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AP European History Essay Sample

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AP European History Essay Sample

“Explain the ways in which Italian Renaissance humanism transformed ideas about the individual’s role in society.” (1994, #2) The idea about an individual’s role in society was completely transformed in response to Italian Renaissance humanism. During the Middle Ages in Europe, the church tried to make the chief role of man a subject of the clergy- with his only ambition being the safety of his eternal soul. Religion dominated all life- eradicating all individual thought and progression of knowledge. But all of this began to change during the 14th century.

The Renaissance gave birth to humanism, which was the flow of intellectual thought that changed the world forever. It inspired man to live to their complete intellectual, artistic, and literary potential. It focused on the dignity of mankind, rather than its dependence on a supernatural figure. It argued that, without religion, human beings are capable of living morally good lives. It evoked the study of liberal arts and the birth of literature. Morality, justice, and reason all were separated by religion, and were responsibilities directly intended for man. Humanism reawakened the masses of knowledge and philosophy from the Greeks and Romans. Humanism transformed the ideas of the individual’s role in society, not only by completely captivating Europe’s noblemen and great thinkers, but also by changing the culture, behavior, and philosophy of 14th century Europe. I. Scholasticism to Humanism

A. St. Thomas Aquinas and the spread of Scholasticism
1. Scholasticism was the method of thought during the twelfth century which articulated the Christian belief and intellectual study. a. Within scholasticism, only a few faculties were studied i. law

ii. medicine
iii. theology
b. Scholasticism stressed the possibility of the coexistence of faith and reason. i. Scholastic thought placed God in society. All people and things were subsidiary to God. ii. Reason, in scholasticism, meant

* Logical method
* Definition
* Step by step thought processes.
c. Scholasticism limited the expansion of natural scientific exploration because of its disregard on concrete facts and how it is a form of realism. 2. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was an Italian theologian, philosopher, and scholastic who combined reason and faith. a. While attending the University of Paris, he took on the mission of his teacher, Albert the Great. i. Their goal was to reveal to the world that the newly discovered writings of Aristotle were not in contradiction of the Christian faith, but in agreement with it. b. Aquinas wrote Summa Theologica

i. Published in 1274 while incomplete
ii. Considered his magnum opus
iii. Covered topics such as God’s existence, man’s purpose and identity, Christ, and the Sacraments c. The doctrines and teachings of Aquinas made the religious world safe for reason, but centralized religion even in the intellectual world B. Petrarch and the spread of Humanism

1. Humanism was the social and cultural philosophy that dominated the writers, scholars, and thinkers of the 14th century during a movement called the Renaissance. a. Within humanism, the liberal arts were studied

i. The quadridium
* Arithmetic
* Geometry
* Astronomy
* Music
ii. The tridium
* Grammar
* Rhetoric
* Logic
b. Humanism revived the classic Greek literature, which resulted in a secular philosophy. c. Humanism stressed the individual, human potential and purpose. 2. Petrarch was considered the “father of humanism” and the “first man of letters.” a. Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) was a writer, poet, scholar, and early humanist. i. Studied law, ordained for the clergy.

b. He combined the culture of the classical era with the ideology of Christianity, arguing that God created man with great potential of creative and intellectual ventures. c. His passionate study of Cicero, Roman philosopher, ignited the revival of classical literature in Italian society. d. His writings deeply influenced later Renaissance writers and philosophers. His writings include a massive amount of i. Letters

ii. Sonnets
e. Coined the term “dark ages,” which displayed the recognition of the ignorance of the time he was living in. II. Impact of Humanism on Education
A. Vittorino da Feltre
1. Vittorino (1378-1442) was a humanist schoolmaster.
2. Began teaching children in 1423 when asked by the rulers of Mantua, the Gonzaga family. a. Agreed to teach them as long as he could establish his school away from the court and any political influence. b. In addition to the Gonzaga children, many other children of noblemen and peasants attended his school, La Giocosa (“The Pleasant House”). i. La Giocosa was the first boarding school of Europe.

