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Welcome to the Paradoxplace Chronology Pages

Part Two - The Renaissance and Early Modern Europe (1350 - 1600)

About Paradoxplace

First there is a list of the various entries on this page - click on the one that interests you to link to the detail.  If you are looking for a particular person or place, there is an Alphabetical Master Listing of all entries in the chronologies as well as a Master Timeline and a Map of Central Italy.  The Insight Pages bring together interesting subjects, groups of people and events that shaped the course of history and how we live.  More about many of the movers and shakers is to be found in the Italy Photo and History pages, and Paradoxplace has now been enriched with major sections covering Spain, France and Britain.

 

             

 

LINKS TO

Artists of the Italian Renaissance

CHRONOLOGY PART ONE (500-1350)   INSIGHT PAGES

ITALY, FRANCE, SPAIN, PORTUGAL & BRITAIN PAGES   PORTRAITS   BOOKS

FOOD WINE AND RESTAURANT PAGES

 

13 HUNDREDS (SECOND HALF)

 

 

 

 

The Black Death

1348

Luca Pacioli

1445

Henry VIII (of England)

1491

Giovanni di Bicci (de' Medici)

1360

Domenico Ghirlandaio

1449

S Ignatius Loyala

1491

Leonardo Bruni

1369

Lorenzo de' Medici

1449

"Middle Ages End"

1492

Filippo Brunelleschi

1377

Perugino

1450

Suleiman the Magnificent

1494

Lorenzo Ghiberti

1378

Printing Press Invented

1450

Francis I

1494

The Great Schism

1378

Luca Signorelli

1450

Jacopo Carucci Pontormo

1494

Masolino da Panicale

1383

Vittore Carpaccio

1450

15 HUNDREDS

 

Cosimo the Elder (de' Medici)

1389

Christopher Columbus

1451

The Reformation

 

John VIII Palaeologus

1390

Girolamo Savanarola

1452

Emperor Charles V

1500

Beato (Fra) Angelico

1395

Leonardo da Vinci

1452

Benventuto Cellini

1500

Donatello de' Bardi

1396

Fall of Constantinople

1453

Giorgio Vasari

1512

Michelozzo di Bartolomeo

1396

Bernardo il Pinturicchio

1454

Tintoretto

1518

Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli

1397

Amerigo Vespucci

1454

Cosimo I de Medici

1519

Paolo Uccello

1397

Angelo Ambrogini Poliziano

1454

Andrea Gabrieli

1520

 

 

Emperor Maximilian I

1459

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

1525

14 HUNDREDS

 

Jacob Fugger ("The Rich")

1459

Sack of Rome

1527

The (Italian) Renaissance

 

Vasco da Gama

1460

Paolo Caliare Veronese

1528

Tommaso Masaccio

1400

Pico della Mirandola

1463

Siege of Florence

1529

Luca Della Robbia

1400

Niccolo Machiavelli

1469

el Greco

1541

Leon Battista Alberti

1404

Michelangelo Buonarroti

1475

The Counter-Reformation

1545

Aeneus Sylvius Piccolomini (Pope Pius II)

1405

Giovanni de'Medici (Pope Leo X)

1475

Tomas Luis de Victoria

1548

Fra Filippo Lippi

1406

Giovanni Sodoma

1477

Giovanni Gabrieli

1555

Battle of Agincourt

1415

Spanish Inquisition starts

1478

Jacopo Peri

1561

Piero della Francesca

1416

The Pazzi Conspiracy

1478

Galileo Galilei

1564

Andrea del Castagno

1421

Giulio de Medici (Pope Clement VII)

1478

William Shakespeare

1564

Duke Federico da Montefeltro

1422

Ferdinand Magellan

1480

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

1573

Giovanni Bellini

1430

Martin Luther

1483

P P Rubens

1577

Marsilio Ficino

1433

Raphael Sanzio

1483

Grotesque ceilings (Uffizi)

1579

Andrea del Verrocchio

1435

Titian (Tiziano Vecello)

1485

Diego Valasquez

1599

Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

1444

Giovanni da Verrazzano

1485

The Enlightenment

 

Sandro Botticelli

1444

 

 

British East India Company

1600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now the stories behind the names .......

13 HUNDREDS FROM 1350

 

 

To eliminate an unnecessary mental gymnastic, the Italian form "the 13 hundreds" has been used throughout in preference to the English expression "the 14th Century" or "14C" (though to be accurate the Italians would call it the 3 hundreds - but that's another story!)

