Timeline of Renaissance and Reformation

This post goes from 1492 to 1610, the High Renaissance, and covers history, philosophy, literature, science, and art and architecture..

If you need to find a term quickly, don’t forget to use the ctrl-f word search.

As the post moves along, it has Bottom Line sections, and there is a Conclusion section at the end, which asks the Western world to remember some things..

Please click on the corresponding post, Outline of the Renaissance and Reformation, which goes back to 1400 or the Early Renaissance. This Timeline in this post begins with the High Renaissance.

Let’s get started.

High Renaissance and Reformation

New Monarchies and Social and Cultural Reactions

I. Introduction

A. Timeframe

1. 1492: Columbus

2. 1517: Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

3. 1555: Religious Peace of Augsburg

4. 1603: Death of Elizabeth I of England

5. 1610: Assassination of Henry IV of France

B. Expansion and Improvements in these areas

1. Fine arts

2. Literature, philosophy, and theology

3. Science

4. Politics

5. Explorations and inventions

6. Bottom Line:

Classical World

+Middle Ages


= Renaissance (1400-1500s)


I. Italy

A. Timeframe

1. 1494: French Invasion of Italy

2. 1527: Sack of Rome

B. Main theme

1. How to stomp all over disunited Italy

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 (in effect until 1494)

1454-1455 Treaty of Lodi allies Milan, Naples, and Florence

B. Charles VIII of France

1494 King invades Italy at request of Ludovico il Moro of Milan

1494-1498 Girolamo Savonarola (b. 1452) controls Florence

1495 League of Venice unites Venice, Milan, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire, and Spain against France

C. Louis XII of France and Pope Alexander VI

1499 Louis XII invades Milan at request of Pope Alexander VI, a Borgia

1500 The Borgias conquer Romagna between Papal States and Venice

D. Pope Julius II

1509 Pope drives Venetians out of Romagna and controls it permanently

1511 Holy League unites Julius II, Ferdinand of Aragon, and Venice (and a little later Maximilian I and Swiss)

1512-1513 The Holy League defeats France at Novara

E. Francis I of France and Pope Leo X

1515 France defeats Swiss mercenaries at Marignano to avenge defeat at Novara

1516 Concordat of Bologna between France and Papacy gives French king control over French clergy in exchange for recognition of pope’s authority over Church councils and the right to collect annates in France

1525 Emperor captures French King at Pavia (s. of Milan); releases him under high payment and harsh terms

1527 Sack of Rome by Imperial soldiers; many soldiers are German Protestants

 Bottom Line on Italy

1. Birth of concept of balance of powers takes place: Holy Roman Empire, France, and Spain.

2. However, Holy Roman Empire is NOT unified.

3. Those three dominate international politics in those 33 years.

4. For three more centuries, Italy will not be unified.

5. Renaissance spreads from Italy.


I. Humanism

A. Book Gathering and Collecting

B. Medieval Education

1. Trivium: Grammar, Rhetoric, Dialectic (language arts)

2. Quadrivium: Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geometry, Music (math arts)

C. Renaissance Education

1. Moral Philosophy

2. History

3. Improvements

a. Grammar non-speculative (textual criticism)

b. Rhetoric

c. Poetry

4. Revolt against heavy emphasis on Medieval theology

D. Studia Humanitatis (humanistic studies)

1. Classicism

2. Dignitas

3. Humanitas

II. Resurgence of Platonism

A. Marsilio Ficino (1433-99)

1. Platonic Academy in Florence

a. What? Study of Plato renewed (in Medieval Age Aristotle reigned)

b. Money:  Medici family

2. Translated Plato into Latin

3. It Spreads to N. Europe

4. Ficino’s 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.

III. Philosophical Writings in Italy

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

1. Oration on the Dignity of Man (1487)

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.”

B. Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

1. The Prince (1513; 1532)

XV. The Things for which Men, especially Princes, Are Praised or Blamed . . .  I know that this has often been written about before [how a prince must govern his conduct towards his subjects or his friends], and so I hope it will not be thought presumptuous for me to do so, as, especially in discussing this subject I draw up an original set of rules. But since my intention is to say something that will prove of practical use to the inquirer, I have thought it proper to represent things as they are in real truth, rather than as they are imagined. Many have dreamed up republics and principalities which have never in truth been known to exist; the gulf between how one should live and how one does live is so wide that a man who neglects what is actually done for what should be done learns the way to self-destruction rather than self-preservation. The fact is that the man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous. Therefore, if a prince wants to maintain his rule, he must learn how not to be virtuous and to make use of this or not, according to need . . . .

XVI. Generosity and parsimony So as a prince cannot practice the virtue of generosity in such a way that he is noted for it, except at his cost, he should if he is prudent not mind being called a miser. In time he will be recognized as being essentially a generous man, seeing that because of his parsimony his existing revenues are enough for him, he can defend himself against an aggressor, and he can embark on enterprises without burdening the people . . . . So the prince must think little of it if he incurs the name of miser, so as not to rob his subjects, to be able to defend himself, not to become poor and despicable, not to be forced to grow rapacious. Miserliness is one of those vices which sustain his rule . . . .

Therefore it is wiser to incur the reputation of being a miser, which invites ignominy but not hatred, than to be forced by seeking a name for generosity to incur a reputation for rapacity, which brings you hatred as well as ignominy.

XVII. Cruelty and compassion . . .  I say that a prince must want to have a reputation for compassion rather than for cruelty; nonetheless he must be careful that he does not make bad use of compassion . . . so a prince must not worry if he incurs reproach for his cruelty so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal. By making an example or two he will prove more compassionate than those, who, being too compassionate, allow disorders which lead to murder and rapine. These nearly always harm the whole community, whereas executions ordered by a prince only affect individuals. A new prince, of all rulers, finds it impossible to avoid a reputation for cruelty, because of the abundant dangers inherent in a newly won state.

Nonetheless, a prince must be slow to take action, and must watch that he does not come to be afraid of his own shadow; his behavior must be tempered by humanity and prudence so that over-confidence does not make him rash, or excessive distrust make him unbearable.

