Italian Renaissance

From Academic Kids

Template:RenaissanceThe Italian Renaissance was the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. The word renaissance literally means rebirth and the era is best known for the renewed interest in the culture of Classical Antiquity after the period that was in this era labeled as the Dark Ages.

The Renaissance was first focused in Northern Italy with its centre in the city of Florence. It then later spread south having an especially great impact on Rome, which was largely rebuilt by the Renaissance Popes. The Italian Renaissance peaked in the late fifteenth century as foreign invasions plunged the region into turmoil. From Italy the Renaissance ideas and ideals spread into the rest of Europe, setting off what is known as the Northern Renaissance.

The Italian Renaissance is best known for its cultural achievements. This includes works of literature by such figures as Petrarch, Castiglione, and Machiavelli artist such as Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, and great works of architecture such as The Duomo in Florence and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. At the same time historians also today see the era as one of economic regression and of little progress in science.



Northern Italy in the High Middle Ages

By the late Middle Ages central and southern Italy, once the heartland of the Roman Empire, was far poorer than the north. Rome was a city largely in ruins and the Papal States were a loosely administered region with little law and order. Partially because of this, the Papacy had relocated to Avignon, France. Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia had for some time been under foreign domination.

The north was far more prosperous with the states of northern Italy the wealthiest in Europe. The main trade routes running from the east passed through the Byzantine Empire or the Arab lands and onwards to the ports of Genoa, Pisa, and Venice. These states built powerful navies. The inland city states profited from the rich agricultural land of the Po River valley. From France, Germany, and the Low Countries land and river trade routes brought goods such as wool, wheat, and precious metals into the region. The most prosperous trade was with the Levant from which luxury goods such as spices, dyes, and silks, would be imported to Italy and then resold throughout Europe. The extensive trade that stretched from Egypt to the Baltic generated significant surpluses that allowed significant investment in mining and agriculture. Thus, while northern Italy was not richer in resources than many other parts of Europe, the level of development made for much higher returns. Florence became one of the wealthiest of the cities of Northern Italy from the textile business that imported wool from Northern Europe and Spain dyes from the east to make high quality clothing.

The Italian trade routes that covered the Mediterranean and beyond were also major conduits of culture and knowledge. From Constantinople, recently Christianized Spain, and the Arab lands came much of the preserved ancient learning of the classical era. From Egypt and the Levant the scientific, philosophical, and mathematical thinking of the Arabs entered Northern Italy. The region also was sitting just to the north of the remnants of Roman civilization, and if one hunted long enough ancient manuscripts could be found, architectural principles observed, and art styles examined.

European economy

In the thirteenth century Europe in general was experiencing an economic boom. The trade routes of the Italian states linked with those of the Hanseatic League to create a unified European economy. The city states of Italy expanded greatly during this period and grew in power to become de facto fully independent of the Holy Roman Empire. During this period the modern commercial infrastructure developed with joint stock companies, an international banking system, and a systematized currency exchange. Florence became the centre of this financial industry and the Florin became the main currency of international trade.

This produced a new class of aristocrats who won their positions through financial skill. By necessity they were erudite. Powerful guilds gave the skilled tradesmen, who were essential to the city's wealth, much power in government. These merchants had almost complete control of the governments of the Italian city states. This was in sharp contrast to the kingdoms of Northern Europe were controlled by the landed aristocracy. Those that grew wealthy in those states ran a constant risk of running afoul of the monarchy and having their lands confiscated, as famously occurred to Jacques Coeur in France. Other states kept many medieval laws such as those against trading with non-Christians and charging interest that severely hampered commerce. In the city states of Italy the laws were rewritten to favour commerce.

The end of feudalism is a central element of the Renaissance, and Northern Italy, with the exception of the region around Milan, was far less feudal than the rest of Europe. The landed nobility was consistently weaker than the urban patriarchs. The increase in trade during the early Renaissance enhanced this characteristic. The decline of feudalism and the rise of cities tended to self-catalyse or served to catalyze each other. For example, the demand for luxury goods led to an increase in trade, which led to greater numbers of tradesmen becoming wealthy, who, in turn, demanded more luxury goods.

