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The New Cambridge Modern History
  • Volume 1: The Renaissance, 1493–1520
  • Edited by G. R. Potter

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    The New Cambridge Modern History
    • Volume 1: The Renaissance, 1493–1520
    • Edited by G. R. Potter
    • Online ISBN: 9781139055765
    • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414
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Book description

In a preface written for the paperback edition, Professor Hay examines some of the changes in Renaissance scholarship since the first publication of this volume in 1957. Successive chapters examine the social and economic structure of a continent about to establish trade and colonies in the New World, the intellectual and artistic movements which made up the Renaissance, the position of the Church on the eve of the Reformation, the political inheritance of the Middle Ages, with its rising nation states, and the growth of the Ottoman Empire.

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'The work will undoubtedly command the attention of students for many years to come as an essential authority on the Renaissance period … a most scholarly and comprehensive survey of its period.'

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‘The NCMH bids fair to become one of the present generation’s outstanding contributions to historical study.’

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  • I - Introduction
    pp 1-19
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This is the introductory chapter of the book which deals with the Renaissance period of 1493-1520. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the identification at about the same time in Italy of a medium aevum separating the ancient from the contemporary world were in themselves sufficient to account for the subsequent adoption of the Renaissance as a turning-point in the history of western society. By the early sixteenth century, Italian was the mature of the 'modern' languages and it was to be through the Italian writers of the sixteenth century that northern Europe was to acquire all that it could most easily digest in the moral qualities evolved in the peninsula. As in Spain, so in France and England the conciliar structure develops and the royal secretaries begin to take the place of older officials of the Crown. The emergence of national churches was naturally encouraged by the weakness of the Papacy.
  • II - The face of Europe on the eve of the great discoveries
    pp 20-49
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter discusses the new aspects of the life of Europe, as well as its economic circumstances, political character, and human geography on the eve of the great discoveries. The progress of much of European mining was bound up with the extraction of silver from copper and lead ores, and the discovery of rich silver ores in the New World, especially those of Potosi in Bolivia about 1546, was to deal a blow not only to European silver mining but to European mining in general. As the fifteenth century drew to a close, Dutch and English maritime enterprise was competing with that of the Hanse, so that even before the oceanic discoveries, 'most of its teeth were out and the rest loose', as one English observer in Germany put it. Alum deposits were discovered here in 1462, and long before the end of the century the output was very considerable and greatly added to the income of the papal states.
  • III - Fifteenth-century civilisation and the Renaissance
    pp 50-75
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter discusses the history of the events, late medieval civilisation and Renaissance, which changed the face of Europe around 1500. During the last decades of the fifteenth century, England, France, and Spain, after long and complex preparation, had attained national unification under strong monarchies. For many of the aspirations of the Middle Ages a turning-point was reached when the Church Councils of Constance and Basle succeeded in ending the schism, which had torn the unity of the Church but failed to satisfy the long-sustained hopes for religious reform and a moderation of the strictly monarchical fabric of the Church. In terms of social and constitutional history, the greatest strides beyond medieval feudal conditions were made, except for Italy, in the English monarchy. The European recourse to Italian civilisation coincided with the invasion of Italy by French armies; from then on the northern portion of the peninsula was to be an annex alternately of the French and Habsburg monarchies.
  • IV - The Papacy and the Catholic Church
    pp 76-94
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    After the long period of strife brought about by the Great Schism, the Church had become reunited. By the middle of the fifteenth century, the Renaissance was already to some extent bursting upon Italy, and the brilliance with which it was spreading was to dazzle the Papacy itself no less than the nations. Nicholas V was to be the first 'Renaissance Pope', and his decision to pull down the old basilica of Constantine and put up in its place a building in keeping with the spirit of the new age was a sign of his propensities and tastes. German opinion took no small interest in the Renaissance movement in Italy, but it was with keen anxiety that it watched certain practices of the court of Rome to which the Italians were accustomed, if not indifferent. The Christianity of Renaissance Italy was unlike that of other Christian nations, particularly with regard to the outward forms and appearance of devotion.
  • V - Learning and education in Western Europe from 1470 to 1520
    pp 95-126
    • By R. Weiss, University College, London