From this arises the following question: whether it is better to loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is that one would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot have both. One can make this generalization about men: they are ungrateful, fickle, liars, and deceivers, they shun danger and are greedy for profit . . . .

The prince must nonetheless make himself feared in such a way that, if he is not loved, at least he escapes being hated. For fear is quite compatible with an absence of hatred if he abstains from the property of his subjects and citizens and from their women. If, even so, it proves necessary to execute someone, this is to be done only when there is proper justification and manifest reason for it. But above all a prince must abstain from the property of others because men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony . . . .

So, on this question of being loved or feared, I conclude that since some men love as they please but fear when the prince pleases, a wise prince should rely on what he controls, not on what he cannot control. He must only endeavor, as I said, to escape being hated.

XVIII. How princes should honor their word . . . . So it follows that a prudent ruler cannot and must not honor his word when it places him at a disadvantage and when the reasons for which he made his promise no longer exist. If all men were good, this precept would not be good; but because men are wretched creatures who would not keep their word to you, you need not keep your word to them . . . .

The Reformation

I. Background

A. Some Problems among some Catholic Leaders

1. Avignon Papacy (1309-1370)

2. Great Schism (1378-1417)

3. Secularism (of sorts)

1513-1517 Fifth Lateran Council fails to effect reform in Catholic Church

4.  Indulgences

1515 Albert of Mainz publishes Instructio summaria, which details what indulgence preachers can say and do

1517 John Tetzel preaches Indulgences in Germany

B. Renaissance

1. New Learning

2. Return to original sources, such as the Greek New Testament

C. Early Reformers

1. John Wycliffe (1320-1384)

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

3. John Huss (?1370-1415)

4. Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)

II. Reformers

A. William Tyndale (?1494-1536)

1523 He applies to Bishop Tunstall to translate Bible; denied

1524 He moves to Germany, never to return to England

1525 He begins translation (successive editions: 1526, 1534, 1536)

1526 He finishes in Worms, due to police raid in Cologne

1528 He publishes Obedience of a Christian Man, which calls for king to rescue church from pope

1530 He publishes Practice of Prelates, which condemns Henry VIII’s plan for a divorce

1535 He is arrested near Brussels and put on trial

1536 He is strangled and burned

1535-1540s Thousands of Tyndale’s Bibles, now revised as Coverdale Bible (1535) and Great Bible (1539), are published throughout England by Thomas Cromwell

B. Martin Luther (1483-1546)

1. Tenets

a. Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone

b. Sola Fide: Faith Alone

c. Sola Gratia: Grace Alone

2. Key Events

1501 He enrolls at University of Leipzig

1502 He earns B.A.

1505 He earns M.A. at Erfurt University; he enters chapter house of Hermits of St. Augustine (Augustinian friar) in July

1508 He transfers to Wittenberg University

1512 He earns doctor of theology in 1512

1515 He teaches from Epistle to Romans

1516 He teaches Epistle to Galatians after completing Romans

1517 Nails 95 theses on Wittenberg Church door

1518 Heidelberg disputation between Luther and fellow Augustinians

1519 Leipzig debate between Luther and John Eck (June); Luther meets with Cardinal Cajetan

1520 Papal bull Exsurge Domine excommunicates Luther for heresy if he remains unrepentant (June 15); he burns it

1521 Decet Romanum officially excommunicates Luther (Jan 3) April: Diet of Worms condemns Luther

1521-1522 Luther translates NT into German

1525 Luther marries Katherine von Bora, an ex-nun

1526 Diet of Spire at which Charles V’s representatives formally agrees that each German territory is free to enforce (or not) edict of Worms against Luther

→ 1529 Marburg Colloquy between Luther & Zwingli Second Diet of Spire: edict of Worms reaffirmed; Lutheran princes formally protest—hence, Protestants; but they also approve of the persecution and execution of Anabaptists

1530 Diet of Augsburg fails to settle religious differences of Catholics and Protestants

1531 Formation of Protestant Schmalkaldic League

1532 Peace of Nuremberg: Protestants may remain in their faith, but not to extend it; France and Turks threaten Holy Roman Empire, so Charles needs unity

1538 Schamlkaldic Articles by Luther

See A Defense of Martin Luther

C. Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

1502 B.A. from University of Basel

1506 M.A.; appointed vicar at Glarus

1518 He chosen people’s priest in main church in Zurich; soon he is widely known for opposing indulgences and “superstition”

1522 He was party to breaking Lenten fast

1523 He wins disputation with Catholics in Zurich

1529 Kappel battle in Swiss Civil Wars; Protestants victorious (June)

1531 In Kappel another battle between five Catholic cantons and Protestant Zurich (Oct); Zwingli wounded and executed on battlefield

1531 Peace of Kappel affirms right of each canton to decide its own religion (cf. Peace of Augsburg)

D. Anabaptists

1525 Conrad Grebel (1498-1526) and Swiss Brethren perform first adult baptism in Zurich

1527 Schleitheim Confession of Anabaptists led by Conrad Grebel and Michael Sattler (1490-1527); Sattler put on trial shortly after Confession and executed

1534-1535 Radical Anabaptists assume political control in Muenster to set up “New Jerusalem,” where the Spirit is free to move

1536 Menno Simons joins Anabaptists (1496-1561); he travels throughout Northern Europe strengthening Anabaptist communities

E. Spiritualists

1. Thomas Müntzer (?1480s-1525)

F. John Calvin (1509-1564)

1527 Genevans revolt against Prince-Bishop and take his powers, long before Calvin arrives in Geneva

1528 He takes M.A. from University of Paris

1534 He converts to Protestantism sometime before May (1533?)

Day of the Placards in Paris; retaliation drives Calvin from France (Oct)

1536 Institutes by Calvin appears in first edition in Basel Calvin arrives in Geneva

1537 He leaves Geneva for Strasbourg

1540 He marries Idelette de Bure (Aug), who has grown daughter and son, who is a student, older than sister

1541 Birth of son, who dies in infancy; church and town politics change so he returns to Geneva, never to leave

1553 He puts Michael Servetus on trial and executes him

1559-1560 Institutes appears in its final edition

1. Some writings

a. Instruction in Faith (1537)