3. Vittorino’s curriculum prepared many of his pupils to be great Renaissance men. a. His lessons featured studies in the literature of Greece and Rome and the liberal arts. Language studies of Greek and Latin were focused on, as well as theology, history, and philosophy. b. He also incorporated games, athleticism, and exercise into his course, with the physical health of his students in mind. c. Field trips were also included into his syllabus in order to make learning interesting and hands on to his pupils. 4. Many great men and influential humanists sent their sons to La Giocosa, including Poggio Bracciolini, Francesco Filelfo, and Guarino da Verona. III. Impact of Humanism on Societal Behavior

A. Humanism affected how both members of the opposite sex were to carry themselves and the types of lives they ought to live. 1. Christine de Pizan and The Book of the City of Ladies a. Originally written in 1405 as a response to The Romance of the Rose, Pizan explores the identity and duties of a lady. b. She expresses her belief that being a lady is being of a noble spirit. c. Pizan argues that women should also receive an education as men should, as they are also a part of society. d. She also portrayed the type of women that should be looked up as a positive influence, and the type of virtues they possess, including i. Reason

ii. Righteousness
iii. Justice
2. Baldassare Castiglione and The Book of the Courtier
a. One of the first books of etiquette, published 1428, and described the behavior of a gentleman (courtier) and, for a brief time, a lady. b. He reasons that a perfect gentleman would have a relaxed yet intelligent disposition, displaying athleticism, eloquence, grace, and humor. c. A courtier should be well rounded and accustomed to the i. Arts

ii. Humanities
iii. Classics
IV. The Impact of Humanism in Literature
A. François Rabelais and Gargantua and Pantagruel
1. Gargantua and Pantagruel is a series of novels (published from about two Giants, the father Gargantua and son Pantagruel, and their adventures together. a. It contains entertaining and comical satire regarding aspects of education and religion. b. The lifestyle of the giants is extravagant and often vulgar, including many instances of crudity and violence. c. Like many other writers of the Renaissance, it criticized and mocked the monastic existence and highly esteemed the studies of secularism and humanism. 2. It was written from 1532 to 1542.

3. In 1533, these novels were placed on the Index of Prohibited Books. B. Sir Thomas Moore and Utopia
1. Utopia (published 1516) was the illustration, crafted by Thomas Moore, of the perfect society and its religious, political, and social systems. a. It criticized the politics of the world that Moore lived in during the beginning part of the book. b. Within this utopian society, there was no land ownership, fashion industry, unemployment, or wars. All people were required to study certain things and healthy individuals were made to work. i. Utopia later heavily influenced communism.

c. It takes place in a fictional island city.
C. Erasmus of Rotterdam and In Praise of Folly
1. In Praise of Folly was the highly significant essay written by Erasmus of Rotterdam in 1509, considered to be his best work. Erasmus was noted as one of the most prominent figures in the Renaissance. a. In Praise of Folly was also recognized as one of the most important works of literature from the Renaissance. 2. It is written from the point of view of Folly, the main character, uses her constant self-praise as a way to express the deluded values of the 16th century. a. In Praise of Folly ridiculed the secular ambitions, especially those of the clergy. b. The heavy use of irony and satire are common literary techniques used during the Renaissance. D. Dante Alighieri and The Divine Comedy

1. The Divine Comedy was an epic poem written between the years of 1308 and 1321 by Italian humanist poet Dante Alighieri. 2. Written in the Italian vernacular of the time, this epic showed an allegorical approach to the afterlife as developed by the Catholic Church. a. Was heavily influenced by the Thomistic philosophy.

b. Was divided into three parts
i. Inferno
ii. Purgatorio
iii. Paradiso
3. The Divine Comedy is distinguished as one of the greatest pieces of literature in the entire world. a. Dante and The Divine Comedy are still currently inspiring many works of art. i. Music by Franz Liszt and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

ii. Visual art by Botticelli, Delacroix, and Dali.
iii. Dante’s Inferno – videogame made by Electronic Arts in 2010 b. Influenced many authors and poets, including John Milton, Gregory Chaucer, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow iv. Brief references in Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho and The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, and Stephan King’s Wizard and Glass. E. Giovanni Boccaccio and Decameron