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter discusses the intellectual movement which blossomed into the Renaissance in Italy during the fourteenth century. The earliest humanist academy had been started informally in Naples by Antonio Panormita in the days of Alfonso V mostly connected with classical antiquity. Among the most lasting achievements of Italian humanism between 1470 and 1520, three are particularly worth noting. They are its contributions to textual criticism, classical archaeology, and Greek studies. The greatest translating achievement of the second half of the fifteenth century, the Latin version of the Corpus Platonicum was none the less the work not of a Byzantine but of an Italian, the Florentine Marsilio Ficino. One result of the pursuit of Greek learning by the Italians was an interesting development in philosophical thought. The enthusiasm for biblical scholarship at Alcala was also responsible for the study of the other languages of the Bible: Hebrew and Aramaic.
  • 1 - Italy
    pp 127-153
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The period of Italian art with which these pages are concerned is usually called 'High Renaissance'. Renaissance architects freely reinterpreted the classical grammar. If Renaissance architecture combines antique, Early Christian, medieval and Byzantine elements, and if buildings of the period under review show little similarity to the architecture of ancient Rome, Renaissance architects could still rightly claim that they revived the ancient manner of building. Architectural theory of the Renaissance was much concerned with the internal organisation of palaces, the arrangement, size, proportions and decorations of rooms. The development of sculpture and painting follows a parallel course to that of architecture. Connection between architecture and sculpture was not discontinued during the Renaissance, but it differed from the Gothic method of subordinating sculpture to architecture. The history of Bible exegesis from Early Christian times onwards shows that the literal reading of the scriptures must be supplemented by sym.
  • 2 - Northern Europe
    pp 153-165
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.010
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The period between 1490 and 1520 was one of great efflorescence in the arts of the Northern Europe, when men like Dürer, Grunewald and Holbein were active in Germany and the Netherlands were still prolific. Fifteenth-century artists of the north had been well aware of the world around them, but their pursuit of visual beauty had been purely empirical. The Italians, having studied nature, applied mathematics to picture-making. Architecture in northern Europe was hardly affected by what had happened in Italy during the fifteenth century. During the first two decades of the sixteenth century architects as a rule were content to borrow decorative motifs from the south and put a thin Renaissance veneer over an essentially Gothic structure. Many of the German artists provided Luther with powerful pictorial weapons in his fight, but it was given to Dürer to find a perfect fusion between Renaissance and Reformation, the two great forces which overshadowed artistic creation in the north about 1520.
  • 3 - Spain
    pp 165-169
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.011
  • View abstract
    Summary
    One of the many fruits of national activity in Spain during the age of Ferdinand and Isabella was a new and widespread stimulus to the arts. Until the end of the fifteenth century Spanish art continued to be governed by northern influence which survived, moreover, well into the sixteenth century, when the style chosen for the cathedrals of Salamanca and Segovia was still pure Gothic. A long-standing liking for northern art and an innate taste for Mudejar made Spain slow to adopt the innovations of the Italian Renaissance. The first wave of Italian influence that inspired Plateresque decoration was stimulated by the importation of sculpture and by the arrival of Italian artists in Spain. In painting as in architecture and sculpture the taste for northern art lasted well into the sixteenth century and Queen Isabella's patronage did much to perpetuate it.
  • 4 - Vernacular literature in Western Europe
    pp 169-193
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.012
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The influence of Erasmus's Adages on literature generally, the impact of neo-Latin plays on the development of the new 'regular' theatres in the vulgar tongue are but two instances of a complex revitalising of vernacular literature by classical antiquity through the writings of the humanists. The political disunity of Italy was reflected in the localisation of literary and artistic activity around a number of centres: the Papacy, the principalities or republics of Florence, Ferrara, Venice, Urbino or Mantua. In 1492 the first grammar of Castilian was written by the humanist Nebrija and three years later the same scholar issued his Latin-Spanish, Spanish-Latin dictionary. The relations of English scholars with Erasmus and other continental humanists are well known and some flavour of humanism is to be seen in some of the English vernacular literature of the time. Gaelic literature in Ireland and Scotland remained true to its ancient traditions.
  • VII - The Empire under Maximilian I
    pp 194-223
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.013
  • View abstract
    Summary
    To large circles of German opinion Maximilian, king of the Romans since 1486 and, sole ruler of the Reich and of the Habsburg dominions, appeared to be the God-given leader. Maximilian was engaged in developing the monarchical administration in his own lands. Victorious in the Bavarian war, Maximilian summoned the Reichstag to Cologne for June 1505. At Cologne Maximilian took up the task of providing the Reich with organs of central government. A constant element in the background to central European life during Maximilian's reign was the Turkish danger. Maximilian did not live to see the union which provided the power to protect the Reich and ultimately to repel the Moslem invaders from central Europe. But his persistent efforts to make possible a Danubian union under Habsburg rule justify the view of him as the father of the Habsburg monarchy of Austria-Bohe.
