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The Renaissance and Reformation

A History in Documents

Merry Wiesner-Hanks

Publication Date - 09 September 2011

ISBN: 9780195308891

176 pages
8 x 10 inches

In Stock


At first glance, the Renaissance and the Reformation--two movements (one cultural, one religious) that defined Europe from 1400 to 1600--may appear to be polar opposites. The Renaissance found scholars and artists celebrating the beauty and splendor of the material world, while the Reformation saw Protestant and Catholic religious leaders and their followers focusing on eternal salvation. However, there were actually striking similarities between these two worlds. For instance, while both Renaissance artists and Reformation pastors originally desired a return to a "golden age" of the past, they both ended up creating something very new instead.

In The Renaissance and Reformation, Merry Wiesner-Hanks allows the historical participants to tell their own stories. She presents a mix of visual sources and written documents not only from learned scholars, trained artists, university-educated religious reformers, and powerful political leaders--but also from more ordinary men and women. Leonardo da Vinci considers the merits of painting versus poetry in his notebook, while the Italian diplomat Baldassar Castiglione recommends the pastime of music-making to gentlemen in his book The Courtier. A group of small-time investors signs a contract for a trading venture from Genoa to Corsica and Sardinia, and a wealthy Florentine widow writes a letter to her son, weighing his ability to start a new business. A picture essay uses individual and family portraits to discuss ideas about personality, temperament, and "genius"; social differences in marital patterns; and changes in family relationships. Wiesner-Hanks places events in Europe in a global context, allowing readers to examine the ways in which they were related to the voyages of exploration.

About the Author(s)

Merry Wiesner-Hanks is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is the editor of the Sixteenth Century Journal and the Journal of Global History, the author or editor of twenty books, including Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (2008) and Early Modern Europe 1450-1789 (2006).

Table of Contents

    What Is a Document?
    How to Read a Document

    Introduction: Re-births and Reformations
    Note on Sources and Interpretation

    Chapter 1: The Tumultuous Late Middle Ages
    The Black Death
    Reactions and Explanations
    Religion and the Plague
    Economic and Social Effects
    War and Revolts

    Chapter 2: The Past and the Perfect
    Florence, A City of Gold
    The Glories and Perils of Poetry
    Fame and the Renaissance Man
    Perfect Gentlemen, Perfect Ladies
    A Perfect Prince or a Perfect Tyrant?

    Chapter 3: The Glory of the World
    The Book of Nature
    Nature vs. Art
    Painters, Poets, and Nature
    The Artist as Poet
    Fleeting Life, Fleeting Love
    Music to Charm the Soul
    Messages from the Stars

    Chapter 4: Picture Essay: The Individual and the Family

    Chapter 5: Merchants and Master Craftsmen
    The Commercial Revolution
    Families and Fortunes
    Merchants and Morality
    Jews in Renaissance Cities
    Clothing and Capitalism
    Craft Guilds

    Chapter 6: Religious Reform and Renewal
    Prayer, Pilgrimages, and Penance
    The Power of the Pope
    Calls for Reform
    Reform Becomes Reformation
    The Catholic Response

    Chapter 7: Radical Hopes, Popular Protests, and Mystical Visions
    Church and State
    Martyrs and Enemies
    The Peasants' War
    A Mystic Reformer

    Chapter 8: A New Moral Order
    Calvin's Geneva
    Marriage and the Reformation
    Preaching and Teaching
    Were the Reformers Successful?

    Chapter 9: Global Connections and Challenges
    Spices from the Indies
    The Voyages of Columbus
    The Impact of European Voyages in America and Africa
    European Thinking about the Americas

    Further Reading
    Text Credits
    Picture Credits