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This book traces the intellectual life of the Kingdom of Italy, the area in which humanism began in the mid-thirteenth century, a century or more before exerting its influence on the rest of Europe. Covering a period of over four and a half centuries, this study offers the first integrated analysis of Latin writings produced in the area, examining not only religious, literary, and legal texts. Ronald G. Witt characterizes the changes reflected in these Latin writings as products of the interaction of thought with economic, political, and religious tendencies in Italian society as well as with intellectual influences coming from abroad. His research ultimately traces the early emergence of humanism in northern Italy in the mid-thirteenth century to the precocious development of a lay intelligentsia in the region, whose participation in the culture of Latin writing fostered the beginnings of the intellectual movement which would eventually revolutionize all of Europe.Read more
- The book's scope includes a four hundred and fifty year period of the cultural development of western Europe as related specifically to the Kingdom of Italy
- Latin culture is broadly defined as comprising religious writings, literary works, legal scholarship, and documents
- Cultural change throughout is related to economic, political, and religious history not only in Italy but in France, Germany, and England
- Winner of the Medieval Academy of America's Haskins Gold Medal 2014
Reviews & endorsements
ChoiceSee more reviews
"… Ronald Witt has composed a compelling, panoramic, and masterful prequel to his earlier study, In the Footsteps of the Ancients."
Elizabeth M. McCahill, Renaissance Quarterly
"This large and complex book makes a powerful case for Italy as the precursor of the modern, educated Western world. To facilitate navigation, Witt provides lengthy footnotes … a vast bibliography, and a detailed and useful index."
Charles G. Nauert, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"A work of this scope and breadth leads one to inquire into the author's historical method. Witt employs, it seems to me, a careful logic rounded by skepticism. His book showcases an experienced, thoughtful historian at his craft, constantly alert to the limitations of his sources even as he derives the principles and themes that guide his argument forward."
Timothy Kircher, Reviews in History
"This will be an essential work for historians of medieval culture and not just in Italy, for in addition to sifting the wheat from the abundant chaff of earlier research, Witt's deep familiarity with the original sources permits him to arrive at a comprehensive picture of Italian culture and education from the eight to the thirteenth centuries."
The Catholic Historical Review
"We have long needed a magisterial work to navigate the artificial barrier between "medieval" and "Renaissance" histories of intellectual, literary, institutional, and political life … Here it is."
Richard J. Oosterhoff, Fides et Historia
"… written for anyone who ever wondered not only who was teaching what to whom in northern Italy between the ninth and the thirteenth centuries but how and why."
Kathy Eden, Common Knowledge
"This is a book that no one with an interest in the intellectual history of medieval Italy can possibly afford to ignore; it is a book furthermore that is a landmark in the discussion of the origins of the Renaissance, and will surely remain an essential point of reference, not only for the remarkable synthesis that it offers, but for the way in which it puts its material at the reader’s disposal in a bibliography and outstanding analytical index that between them account for one fifth of the volume. Such technical generosity allied to the scholarly generosity of spirit that infuses every phase of the argument is rare indeed, and can only be the mark of wisdom as Socrates described it."
Nicholas Mann, Nexus Institute (https://www.nexus-instituut.nl/en/nexus-review)
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- Date Published: March 2012
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521764742
- length: 618 pages
- dimensions: 254 x 178 x 33 mm
- weight: 1.66kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Part I. The Two Latin Cultures of Medieval Italy:
1. The Carolingian conquest
2. Italy and the Ottonian renaissance
3. The golden age of traditional book culture and the birth of a new book culture (1000–1075)
Part II. The Birth of New Order:
4. The investiture conflict and the emergence of the communes
Part III. The Dominance of the Legal-Rhetorical Mentality:
5. The triumph of the legal culture
6. The institutional structure of education, 1100–1180
7. Literary creativity in an age of intensifying legal-rhetorical culture
Part IV. The French Renaissance of the Twelfth Century:
8. French literary and scholarly achievement in the twelfth century
Part V. Toward a Broader Intellectual Life:
9. The destabilization of the elites and the expanding market for education
10. New knowledge and the tempering of the legal-rhetorical culture
11. The development of the traditional disciplines and the resolution of the crisis of language
12. The return to antiquity
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