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In his Eulogy of Florence (Laudatio Florentinae Urbis) Leonardo Bruni praised her constitution for giving first place to justice, “without which no city can exist or deserve the name.” Moreover, he said, “Not only citizens, but aliens as well are protected by this commonwealth. It suffers injury to be done to no man, and endeavors to see to it that everyone, citizen or alien, shall receive the justice that is owing to him.” During Bruni’s own tenure as chancellor of Florence, however, we hear of a Jewish banker who was ruined by the heaviest fine in the history of the city after a trial that one modern scholar has described as a monstrous miscarriage of justice.
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The old debate about the vigour of the spirit of capitalism in late medieval Italy wore itself out long ago, not having generated enough really interesting questions to keep it going. It is generally conceded that the Italian merchant was driven by the acquisitive instinct to make more money, that he was prepared often to take great risks to turn a quick profit, that he had carefully worked out the business techniques for proceeding rationally towards this goal, and finally that he was none the less passionately involved in this activity for all the ranting and raving of clerics about his abuse of the usury doctrine and about the moral dangers inherent in the business world. Since the beginning of business history as a distinct discipline within the realm of economic history, all these qualities of the early capitalist have been emphasized by economic historians of the period out to disprove notions that capitalism did not arise until the sixteenth century or later. Doubts linger on in some quarters about the existence in Italy of a positive and articulated those of capitalism, like the socalled work ethic and ascetic spirit associated with Protestantism and there is a general tendency to regard the merchant in this early stage of commercial capitalism more as a speculator, a kind of gambler, than as a planner with long-range goals. Generally speaking, however, discussions of capitalism in Italy have not succeeded in defining the term with sufficient precision to render it a useful tool for historical analysis.
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As Renaissance culture grew more secular in the wake of the Reformation, painters and poets expanded their thematic repertoires to include subjects drawn from the natural world and from daily life. In the visual arts, landscape and still life slowly emerged from narrative representation despite the low status held by such subjects in the aesthetic hierarchy. With history painting remaining so dominant, artists drawn to genre frequently “justified” their efforts by overlaying them with historical and allegorical allusions. Thus, in the realm of still-life painting, some pictures were made in imitation of ancient xenia, others incorporated relevant moral and social commentary, and still others fashioned clever visual puns from ordinary foodstuffs. One sixteenth-century artist, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, went so far as to make a career of creating human “portraits” out of common produce, while a handful of painters made pointed references to the sexually suggestive shapes of certain fruits and vegetables. Highlighting the erotic associations of figs, peaches, melons, and squash was particularly common in the era that began with Raphael (1483–1520) and ended with Caravaggio (1571–1610).
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A dissertation on the role of the Medici
This paper looks at the Medici family’s rise to power and control over Florence. The main focus of the paper is on Cosimo de’ Medici, who is the man responsible for bringing his family to power. The first chapter looks at his business and familial connections and the ways that these relationships helped him gain power. The second chapter examines Cosimo’s role as patron of the arts and learning and the ways in which this helped to extend his influence. The third chapter looks at Cosimo’s grandson Lorenzo de’ Medici and the ways in which he continued the dominance of the Medici family in Florence, specifically focusing on his role as patron and how
he took after his grandfather.
Abstract: This article examines the diplomatic challenges faced by the king of Naples, Ferrante d’Aragona (1458-1494) and the activity of his ambassadors in meeting those challenges. It identifies Rome, Florence and Milan as the three most important nodes of Ferrante’s diplomacy and looks in detail at the activity of the ambassadors who served in these postings. In the area of diplomatic praxis, Ferrante enthusiastically embraced changes pioneered by Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan (1450-1466), including the use of permanent resident ambassadors and diplomatic chanceries. This was very much in keeping with Ferrante’s pragmatic approach to statecraft and counters the widely held view of Naples as a state out of step with the innovations of the Renaissance period.
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It is said of the Florentine painter, Paolo Uccello (1397-1475),
that the discovery of perspective had so impressed him that he spent nights and days drawing objects in foreshortening, and setting himself ever new problems. His fellow artists used to tell how he was so engrossed in these studies that he would hardly look up when his wife called him for a meal, and would just exclaim: “What a sweet thing perspective is!”
Find out more about how the Renaissance artists were captivated by perspective by downloading the file
An overview of the main Borgias including everyone's favourite psychopath Cesare and the ever entertaining Alexander VI. Contains links to video clips from the TV series too...
A very good introduction to the state of Italy in terms of warfare in the C15th
An investigation into the changes in the transitional church - medieval to modern
From where do artists get their colours?
It might seem a little strange to study art by looking at its materials. But it would not have seemed strange at all to painters of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. They were deeply engaged with their materials, out of sheer necessity - for they made their own paints from the raw materials. These painters knew that the quality of their art depended vitally on the quality of these materials. Although that is still true today, few contemporary artists have a comparable relationship with the physical characteristics of
their medium. One suspects there is a perception almost of something vulgar about such tangible aspects of art. This means not only that some artists have undertaken illinformed and disastrous experiments with paints, but that art itself is in danger of losing touch with its roots as a practical craft – a craft that happens to have produced some of the most glorious expressions of the human spirit.
Read more here:http://philipball.co.uk/docs/pdf/RI_discourse.pdf