Link to Artists of the Italian Renaissance

The Black Death

BOOKS

1348   See Part One for details.  This event, which reduced the population of Europe by over 50%, marked the final end of the boom times of the twelve hundreds - the Century which had seen the first European wide flowering of commerce, thought and civilization since the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, and which had embraced amongst other things the foundation of universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, the return of Aristotle's works to Europe via dialogue with the Islamic cultures which had been their guardians, and the building of many of the great French and Italian cathedrals.

Giovanni di Bicci (de' Medici)

PORTRAITS

MEDICI PAGES

1360

-1429

(69)

Firenze

de' Medici

 

Founder of the Medici dynasty and the Medici Bank (in 1397).

Leonardo Bruni

1369

-1444

(75)

Firenze (sometime Chancellor)

Scholar

One of the outstanding scholars of his generation - picked up on Petrarch and used the word 'umanista' for the first time - grammar, rhetoric, poetry, moral philosophy and history being the subjects taught for this.  One of several Florentinians who went to Greece and Byzantium (particularly Constantinople) and brought back collections of ancient books.  "Collections" is probably the wrong descriptive term.  Mostly these book buyers were merchants, and would just load up wagons with books bought by the ton, secure in the knowledge that the thirst in Florence for everything related to the classical world would pretty much guarantee sales of anything at attractive profit margins (though at that time one did not talk about profits per se!).

Filippo Brunelleschi

 

BOOK

 

PORTRAITS

 

FLORENCE DUOMO

1377

-1446

(69)

Firenze

Architect

Goldsmith, inventor of the mathematics of perspective in painting, inventive engineering genius, secretive control freak but above all an architect, and in fact the first well known "named" architect.

 

Brunelleschi first catapulted to architectural fame with his design and subsequent building management of the Spedale degli Innocenti (Foundling Hospital) in the 1420s between San Marco and the Duomo.  The elegant colonnaded facade (below) was a completely new look, as was much of the hospital design.

 

 

Earlier, after losing the 1403 Florence Baptistery door competition to Ghiberti, "Pippo" went travelling, and on returning to Florence produced the mathematics of perspective in painting (1434) - demonstrated by a famous (now lost) painting of the Baptistery which was designed to be held in front and facing away from the face of an observer standing at the spot where the picture was painted. When the latter peeked through a pinhole aperture in the painting at a mirror reflecting it back, it was said to be impossible to distinguish picture from reality (except the former was back to front!).

 

Brunelleschi was the architect of the great Florentine churches of San Lorenzo and Santa Spirito, and the Pazzi Chapel at Santa Croce (his favourite).  His immortal and most visible achievement was designing and building what is still the world's largest masonry dome (for the Florence Duomo) (and without the use of any internal scaffolding / supports - see Part One). 

 

Lorenzo Ghiberti

 

SELF PORTRAIT

 

FLORENCE BAPTISTERY

1378

-1455

(77)

Firenze

Sculptor

Contemporary, competitor and personality opposite to Brunelleschi, from the time he beat him in the 1403 competition for the North Door of the Baptistery to their uneasy coupling from 1420 as joint capomaestri for the Duomo Cupola project (a tussle eventually convincingly won by Brunelleschi). The North Door panels were completed in 1424, and Lorenzo was asked to move straight on to the East ones (unusually for Florence, without any competition being held). The East doors took him most of the rest of his life to complete (1425 - 52) but it was worth it - an unquestionable masterpiece called by Michelangelo "The Gates of Paradise" (with the original panels now to be found in the Cathedral Museum across the road to the east of the Cathedral).

The Great Schism

1378

-1417

 

The French Pope Clement V (aka Raymond Bertrand de Got) (1264 - 1305 - 1314 (50)) had moved the seat of the Papacy from Rome to (you guessed) France - firstly Poitiers, then more permanently to Avignon in the early 1300s.  Gregory XI returned the Papacy to Rome in 1376, but after his death two year's later, rival Popes appeared in Avignon, Rome, and at the final stage a third - the "Anti-Pope" Baldassare Cossa, John XXIII - mostly in Bologna. All were deposed by the Council of Konstanz (1414 - 1418), and a single papacy restored in Rome, occupied by Martin V - the first of the "Popes of the Renaissance".  Cossa got the posthumous satisfaction of a magnificent (and the only) tomb in the Baptistery in Florence - by Donatello and Michelozzo - commissioned in 1427 by the early Medicis who were grateful recipients of church banking business. Read the story of Cossa in the factional book "A Trembling Upon Rome" by Richard Condon.

Masolino da Panicale

1383

-1440

(57)

Firenze

Artist

Masaccio's Master.

