Renaissance Venice Italy “Virgins of Venice” Convent Nuns Illicit Lover Politics

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Seller: ancientgifts ✉️ (5,285) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, US, Ships to: WORLDWIDE, Item: 383512248589 Renaissance Venice Italy “Virgins of Venice” Convent Nuns Illicit Lover Politics. Virgins of Venice: Broken Vows and Cloistered Lives in the Renaissance Convent by Mary Laven. DESCRIPTION: Softcover: 320 pages. Publisher: Penguin (2004). Dimensions: 7¾ x 5¼ inches; ¾ pound. Venice in the late Renaissance was a city of fabulous wealth, reckless creativity, and growing social unrest as its maritime empire crumbled. It was also a city of walls and secrets, ghettos and cloisters -- including fifty convents housing three thousand nuns, many of them refined, upper-class women who had been immured against their will. In this utterly fascinating book. Cambridge historian Mary Laven uncovers the long-hidden stories of the "Virgins of Venice" and the secret, and often surprising, lives they led. Sifting through records kept during the Counter-Reformation, Laven has created a detailed and dramatic tapestry of resourceful, determined, often passionate women who managed to lead fulfilling lives despite their virtual imprisonment. Far from being precincts of piety and silence, the convents of Venice were hotbeds of political scheming, colorful pageantry, gorgeous decoration, and illicit love affairs. One nun was so determined to sleep with her lover that she painstakingly chipped a hole in a stone wall so he could climb through under cover of night. Another expressed her individuality through obsessive gift giving while keeping records of the dangerous flirtations going on around her. Still others exercised considerable clandestine power in the dangerous game of Venetian politics. Rich in intrigue and gossip, eye opening in its historic revelations, and written with drama and compassion. “Virgins of Venice” brings to life a culturally vibrant period in Venice and the hidden residents who dwelled behind its walls. CONDITION: NEW. New oversized softcover. Penguin (2004) 320 pages. Unblemished except for VERY faint (almost imperceptible) shelf wear to the covers. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread (though of course it may have been flipped through once or twice while in the bookstore). Condition is entirely consistent with new stock from a bookstore environment wherein new books might show minor signs of shelfwear, consequence of simply being shelved and re-shelved. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Meticulous and accurate descriptions! Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. We accept returns for any reason within 30 days! #2069.1a. PLEASE SEE IMAGES BELOW FOR SAMPLE PAGES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEW: REVIEW: Ancient and isolated, the twenty Orthodox monasteries on the Greek peninsula of Mount Athos do not make the headlines often, but the current standoff between the conservative monks of Esphigmenou (motto: "Orthodoxy or Death") and other orders shines a light on this enclave, famous for its total exclusion of females (including livestock) and its extreme notion of solitude. Some hermits still live for decades in caves with only the skulls of their predecessors for company. Graham Speake's history Mount Athos suggests that the monks have always been a querulous bunch. As early as 972 A.D., the number of monks allowed to attend annual meetings was limited to "avoid the disorders and disputes which have occurred very frequently at these gatherings”. Few people nowadays are attracted to the cloistered life, but in some periods of history joining sacred orders was almost the norm. In Renaissance Europe, the high cost of marriage in aristocratic families sometimes sent the majority of a family's daughters to convents. In “A Convent Tale”, P. Renée Baernstein focused on the life of the sixteenth-century Milanese noblewoman Agata Sfondrati. Such was the dearth of marriage opportunities that Agata's sister Anna was the only woman in three generations of the Sfondrati to get married. Unsurprisingly, many women felt trapped by this life. Mary Laven's “Virgins of Venice” looks at the many ways in which this frustration was vented; amateur dramatics, hospitality to outside women, and love affairs. A nun who, in 1614, knocked a hole in a wall to admit her lover pointed out that she had been at the convent since she was six or seven and that, when she took her vows. "I spoke with my mouth, and not with my heart." Author Mary Laven is Lecturer at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Jesus College. PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: This engrossing book unveils a world of convent communities far richer and more complicated than the nuns' vows of poverty, chastity and obedience would seem to allow, wherein women led "lives caught between renunciation and self-indulgence, monotony and flashes of high color”. The author explains how, in the 16th century, Venice's 50-some convents were seen as "places of vice and indiscipline", and a "spiritual liability" that called for visits by church and state authorities who would chart infractions and demand reforms. Using visitation reports, trial records, personal letters and diaries, Cambridge historian Laven weaves a fascinating social history of these women's hidden existence; lives that included "gossip-mongering", befriending prostitutes, cross-dressing, sharing beds with one another, writing love letters to priests and even cutting holes in convent walls to allow their lovers in. The problem, Laven says, was that Venetian convents served as "dumping grounds for unmarried noblewomen," many of whom had no calling to the religious life. Stripped of wealth and position and cut off from the outside world, these young women longed, more than anything, for communication, and taking lovers, sometimes, was simply the best way to get it. Laven writes with powerful empathy for the nuns, neither glorifying them nor reducing them to helpless victims. And in asserting that nuns' struggles were ultimately to define themselves as individuals against the strictures of their community, Laven makes a compelling feminist argument without employing any overblown feminist rhetoric. REVIEW: Laven (Professor of History, University of Cambridge) describes the politics, religious practice, and physical realities of the involuntary enclosure in convents experienced by a large percentage of the upper-class girls of Renaissance Venice. The shifting circumstances of the nuns, who lived marginally normal lives until stricter reforms eliminated their contact with the outside world, stories of the lives and struggles of individual nuns, and the physical features of the convents are among the topics described, based on extensive research of convent and other archives. A fascinating glimpse into the life which once existed behind cloistered convent walls, this book is a tremendous achievement. Laven has released the voices of the nuns of renaissance Venice. REVIEW: Virtually impossible to put down, in this beautifully written book Mary Laven takes us behind the closed doors of the convents of Late Renaissance Venice. She exposes the predicament of women who were incarcerated to satisfy the social and religious pressures of the time, and yet managed to create emotional and even sexual lives for themselves. Laven brilliantly evokes the atmosphere and drama of the period, while making a major contribution to the understanding of the place of women in early modern Europe. REVIEW: Mary Laven has provided us with a fascinating, thought-provoking glimpse into the lives and thoughts of these sisters of Venice so long ago, and we find them our own sisters in many ways. A very special book that shines light into a secret corner of the human heart and the ability to adapt to boundaries, and enlightens us all. As in so many other aspects, Venice was unique in its attitude toward nuns and convents, having more than anywhere else in Europe. Here at last is the most interesting and informative book I have ever read on the subject. REVIEW: Mary Laven deftly lifts the veil on the nuns of Renaissance Venice, revealing their world in the minutest and most fascinating detail. A triumphant combination of scholarship and storytelling, Laven provides readers with astonishingly fresh, immediate insights into the fascinating reality of day-to-day convent existence. It’s an utterly engrossing account, a work of analytic pathos and compassion. It’s scholarly and diligent, but with frequent moments of fun. READER REVIEWS: REVIEW: An Important Study of Convent Life! Laven's scholarly study (originally her doctoral thesis) is an eminently readable account of convent life in early Renaissance Venice. She describes a fascinating slice of 16th century life. What is remarkable is that the 'slice' is actually quite large. As Laven relates, noble women (most professed nuns were noble) had few options. Most families concentrated their financial resources in a dowry for only one daughter and the rest commonly went to the convent. For many of these women life in a nunnery was involuntary. As part of the Church's defensive reaction in the Counter-Reformation, Venetian convents became much more strictly enclosed by the strictures of the Council of Trent. The enclosure laws greatly benefited Laven's work because most of her material comes directly from court records. These sources are the book's greatest strength. The records provide insight into the behavior of real people, individuals with names and families, in and around the convents. Given the lack of other available resources, the reliance on court records somewhat limits our view as we mostly only read about those situations that made it to court. Fortunately for us, convent life was quite strictly regulated, yet nuns were also determined to have dealings with the outside world, many of them non-sexual, so Laven has access to many records. It makes for a very interesting study. The Church was so central to Medieval and Renaissance life that anyone who wants to understand those periods must understand the role of religion and the Church as an institution. Laven's book is highly instructive and highly recommended. REVIEW: If we could travel back in time, and our machine landed in 16th century Venice, what would you like to see? Grand palaces, and the people who lived in them? Carnival time in the Piazza of San Marco? Perhaps life on the streets? What about life in a convent? Too dull, you think? Then, you have not read Mary Laven's “Virgins of Venice”, a remarkable journey into the lives of the women who lived in the fifty or so convents that existed in Venice at the time. Convents were not only spiritual houses, but also end stations for noble women who could not be given away in marriage by their families. By using reports of investigations and trials, together with statements that came from the nuns themselves, Laven opens a world of suffocating oppression and enforced chastity, but also a world of determination from the nuns to lead a life as normal as possible. Contact with the outside world might have not been allowed, but the courts were full of incidents where both outsiders and nuns had breached the law. For instance, we learn that Zuana, a "gossip", kept hens for Madonna Suor Gabriela, and that in exchange, Suor Gabriela provided Zuana with wine and other commodities. This and many other stories make this book impossible to put down, since we feel anger, sadness, despair and sympathy for those women whose lives were condemned from the moment they entered the convent. On the other hand, we can't help but to feel glad that the nuns did everything they could to fight back. From being petty to actually engaging in sexual acts, these nuns will forever be a remainder that no matter time and place, human beings will do the impossible to lead dignified lives. Bravo, Leven! REVIEW: In the wall of the Arsenal in Venice is an arch of the demolished convent Santa Maria delle Vergini. The convent had been one of the grandest of thirty-odd Venetian convents. There is a plaque below the arch that reads, "Hope and love keep us in this pleasant prison”. Convents were indeed like prisons, in many ways, and many of the inhabitants were reluctant prisoners, rather than volunteers for God. In an amazing account of convent existence and day-to-day life within, “Virgins of Venice: Broken Vows and Cloistered Lives in the Renaissance Convent”. Some of the nuns may have been devoted to God, but even they had to be busy with laundry, cooking, and herbal remedies to keep the convent going. They were also not immune from gossip, laughing, friendship, and sexual intrigue. The convents in the 16th and 17th centuries were intended to be islands of sinlessness walled away from the outside world. However Laven shows that sinless or not, the nuns had to participate in a larger society, and inescapably took on that society's characteristics. Convents were supposed to keep nuns from the outside world and vice versa. There were veiled and grated communion windows where the nuns could line up and receive the host from the priest, without actually entering the church. There were walls to keep nuns from public view, and to keep them from looking out upon the sinful world. For passing things in and out of the convent, there might be a “ruota”, or wheel, a sort of revolving door that would prevent glimpses in and glimpses out. Convents were vital to the Venetian nobility. If a daughter could not be married, or could not be put on the marriage market with the enormous dowries Venetian law required, the convent was the one place she could go. Most of the nuns had the "forced vocation" of the convent imposed upon them, and others were tricked into it by relatives, some within the convent, who had misrepresented the benefits of such a life. There was stratification within the convents that mirrored society without. The aristocratic nuns could dress as they were used to, and they kept their family names, indicating a secular identity. Of course there were sexual violations. Boccaccio's tales of convent hanky-panky might have been satire, but he knew that sexuality would show itself. “Virgins of Venice”, despite its lurid subtitle, is certainly not about sensational sex stories. This is a work of serious scholarship, but it is humorous and compassionate. Laven has drawn from contemporary sources, including the reports of inspections of the state magistracy that had been set up "to enforce the new laws that aspired to obliterate all contact, from the most innocent and inconspicuous to the flagrantly sexual, between the city's nuns and the outside world." Laven cannot support the feminist view that these enclosed women had resourcefully found a means of self-expression within their society. They were prisoners, who although they might be making the best of a bad situation, were under life sentences. REVIEW: This is not a book for those looking for freak stories about nuns but a serious account of an important part of the population of Venice in the 16th-17th centuries. Having grown up in a Mediterranean catholic country I have found quite normal things that were something shocking to the author but I've really been shocked by things like that the Trent Council ordered all the nuns to be enclosed! I must have been slept when they mentioned that in religion and history lessons! I was also shocked by the use the aristocratic elite of Venice made of the convents as nothing more than a dumping site for their daughters. However I found normal that this did not lead to a "convent revolution" as I'm quite aware of the "class feeling" and family pride of these involuntary. Those sentiments precluded any “revolution”, as they were and remain normal in Western Mediterranean countries. I have found this book very interesting for all those interested in a somewhat forgotten sector of the Mediterranean society of Renaissance and early modern Europe. