(ca. 1480-1538). German painter, active at Regensburg in Bavaria, where he became town architect in 1526. He was a close student of nature and one of the earliest artists to paint landscapes containing no human figures and recounting no story. Influenced by Lucas Cranach and Albrecht Durer, he attracted the patronage of the Emperor Maximilian I and the duke of Bavaria. His best-known work, The Battle of Issus, a colorful, swirling battle scene set into a spectacular landscape of sky, lakes, and mountains, was labelled an illustration of a famous classical event but actually depicted an imaginary encounter of contemporary armies.


After Filippo Maria, the last Visconti duke of Milan, died in 1447 without a legitimate heir, the citizens of Milan attempted to restore their medieval republican government, named in honor of St. Ambrose, the city’s patron saint. The attempt failed, partly because of rivalries among the ruling group of wealthy families and social tension between rich and poor, but most directly because the new regime hired the prominent condottiere general Francesco Sforza to defend it. Although Sforza was an able general, he had married the illegitimate daughter of the last Visconti duke. After brushing aside the city’s foreign attackers, Sforza seized control and in 1450 forced the city to surrender and accept him as duke.


(ca. 1443-1513). Founder of the most influential publishing firm of Renaissance Basel. He was born in Franco-nia and studied in Paris with Johann Heynlin von Stein, one of the men who introduced the first printing press to the French capital; but he probably learned the printing trade at Venice. He attracted many educated men to his enterprise, including Heynlin and the humanists Beatus Rhenanus, Johann Reuchlin, Conrad Pellikan, and Sebastian Brant, all of whom worked as editors for him. In association with Johann Froben and Johann Petri, he began by publishing traditional scholastic textbooks; but the distinctive feature of his activity was his publication of humanistic and patristic texts. His younger partner Froben continued and expanded this publishing program. His youngest son, Bonifacius (1495-1562), studied law at Freiburg-im-Breisgau under Ulrich Zasius and at Avignon under Andrea Alciati. Boni-facius became professor of civil law at Basel and was highly influential in the field of jurisprudence because he achieved a synthesis of Alciati’s mos gallicus with the traditional mos italicus, which emphasized study of medieval Italian jurisprudence. An intimate friend of Erasmus, Bonifacius corresponded with many of the leaders of European intellectual life.


(1515-1593). French humanist scholar and poet, known for his translations of Greek literature into Latin and French, especially his French versions of the Parallel Lives (1559) and Moralia (1572) of Plutarch. In 1557 he became tutor of the sons of King Henri II. Rewarded for his services with the abbacy of a monastery, in 1560 Amyot became grand almoner of France and in 1570 bishop of Auxerre. Although Amyot worked to preserve the Catholic faith against Protestant attacks, his loyal support of the monarchy during the French Wars of Religion brought upon him the hostility of the extremist Catholic League.


(1562-1604). Famous actress in the Italian commedia dell’arte tradition, also celebrated as a poet and author of prose literature. Born at Padua to a family of Venetian origin, Isabella Canale became the leading actress of the highly regarded Gelosi theatrical company. She became a star performer because of her beauty, her acting ability, and her mastery of singing and instrumental music. She was also praised for her irreproachable personal life. In 1578 she married Francesco Andreini, another leading member of the Gelosi company, and she died at Lyon in 1604 while returning to Italy from a triumphant series of performances in Paris. In 1588 she published a successful pastoral tale, Mirtilla. Her collected Rime / Poems were first published in 1601, and after her death, her husband published a collection of her letters (1607) and an edition of her collected works (1625).


(1527-1625). Italian painter noted for religious scenes and especially for portraits. She was the first woman painter to establish an international reputation and to leave behind a significant body of work, and also one of the few not to be trained by a father who was an artist. The daughter of a Piedmontese nobleman, she studied under a respected artist of Cremona. By 1559 King Philip II of Spain invited her to his court, where she became lady-in-waiting and drawing instructor to the queen. Most of her Spanish portraits were later destroyed by fire. Her best-known surviving painting portrays her three sisters playing chess.


