In this landmark study of Italy from the 14th through the early 16th centuries, Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt chronicles the rise of Florence and Venice as powerful city-states, the breakup of the medieval worldview that came with the rediscovery of Greek and Roman culture, and the new emphasis on the role of the individual. All these, Burckhardt explains, went hand in hand with the explorations of science and the more naturalistic depiction of the world in art and literature.
Within the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Burckhardt finds the first stirrings of the modern world and, in the Renaissance Italian, the first modern man. His book-length essay includes discussions of all aspects of Italian civilization: art, fashion, literature, and the music of the time, as well as the flourishing of intellectual and spiritual life.
"An engrossing world of politics and popes, religion and renegades, lifestyles and literature that few historical works encompass....a joy for devotees of the Renaissance." (
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