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Humanism and Education in Medieval and Renaissance Italy
Tradition and Innovation in Latin Schools from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Century


  • Date Published: May 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521036122

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About the Authors
  • Based on the study of over 500 surviving manuscript school books, this comprehensive 2001 study of the curriculum of school education in medieval and Renaissance Italy contains some surprising conclusions. Robert Black's analysis finds that continuity and conservatism, not innovation, characterize medieval and Renaissance teaching. The study of classical texts in medieval Italian schools reached its height in the twelfth century; this was followed by a collapse in the thirteenth century, an effect on school teaching of the growth of university education. This collapse was only gradually reversed in the two centuries that followed: it was not until the later 1400s that humanists began to have a significant impact on education. Scholars of European history, of Renaissance studies, and of the history of education will find that this deeply researched and broad-ranging book challenges much inherited wisdom about education, humanism and the history of ideas.

    • A comprehensive study
    • Empirical scholarship based on the close study of hundreds of unpublished manuscript schoolbooks
    • Wide chronological and geographical scope - school education through Italy, both in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… Black writes delicately, not only with a feel for the palaeography of his manuscripts but also with the appreciation of a classicist for the works of Latin authors and of a historian for the structure of Renaissance society … his book commands complete confidence.' The English Historical Review

    'Black's volume provides essential documentary evidence for all those interested in the realities of school education in medieval and Renaissance Italy.' Italian Studies

    'This book is a pioneering study of the place of Latin in the schools of medieval and Renaissance Italy … This groundbreaking book has a full bibliography, extensive appendices of manuscripts and a detailed general index, all of which should serve to advance further studies in this important area of scholarship.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History

    'Black's work is based on a truly formidable examination of the manuscript evidence for school education from the earliest medieval period onwards, which is its most striking aspect. The manuscripts considered run into thousands located in many cities, and the available items in some libraries and archives, most notably those of Florence, must have been completely scoured. It must be said also that Black writes delicately, not only with a feel for the palaeography of his manuscripts but also with the appreciation of a classicist for the works of Latin authors and of a historian for the structure of Renaissance society.' Oxford Academic Journals

    'Humanism and Education should become a major text for the history of education in medieval and Renaissance Europe, provoking new debates not only on issues of education history but also on the larger topics of humanism and the cultural validity of an Italian Renaissance.' History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521036122
    • length: 508 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.756kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of abbreviations
    Editorial note regarding citations from manuscripts and publications
    A note on chronological terminology
    1. Italian Renaissance education: an historical perspective
    2. The elementary school curriculum in medieval and Renaissance Italy: traditional methods and developing texts
    3. The secondary grammar curriculum
    4. Latin authors in medieval and Renaissance Italian schools: the story of a canon
    5. Reading Latin authors in medieval and Renaissance Italian schools
    6. Rhetoric and style in the school grammar syllabus
    Index of manuscripts
    General index.

  • Author

    Robert Black, University of Leeds
    Robert Black is Reader in Renaissance History at the University of Leeds.

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