Paul Grendler

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy



Humanism was the major intellectual movement of the Renaissance. In the opinion of the majority of scholars, it began in late 14th-century Italy, came to maturity in the 15th century, and spread to the rest of Europe after the middle of that century. Humanism then became the dominant intellectual movement in Europe in the 16th century. Proponents of humanism believed that a body of learning, humanistic studies (studia humanitatis), consisting of the study and imitation of the classical culture of ancient Rome and Greece, would produce a cultural rebirth after what they saw as the decadent and “barbarous” learning of the Middle Ages. It was a self-fulfilling faith. Under the influence and inspiration of the classics, humanists developed a new rhetoric and new learning. Some scholars also argue that humanism articulated new moral and civic perspectives and values offering guidance in life. Humanism transcended the differences between the Protestant and Catholic Reformations, as leaders of both religious movements studied and used the ancient Latin and Greek classics. Because of the vast importance and broad scope of humanism, it is not surprising that scholars have studied it intensively and view it in different ways. This entry provides a sampling of some of the best and most influential scholarship on the subject and demonstrates the broad impact of humanism in the era of the Renaissance and Reformation.

Article.  11162 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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