Fourteenth century collapse

The fourteenth century saw a series of catastrophes that caused the European economy to go into recession. The Medieval Warm Period was ending and the Little Ice Age saw agricultural output decline significantly leading to repeated famines exacerbated by the rapid population growth of the earlier era. The Hundred Years War began between England and France disrupting trade throughout northwest Europe. The most important effect on Italy was when in 1345 King Edward III of England repudiated his debts leading to the collapse of the two largest Florentine banks, those of the Bardi and Peruzzi. In the east war was also disrupting trade routes as the Ottoman Empire began to expand throughout the region. Most devastating though was the Black Death that decimated the populations of the densely populated cities of Northern Italy. The population of Florence, for instance, fell from 90,000 to 50,000 people. Widespread disorder followed, including a revolt of Florentine textile workers, the ciompi, in 1378.

Despite this the first clearly Renaissance figures lived in this period. Dante, Petrarch and the other stirrings of the Renaissance occurred in the first half of the 14th century. Paradoxically some of these disasters would further enable the Renaissance to arrive. The expansion of the Ottoman Empire at the expense of Byzantium caused an influx of wealthy and educated Greek refugees from the east, who brought with them knowledge of classical Greek learning.

The Black Death would wipe out a third of Europe's population, but the new smaller population would be much wealthier, better fed, and with more surplus to spend on luxury goods like art and architecture. As incidences of the plague began to decline in the early 15th century, Europe's devastated population once again began to grow in size. This new demand for products and services, and the reduced number of people able to provide them (due to the deaths caused by the plague) put the lower classes in a more favourable position. Furthermore, this demand also helped create an increasing class of bankers, merchants, and skilled artisan. The horrors of the Black Death, and the seeming inability of Church to provide relief would contribute to a decline of church influence, another significant factor in contributing to the Renaissance. While the collapse of the Bardi and Peruzzi banks would open the way for the Medici to rise to prominence in Florence.

Robert Sabatino Lopez supports an alternate thesis, arguing that the economic collapse was an important cause of the Renaissance. In the prosperous era businessmen would have quickly reinvested their earnings because there was a plethora of good investment opportunities. In the leaner years the wealthy found few promising investments for their money and instead chose to spend it on culture and art.

Another popular explanation is the "Baron Thesis" first advanced by historian Hans Baron. It states that the primary impetus of the early Renaissance was the long running series of wars between Florence and Milan. By the late fourteenth century Milan had become a centralized monarchy under the control of the Visconti family. Giangaleazzo Visconti who ruled the city from 1378 to 1402 was renowned both for his cruelty and for his abilities and set about building an empire in Northern Italy. This launched a long series of wars with Milan steadily conquering neighbouring states and various coalitions led by Florence trying to halt the advance. This culminated in the 1402 siege of Florence when it looked as though the city was doomed to fall until Giangaleazzo suddenly died and his empire collapsed.

Baron's thesis was that during these long wars the leading figures of Florence rallied the people by presenting the war as a one between the free republic and the despotic monarchy, between the ideals of the Greek and Roman Republics and those of the Roman Empire and Medieval kingdoms. To Baron the most important figure in crafting this ideology was Leonardo Bruni. Baron argues that this time of crisis in Florence was the period when most of the major early Renaissance figures were coming of age such as Ghiberti, Donatello, Masolino, and Brunelleschi and that they were inculcated with the republican ideology and from this group Renaissance ideas grew to dominance.


International relations

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Sigismondo Malatesta (1417 - 1468), lord of Rimini, by Piero della Francesca. Malatesta was a capable condottiere, following the tradition of his family. He was hired by the Venetians to fight against the Turks (unsuccessfully) in 1465, and was patron of Leone Battista Alberti, whose Tempio Malatestiana at Rimini is one of the first entirely classical buildings of the Renaissance.

Northern Italy was divided into a number of warring city states, the most powerful being Milan, Florence, Pisa, Siena, Genoa, Ferrara, and Venice. Northern Italy was further divided by the long running battle for supremacy between the forces of the Papacy and of the Holy Roman Empire. Each city would be aligned with one faction, but would also be internally divided between the two sides. Warfare between the states was common, but invasion from outside Italy was less so. In an age when armies were primarily composed of mercenaries these city-states could field considerable forces, despite their low populations. Eventually the most powerful city-states annexed their smaller neighbours. Florence took Pisa in 1406, Venice captured Padua and Verona, while the Duchy of Milan annexed a number of nearby areas including Pavia and Parma.

