AP European History Timeline: Renaissance



1304 - 1307

Known as the "Father of Italian Renaissance humanism," Petrarch was the first intellectual to characterize the Middle Ages as a dark age. He promoted the idea that medieval culture was ignorant of classical antiquity, and his belief in this led him on a quest to find "forgotten Latin manuscripts." He emphasized the use of pure classical Latin, and ransacked monasteries and libraries trying to find classics and their secular content.


1377 - 1446

Prominent artist. Built a dome for the cathedral of Florence. Was eye catching and drew in less educated people. Conveyed religious belief to the illiterate. Awe and dominance over the city landscape.


Approx. 1400 - Approx. 1600

The Renaissance was a modern and secular period of history, characterized by the emergence of Humanism, which was a movement based on reviving Grecco-Roman literary works. Humanism was associated with individualism and secularism, and the art throughout the Renaissance reflected these values with nudity, portraiture, and a more acute awareness of personal identity. Humanism was the study of ancient Grecco-Roman literary works, and scholars read ancient literary works.

The Renaissance was drastically different from the Renaissance. The Renaissance was full of illiteracy and loss of technology, rural manors (few cities), violent nobles, serfdom, and church monopoly. It was a "dark age" in the eyes of Renaissance scholars. With the Crisis of the 14th century full of population catastrophe from the black death, the Hundred Years was, and the Avignon Papacy, the Renaissance was a drastic change from this backwards time. This segues to Greenblatt's theory of the Renaissance.

Greenblatt's characterizes the Renaissance as an era of rediscovery, secular ideas, knowledge, communication, understanding, antiquity. Greenblatt believes that the rediscovery of Lucretius''s ideas in "On the Nature of Things" was the most momentus moment. It contained the idea of atoms, and the rediscovery of this theory was huge. It also contained ideas of individualism and striving to find your own happiness and success. Greenblatt believed that the Renaissance was the beginning of the modern world. He believed the period before it was a Dark Age of religion, and the Renaissance was when Europe drastically changed as religion lost its superiority and ancient ideas were uncovered and put into place.

The Renaissance did not apply to most people, however. The Renaissance was only impactful to the upper class elites. The lower class people would hardly even know it was happening. They were still religious.

Civic Humanism (Bruni)

Approx. 1401 - 1450

Humanists took an interest in sharing their ideas and skills with government, and became involved in the state. They took a new view on their role as intellectuals.

Leonardo Bruni was a humanist, and inspired humanists to believe that their studies could be of service to the state.


Approx. 1434 - 1494

House of Medici was the greatest bank in Europe. It was a single family that held all the prestige in the banking industry. The Medici were principle bankers for the papacy, and had great influence. The Medici family gave Florence its significance.

Their bank declined because of poor leadership and bad loans, and the Medici were expelled from Florence by the French in 1494.

Neoplatanism and Hermeticism

Approx. 1450 - Approx. 1550

Prominent figures: Ficino and Pico

Developed by Ficino, Neoplatanism was a new philosophical ideology based on the works of Plato. It had a hierarchy, or a great chain of being, with the lowest being physical matter, humans in the middle, and the highest being God. Humans could ascend higher on the chain.

Hermetecism (Pico)
An intelectual movement focused on study of the "occult." It stressed that God is a part of all things, and that humans are divine beings that chose to enter the material world, and should work to recover their divinity. A prominent figure is Pico della Mirandola, who wrote "oration on the Dignity of Man." In this, he combined "nuggets of universal truth" from different philosophers, and believed that humans have unlimited potential.


1469 - 1527

Niccolo Machiavelli is best known for his work, "The Prince," (1513) which was a treatise on political power in the Western world. In it, he stated that a prince's attitude toward power must be based on an understanding of human nature. Political activity should not be restricted by moral considerations. A good ruler should be "both loved and feared by his subjects."


1475 - 1564

Michelangelo was inspired by Neoplatanism, and his most prominent worl was the painting of the Sistine Chapel. In his painting, he depicted nine scenes from the book of Genesis, and made beautiful "God-like" bodies. He included the Renaissance art theme of nudity, which had been seen of as a sin. He was embracing the Renaissance ideal of individualism, which was controversial to have in a church. This work ties into the tension between secularism and the church, and the growing popularity of the former.

Gutenberg and the printing press

1483 - 1540

The creation of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg allowed for more communication of ideas than ever before. It encouraged scholars to publish works and allow their ideas to be spread all throughout Europe. Printing became a huge industry, and helped produce more definitive texts from scholars and religion. Super important!


1483 - 1520

Raphael's "School of Athens" was an incredibly prominent painting that encompassed many ideals of the Renaissance. Because it was in the Vatican, it was trying to convey the idea that the Renaissance's revival of old, secular ideas was still compatible with the church. It was also conveying the idea that these ancient ideas were the philosophy of the future, and the church needed to be involved in order to stay prominent.