Πέμπτη, 11 Δεκεμβρίου 2014

The Renaissance (Part 1)


Hello people ^-^ 
Today i have an educational post for you, if you are willing 
to read and see many many pictures. 
Let's learn together about The Renaissance.

The School of Athens (1511)



The Renaissance from French: Renaissance "re-birth" was a cultural movement that spanned the period roughly from the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. 

But there was an early Renaissance, The Renaissance of the 12th century or the Medieval Renaissance which was a period of the many changes at the outset of the High Middle Ages. It included social, political and economic transformations, and an intellectual revitalization of Western Europe with strong philosophical and scientific roots. These changes paved the way to later achievements such as the literary and artistic movement of the Italian Renaissance in the 15th century and the scientific developments of the 17th century. So, in case you didnt know, let me write you some general information about The Renaissance of the 12 century:

New technological discoveries allowed the development of the Gothic architecture


The Renaissance of the 12th century

Since the early 20th century it has been commonplace to refer to the 12th century as a time of renaissance—though some have challenged this notion because of the important cultural developments of the 11th century. However it may be called, the 12th century was a period in which there arose new institutions of higher education, innovative techniques of thought and speech, and fresh approaches to ancient problems of philosophy and theology, all of which profoundly influenced the development of Christian belief and practice. (x)

Stained Glass

The background for this renaissance is extensive. Many of the ancient Greek writings had survived in the Byzantine empire. Their translation into Arabic began with alchemical, astrological, and medical texts in the time of the Umayyads. It was accelerated under the Abbasids and included both scientific and philosophical works. Partly on the basis of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus there developed a tradition of Islamic philosophy that included Al-Kindi, Al-Razi, Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Al-Ghazali, Ibn Rushd, and others.

Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus
Al-Kindi, Al-Razi, Al-Farabi

In the twelfth century, many of these works in Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic were translated into Latin - the literary and philosophical language of Catholic Europe. There were a number of places that functioned as conduits for this literature. Sicily was one. Spain was another. Within Spain, translation was done at many cities, but one of the great centers was Toledo. In part this was due to the patronage of the Archbishop. One of the most productive of the translators was Gerard of Cremona, who translated scores of works from Arabic into Latin. The authors he chose included Aristotle, al-Farabi, Euclid, Archimedes, Galen, and Hippocrates. To quote Haskins:
From Spain came the philosophy and natural science of Aristotle and his Arabic commentators in the form which was to transform European thought in the thirteenth century. The Spanish translators made most of the current versions of Galen and Hippocrates and of the Arab physicians like Avicenna. Out of Spain came the new Euclid, the new algebra, and treatises on perspective and optics. Spain was the home of astronomical tables and astronomical observation.... (Haskins, p. 289)
All of this literature moved north into France and elsewhere. It helped to make possible the revived interest in Latin literature as well as Greek science and philosophy. For example, it made possible the  era of scholastic philosophy that culminated in the work of Thomas Aquinas. (x)

Medieval scholars sought to understand the geometric and harmonic principles by which God created the universe.

  • Historiography
Charles H. Haskins was the first historian to write extensively about a renaissance that ushered in the High Middle Ages starting about 1070. In 1927, he wrote that: 
[The 12th century in Europe] was in many respects an age of fresh and vigorous life. The epoch of the Crusades, of the rise of towns, and of the earliest bureaucratic states of the West, it saw the culmination of Romanesque art and the beginnings of Gothic; the emergence of the vernacular literatures; the revival of the Latin classics and of Latin poetry and Roman law; the recovery of Greek science, with its Arabic additions, and of much of Greek philosophy; and the origin of the first European universities. The 12th century left its signature on higher education, on the scholastic philosophy, on European systems of law, on architecture and sculpture, on the liturgical drama, on Latin and vernacular poetry...
British art historian Kenneth Clark wrote that Western Europe's first "great age of civilisation" was ready to begin around the year 1000. From 1100, he wrote, monumental abbeys and cathedrals were constructed and decorated with sculptures, hangings, mosaics and works belonging to one of the greatest epochs of art and providing stark contrast to the monotonous and cramped conditions of ordinary living during the period. Abbot Suger of the Abbey of St. Denis is considered an influential early patron of Gothic architecture and believed that love of beauty brought people closer to God: "The dull mind rises to truth through that which is material". Clark calls this "the intellectual background of all the sublime works of art of the next century and in fact has remained the basis of our belief of the value of art until today".