The first part of the Renaissance saw almost constant war on land and sea as the city states vied for pre-eminence. On land this warfare was fought primarily by armies of mercenaries known as Condottieri. These bands of soldiers were drawn from around Europe, but especially Germany and Switzerland. The mercenaries were not willing to risk their lives unduly and war became one largely of sieges and maneuver with few pitched battles. It was also in the interest of mercenaries on both sides to prolong any conflict and this would continue their employment. Mercenaries were also a constant threat to their employers. If they were not paid they would turn on their patron. If it became obvious that a state was entirely dependent on mercenaries the temptation was great for the mercenaries to take over the running of it themselves and this occurred on a number of occasions.

At sea the conflict was fought by the fleets of the Italian city states. The main contenders were Pisa, Genoa, and Venice. After a long conflict the Genoese succeeded in reducing Pisa. Venice proved a more powerful adversary, and while at first relatively equal, the Genoese fleet was destroyed in a Venetian assault in 1380, and from then on Venice was pre-eminent.

On land, decades of fighting saw Florence and Milan emerge dominant. These two powers set aside their differences and agreed to the Peace of Lodi in 1454, which saw relative calm brought to the region for the first time in centuries. The peace would hold for the next forty years. Venice's unquestioned hegemony over the sea also led to unprecedented peace for much of the rest of the 15th century.

Florence under the Medici

From the late fourteenth century Florence's leading family had been the Albizzi. Their main challenger was the Medici first under Giovanni de' Medici and then under his son Cosimo. The Medici controlled Europe's largest bank and a wide array of other enterprises in Florence and elsewhere. In 1433 the Albizzi managed to have Cosimo exiled. The next year, however, saw a-pro Medici Signoria elected and Cosimo returned. The Medici became the town's leading family, a position they would hold for the next three centuries. Florence remained a republic but the instruments of government were firmly under the control of the Medici and their allies. Cosimo only rarely had an official post, but was the unquestioned leader of the town.

Cosimo de' Medici was highly popular among the citizenry, mainly for bringing an era of stability and prosperity to the town. One of his most important accomplishments was negotiating the Peace of Lodi with Francesco Sforza ending the decades of war with Milan and bringing stability to much of Northern Italy. Cosimo was also an important patron of the arts, though some modern historians have argued the extent of his patronage has long been exaggerated.

Cosimo was succeeded by his sickly son Piero de' Medici, who died after five years in charge of the city. In 1469 the reigns of power passed to Cosimo's twenty-one year old grandson Lorenzo, who would become known as "Lorenzo the Magnificent." Lorenzo was the first of the family to be educated in the humanist tradition from an early age and is best known as one of the Renaissance' most important patrons of the arts. Under Lorenzo the Medici rule was formalized with the creation of a new Council of Seventy, which Lorenzo headed. The republican institutions continued, but they lost all power. Lorenzo was less successful than his illustrious forebears in business, and the Medici commercial empire was slowly eroded. Lorenzo continued the alliance with Milan, but relations with the papacy soured. In 1478 Papal agents allied with the Pazzi family in an attempt to assassinate Lorenzo, the plot failed but Lorenzo's young brother Giuliano was killed. The failed assassinate led to a war with the Papacy and was used as justification to further centralize power in Lorenzo's hands.

Spread of the Renaissance

The Renaissance ideals first spread from Florence to the neighbouring states of Tuscany such as Siena and Lucca. The Tuscan culture soon became the model for all the states of Northern Italy, and the Tuscan variety of Italian came to predominate throughout the region, especially in literature. In 1447 Francesco Sforza came to power in Milan and rapidly transformed that still medieval city into a major centre of art and learning. Venice, one of the wealthiest cities due to its control of the Mediterranean Sea, also became a centre for Renaissance culture, especially architecture.

In 1378 the Papacy returned to Rome, but that once imperial city remained poor and largely in ruins through the first years of the Renaissance. The great transformation began under Pope Nicholas V who became pontiff 1447. He launched a dramatic rebuilding effort that would see much of the city renewed. As the papacy fell under the control of the wealthy families from the north, such as the Medici and the Borgias the spirit of Renaissance art and philosophy came to dominate the Vatican. Pope Sixtus IV continued Nicholas' work, most famously ordering the construction of the Sistine Chapel. The popes also became increasingly secular rulers as the Papal States were forged into a centralized power by a series of warrior popes.

The nature of the Renaissance also changed in the late fifteenth century. The Renaissance ideal was fully adopted by the ruling classes and the aristocracy. In the early Renaissance artists were seen as craftsmen with little prestige or recognition. By the later Renaissance the top figures wielded great influence and could charge great fees. A flourishing trade in Renaissance art developed. While in the early Renaissance many of the leading artists were of lower or middle class origins increasingly they became aristocrats.