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: The Renaissance Culture: The Renaissance was a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity, roughly covering the 15th and 16th centuries. It occurred after the “Crisis of the Late Middle Ages” and was associated with great social change. Proponents of a long Renaissance put its beginning in the 14th century and its end in the 17th century. The traditional view focuses more on the early modern aspects of the Renaissance and argues that it was a break from the past. However many historians today focus more on its medieval aspects and argue that it was an extension of the Middle Ages. The intellectual basis of the Renaissance was its version of humanism. This was derived from the concept of Roman Humanitas, and the rediscovery of classical Greek philosophy. An example might be such as that of Protagoras, the 5th century B.C. Greek Philosopher, who said that "…man is the measure of all things..." This new thinking became manifest in art, architecture, politics, science and literature. Early examples were the development of perspective in oil painting and the recycled knowledge of how to make concrete. Although the invention of metal movable type sped the dissemination of ideas from the later 15th century, the changes of the Renaissance were not uniformly experienced across Europe. The first traces of the Renaissance appear in Italy as early as the late 13th century, in particular with the writings of Dante and the paintings of Giotto. As a cultural movement the Renaissance encompassed innovative flowering of Latin and vernacular literatures. This began with the 14th century resurgence of learning based on classical sources, which contemporaries credited to Petrarch. Additionally there was the development of linear perspective and other techniques of rendering a more natural reality in painting. No less significant was gradual but widespread educational reform. In politics the Renaissance contributed to the development of the customs and conventions of diplomacy. In science the Renaissance led to an increased reliance on observation and inductive reasoning. The Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval. However it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renaissance Man". Historians attribute the beginning of the Renaissance to 14th century Florence, Italy. Various theories have been proposed to account for its origins and characteristics. Theories generally focus on a variety of factors including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time. These include its political structure and the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici. Another potentially significant factor was the migration of Greek scholars and their texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. Other major centers of the Renaissance were northern Italian city-states such as Venice, Genoa, Milan, Bologna, and Rome during the Renaissance Papacy. Also were Belgian cities such as Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Leuven or Antwerp. The Renaissance has a long and complex historiography. In line with general skepticism of discrete periodizations there has been much debate among historians. In particular historians question the 19th-century glorification of the "Renaissance" and individual culture heroes as "Renaissance Men". In general historians question the usefulness of Renaissance as a term and as a historical delineation. The art historian Erwin Panofsky observed of this resistance to the concept of the "Renaissance", “…it is perhaps no accident that the factuality of the Italian Renaissance has been most vigorously questioned by those who are not obliged to take a professional interest in the aesthetic aspects of civilization – historians of economic and social developments, political and religious situations, and, most particularly, natural science – but only exceptionally by students of literature and hardly ever by historians of Art…” Some observers have called into question whether the Renaissance was a cultural "advance" from the Middle Ages. Instead they view it as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for classical antiquity. Social and economic historians have focused on the continuity between the Middle ages and the Renaissance, which they argue are linked "by a thousand ties". The term rinascita (“rebirth”) first appeared in Giorgio Vasari's “Lives of the Artists”, written about 1550AD. The term “rinascita” was anglicized as the “Renaissance” in the 1830s. The word has also been extended to other historical and cultural movements, such as the Carolingian Renaissance (of the 8th and 9th centuries), the Ottonian Renaissance (of the 10th and 11th centuries), the Timurid Renaissance (Islamic Central Asia late 14th through early 17th centuries), and the Renaissance of the 12th century. More than anything the Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period. After its beginnings in Italy it spread to the rest of Europe by the 16th century. Its influence was felt in art, architecture, philosophy, literature, music, science and technology, politics, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry. Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art. Renaissance humanists sought out in Europe's monastic libraries the Latin literary, historical, and oratorical texts of Antiquity. The Fall of Constantinople in 1453 generated a wave of émigré Greek scholars bringing precious manuscripts in ancient Greek, Many of these manuscripts had fallen into obscurity in the West. It is in their new focus on literary and historical texts that Renaissance scholars differed so markedly from the medieval scholars of the Renaissance of the 12th century. Those scholars of the 12th century had focused on studying Greek and Arabic works of natural sciences, philosophy and mathematics, rather than on such classical cultural texts. In the revival of neo-Platonism Renaissance humanists did not reject Christianity. Quite to the contrary many of the greatest works of the Renaissance were devoted to Christianity. The Church in turn patronized many works of Renaissance art. However a subtle shift took place in the way that intellectuals approached religion. This shift in perspective was reflected in many other areas of cultural life. In addition many Greek Christian works were brought back from Byzantium to Western Europe. These included the Greek New Testament. These Greek Christian works engaged Western scholars for the first time since late antiquity. This new engagement and in particular the return to the original Greek of the New Testament promoted by humanists would help pave the way for the Protestant Reformation. Well after the first artistic return to classicism had been exemplified in the sculpture of Nicola Pisano, Florentine painters led by Masaccio strove to portray the human form realistically. This entailed developing techniques to render perspective and light more naturally. Political philosophers sought to describe political life as it really was, that is to understand it rationally. One more prominent example was most famously Niccolò Machiavelli. A critical contribution to Italian Renaissance humanism was made by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. He wrote in 1486 the famous text “De hominis dignitate”, or “Oration on the Dignity of Man”. This consisted of a series of literary works on philosophy, and natural thought. He defended faith and magic against any opponent on the grounds of reason. In addition to studying classical Latin and Greek, Renaissance authors also began increasingly to use vernacular languages. This combined with the introduction of printing press would allow many more people access to books, especially the Bible. Overall the Renaissance could be viewed as an attempt by intellectuals to study and improve the secular and worldly. This they strived to effect both through the revival of ideas from antiquity, and through novel approaches to thought. Some contemporary scholars play down the significance of the Renaissance. They rather believe that the earlier innovations of the Italian city-states in the High Middle Ages were more significant. These innovations had married responsive government, Christianity and the birth of capitalism. This perspective argues that the great European states (i.e., France and Spain) were absolutist monarchies. Other European states were under direct Church control. In contrast the independent city republics of the Italian High Middle Ages took over the principles of capitalism invented on monastic estates. In so doing they set off a vast unprecedented commercial revolution that preceded and financed the Renaissance. Many contemporary historians argue that the ideas characterizing the Renaissance had their origin in late 13th century Florence, Italy. In particular they point to the writings of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) and Petrarch (1304–1374); as well as the paintings of Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337). Some writers date the Renaissance quite precisely. One proposed starting point is 1401 AD. This was the year when the rival geniuses Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi competed for the contract to build the bronze doors for the Baptistery of the Florence Cathedral (Ghiberti won). Other historians see more general competition between artists and polymaths such as Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Donatello, and Masaccio. They argue that these competitions for artistic commissions sparked the creativity of the Renaissance. Yet it remains much debated why the Renaissance began in Italy, and why it began when it did. Accordingly several theories have been put forward to explain the origins of the Renaissance. During the Renaissance money and art went hand in hand. Artists depended entirely on patrons while the patrons needed money to foster artistic talent. Wealth was brought to Italy in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries by expanding trade into Asia and Europe. Silver mining in Tyrol (the Northern Italian Alps) increased the flow of money. Luxuries brought home from the Muslim world during the Crusades increased the prosperity of Genoa and Venice. Many contemporary historians define the 16th century Renaissance in France as a period in Europe's cultural history that represented a break from the Middle Ages. They posit that this period in France created a modern understanding of humanity and its place in the world. During the High Middle Ages Latin scholars focused almost entirely on studying Greek and Arabic works of natural science, philosophy and mathematics. In dramatic contrast Renaissance scholars were most interested in recovering and studying Latin and Greek literary, historical, and oratorical texts. Broadly speaking this began in the 14th century with a Latin phase. It started with Renaissance scholars such as Petrarch, Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406), Niccolò de' Niccoli (1364–1437) and Poggio Bracciolini (1380–1459) scouring the libraries of Europe. They were searching for works by such Latin authors as Cicero, Lucretius, Livy and Seneca. By the early 15th century the bulk of the surviving such Latin literature had been recovered. Western European scholars turned to recovering ancient Greek literary, historical, oratorical and theological texts. The Greek phase of Renaissance humanism was under way. Latin texts had been preserved and studied in Western Europe since late antiquity. In contrast the study of ancient Greek texts was very limited in medieval Western Europe. Ancient Greek works on science, math and philosophy had been studied since the High Middle Ages in Western Europe. In translation it has also been extensively studied in the Islamic Golden Age. However this was not the case with Greek literary, oratorical and historical works. Homer, the Greek dramatists, Demosthenes and Thucydides) were not studied in either the Latin or medieval Islamic worlds. In the Middle Ages these sorts of texts were only studied by Byzantine scholars. Some historians argue that the Timurid Renaissance in Samarkand was linked with Ottoman Empire. They posit that those conquests resulted in the mass migration of Greek scholars to Italian cities. One of the greatest achievements of Renaissance scholars was to bring this entire class of Greek cultural works back into Western Europe for the first time since late antiquity. Muslim scholars had inherited Greek ideas after they had invaded and conquered Egypt and the Levant. Their translations and commentaries on these ideas worked their way through the Arab West into Iberia and Sicily. These areas became important centers for this transmission of ideas. From the 11th to the 13th centuries many schools dedicated to the translation of philosophical and scientific works from Classical Arabic to Medieval Latin were established in Iberia. Most notably the Toledo School of Translators. Though largely unplanned and disorganized this work of translation from Islamic culture constituted one of the greatest transmissions of ideas in history. There commenced a movement to reintegrate the regular study of Greek literary, historical, oratorical and theological texts back into the Western European curriculum. This is usually dated to the 1396 invitation from Coluccio Salutati to the Byzantine diplomat and scholar Manuel Chrysoloras to teach Greek in Florence. This legacy was continued by a number of expatriate Greek scholars, from Basilios Bessarion to Leo Allatius. The unique political