How did Italy's trade with the Muslim world contribute to the Italian Renaissance?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Italy’s trade with the Muslim world contributed to the Italian Renaissance in two main ways. 

First, Italy’s trade with the Muslim world helped to make Italian city-states rich.  Since Italian states were the main conduit for trade between Europe and the Middle East, they made great deal of money on the trade.  This allowed the elites of the Italian cities to support the artists and scientists who helped to make the Renaissance.  Without the money gained from their trade with the Muslim world, this would not have been possible.

Second, Italy’s trade with the Muslim world helped to bring new ideas to Italy.  After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, many classical texts had been lost to Europeans.  This helped to reduce the level of learning that existed in Europe.  These texts, however, still existed in Muslim lands.  Trade with the Muslim world helped expose the Italians to these texts and the ideas contained within them. This revived interest in the ideas of the classical world and helped to bring about the new spirit of inquiry that marked the Italian Renaissance.

Thus, Italy’s trade with the Muslim world made the Italian Renaissance possible both economically and intellectually.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During Italy's trade with the Muslim world, classical texts that had been lost to Europe were reintroduced to European society. Works by ancient Greek writers such as Aristotle resurfaced in Constantinople, and classical texts that had been translated into Arabic were later translated into Latin and brought to Europe. In addition, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, people who were knowledgeable about classic texts brought this knowledge to Europe. Therefore, the trade that Italy had with the Muslim world involved the transmission of not just products, but also of knowledge and texts.

Classical texts helped give rise to the Renaissance because they refueled European interest in humanism, a central idea of the classic age. Humanism focused on the importance of the individual and gave rise to developments in literature, art, and philosophy during the Renaissance. In addition, Italy had profited handsomely from trade with the Middle East, providing the funds to support achievements in the arts and other areas. 

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