AP European History
Concept 1.1 – The worldview of European intellectuals shifted from one based on ecclesiastical and classical authority to one based primarily on inquiry and observation of the natural world.


Renaissance intellectuals and artists revived classical motifs in the fine arts and classical values in literature and education. Intellectuals – later called humanists – employed new methods of textual criticism based on a deep knowledge of Greek and Latin, and revived classical ideas that made human beings the measure of all things. Artists formulated new styles based on ancient models. The humanists remained Christians while promoting ancient philosophical ideas that challenged traditional Christian views. Artists and architects such as Brunelleschi, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael glorified human potential and the human form in the visual arts, basing their art on classical models while using new techniques of painting and drawing, such as geometric perspective. The invention of the printing press in the mid-15th century accelerated the development and dissemination of these new attitudes, notably in Europe north of the Alps (“The Northern Renaissance”).

Supporting Concepts and Examples

A revival of classical texts led to new methods of scholarship and new values in both society and religion.

Italian Renaissance humanists promoted a revival in classical literature and created new philological approaches to ancient texts. Some Renaissance humanists furthered the values of secularism and individualism.

Italian Renaissance humanists
  • Petrarch (actually, pre-1450)
  • Lorenzo Valla
  • Marsilio Ficino
  • Pico della Mirandola

Humanist revival of Greek and Roman texts, spread by the printing press, challenged the institutional power of universities and the Roman Catholic Church and shifted the focus of education away from theology toward the study of the classical texts.

Individuals promoting a revival of Greek and Roman texts
  • Leonardo Bruni
  • Leon Battista Alberti
  • Niccolò Machiavelli

Admiration for Greek and Roman political institutions supported a revival of civic humanist culture in the Italian city-states and produced secular models for individual and political behavior.

Individuals promoting secular models for individual and political behavior
  • Niccolò Machiavelli
  • Jean Bodin
  • Baldessare Castiglione
  • Francesco Guicciardini

The invention of printing promoted the dissemination of new ideas.

The invention of the printing press in the 1450s aided in spreading the Renaissance beyond Italy and encouraged the growth of vernacular literature, which would eventually contribute to the development of national cultures.

Protestant reformers used the press to disseminate their ideas, which spurred religious reform and helped it to become widely established.

The visual arts incorporated the new ideas of the Renaissance and were used to promote personal, political, and religious goals.

Princes and popes, concerned with enhancing their prestige, commissioned paintings and architectural works based on classical styles and often employing the newly invented technique of geometric perspective.

Painters and architects
  • Michelangelo
  • Donatello
  • Raphael
  • Andrea Palladio
  • Leon Battista Alberti
  • Filipo Brunelleschi

A human-centered naturalism that considered individuals and everyday life appropriate objects of artistic representation was encouraged through the patronage of both princes and commercial elites

Artists who employed naturalism
  • Raphael
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Jan Van Eyck
  • Pieter Breugel the Elder
  • Rembrandt van Rijn (note: Rembrandt is more associated with the Baroque Era)

Reading Assignments

Reading 1: Pages 333-335

Meaning and Characteristics of the Italian Renaissance
The Making of Renaissance Society:

 Economic Recovery

Reading 2: Pages 335-340

The Making of Renaissance Society:
 Social Changes in the Renaissance
 The Family in Renaissance Italy

Reading 3: Pages 340-343

The Italian States in the Renaissance:
 Five Major States
 Warfare in Italy
 Independent City-States

Reading 4: Pages 343-344

The Italian States in the Renaissance:
 The Birth of Modern Diplomacy
 Machiavelli and the New Statecraft

Reading 5: Pages 344-350

The Intellectual Renaissance in Italy:
 Italian Renaissance Humanism
 Education in the Renaissance
 Humanism and History
 The Impact of Printing

Reading 6: Pages 350-355

The Artistic Renaissance:
 Art in the Early Renaissance
 The Artistic High Renaissance

Reading 7: Pages 355-357

The Artistic Renaissance:
 The Artist and Social Status
 The Northern Artistic Renaissance
 Music in the Renaissance

Reading 8: Pages 357-361

The European State in the Renaissance:
 The Growth of the French Monarchy
 The Unification of Spain
 The Holy Roman Empire: The Success of the Habsburgs
 The Struggle for Monarchy in Eastern Europe
 The Ottoman Turks and the End of the Byzantine Empire

Reading 9: Pages 361-364

The Church in the Renaissance:
 The Problems of Heresy and Reform
 The Renaissance Papacy


Chapter Glossary
Chapter Study Guide
Chapter 12 Outline
Chapter 12 Scan