Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The Two Latin Cultures and the Foundation of Renaissance Humanism in Medieval Italy

$172.00 (C)

textbook Award Winner
  • Date Published: March 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521764742

$ 172.00 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an examination copy?

This title is not currently available for examination. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • 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.

    • 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
    Read more


    • Winner of the Medieval Academy of America's Haskins Gold Medal 2014

    Reviews & endorsements


    "… 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 (

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521764742
    • length: 618 pages
    • dimensions: 254 x 183 x 36 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

  • Author

    Ronald G. Witt, Duke University, North Carolina
    Ronald G. Witt is currently William B. Hamilton Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University, North Carolina. His most recent book, In the Footsteps of the Ancients: The Origins of Italian Humanism 1250–1420 (2000), received the Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize of the American Historical Society (2001), the American Philosophical Society's Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History (2001), and the Renaissance Society of America's Gordon Book Prize (2001). He is also the author of Humanism and Reform, (2001), Hercules at the Crossroads: The Life, Works and Thought of Coluccio Salutati, (1331–1406) (1983), and Coluccio Salutati and his Public Letters (1976), as well as numerous articles.


    • Winner of the Medieval Academy of America's Haskins Gold Medal 2014

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.