Abbey of St. Denis
  • Translation movement of the Renaissance of the 12th century 
The translation of texts from other cultures, especially ancient Greek works, was an important aspect of both this Twelfth-Century Renaissance and the latter Renaissance (of the 15th century), the relevant difference being that Latin scholars of this earlier period focused almost entirely on translating and studying Greek and Arabic works of natural science, philosophy and mathematics, while the later Renaissance focus was on literary and historical texts.
  • Trade and commerce
In Northern Europe, the Hanseatic League was founded in the 12th century, with the foundation of the city of Lübeck in 1158–1159. Many northern cities of the Holy Roman Empire became Hanseatic cities, including Hamburg, Stettin, Bremen and Rostock. Hanseatic cities outside the Holy Roman Empire were, for instance, Bruges, London and the Polish city of Danzig (Gdańsk). In the late 13th century, a Venetian explorer named Marco Polo became one of the first Europeans to travel the Silk Road to China. Westerners became more aware of the Far East when Polo documented his travels in Il Milione. Even though Marco Polo was an Italian, his works were available in French.

Marco Polo
  • Science
After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, Western Europe had entered the Middle Ages with great difficulties. Apart from depopulation and other factors, most classical scientific treatises of classical antiquity, written in Greek, had become unavailable. Philosophical and scientific teaching of the Early Middle Ages was based upon the few Latin translations and commentaries on ancient Greek scientific and philosophical texts that remained in the Latin West, not to mention that even that remained at minimal levels. This scenario changed during the renaissance of the 12th century. The increased contact with the Islamic world in Muslim-dominated Spain and Sicily, the Crusades, the Reconquista, as well as increased contact with Byzantium, allowed Europeans to seek and translate the works of Hellenic and Islamic philosophers and scientists, especially the works of Aristotle. Several translations were made of Euclid but no true commentary was written until the middle of the 13th century.


The development of medieval universities allowed them to aid materially in the translation and propagation of these texts and started a new infrastructure which was needed for scientific communities. 


In fact, the European university put many of these texts at the center of its curriculum, with the result that the "medieval university laid far greater emphasis on science than does its modern counterpart and descendent." At the beginning of the 13th century there were reasonably accurate Latin translations of the main ancient Greek scientific works. From then on, these texts were studied and elaborated, leading to new insights into the phenomena of the universe. The influence of this revival is evident in the scientific work of Robert Grosseteste.
  • Latin literature
The early 12th century saw a revival of the study of Latin classics, prose, and verse before and independent of the revival of Greek philosophy in Latin translation. The Cathedral schools at Chartres, Orleans, and Canterbury were centers of Latin literature staffed by notable scholars. John of Salisbury, secretary at Canterbury, became the bishop of Chartres. He held Cicero in the highest regard in philosophy, language, and the humanities. Latin humanists possessed and read virtually all the Latin authors we have today—Ovid, Virgil, Terence, Horace, Seneca, Cicero. The exceptions were few—Tacitus, Livy, Lucretius. In poetry, Virgil was universally admired, followed by Ovid. Like the earlier Carolingian revival, the 12th-century Latin revival would not be permanent. While religious opposition to pagan Roman literature existed. Haskins argues that “it was not religion but logic” in particular “Aristotle’s New Logic toward the middle of [the 12th] century [that] threw a heavy weight on the side of dialectic ...” at the expense of the letters, literature, oratory, and poetry of the Latin authors. The nascent universities would become Aristotelean centers displacing the Latin humanist heritage until its final revival by Petrarch in the 14th century.