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

2. Tenets:  T U L I P (Later Official at Synod of Dordt in 1618-1619)

a. Total depravity of man (or Total Inability: 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 call of salvation)

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

G. Peasant Revolt of 1524-1525

1. Thomas Muentzer, a leader, dies in 1525

2. Twelve Articles

3. 70,000-100,000 die

H. Social Significance

1. Improved outlook for women

2. Making money and working hard is not wrong, but honorable

3. Better education for girls

III. Catholic Reformation and Counter-Reformation

A. Christian Humanists

1. Desiderius Erasmus (1460?-1536)

a. Considered peaceful between to extremes who wouldn’t budge and often committed violence

2. Thomas More (1478-1535)

a. Executed by Henry VIII for not recognizing Henry as head of Church

B. Religious Orders

1. Theatines (1524)

2. Capuchins (1525)

3. Ursulines for women (1535)

4. Jesuits (1540)

a. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

b. 1540: Pope recognizes Society of Jesus as an order

C. Council of Trent (1545-1563)

1. Background, Meeting Times

a. 1545-1547

b. 1551-1552

c. 1562-1563

2. Results

a. No doctrinal compromises with Protestants

b. Seven sacraments reaffirmed, even Transubstantiation

c. Reduced absenteeism (upper clergy must spend more time in diocese)

d. Improved education for clergy

e. Celibacy of clergy reaffirmed

L. W. Cowie, The Sixteenth Century Europe (Oliver and Boyd, 1977)

IV. Charles V (r. 1519-1556)

A. Territory

1. Netherlands, Belgium, Milan, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Naples, Spain

B. Key Events

1519 Charles I of Spain elected Holy Roman Emperor as Charles V

1527 Imperial soldiers sack Rome, many of them Spanish but also German Lutherans; this sacking pushes Henry VIII of England toward Reformation

1532 Peace of Nuremberg: Protestants may remain in their faith, but not to extend it; France and Turks threaten Holy Roman Empire, so Charles needs unity

1539 League of Nuremberg formed by Catholics to counter League of Schmalkald

1547 Armies of Charles V crush Schmalkaldic League, capturing John Frederick of Saxony (son of Frederick the Wise) and Philip of Hesse

Augsburg Interim is imperial law that Protestants everywhere must reconvert; Charles V establishes puppet rulers in Saxony and Hesse

1552 Protestants defeat Charles V

Peace of Passau: Charles reinstates Protestant leaders and gives Lutherans religious freedom

1555 Peace of Augsburg

(1) Recognizes rights of Lutherans to worship as they please, but Calvinism and Anabaptism go unrecognized and unprotected legally, thus sowing seeds of further conflict;

(2) Makes religious division in Christendom permanent;

(3) cuius regio, eius religio: whoever is the leader [of a realm], it is his religion, which preserves political unity within a political entity like Hesse or Electoral Saxony

1556 He abdicates, believing he was a failure

Bottom Line on Charles V

1. He sees himself as the great defender of the one and true religion (Catholicism).

2. However, he could never stamp Protestantism out, largely because he has to defend Christendom (Europe) from the Turks.

3. Unable to achieve religious unity and for other reasons scholars debate, he abdicates his throne to retire in Spain.

 Key Dates and Events in Continental Reformation at a Glance

1513-1517 Fifth Lateran Council fails to effect reform in Catholic Church

1515 Albert of Mainz publishes Instructio summaria, which details what indulgence preachers can say and do

1517 Martin Luther Nails Ninety-Five Theses on church door; John Tetzel preaches Indulgences in Germany

1518 Zwingli chosen people’s priest in main church in Zurich; soon he is widely known for opposing indulgences and superstition

Heidelberg disputation between Luther and fellow Augustinians

1519 Charles I of Spain elected Holy Roman Emperor as Charles V

Leipzig debate between Luther and John Eck

Luther meets with Cardinal Cajetan

1520 Papal bull Exsurge Domine excommunicates Luther for heresy if he remains unrepentant (June 15); he burns it

1521 Decet Romanum officially excommunicates Luther (Jan 3)

April: Diet of Worms condemns Luther

1521-1522 Luther translates New Testament into German

1522 Zwingli was party to breaking Lenten fast

1523 Zwingli wins disputation with Catholics in Zurich

1524-1525 Peasant revolt in Germany; Thomas Muentzer, a leader, dies in 1525

1525 Conrad Grebel and Swiss Brethren perform first adult baptism in Zurich

1525 Luther marries Katherine von Bora, an ex-nun

1526 Diet of Spire at which Charles V’s representatives formally agrees that each German territory is free to enforce (or not) edict of Worms against Luther

1527 Schleitheim Confession of Anabaptists led by Conrad Grebel and Michael Sattler; shortly afterwards, Sattler is put on trial and executed

Genevans revolt against Prince-Bishop and take his powers

Imperial soldiers sack Rome, many of them Spanish but also German Lutherans; this pushes Henry VIII of England toward Reformation

1529 Marburg Colloquy between Luther & Zwingli

Second Diet of Spire: edict of Worms reaffirmed; Lutheran princes formally protest; but they also approve of the executions of Anabaptists

Kappel battle in Swiss Civil Wars; Protestants victorious (June)

1530 Diet of Augsburg fails to settle religious differences of Catholics and Protestants

1531 Formation of Protestant Schmalkaldic League

In Kappel another battle between five Catholic cantons and Protestant Zurich (Oct); Zwingli wounded and executed on battlefield;

Peace of Kappel affirms right of each canton to decide its own religion

1532 Peace of Nuremberg: Protestants may remain in their faith, but not to extend it; France and Turks threaten Holy Roman Empire, so Charles needs unity

1534-1535 Anabaptists assume political control in Muenster to set up a “New Jerusalem,” where the Spirit is free to move

