In the first few chapters (1-3) of this book, the author begins by giving background information on the state of affairs after the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire. After this decline, Rome was left in a chaotic and deteriorate state, with remints of outside influences scattered about. Although, left to rot among these barbarous conditions, the influence of Roman society does not perish. Through commerce with rising civilizations, such as the Islamic and Byzantine Empires the interest in great Greek and Roman philosophy, writings, and concepts flow back into this dwindling civilization (Plato, Aristotle, Petrarch, and Dante). With no political unity among the Italian peninsula remaining during this time, the battle for control of the countryside by papal and feudal monarchical societies commenced. However, persisting through this time of conflict, pestilence, and deprivation these people were able to amass great cities, such as Florence, Milan, and Venice, because of their transition into the financial world. Along with the crusades in the east and the invention of the Gutenberg press, the ideas of the ancient worl...
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...out other areas of Europe. With the discovery of the “new world” the yearning for the arts of the Renaissance soon followed. Then there was Luther and his protestant reformation, which contributed to this expanse as well. It was through the great commerce of the Italian city-states that allowed this new thinking to travel as far as it did. The renaissance may have been suppressed by the invasion of 1527, but it certainly did not die out.
Overall, Plumb was able to deliver a wonderful account of the Renaissance period that swept across the Italian Peninsula thru the 14th and 16th centuries. His book, was very knowledge for anyone who has any interest in art or history. However, a little bit of background knowledge of the antique world would benefit the average reader. Plumb’s take on exchange and trade bringing about the beginnings of the Renaissance was superb.
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