structures of late Middle Ages Italy have led some historians to theorize that its unusual social climate allowed the emergence of a rare cultural efflorescence. Italy did not exist as a political entity in the early modern period. It was divided into smaller city states and territories. The Kingdom of Naples controlled the south. The Republic of Florence and the Papal States governed central Italy. The Milanese governed the North. The Genoese governed the west. The Venetians controlled the Italian east. Despite the political fragmentation 15th century Italy was one of the most urbanized regions in Europe. Many of its cities stood among the ruins of ancient Roman buildings. It seems likely that the classical nature of the Renaissance was linked to its origin in the Roman Empire's former heartland. A German bishop visiting north Italy during the 12th century noticed a widespread new form of political and social organization. He observed that Italy appeared to have exited from Feudalism so that its society was based on merchants and commerce. Linked to this was anti-monarchical thinking. This was perhaps best represented in the famous early Renaissance fresco cycle painted from 1338-1340 “The Allegory of Good and Bad Government” by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. The strong message it conveyed pertained to the virtues of fairness, justice, republicanism and good administration. In defiance of norms of both Church and Empire, these city republics were devoted to notions of liberty. There were many demonstrations in the defense of liberty such as the celebration of Florentine genius. These were not restricted merely to art, sculpture and architecture. Rather they extended to the remarkable efflorescence of moral, social and political philosophy that occurred in Florence at the same time. Even cities and states beyond central Italy were also notable for their merchant Republics. This included not only Florence, but in particular the Republic of Venice. In practice of course these political entities were oligarchical. They bore little resemblance to a modern democracy. However they did possess democratic features and were responsive states. They featured both forms of participation in governance and belief in liberty. The relative political freedom they afforded was conducive to academic and artistic advancement. Likewise the influence and prominence of Italian cities such as Venice as great trading centers made them intellectual crossroads. Merchants brought with them ideas from far corners of the globe, particularly the Levant. Venice was Europe's gateway to trade with the East. Venice was also a dominant producer of fine glass, while Florence was a capital of textiles. The wealth such business brought to Italy not only meant large public and private artistic projects could be commissioned. It also meant that individuals had more leisure time for study. Pieter Bruegel's oil painting “The Triumph of Death” (finished about 1562) reflects the social upheaval and terror that followed the plague that devastated medieval Europe between 1348 and 1350. Historians theorize that the devastation in Florence caused by the Black Death resulted in a shift in the world view of people in 14th century Italy. Italy was particularly badly hit by the plague. It has been postulated that the resulting familiarity with death caused thinkers to dwell more on their lives on Earth, rather than on spirituality and the afterlife. Conversely it has also been argued that the Black Death prompted a new wave of piety. This allegedly manifested itself in the sponsorship of religious works of art. However this does not fully explain why the Renaissance occurred specifically in Italy in the 14th century. The Renaissance's emergence in Italy was most likely the result of the complex interaction of all of the factors discussed above. After all the Black Death was a pandemic that affected all of Europe in the ways described, not only Italy. The plague was carried by fleas on sailing vessels returning from the ports of Asia. It spread quickly due to lack of proper sanitation. England with a total population of about 4.2 million, lost 1.4 million people to the bubonic plague. Florence's population was nearly halved in the year 1347. As a result of the severe depopulation the value of the labors performed by the working class increased. Commoners came to enjoy more freedom as well as increased incomes. To answer the increased need for labor, workers traveled in search of the most economically advantageous markets. The demographic decline due to the plague had multiple economic consequences. The prices of food dropped and land values declined by 30 to 40% in most parts of Europe between 1350 and 1400. Landholders faced a great loss. However for ordinary men and women it was a windfall. The survivors of the plague found not only that the prices of food were cheaper but also that lands were more abundant. Many landless commoners found that they had inherited property from their dead relations. The spread of disease was significantly more rampant in areas of poverty and in urban areas. Epidemics ravaged cities, particularly children. Plagues were easily spread by fleas, unsanitary drinking water, armies, or by poor sanitation. Children were hit the hardest because many widespread diseases such as typhus and syphilis target the immune system. With compromised immune systems, many young children were left without a fighting chance. Children in city dwellings were more affected by the spread of disease than the children of the wealthy. The Black Death caused greater upheaval to Florence's social and political structure than later epidemics. Despite a significant number of deaths among members of the ruling classes, the government of Florence continued to function during this period. Formal meetings of elected representatives were suspended during the height of the epidemic due to the chaotic conditions in the city. However a small group of officials was appointed to conduct the affairs of the city. These officials ensured continuity of government. It has long been a matter of debate why the Renaissance began in Florence, and not elsewhere in Italy. Scholars have noted several features unique to Florentine cultural life that may have caused such a cultural movement. Many have emphasized the role played by the Medici. The Medici were a banking family and later ducal ruling house, playing a significant role in patronizing and stimulating the arts. Lorenzo de' Medici who lived from 1449 to 1492 was the catalyst for an enormous amount of arts patronage. In addition to his own patronage he encouraged his countrymen to commission works from the leading artists of Florence. They patronized such notables as included Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo Buonarroti. Additional works by Neri di Bicci, Botticelli, da Vinci and Filippino Lippi were also commissioned additionally by the Convent of San Donato in Scopeto in Florence. The Renaissance had already certainly been under way before Lorenzo de' Medici came to power. Indeed the Renaissance was emergent even before the Medici family itself achieved hegemony in Florentine society. Some historians have postulated that Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance as a result of luck. They assert that "Great Men" were born there by simply by chance. Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Michelangelo were all born in Tuscany. Arguing that such chance seems improbable, other historians have contended that these "Great Men" were only able to rise to prominence because of the prevailing cultural conditions at the time. In some ways Renaissance humanism was not a philosophy but a method of learning. The medieval scholastic mode focused on resolving contradictions between authors of Latin classics. In contrast Renaissance humanists would study ancient texts in the original and appraise them through a combination of reasoning and empirical evidence. Humanist education was based on the program of “Studia Humanitatis”. This embraced the study of five humanities: poetry, grammar, history, moral philosophy and rhetoric. Historians have sometimes struggled to define humanism precisely. However a widely acceptable “middle of the road definition” has been the movement to recover, interpret, and assimilate the language, literature, learning and values of ancient Greece and Rome. Above all, humanists asserted "the genius of man” and the “unique and extraordinary ability of the human mind". Humanist scholars shaped the intellectual landscape throughout the early modern period. Political philosophers such as Niccolò Machiavelli and Thomas More revived the ideas of Greek and Roman thinkers and applied them in critiques of contemporary government. Pico della Mirandola wrote a vibrant defense of thinking which is regarded as the "manifesto" of the Renaissance, the “Oration on the Dignity of Man”. Another humanist Matteo Palmieri is most known for his work Della vita civile ("On Civic Life"). Printed in 1528 it advocated civic humanism. Notably it was printed in a refined Tuscan vernacular every bit the equivalent in sophisticated as Latin. Palmieri drew on Roman philosophers and theorists, especially Cicero. Like Palmieri Cicero had lived an active public life as a citizen and official, as well as a theorist and philosopher, and Quintilian. Perhaps the most succinct expression of Palmieri’s perspective on humanism is in a 1465 poetic work “La città di vita”. However an earlier work “Della vita civile” was more wide-ranging. It was composed as a series of dialogues set in a country house in the Mugello countryside outside Florence during the plague of 1430. Within it Palmieri expounds on the qualities of the ideal citizen. The dialogues include ideas about how children develop mentally and physically. Also include are ideas on how citizens can conduct themselves morally. Further ideas are included pertaining to how citizens and states can ensure probity in public life. And also included is an important debate on the difference between that which is pragmatically useful and that which is honest. The humanists believed that it is important to transcend to the afterlife with a perfect mind and body, which could be attained with education. The purpose of humanism was to create a universal man whose person combined intellectual and physical excellence. To create the ideal of a man who was capable of functioning honorably in virtually any situation. This ideology was referred to as the “uomo universale”, an ancient Greco-Roman ideal. Education during the Renaissance was mainly composed of ancient literature and history. It was believed that the classics provided moral instruction and an intensive understanding of human behavior. A unique characteristic of some Renaissance libraries was that they were open to the public. These libraries were places where ideas were exchanged and where scholarship and reading were considered both pleasurable and beneficial to the mind and soul. As freethinking was a hallmark of the age, many libraries contained a wide range of writers. Classical texts could be found alongside humanist writings. These informal associations of intellectuals profoundly influenced Renaissance culture. Some of the richest "bibliophiles" built libraries as temples to books and knowledge. A number of libraries appeared as manifestations of immense wealth joined with a love of books. In some cases, cultivated library builders were also committed to offering others the opportunity to use their collections. Prominent aristocrats and princes of the Church created great libraries for the use of their courts. Called "court libraries" they were housed in lavishly designed monumental buildings decorated with ornate woodwork, and the walls adorned with frescoes. Renaissance art marks a cultural rebirth at the close of the Middle Ages and rise of the modern world. One of the distinguishing features of Renaissance art was its development of highly realistic linear perspective. Giotto di Bondone (who lived from 1267 to 1337) is credited with first treating a painting as a window into space. However but it was not until the demonstrations of architect Filippo Brunelleschi (who lived from to 1446) and the subsequent writings of Leon Battista Alberti (who lived from 1404 to 1472) that perspective was formalized as an artistic technique. Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man (about 1490) demonstrates the effect writers of antiquity had on Renaissance thinkers. Based on the specifications in Vitruvius' “De architectura” Leonardo tried to draw the perfectly proportioned man. Vitruvius was a Roman Engineer and Architect. He wrote “De architectura” or “On Architecture” was written in the 1st century BC). The development of perspective was part of a wider trend towards realism in the arts. Painters developed other techniques, studying light, shadow, and, famously in the case of Leonardo da Vinci, human anatomy. Underlying these changes in artistic method was a renewed desire to depict the beauty of nature and to unravel the axioms of aesthetics. The works of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael represented artistic pinnacles that were much imitated by other artists. Other notable artists of the era included Sandro Botticelli, working for the Medici in Florence. Also Donatello, another Florentine, and Titian in Venice, amongst many others. In the Netherlands a particularly vibrant artistic culture developed. The work of Hugo van der Goes and Jan van Eyck was particularly influential on the development of painting in Italy. The influence was both technical with the introduction of oil paint and canvas, and stylistic in terms of naturalism in representation. Later the work of Pieter Brueghel the Elder would inspire artists to depict themes of everyday life. In architecture Filippo Brunelleschi was foremost in studying the remains of ancient classical buildings. Brunelleschi formulated the Renaissance style that emulated and improved on classical forms. He was aided and inspired by rediscovered knowledge from the 1st century writer Vitruvius and the flourishing discipline of mathematics. His major feat of engineering was building the dome of the Florence Cathedral. Another building demonstrating this style is the church of St. Andrew in Mantua, built by Alberti. The outstanding architectural work of the High Renaissance was the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica. This combined the skills of Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael, Sangallo and Maderno. During the Renaissance architects aimed to use columns, pilasters, and entablatures as an integrated system. The Roman orders types of columns are used: Tuscan and Composite. These can either be structural, supporting an arcade