Essay on The Medieval Period And The Renaissance

Essay on The Medieval Period And The Renaissance

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The first people to differentiate between the medieval period and the renaissance were those living during the latter. Renaissance writers saw themselves as set apart from the more recent past, and believed they had more in common with the distant classical period. They viewed themselves as on the cusp of a bright new era, a “rebirth” of classical innovation and knowledge. Later historians would also mark this time as something new and shiny, standing out from the dreary middle ages. French historian Jules Michelet saw the renaissance as a beacon of democracy and liberty, Jacob Burckhardt applauded the rediscovery of the classics, and Walter Pater saw in this period “a spirit of rebellion and revolt against the moral and religious ideas of the time.” They were in like mind with the Renaissance thinkers themselves, but as Bartlett points out one cannot study their own time period with proper objectivity needed for accurate historical analysis. The Renaissance is a continuation of the late medieval period, built and grounded in it, rather than the dawn of a completely separate era. The growing republics, the influx of classical influence, and the rising secularism grew out of the middle ages rather than being spontaneously birthed at the start of the fourteenth century.
Michelet praised the democracy of the renaissance, though to him this was found in sixtieth century France, the real source of democracy of the renaissance would be the Italian republics. These republics had their foundations deep rooted in the medieval period. When the early communes sprang up all over Italy, but they were technically ruled over by the Holy Roman Emperor. It was when the Emperor Fredrick I started to try and exert some authority over the citie...


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...ly led to the death of the Latin language. Dante, who is part of the medieval period, very openly criticized the church, he even placed three popes in hell. Kaborycha says that this was possible because although the pope obviously would not like this, he could not do anything about it. It was not until later that the church gained its “vast spy network” to control Italians. The irony being that scholars view the renaissance as so drastically different from the medieval in terms of the grip religion had on the people. There were of course some new ideas and innovations that came out of the renaissance, but it is clear that it is not as radically different to the medieval period as even the renaissance people would have one believe. But rather, the renaissance should be classified as the culmination of all the work done in the Middle Ages in its last and purest form.

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