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 Italian Renaissance
The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.
—Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)
 Essential Question: How did the revival of classical texts contribute to the development of the Italian Renaissance?
 Essential Question: What were the political, intellectual, and cultural effects of the Italian Renaissance?
Beginning in the mid-1300s, Europe entered a period of transition between the Middle Ages and the modern world. Since the 19th century, historians have called this period the Renaissance, from a French word meaning “rebirth.”
During the Renaissance, many intellectuals showed a renewed interest in the civilizations of Greece and Rome during the classical era, roughly 800 B.C.E. to 500 C.E. Scholars of the 15th century first used the term Middle Ages to mean the period between the end of the classical era and their own time.
The Renaissance began in northern Italy and spread throughout Europe. It was a time when scholars began to break free of the religion-based thinking of medieval times toward a belief in human dignity and limitless potential.
Revived Interest in the Classical World
Throughout the Middle Ages, monks had preserved and studied many classical texts in monasteries throughout Europe. Yet during the Renaissance, the revived interest in classical texts took a new form. One major change was that many Renaissance scholars were not members of the clergy. In addition, they approached the texts in new ways.
Italian Renaissance Humanists
Renaissance intellectuals who studied classical civilization and its texts were later called humanists because they focused on human beings and their inherent dignity. Humanists began to break free of the medieval philosophy known as scholasticism, which focused on Roman Catholicism and religious inquiries, such as proving the existence of God.
Shift in Ideas about Religion Although humanists remained Christians, they tended to emphasize different values than did medieval scholars. The content of classical texts was secular, or worldly, rather than religious.
Topic 1.2

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