or architrave, or purely decorative, set against a wall in the form of pilasters. One of the first buildings to use pilasters as an integrated system was in the Old Sacristy built between 1421 and 1440 by Brunelleschi. Arches, semi-circular or (in the Mannerist style) segmental, were often used in arcades. They were supported on piers or columns with capitals. There may be a section of entablature between the capital and the springing of the arch. Alberti was one of the first to use the arch on a monumental. Renaissance vaults did not have ribs; they were semi-circular or segmental and on a square plan. This was unlike the Gothic vault, which was frequently rectangular. Renaissance artists were not pagans, although they admired antiquity and kept some ideas and symbols of the medieval past. Nicola Pisano who lived from about 1220 to 1278 imitated classical forms by portraying scenes from the Bible. His Annunciation, from the Baptistry at Pisa, demonstrates that classical models influenced Italian art before the Renaissance took root as a literary movement. Applied innovation extended to Renaissance commerce as well. At the end of the 15th century Luca Pacioli published the first work on bookkeeping, making him the founder of accounting. The rediscovery of ancient texts and the invention of the printing press democratized learning. It also allowed for faster propagation of more widely distributed literary ideas. In the first period of the Italian Renaissance, humanists favored the study of humanities over natural philosophy or applied mathematics. Their reverence for classical sources further enshrined the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic views of the universe. Writing around 1450 Nicholas Cusanus anticipated the heliocentric worldview of Copernicus, but in a philosophical fashion. Science and art were intermingled in the early Renaissance, with polymath artists such as Leonardo da Vinci making observational drawings of anatomy and nature. Da Vinci set up controlled experiments in water flow, medical dissection, and systematic study of movement and aerodynamics. He devised principles of research method that led Fritjof Capra to classify him as the "father of modern science". Other examples of Da Vinci's contribution during this period include machines designed to saw marbles and lift monoliths. New discoveries in acoustics, botany, geology, anatomy, and mechanics are also attributed to Da Vinci. A suitable environment had developed to question scientific doctrine. The discovery in 1492 of the New World by Christopher Columbus challenged the classical worldview. The works of the 2nd century Greco-Roman geographer “Geographia and the Cosmographia” Claudius Ptolemy it became clear were not always correct. Likewise the works of the 2nd century Roman physician, surgeon, and philosopher Galen of Pergamon in medicine were found to not always match everyday observations. As the Protestant Reformation and Counter-Reformation clashed the Northern Renaissance showed a decisive shift in focus away from Aristotelean natural philosophy to chemistry and the biological sciences (botany, anatomy, and medicine). The willingness to question previously held truths and search for new answers resulted in a period of major scientific advancements. Some historians view this as a "scientific revolution" heralding the beginning of the modern age. Others simply view it as an acceleration of a continuous process stretching from the ancient world to the present day. Significant scientific advances were made during this time by Galileo Galilei, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler. Copernicus in “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium”, which translates to “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres”, posited that the Earth moved around the Sun. “De humani corporis fabrica”, which translates to “On the Workings of the Human Body” by Andreas Vesalius, gave a new confidence to the role of dissection, observation, and the mechanistic view of anatomy. Another important development was in the process for discovery, the scientific method. The scientific method focused on empirical evidence and the importance of mathematics. It discarded Aristotelian science. Early and influential proponents of these ideas included Copernicus, Galileo, and Francis Bacon. The new scientific method led to great contributions in the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, and anatomy. During the Renaissance every continent on the globe was visited except the south polar continent now known as Antarctica. In a period extending from 1450 to 1650 these continents were by and large mapped by Europeans. This development was depicted in the large world map “Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula” made by the Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu in 1648 to commemorate the Peace of Westphalia. In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain seeking a direct route to India of the Delhi Sultanate. He accidentally stumbled upon the Americas, but believed he had reached the East Indies. In 1606 the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon sailed from the East Indies in the VOC ship Duyfken and landed in Australia. He charted about 180 miles (300 km) of the west coast of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. More than thirty Dutch expeditions followed mapping sections of the north, west and south coasts. In 1642 to 1643 Abel Tasman circumnavigated the continent proving that it was not joined to the imagined south polar continent. By 1650 Dutch cartographers had mapped most of the coastline of the Australian continent except the east coast. The Dutch named Australia “New Holland”. The east coast of Australia was eventually charted in 1770 by Captain Cook. The long-imagined south polar continent was eventually sighted in 1820. Throughout the Renaissance it had been known as Terra Australis, or “Australia” for short. However, after that name was transferred to New Holland in the nineteenth century, the new name of “Antarctica” was bestowed on the south polar continent. From this energetic and evolving society emerged a common, unifying musical language. Particularly notable was the polyphonic style of the Franco-Flemish school. The development of printing made the distribution of music possible on a wide scale. Demand for music as entertainment and as an activity for educated amateurs increased with the emergence of a bourgeois class. The era witnessed the widespread dissemination of chansons, motets, and masses throughout Europe. This coincided with the unification of polyphonic practice into the fluid style that culminated in the second half of the sixteenth century. This is best typified in the work of composers such as Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria and William Byrd. The new ideals of humanism were of course more secular in some aspects than religious. Nonetheless these ideals developed against a Christian backdrop, particularly in the Northern Renaissance. Much if not most of the new art was commissioned by or in dedication to the Church. However the Renaissance had a profound effect on contemporary theology. This was particularly so in the way people perceived the relationship between man and God. Many of the period's foremost theologians were followers of the humanist method. They included Erasmus, Zwingli, Thomas More, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. The Renaissance began in times of religious turmoil. The late Middle Ages was a period of political intrigue surrounding the Papacy. This turmoil eventually culminated in the Western Schism. Three men simultaneously claimed to be true Bishop of Rome. The schism was resolved by the Council of Constance in 1414. However a resulting reform movement known as “Conciliarism” sought to limit the power of the pope. The papacy eventually emerged supreme in ecclesiastical matters as a result of the Fifth Council of the Lateran in 1511. Nonetheless it was dogged by continued accusations of corruption, most famously in the person of Pope Alexander VI. Alexander VI was accused variously of simony, nepotism and fathering four children while a cardinal. The four children were married off, presumably to political allies in the aim of consolidating power, influence, and wealth. Churchmen such as Erasmus and Luther proposed reform to the Church, often based on humanist textual criticism of the New Testament. In October 1517 Luther published the 95 Theses challenging papal authority and criticizing its perceived corruption. His criticism was especially focused on the sale of indulgences. The 95 Theses led to the Reformation. This was a clear break with the Roman Catholic Church that previously claimed hegemony in Western Europe. Humanism and the Renaissance played a direct role in sparking the Reformation. They also played a significant role in many other contemporaneous religious debates and conflicts. Muntinous troops under the leadership of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sacked Rome in 1527. Pope Paul III came to the papal throne from 1534 to 1549. There were grave uncertainties prevalent in the Catholic Church at this time following the Protestant Reformation. Nicolaus Copernicus dedicated De “revolutionibus orbium coelestium”, which translates to “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres”, to Paul III. Cardinal Alessandro Farnese had already commissioned paintings by Titian, Michelangelo, and Raphael, as well as an important collection of drawings. Afterwards he commissioned the masterpiece of Giulio Clovio, the “Farnese Hours” in 1546, arguably the marking the end of the Italian Renaissance of illuminated manuscripts. By the 15th century, writers, artists, and architects in Italy were well aware of the transformations that were taking place. Phrases such as modi antichi (“in the antique manner”) or alle romana et alla antica (“in the manner of the Romans and the ancients) to describe their work. In the 1330s Petrarch referred to pre-Christian times as antiqua (“ancient”) and to the Christian period as nova (“new”). From Petrarch's Italian perspective, this new period was an age of national decline, and included his own time. Leonardo Bruni was the first to use tripartite periodization in his “History of the Florentine People”. Bruni's first two periods were based on those of Petrarch. However he added a third period because he believed that Italy was no longer in a state of decline. Flavio Biondo used a similar framework in “Decades of History from the Deterioration of the Roman Empire”, which was written from 1439 to 1453. Humanist historians argued that contemporary scholarship restored direct links to the classical period. Thus they argued that they were bypassing the Medieval period, which they then named for the first time the "Middle Ages". The term first appears in Latin in 1469 as “media tempestas”, or “middle times”. However the term rinascita, or “rebirth”, first appeared earlier. The term in its broadest sense was used in Giorgio Vasari's “Lives of the Artists”, written in 1550. Vasari divides the age into three phases. The first phase contains Cimabue, Giotto, and Arnolfo di Cambio. The second phase contains the artists Masaccio, Brunelleschi, and Donatello. The third stage centers on Leonardo da Vinci and culminates with Michelangelo. According to Vasari it was not just the growing awareness of classical antiquity that drove this development. The development was also spurred on by the growing desire to study and imitate nature. In the 15th century the Renaissance spread rapidly from its birthplace in Florence to the rest of Italy and soon to the rest of Europe. The invention of the printing press by German printer Johannes Gutenberg allowed the rapid transmission of these new ideas. As it spread its ideas diversified and changed, adapting to local culture. In the 20th century scholars began to break the Renaissance into regional and national movements. In England the 16th century marked the beginning of the English Renaissance. Leading the transition into the Renaissance were the work of writers William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Sir Thomas More, Francis Bacon, and Sir Philip Sidney. The transition also was effected by great artists and architects such as Inigo Jones who introduced Italianate architecture to England. Château de Chambord built from 1519 to 1547 is one of the most prominent and famous examples of Renaissance architecture. Composers such as Thomas Tallis, John Taverner, and William Byrd participated in a Renaissance of music. The word "Renaissance" is borrowed from the French language. In French the term means "re-birth". The term was first used in the 18th century. It was later popularized by French historian Jules Michelet in his 1855 work, “Histoire de France” or in English, the “History of France. In 1495 the Italian Renaissance arrived in France, imported by King Charles VIII after his invasion of Italy. A factor that promoted the spread of secularism was the inability of the Church to offer assistance against the Black Death. Francis I built ornate palaces at great expense and imported Italian art and artists, including Leonardo da Vinci. Embracing the spirit of the Renaissance were writers such as François Rabelais, Pierre de Ronsard, Joachim du Bellay and Michel de Montaigne. Likewise swept up were painters such as Jean Clouet, and musicians such as Jean Mouton. In 1533 a fourteen-year-old Caterina de' Medici married Henry II of France. Caterina had been born in Florence to Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino and Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne. Henry II was the second son of King Francis I and Queen Claude. Caterina became both famous and infamous for her role in France's religious wars. However she also made a direct contribution in bringing arts, sciences and music to the French court from her native Florence. This included a performing art form which was the origin of ballet. In the second half of the 15th century the Renaissance spirit spread to Germany and the Low Countries. There the development of the printing press around 1450 and Renaissance artists such as Albrecht Dürer predated the influence from Italy. In the early Protestant areas of the country humanism became closely linked to the turmoil of the Protestant Reformation. The art and writing of the German Renaissance frequently reflected the dispute between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. However in Germany the Gothic style and medieval scholastic philosophy remained entrenched until the turn of the 16th century. Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg who ruled from 1493 to 1519 was the first truly Renaissance monarch of the Holy Roman Empire. After Italy Hungary was the first European country where the Renaissance appeared. The Renaissance style came directly from Italy during the Quattrocento to Hungary first in the Central European region. This was consequence of the development of early Hungarian-Italian relationships. These relationships were not only in dynastic connections, but also in cultural, humanistic and commercial relations. These ties had been growing in strength from the 14th century. The relationship between Hungarian and Italian Gothic styles was a second reason for the advancement of Renaissance ideals into Hungary. These architectural styles avoided the exaggerated breakthrough of walls, preferring instead clean and light structures. Large-scale building schemes provided ample and long term work for the artists. Examples would include the building of the Friss (New) Castle in Buda, as well as the castles of Visegrád, Tata and Várpalota. In Sigismund's court there were patrons such as Pipo Spano, a descendant of the Scolari family of Florence. It was Spano who invited Manetto Ammanatini and Masolino da Pannicale to Hungary. The new Italian trend combined with existing national traditions to create a particular local Renaissance art. Acceptance of Renaissance art was furthered by the continuous arrival of humanist thought in the country. Many young Hungarians studying at Italian universities came closer to the Florentine humanist center. It was then natural that a direct connection with Florence evolved. The growing number of Italian traders moving to Hungary helped this process. This was particularly evident in Buda, New thoughts were carried by the humanist prelates. Among those were Vitéz János, archbishop of Esztergom, one of the founders of Hungarian humanism. During the long reign of emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg the Royal Castle of Buda became probably the largest Gothic palace of the late Middle Ages. King Matthias Corvinus who reigned from 1458 to 1490 rebuilt the palace in early Renaissance style and further expanded it. After the marriage in 1476 of King Matthias to Beatrice of Naples Buda became one of the most important artistic centers of the Renaissance north of the Alps. The most important humanists living in Matthias' court were Antonio Bonfini and the famous Hungarian poet Janus Pannonius. András Hess set up a printing press in Buda in 1472. Matthias Corvinus's library was Europe's greatest collections of secular books. His library was second only in size to the Vatican Library. However whereas focus of the library the Bibliotheca Corviniana were historical chronicles, philosophic and scientific works of the 15th century, the Vatican Library mainly contained Bibles and religious materials. In 1489, Bartolomeo della Fonte of Florence wrote that Lorenzo de' Medici founded his own Greek-Latin library encouraged by the example of the Hungarian king. Today Corvinus's Bibliotheca Corviniana library a UNESCO World Heritage site. King Matthias of Hungary started at least two major building projects during his reign. The works in Buda and Visegrád began in about 1479. The first project involved the building of two new wings and a hanging garden at the royal castle of Buda. The second project involved the palace at Visegrád being rebuilt in Renaissance style. Matthias appointed the Italian Chimenti Camicia and the Dalmatian Giovanni Dalmata to direct these projects. Matthias also commissioned the leading Italian artists of his age to embellish his palaces. For instance the sculptor Benedetto da Majano and the painters Filippino Lippi and Andrea Mantegna worked for him. A copy of Mantegna's portrait of Matthias survived. Matthias also hired the Italian military engineer Aristotele Fioravanti to direct the rebuilding of the forts along the southern frontier. He had new monasteries built in Late Gothic style for the Franciscans in Kolozsvár, Szeged and Hunyad, and for the Paulines in Fejéregyháza. In the spring of 1485 Leonardo da Vinci traveled to Hungary on behalf of Sforza to meet king Matthias Corvinus. Da Vinci and was commissioned by King Matthias to paint a Madonna. Matthias enjoyed the company of Humanists and reputedly had lively discussions on various topics with them. The fame of his magnanimity encouraged many (mostly Italian) scholars to settle in Buda. Antonio Bonfini, Pietro Ranzano, Bartolomeo Fonzio, and Francesco Bandini spent any years in Matthias's court. This circle of educated men introduced the ideas of Neoplatonism to Hungary. Like all intellectuals of his age Matthias believed that the movements and combinations of the stars and planets exercised influence on individual lives and on the history of nations. Galeotto Marzio described him asking and astrologer". Antonio Bonfini reported that Matthias, "…never did anything without consulting the stars…" Upon his request the famous astronomers of the age Johannes Regiomontanus and Marcin Bylica set up an observatory in Buda. Installed within were astrolabes and celestial globes. Regiomontanus dedicated his book on navigation that was used by Christopher Columbus to Matthias. Other important figures of Hungarian Renaissance include the poets Bálint Balassi and Sebestyén Tinódi Lantos. Other important figures included composer and lutenist Bálint Bakfark and fresco painter Master MS. Culture in the Netherlands at the end of the 15th century was influenced by the Italian Renaissance through trade via Bruges. The amount of trade flowing through Bruges had greatly enriched Flanders financially. Its nobles commissioned artists who became known across Europe. In science, the anatomist Andreas Vesalius led the way. In cartography Gerardus Mercator's map assisted explorers and navigators. In art Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting ranged from the bizarre work of Hieronymus Bosch to the everyday life depictions of Pieter Brueghel the Elder. The Renaissance in Northern Europe has been termed the "Northern Renaissance". Renaissance ideas were moving north from Italy. There was also evident a simultaneous southward spread of some areas of innovation. This was particularly true of music. The music of the 15th century Burgundian School defined the beginning of the Renaissance in music. The polyphony of the Netherlanders moved with the musicians themselves into Italy. It formed the core of the first true international style in music since the standardization of Gregorian Chant in the 9th century. The culmination of the Netherlandish school was in the music of the Italian composer Palestrina. At the end of the 16th century Italy again became a center of musical innovation. This was in large part due to the development of the polychoral style of the Venetian School. This musical style spread northward into Germany around 1600. The paintings of the Italian Renaissance differed from those of the Northern Renaissance. Italian Renaissance artists were among the first to paint secular scenes. This was a break away from the purely religious art of medieval painters. Northern Renaissance artists initially remained focused on religious subjects. Examples would include themes of the contemporary religious upheaval as portrayed by Albrecht Dürer. Later works of Pieter Bruegel influenced Northern Renaissance artists to paint scenes of daily life rather than religious or classical themes. It was also during the Northern Renaissance that Flemish brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck perfected the oil painting technique. This technique enabled artists to produce strong colors on a hard surface that could survive for centuries. A feature of the Northern Renaissance was its use of the vernacular languages in place of Latin or Greek. This allowed for greater freedom of expression. This movement had started in Italy with the decisive influence of Dante Alighieri on the development of vernacular languages. In fact the focus on writing in Italian has neglected a major source of Florentine ideas expressed in Latin. The spread of the printing press technology boosted the Renaissance in Northern Europe as elsewhere. Venice developed into a world center of printing. An early Italian humanist who came to Poland in the mid-15th century was Filippo Buonaccorsi. Many Italian artists came to Poland with Bona Sforza of Milan when she married King Sigismund I the Old in 1518. This was supported by temporarily strengthened monarchies in both areas, as well as by newly established universities. The Polish Renaissance lasted from the late 15th to the late 16th century and was the Golden Age of Polish culture. The Kingdom of Poland was ruled by the Jagiellon dynasty. It was from 1569 known as the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. And it actively participated in the broad European Renaissance. The multi-national Polish state experienced a substantial period of cultural growth. This was in no small part due to a century without any major wars, aside from minor “conflicts” in the sparsely populated eastern and southern borderlands. The Reformation spread peacefully throughout the country giving rise to the Polish Brethren. Living conditions improved and cities grew. The exports of agricultural products enriched the population. Consequently the nobility (“szlachta”) grew more wealth and gained dominance in the new political system of “Golden Liberty”. The Polish Renaissance architecture has three periods of development. The greatest monument of this style in the territory of the former Duchy of Pomerania is the Ducal Castle in Szczecin. The Italian Renaissance had only a modest impact in Portuguese arts. Nonetheless Portugal was influential in broadening the European worldview and stimulating humanist inquiry. The Renaissance arrived in Portugal through the influence of wealthy Italian and Flemish merchants. These merchants invested in the profitable commerce overseas. Lisbon flourished in the late 15th century as the pioneer headquarters of European exploration. Its pioneering fame attracted experts who made several breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy and naval technology. These personages included such famous individuals as Pedro Nunes, João de Castro, Abraham Zacuto and Martin Behaim. Cartographers Pedro Reinel, Lopo Homem, Estêvão Gomes and Diogo Ribeiro made crucial advances in mapping the world. Apothecary Tomé Pires and physicians Garcia de Orta and Cristóvão da Costa collected and published works on plants and medicines. These were quickly translated by Flemish pioneer botanist Carolus Clusius. Portuguese architecture was financed by the huge profits of the spice trade. This included a sumptuous composite style in the first decades of the 16th century which incorporated maritime elements, known as the “Manueline”. The primary Renaissance painters were Nuno Gonçalves, Gregório Lopes and Vasco Fernandes. In music Pedro de Escobar and Duarte Lobo produced four songbooks, including the “Cancioneiro de Elvas”. In literature Sá de Miranda introduced Italian forms of verse. Bernardim Ribeiro developed pastoral romance. Plays by Gil Vicente fused it with popular culture, reflecting upon the changing times. Luís de Camões memorialized the Portuguese feats overseas in the epic poem “Os Lusíadas”. Travel literature especially flourished. These included that by writers João de Barros, Castanheda, António Galvão, Gaspar Correia, Duarte Barbosa, and Fernão Mendes Pinto. Among others these authors described new lands and were translated and spread with the new printing press. After joining the Portuguese exploration of Brazil in 1500 Amerigo Vespucci coined the term “New World” in his letters to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici. The intense international exchange produced several cosmopolitan humanist scholars. These included Francisco de Holanda, André de Resende and Damião de Góis. Góis was a friend of Erasmus and wrote with rare independence on the reign of King Manuel I. Diogo and André de Gouveia made relevant teaching reforms via France. Foreign news and products in the Portuguese factory in Antwerp attracted the interest of Thomas More and Albrecht Dürer to the wider world. There profits and know-how helped nurture the Dutch Renaissance and Golden Age. This was especially accelerated after the arrival of the wealthy cultured Jewish community expelled from Portugal. Renaissance trends from Italy and Central Europe influenced Russia in many ways. Their influence was rather limited due to several factors. The first was due to the large distances between Russia and the main European cultural centers. Second though no less significant was the strong adherence of Russians to their Orthodox traditions and Byzantine legacy. Prince Ivan III introduced Renaissance architecture to Russia by inviting a number of architects from Italy. These Italian architects who brought new construction techniques and some Renaissance style elements with them. However in general the architectural styles there produced followed the traditional designs of Russian architecture. In 1475 the Bolognese architect Aristotele Fioravanti came to rebuild the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin. The cathedral had been damaged in an earthquake. Fioravanti was given the 12th-century Vladimir Cathedral as a model. From it he produced a design combining traditional Russian style with a Renaissance sense of spaciousness, proportion and symmetry. In 1485 Ivan III commissioned the building of the royal residence, Terem Palace, within the Kremlin. Aloisio da Milano was the architect of the first three floors. He and other Italian architects also contributed to the construction of the Kremlin walls and towers. The small banquet hall of the Russian Tsars on the Cathedral Square of the Moscow Kremlin is the work of two Italians, Marco Ruffo and Pietro Solario. It is called the Palace of Facets because of its facetted upper story, and shows a more Italian style. In 1505 an Italian known in Russia as Aleviz Novyi or Aleviz Fryazin arrived in Moscow. He may have been the Venetian sculptor, Alevisio Lamberti da Montagne. He built twelve churches for Ivan III including the Cathedral of the Archangel. The Cathedral of the Archangel is a building remarkable for the successful blending of Russian tradition, Orthodox requirements and Renaissance style. Another work of Aleviz Novyi is the Cathedral of the Metropolitan Peter in Vysokopetrovsky Monastery. It is believed that the monastery later served as an inspiration for the so-called octagon-on-tetragon architectural form. This form was popular during the Moscow Baroque Period of the late 17th century. Between the early 16th and the late 17th centuries an original tradition of stone tented roof architecture developed in Russia. It was quite unique and different from the contemporary Renaissance architecture elsewhere