bonæ litteræ: occasional writing from David Rundle, Renaissance scholar

Resources on the Italian Renaissance

The materials presented here are translations of extracts from primary sources, designed for use in my second-year undergraduate module at the University of Essex, entitled ‘Terror, Murder and Bloodshed: the Civilization of Renaissance Italy, c. 1400 – 1527’, which first ran in January to April 2015 (module code: HR254). In many cases, other translations into English already exist but, partly in order to provide solely the most relevant sections in order to concentrate attention and sometimes because of issues with those versions, revised renderings have all in cases been provided. Below is a list of the titles of the sessions in the ten-week module, with the name of the extract and an embedded link to it.

1: The Renaissance from Burckhardt to Burke – extracts from Matteo Palmieri’s Della vita civile on the revival of the arts

2: A Patchwork of City-States and a Double Kingdom – extracts from Pier Paolo Vergerio’s praise of Venice in his De re publica veneta and also extracts from Leonardo Bruni’s praise of Florence in his Laudatio Florentinae urbis

3: The Cultural Inheritance – two passages from Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists: extracts from the proemio and from his biographies of Giotto and Simone Martini

4: Perspectives on Renaissance Art – extracts from Vasari’s life of Paolo Uccello

5: The Intellectual Renaissance – Flavio Biondo’s narrative of the revival of letters from his Italia illustrata

6: Renaissance Politics I: ‘Civic’ and ‘Tyrannical’ Humanism – extracts from Leonardo Bruni’s funeral oration on Nanni Strozzi, and from Platina on princely government

7: Renaissance Politics II: Machiavelli and the Loss of Optimism? – set texts are from Machiavelli, readily available on-line

8: A Global Renaissance? – extracts from Vasari’s life of Antonello da Messina

9: Exporting the Renaissance – extracts from Vasari’s life of Pietro Torrigiano

10: Cities as the Engines of Change – for this, the set text is a section of Baldassare Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano / The Courtier, also readily available

Feel free to use these files, if you wish, but please note my copyright and let me know of any reuse.


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  1. […] put all these now on-line as a page on this website: you can find them under the heading ‘Resources on the Italian Renaissance‘, a few lines down on the right-hand side of this site’s homepage. I would naturally be […]

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