1. When did the idea of a "Renaissance period" originate? In what ways does the long-popular concept of a "Renaissance period" need to be modified? To what aspects of the two centuries considered in this chapter can the term "Renaissance" be most usefully applied?
  2. How did Renaissance knowledge and interpretation of ancient classical literature differ from that exhibited by medieval scholars?
  3. Explain the meanings of humanism--in both specific and general senses--as applied to the Renaissance.
  4. Why did the Renaissance begin in Italy?
  5. How do you explain the growing aversion to medieval Scholasticism? Was it based purely on intellectual considerations?
  6. What were the objectives of the civic humanists?
  7. In spite of the differences between the two groups, what did the Neoplatonists have in common with the "civic humanists"?
  8. What was Machiavelli's contribution to political philosophy?
  9. What technical improvements between 1300 and 1500 made possible the full flowering of Italian painting?
  10. What was Leonardo da Vinci's conception of painting? What relationship did he see between art and science?
  11. "If Leonardo was a naturalist, Michelangelo was an idealist." Show how this is exemplified in the works of these two supreme artists.
  12. In what directions did Michelangelo deviate from naturalism during his career?
  13. What developments help explain the decline of the Italian Renaissance?
  14. Point out the chief differences between the Renaissance in Italy and that in northern and western Europe. How do you explain these differences?
  15. Erasmus is generally regarded as "the prince of the Christian humanists." Show how his writings entitle him to such a distinction.
  16. What did Erasmus mean by the "philosophy of Christ"?
  17. Compare "Christian humanism" with other varieties of humanism. Why did Christian humanism fade after the early sixteenth century?
  18. How does Thomas More's Utopia illustrate the ideals of humanism?
  19. How are the manifestations of the Renaissance in Germany illustrated by the Letters of Obscure Men?
  20. Compare the effects of the Counter-Reformation and of the rise of Protestantism on Renaissance culture.
  21. How do the writings of Rabelais contrast with those of Erasmus as examples of Renaissance humanism?
  22. How were developments in music related to other aspects of the Renaissance?
  23. Why was Renaissance humanism less of a stimulus to scientific progress than was the mystical philosophy of Neoplatonism?
  24. What factors besides Neoplatonism aided in the development of science?
  25. What is meant by a "mechanistic" interpretation of the universe?
  26. Trace the steps in the achievement of the "Copernican Revolution."
  1. If the instability of political life in Italy contributed to the ending of the Renaissance there after 1550, why did the political instability of the preceding 250 years not prevent a Renaissance in the first place?
  2. Investigate the causes of the waning of the Italian Renaissance.
  3. Investigate further any of the following:
      a) the Florence of the Medicis
      b) Petrarch's sonnets
      c) Leonardo da Vinci's inventions
      d) Galileo's discoveries
      e) the Renaissance papacy
  4. Read Machiavelli's The Prince. Which of its principles do you see in practice today? Are there any of its principles you would like to see implemented?
  5. Was the Renaissance more medieval than modern? Support your answer with evidence.
  6. Compare Florentine and Venetian painting.
  7. Read in one of the literary masterpieces of the Renaissance, such as Praise of Folly, The Færie Queen, or Orlando Furioso.
  8. Read Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier. Critique his view of the respective roles of men and women.
  9. Read More's Utopia. What aspects of humanism does it illustrate? What aspects of More's vision have been attempted since his time?
  10. Explore further the sources, meaning, and contributions of Neoplatonism.


W.W. Norton
REVIEW: World Civilizations
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