1. Written by Boccaccio in 1351, Decameron was an allegorical series of stories set in the medieval times. a. Narrated by the voices of the youth, Decameron explored themes that ranged from tragic to erotic. It deeply valued the ethics of mercantile and urban origins. Intelligence, wit, sophistication, and wealth were celebrated in this book. b. Its purpose was to impart wisdom about the character and behavior of man while also entertaining the reader. c. Described the devastating results of the Black Plague from the middle ages F. Pico della Mirandola and the Oration of the Dignity of Man 1. Mirandola wrote and announced the Oration of the Dignity of Man in 1486. The ideals and values mentioned during this oration could be considered the platform of all Renaissance thought. a. Stressed the potential of humankind and capacity of achievement that we all possess. i. Held the belief that God bestowed upon man free will and the choice of his own destiny. b. Defended the dignity and importance of the liberal arts c. Argued that the beauty of humanity was its changing nature d. Valued the expansion of human knowledge

V. Secularism and Humanism
A. Lorenzo Valla and Literary Analysis
1. Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457) was an educator, rhetorician (rhetoric being the study and art of persuasion and communication), founder of literary criticism, and Italian humanist. 2. Used his wisdom of textual analysis to assist as royal secretary and history to the king of Naples in a quarrel with the pope (1433). 3. Critiqued medieval tradition and philosophy, while antedating the intellectual flow of the Protestant Reformation. B. Effects of Humanism on the de Medici Family 1. The Medici family was an extremely powerful merchant and banking family that ruled the city state of Florence during the Renaissance. a. Many members of the Medici’s went on to become popes, signores of the Florence Republic, and Grand Dukes of Tuscany. 2. The House of Medici used the wealth his and his family’s wealth to govern and to support the arts. a. In 1419 Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici sponsored the reconstruction of one of the largest church in Florence, Basilica of San Lorenzo. Filippo Brunelleschi was assigned this project. b. Lorenzo became a patron of the great Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci, for seven years. c. Pope Clement VII appointed Michelangelo Buonarroti to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in 1534. VI. Civic Humanism

A. Civic humanism called for the political involvement and patriotism of the people, as well as a government embellished by liberty, justice, peace, and virtue. B. Leonardo Bruni and The History of the Florentine People 1. Leonardo Bruni (1370-1444) was an Italian humanist, chancellor of Florence, and first modern historian. 2. The History Florentine People was the first historic work to divide Europe’s past in three periods. Bruni identified the Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times. 3. His flowing narrative book had the purpose of inspiring the Florentine people. a. He wanted to show that Florence had a rich, beautiful history with many values, traditions, and liberties to protect. b. The beginning of modern history gave people a sense of sensibility towards their country. The populace developed a civic awareness of their identity as a whole, which inspired them to commit and participate. C. Coluccio Salutati and Leading the Florentine People

1. Salutati (1331- 1406) was the most prominent and important leader in Florence during the Renaissance. 2. Humanist, man of letters,
i. Assembled the largest library in Florence, with a collection of over 800 books ii. Supported other young humanists, including Leonardo Bruni and Poggio Bracciolini iii. Brought back the study of the Greek language (which had been static since the fall of the Roman Empire) by having Manuel Chysoloras, Byzantine scholar. This allowed a select few to begin studying the original works of Aristotle again. iv. Wrote many treatises

* De fato et fortuna (Of Fate and Fortune)
* De religione et fuga saeculi (With Regard to Religion and the World Flight) * De nobilitate legum et medicinae (The Birth of Law and Medicine) * Only treatise that was published, which occurred postmortem- 1542 in Venice. 3. Salutati was appointed Chancellor of Florence (most important and central government position in the bureaucracy of the Florentine Republic) and one of the most celebrated leaders of his time i. Was in office from 1375 until his death in 1406

ii. Applied humanism to his politics, continuously directing diplomacy with other countries and negotiating treaties. iii. Demonstrating his mastery of letters while in dispute with Pope Gregory XI in 1375. D. Poggio Bracciolini

