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Describe the origins and development of the Renaissance (including the influence and accomplishments of Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Shakespeare, and Johannes Gutenberg)


Topics on the Page

Origins of the Renaissance
Machiavelli
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Michelangelo
Raphael
Shakespeare
Gutenberg
  • Women of the Renaissance



Focus Question: What were the origins of the Renaissance and how did the movement evolve?


Origins of the Renaissance


timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a link to a timeline of the Renaissance era.

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.27.35 AM.pngClick here for a virtual tour (rotating 3D view) of the Sistine Chapel.


Multimedia.pngClick here for a video giving an overview of the Renaissance: The Renaissance



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Around the year 1450 AD, European scholars became more absorbed in the studying of the world around them. The Renaissance emerged from a period of disease and depression.
  • The bubonic plague had caused a massive population loss for Europe and, consequently, a great economic downturn. People were forced to move out of the city and into the country.

  • Eventually, in Italy, as the disease dissipated, people began moving back into cities.
    • These cities were semi-autonomous and became wealthier due to their locations, which were near major eastern and western trade routes. The first ideas of widespread banking began to flourish. These factors led to several wealthy independent cities throughout Italy.

  • These "new age" cities greatly helped facilitate the activities of the Renaissance .
    • For example, art began to take on new forms of realism as an emphasis on anatomy sparked by an increasing priority of natural sciences in education and a growing familiarity with a broader spectrum of Classical texts (many reintroduced from the Middle East) swept over the region.
      • This new age, beginning in Europe, was eventually dubbed “the Renaissance.”

The Renaissance (French for "rebirth") was much more than simply rediscovering the work of ancient scholars. It influenced painting, sculpture, architecture, politics, and the way of everyday life. Certain prominent figures of the Renaissance help to define this period of vast intellectual growth.

Image result for map of the renaissance
Image result for map of the renaissance


Scholars debate the influence of the Renaissance itself on modern times as scholars generally fall into three camps, Medievalist, Early Modernists, and Modernists.
  • Medievalists tend to argue that the Renaissance was not a singular point that revolutionized much of Europe but a natural progression built on the foundations established in the Middle Ages; especially the advances born out of the rise of European Universities and scholasticism of the 11th and 12th centuries.
  • Early Modernists focus less on the continuation of advancements in the Middle Ages and argue for a dramatic shift that occurred around 1350 that transformed Europe, Early Modern scholars called this the Renaissance and mark it the beginning of modern society.
  • Modernists argue that the true seeds of modern society developed even later. Some argue the Enlightenment, which Modernists see as a break or shift and less of a continuation of the Renaissance as argued by Early Modernists (with almost no connection to the Middle Ages). Others place the beginning of modern society even later at the birth of nation states.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 12.56.56 PM.pngFor Forbidden Friendships, a book that discusses homosexuality in Renaissance Florence in great detail, visit this page.

Multimedia.pngThis article from the Economist discusses the relationships between European artists and Africans, and includes a brief video on the matter.

game_icon.svg.pngBecome a Spice Trader is an interactive game about trading during the Renaissance era.

primary_sources.PNGExcerpts from The Book of the Courtier by Baldassarre Castiglione

From The Great Courses, check out this essay on The Influence of Ancient Rome on the Italian Renaissance

Focus Question: What were the accomplishments of Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Shakespeare, and Johannes Gutenberg?


Machiavelli (1469-1527)




Multimedia.pngClick here for a video documentary on Machiavelli, his legacy, and the 500th anniversary of the publication of The Prince.


external image 465px-Michelangelo-Buonarroti1.jpg
Michelangelo (1475-1564)

Michelangelo Buonarroti was born in 1475 in the village of Caprese, Italy. He was one of the most important artists of the Italian Renaissance, a period when the arts and sciences flourished.
  • At age 24, Michelangelo completed his extraordinary “Pieta,” a marble statue that shows the Virgin Mary grieving over dead Jesus. He began work on the enormous figure of "David" in 1501, and by 1504, the sculpture was finished.
    • Unlike Michelangelo’s predecessors, which depicted David with the head of Goliath under his foot, Michelangelo poses David at the moment he faces the giant, with the deed before him. He believed this was the moment of David's greatest courage.
  • From 1508 to 1512, Michelangelo worked on his most celebrated project, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Michelangelo later painted "The Last Judgment" on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.
  • Near the end of his life, Michelangelo became more involved in architecture and poetry. In 1546 he was made chief architect of the partly finished St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, where the Pieta is now kept.

primary_sources.PNGCollection of Michelangelo's poems.

