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Western Civilization from the Greeks to the 17th Century
The GreeksThe Roman RepublicThe Roman EmpireThe Middle AgesThe ReformationThe Seventeenth Century


The Renaissance:

Questions for Thought

  1. What new social class developed in 12th century Italy? How did this social class affect the movement toward republican government?
  2. What is meant by "the Renaissance?" How does the concept of individualism help explain the Renaissance? What is humanism? What did humanists emphasize?
  3. People tend to think of the Renaissance as an Italian phenomenon, but northern Europe also underwent a renaissance. Compare the Italian Renaissance with the Northern Renaissance. How can we account for the similiarities and differences?
  4. Renaissance Europe saw the development of so-called new monarchies in England, France, and Spain. What was new about them? What were the guiding principles, goals, and basic tactics of the rulers of these states? What were the unique features of each state's development? How successful were the "new monarchs"?
  5. The Italian city-states tried to preserve their independence through balance-of-power diplomacy. Describe how this strategy worked in 15th century Italy. What were the drawbacks of the system? Was it effective in dealing with external threats? Why or why not?
  6. In many ways the Renaissance was primarily an artistic movement. Describe Renaissance art. What were its themes and techniques? (Be sure to include relevant examples.) How were artists trained? What was their status in society? Who was their audience? How did Renaissance art reflect the changing attitudes and interests of Europeans? What purposes did art serve in Renaissance society?
  7. How did the invention of movable type revolutionize European life and thought?
  8. Discuss Christian humanism. How were the ideas of the Christian humanists like Thomas More and Desiderius Erasmus similar to and different from those of Italian humanists?
  9. Why did Italy become a battleground for the European superpowers after 1494?
  10. The status of women in Renaissance society seemed to decline from that of the Middle Ages. Describe the education of women and their role in society. How does this fit with the ideals of the Renaissance? What influence did social class have? How does the treatment of women compare to that of blacks in Renaissance Europe?

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related terms

The Greeks | The Roman Republic | The Roman Empire
The Middle Ages | The Reformation | The 17th Century

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last updated: July 8, 1997
© copyright 1997 Beth Nachison (