  • VIII - The Burgundian Netherlands, 1477–1521
    pp 224-258
    • By C. A. J. Armstrong, Hertford College and Lecturer in Modern History in the University of Oxford
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.014
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The unconfirmed news of the death of Duke Charles of Burgundy at the battle of Nancy created confusion in the Netherlands, restive at the cost of his wars. The Parlement of Charles the Bold was staffed wholly by jurists, mostly from the duchy or county of Burgundy; the Grand Conseil was to be composed of lawyers and noblemen from all the duchess's lands, which were proportionally represented. In 1477 Louis XI had an opportunity to acquire the Low Countries, where nobles and officials disliked the gallophobia of the late duke. The Netherlands became a side-show in French eyes when, after the Peace of Bruges, they could not be used by Maximilian as a base from which to launch an invasion. The basic problem in the foreign relations of the Netherlands, how to combine political peace with France and economic peace with England, that Maximilian, unlike the Valois dukes, disregarded, became capable of solution.
  • IX - International relations in the West: diplomacy and war
    pp 259-291
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.015
  • View abstract
    Summary
    For financial and emotional reasons the knight longed for war and foreign adventure, and the wars of Italy were encouraged and prolonged by a nobility whose functions at court had been taken over by professional administrators. In Spain the constant warfare against the Moors, the fact that most trade and industry were in non-Christian hands, left a gentle class even more dependent on military adventure than the French, and the Spaniards were looked upon by contemporaries as a warlike people. England and France had recovered from the Hundred Years War, though the subsequent civil war left the former less immediately ready for an aggressive foreign policy than France, where the Crown had been strengthened by the acquisition of Guienne, Burgundy, Provence, and Brittany. When relations between Venice and England were broken, the Venetian resident in France had to send English news as well; when there was no agent in Turin, Venice received information about Savoy through Milan.
  • X - France under Charles VIII and Louis XII
    pp 292-315
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.016
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Hundred Years War, whose outcome assured France of national independence, had already freed her from threats arising from the existence of a Flemish-Burgundian state. Relations with Italy and the beginnings of the French Renaissance consummated the enthusiasm of scholars whose view of the period has prevailed ever since. The 1454 meeting of the Estates General had ordained that all provinces of the kingdom subject to customary law should carry out this work, and the task of recording and revising was one of the jurists' chief occupations in the reigns of Charles VIII and Louis XII. It is in the reigns of Charles VIII and Louis XII, origin of the administrative and doctrinal changes which were a feature of the religious history of France for several centuries. In the reigns of Charles VIII and Louis XII, fifty-five Episcopal sees came under dispute in this way within the province of the Paris Parlement alone.
  • XI - The Hispanic kingdoms and the Catholic kings
    pp 316-342
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.017
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Relations between the Catholic kings and the Holy See were determined by two principles: mutual support for political interests, and the surrender of ecclesiastical affairs to the royal power in Spain and the Indies. Relations were particularly friendly in the days of Alexander VI, the Valencian Rodrigo Borja, and a period of considerable Hispanic influence in Rome. When the French Charles VIII sent his forces to Italy to conquer Naples and threaten the papal states, Alexander VI, conferred upon Ferdinand and Isabella the title of 'the Catholic Kings', as a reward for their services to religion, covering a diplomatic move to encourage Ferdinand in his efforts to form an alliance against the king of France. Pope Alexander VI in 1494 granted the Catholic Kings full powers to reform all communities of nuns and friars in their kingdoms. This chapter discusses the internal administration of the Hispanic kingdoms and focuses on the Ferdinand's diplomatic activities.
  • XII - The invasions of Italy
    pp 343-367
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.018
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Within twenty years of Charles VIII's invasion, Italians had begun to speak regretfully of the happy days which preceded the coming of the French. The first half of the fifteenth century in Italy had been a period of warfare, expansion and consolidation from which had emerged five more or less equal Powers. Milan, Venice, Florence, the Papacy and Naples varied considerably in size and character, but the balance of their political influence was maintained. Alfonso was a typical Renaissance prince, a builder and a lover of learning, who filled his court with men of talent from northern and central Italy. Louis XII's obsession with the idea of Italian conquest is curiously inconsistent with the keen appreciation of the needs of France and the French people discernible in his home policy. The part played by the Swiss in the Italian wars was the outcome of their economic ties with the duchy of Milan and also of their national industry as mercenaries.
