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Renaissance is a French word meaning rebirth It came from those who thought of the Middle Ages as a dark time from which the human spirit had to be awakened The Renaissance marked a new era in thought and feeling by which Europe and its institutions were to be transformed in the long run The revelations that occurred in Italy influenced other countries for at least 200 years Outside of Italy the Renaissance was more a blend of the old and the new with religion being the most important factor The Italian and northern Renaissances although both being advancements in style and beliefs had many faces and events that were different Humanism is defined as a literary movement that occurred during the Renaissance Although it was understood to be the same thing throughout Europe the Italians and the northerners conceived it differently Some of the more important northern humanists include John Calvin Thomas More in England and Erasmus of Rotterdam The Christian humanism of the north is easily distinguished with the pagan humanism of Italy In the north humanists studied the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible and read the Church Fathers so that they could further understand Christianity and restore its moral vitality They generally regarded universities as centers of pedantic monkish and scholastic learning These universities gave little interest to experimental science or even literary studies The Italian humanists wrote in Latin but often complained that it had become monkish scholastic and in some ways useless The schools in Italy preferred the more classical style of Cicero or Livy Francesco Petrarca or Petracrch is known as the first man of letters He criticized both the law and the clergy relentlessly Lorenzo Valla became one of the founders for textual criticism and of his many accomplishments he proved the Donation of Constantine a forgery The most important element of the northern Renaissance was religion In Italy the religious sense if not gone
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