Italians being “the Firstborn Among the Sons of Modern Europe”

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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“Italians being “the firstborn among the sons of modern Europe” combined the revival of antiquities and the ‘all-sided man’— ‘l’uomo universale’— developing free personality to undeniably question the Church and cast a general spirit of doubt in the religious beliefs of the period. In his work Buckhardt says, “the subjective side at the same time asserted itself with corresponding emphasis; man became a spiritual individual, recognized as such.” The interest of humanities and culture of learned men helped propel the rise of individualism and thus free thinking.

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The reason Italians had doubt of their religious beliefs was that education and spread of humanities helped propel simple rhetoric for the laity to spread the works of antiquities. The rise of humanism was a new horizon that opened the door for more conversation and the ability to think way they should question the church’s authority. Also, more of the attention of education was being spent on humanities and liberal arts and as well as science, literature, math and therefore less time was being devoted and written about religion. Buckhard goes on to say that there were swarths of this mind set that cropped up sporadically in previous periods but did not take hold until thirteen century Italy were the conditions had ripened for such thinking.

Coming from the Middle Ages and into a new era of self-awareness and discovery the world was changing for man. He was now at the center of his universe, clear with his own thought to freely ask, “why.” New inventions such as the Gutenberg Printing press to spread ideas and stories. Galileo’s barometer, the mechanical clock, eyeglasses, and the microscope goes to show that man was learning and questioning the physical world and not relying on dogma for answers. The Universal Man is the concept that man (and women) could do and study all things, the jack of all trades. He should posses a curious mind to question and ponder the nature of the world and how it worked. He should be able to develop his capacity both mentally and physically. The men that most exemplify these characteristics are Leon Battista Alberti and Leonardo Da Vinci, who were also men of God.

The change of education in the grammar school curriculum, that was one catalyst needed for the movement could flourish. In the realm of TWO LATIN CULTURES (Witt, The Two Latin Cultures and the Foundation of Renaissance Humanism in Medieval Italy) it is emphasized that both the traditional book culture of trivium and quadrivium which was taught in monasteries and church funded schools and the legal document culture of litigation coexisted and helped simplified language for the common man. This helped foster the learning of Greek and Roman antiquities being translated into Latin for the masses. In addition, Greek was beginning to be taught in grammar schools as part of the new curriculum PAGE 72 KING. In Kings’ The Renaissance in Europe p.71, “The Byzantine statesman and scholar Manuel Chrysoloras (c.1353-1415) came to Italy, seeking support for that embattled empire as the Turks steadily advanced. While resident in Florence between 1397-1400, Chrysoloras began to teach the early humanist Greek. The studia humanitatis trend took hold in schools and eventually adapted by the universities in Italy and across Europe. Herlilhy stated p 70, “At the University of Florence, for example, which was founded in 1350 in the immediate wake of plague, rhetoric and soon the study of Greek replaced logic at the core of the program in liberal arts. The reform spread quickly to the other universities of Italy and gave a major thrust to the revival of classic studies.”

In the changing of the curriculum for the schools and eventually the universities, Italy begins to notice that with the addition of Greek being taught it opened up more in ways of learning since there were trying to not only emulate the works but also learn them in great detail, memorize them with the hopes of inspiring their current works to be held in such esteem. It led to the institutes having a broader and robust curriculum that emphases the sciences, logic and philosophy which would compete against other elite universities like Oxford, Paris and Cambridge. HERLIHY PAGE 69 also gives the reason that since the Black Death swept the continent many students chose to stay closer to home. Since universities fed the all the academic careers such as medicine, law, clergy it would lead to having a more refined and cultured labor force for the country.

People leaving their homes in small towns voluntary to go in search of big cities and bigger dreams. During this time large city states such as Florence where an incubator for creative and talents dominated by laymen, not clergy, that flourish with political, philosophical and artistic SOMETHING that no other period in history has produced so many ‘l’umono univerale.

Due to the rise of prosperity in Italy, families with such vast fortunes such as the Medici ***find quote*** patrons of the arts saw Humanism flourish and spread throughout Italy and Europe. If the Humanism movement involved art, politics, science, philosophy and religion, it touched every facet of the life during the Renaissance one way or another. It was a time of prosperity for the country as well. The banking industry flourished under the Medici family along with their wool mercantile business.

During this same time, Philipp Melanchthon and Martin Luther advised the Saxon elector Frederick the Wise on modernizing what was taught at the newly founded University of Wittenberg. The Protestant Reformers drew heavily on the linguistic and critical skills of the humanists around them, but they differed notably from these colleagues. Karant-Nunn, Susan, & Lotz-Heumann, Ute (2017). Confessional Conflict. After 500 Years: Print and Propaganda in the Protestant Reformation. University of Arizona Libraries. It was this education that led Luther to question the Church. His thought was that the religion should be more accessible to man, to personalize and simplify it.

Like his contemporary Luther, Desiderius Erasmus was one of the great humanists in Europe. He used the Italian humanism wave that had swept the continent and applied it to the Reformations and Protestant revolts. They used the Greek language to help retranslate the New Testament from Greek into Latin and going on to create a German bible was derived from early scripts. “Luther Martin’s boldness and his spreading of the Reformation within the Church could be understood only in a humanist context, with the new horizons it opened. Translations of the Bible into vernacular languages – German, French, English – from original texts were made possible only thanks to the work of the humanists. The demand for more Greek classic works to be brought to the masses the works must be translated into Latin first. The translations themselves enabled greater direct access to Bible texts. This opening enabled discussion of some political aspects of the Church’s doctrinal authority. His is one of the contributing views on how the Renaissance of freedom of free will and the onset of humanities to be used to educate and expand the knowledge of the laity of the day. The Church at this time was steeped with corruption and abuse of powers from the papacy to the wealthy and princely cardinals. Protestant revolt began the moment Luther pinned the “95 Theses” to the door of the church but the humanity movement that had been underway way the driving force for such great thoughts to cast doubt on the Catholic Church.“Christianity itself was often viewed as oppressive, guilt-inducing system from which, first, the fresh air of the Renaissance revival of antiquity and, then, the Protestant reformation would bring deliverance.”

During this period many of the distinguished humanist, mathematicians and poets that are have multiple achievements in these and other areas of study were in fact pious and religious men of God. Giovanni Boccaccio and Leon Battista Alberti are two who embody the religious and the humanistic duality of Renaissance men. It is also during this time, more so than any other point in history, that the discovery and application of scientific though and thus growth of the physical sciences introduces us to the era of modern science. To confirm the theory of free thinking and having science not religious beliefs give scientific facts frightened the church. That pushed more men like Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus prove that the sun was the center of the universe. It took 359 years for the Catholic Church to admit that he was correct and that the sun is the center of the universe.

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Italians Being “the Firstborn Among the Sons of Modern Europe”. (2021, May 10). Retrieved from