Day of the Placards in Paris (1534); retaliation drives Calvin from France

1536 Institutes by Calvin appears in first edition in Basel

Calvin arrives in Geneva

Menno Simons joins Anabaptists

1537 Calvin leaves Geneva for Strasbourg; while there between 1537-1541, he marries Idelette de Bure in 1540

1538 Schamlkaldic Articles by Luther

1539 League of Nuremberg formed by Catholics to counter League of Schmalkald

1540 Jesuits, founded by Ignatius of Loyola, recognized as order by pope

1541 Calvin returns to Geneva, never to leave

1546 Luther dies

1547 Armies of Charles V crush Schmalkaldic League, capturing John Frederick of Saxony (son of Frederick the Wise) and Philip of Hesse

Augsburg Interim is imperial law that Protestants everywhere must reconvert;

Charles V establishes puppet rulers in Saxony and Hesse

1552 Protestants defeat Charles V

Peace of Passau: Charles reinstates Protestant leaders and gives Lutherans religious freedom

1553 Calvin puts Michael Servetus on trial and executes him

1555 Peace of Augsburg (see above under Charles V)

1556 Charles V abdicates, believing he was a failure

Ignatius Loyola dies (that’s sad!)

1545-1563 Council of Trent institutes reforms and responds to Reformation

1559-1560 Institutes by Calvin appears in its final edition

1561 Menno Simons dies

1564 Calvin dies


Leo X (r. 1513-1521)

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

Clement VII (r. 1527-1534)

Paul III (r. 1534-1549)

Julius III (r. 1550-1555)

Marcellus II (r. 1555)

Paul IV (r. 1555-1559)

Pius IV (r. 1559-1565)

Gregory XIII (r. 1572-1585)

Sixtus V (r. 1585-1590)

Urban VII (r. 1590)

Gregory XIV (r. 1590-1591)

Innocent IX (r. 1591)

Clement VIII (r. 1592-1605)

Bottom Line on Reformation(s)

1. Raising major issues concerning the New Testament interpretation and church policies, Protestants challenged the Catholics to purify corruption.

2. Catholics clean up corruption.

3. However, they do not make any major doctrinal concessions.

4. As a result of the Reformation, Christendom (Europe) and the New World would never have religious unity again.

Sixteenth-Century Monarchs

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

L. W. Cowie, Sixteenth Century Europe (Oliver and Boyd, 1977)


New Monarchs and their Reaction to the Reformation

(And to Other Things Too)

I. Spain (1474-1500s)

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

1. Children

a. Joanna

b. Catherine of Aragon (m. Henry VIII)

2. Unity of Spain

3.  Exploration

B. Philip II (r. 1556-1598)

1. France

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

1584 Philip II signs secret Treaty of Joinville with French Catholic League, pledging support for Cardinal Charles of Bourbon as future king and for money for armed forces

2. Turks

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

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

3. England

1554 Marries Mary Tudor (July 25) no children

1585 Elizabeth signs Treaty of Nonsuch, intervening in Netherlands

1588 Armada defeated by English

4. Netherlands

1559 Philip leaves; Margaret of Parma, Philip’s half-sister, becomes regent along with a Council

1561 Cardinal Granvelle (1517-1586) heads Council; Count of Egmont (1522-1568) and William of Nassau, Prince of Orange (1533-1584), are members and oppose Cardinal

1564 Egmont and Orange remove Granvelle from office

1565 Egmont travels to Spain and returns believing he has concessions from Philip, but Philip seeks to impose Council of Trent on Netherlands in a separate letter to Margaret

The Compromise: pledge to resist Council of Trent and Spanish Inquisition

1566 Henry of Brederode and Louis of Nassau (younger brother of William), Protestant nobles, present a “Request” of toleration; Margaret of Parma spurns them as “beggars

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

Special Council of Troubles (of Blood) formed; widely resisted

Orange flees to Germany (April)

1568 Egmont and Horne executed by Council of Trouble (Blood)

1572 Sea Beggars capture port city of Brill and other ports

Queen Elizabeth closes her ports to them

1576 Spanish Fury in Antwerp (Nov 4): 7,000 dead

Southern provinces, Catholic, unite with Northern provinces, Protestant Pacification of Ghent looks like Peace of Augsburg (Nov 8)

1577 Don John humiliated in naval battle; forced to sign

Perpetual Edict (Feb): Spanish troops must leave

1579 Union of Arras formed because S. provinces feared radical Calvinism (Jan)

Union of Utrecht formed to counter Union of Arras

1580 Spain keeps trying to crush Protestantism, so Philip puts 25,000 crowns as bounty Orange’s head

1584 William of Orange assassinated (July); son Maurice (1567-1625) takes over resistance

1596 France and England recognize independence of N. provinces

1609 Spain signs Twelve Years Truce, after exhaustion and overextension

Bottom Line on Philip and Spain and the Holy Roman Empire

1. Look at 1609. Internationally, Spain will never see its power extended quite as much over Europe, though they will still exert a strong influence in the Americas.

2. However, even then, Holland will rival them in the 1600s, and England will eclipse them in the 1700s in North America.

3. Religiously, Philip saw himself as the great protector of the true faith (Catholicism), but he could never stamp out Protestantism.

4. Economically, upper classes in Spain and empire are prosperous with New World gold and control of Holland.

II. France (1515-1610)

A. Francis I (r. 1515-1547)

1525    King captured at Battle of Pavia by Holy Roman Emperor; released under high payment and harsh terms, so he promises to persecute Huguenots

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 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 two sides;

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)

1563 Peace of Amboise (Mar) allows Calvinist worship in one town in each admin. district (bailliage) and in homes of Huguenot nobles

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

1570 Peace of St Germain of July 1570 allows freedom of worship in Protestant towns and four fortified towns and general amnesty

Duke of Alençon “becomes” a politique

1572 Marriage of Marguerite de Valois and Henry Bourbon of Navarre (Aug 18)

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)

1574 Henry abdicates throne in Poland and becomes King of France (May)

1575 Charles IX dies of consumption (May)

1576 Peace of Monsieur (after Francis, Duke of Alençon) restores freedoms and confiscated property to Calvinists

Catholic League now strong and cohesive

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,

A new edict reaffirms Edict of 1577

1584 Henry of Guise assumes control of Catholic League

Philip II signs secret Treaty of Joinville to support Guise and Catholic League (Dec)