(Antonio Pierozzi, 1389-1459). Son of a Florentine notary, he was attracted to join the Dominican order in 1405 by the preaching of the anti-humanist friar Giovanni Dominici; and he remained suspicious of humanistic culture even though he became close to one of the humanists’ great patrons, Cosimo de’Medici. He gained a reputation for piety, learning, and administrative ability and became prior of San Marco in 1436. In 1446 Pope Eugenius IV appointed him archbishop of Florence. Unlike many bishops of his time, he was no absentee but became an energetic pastor to the citizens, struggling to reform the morals and deepen the piety of a rich and worldly society.

As archbishop of one of the world’s most active centers of capitalism, Antonino had to deal with the discord between the ordinary practices of the business world (such as charging interest on loans) and the laws of the medieval church, which regarded business activities, like all aspects of life, as subject to its moral and legal control. His numerous writings, such as his Summa moralia/A Compendium of Morality, are scholastic and traditional in manner and content. Antonino approved certain types of credit transactions but denounced many of the subterfuges by which businessmen tried to conceal their morally and legally questionable practice of charging interest. He was widely revered in his own lifetime as a holy and principled pastor and was canonized in 1523.


(1492-1556). Italian writer, born to a poor family in Arezzo but by 1517 settled at Rome, where he found wealthy patrons. A skilled vernacular poet, he first became notorious for his satirical verses or pasquinades, which were sufficiently offensive that in 1525 one of the victims of his ridicule attempted to assassinate him. After a brief period in Mantua, he settled permanently at Venice, which on account of its tolerance of individual expression and its flourishing printing industry proved to be an ideal place for his satirical skills. Switching from poetry to prose, Aretino ridiculed many aspects of current Italian society, such as literary Petrarchism, Neoplatonism, and the sexual hypocrisy of a society that lauded Christian asceticism but freely indulged in promiscuous hetero- and homosexual practices. He became so famous for his sharp pen that many of his patrons supported him as much out of fear of being attacked as out of respect for his literary talent. To a considerable degree, Aretino functioned more as a literary blackmailer and extortionist than as a respectable author.


(1415-1487). Byzantine scholar who became a respected teacher of Greek language, literature, and philosophy in Italy. He settled at Florence, where he taught at the university and helped a number of prominent Italian humanists, including Cristoforo Landino and Angelo Poliziano, perfect their Greek and study the Greek text of ancient philosophers. Although sometimes regarded as a precursor of the fashion for Plato that culminated in the Neoplatonism of Marsilio Ficino, his own teaching was based on Aristotle, whom he wanted to make available in improved Latin texts based on the original Greek.


(1474-1533). Italian Renaissance poet, productive in lyric poetry and in comedies inspired by classical drama, but known chiefly for his epic Orlando furioso / Roland Gone Mad (first published in 1516). It was a best seller in the author’s lifetime and by 1600 had gone through more than a hundred editions. Although inspired by the work of an earlier poet, Matteo Boiardo, the poem reflects the author’s reaction to the tension between two genres, the traditional medieval romance (still popular in Renaissance Italy) and the classical epic. The poem is structured as an epic and begins and ends with echoes of Vergil’s Aeneid, but the insanity that overwhelms the hero Roland in the middle of the poem prevents the standard classical progression to an epic conclusion and expresses the poet’s awareness of disharmony between the medieval and the classical literary heritage.

Ariosto grew up at the court of the Este dukes of Ferrara, where his father was a military officer. The death of his father in 1500 forced him to support the family by entering the service of the ruling family, first in the household of the Cardinal d’Este and later in the service of the duke, who made him a provincial governor. His writings, including the Orlando, show that while he mastered Latin language and literature thoroughly, he was also somewhat critical of humanism as a fashionable court culture, regarding it as pretentious and sometimes morally dangerous.


The importance of the newly rediscovered philosophical works of Plato in the literature and learning of the 15th and 16th centuries often causes students of the Renaissance to forget that the philosophy of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), which had been rediscovered by the Latin West in the early 13th century and had become the philosophical basis for all study of philosophy and theology, remained dominant throughout the Renaissance. Plato may have been translated and frequently read; he (or his disciples, the Neoplatonists) may have had a powerful influence on poetry and other literary genres. But Plato was not taught—at least not formally and systematically. All philosophical instruction in the universities continued to be based on the logical method of Aristotle and also was influenced by other aspects of his philosophy. In particular, Aristotle, who was a great systematizer of ancient scientific knowledge, provided the only systematic body of well-organized knowledge and theory for the study of natural science. Not until the middle of the 17th century, when the work of Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton made Aristotle’s scientific works hopelessly obsolete and provided the basis for a whole new approach to the study of the natural world, was the stranglehold of Aristotle on systematic philosophy and science broken.