End of the Italian Renaissnace

The end of the Renaissance is as imprecisely marked as its starting point. For many, the rise to power in Florence of Girolamo Savonarola in 1497 marks the end of the city's flourishing. This austere monk rode to power on a widespread backlash over the secularism and indulgence of the Renaissance – his brief rule saw many works of art destroyed in the "Bonfire of the Vanities" in the centre of Florence. While Savonarola's rule quickly collapsed and the Medici returned to power the counter movement in the church continued. In 1542 the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition was formed and a few years later the Index Librorum Prohibitorum banned a wide array of Renaissance works.

Just as important was the end of stability with a series of foreign invasions of Italy known as the Italian Wars that would continue for several decades. These began with the 1494 invasion by France that wrecked widespread devastation on Northern Italy and ended the independence of many of the city states. Most damaging was the May 6, 1527 Spanish and German troops sacking Rome that all but ended the role of the Papacy as the largest patron of Renaissance art and architecture.

Due to the instability and the contact with foreign rulers and number of Italy's greatest artists chose to emigrate, the most notable example Leonardo da Vinci who left for France n 1516. This spread north was also representative of a larger trend. No longer was the most important trade route that of the Mediterranean. In 1498 Vasco da Gama reached India and from that date the primary route of goods from the Orient was into the Atlantic ports of Iberia, France and England and these areas quickly far surpassed Italy in wealth and power. At the same time as the Italian Renaissance was fading the Northern Renaissance in these other lands adopted many of its ideals and styles.


Literature and poetry

Prior to the Renaissance, the Italian language was not the literary language in Italy. It was only in the 13th century that Italian authors began writing in their native language rather than Latin, French, or Provenšal. The 1250s saw a major change in Italian poetry as the Dolce Stil Novo (Sweet New Style, which emphasized Platonic rather than courtly love) came into its own, pioneered by poets like Guittone d'Arezzo and Guido Guinizelli. Especially in poetry, major changes in Italian literature had been taking place decades before the Renaissance truly began. Indeed, the 13th century Italian literary revolution helped set the stage for the Renaissance. [1] (

 (1469 - 1527), the author of  and protypical .  Detail from a portrait by .
Niccol˛ Machiavelli (1469 - 1527), the author of The Prince and protypical Renaissance man. Detail from a portrait by Santi di Tito.

An increasing number of works began to be published in the Italian vernacular. Simultaneously, the source for these works shifted away from religion and towards the pre-Christian eras of Imperial Rome and Ancient Greece. This is not to say that no religious works were published in this period: Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy reflects a distinctly medieval worldview. Christianity remained a major influence for artists and authors, with the classics coming into their own as a second primary influence.

In the early Renaissance, especially in Italy, much of the focus was on translating and studying classic works from Latin and Greek. Both the cultures were highly admired in the Renaissance, especially after the newly-labeled Dark Ages. Renaissance authors were not content to rest on the laurels of ancient authors, however. Many authors attempted to integrate the methods and styles of the ancient greats into their own works. Among the most emulated Romans are Cicero, Horace, Sallust, and Virgil. Among the Greeks, Aristotle, Homer, Plato, and Socrates were also heavily emulated by Renaissance authors.

The literature and poetry of the Renaissance was also largely influenced by the developing science and philosophy. The humanist Francesco Petrarch, a key figure in the renewed sense of scholarship, was also an accomplished poet, publishing several important works of poetry. He wrote poetry in Latin, notably the Punic War epic Africa, but is today remembered for his works in the Italian vernacular, especially the Canzoniere, a collection of love sonnets dedicated to his unrequited love Laura. He was the foremost writer of sonnets in Italian, and translations of his work into English by Thomas Wyatt established the sonnet form in that country, where it was employed William Shakespeare and countless other poets.

Petrarch's disciple, Giovanni Boccaccio, became a major author in his own right. His major work was the Decameron, a collection of 100 stories told by ten storytellers who have fled to the outskirts of Florence to escape the black plague over ten nights. The Decameron in particular and Bocccaccio's work in general were a major source of inspiration and plots for many English authors in the Renaissance, including Geoffrey Chaucer and Shakespeare, and beyond.

