In all of human history there has never been an era as richly endowed with human creativity as the Italian Renaissance. When the economic boom of the Late Middle Ages had allowed a flourishing and wealthy merchant class to emerge, a plethora of artists, sculptors, architects, and thinkers followed in their wake. In an astonishingly short period of time, Italy was transformed mentally, physically, and spiritually. Powerful commercial centers like Florence, Venice, and Milan became independent. Artists like Michaelangelo and Cellini threw off the customs of the past and forged new symbols of Man, while others, like the gentle aristocrat Baldassare Castiglione, were attempting to civilize the behavior of society with gentlemanly manners. From north to south, Italian cities were literally reborn with an energy and enthusiasm that has never repeated itself anywhere.
This great historical essay tells you why this extraordinary event occurred and why it finally died out, though its effects lasted hundreds of years. Ironically, all the great pomp and splendor of the Italian Renaissance was accompanied by some of the worst violence and mayhem that Italy has ever experienced. In the midst of splendor unheard of, men murdered, stole, raped, lied, and cuckolded friend and foe. Horrible torture, brutal war, and poisonous political intrigue went hand in hand with the most sumptuous artistic and literary output in European history. Follow this incredible story to understand the Italian Renaissance in ways you never conceived.
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