The Italian Renaissance: How and Why it Began and Ended

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Duration 01:12:05

University of Toronto

Ken Bartlett is Professor of History and Renaissance Studies at the University of Toronto. His teaching has been recognized with many awards, including the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship. Professor Bartlett has appeared in several TV series, such as Museum Secrets, and worked on Renaissance exhibitions at Toronto museums. He is the author of many books, including The Renaissance in Italy: A History (2019), and five video series, including The Smithsonian Essential Italy.


The Italian Renaissance remains tied to the efflorescence of art and architecture that has defined the period between 1350 and 1600. But the great art reflected an intellectual, cultural, economic, and social revolution that changed the way Italians – and later Western Europeans – saw themselves and the world. What characterized this process? The invention of the individual­–active and engaged in the community, the desire to know others through words and images, and the reproduction of what the eye sees. Inspiring these changes was the recovery of classical antiquity by those Italians who saw greater parallels between their own age and that of ancient Rome, and later Greece. This remarkable period was challenged first, by the French invasions of 1494, which eventually destroyed Italy’s independence. Soon after, the Reformation forced the Church to construct institutions to control information and thought — to protect the souls of Catholics. The Roman Inquisition of 1542 and the Index of Prohibited Books of 1559 stifled the freedom of enquiry and action that had been the source of the creative energy of the Renaissance.




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Wow! I have visited Florence and I have read books about the architects and artists and bankers and Popes. This lecture has helped to put that era into perspective of its influence on history. The lecture is one of the best I have listened to. So much information so clearly presented. Thank you!

2 years ago
Murray Urquhart

Magnificent in every way

2 years ago
Juanita Sevilla

The Italian Renaissance: How and Why it Began and Ended

Marvelous lecture! So clear and well presented. I really appreciate such scholarship shared with all of us. Thank you!

1 year ago
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