Aside from Christianity, classical antiquity, and scholarship, a fourth influence on Renaissance literature was politics. The political philosopher Niccol˛ Machiavelli is an important Italian author. His most famous work is The Prince, which has become so well-known in Western society that the term "machiavellian" has come into use, referring to the self-serving attitude advocated by the book. However, most experts agree that Machiavelli himself did not fully embrace the tactics in his book, making "machiavellian" a slightly inaccurate term. Regardless, along with many other Renaissance works, The Prince remains a relevant and influential work of literature today.

Science and philosophy

, from the Cycle of Famous Men and Women. c. 1450. Detached fresco. 247 x 153 cm. Galleria degli , , . Artist:  (c. 1423 - 1457)
Petrarch, from the Cycle of Famous Men and Women. c. 1450. Detached fresco. 247 x 153 cm. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Artist: Andrea di Bartolo di Bargilla (c. 1423 - 1457)

Petrarch is considered by many to be the founder of a new method of scholarship known as Renaissance Humanism. Humanism saw man as a rational and sentient being with the ability to decide and think for himself. This was a rejection of the Catholic Church's vision of souls as the only absolute reality, which was then seen as mystical and imaginary. It saw man as inherently good by nature which is in contrast to the Christian view of man as the original sinner who must be redeemed. It provoked fresh insight into the nature of reality, questioning beyond God and spirituality, and provided for knowledge about history beyond Christian history.

Petrarch encouraged the study of the Latin classics and also Greek literature. An important step was thus the hunting down of ancient manuscripts, many of which had been lost or forgotten. These endeavours were greatly aided by the wealth of Italian patricians, merchant-princes and despots, who would spend substantial sums building libraries. Discovering the past had become fashionable and it was a passionate affair pervading the upper reaches of society. I go, said Cyriac of Ancona, I go to awake the dead.

As the Greek works were acquired, manuscripts found, libraries and museums formed, the age of the printing press was dawning. The works were translated from Greek and Latin into the contemporary modern languages throughout Europe finding a receptive audience.

While concern for philosophy, art and literature all increased greatly in the Renaissance the period is usually seen as one of scientific backwardness. The reverence for classical sources further enshrined the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic views of the universe. Humanism stressed that nature came to be viewed as an animate spiritual creation that was not governed by laws or mathematics. At the same time philosophy lost much of its rigour as the rules of logic and deduction were seen as secondary to intuition and emotion.

It would not be until the Renaissance moved to Northern Europe that science would be revived, with such figures as Copernicus, Francis Bacon, and Descartes. They are often described as early Enlightenment thinkers, rather than late Renaissance ones.

Sculpture and painting

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Main article: Early Renaissance painting

Sculpture was the first of the fine arts to display Renaissance traits. Donatello (1386 - 1466) was one of the most notable sculptors of the early Renaissance. He returned to classical techniques such as contrapposto and classical subjects like the unsupported nude - his second sculpture of David was the first free-standing bronze nude created in Europe since the Roman Empire. About a century later Michelangelo developed figures that were completely independent of any architectural structure surrounding them. His statue of David is also a nude study; Michelangelo's David however is moving in a more natural way. Both sculptures are standing in contrapost, their weight shifted to one leg.

During the Renaissance, painters began to enhance the realism of their work by using new techniques in perspective, thus representing three dimensions more authentically. Artists also began to use new techniques in the manipulation of light and darkness, such as the tone contrast evident in many of Titian's portraits and the development of sfumato and chiaroscuro by Leonardo da Vinci. The preiod also saw movement away from religious themes, which were omnipresent in medieval art. The human body and natural landscapes became the centre of attention. Piero della Francesca is noted for painting from an aerial perspective. Masaccios figures have a plasticity unknown up to that point in time. Compared to the flatness of gothic painting, his pictures were revolutionary. Less well known names from the Early Renaissance period include Paolo Uccello, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Sandro Botticelli.

The most "refined" works were produced in what is called the Renaissance Classicism. The most famous painters from this time period are Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo Buonarroti. Their images are among the most widely known works of art in the world. The Last Supper, the Scuola di Atena and the Holy Family all feature a perspective, lively and natural presentation of people and landscapes. Renaissance painting evolved into Mannerism around the mid 16th century. Mannerism depicts mostly landscapes and portraits, with few religious themes. Figures become more elongated and their movements appear artificial.


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The dome of St. Peter's Basilica, designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti, architect, painter and poet. The dome was completed in 1590.