in Europe. However some research describes the style as “Russian Gothic” and compares it with the European Gothic architecture of the earlier period. With their advanced technology the Italians may have influenced the invention of the stone tented roof. Of course wooden tents were known in Russia and Europe long before. According to one hypothesis an Italian architect called Petrok Maly may have authored the style of the Ascension Church in Kolomenskoye. This was one of Russia’s earliest and most prominent tented roof churches. By the 17th century the influence of Renaissance painting could be seen in Russian iconic religious art. This resulted in Russian icons becoming slightly more realistic while still following most of the old icon painting canons. This is evidenced in the works of Bogdan Saltanov, Simon Ushakov, Gury Nikitin, Karp Zolotaryov and other Russian artists of the era. Gradually the new type of secular portrait painting appeared called “parsúna”, from the Russian for "persona", or “person”. This was a transitional style between abstract iconographic and realistic paintings. An notable example might be “Theotokos and The Child”. This is a late-17th century Russian icon by Karp Zolotaryov. It features notably realistic depiction of faces and clothing. In the mid 16th century Russians adopted printing from Central Europe. Ivan Fyodorov was the first known Russian printer. In the 17th century printing became widespread. Woodcuts became especially popular. That led to the development of a special form of folk art known as “Lubok” printing. This style of folk art persisted in Russia well into the 19th century. A number of technologies from the European Renaissance period were adopted by Russia rather early. These technologies were subsequently perfected to become a part of a strong domestic tradition. Mostly these were in the nature of military technologies. One example might be cannon casting which was adopted no later than the 15th century. The Tsar Cannon was the world's largest bombard by caliber. It was a masterpiece of Russian cannon making. It was cast in 1586 by Andrey Chokhov. It is notable for its rich, decorative relief. Another technology resulted in the development of vodka, the national beverage of Russia. According to one hypothesis vodka distillery technology was originally brought from Europe by the Italians. As early as 1386 Genoese ambassadors brought the first aqua vitae ("water of life") to Moscow and presented it to Grand Duke Dmitry Donskoy. The Genoese likely developed this beverage with the help of the alchemists of Provence. Those alchemists used an Arab-invented distillation apparatus to convert grape must into alcohol. A Moscovite monk called Isidore used this technology to produce the first original Russian vodka around 1430 AD. The Renaissance arrived in the Iberian peninsula (Spain) through the Mediterranean possessions of the Aragonese Crown and the city of Valencia. Many early Spanish Renaissance writers come from the Kingdom of Aragon, including Ausiàs March and Joanot Martorell. In the Kingdom of Castile, the early Renaissance was heavily influenced by the Italian humanism. It started with writers and poets such as the Marquis of Santillana. He introduced the new Italian poetry to Spain in the early 15th century. Other Spanish writers kept a close resemblance to the Italian canon. These would include writers such as Jorge Manrique, Fernando de Rojas, Juan del Encina, Juan Boscán Almogáver and Garcilaso de la Vega. Miguel de Cervantes's masterpiece Don Quixote is credited as the first Western novel. Renaissance humanism flourished in the early 16th century. Among the most influential writers were philosopher Juan Luis Vives, grammarian Antonio de Nebrija ,and natural historian Pedro de Mexía. Later Spanish Renaissance tended towards religious themes and mysticism. Notable included poets such as fray Luis de León, Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross. Popular topics addressed included those related to the exploration of the New World by chroniclers and writers such as Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and Bartolomé de las Casas. The forgoing gave rise to an entire body of work now known as Spanish Renaissance literature. The late Renaissance in Spain also produced artists such as El Greco. Notable composers of the Spanish Renaissance included Tomás Luis de Victoria and Antonio de Cabezón. The 16th century Italian artist and critic Giorgio Vasari first used the term “rinascita” (“rebirth”) in his book “The Lives of the Artists”, published in 1550. In the book Vasari attempted to define what he described as a break with the barbarities of Gothic art. The arts he held had fallen into decay with the collapse of the Roman Empire. Only the Tuscan artists he believed began to reverse this decline in the arts. He posited that the decline was reversed beginning with Cimabue (1240–1301) and Giotto (1267–1337). Vasari postulated that ancient art was central to the rebirth of Italian art. However only in the 19th century did the French word “Renaissance” achieve popularity. It was only then that the term was used to describe the self-conscious cultural movement based on revival of Roman models that began in the late 13th century. The 19th century French historian Jules Michelet defined "The Renaissance" in his 1855 work “Histoire de France” as an entire historical period. Previously the term “Renaissance” had been used in a more limited sense. For Michelet the Renaissance was more a development in science than in art and culture. He asserted that it spanned the period from Columbus to Copernicus to Galileo. This is a rather narrow definition which stretched from the end of the 15th century to the middle of the 17th century. Michelet also distinguished the Renaissance with what he called "the bizarre and monstrous" quality of the Middle Ages. He contrasted the quality of life in the Middle Ages with the democratic values that as a vocal Republican he chose to see in its character. A French nationalist asserted that the Renaissance was a French movement. The 19th century Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt wrote in 1860 his “The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy”. Within it by contrast defined the Renaissance as the period between Giotto and Michelangelo in Italy. That period corresponds to the 14th to mid-16th centuries. Burckhardt saw in the Renaissance the emergence of the modern spirit of individuality. In contrast he held that the Middle Ages had stifled these every qualities. Burckhardt’s book was widely read and became influential in the development of the modern interpretation of the Italian Renaissance. However some Historians feel that Burckhardt set forth a linear, rigid view of the Renaissance as the origin of the modern world. Recent historians have been much less inclined to define the Renaissance as a historical age or as a coherent cultural movement. These historians posit that the Renaissance was not a period with definitive beginnings and endings and consistent content in between. Rather they perceive the Renaissance as a movement of practices and ideas to which specific groups and identifiable persons variously responded in different times and places. It would be in this sense a network of diverse, sometimes converging, sometimes conflicting cultures. It would not be a single time-bound culture. There is also debate among historians about the extent to which the Renaissance improved on the culture of the Middle Ages. The traditional viewpoint emphasizes a description of the progress made in the Renaissance toward the modern age. Burckhardt likened the change to a veil being removed from man's eyes, allowing him to see clearly. As he stated, “…in the Middle Ages both sides of human consciousness – that which was turned within as that which was turned without – lay dreaming or half awake beneath a common veil. The veil was woven of faith, illusion, and childish prepossession, through which the world and history were seen clad in strange hues….” On the other hand many historians now point out that most of the negative social factors popularly associated with the medieval period seem to have worsened in the Renaissance. These social factors included poverty, warfare, religious and political persecution for example. The Renaissance era in fact witnessed the rise of Machiavellian politics, the Wars of Religion, the corrupt Borgia Popes, and the intensified witch hunts of the 16th century. Many people who lived during the Renaissance did not view it as the "golden age" imagined by certain 19th-century authors. Writing of the era demonstrates that most were extremely concerned by these social maladies. Significantly though the artists, writers, and patrons involved in the cultural movements in question believed they were living in a new era. They believed that the age they were living in was a clean break from the Middle Ages. Some Marxist historians prefer to describe the Renaissance in material terms. They hold the view that the view that the changes in art, literature, and philosophy were part of a general economic trend from feudalism towards capitalism. They posit that the “renaissance” simply resulted in a bourgeois class with leisure time to devote to the arts. Burckhardt’s rosy perspective of the Renaissance was contrary to that of another prominent contemporary Renaissance historian of the early 20th century, Johan Huizinga. Huizinga acknowledged the existence of the Renaissance but questioned whether it was a positive change. In his book “The Autumn of the Middle Ages” he argued that the Renaissance was a period of decline from the High Middle Ages. That this Renaissance decline destroyed much that was important. The Latin language for instance had evolved greatly from the classical period. Latin was still a living language used in the church and elsewhere. The Renaissance obsession with classical purity halted its further evolution. Latin reverted to its classical form and thereafter its usage declined. Economic historians have argued that it was a period of deep economic recession. Scientific and technology historians have argued that scientific progress was perhaps less original than has traditionally been supposed. Social historians have argued that the Renaissance led to greater gender dichotomy. They believe the period say a significant lessening of agency women that women had possessed during the Middle Ages. Some historians have begun to consider the word Renaissance to be unnecessarily loaded. The term itself contains an implied suggestion of an unambiguously positive rebirth from a supposedly more primitive "Dark Ages", the Middle Ages. Most historians now prefer to use the term "early modern" for this period. This is a more neutral designation that highlights the period as a transitional one between the Middle Ages and the modern era. Many contemporary historians consider the Italian Renaissance as a repository of the myths and ideals of western history in general. They do not regard it as the rebirth of ancient ideas forming or generating a period of great innovation. The term Renaissance has also been used to define periods outside of the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as to describe periods of history outside Europe. Some historians have described a “Renaissance” of the 12th century. Other historians have argued for a “Carolingian Renaissance” in the 8th and 9th centuries, an Ottonian Renaissance in the 10th century, and for the Timurid Renaissance of the 14th century. The Islamic Golden Age has been also sometimes termed as the “Islamic Renaissance”. Other periods of cultural rebirth have also been termed a "renaissance". These would include the “Bengal Renaissance”, the “Tamil Renaissance”, the “Nepal Bhasa Renaissance”, the “al-Nahda” (or “Arab”) Renaissance, and also the “Harlem Renaissance. The term has also be used in cinema. In animation the “Disney Renaissance” was a period that spanned the years from 1989 to 1999. This decade reputedly witness the studio’s return to a level of quality not witnessed since their “Golden Age of Animation”. The “San Francisco Renaissance” was a vibrant period of exploratory poetry and fiction writing in that city in the mid-20th century [Wikipedia]. Economy and Commerce in Renaissance Europe: During the Renaissance the European economy grew dramatically, particularly in the area of trade. Developments such as population growth, improvements in banking, expanding trade routes, and new manufacturing systems led to an overall increase in commercial activity. The feudalism which had been widespread in the Middle Ages gradually disappeared. Feudalism was replaced as early forms of capitalism emerged. The changes affected many aspects of European society. The consequences included forcing people to adapt to different kinds of work and new ways of doing business with others. Medieval Europe was overwhelmingly rural. The economy was almost entirely dependent upon agriculture. Towns and cities did not become significant centers of production until the late Middle Ages. However after that point in time their economic importance increased rapidly. During the Middle Ages most peasants were serfs, individuals tied by law to the land they worked. By the late 1400s however serfdom was declining throughout Europe and peasants were freer to move about and to rent farms for themselves. At about this time peasants in many parts of Europe faced a shortage of open land. Most of the best fields were already being farmed. Moreover high prices for wool encouraged nobles to enclose pastures for herding sheep. This denied peasants access to the land for agricultural purposes. As a result thousands of peasants moved to urban areas looking for jobs, and cities and towns swelled in size. As populations grew the demand for food rose. The new freedom of peasants meant that landowners had to pay more for their labor. These developments made goods more expensive and produced inflation. This general increase in prices prevailed across Europe. The combination of rising prices and a growth in the number of people needing goods and services encouraged merchants to expand their businesses. By the time of the Renaissance Europe had burgeoned into a very diverse economy. Many different goods were produced by various regions. However the economic growth was not uniform. Over time some parts of the continent grew economically while others declined. In the 1300s and 1400s Italy dominated European trade and manufacturing. Merchants in Florence, Milan, and Venice developed large business organizations to carry on their activities across Europe. They manufactured, sold, and traded a wide variety of products. They also provided banking services for governments and other merchants in many areas of