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The Italian Renaissance


Lecture: The Italian Renaissance

Seminar and Essay Questions

  1. Why was there a revival of antiquity in the Italian states between 1250 and 1500?
  2. 'The importance of Florence in the development of the Italian Renaissance has been exaggerated'. Discuss.

Other possible essay questions: 'Did women experience the Renaissance in the same way as men?' 'Was the Renaissance limited to elite culture only?'


  1. Extract from Pico Della Mirandola, Oration On the Dignity Of Man.
  2. Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527): History of Florence: Lorenzo de' Medici
  3. Leonardo da Vinci writes to offer his services to Ludovico 'il Moro' of Milan, c.1483

Introductory Reading

Barber, The Two Cities, (no readings)

Bartlett, The Making of Europe, (no readings)

Waley, Later Medieval Europe, 153-166, 192-200

Further Reading

Black, Robert (ed.), Renaissance Thought: A Reader (London, 2001) [A collection of key articles and essays]

Brown, Alison, The Renaissance, 2nd ed. (Harlow, 1999)

Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, with an introduction by Peter Burke (Harmondsworth, 1990) [Online edition here]

Cassirer, Ernst et al. (eds. and trans.), The Renaissance Philosophy of Man (Chicago, 1948) [An important collection of essays]

Davies, Jonathan, Florence and its University during the Early Renaissance (Leiden, 1998)

Findlen, Paula (ed.), The Italian Renaissance: The Essential Readings (Oxford, 2002) [A collection of key articles and essays]

Goldthwaite, Richard A., Wealth and the Demand for Art in Italy 1300-1600 (Baltimore and London, 1993)

Hale, J.R., The Civilisation of Europe in the Renaissance (London, 1994)

Hankins, James, 'The Myth of the Platonic Academy of Florence', Renaissance Quarterly 44 (1991), 429-75.

Kristeller, P.O., Renaissance Thought, 2 vols. (New York, 1965) [A collection of key articles and essays]

Martin, John Jeffries (ed.), The Renaissance: Italy and Abroad (London, 2003) [A collection of key articles and essays]

Porter, R., and Teich, M. (eds.), The Renaissance in National Context (Cambridge, 1992)

Vasari, Giorgio, Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, trans. Gaston de Vere, with an introduction by David Ekserdjian, 2 vols. (London, 1996) [Online translation here]

Welch, Evelyn, Art and Society in Italy 1350-1500 (Oxford, 1997)