Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Florence 2012 Journal: Introduction to the Renaissance

Introduction to the Renaissance

Renaissance, meaning quite literally the ‘rebirth’ of the arts, and perhaps a period which saw the transition of the middle ages into the modern world, spanned 300 years. Commonly believed to have begun with the likes of Giotto and finishing in excellence (the High Renaissance) with the likes of Michelangelo, Rafael and Leonardo. 

An illustration depicting Dante with the Divine comedy in his hand. With the city of Florence to the right and the gates to hell to the left.

Throughout the 300 years mentioned, the Renaissance is said to have been affected by three events of the middle ages: the 100 year war, Black Death and the ’great schism‘. 

Firstly, the 100 year war shifted the power held over mainland Europe to the French, removing British control. Here in Florence, the Benci family had lent money to the English king, thus with the English demise of power also came the bankruptcy of what had been the most powerful family in Florence; effectively handing over the power to the Strozzi family and as consequence changing what influenced the arts. 

Secondly, the Black Death that first appeared in Italy in 1347, gave the church (which had become decreasingly influential) leverage by which to claim that the Black Death was punishment from God for all of their sins. Particularly in calling upon ‘the Divine Comedy’ did they manipulate the populous into abiding by the rules of the church. 

Lastly the ‘great schism’ or split between the church, came after the movement of the Church from Rome to Avignon. From 1305 - 1378 all popes were French until Pope Gregory XI eventually returns the papacy to Rome and forces an election of an Italian pope. The French disagreed with this, and from this came the election of a pope in both Rome and Avignon – again, both elements changing and influencing art.

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