Europe. Some cities specialized in particular areas of trade and manufacturing. Florence was known for the production of woolen cloth and silk. Milan produced metal goods such as armor. Venice dominated Mediterranean trade. Venetian merchants bought spices and other goods from Arab and Ottoman (Turkish) traders in eastern Mediterranean ports and shipped the goods to buyers in Italy and northern Europe. In the early 1500s mining became an important economic activity in southern Germany. The silver, copper, tin, and iron produced by the mines were used to make various metal items, including silver coins. Funding from merchants and bankers in the cities of Nürnberg and Augsburg helped mine operators introduce new techniques and increase productivity. However after 1550 the flow of silver from Spanish mines in the New World made operating silver mines in Germany unprofitable. Overseas exploration contributed to the rapid development of Spanish and Portuguese trade in the 1500s. Spain brought silver from the Americas. Portugal imported slaves, sugar, and other goods from Africa. The Portuguese also began to trade with Asia, breaking the Venetian monopoly on goods such as spices. Spices were highly prized in Europe, and a profitable commodity in which to trade. However neither Spain or Portugal profited as much as they should have from their overseas trade. They both borrowed heavily from banks in Italy and Germany to finance their voyages. Lenders and Financiers took a large share of the profits. Moreover the two countries shipped much of the silver, spices, and other overseas goods to northern Europe. The profit margins of merchants in northern ports such as Antwerp were just as great, if not even greater than that realized by Spanish and Portuguese who actually enabled the overseas trade. After the 1550s the center of Europe's manufacturing, trade, and banking moved from Italy and the Mediterranean to northern Europe. This was particularly so with regards to the Netherlands and England. Amsterdam and London became major centers of commerce. This was in part because of the increased importance of transatlantic trade routes to the Americas. Italy remained a leader in the production of luxury goods such as works of art and fine silk cloth. However the balance of trade had shifted. A number of changes in the organization of manufacturing and trade occurred during the Renaissance. This was especially evident in the 1500s. Major guilds, or trade organizations changed character. One prominent example was seen for the various guilds representing producers of woolen cloth. Owners and investors dominated the guilds, monopolizing decision making processes. Investors had considerable political power. Investors used this power to advance their interests, oftentimes at the expense of the workers. Moreover some laborers were not even members of the guild. This included for instance many wool workers, who were completely at the mercy of and entirely dependent upon the mill owners for their jobs. During the Renaissance the European economy experienced a mix of crises and opportunities. Nevertheless on the whole merchants and traders showed remarkable skill in adapting to change. If one promising trade route failed, merchants developed others. If one industry declined another took its place. When Venice lost its leading role in the Asian spice trade, it became a center for printing. In 1500 Venice printed more books than any other city in Europe. Yet by the 1570s printing had declined in Venice. Paris became the printing capital of Europe, continuing the process of growth and change in the Renaissance economy. Much of the increase in commercial activity during the Renaissance occurred in the area of international trade. This led the banking industry to expand to provide financial services that made it easier for merchants to conduct business far from home. In the Middle Ages merchants had developed long-distance trade routes to bring their customers exotic goods from faraway lands. During the Renaissance as well merchants made use of their knowledge of international markets and trade goods to expand their operations. Some of these merchants became important bankers. They began making loans, transferring funds to different locations, and exchanging various forms of money. As the need for financial services increased banks emerged as important institutions. Two of Europe's most prominent banks were run by the Medici of Florence and the Fugger family of Augsburg in Germany. Banks lent entrepreneurs the money to buy materials and equipment, to hire workers, and to pay for transporting goods. Without these funds few people would have been able to develop large-scale trading enterprises. Banks also simplified the handling of money by introducing bills of exchange. These were notes that allowed merchants to borrow or deposit money in one city, then repay or withdraw money in another city. Merchants could then transfer money over long distances without the risk and inconvenience of carrying coins. Political developments and overseas exploration had a profound effect on European trade. At the beginning of the Renaissance the Mediterranean Sea was the main arena of international trade. Venice dominated commerce in the region because its strategic locations and its powerful merchant. The Venetians completely controlled the flow of luxury goods and spices between Asia and Europe. In the early 1400s the (Turkish) Ottoman Empire expanded westward. Venice lost vital bases in the eastern Mediterranean to the Ottomans. Then in the late 1400s the Portuguese discovered a sea route to Asia by sailing around Africa. This broke the Italians' monopoly over the profitable spice trade. Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands soon followed Portugal in opening up overseas markets in Asia. In the 1500s merchants began to develop trade routes across the Atlantic Ocean to supply colonies being settled in the Americas. This contributed to the decline of Venice, Genoa, and other Mediterranean ports. During the Middle Ages much trading in Europe had taken place at regional fairs. Prominent examples would include those held in the Netherlands and the Champagne region of France. By the Renaissance many of the fairs had disappeared. Many of those that survived had begun to specialize in particular goods or services. For example the fair in Lyon, France, concentrated on international money exchange. Meanwhile many growing cities of Renaissance Europe became centers of trade and banking. This reduced the need for regional fairs as a venue to buy and sell goods. In the Netherlands for instance local fairs declined when Antwerp emerged as a commercial hub. A wide variety of goods were traded in Europe with each country known for certain products. Although Italy had suffered a general decline in trade after 1500. However Italy was still the main source for fine arts and crafts such as painting, woodcarving, sculpture, silver and gold objects, glasswork, and silk. The Spanish prospered during the 1400s from trade in crafts such as leather processing and metalworking. Spain also produced olive oil, wine, fruit, and grain. However Spanish agriculture depended on the labor of the Muslim Moors. When the Moors were expelled from the Spain in 1492, Spanish agriculture suffered heavily. England exported raw wool and competed with the Netherlands in the market for woolen cloth. France sold grains and linen cloth to England and Spain. The French also sold wine and fruit to England, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The Netherlands was famous for its cloth products. However the country also developed an important banking industry during the late 1500s and 1600s. Between 1550 and 1650 northern Europe replaced Italy as the center of the continent's economic activity. The growth of the cities of Amsterdam and London during this period reflects that change. In 1500 under Spanish rule Amsterdam had some 11,000 residents. After expelling the Spanish 78 years later the city's economy and population both grew rapidly. Amsterdam had 50,000 residents by 1600, and a population of 150,000 by 1650. It became one of the most important commercial centers in northern Europe. London experienced similarly explosive growth. A city of 100,000 in 1500, London doubled in size by 1600 and doubled again by 1650. By that date it had 400,000 inhabitants and was the largest city in Western Europe []. Black Death in Europe: Known as the “Black Death”, the outbreak of plague in Europe between 1347-1352 A.D. completely changed the world of medieval Europe. Severe depopulation upset the socio-economic feudal system of the time. But the experience of the plague itself affected every aspect of people’s lives. Disease on an epidemic scale was simply part of life in the Middle Ages. But a pandemic of the severity of the Black Death had never been experienced before. By the time the plague had run its course, there was no way for the people to resume life as they had previously known it. The Black Death altered the fundamental paradigm of European life. Before the plague, the feudal system rigidly divided the population in a caste system of the king at the top, followed by nobles and wealthy merchants, with the peasants (serfs) at the bottom. Medical knowledge was received without question from doctors who relied on physicians of the past. The Catholic Church was the ultimate authority on spiritual matters, morality, and social norms. Women were largely regarded as second-class citizens. The art and architecture of the time reflected the people’s belief in a benevolent God who responded to prayer and supplication. Life at this time was by no means easy, or even sometimes pleasant. However people knew – or thought they knew – how the world worked and how to live in it. The plague would change all that. It would usher in a new understanding which found expression in movements such as the Protestant Reformation and the Renaissance. The plague came to Europe from the East. It is likely that in part it was brought overland via the trade routes known as the Silk Road. It is certain that it was also brought overseas by merchant ship. The “Black Death” was a combination of bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic plague (and also possibly a strain of murrain). It had been gaining momentum in Central Asia and the Far East since at least 1322 A.D. By 1343 the plague had infected the troops of the Mongol Golden Horde. The Mongols were besieging the Italian-held city of Caffa (modern-day Feodosia in Crimea) on the Black Sea. As Mongol troops died of the plague, their comrades had their corpses catapulted over the city’s walls, Of course this infected the people of Caffa through their contact with the decomposing corpses. Eventually, a number of the city’s inhabitants fled the city by ship. They first arrived at Sicilian ports and then French and Spanish ports. Fro there the plague spread inland. Those infected usually died within three days of showing symptoms. The death toll rose so quickly that the people of Europe had no time to grasp what was happening, why, or what they should do about the situation. Scholar and historian Norman F. Cantor comments: “…The plague was much more severe in the cities than in the countryside. But its psychological impact penetrated all areas of society. Neither peasant or aristocrat was safe from the disease. Once it was contracted, a horrible and painful death was almost a certainty. The dead and dying lay in the streets, abandoned by frightened friends and relatives…” As the plague raged on all efforts to stop its spread or cure those infected failed. People began to lose faith in the institutions they had relied on previously. The social system of feudalism began to crumble due to the widespread death of the serfs. Serfs were those who were most susceptible as their living conditions placed them in closer contact with each other on a daily basis than those of the upper classes. The plague ran rampant among the lower class who sought shelter and assistance from friaries, churches, and monasteries. They thus spread the plague to the clergy, and from the clergy it spread to the nobility. By the time the disease had run its course in 1352 A.D., millions were dead. The social structure of Europe was as unrecognizable. The urban landscape itself was unrecognizable since, as Cantor notes, “…many flourishing cities became virtual ghost towns for a time…” In rural agricultural areas crops lay rotting in the fields with no one to harvest them. Before the plague the king owned all the land which he allocated to his nobles. The nobles had serfs work the land which turned a profit for the lord. The lord in turn paid a percentage of the profit to the king. The serfs themselves earned nothing for their labor except lodging and food they grew themselves. Since all land belonged to the king he felt free to give it as gifts to friends, relatives, and other nobility who had been of service to him. By the time of the plague every available piece of land was being cultivated by serfs under one of these lords. On a scale relative to agricultural productions Europe was severely overpopulated. There was no shortage of serfs to work the land and these peasants had no choice but to continue this labor as they were considered chattels appurtenant to the land. This “feudal” system was in essence a form of slavery. Serfs were bound to this system, bound to the land they were appurtenant to, from the time they could walk until their death. There was no upward mobility in the feudal system and a serf was tied to the land he and his family worked from generation to generation. However as the plague wore on depopulation greatly reduced the workforce. The serf’s labor suddenly became an important and increasingly rare asset. The lord of an estate could not feed himself, his family, or pay tithes to the king or the Church without the labor of his peasants/ The loss of so many serfs meant that the surviving peasants could now negotiate for monetary pay and better treatment. In short order the lives of the members of the lowest class vastly improved. They were able to afford better living conditions and clothing as well as luxury items. Once the plague had passed, the improved lot of the serf was challenged by the upper class/ The nobility was concerned that the lower classes were forgetting their place. Fashion changed dramatically as the elite demanded more extravagant clothing and accessories. This was an effort to distinguish and set themselves apart from those formerly peasants and serfs who themselves now could now afford finer clothing. Efforts of the wealthy to return the serf to his previous condition resulted in uprisings. These included the peasant revolt in France in 1358, the guild revolts of 1378, and the famous