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SECTION A The Italian Peninsula and the Renaissance.

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1 SECTION A The Italian Peninsula and the Renaissance

2 Key Knowledge Different types of city-states in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries: republics, principality, kingdom and papal state, and how they interacted economically politically and culturally.

3 Characteristics of a republic Governed by a merchant class. Feudal nobility had limited or no power, seen in Florence with the introduction of the Ordinances of Justice which disenfranchised magnati families. Enfranchised class could be as small as 2% as in Venice or as large as 14% as in 14 th century Bologna. Large councils are a common feature, the Grand Council in Venice and the Council of the Commune and Popolo in Florence

4 Responsibility of government was in the hands of small councils whose terms of office were short. The Signori in Florence was elected every 2 months. Voting systems were intricate as can be seen with the complex system of electing a doge in Venice. Small councils provided checks and balances A common, but real and credible fear was of one person, family or group usurping power. Considering the number of despotic states, this was understandable.

5 The economic activity of a principality Milan was the wealthiest city in west and central Lombardy and a large part of its economic strength stemmed from its geographical position. The Lombardy plains and fertile Po valley provided Milan with a rich agricultural base dominated by feudal noble families such as the Pallvincini, Rossi and Malaspina. In recognition of the importance of their agrarian economy the Visconti and Sforza drained swampy areas and built canals to plant mulberry trees for the production of raw silk and to promote the planting of grain, particularly rice.

6 Milan was also situated in an ideal position to command the routes to the main Alpine passes leading to France, Switzerland and Germany. Trade provided necessary goods to its most lucrative industries which were dependent on imported metals and fibres. Raw silk was produced around Milan and good quality iron was mined and refined nearby, at Brescia and Bergamo.

7 Most of the industries produced luxury goods. Silk and woollen fabrics ranked next to those of Florence, while millinery takes its name from Milan. Its most prized fabrics were richly embroidered with gold and silver thread and goldsmiths and silversmiths abounded in the city. Its most important industry, however, was implements of war. Milanese swords and armour were highly prized for their high quality and workmanship.

8 Because Milanese industries called for skilled craftsmen rather than large scale factory production, and because the merchants tended to work as individuals unconnected with the industrial field, no large family groups developed. Thus, unlike the republics of Florence and Venice, merchants could not take control of the city and contado.

9 The economic background of Renaissance Italy: trade, industry, products, banking and commercial centres.

10 Trade and industry played a significant role in Florence’s economic development. Florence’s largest and most powerful industry was that of the woollen-cloth which was run by the Lana guild. Brucker estimates they employed some 30,000 men and women, ‘over one third of the city’s population’ and produced some 70,000 to 80,000 pieces of cloth each year. The importance of trade and industry

11 Stimulated by the need to import raw wool from Flanders and England, merchants contributed to the growth of the cloth industry by supplying capital, by arranging for the purchase of high-quality wool in England and Spain and by efficient and aggressive marketing of finished cloth. Thus trade fed the woollen cloth industry at both ends, providing the raw material and the means to export and sell it.

12 Florentine trading was not restricted to simply cloth; wheat was a commonly traded commodity and luxury items like spices, gems, paintings and sculptures were common merchandise on Florentine mercantile vessels. The importance of trade is summed up by Gregorio Dati, the merchant-chronicler who wrote that ‘whoever is not a merchant and hasn’t investigated the world and seen foreign nations and returned with possessions to his native home is considered nothing.’

13 Although there was risk involved in trade both overland and sea with robbery, piracy, storms and other such disasters, much of Florence’s wealth came from industry and the trade that it engendered, as well as from the banking houses that transacted the loans, such as the Bardi and Medici.

14 The concept of the ‘Renaissance’ and the growth and importance of humanist studies.

15 The concept of the ‘Renaissance’. Why humanism occurred. The influence and importance of classical ideas on humanism. The importance of humanism on society.

16 Humanism was the city-state’s major intellectual experience. It was a refinement of the values that derived largely from the urban ruling groups, but it also needed their confirmation to have any force as a program. As Martines states, “Humanism spoke for and to the dominant social groups.” The importance of humanism was both intellectual and practical. It cut across political lines; it found virtue equally in ‘liberty’ and ‘republicanism’ in Florence as well as in the wise governance of a signori. As such its appeal to the ruling classes was unprecedented.

17 The subjects of the educational program of the studia humanitatis had practical applications for the ruling elite. Rhetoric offered the politically ambitious eloquent public speaking and writing. It had the power of ‘bringing conviction to different minds…To be able to speak and write with elegance is no slight advantage in negotiation, whether in private or public concerns’ Vergerio claimed. The humanist Frulovisi observed in his ‘De Rupublica’ that since ‘every form of eloquence is necessary to citizens responsible for government’ eloquence was even more important for the urban prince, the lord of the city.

18 Similarly, history and poetry were given a contemporary context. History was important for what it could tell the elite about their experience, while poetry was a comment on experience; a guide, a shaper of men. Humanism was important because in republics it put a remarkable number of humanists near the forefront of government, such as Salutati, Bruni and Machiavelli in Florence; Bembo and Barbaro in Venice. Even the signorial cities regaled humanists with administrative, secretarial, advisory, academic and tutorial posts.

19 It also became a vehicle of propaganda. This took many forms from Poliziano’s polemic on the Pazzi Conspiracy to Sanudo’s ‘Laudation’ of the city of Venice. It was said that Salutati’s well publicised letters against Giangaleazzo Visconti ‘were worth at least a thousand horses in propaganda value.’ Humanism offered its own educational program, Vittorino da Feltre’s school in Mantua attracted children of the powerful. Its program, with its emphasis on the classical languages of Latin and Greek, the humanities and physical activity shaped education for centuries to come. Humanism also made gradual inroads into the universities; chairs in Greek, Rhetoric and Moral Philosophy were introduced in 1400 at Florence, Pavia and Padua.

20 The fevered collection and recovery of ancient manuscripts which were a result of the renewed interest in the classics saw the entire collection of Plato’s writing brought to Florence and translated by Ficino. Finally, the close relationship between the intellectuals, artists and patrons undoubtedly spawned the remarkable artistic movement of the Renaissance. This saw artists studying the classics, both its physical manifestations and its written. It also generated an interest in science and exploration.

21 Changes and developments in Renaissance art and the role of patronage in the development of Renaissance culture.

22 Answer the given question. Last year some students turned the question on humanism into a question on art. If it has two parts, make sure you address both parts. Give examples as evidence to support your points. These are more important than quoting. In recent years many students have quoted inaccurately and unnecessarily. It does not always enhance your work. Write within the lines provided. You cannot write everything. Examiners are looking for a concise understanding of the area that has been studied.


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