Multimedia.png
  • Click here to watch the BBC series, the Divine Michelangelo.
  • Interactive site shows how the Sistine Chapel is connected to the Bible.
  • For more, check out Khan Academy's unit on Michelangelo.

external image Possible_Self-Portrait_of_Leonardo_da_Vinci.jpgMultimedia.pngLeonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)


Leonardo's mastery in art, science, and engineering have earned him a place among the most productive geniuses of history. See Leonardo da Vincifrom the British Broadcasting Company for more information and interactive activities.

At the age of 17, Leonardo and his father moved to Florence, where he apprenticed to Verrocchio. His brilliance was immediately obvious.

In 1472, Leonardo became a member of the painter's guild of Florence, where he had contact with other great Florentine artists including Michelangelo Buonarroti.

In 1481, Leonardo left Florence for Milan to offer his service to the local Duke. During this period he painted the "Virgin of the Rocks" and the "Last Supper".

In 1499, Leonardo left Milan to go to Venice, where he consulted on architectural works. After returning to Florence, between 1503 and 1506, he had his greatest following and painted such classics as the "Mona Lisa".

After this period, he devoted the rest of his life to engineering and scientific studies, such as working on the channeling of the Adda River.

For more information about da Vinci's life and works, including excerpts from his manuscripts, click here and read a biography here.
Double catapult with sling and cup by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1519
Double catapult with sling and cup by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1519

Multimedia.pngClick here for the History Channel documentary on da Vinci. See also, Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook Project for analysis of his work.

game_icon.svg.pngSee the Universal Leonardo that looks into his manuscripts, paintings, inventions, and drawings.

Check out Khan Academy's unit on da Vinci here.

For a more in depth approach, check out Walter Isaacson's Leonardo da Vinci.

external image Red_Apple.jpgDa Vinci: Creative Genius lesson plan from Edsitement


The Maker Movement is a modern-day connection to da Vinci's creativity and invention. It supports the development STEAM curriculum in schools. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.

How the Maker Movement is Moving into Classrooms from Edutopia.


external image biograph.jpg

Raphael (1483-1520)


Raphael was born Raphaello Sanzio in Urbino in 1483 and he died in 1520.
  • His first painting lessons came from his father. His early work reflects moods of harmony.
  • Later, Raphael worked in Tuscany and Umbria, where the work of Leonardo da Vinci influenced his development.
  • Pope Julius II summoned Raphael to Rome in 1508 where he was employed to complete the fresco decoration of a number of rooms in the Vatican.
  • The best known of these works is "The School of Athens", a majestic piece which glorifies the philosophers of antiquity such as Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates.
  • This piece once again reflects an overall theme of harmony. Raphael helped to influence many of the other Italian artists of his time.

In addition to being a prolific painter, Raphael was an architect. He worked on the new St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, but much of his additions were destroyed after his death. Raphael worked primarily in Rome, building for prominent Italian citizens, including Pope Clement VII.

For more on Raphel Sanzio, click here

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William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

William Shakespeare is considered by many the greatest dramatist to have written in the English language.

A poet, dramatist, and actor, Shakespeare's most famous literary works include, "Hamlet", "Romeo and Juliet", "Othello", "Macbeth", and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream."


Shakespeare's plays are still read and performed across the world. Shakespeare is also famous for writing and publishing a massive collection of non-dramatic works, including his 154 sonnets , which are widely read and studied in modern times.
Statute in Chicago's Lincoln Park
Statute in Chicago's Lincoln Park



Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 3.55.03 PM.pngHowever, some historians hypothesize that Shakespeare did not write over one hundred of his plays. For more information, discover Edward de Vere.

external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngTimeline of Shakespeare's life from the website Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet.

primary_sources.PNGPrimary Documents related to Shakespeare's life.

book.pngThe Complete Works of William Shakespearefrom MIT.

Multimedia.pngHamlet's famous soliloquy and other material featuring David Tennant (one of the actors who has played Doctor Who) from the website, Shakespeare Uncovered.