Peasants' Revolt of London in 1381. However there was no turning back. The efforts of the elite were futile. Class struggle would continue but the authority of the feudal system was broken. The challenge to authority also affected medical knowledge and practice. Doctors based their medical knowledge primarily on the work of the Roman physician Galen (who lived from 130-210 A.D.), Hippocrates (who lived from about 460 - 370 B.C.) and Aristotle (who lived from 384-322 B.C.). Even then many of these ancient and antiquated works were only available in often poor and inaccurate translations from Arabic copies. Even so medical practitioners put to good use whatever limited knowledge they had of medicinal therapeutics and disease. As the scholar Jeffrey Singman comments: “…Medieval science was far from primitive. In fact it was a highly sophisticated system based on the accumulated writings of theorists since the first millennium B.C. The weakness of medieval science was its theoretical and bookish orientation, which emphasized the authority of accepted authors. The duty of the scholar [and doctor] was to interpret and reconcile these ancient authorities, rather than to test their theories against observed realities…” Doctors and other caregivers were seen dying at an alarming rate as they tried to cure plague victims using their traditional understanding of medicine. Despite their self-sacrifice, nothing they prescribed led to a cure for their patients. It became clear by as early as 1349 that people recovered from the plague or died from it for seemingly no reason at all. A remedy that had restored one patient to health would fail to work on the next. After the plague, doctors began to question their former practice of accepting the knowledge of the past without adapting it to present circumstances. Scholar Joseph A. Legan writes: “…Medicine slowly began changing during the generation after the initial outbreak of Plague. Many leading medical theoreticians perished in the Plague, which opened the discipline to new ideas. A second cause for change was while university-based medicine failed, people began turning to the more practical surgeons…With the rise of surgery, more attention was given to the direct study of the human body, both in sickness and in health. Anatomical investigations and dissections, seldom performed in pre-plague Europe, were pursued more urgently with more support from public authorities…” The death of so many scribes and theoreticians, who formerly wrote or translated medical treatises in Latin, resulted in new works being written in the vernacular languages. This allowed common people to read medical texts which broadened the base of medical knowledge. Further, hospitals developed into institutions more closely resembling those in the modern-day. Previously, hospitals were used only to isolate sick people. After the plague Hospitals became centers for treatment. Hospitals also maintained a much higher degree of cleanliness and attention to patient care. Doctors and theoreticians were not the only ones whose authority was challenged by the plague. The clergy also came under the same kind of scrutiny. Circumstances inspired people were inspired to doubt the abilities of those who served the Church to perform the services they claimed to be able to. Friars, monks, priests, and nuns died just as easily as anyone else. In some towns religious services simply stopped because there were no authorities to lead them. Further nothing helped to stop the spread of the plague. The charms and amulets people purchased for protection did not help. The religious services they did attend, the religious processions they took part in, the prayer and the fasting, all did nothing. In fact these activities actually encouraged the spread of the plague. The Flagellant Movement began in Austria and gained momentum in Germany and France. Groups of penitents would travel town to town whipping themselves to atone for their sins,. These groups were led by a self-proclaimed Master with little or no religious training. Penitent processions not only helped spread the plague but also disrupted communities by their insistence on attacking marginalized groups such as the Jews. Since no one knew the cause of the plague, it was attributed to the supernatural origins. These included alleged conspiratorial Jewish sorcery, and/or God’s fury over human sin. Those who died of the plague were suspected of some personal failing of faith. Yet it shortly became clear that the same clergy who condemned those who died due to their religious failings, also died of the same disease in the same way. Scandals within the Church, the extravagant lifestyle of many of the clergy, and the mounting death toll from the plague all combined to create a “perfect storm” of widespread distrust of the Church’s vision and authority. The frustration people felt at their helplessness in the face of the plague gave rise to violent outbursts of persecution across Europe. The Flagellant Movement was not the only source of persecution. Otherwise peaceful citizens could be whipped into a frenzy to attack communities of Jews, Romani (gypsies), lepers, or others. Women were also abused in the belief that they encouraged sin because of their association with the biblical Eve and the fall of man. The most common targets, however, were the Jews. The Jews had long been singled out for Christian hostility. The Christian concept of the Jew as “the killers of Christ” encouraged a large body of superstitions. These included the claim that Jews killed Christian children and used their blood in unholy rituals. That this blood was often spread by Jews on the fields around a town to spread the plague. And finally, that the Jews regularly poisoned wells in the hopes of killing as many Christians as possible. Jewish communities were completely destroyed in Germany, Austria, and France. This was despite a bull issued by Pope Clement VI exonerating the Jews and condemning Christian attacks on them. Large migrations of Jewish communities fled the scenes of these massacres, many of them finally settling in Poland and Eastern Europe. Women, on the other hand, gained higher status following the plague. Prior to the outbreak, women had few rights. Scholar Eileen Power writes: “…In considering the characteristic medieval ideas about women, it is important to know not only what the ideas themselves were but also what were the sources from which they spring…In the early Middle Ages, what passed for contemporary opinion [on women] came from two sources – the Church and the aristocracy…” Neither the medieval Church nor the aristocracy held women in very high regard. Women of the lower classes most often worked as laborers with their family on the estate of the lord. They could also as bakers, milkmaids, barmaids, and weavers. However they had no say in directing their own fate. The lord would decide who a girl would marry, not her father. A woman would go from being under the direct control of her father, who was subject to the lord, to the control of her husband who was equally subordinate. Women’s status had improved somewhat through the popularity of the Cult of the Virgin Mary. The cult associated women with the mother of Jesus Christ. Nonetheless the Church continually emphasized women’s inherent sinfulness as daughters of Eve. They bore responsibility for introducing sin into the world. After the plague, with so many men dead, women’s status improved to a degree. Women were allowed to own their own land, cultivate the businesses formerly run by their husband or son, and had greater liberty in choosing a husband. Women joined guilds, ran shipping and textile businesses, and could own taverns and farmlands. In the years following the ebb of the plague, many of these rights would be diminished later as the aristocracy and the Church tried to assert their former control. Notwithstanding, women would still be better off after the plague than they were beforehand. The plague also dramatically affected medieval art and architecture. Artistic pieces (paintings, wood-block prints, sculptures, and others) tended to be more realistic than before. And they were almost uniformly, focused on death. Scholar Anna Louise DesOrmeaux comments: “…Some plague art contains gruesome imagery that was directly influenced by the mortality of the plague. Or by the medieval fascination with the macabre and awareness of death that were augmented by the plague. Some plague art documents psychosocial responses to the fear that plague aroused in its victims. Other plague art is of a subject that directly responds to people’s reliance on religion to give them hope…” The most famous motif was the Dance of Death (also known as “Danse Macabre). The Dance of Death is an allegorical representation of death claiming people from all walks of life. As DesOrmeaux notes, post-plague art did not reference the plague directly but anyone viewing a piece would understand the symbolism. This is not to say there were no allusions to death before the plague. Only that allusions to death became far more pronounced afterwards. In England, there was a parallel increased austerity in architectural style which can be attributed to the Black Death. There occurred a distinct shift away from the Decorated version of French Gothic. This had featured elaborate sculptures and glass. After the plague a more sparse style called Perpendicular came to predominate. This style featured with sharper profiles of buildings and corners. The Perpendicular style was less opulent, rounded, and effete than had been Decorated French Gothic. In part however the cause may have been economic. There was less capital to spend on decoration after the plague than before. There was heavy war taxation and reduction of estate incomes due to the labor shortage and higher peasants’ wages. Since peasants could now demand a higher wage, the kinds of elaborate building projects which were commissioned before the plague were no longer as easily affordable. This resulted in more austere and cost-effective structures. Scholars have noted, however, that post-plague architecture also clearly resonated with the pervasive pessimism of the time and a preoccupation with sin and death. It was not only the higher wages demanded by the peasant class, nor a preoccupation with death that affected post-plague architecture. The vast reduction in agricultural production and demand due to depopulation led to a profound economic recession. Fields were left uncultivated and crops were allowed to rot. At the same time, nations severely limited imports in an effort to control the spread of the plague. This had a deleterious effect not only on their own economy, but on those of their former trading partners as well. The widespread fear of death stunned the population of Europe at the time/ Particularly in that it was death one had not earned, could not see coming, could not escape. Once the populace had somewhat recovered from that shock, they were inspired to rethink the way they were living previously and the kinds of values they had held. Although little changed initially, by the middle of the 15th century radical changes were taking place throughout Europe. These changes were unimaginable only one hundred years before. In particular these included the Protestant Reformation. The agricultural shift from large-scale grain-farming to animal husbandry. The wage increase for urban and rural laborers. And the many other advances associated with the Renaissance. Plague outbreaks would continue long after the Black Death pandemic of the 14th century. However but none would have the same psychological impact resulting in a complete reevaluation of the existing paradigm of received knowledge. Europe as well as other regions affected in the world based their reactions to the Black Death on traditional conventions, both whether religious and/or secular. When these religious and secular paradigms failed, new models for understanding the world had to be created [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. SHIPPING & RETURNS/REFUNDS: We always ship books domestically (within the USA) via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). Most international orders cost an additional $17.99 to $48.99 for an insured shipment in a heavily padded mailer. There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Our postage charges are as reasonable as USPS rates allow. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are fully insured against loss, and our shipping rates include the cost of this coverage (through,, the USPS, UPS, or Fed-Ex). International tracking is provided free by the USPS for certain countries, other countries are at additional cost. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. Please note for international purchasers we will do everything we can to minimize your liability for VAT and/or duties. But we cannot assume any responsibility or liability for whatever taxes or duties may be levied on your purchase by the country of your residence. If you don’t like the tax and duty schemes your government imposes, please complain to them. We have no ability to influence or moderate your country’s tax/duty schemes. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked 30-day return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price; 1) less our original shipping/insurance costs, 2) less non-refundable eBay payment processing fees. Please note that eBay does NOT refund payment processing fees. Even if you “accidentally” purchase something and then cancel the purchase before it is shipped, eBay will not refund their processing fees. So all refunds for any reason, without exception, do not include eBay payment processing fees (typically between 5% and 15%) and shipping/insurance costs (if any). If you’re unhappy with eBay’s “no fee refund” policy, and we are EXTREMELY unhappy, please voice your displeasure by contacting eBay. We have no ability to influence, modify or waive eBay policies. ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Eastern Europe and Central Asia several times a year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and Ebay goes to support worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient/antique jewelry and gemstones, a reflection of our academic backgrounds. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia antique gemstones are commonly dismounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them originally crafted a century or more ago. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or eBay message, so please feel free to write. Condition: NEW. See detailed condition description below., Length: 320 pages, Dimensions: 7¾ x 5¼ inches; ¾ pound, Publisher: Penguin (2004), Material: Paper, Format: Softcover

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