1585 Henry III negotiates with Henry of Guise to pay for League’s army, revokes all edicts of pacification, removes all Huguenots from royal offices, and blocks Henry Bourbon of Navarre from succeeding Henry III (law of fundamental Catholicity)

1586 War of Three Henrys breaks out

1) Henry III of Valois (king)

2) Henry of Guise

3) Henry Bourbon of Navarre (later Henry IV)

1587 Queen Elizabeth of England executes Mary Stuart (a Guise), so War of Three Henries picks up pace

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

Henry III assassinates Henry of Guise and others loyal to him (Dec)

1589 Catherine of Medici dies (Jan)

Henry III and Henry of Navarre ally to strike Paris, still loyal to Guise

Henry III assassinated by fanatical Jacobin friar (Aug 1), so War of Three Henrys ends

F. Henry IV of Navarre (r. 1589-1610)

1589 Henry of Bourbon becomes Henry IV (Aug 2)

1593 Conversion (July 25)

1596 Catholic League disperses—formally

1598 Edict of Nantes (April 13)

1) Provides for general amnesty and freedom of worship for France

2) Calvinists may worship in one town in every district, except in towns where small bands of Catholic Leaguers still held on

3) No Calvinist services within 12 miles of Paris

4) Calvinists may have special courts

5) Calvinists must not be excluded from government and universities

6) Calvinist ministers receive royal pay

Treaty of Vervin ends hostilities with Spain (May 2, 1598)

1600 Henry IV marries Marie de Medici (Oct)

Duke of Sully (Maximilien Béthune) becomes finance minister

1601 Louis born (will become Louis XIII)

1610 Henry IV assassinated by fanatic

Bottom Line on France

1. Religiously, it is wracked by wars until the forward thinking of Henry IV, who will be much admired in France in later centuries. Religion and politics are intertwined.

2. Politically, the monarchy is still strong, but the Parlements and occasionally the Estates General “counsel” the king if he gets excessive.

3. Economically, they are in debt due to internal strife and international wars. They seek a balance of powers (Spain-Holy Roman Empire, England, France), but they do not gain much internationally.

Plantagenets, and Houses of Lancaster, York, and Tudor

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.

J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, English Monarch Series (New Haven: Yale UP, 1997)

III. England (1455-1603)

A. War of Roses (1455-1485)

1485 Henry Tudor defeats Richard III at Bosworth Field and becomes Henry VII (Aug 22)

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

1486 Marries Elizabeth York, daughter of Edward IV (r. 1461-1483), Yorkist

1487 Institutes Court of the Star Chamber, by which Henry tames nobility; king can function without financial help from Parliament

1501 First son Arthur marries Catherine, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella and Aunt of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

1502 Arthur dies of consumption

1509 Henry VII dies (April 21)

C. Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547; b. June 28, 1491)

1509 Second son Henry becomes Henry VIII (April 22)

Marries Catherine of Aragon (June 11), requiring papal dispensation

1527 Henry enamored with Anne Boleyn, lady-in-waiting

Cardinal Wolsey represents king before Pope Clement VII who is now held captive by Charles V during sack of Rome

1529 Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) and Thomas Cromwell become close advisers to king, after Wolsey was dismissed in disgrace

“Reformation” Parliament convenes for next seven years

1531 Clergy in Convocation list grievances with church

1532 Parliament passes Submission of Clergy, placing canon law and thereby the clergy under royal jurisdiction

1533 Marries Anne Boleyn (Jan 25), who is pregnant with Elizabeth (b. Sept 7)

Annulment of marriage with Catherine (May 23)

1534 Parliament ends all annates and other contributions to Rome

Act of Supremacy makes Henry head of the Church of England:

Be it enacted by authority of this present Parliament that the King our sovereign lord, his heirs and successors kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted and reputed the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England called Anglicana Ecclesia, and shall have and enjoy annexed and united to the imperial crown of this realm as well the title and style thereof as all honours, dignities, preeminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities, to the said dignity of supreme head of the same Church belong and appertaining.

(1) High treason to call king heretic, schismatic, to deny title;

(2) Payment of First Fruits (before this Act Rome got £4,800; now Henry gets, e.g., £46,052 in 1535 and £51, 777 in 1536);

(3) All adult males had to swear an oath to the terms; (4) Clergy had to subscribe that pope had no greater authority than another foreign bishop and support supremacy in the Act;

(4) An oath renouncing papal jurisdiction and supporting supremacy imposed on all officials, lay and ecclesiastical, land owners, holy orders, or degrees at universities

1536-1538 Parliament dissolves monasteries and nunneries

1536 Pilgrimage of Grace, an upper-class and peasant uprising due to religious changes and economic oppression

Ten Articles published, essentially maintaining Catholic doctrine

1539 Six Articles reaffirms transubstantiation, denies cup to laity, and declares celibacy for clergy; it was passed due to popularity of Protestants

D. Edward VI (r. 1547-1553; b. Oct. 12, 1537)

1547 After Henry’s death, his son Edward assumes reins (Jan 28)

Chantries dissolved

1549 Act of Uniformity imposes Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer

Kett’s Rebellion, a peasant reaction to powerful landlords encroaching on common pastures with their sheep and other rural grievances

1552 Second Act of Uniformity imposes Cranmer’s revised edition of Book of Common Prayer

Forty-Two Articles sets forth moderate Protestant doctrine, justification by faith and supremacy of Scripture, denied transubstantiation (though not real presence), and recognized only two sacraments

1553 Edward dies of disease (July 6)

E. Mary I (r. 1553-1558; b. Feb. 18, 1516)

1553 Henry VIII’s daughter Mary becomes Queen (July 19); throughout her reign she (wisely) only repeals Edward’s decrees, thus restoring her father’s doctrines, but repeals monarch as head of church

1554 Marian Injunctions attempts to restore Catholicism to Church of England; it is placed in every diocese, emphasizing clergy celibacy and holidays

Marries Philip II of Spain (July 25)

Wyatt’s Rebellion, reacting against marriage, with some Protestantism behind it; Wyatt wants to overthrow Mary and install Elizabeth