Main article: Renaissance architecture

Like painting, Renaissance architecture was inspired by the Classical. In Italy, the Renaissance style first started to develop in Florence. Some of the earliest buildings showing Renaissance characteristics are Filippo Brunelleschi's sacral buildings S. Lorenzo and the Pazzi Chapel. The interior of S. Spirito expresses a new sense of light clarity and spaciousness, which is typical of the early Italian Renaissance (1420 to 1500). The architecture reflects the philosophy of Humanism, the enlightenment and clarity of mind as opposed to the darkness and spirituality of the Middle Ages. The revival of classical antiquity can best be illustrated by the Palazzo Ruccelai. Here the columns follow the classical orders. The columns are topped by Doric capitals on the ground floor, Ionic capitals on the first floor and Corinthian capitals on the second floor.

The Renaissance style developed to its fullest at around 1500 in Rome. St. Peter's Basilica is the most notable building of the era. Originally planned by Donato Bramante, who was one of most prominent architects of the time, the building was influenced by almost all notable Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo and Giacomo della Porta. The beginning of the late Renaissance in 1550 was marked by the development of a new column order by Andrea Palladio. Colossal columns that were two or more stories tall decorated the facades.


Main articles: Renaissance music

In Italy in the 14th century there was an explosion of musical activity that corresponded in scope and level of innovation to the activity in the other arts. Although musicologists typically group the music of the trecento with the late medieval period, it included features which align with the early Renaissance in important ways: an increasing emphasis on secular sources, styles and forms; a spreading of culture away from ecclesiastical institutions to the nobility, and even to the common people; and a quick development of entirely new techniques. The most famous composer in Italy in the 14th century was Francesco Landini, and the principal forms were the trecento madrigal, the caccia, and the ballata. Overall, the musical style of the period is sometimes labeled as the "Italian ars nova."

For a long time scholars were puzzled by the apparent decline in musical activity in the 15th century. However, more recent study has shown that while production of notated music declined in Italy, there was actually a spread of musical activity outward from the church and the aristocratic courts, and much secular music was transmitted orally, thus continuing the secularizing trend evident in the 14th century. From the middle of the 15th century to the middle of the 16th century, the center of innovation in sacred music was in the Low Countries, and a flood of talented composers came to Italy from this region. Many of them sang in either the papal choir in Rome or the choirs at the numerous chapels of the aristocracy, in Florence, Milan, Ferrara and elsewhere; and they brought their polyphonic style with them, influencing many native Italian composers during their stay.

The predominant forms of church music during the period were the mass and the motet. By far the most famous composer of church music in 16th century Italy was Palestrina, the most prominent member of the Roman School, whose style of smooth, emotionally cool polyphony was to become the defining sound of the late 16th century, at least for generations of 19th and 20th century musicologists. Other Italian composers of the late 16th century focused on composing the main secular form of the era, the madrigal: and for almost a hundred years these secular songs for multiple singers were distributed all over Europe. Composers of madrigals included Jacques Arcadelt, at the beginning of the age, Cipriano de Rore, in the middle of the century, and Luca Marenzio, Philippe de Monte, and Claudio Monteverdi at the end of the era.

Italy was also a center of innovation in instrumental music. By the early 16th century keyboard improvisation came to be greatly valued, and numerous composers of virtuoso keyboard music appeared. Many familiar instruments were invented and perfected in late Renaissance Italy, such as the violin, the earliest forms of which came into use in the 1550s.

By the late 16th century Italy was the musical center of Europe. Almost all of the innovations which were to define the transition to the Baroque period originated in northern Italy in the last few decades of the century. In Venice, the polychoral productions of the Venetian School, and associated instrumental music, moved north into Germany; in Florence, the Florentine Camerata developed monody, the important precursor to opera, which itself first appeared around 1600; and the avant-garde, manneristic style of the Ferrara school, which migrated to Naples and elsewhere through the music of Carlo Gesualdo, was to be the final statement of the polyphonic vocal music of the Renaissance.


  • Baron, Hans. The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in an Age of Classicism and Tyranny. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966.
  • Burckhardt, Jacob (1878), The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans S.G.C Middlemore (republished in 1990 under ISBN 014044534X)
  • Burke, Peter. The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.
  • Hagopian, Viola L. "Italy", in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1561591742
  • Hay, Denys. The Italian Renaissance in Its Historical Background. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.
  • Jensen, De Lamar (1992), Renaissance Europe (ISBN 0395889472)
  • Lopez, Robert Sabatino, The Three Ages of the Italian Renaissance Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, Renaissance

fr:Renaissance italienne


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