Al Razi Receuil de traite de medecine translated by Gerard de Cremone Second half of 13th century.
  • Arts
The 12th century renaissance saw a revival of interest in poetry. Writing mostly in Latin, contemporary poets produced significantly more work than those of the Carolingian Renaissance. The subject matter varied wildly across epic, lyric, and dramatic. Meter was no longer confined to the classical forms and began to diverge into newer schemes. Additionally, the division between religious and secular poetry became smaller. In particular, the Goliards were noted for profane parodies of religious texts. These expansions of poetic form contributed to the rise of vernacular literature, which tended to prefer the newer rhythms and structures.

  • Architecture
Advances in engineering knowledge and skills allowed the development of the Gothic architectural style. Gothic architecture (soon i will make a post!!) enclosed large spaces while preserving light and elegance. The pointed arch was far more flexible than the rounded arch in the openings possible for doors and windows. It also made adventurous vaulting possible. Flying buttresses stood free of the building and supported the walls by using an arch or part of an arch. This made it possible to introduce large windows into walls, which no longer had to bear all the building's weight.

For example the abbey of Saint Denis in Paris, built in the 1130s and 1140s was one of the first examples of Gothic architecture. The Basilica of Saint Denis is a large medieval abbey church in the city of Saint-Denis.


The building is of unique importance historically and architecturally, as its choir completed in 1144 is considered to be the first Gothic church ever built. The site originated as a Gallo-Roman cemetery, in late Roman times. The archeological remains still lie beneath the cathedral; the people buried there seem to have had a faith that was a mix of Christian and pre-Christian beliefs and practices. 

Effigies of Catherine de’ Medici and Henry II in coronation vestments. Basilica of Saint-Denis. x

Around 475 St. Genevieve purchased some land and built Saint-Denys de la Chapelle. In 636 on the orders of Dagobert I the relics of Saint Denis, a patron saint of France, were reinterred in the basilica. The basilica became a place of pilgrimage and the burial place of the French kings, with nearly every king from the 10th to the 18th centuries being buried there, as well as many from previous centuries. 

Saint Denis Basilica - (From left clockwise) Gisants Bertrand du Guesclin, Charles VI, Isabeau of Bavaria, Louis de Sancerre, Charles V, Jeanne de Bourbon x

(It was not used for the coronations of kings, that function being reserved for the Cathedral of Reims; however, queens were commonly crowned there.) "Saint-Denis" soon became the abbey church of a growing monastic complex. In the 12th century the Abbot Suger rebuilt portions of the abbey church using innovative structural and decorative features. 

Funerary monuments of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette (not their graves), Saint Denis Basilica, France. x

In doing so, he is said to have created the first truly Gothic building. The basilica's 13th-century nave is also the prototype for the Rayonnant Gothic style, and provided an architectural model for cathedrals and abbeys of northern France, England and other countries. The abbey church became a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy.


Architectural type: Church.
Architectural style: Gothic

Tomb of Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne x


One of my favourite, the Chartres Cathedral, also known as Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Chartres (French: Basilique Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres), is a medieval Catholic cathedral of the Latin Church located in Chartres, France. It is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The current cathedral, mostly constructed between 1194 and 1250, is the last of at least five which have occupied the site since the town became a bishopric in the 4th century.


The cathedral is in an exceptional state of preservation. The majority of the original stained glass windows survive intact, while the architecture has seen only minor changes since the early 13th century. The building's exterior is dominated by heavy flying buttresses which allowed the architects to increase the window size significantly, while the west end is dominated by two contrasting spires – a 105-metre (349 ft) plain pyramid completed around 1160 and a 113-metre (377 ft) early 16th-century Flamboyant spire on top of an older tower. Equally notable are the three great façades, each adorned with hundreds of sculpted figures illustrating key theological themes and narratives.

North transept porch with a window of the sacristy (c.1310) in the background

Since at least the 12th century the cathedral has been an important destination for travellers – and remains so to this day, attracting large numbers of Christian pilgrims, many of whom come to venerate its famous relic, the Sancta Camisa, said to be the tunic worn by the Virgin Mary at Christ's birth, as well as large numbers of secular tourists who come to admire the cathedral's architecture and historical merit.