Cosimo the Elder

(de' Medici)

 

PORTRAITS

1389

-1464

(75)

Firenze

de' Medici

 

Son of Giovanni. Drove the Medici bank to its peak as the greatest bank in Europe, in significant part by engineering the position of the first ever monopoly banker to the church.  Built the Palazzo Medici and San Marco monastery and church (a suggestion by the Pope as a penance for all the money he was accumulating). Note that when there is a reference below to the later Cosimo I (1519 - 1574) coming from the "cadet branch" of the family, this means that he was a descendant of Cosimo the Elder's brother Lorenzo the Elder (1395 -1440).

John VIII Palaeologus

1390

-1448

(58)

Byzantium,

Emperor

The penultimate Byzantine Emperor. Spent more than a year in Italy trying to stitch up a deal with the Pope that would pave the way for military support for the fast disappearing Byzantine Empire. The negotiations were moved to Florence at the start of 1439 and, based at Santa Maria Novella, became known as the Council of Florence (the Pope was running out of money to support the hoards of ecclesiastics, courtiers and assorted retainers, but the Medici had plenty of moolah!).  On Sunday 5 July 1439 a Decree of Union was signed between the Latin and Greek churches. This did not last, but what did was John and Lorenzo de'Medici's images in the "Procession of the Magi" fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli in the chapel of the Palazzo Medici in Firenze.

Beato (Fra) Angelico

 

ART GALLERY

1395

-1455

(60)

Firenze

Artist

The Convent of San Marco (Firenze) is now devoted to the work of its most famous monk - the "master of Annunciations". Don't miss: the Cell 3 Annunciation in addition to the famous one at the top of the stairs, the reds and golds in the paintings that have not been spoiled by inept restoration, and the exquisite miniature New Testament illustrations on a silver cupboard door downstairs! While there, also enjoy Fr Bartolomeo's portraits of various saints and his two famous paintings of Savonorola, and be sure to experience the space in Michelozzo's Library, Europe's first public library.   South of Florence, off the A1 in San Giovanno val d'Arno, the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie contains a particularly beautiful Angelico Annunciation which can be enjoyed in peace away from the tourist crowds.

Donatello de' Bardi

ART GALLERY

1396

-1466

(70)

Firenze

Sculptor

 

One of the greatest and most innovative of a great and innovative peer group. David (Bargello, Firenze, but originally in the courtyard of the Palazzo Medici) and much much more (e.g. see Opera del Duomo and Santa Croce in Florence).

Michelozzo di Bartolomeo

1396

-1472

(76)

Firenze

Architect

Cosimo the Elder's architect. San Marco (see especially the Library upstairs), and the Palazzo Medici.

Paolo Uccello

1397

-1475

(78)

Firenze

Artist

Trained under Ghiberti in Florence, and was then at the forefront in pushing forward the application of perspective in painting, often in small paintings.  In fact he was a bit obsessive about perspective (if having sleepless nights thinking about something is obsessive) and was the first to use two vanishing points successfully.  He hit the big end of town with his famous and massive equestrian portrait of Sir John Hawkwood frescoed on the walls of the Florence Duomo, but it is the smaller works that remain most interesting.

Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli

 

1397

-1482

(85)

Firenze

Astronomer and Geographer

One of the great mathematicians and astronomers of the century. Made use of Brunelleschi's Duomo dome structure to create a huge sundial and make astronomical calculations (his gear can still be seen in the dome). Revised the old 1252 Alfonsine Tables to give greater accuracy to latitude calculations at sea, then got into remapping the world, and then calculated (incorrectly as it turned out) that it would be shorter to go to China by heading West, and wrote to Christopher Columbus to tell him the news. Rejected by the Portuguese monarch, Columbus turned to Spain for funding and headed west in 1492 with Toscanelli's thesis copied onto the flyleaf of one of his books.  Sadly none of Toscanelli's map originals swurvive.

14 HUNDREDS

 

 

 

The Renaissance

(Il Rinascimento - The Rebirth))

c1400

-c1550

 

Driven by the generation born since the (first) black death (1348-50), "The (Italian) Renaissance" usually refers to the time span of the fourteen hundreds and the first half of the fifteen hundreds, with Florence playing the central role. (In Music the Renaissance label extends to the emergence of Baroque in the early sixteen hundreds).  Some argue that the term Renaissance should be back dated to the centuries before the Black Death when the North Italian City State structures and institutions were being built up.

The grim economic conditions that had characterised most of the thirteen hundreds and the first half of the fourteens, gave way in the later fourteens and the fifteen hundreds to an economic boom even greater than that experienced in the earlier boomtimes of the eleven and twelve hundreds.  And the international merchants and bankers of the city state of Florence, now known more for its silk than wool, were in there leading the charge.  The wealth they generated spilt over into conspicuous consumption (within the constraints of various sumptuary laws), and especially patronage of the artists who became a part of the Renaissance (and its historical public face).  

