The Beginnings of Modern Europe (1250-1450)

By Ephraim Emerton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
THE NORTHERN RENAISSANCE

The most common and the most obvious criticism of the Italian Renaissance is its lack of moral seriousness. The men of Italy were interested in learning chiefly from its æsthetic, or at best from its scientific, side. Then, as in our own day, the cry was "Art for art's sake!" and it was precisely because a return to sound principles both of study and of artistic production without reference to the state of men's souls was so sorely needed that the Renaissance was able so profoundly to influence the course of human thought. If, for example, Petrarch and his immediate followers had begun a crusade against the evils of the papal system, of which they were perfectly aware, it seems clear that the Church could never have made its peace with them. Still less is it likely that it would have become, as it did, one of the most active promoters of the revived intellectual culture they represented.

Northern Renaissance Later

The moment, however, we begin to study this same movement in the northern countries, we feel the difference in tone. For one thing, the impulse here is felt much later. The originality of the northern mind was expressing itself in Petrarch's day far more effectively through works in the popular tongues, such, for example, as Chaucer's (d. 1400) immortal national poem, than in efforts to imitate the language of Cicero. It is not until a full century from the time of Petrarch's greatest activity that we find the spirit of a revived classic enthusiasm really taking hold upon Germany, France, and England. But meanwhile the preparation had been making. On the whole it would be fair to say that, so far as outward equipment went, the

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The Beginnings of Modern Europe (1250-1450)
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • Contents xiii
  • LIST OF MAPS xiv
  • The Beginnings of Modern Europe 1
  • Chapter II- The New Empire 47
  • Chapter III- (1300-1409) 106
  • Chapter IV- The Rise of a Middle Class 164
  • Chapter V- The Italian Republics to 1300 215
  • Chapter VI- The Hundred Years'' War 252
  • Chapter VII- The Age of the Councils 311
  • Chapter VIII- The Age of the Despots in Italy 358
  • Chapter IX- The Renaissance in Italy 461
  • Chapter X- The Northern Renaissance 509
  • Index 535
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