Article

A Return to the Ancient World?

Margaret L. King

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern European History, 1350-1750

Published in print July 2015 | ISBN: 9780199597260
Published online November 2014 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199597260.013.2

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

A Return to the Ancient World?

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This chapter reviews the origins of present-day understandings of humanism, the principal intellectual movement of the period 1350 to 1650, as they were shaped by major European thinkers of the twentieth century, and distinguishes nine themes or dimensions of humanism that characterize the movement, while exploring its relations with religion, philosophy, science, and the arts. It emphasizes the grounding of the humanist movement in the classical tradition, resulting in the development of a new curriculum, the studia humanitatis (‘studies of humanity’) that not only binds together the humanist community into a respublica litterarum (‘republic of letters’), but guides the intellectual formation of European elites into the nineteenth century. By restoring antiquity to their contemporary world, and interweaving it with enduring Christian and medieval traditions, the humanists lay the foundations of modern thought.

Keywords: Humanism; Renaissance; classical tradition; studia humanitatis; respublica litterarum

Article.  12515 words. 

Subjects: History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700) ; European History

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