Johannes Gutenberg, drawing made after death
Johannes Gutenberg, drawing made after death

external image IPad_2_Black_Front.jpgClick here for an app featuring all of Shakespeare's 41 plays, 154 sonnets and 6 poems

game_icon.svg.pngWhich Shakespeare Character Are You?

Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1400-1468)


Johannes Gutenberg is generally credited with the creation of movable type printing -- the process that made it possible to publish many copies of a single work at one time.
  • Much of Gutenberg's life is shrouded in mystery, and his name does not appear in any of the printed works attributed to him.
    • He was a goldsmith early in life, and that training apparently led him to the notion of forming molten metal into individual characters of the alphabet, which could then be inked and pressed on paper.

500th anniversary stamp, 1952
500th anniversary stamp, 1952

His most famous work was the Gutenberg Bible, an elaborate two-volume Latin Vulgate Bible which he published about 1455.

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.27.35 AM.pngThe Ransom Center, at the University of Texas, Austin, has a site dedicated to Johannes Gutenberg and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible.

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 4.39.15 PM.pngFor a biography and brief video on Johannes Gutenberg, click here.


external image Red_apple.jpgLesson plans and resources for teachers to use concerning Gutenberg and the printing process.

Female_Rose.pngWomen's Roles and Women Artists in the Renaissance

Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence from PBS

Portrait of Ginevra Aldrovandi Hercolani by Lavinia Fontana, 1595
Portrait of Ginevra Aldrovandi Hercolani by Lavinia Fontana, 1595

Click here to learn about Italian Women Artists from the Renaissance to Baroque

For more resources on women artists, see resources from the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

For an overview of other influential women, see Renaissance Women, an online presentation by two junior high school students about Isabella d'Este and Catherine de Medici.
Artemisia Gentileschi Self-Portrait, 1615
Artemisia Gentileschi Self-Portrait, 1615

Women in the Renaissance from the Victoria and Albert museum discusses daily lives and roles of women during the Renaissance era.

Women of the Renaissance is an essay about the contributions of upper class women to art and religion.

  • Properzia Rossi was the first female marble sculptor of the Italian Renaissance.



  • Levina Terrlinc was a English miniaturist who served as a painter in the royal court.

For more information on women during the Renaissance, check out this video on infamous women, read this essay on the role of women, or read Marget L. King's book Women of the Renaissance.

For information, articles, and citations on Latino history and the great artists of the Spanish Renaissance, click here
game_icon.svg.pngClick here to play Renaissance Jeopardy.

Works Cited
[1] Dowling, M (2007). Dawn of a New Age. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from The Renaissance Web site: http://www.mrdowling.com/704renaissance.html
[2] Armson, R.(1997). Nicolo Machiavelli. Retrieved February 8, 2008, from Renaissance Personalities Website:
http://www.yesnet.yk.ca/schools/projects/renaissance/main/machiavelli.html
[4] Random House (2006) Machiavellian. Retrieved February 8, 2008, from Dictionary.com Website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/machiavellian
[5] Bonner, N (2001). Retrieved February 22, 2007, from Michelangelo Buonarroti Website Web site: http://www.michelangelo.com/buonarroti.html
[6] Chew, R (1996). Michelangelo Renaissance Artist. Retrieved February 22, 2007, Website: http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96mar/michelangelo.html
[7] (2007). Leonardo da Vinci. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from Museam of Science Website: http://www.mos.org/leonardo/
[8] Chew, R (1996). Leonardo da Vinci. Retrieved February 22, 2007, Website: http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96apr/leonardo.html
[9] Kren, E Raffaello Sanzio. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from Web Gallery of Art Website: http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/bio/r/raphael/biograph.html
[10] Armson, R.(1997). Nicolo Machiavelli. Retrieved February 8, 2008, from Renaissance Personalities Website:
http://www.yesnet.yk.ca/schools/projects/renaissance/main/shakespeare.html
[11] Bellis, M Inventors. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Press Website: http://inventors.about.com/od/gstartinventors/a/Gutenberg.htm
[12] www.learner.org. retrieved: Wednesday, February 25, 2009, from http://www.learner.org/interactives/renaissance/middleages.html [13] www.wsu.edu retrieved: Wednesday, February 25, 2009, from http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/REN/IDEA.HTM
http://www.universalleonardo.org/
http://raphaelbiography.com/
http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/MV_Home.html
http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/gutenberg/