The Latin Aristotelian texts taught in the universities were products of the Middle Ages, most of them translated in the 12th and early 13 th centuries by Christian scholars who went to Spain and Sicily in order to find the manuscripts and to acquire the linguistic skills they needed. Nearly all of these medieval translations were based not on the Greek originals but on Arabic translations produced in the earlier Middle Ages. Although by the 13 th century nearly all of the Aristotelian works now known had been made available in Latin, those translations were often defective. Renaissance scholars by the 15 th century had become keenly aware of these defects. Once the Italian humanists had learned to read Greek, there was an effort to retranslate Aristotle directly from the Greek and to eliminate the ambiguities and errors of the traditional Latin texts.

This push for better translations was led by some of the most influential humanists of the Quattrocento such as Leonardo Bruni, Ermolao Barbaro, and Angelo Poliziano; and many new translations were made by émigré Greek scholars such as George of Trebi-zond and Johannes Argyropoulos. At the turn of the 16th century, the French humanist Lefèvre d’Etaples and several of his followers published new Latin editions of Aristotle for academic use, though many of the translations were the work of Italian and refugee Greek scholars during the preceding hundred years. This text-based reform of Aristotelianism in the long run proved hard for even the most conservative scholastic philosophers to resist, and during the early 16th century many of the new translations came into use.

Renaissance Aristotelianism also produced new directions in the interpretation of Aristotle, in part because of the influence of ancient Greek commentaries that were now becoming available. There was a revival of interest in the interpretation of Aristotle given by the greatest Arabic philosopher of the Middle Ages, Averroës (in Arabic, ibn Rushd), who had already been known in the 13 th century but had aroused much opposition because his interpretation of Aristotle clashed with Christian doctrine. The leaders in this revival were three professors at the University of Padua, Nicoletto Vernia (ca. 1420-1499), Agostino Nifo (ca. 1470-1538), and Marcantonio Zimara (ca. 1475-1532). The most controversial philosopher of the early 16th cen-try, Pietro Pomponazzi, was striving to reinterpret Aristotle when he wrote his famous treatise On the Immortality of the Soul. Even such important pioneers of the new science of the 17th century as William Harvey in medicine and Galileo Galilei in physics and astronomy began their scientific work as Aristotelians, though they (especially Galileo) took the steps that would destroy the authority of Aristotle as the guide to all scientific and philosophical questions.

Just as the influence of Aristotle in most fields of study was waning, theorists of literature were rediscovering Aristotle’s Poetics, a text that had been known but little regarded before 1500, and were making it the basis of a new literary aesthetic that was applied both to the composition of new literary works and to the critical evaluation of old ones. In English literature, both Sir Philip Sidney’s Defense of Poesie and the preface to John Milton’s Samson Agonistes represent an essentially Aristotelian philosophy of poetic composition.


(ca. 1515-1568). English humanist and teacher. A poor boy from Yorkshire, educated at Cambridge University at a time when enthusiasm for Greek language and Ciceronian eloquence was colored by growing commitment to religious reform based on the Bible, he first attracted the patronage of the royal court in 1545 by presenting to King Henry VIII his patriotic and erudite dialogue Toxophilus / Lover of the Bow in praise of the traditional English military art, archery. In 1548 the court appointed him tutor to Princess Elizabeth. He retained favor at court under Edward VI and even the Catholic Mary I (despite his Protestant sympathies) as Latin secretary, and the accession of his former pupil as Queen Elizabeth I confirmed his tenure in office. His treatise on education, The Sc-holemaster, published in 1570 by his widow, became an influential statement of Renaissance educational ideals as developed in England.


