Monday, April 10, 2017

What is Renaissance Humanism?

            Between the 14th and 16th centuries, Renaissance Humanism was an intellectual movement which started first in Italy, and later spread throughout Western Europe (Wilde, 2013). This movement challenged the ideas from the medieval era and created new ways of thinking with approaching the world around them (Wilde, 2013). In the late 13th century, Europeans were eagerly studying classical literature, art, and culture of Greece and Rome. “[European scholars] were tired of studying the past and started looking into their world, such as old Greek and Roman texts as well as fine art, since wealthy families like the Medicis were able to afford them and provide interests in the people” (Causes and Effects, N.D.). 

Petrarch, an Italian scholar, and poet from Italy, was known as the Father of Italian Humanism. He believed that classical literature was irrelevant to his time, but appreciated their moral guidance which contributed to reforming humanity. “Petrarch has been said to have created the ‘Humanist programme’, and he argued that each person should study the ancients and create their own style to reflect themselves” (Wilde, 2013). Without Petrarch’s efforts, Humanism wouldn’t have been a major threat to Christianity. 

In the 14th century, the ideas and studies of Renaissance Humanism spread vastly. It became well-known in Europe to the point that the upper classes allow their sons to study Humanism (Wilde, 2013). Humanists shifted their focus away from religion because many people simply became uninterested to the Roman Catholic Church (Causes and Effects, N.D.). Erasmus, a Dutch humanist, and theologian, played a significant role in Rotterdam. He disagreed with the churches by expressing “that the Christianity which people experienced was nothing at all like the Christianity experienced by the early Christians or taught by Jesus Christ” (Cline, 2015). Additionally, he indulged in many debates on what “free will” meant (Wilde, 2013).

Throughout the 15th century, humanists persuaded many of the popes that the church could benefit from their ideas and findings. Along with religion and education, humanists also reformed the printing press which produced texts in large quantities and delivered information to a greater audience compared to their older techniques. “The printing press was vernacular in oppose to Latin since only the Church spoke and understood Latin. More people were aware of what they were reading and could have their own beliefs.” (Causes and Effects, N.D.). In the 16th century, due to intense disagreements on ideas surrounding Christianity, Renaissance Humanism lost most of their power in Europe (Wilde, 2013).

"Causes and Effects of the Renaissance Period 4." AP European History – Causes and Effects of

the Renaissance Period 4. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

Cline, Austin. "Humanism and the Reformation History." Religion & Spirituality.
N.p., 27 July 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

"History." Muse Virtuel Du Protestantisme. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

"Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library & Renaissance CultureHumanism." Humanism - Rome
Reborn: The Vatican Library & Renaissance Culture | Exhibitions - Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

Wilde, Robert. "Renaissance Humanism." Education. N.p., 08 Oct. 2013. Web. 05
Feb. 2017.

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