The Role Of Women in the Renaissance

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When one talks about the Renaissance, the most common topic is art and architecture. It is true that the Italian Renaissance was marked by some of the greatest and most prolific masters of painting, sculpture and building. It is also true that the era marked the emergence of a great deal more. It was a time of awakening from the intellectual darkness of the medieval order and the emergence of many of the concepts that would form the basis for civilization as it is known today. The era saw the birth of new attitudes concerning the role of man in his relationship to the world and to God. Unfortunately, for the most part, the expansion of the 'role of man' did not include the role of women. "Renaissance (from the French for "rebirth") is a term coined in the nineteenth century originally to denote the revival of art and letters under the influence of ancient Roman and Greek models. This revival began in Italy in the fourteenth century, flourished in the fifteenth, and in the sixteenth reached apogee and then crisis in Italy, while it spread through most of Europe. But humanism's classical learning alone cannot account for the immense changes that took place during these centuries; moreover, movements originating in the North also contributed to these changes. Therefore the term Renaissance has also come to denote the era in general and its overriding spirit, in which desires intrinsic to human nature, generally repressed under medieval feudalism, burst forth with new fervor and resulted in a new culture" (Osmond 18). The most conspicuous of these changes were in the world of art and intellectual pursuits. The social structure of Italy and the culturally defined gender roles were not as affected as art and architecture. ... ... middle of paper ... ...litical scientist" (Rhu 326). The Renaissance is perceived as a time of intellectual and creative growth, and, indeed, the arts and architectural accomplishments of the era bear out this perception. The two centuries denoted as the Renaissance in Italy are also known as a period of growth in the sciences, with such known personages as Leonardo de Vinci making strides into mathematics, anatomy and other sciences that would open the door for the empirical investigations of later centuries. The greatest of the Italian Renaissance writers, Niccolo Machiavelli, mirrors one of the least known attributes of the time, the social relegation of females. Although it is a time where the role of women is enlarged to some degree, it continues to place strictures on the place and meaning of women that were forged in the writings of the ancient Greeks, such as Aristotle.
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