in subject matter, for Dürer and Grünewald were dead, Protestant iconoclasm took its toll, and demand for religious themes declined; peasants are themes

b. Wedding Dance (natural setting, neither romanticized or patronized; high horizon and high pt. of view; ever diminishing size of background)

c. The Parable of the Blind (highly moralistic and preachy, unlike in Italian Renaissance)

III. Counter-Reformation

A. Policy of Council of Trent (1545-1563)

1. Counter the Reformation “by means of the stories of the mysteries of our Redemption portrayed by paintings or other representations, [whereby] the people [shall] be instructed and confirmed in the habit of remembering, and continually revolving in mind the articles of faith.”

2. Religious art to be directed toward

a. Clarity: to increase understanding;

b. Realism: to make it more directly meaningful;

c. Emotion: to arouse religious fervor

3. Caution!

a. Not always followed

B. Painting in Spain

1. El Greco (1541-1614)

a. Themes of saints, martyrs, and other religious figs.

b. Burial of Count Orgaz (mysticism in top half and a touch of realism in bottom half)

C. Painting in Italy

1. Tintoretto (1518-1594)

a. The Last Supper (very Mannerist, for it stirs feelings, not calms them)


So Renaissance means “rebirth.” What was reborn? In addition to art and architecture, it was biblical religion in the Reformation, and basic science, expanded education, and literature. Mild skepticism can be found in Shakespeare and Montaigne. The worm is in the apple, said one historian.

Wake up, sleepy Western world! Reclaim your good past, like your true biblical, Christian faith! No longer focus on your bad past. Don’t allow lefitists and Islamists  to browbeat you about it. You fought for your liberty.

Now live as free people.

Timeline of the Renaissance and Reformation

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