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Rennaissance and Reformation The Renaissance the period of European history that saw a renewed interest in the artsbegan in 14th-century Italy and spread to the rest of Europe in the 16th and 17thcenturies In this period the fragmented feudal society of the Middle Ages with itsagricultural economy and church-dominated intellectual and cultural life was transformedinto a society increasingly dominated by central political institutions with an urbancommercial economy and lay patronage of education the arts and music The termrenaissance means literally rebirth and was first employed in 1855 by the Frenchhistorian Jules Michelet to refer to the discovery of the world and of man in the 16thcentury 1 Renaissance thinkers continued the medieval tradition of grammatical and rhetoricalstudies In theology the medieval traditions of Scholasticism Thomism Scotism andOckhamism were continued in the Renaissance Medieval Platonism and Aristotelianismwere crucial to Renaissance philosophical thought The advances of mathematicaldisciplines including astronomy were indebted to medieval precedents The schools ofSalerno Italy and Montpellier France were noted centers of medical studies in theMiddle Ages 2 The Italian Renaissance was an urban phenomenon a product of cities that flourishedin central and northern Italy It was the wealth of these cities that financed Renaissancecultural achievements Medieval Italian merchants developed commercial and financialtechniques such as bookkeeping and bills of exchange The creation of the public debt aconcept unknown in ancient times allowed these cities to finance their territorialexpansion through military conquest Their merchants controlled commerce and financeacross Europe This fluid mercantile society contrasted sharply with the rural tradition-bound society of medieval Europe it was less hierarchical and more concerned withsecular objectives 3 One of the most significant breaks with tradition came in the field of history TheHistoriarum Florentini populi libri XII Twelve Books of Florentine Histories 1420 ofLeonardo Bruni the Istorie fiorentine Florentine History 1525 of Niccolo Machiavellithe Storia dItalia History of Italy 1561-1564 of Francesco Guicciardini and theMethodus ad Facilem Historiarum Cognitionem Easy Introduction
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