A Short History of the Renaissance in Europe

A Short History of the Renaissance in Europe

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By Margaret L. King
University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division © 2016
480 Pages
ISBN 9781487593087
Published Sep 2016
ISBN 9781487593094
Published Nov 2016
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781487593100
Published Sep 2017
Full purchase $50.95
ebook (PDF format)
ISBN 9781487593117
Published Sep 2016
Full purchase $50.95

Writing about the Renaissance can be a daunting task. Not only do scholars disagree on what the Renaissance is, but they also disagree on whether or not it even took place. Margaret L. King's richly illustrated social history of the Renaissance succeeds as a trusted resource, introducing readers to Europe between 13001700, as well as to the problems of cultural renewal.

A Short History of the Renaissance in Europe includes a detailed discussion of Burckhardt as well as new content on European contact with the Islamic world. This new edition also provides improved coverage of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations. "Focus" features provide fascinating insights into the Renaissance era, and "Voices" sections introduce a wealth of primary sources.

King's engaging narrative is enhanced by over 100 images, statistical tables, timelines, a glossary, and suggested readings.

Margaret L. King is Professor Emerita of History, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and has published widely on Venice, women, and humanism in the Renaissance. She is currently Editor in Chief of Oxford Bibliographies Renaissance and Reformation and co-editor of the series The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe.

List of Maps
List of Illustrations
List of Figures, Graphs, and Tables
Introduction: The Idea of the Renaissance
Chapter One: Italy and Rome: From Roman Republic to Secondo Popolo (c. 500 BCE–1300 CE)
The Romanization of Italy
Invasion and Destruction
Early Migrations
Focus: Monte Cassino
Germanic Incursions
Cathedral and Monastery
The Authority of the Bishops
The Origins of Monastic Life
Emperor and Pope
The Development of the Holy Roman Empire
Gregory VII and the Drive for Papal Supremacy
Commerce and Reurbanization
Decline of the Roman Economy
Voices: How to Succeed in Business
The Flourishing of Maritime Trade
The Expansion of Trading Networks
The Communal Revolution
Alliance of the Magnates
Triumph of the Lombard League
The Coming of the Popolo
Merchant Guilds
Focus: The Battle of Legnano, 1176
Conflict between Pope and Emperor
The Rebellion of the
Suggested Readings
Chapter Two: An Age of Republics (c. 1250–c. 1350)
Florence: Banking and Wool
Focus: Florence
Wool and the Wool Guilds
The Guilds and Civic Life
Revolt of the
Focus: Venice
Venice: Shipbuilding and Trade
The Growth of Venice
Shipbuilding and the State
The Venetian Nobility

Urban Renewal: Walls, Buildings, and Spaces

Vita Civile: Urban Culture in a Republican Age
The Jurists
The Secretaries

Voices: Yearning to Be Free
Dante and Giotto: Innovators before the Dawn of the Renaissance
Dante Alighieri
Giotto di Bondone
Voices: Petrarch’s Letter “To Posterity”
Boccaccio and Petrarch: Inaugurators of Renaissance Thought
Republics and Principalities
The Black Death
Suggested Readings
Chapter Three: Human Dignity and Humanist Studies: The Career of Humanism (c. 1350–c. 1530)
The Recovery of Classical Antiquity
Focus: Personal Space
Roman Works
Greek Works

The “Studies of Humanity”
The Idea of Humanist Education
Humanist Educational Treatises

The Dignity of Man
Giannozzo Manetti
Pico della Mirandola

Civic Humanism
Voices: Barbaro and Pico
Proposing New Values: Poggio and Valla
Praising the City: Bruni
Voices: Valla’s Logic
Women and Humanism
Early Female Humanists
Later Female Humanists: Nogarola, Cereta, Fedele
Voices: Women and Humanism in Renaissance Italy
Humanism, Philosophy, and Scholarship
Philosophy: Aristotle and Plato
Other Schools
Textual Scholarship

The Sociology of Humanism
Focus: Aldine Editions
Suggested Readings
Chapter Four: New Visions (c. 1350–c. 1530)
Breakthroughs in Style
Perspective: The Artful Construction of Reality
Patronage and Patrons
Types of Patronage
Focus: New Visions
Florence and Milan
Ferrara, Mantua, and Urbino

Architecture and Urbanism
The Rediscovery of Classical Architecture
Secular Buildings
Focus: Brunelleschi’s Dome
Voices: Artists and Patrons in Urbino and Venice
City Planning

Portraits and Personality
Portraits and Self-Portraits
Voices: Isabella d’Este
Equestrian Portraits and Tombs
Art and the Everyday
City and Country Settings

From Artisan to Genius: The Evolution of the Artist
Women Artists

The High Renaissance (c. 1500–1530)
Suggested Readings
Chapter Five: At Home and in the Piazza (c. 1350–c. 1530)
Public Life
Social Structure
Focus: Prostitutes and Courtesans
Social Control

Voices: Riot, Plague, and Punishment
Focus: The Jewish Community in the Italian Renaissance
Private Life
The Household
Voices: Death and Consolation
Patriarchy, Property, and Marriage