Pseudoscience that sought to understand the effects of forces thought to emanate from celestial bodies (planets, moon, sun, and stars) on earthly bodies and souls. Its origins go back to the ancient Babylonians, who closely observed the movements of the celestial bodies, thus founding the science of astronomy as well as astrology, two fields that were often closely intermingled. The data observed by astronomers were recorded in tables showing the position of the planets as they appear to revolve around the earth. The whole circle of the visible heavens (the zodiac) is divided into 12 pie-shaped wedges, called "houses," and the basis for all efforts to create a real science out of astrology is that the planets appear to move in a regular and predictable pattern around the circle, spending a specific and equally predictable amount of time in each of the "houses" as they make their annual rotation around the earth. Each of the 12 segments or "signs" (for example, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces) of the zodiac is assumed to have certain qualities that produce effects on earthly objects. Likewise, each of the planets has specific characteristics (Mars, for example, is obviously warlike).

The combination of these forces as a planet moves into, through, and out of one of the signs is what the astrologer attempts to study.

The particular planet in ascendancy at the time of a person’s birth, joined to the house or sign in which it is located at that moment, places an indelible stamp on the character of the person that affects his or her life. The effects exerted on earthly things by the various houses and the various planets are in fact purely conventional. For example, no astrologer could really offer any explanation why the planet known as Mars should have a warlike effect. Indeed, the use of ancient pagan gods for the names of the planets shows that astrology was closely linked to relics of ancient religious beliefs that no one in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance really understood.

The most obvious application of this body of learning was in "judicial astrology," that is, the making of general or even very specific predictions about the fate of the individual seeking astrological advice. For an individual whose date and place of birth were known, specific locations of certain planets in the zodiac at the time of birth would indicate that certain dates would be favorable, and other dates unfavorable, for certain types of activity—for starting a new business, setting out on a journey, or getting married, for example.

Since the medieval church insisted that people’s moral responsibility for their own acts was based on their exercise of free will, astrological predictions of future events were inherently contrary to the church’s teaching. Although in practice the clergy were just as likely to seek astrological advice as anyone else, any predictions that claimed to determine absolutely events occurring in the future were sinful and unlawful. On the other hand, merely trying to determine favorable and unfavorable days for undertaking a proposed action was theoretically no more objectionable than using meteorological conditions to pick favorable and unfavorable days. Some critics of astrology conceded that the position of celestial bodies did affect events on earth, while arguing that there was no valid way of determining what those effects were and hence no validity in judicial astrology. One of the most famous objectors to astrology, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, raised an objection that was very difficult for astrology’s defenders to refute. The notion that the celestial bodies are "superior" to terrestrial beings and hence are able to "govern" them is based on a verbal equivocation: a planet is "higher" than a human soul only in the spatial sense; in the Platonic hierarchy of being, the human soul, being spiritual, is "higher" and hence more powerful than the planet.

Although predicting the future was its most obvious application, astrology was also applied in the practice of medicine. Medieval and Renaissance physicians regularly took the date of the patient’s birth— and its supposed astrological consequences—into account when they made diagnoses and prescriptions. In a sense, astrology was conceived as nothing more than applied astronomy. The practice of magic employed astrological influences as one of its principal foundations.


City on the Rhone River, seat of the papal curia from 1309 to 1378. Although now a part of France, in the Middle Ages and Renaissance the city was part of the county of Venaissin, which was a fief dependent on the papacy. After his election in 1305, Pope Clement V, a Frenchman by birth, decided that political conditions in central Italy were too disturbed for him to go at once to Rome. He spent several years in France but in 1309 he settled in Avignon to get out of territory controlled by the King Philip IV. Although Clement intended to move to Rome as soon as conditions permitted, he never found conditions favorable. Between 1309 and 1378, a total of seven popes administered the "Roman" bishopric from Avignon, which they gradually developed into a luxurious and heavily fortified papal capital. All seven of these popes were French. They filled administrative offices and especially the college of cardinals (which elected future popes) full of Frenchmen: 113 of the 134 cardinals appointed in this period were French. Inevitably, each time a pope died, the French electoral majority produced another French pope.