1555 Prominent Protestants burned: Latimer (bishop of Worcester), Ridley (bishop of London) and others

1556 Cranmer burned (Archbishop of Canterbury)

1558 Calais lost to French (Jan)

Mary dies (Nov 17)

F. Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603; b. Sept 7, 1553)

1. Henry VIII’s daughter by Anne Bolyne (the “other” woman)

2. Religious groups

a. Anglicans

b. Presbyterians

c. Congregationalists

1558 Elizabeth assumes throne (Nov 17)

1559 Act of Supremacy makes Elizabeth supreme “governor” (not “head”) over both temporal and spiritual affairs

Act of Uniformity mandates a revised version of Common Book of Prayer

Also, Elizabethan Injunctions regulate church life

1563 Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion makes Protestantism official religion as Church of England

1570 Regnans in excelsis from Pope Pius V excommunicates and deposes Elizabeth, but it has no effect

1572 Parliament passes Act of Thirty-Nine Articles, outlining Protestant theology

1577-1580 Sir Francis Drake (1545?-1596) circumnavigates globe; England is becoming a sea power

1585 Treaty of Nonsuch involves England in Netherlands

1587 Mary Queen of Scots executed (Feb 18)

1588 Spanish Armada defeated: many out of 130 ships lost or captured

1593 Conventicle Act gives Congregationalists the option of either conforming or facing exile or death

1603 She dies (Mar 24), leaving behind a strong nation poised to expand into a global empire

Tudor Dynasty

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

Bottom Line on England

1. Religiously, monarchs (except Mary) slowly turn the ship of state away from Catholicism and toward Protestantism, and they do not cause as many deaths from religious fighting as France does, but persecutions and death do follow the change on both sides.

2. By the time Elizabeth finishes her reign, the Church of England will be moderate, compared with other Protestant movements.

3.  Economically, England is prosperous (except of course for the “little people”).

4. Politically, the monarchy is strong thanks to Henry VIII, but monarchs have to work within Parliament because of a long tradition, which had been strengthened by the Magna Carta in 1215.

5. Internationally, they do not do much, except help the Dutch and other continental Protestants

6. But their big event is their defeat of the Spanish Armada.

7. Right now, Spain rules the New World.


I. The Big Change

A. Greeks had known earth was round and revolved around sun, but the Renaissance thinkers had to discover it for themselves

B. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

“A seeming change of place may arise from the motion of either the object or the observer . . . .  If then some motion of the Earth be possible . . . .  I began to think of the mobility of the Earth; and though the opinion seemed absurd . . . I considered that I might be allowed to try whether by assuming some motion of the Earth, sounder explanations for the revolution of the celestial spheres might also be discovered.”

II. Reactions

A. Martin Luther:

“People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon . . . .  This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us [Josh. 10:13] that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, not the earth.”  (Table Talks, 153, 1539; qtd in T. S. Kuhn 191)

B. Melanchthon:

“The eyes are witnesses that the heavens revolve in the space twenty-four hours.  But certain men, either from the love of novelty, or to make a display of ingenuity, have concluded that the earth moves; and they maintain that neither the eighth sphere nor the sun revolves . . . .  Now, it is a want [lack] of honesty and decency to assert such notions publicly . . . .  It is part of a good mind to accept the truth as revealed by God and to acquiesce in it.” (Initia Doctrinae physicae, 1549; qtd in ibid.)

C. John Calvin:

“The earth is also stablished, that it cannot be moved . . . .  Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?” (Commentary on Genesis; qtd. in ibid.)

III. Other Advances

A. Timeline

1500 Arquebus and hackbut appear, the first shoulder-fired arms

1500 (about) Leonardo Da Vinci studies human anatomy to improve his drawings, and produces detailed anatomical drawings

1515 Leonardo Da Vinci describes the camera obscura

1536 Niccolo Tartaglia launches “new science” of ballistics

1530 The wheel lock appears, allowing guns to be carried ready for firing, leading to the development of the pistol

1543 Andreas Vesalius reforms study of anatomy in On the Structure of the Human Body

1547 Earliest flintlock appears in Spain

1550 Rheticus in Germany publishes trigonometrical tables that simplify calculations involving triangles

1552 Giovanni Benedetti shows velocity of falling bodies unrelated to weight

1561 Gabriel Fallopius describes function of Fallopian tubes

1572 Tycho Brahe shows heavens not immutable

1570 Rifled firearm developed in Germany

1577 Brahe shows comets are interplanetary, not within Earth’s orbit as previously thought

1579 First use of red-hot shot from cannon

1584 Giordano Bruni claims universe is infinite

1585 Simon Stevinus introduces decimal fractions into common usage

1596 Introduction of wooden, gunpowder-filled fuse to ignite explosive shells so as to burst them in the air over target

1500s Tramways—wooden tracks along which trolleys ran—are used in mines


I. Italy

A. Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529)

1. The Courtier (1528)

a. How to behave courteously

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

A. Italian Connection

1. Spanish rule over Italy

B. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616)

1. Don Quixote (1605; 1615)

a. Expansive novel about an “insane” man who believers he’s a knight arrant and fights imaginary monsters that are really just society’s refusal to think “outside the box.”

b. So is he really insane, or is society off-kilter?

III. Northern Humanism

A. Desiderius Erasmus (?1460-1536)

1.  The Praise of Folly (1516)

Authors:  They torture themselves:  They add, alter, they cross out something, they reinsert it, they recopy their work, they rearrange it, they show it to friends, and they keep it for nine years; yet they are still not satisfied with it.  At such a price they buy an empty reward, namely praise– and the praise of only a handful, at that.  They buy this at the great expense of long hours, no sleep, so much sweat, and so many vexations.

Lawyers:  For while they laboriously roll up the stone of Sisyphus by the force of weaving six hundred laws together at the same time, by stacking commentary upon commentary and opinion upon opinion regardless of how far removed from the purpose, they contrive to make their profession seem to be most difficult of all.  What is tedious they consider brilliant.