Voices: The Duties of a Wife
Women and Children
Focus: Childbirth and Childrearing in Renaissance Italy
Suggested Readings
Chapter Six: The Church and the People (c. 1350–c. 1530)
Papacy and the Papal State
The Rise of the Papacy
Focus: Popes and Cardinals
Challenges to the Papacy
Popular Religion
Paganism and Heresy
The Mendicant Movements

Voices: Brothers (Sisters) in Christ
Holy Women
Saints and Martyrs
Focus: Holy Women and Unwilling Nuns
Catherine of Siena
Francesca of Rome
Catherine of Bologna
Catherine of Genoa
Angela Merici

Pastors of the Flock
Archbishops and Bishops
Preachers and Visionaries
Bernardino of Siena
Girolamo Savonarola

Suggested Readings
Chapter Seven: Statecraft and Warcraft (c. 1350–c. 1530)
The Tide of Despotism
The Organization of Violence
Focus: Warriors for Hire
Padua and Verona
The Visconti in Milan
Ferrara, Mantua, and Urbino
The Papal States and the Two Sicilies

Voices: A Despot’s Advice and a Republican’s Lament
Freedom versus Tyranny

Balance of Power
Councils and Commissions
Focus: The Machinery of Government in Venice
The Trend toward Oligarchy
Administering Justice
Raising Revenues

Focus: The Medici
Venice and Florence Expand
Military Organization
War and Peace

Invasion and Conquest
The French Invasion to the Battle of Fornovo
The Great Captain and the Conquest of Naples
Julius II and the Battle of Agnadello
The Holy League and the Battle of Marignano
Habsburg versus Valois to the Battle of Pavia • 247
The Sack of Rome
The Return of the Medici

Voices: The Republican Spirit in Florence
Suggested Readings
Chapter Eight: The Crisis and Beyond (c. 1500–c. 1650)
The Machiavellian Moment
Machiavelli’s Career
Machiavelli’s Thought
Machiavelli’s Political Vision

Courts and Princes: Castiglione’s The Courtier
Book One
Book Two
Book Three
Book Four

The States of Italy after c. 1530
Ideas and the Arts in Late Renaissance Italy
The Visual Arts
Focus: Womanly Perspective
The Performing Arts
Literature and Literary Trends
Focus: The Origins of Opera
Voices: Pietro Aretino, “Scourge of Princes”
Science, Medicine, and Philosophy

Voices: Women and Love
Suggested Readings
Chapter Nine: The Renaissance and the Two Reformations (c. 1500–c. 1650)
Visitors and Emissaries
Printing, Humanism, and Reform
The Manuscript Book
The Printed Book: Early Years
The Printed Book: Later Developments
Focus: The English Century
Erasmus, More, and Vives
Focus: The Enchantments of Nowhere
More and Utopia
Vives and the Erasmian Mission

The Reformations and the Humanist Tradition
Voices: Luther and Calvin on Liberty and Free Will
The Catholic Response

Voices: The Catholic Response: The Council of Trent, Ignatius of Loyola, and Teresa of Ávila
Suggested Readings
Chapter Ten: The Renaissance beyond the Alps: Cities, Courts, and Kings (c. 1500–c. 1700)
Contexts: Kingdoms, Courts, and Cities

Focus: Early Modern Cities
Centers of the Renaissance beyond the Alps
Spain and Portugal
Voices: Spanish Sketches
The Low Countries

Focus: The Low Countries: Interiors and Exteriors
The British Isles

Voices: In Search of Authenticity
The German Lands
Northern and Eastern Europe
Suggested Readings
Chapter Eleven: The Renaissance and New Worlds (c. 1500–c. 1700)
The New World in the Ocean Sea
The Mediterranean
Focus: The Renaissance and Globalization
Portuguese Ventures
Spanish Exploration and Conquest
Indigenous Peoples, Africans, and the Slave Trade
North America and the Triangle Trade
The Impact on European Consciousness

New Heavens, New Earth
Cosmographical Revisions
Voices: Scientific Observers
Other Scientific Advances

Voices: Discerning Truth
New Ways to Reason

Focus: Educating the Few—and the Many
Toward Enlightenment
Readers and Learners
Women and the World of Learning
Focus: The Worth of Women
Suggested Readings


Margaret L. King's excellent textbook has long been the backbone of my Renaissance history course. Anyone teaching such a course to undergraduates faces many challenges, beginning with the definition of the Renaissance itself and acclimating students to the ancient legacy that is the backdrop to Renaissance humanism and art. King manages these and other challenges with ease.

J. Laurel Carrington, St. Olaf College

Margaret L. King describes life during the Renaissance with a clarity that is unmatched.

Maryanne Cline Horowitz, Occidental College and University of California Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

I am not generally a fan of textbooks and do not usually use them in any of my classes, but this excellent text is the exception to the rule. Students enjoy the text because of its clear organization, accessible prose, and engaging images, maps, and other learning resources.

Eric Dursteler, Brigham Young University

Margaret L. King's book is quite simply the best undergraduate text for courses on Renaissance Europe. It incorporates a considerable amount of the more recent scholarship on a number of relevant topics, including the early impact of printed media, the social and political dimensions of court culture, and the educational opportunities and accomplishments of Renaissance women.

Edward Tabri, University of Texas, Tyler