1. Bracciolini (1380-1459) was a humanist, writer, calligrapher, statesmen, and scholar. a. Known for rediscovering and reintroducing to the humanist populace the great, but forgotten Latin manuscripts. These were found in various monastic libraries. The introduction of these neglected masterpieces greatly influenced the educated class during the Renaissance. i. Some of these works included orations by Cicero

ii. Became copyists of these manuscripts, and developed the Caroline miniscule- the humanist script. b. Became Chancellor of Florence 1453
c. Wrote many great dissertations that reflected upon archetypal themes, such as satire of the clergy and the nobility of man i. De avaritia (On Avarice)
ii. An Seni Sit uxor ducenda (On Marriage in Old Age)
iii. Liber facetiarum (Book of Wit)
iv. De infelicitate principum (On Vicissitudes of Fortune) v. De nobilitate (On Nobility)
vi. De miseria humanae conditionis (On the Misery of Human Life) E. Niccolò Machiavelli and The Prince
1. Machiavelli (1469-1527) was the founder of political science, as well as humanist, philosopher, writer, civil servant of the Florentine Republic, and historian. a. From 1498 to 1512, he was the Secretary to the Second Chancery in the Florentine Republic until the Medici family rose again. b. The Prince was written after this, when Machiavelli no longer had any political responsibility in Florence. c. Esteemed great rulers, unlike that of the Florentine Republic i. Patronized the powerful and assertive rulers and people of Rome ii. Admired the national monarchies of England, France, and Spain. 2. The Prince was his greatest masterpiece and biggest legacy, written in Italian vernacular a. This political treatise was a handbook of statecraft

i. First strictly secular written work on politics, excluding all moral and religious principles out of his political theory ii. Valued virility, ruthlessness, and strength in politics. iii. Discussed that rulers and governments act in agreement of their own political interests, admitted the wrongness in this behavior but argued that this was vital to their success. While humanism might have been an indubitably popular during the 14th century, it completely shaped how people think, behave, and govern themselves even to this day. Through Vittorino da Feltre and La Giocosa, humanism changed education and helped form it into what it is today. Pizan and Castiglione shaped the standards of civilized behavior, while various noteworthy humanist authors changed society by their words. Their literature influenced the minds of politicians and the visions of artists.

Due to humanism, citizens felt more responsible for the society they lived in, thus becoming more active and participant in their local governments. But humanism did not only impact the lives of those in the 14th century. It made scientists question the laws of the natural world. It inspired kingdoms to explore outside of Europe. It forced the philosophers to reconsider how man ought to be governed. Humanism sparked the spirit of inquiry within Europe, thus igniting the Scientific Revolution and Age of Discovery, and the Enlightenment. All of these accomplishments were fueled by the same revelation; that man were not subject to the church and not the property of anyone but themselves. What seems like an overwhelming victory for the human spirit is merely a reaction to one common truth; that our thoughts are actions are significant in this vast universe, and that our role is important.

Works Cited

Bois, Danuta. “Christine de Pizan.” Distinguished Women of the Past and Present . N.p., 1996. Web. 15 Aug 2012. <http://www.distinguishedwomen.com/biographies/pisan.html>. Colton, Joel and Palmer, R. R. A History of the Modern World. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc.,1995 Print. Copenhaver, Brian, “Giovanni Pico della Mirandola”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2012/entries/pico-della-mirandola/>. Kreis , Steven. “Renaissance Humanism.” The History Guide – Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History. N.p., 7, November 2008. Web. 15 Aug 2012. <http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/humanism.html>. Lejay, Paul. “Coluccio di Pierio di Salutati.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 15 Aug. 2012 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13405b.htm>. McInerny, Ralph and O’Callaghan, John, “Saint Thomas Aquinas”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2010/entries/aquinas/>. Sadlon, Peter. “Francesco Petrarch : Father of Humanism .” Francesco Petrarch & Laura deNoves. N.p., 10, September 2007. Web. 15 Aug 2012. <http://petrarch.petersadlon.com/bio.html>. “Vittorino da Feltre”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 15 Aug. 2012 Weber, Eugen. The Western Tradition:From the Renaissance to the Present. Fourth. II. Lexington Massachusetts: D.C. Health & Company, 1990. 289-310. Print.

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