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Why is "Renaissance" a French term when the movement originated in Italy?

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cutemoon12 | Student, Grade 11

Posted August 8, 2012 at 1:45 PM via web

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Why is "Renaissance" a French term when the movement originated in Italy?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 8, 2012 at 2:35 PM (Answer #1)

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The term Rinascimento was used by some Italian historians and critics during the period we associate with the Renaissance. Giorgio Vasari is believed by historians to have been the first to use the term. Perhaps the reason that English speakers use the French term to refer to the movement is that it was popularized by Jules Michelet in his nineteenth-century book Histoire de France. It was also used in one of the seminal works in Renaissance historiography, Jakob Burkhardt's Culture of the Italian Renaissance. So the French version of the term was established very early in its modern historiography, and it stuck, perhaps because of the influence of Burckhardt's work among Anglophone historians. 

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