Cultural Achievements of the Italian Renaissance.

Essay by mouldy1 October 2005

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Humanism was a key movement in the Renaissance and had a major influence on the cultural changes and achievements. Humanists studied history; they were particularly interested in Ancient Greek and Roman civilisation, and classical works, as well as in contemporary history and politics. Although the Humanists were Catholic, their ideas were more secular - "learning emerged from the cloister... to rejoin the human mainstream."

The humanist ideas soon spread into the classroom. Previously, learning had been ecclesiastical - theocracy and theology were taught a lot - but during the Renaissance, learning became more secular. It was based upon classical culture so students studied classical authors, philosophers and mathematicians, for example: Ovia, Cicero, Livy, Plato and Aristotle. More progress could be made now that learning was not entirely based upon the church. Ideas soon spread due to the invention of the printing press in Germany in 1469; an ability to communicate to the masses quickly and reliably was a major cultural achievement.

Books became much more accessible, and this in turn was a factor in many people learning to read and write. Before printing, most people were illiterate and very few books were in existence, as they had to be hand-written. Often the only book available was the Bible, which was copied out over a long period of time by a member of the clergy. Mass production of books was a very important development during the Renaissance as it meant that all the new ideas were obtainable to many more people than would have been the case, had printing not been invented. Authors of the time include Dante (poetry) and Machiavelli (prose). The famous "Book of the Courtier" by Castiglione, goes into great detail about the attributes of the ideal courtier. Some of these attributes had only come to be regarded...