Scientists:  How senilely they daydream, while they construct their countless worlds and shoot the distance to the sun, the moon, the stars, and the spheres, as with a thumb and line.  They postulate causes for lightning, winds, eclipses, and other inexplicable things, never hesitating for a moment, as if they had exclusive knowledge about the secrets of nature, designer of elements, or as if they visited us directly from the council of the gods.  Yet all this time nature is heartily laughing at them and their conjectures.

Theologians:  Perhaps it would be better to pass over them. Dealing with them, since they are hot-tempered, is like crossing Lake Camarina [muddy swamp] or eating poisonous beans.  They may attack me with six hundred arguments and force me to retract what I hold; for it I refuse, they will immediately declare me a heretic.  By this blitz action they show a desire to terrify anyone to whom they are ill-disposed . . . .  They are protected by a wall of scholastic definitions, arguments, corollaries, and implicit and explicit propositions.

B.  Sir Thomas More (1478-1535)

1.  Utopia (1516)

Economy and Occupations:  But no one has to wear himself out with endless toil from morning till night, as if he were a beast of burden.  Such a life, though it is the common life of workmen in all other countries [read: Europe], is no better than a slave’s.  The Utopians work six hours out of twenty-four.  They work three hours before [lunch].  After [lunch] they rest two hours, and then go to work for another three hours.  Then they have supper and at eight o’clock, counting from noon, they go to bed and sleep eight hours.

The other hours of the day, those that are not used for work, sleep, and meals, are left to their individual choice, on the understanding that they shall not waste them idly and wantonly.  They use their free time busily on pursuits that pleases them.

To understand their way of life fully we must look at one more point carefully.  They allot only six hours to labor, and you might think that a scarcity of essentials goods would result. Actually their working hours are sufficient to provide not only an abundance, but even a superabundance of all necessities and conveniences of life.  [Women can have jobs outside of house.]  [A list of idle people follows in European society: religionists, rich men and landlords and their hangers-on, strong and lusty beggars, workers in luxury items]

Warfare:  Contrary to almost all other peoples they consider nothing so inglorious as the glory won in war.  Nevertheless both men and women of Utopia regularly practice military exercises on certain days, so that they will be prepared when the need arises.  They go to war cautiously and reluctantly, only to protect their own territory or that of their friends if an enemy invaded it, or to free some wretched people from tyrannous oppression and servitude.  They help their friends not only in defense, but also to avenge injuries.  They do this only if they are consulted in the whole affair, if the facts are proved, and if the stolen plunder is not returned.  They think they should wage war against the aggressor.

The Utopians have this one aim in war, to accomplish what they would gladly have achieved without war if just terms had been granted in time.

IV. France

A. François Rabelais (ca. 1494-1553)

1. Works

a. Pantagruel (1532)

b. Gargantua (1534) (see below)

c. Third Book of Pantagruel (1546)

d. Fourth Book of Pantagruel (1552)

Gargantua and a monk:  The monk then requested Gargantua to institute his religious order in an exactly contrary way to all others. . . .  Item:  because at that time they put no women into religious houses unless they were one-eyed, lame, hunchbacked, ugly malformed, lunatic, half-witted, bewitched and blasphemed, or men that were not sickly, low-born, stupid, or a burden on their family . . . .

“By the way,” said the monk, “if a woman is neither fair nor good, what can you do with her?”

“Make her a nun,” said Gargantua.

“Yes,” said the monk, “and a sempstress of shirts.”

It was decreed that here no women should be admitted unless they were beautiful, well-built, and sweet-natured, nor any men who were not handsome, well-built and of pleasant nature also.

Item: because men never entered nunneries except by stealth, it was decreed that here there should be no women when there were no men, and no men when there were no women.

Item:  because both men and women, once accepted into a monastic order, after their novitiate year, were compelled and bound to remain forever, so long as they lived, it was decreed that both men and women, once accepted, could depart from there whenever they pleased, without let [prevention] or hindrance.

Item:  because ordinarily monks and nuns made three vows, that is chastity, poverty, and obedience, it was decreed that there anyone could be regularly married, could become rich, and could live at liberty . . . .

The Rules According to Which the Thelemites Lived:  All their life was regulated not by laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their free will and pleasure.  They rose from bed when they pleased, and drank, ate, worked, and slept when the fancy seized them.  Nobody woke them; nobody compelled then wither to eat or drink, or to do anything else whatever.  So it was that Gargantua had established it.  In their rules there was only one clause

Do what you will

because people who are free, well-born, well-bred, and easy in honest company have a natural spur and instinct which drives them to virtuous deeds and deflects them from vice; and this they call honor.

B. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592)

1. Essays (6th ed. in 1588)

“Que sais-je?” (What do I know?)

. . . I think there is nothing barbarous and savage in that nation, from what I have been told, except that each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice . . . .

These nations, then, seem to me barbarous in this sense, that they have been fashioned very little by the human mind, and are still very close to their original naturalness.  The laws of nature still rule them, very little corrupted by ours; and they are in such a state of purity that I am sometimes vexed that they were not known earlier, in days when there were men able to judge them better than we .  .  .

This is a nation . . . in which there is no sort of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no science of numbers, no name for magistrate or for political superiority, no custom of servitude, no riches or poverty, no contracts, no successions, no partitions, no occupations but leisure ones, no care for any but common kinship, no clothes, no agriculture, no metal, no use of wine or wheat.  The very words that signify lying, treachery, dissimulation, avarice, envy, belittling, pardon—unheard of.  How far from this perfection would he find the republic [Plato] that he imagined:  “Men sprung from the gods” [Seneca].  “These manners nature first ordained” [Virgil] . . . .