Architectural type: Cathedral, 
Architectural style: French Gothic. 
Groundbreaking: 1145 (Romanesque), 1194 (Gothic), Completed: 1220

The Triumph of Death, or The 3 Fates. Flemish tapestry (probably Brussels, ca. 1510–1520). Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, who spin, draw out and cut the thread of life, represent Death in this tapestry, as they triumph over the fallen body of Chastity. 
This is the third subject in Petrarch's poem "The Great Triumphs". First, Love triumphs; then Love is overcome by Chastity, Chastity by Death, Death by Fame, Fame by Time and Time by Eternity


Not a brief lesson as i hoped. Now, hope you are still with me! 

Let's continue to the The Renaissance (14th to the 17th century). As a cultural movement, it encompassed innovative flowering of Latin and vernacular literatures, beginning with the 14th-century resurgence of learning based on classical sources, which contemporaries credited to Petrarch, the development of linear perspective and other techniques of rendering a more natural reality in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform.

Petrarch's Virgil (title page) (c. 1336) Illuminated manuscript by Simone Martini. Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan.

In politics, the Renaissance contributed the development of the conventions of diplomacy, and in science an increased reliance on observation. Historians often argue this intellectual transformation was a bridge between the Middle Ages and Modern history. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, 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".
A polymath (Greek: πολυμαθής, polymathēs, "having learned much") is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. The term was first used in the seventeenth century; the related term, polyhistor, is an ancient term with similar meaning. The term is often used to describe those great thinkers of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, each of whom excelled at several fields in science and the arts, including such individuals as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Hildegard von Bingen, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Benjamin Franklin, Rabindranath Tagore, Paolo Sarpi, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Bacon, Walter Russell, Thomas Browne, Jose Rizal, Michael Servetus, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn al-Haytham, Avicenna, and Omar Khayyám.


In Renaissance Italy, the idea of the polymath was expressed by one of its most accomplished representatives, Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472), in the statement that "a man can do all things if he will." Embodying a basic tenet of Renaissance humanism that humans are limitless in their capacity for development, the concept led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. This was expressed in the term "Renaissance man" which is often applied to the gifted people of that age who sought to develop their abilities in all areas of accomplishment: intellectual, artistic, social and physical. This term entered the lexicon during the twentieth century and has now been applied to great thinkers living before and after the Renaissance.


There is a consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy, in the 14th century. 

View of Florence, Carl Gustav Carus 1841

Various theories have been proposed to account for its origins and characteristics, focusing on a variety of factors including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time; its political structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici; and the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

Painting by the Greek folk painter Theophilos Hatzimihail showing the battle inside the city, Constantine is visible on a white horse.

The Renaissance has a long and complex historiography, and in line with general scepticism of discrete periodizations, there has been much debate among historians reacting to the 19th-century glorification of the "Renaissance" and individual culture heroes as "Renaissance men", questioning 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 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.

Allegory on writing history by Jacob de Wit (1754). An almost naked Truth keeps an eye on the writer of history. Wisdom gives advice; with Ptolemy I Soter, a master in objectivity in his book on Alexander the Great, below in profile.

Some have called into question whether the Renaissance was a cultural "advance" from the Middle Ages, instead seeing it as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for classical antiquity, while social and economic historians of the longue durée especially have instead focused on the continuity between the two eras, linked, as Panofsky himself observed, "by a thousand ties". The word Renaissance, whose literal translation from French into English is "Rebirth", appears in English writing from the 1830s. The word occurs in Jules Michelet's 1855 work, Histoire de France. The word Renaissance has also been extended to other historical and cultural movements, such as the Carolingian Renaissance and the Renaissance of the 12th century.

To be continued....

4 σχόλια:

  1. I love medieval history, and what a treat this post is! Thank you.~ I look forward to more. I love the art and architecture of the era (Well, architecture IS art). Gothic cathedrals are absolute beauties.

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    1. Thank you!! I do enjoy making these kind of posts!
      The start of the gothic architecture as we know it in Europe. History is really amazing - when of course does not include wars..

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