  • XIII - Eastern Europe
    pp 368-394
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.019
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The three kingdoms Poland-Lithuania, Hungary and Bohemia in eastern Europe were linked together, albeit loosely and, as the future was to prove, transiently, by dynastic ties; the Crowns of Hungary and Bohemia were united, and that of Poland held by brothers or uncles of the Hungarian king, all these rulers belonging to the Polish-Lithuanian house of Jagiello. The intimate connection established in 1290 between Poland, Hungary and Bohemia might have seemed at the time only a part of a process of development destined to continue and eventually to result in the emergence of some sort of real unity in this area which possessed so many common features and common interests. The Habsburg connection was very unpopular in Hungary, and among the many promises which Wladislaw had been forced to give when offered the throne, was one to make no agreement with Frederick or Maximilian without the consent of the diet.
  • XIV - The Ottoman empire (1481–1520)
    pp 395-419
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.020
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Sultan Mehemmed II had striven throughout his reign to realise one dominant aim: the consolidation of the Ottoman State. In 1461 Ottoman control was established over the southern shore of the sea, where Amastris, a centre of Genoese interests, together with the Turkish emirate of Kastamuni, including its port of Sinope, and also the Greek 'empire' of Trebizond yielded to the sultan. Almost fourteen years of Bayezid's reign had passed under the constant danger that a coalition of Christian Powers might invade the Ottoman empire. During the years of the Ottoman war with Venice a new power had arisen in Persia. The conquest of Syria and Egypt meant a great increase in the prestige of the Ottomans, already renowned as the foremost warriors of Islam in war against the Christians. After the conquest of Syria and Egypt, Selim received a confirmation of the rights of countries which secured under the Mamluk sultans.
  • 1 - Portuguese expansion
    pp 420-430
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.021
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Between the capture of Ceuta in 1415 and the death of the infante in 1460, the Portuguese had acquired a certain leadership in nautical science, in naval construction and in the methods of exploration and colonisation. In Henry's time the remote fable of Prester John and the marvellous tale of Marco Polo were brought into perspective, and from their fusion emerged the idea, which was to become an aim of Portuguese national policy, of finding a sea-way to the East. In 1486 the Portuguese received promising news from a native of Benin, who reported the existence of a great king called Ogane. This ruler confirmed the authority of the chiefs of Benin. The appearance of the Portuguese in eastern waters was at once followed by the creation of an Egyptian fleet, which attempted to clear a way to India with disastrous effects on itself, for it was decisively defeated by Francisco de Almeida at Diu in February 1509.
  • 2 - Spaniards in the New World
    pp 430-444
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.022
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The settlement of Spanish America began with Columbus's second voyage. He had discovered the two largest islands of the Antilles, Cuba and Hispaniola. Alexander VI was himself a Spaniard, already under heavy obligations to the Catholic monarchs and looking to them for support in his endeavour to create a principality in Italy for his son. The little island of Cubagua became the site of the Spanish settlement of New Cadiz, founded to exploit the pearl fishery. More permanent, and more significant for the future, were the settlements in Central America, on the isthmus coast which Columbus had found on his fourth voyage and where the Columbus family later held their only mainland possession, the little duchy of Veragua. The conquest of Mexico is the best known and best documented of all the Spanish campaigns in the New World. Alvarado, Olid, Sandoval, in imitation of Cortes, added great semi-independent provinces to the kingdom of New Spain.
  • XVI - Expansion as a concern of all Europe
    pp 445-469
    • By E. E. Rich, Master of St Catharine's College and Professor of Imperial History in the University of Cambridge
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521045414.023
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In part, the reorientation of the European concepts of trade and diplomacy was bound to be affected, whether the Habsburg domination were an element in the situation or not. The exploitation of the newly-revealed resources was bound to produce a new range of values, new balances of wealth and power, even without the Habsburg dominance. The age of the so-called' Industrial Revolution of the sixteenth century', played its part in inspiring and in financing the technical improvements, the enlargements of the unit of production and the marketing expansions of the age. From Spain the movement flowed outwards and reached its climax in Western Europe towards the end of the century, but never affected prices so disastrously as those of Spain. The Dutch had reaped the advantages of the trade of the New World without finding it necessary to participate actively in the voyaging and trading either to the east or to the west.

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.


C. M. Cipolla , Economic Hist. Rev. (1949).

R. L. Kilgour , The Decline of Chivalry as shown in the French literature of the late Middle Ages (1937).

F. Lutge's Deutsche Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte (1952).

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