Renaissance and Reformation

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What were the causes, nature, and results of the Italian Renaissance? Was it synonymous with humanism? Why or why not? How humane was the humanism of the time, and why?

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In terms of the Renaissance, one could say that humanism was the spark that lit the flame. It was humanism—which in this context means the rediscovery of ancient learning—that inspired this great flowering of Western culture, especially in relation to the arts.

For centuries, Western man had been cut off from his cultural ancestry in Ancient Greece and Rome. But with the discovery and transmission of ancient writings the link between Western man and his ancestors was reestablished, with truly dramatic consequences.

The nature of the Renaissance in all its manifestations was to put man, as opposed to God, at the center of the universe. That's not to say that Renaissance thinkers, scholars, and artists were atheists; far from it. It's just that the relationship between God and man was now conceived in a totally different light from what it had been in the Middle Ages.

The Renaissance was still very much a God-intoxicated age. But those involved in this great cultural movement sought to...

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