The Avignonese popes were often perceived as subject to French influence. This situation caused loud complaints about the "captivity" of the papacy. In addition, since these popes were unable to establish effective control over their estates in and around Rome, the traditional revenues of the papacy were greatly reduced, precisely at a time when the need to develop Avignon as a new capital imposed new financial burdens. These needs were one reason why the papacy in this period ruthlessly sought to increase old sources of revenue and to discover new ones. People all over Europe complained that the papacy had become a greedy institution interested only in squeezing money out of the faithful. Critics likened the French "capture" of the papacy to the Babylonian captivity of the ancient Hebrews, and many earnest reformers (including figures as diverse as the humanist Petrarch and the mystic St. Catherine of Siena) demanded that the popes must return to Rome as the first step in a sweeping reform of the church "in head and members." Each of these popes promised to return to Rome as soon as possible; some of them even meant it. Pope Gregory XI had pledged at his election to make the return. Finally, late in 1377, he left for Italy, entering Rome in January 1378. But he was old and infirm, and he died in March. The subsequent papal election produced not one but two rival popes, one of whom stayed in Rome while the other (a Frenchman elected by the French majority) returned to Avignon, ushering in an even more troubled period in the history of the church, the Western Schism.


(1561-1626). English philosopher, essayist, and royal official, knighted by King James VI and eventually raised to the peerage. The son of a high-ranking official of Queen Elizabeth I, under James VI he rose to be lord chancellor, the highest position in the state. Although Bacon was avid for high office and its social and financial rewards, he was also deeply committed to the improvement of education, especially the study of the natural sciences. During his studies at Cambridge University (1573-1575), he became convinced that the traditional scientific method of Aristotle was worthless and that a new science founded on a new scientific method must replace it. His book The Advancement of Learning (1603) set forth this program of drastic educational and scientific reform.

Despite his many political duties, Bacon continued to publish on this theme, attempting without great success to clarify his concept of a new intellectual method. He projected a total reconstruction of science, a work called Instauratio magna / The Great [New] Beginning (1620); but he completed only a few fragments, notably the introductory section, also called Instauratio magna, and a sketch of his new logic, the Novum Organum. He also realized that one of the goals of a new natural science should be the application of scientific knowledge to improving the quality of human life, an idea developed in his scientific utopia, The New Atlantis.

Bacon’s interests were not limited to natural science. His best known literary work is his Essays, published between 1597 and 1625, which dealt with social and ethical questions and introduced into English literature the informal essay pioneered in French literature by Michel de Montaigne. Bacon also wrote an influential biography of the first Tudor king, Henry VII. Although he was educated in the humanistic learning of the Renaissance, in many respects Bacon represents a passage from Renaissance to post-Renaissance thought. He no longer shared the Renaissance conviction that the improvement of learning depended on rediscovery of lost classical learning but instead declared the contribution of ancient philosophical and scientific knowledge to be exhausted. He linked the further advancement of humanity to his program of a new learning based on natural science.


(Jodocus Badius Ascensius, ca. 1461-1535). Influential editor, born in Flanders but settled in Paris from 1499 and active as a printer from 1503. He published several of the earlier writings of the humanist Erasmus as well as the works of other humanists and major classical authors and is usually regarded as a humanistic.In reality, however, he was official printer to the conservative University of Paris from 1507; and while he did produce many humanistic texts, he just as gladly issued works of traditional scholastic learning and attacks by conservative theologians on Erasmus, Lefèvre d’Etaples, and other humanists.


(1532-1589). French poet known especially for his experiments in adapting classical rules of prosody to the writing of French verse. He was a member of the influential group of poets known even in their own time as La Pléiade.


(ca. 1484-1545). German painter and printmaker, trained in the workshop of Albrecht Dürer in Nuremberg. He spent most of his active career in Strasbourg, but he lived in Freiburg for several years while working on the altarpiece for its cathedral. His paintings and engravings often were intended to disturb and shock the viewer, and recurrent themes in his work include witchcraft (a notable example is his woodcut of 1510, The Witches’ Sabbath) and death.


(1485-1561). Italian courtier and author, born in Lombardy. He entered the Dominican order at Genoa about 1504 but eventually abandoned his monastic vows and pursued a career as court poet at the princely courts of Ferrara and Mantua and in the household of a Venetian general, Cesare Fregoso. In 1537, while in France, he dedicated an Italian translation of Euripides’ Hecuba to the great patron of the French Renaissance, Margaret of Navarre. He became a particular favorite of the women of the courts he served, dedicating his many love poems (supposedly platonic) to them. He is best known, however, for a highly popular collection of racy vernacular stories, the Novelle / Tales, which were published between 1554 and 1573. These tales were modelled on Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. Shakespeare drew on several of them for plots and characters in plays such as Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth Night. In 1542, following the death of Fregoso, Bandello returned to France and in 1550 became bishop of Agen.

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