gymnasium, academy, and lyceum, came to be applied to centers of classical
The Renaissance is also important because it spawned the women's
movement in education. It was not because humanists like Erasmus advocated restricted education of women that we identify a new impetus for
women's education. Rather, it was the courageous and literate challenge of Christine de Pisan for gender equality in education and life that marked the
Renaissance as a time of change in the history of education for women.
Finally, it is important to remember that the humanities included study
of all aspects of human beings: beautiful and ugly, triumphant and pathetic,
generous and mean. Although humanists like Vittorino da Feltre embodied
humane gentleness, the hard-headed realism of Niccolò Machiavelli was
also part of the humanist tradition. The Reformation would keep the classical and vernacular thrusts of the Renaissance while reclaiming the earlier
religious purpose of education.
Cf. Denys Hays, The Italian Renaissance in Its Historical Background
( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), 1; Baron Hans, The Crisis of
the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in the
Age of Classicism and Tyranny ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966), xxvii-xxviii.
R. R. Bolgar, The Classical Heritage and Its Beneficiaries ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963), 255.
William H. Woodward, Vittorino da Feltre and Other Humanist Educators: Essays and Versions ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921), 2.
James Bowen, A History of Western Education, 3 vols. ( New York: St.
Martin's Press, 1975), 2: 225.
Woodward, Vittorino da Feltre, 16-17.
The information on Renaissance classroom practice comes from an unpublished paper by Anthony Grafton of Princeton University, "How the Humanists
Learned Greek: A Study in Classroom Practice," presented at the Newberry
Library Renaissance Conference, April 23, 1982.
Hays, The Italian Renaissance, 154.
Enid McLeod, The Order of the Rose: The Life and Ideas of Christine de
Pizan ( London: Chatto & Windus, 1976). All biographical details are from this
For an expanded discussion, see
L. Glenn Smith, "From Plato to Jung:
Centuries of Inequalities," Educational Horizons 60 (Fall 1981): 4-10.
Phyllis Stock, Better than Rubies: A History of Women's Education ( New
York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1978), 42.
McLeod, The Order of the Rose, 48.
McLeod, The Order of the Rose, 66.
McLeod, The Order of the Rose, 70.
McLeod, The Order of the Rose, 160.
Clive Wood and
Beryl Suitters, The Fight for Acceptance: A History of
Contraception ( Aylesbury, UK: Medical and Technical Publishing, 1970).