I am not sorry that we notice the barbarous horror of such acts [cannibalism of the conquered], but I am heartily sorry that, judging their faults rightly, we should be so blind to our own.  I think there is more barbarity in eating a man alive than in eating him dead; and in tearing by tortures and the rack a body still full of feeling; in roasting a man bit by bit, in having him bitten and mangled by dogs and swine (as we have not only read but seen within fresh memory, not among ancient enemies, but among neighbors and fellow citizens, and what is worse, on the pretext of piety and religion) than in roasting and eating him after he is dead . . . They are still in that happy state of desiring only as much as their natural needs demand; anything beyond that is superfluous to them. (Of cannibals, 1578-80)

In the present broils of this state [War of Three Henrys], my own interest in the one side has not made me blind to either the laudable qualities in our adversaries or those that are reproachable in the men I have followed . . . Except for the knot of the controversy I have maintained my equanimity and pure indifference . . . For which I am pleased with myself, inasmuch as I see men commonly fail in the opposite direction . . . I want the advantage to be for us, but I do not fly into a frenzy if it is not. I adhere firmly to the healthiest of the parties, but I do not seek to be noted as especially hostile to the others beyond the bounds of reason. I condemn extraordinarily this bad form of arguing: ‘He is of the League, for he admires the grace of Monsieur de Guise.’ ‘The activity of the king of Navarre amazes him: he is a Huguenot.’ ‘He finds this to criticize in the king’s morals: he is seditious in his heart. And I do not concede even to the magistrate that he was right to condemn a book [mine] for having placed a heretic among the best poets of the country. (On husbanding [managing] your will, 1585-88)

VI. England

A. William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

1. Hamlet (1600-01): It expresses a thoughtful man who is a mild skeptic (mild relative to the ones today)

To be, or not to be:  that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them.  To die, to sleep—

No  more—and  by a sleep to say we end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to!  ‘Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished.  To die, to sleep—

To  sleep—perchance to dream:  ay, there’s the rub,

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause.  There’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life:

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,

The insolence of office, and the spurns

That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin?  Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovered country, from whose bourn

No traveler returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have,

Than fly to others that we know not of? [cf. “what do I know?” by Montaigne]

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pitch and moment,

With this regard their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action.

Art and Architecture:

High Renaissance and Mannerism

I. Italian Renaissance

A. Timeframe

1. 1494:  French Invasion of Italy

2. 1564:  Death of Michelangelo

B. Painting

1. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)

2. Michelangelo (1475-1564)

3. Raphael (1483-1520)

4. Titian (?1488-1576)

C. Sculpture

1. Michelangelo

D. Architecture

1. Donato Bramante (1444-1514)

2. Michelangelo

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

II. Northern Europe

A. Introduction

B. Examples

1. Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)

2. Matthias Grünewald (?1460-1528)

3. Pieter Bruegel (?1525-1569)

III. Counter-Reformation (Spain, Italy)

A. Artistic 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)

C. Painting in Italy

1. Tintoretto (1518-1594)

Bottom Line on Renaissance and Reformation

I. History

A. Some historians say Early Modern Age begins with the next post, but the seeds are in fact found in this one:

1. Pockets of capitalism growing beyond that found in Medieval Age

2. Balance of Power among nations without real papal military power

3. Religious pluralism or conflicts and strife

4. Montaigne’s skepticism and tolerance

5. Social satire from Rabelais, More, and Erasmus

6. In art, Mannerism’s distortions

7. Copernicus’ discovery (or recovery of Greek idea)

8. Worldwide explorations growing

B. Disunity-Unity

1. Germany: Disunity

2. Spain, France, England: Unity (comparative)

C. Balance of Power emerging, for no one Power wants another Power to dominate

D. Explorations

1. Silver and Gold from Atlantic trade

2. New cultures bring new ideas

II. Economy

A. Gold is coming from New World into Old Europe, but Spain and its satellite state, Holland, is main beneficiary

B. Merchant class is growing from High and Late Medieval Age, especially in Holland and England

III. Science—small steps

A. Some repeated ideas about the universe (astronomy, really)

1. Repeated from the ancient Greeks, but it’s almost as if the Renaissance thinkers didn’t know what they Greeks had done or needed to find out for themselves.

B. Small steps in medicine: Vesalius improves knowledge of anatomy

C. The Church of both kinds (Catholic and Reformation) oppose or are scared of the developments in astronomy because it seems to contradict the Bible

IV. Philosophy

A. Not much innovation in “pure” philosophy (compared with later Descartes, Hume, Kant et al.)

B. Philosophers are concerned with New Learning

1. This amounts to challenging accepted ideas and not being afraid to implement them politically and socially—in schools and universities

V. Religion—by far the dominant question over formal philosophy

A. Protestants challenge Catholics over doctrine and church policies

B. This ignites atrocious religious wars

C. But Catholics in Council of Trent makes some ecclesiastical improvements, though no major doctrinal changes

VI. Literature

A. Satire of society and religion emerges far more prevalently than it did in Medieval Age (cf. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Boccaccio’s Decameron; both satirize religion, but Renaissance satire is wider).

1. Reasons: Society is losing its religious unity, and clerical corruption is being challenged in the Reformation, which gives an alternative path for true believers; though the Medieval Age certainly knew of clerical corruption, Christians did not have an alternative, such as in the Reformation.

B. Mild skepticism in Montaigne and Shakespeare appears

1. “Mild” because it is not nearly as strong as that in later centuries.

2. This certainly emerges from religious wars

3. Unlike Montaigne who endured the French Wars of Religion and the War of the Three Henrys, Shakespeare lived in peace and prosperity under Elizabeth, but he knew of religious strife and a breakdown of church unity, as she sought for uniformity.

VII. Art and Architecture

A. Mannerism moves away from the balance and proportion of High Renaissance

1. This change could be a reaction to the changes in the other areas above, such as the Sack of Rome in 1527 and the disintegration of religious unity through Reformation.

B. Council of Trent calls for reform in arts

1. Paintings should be clear and religious and realistic


The Renaissance means “rebirth.” What was reborn? In addition to art and architecture, mainly it was biblical religion in the Reformation, science, and .expanded education. Mild skepticism in Montaigne and Shakespeare can be found. One historian says that in the 1500s and early 1600s, the worm got into the apple, that is, more freedom of thought.

Wake up, Western world! Reclaim your good heritage, like your original, biblical faith, rather than empty religion! No longer focus on your bad past. Don’t allow leftists and Islamists to browbeat you with it. You fought for your liberty.

Now live as free people.

Timeline of the Early Modern World

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