The Early Modern World, C. 1300–1600

Early Renaissance in Italy

What is humanism?

Though the term humanism wasn’t invented until the nineteenth century, it refers to the rejection of medieval scholastic values and the new embrace of Classical thought during the Renaissance. Humanism is also a way of thinking; an important part of humanist philosophy was education that focused on studying history, and emphasized personal ethics and civic values. Renaissance humanism resulted in a new emphasis on individuality. During the medieval period, art and literature tended to be viewed through a divine lens, from the perspective of God. During the Renaissance, by contrast, artists tended to take on a more human-centered view of the world.

The Italian city of Florence was the epicenter of the Italian Renaissance, home to artists such as Donatello, Fra Angelico, and Botticelli. The architect Filippo Brunelleschi designed Florence Cathedral’s iconic dome.


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