Aspects of European History, 1494-1789

Aspects of European History, 1494-1789

Aspects of European History, 1494-1789

Aspects of European History, 1494-1789

Synopsis

Lee's book takes an analytical approach to a wide range of topics in early modern European history, from the Renaissance to the French Revolution, showing a variety of methods that can be used to present a theme or argument in an essay or exam.

Excerpt

Humanism was a basic source of inspiration for all the cultural changes of the Renaissance, heavily influencing literature, history, painting, sculpture and political ideas.

Humanist scholars devoted themselves to the studia humanitatis by examining the texts of antiquity with renewed interest. Although classical works had some influence on medieval thought, they had acquired an extensive superstructure which scholars from the fourteenth century onwards set about dismantling. Increasing emphasis was laid on understanding the classics in their original form, and this was inevitably accompanied by an insistence on grammatical precision and stylistic purity. A particularly important development was the revival of Greek. This language, which had virtually disappeared from the West during the Middle Ages, spread during the fifteenth century not, as is often supposed, with the flight of scholars from the East after the Turkish capture of Constantinople in 1453, but as a result of invitations extended to Byzantine scholars like Manuel Chrysoloras to lecture in Florence and Rome in the 1390s. A widespread search for Roman and Greek manuscripts followed. By the end of the fifteenth century interest had reached dramatic proportions, with 27 principal editions of Greek works published between 1494 and 1515. Meanwhile, various humanist circles had been established, the most important of these being the Platonic Academy in Florence (1439). At times their members were excessively concerned with detail and produced commentaries on the classics rather than works of originality.

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