Whilst the focus of the early part of the renaissance was very much on rediscovery, the magic was that somehow the creative energy of the artistic and intellectual talents that assembled (particularly in Florence), bankrolled and driven by knowledgeable patrons (especially the Medici) flush with the winnings of economic success and enjoying the political independence of the leading city state - the happening Euro-Place - reached some sort of critical mass and boiled over into a feast of speculation, enquiry, discovery and rediscovery (of things Greek and Roman) and of course accomplishments.   In these pages you are meeting some of the leading players in this drama.

Tommaso Masaccio

BRANCACCI CHAPEL

 

ARTWORKS from "Masaccio's 600th Birthday" exhibition in Giovanni Val d'Arno in 2002

1400

-1428

(28)

Firenze

Artist

 

Despite his short life, Masaccio's talent was such that he is often called the Father of Renaissance painting.  Unfortunately not much remains.  The fully restored Brancacci Chapel frescos (Santa Carmine, Firenze) (closed Tuesdays), are a high priority must - compare for example the emotional power and sense of movement (including shadows) of Massacio's "Expulsion from Eden" with the number opposite by Masolino (himself no slouch and also Masaccio's "master").  Look at some of the faces in the web photos.   "The Trinity" in Santa Maria Novella is often cited as a "best picture" candidate, though this will not be immediately apparent to the layman in the same way as the Brancacci frescoes are.       

Luca Della Robbia

1400

-1482

(82)

Ceramic Artist

The most prominent member of a talented family of ceramic artists.

Leon Battista Alberti

BIOGRAPHY

SELF PORTRAIT

1404

-1472

(68)

Firenze

Architect, Scholar

A polymath and along with Brunelleschi the outstanding designer and architect of the early 14 hundreds.  Wrote "On Painting" (amongst many other things) explaining the Renaissance insights into the representation of perspective.

Aeneus Sylvius Piccolomini

 

PORTRAIT

 

POPES OF THE RENAISSANCE

1405

1458

-1464

(59)

Siena

Pope Pius II

The humanist Sienese Pope (from 1458) who "bulldozed" and rebuilt the centre of his home borgo Pienza (the first example of town planning since the Romans) and is remembered in the huge frescoes by Pinturicchio of scenes from his life in the Piccolomini Library in Siena Cathedral, built in his honour by his nephew Francesco Piccolomini - latterly (very briefly) Pope Pius III.  The library was never, as originally planned, filled with his books because the family flogged them all off.  One of the scenes in the life of this widely travelled and intelligent man which does not appear in the frescos is his viewing, whilst on a visit to Frankfurt in 1454, of the first printed bible ("the Gutenberg Bible").  It had, he reported, such neat lettering that it could be read without glasses, and he was informed that every copy had been sold. The last year of his life was spent in a futile attempt to mount a Crusade to recapture Constantinople, and he died on the way to the small fleet in Ancona which he had paid for but for which he had no army.

Fra Filippo Lippi

SELF PORTRAIT

SPOLETO DUOMO

c1406

-1469

(63)

Painter

Fra Filippo Lippi was a Florentine painter who experienced an unusually eventful life.  Early on he was captured by Moors (Arabs) whilst out boating and sold into slavery in Africa, then later freed and returned to Italy where, as a Carmelite monk, he became famous not just for his painting but for his affair (and subsequent marriage, facilitated by his Medici patrons) with the nun Lucrezia Buti (mother of painter Filippino Lippi).

Battle of Agincourt

1415

Agincourt, France

Battle

Henry V and the deadly English longbow men beat the French in what turned out to be a "dead cat bounce" towards the end of the Hundred Years' War.

Piero della Francesca

 

THE ART of the Piero della Francesca Trail

 

c1416

-1492

(76)

Sansepolcro

Painter

 

The "Piero della Francesca Trail" - Duke Federico of Urbino (see below) portrait in the Uffizi; the fresco cycle in the  Franciscan church in Arezzo (the one shown is Judas (not the famous one) being taken out of the well where he had been imprisoned until he told where he had hidden the cross - the mother of Constantine the Great, Empress Helena (248 - 328) was in Jerusalem and determined to find it); the fresco of Saint Louis and other more famous works like the dramatically distorted Resurrection in Sansepolcro Museo Civico; the Pregnant Madonna in Monterchi (near Sansepolcro); the sublime Madonna di Senigallia and the mysterious Flagellation in the Urbino Palazzo.  Piero was especially good at beautiful Madonnas in the same way that Angelico's speciality was Annunciations.

 

Essay by Aldous Huxley - "The Greatest Painting in the World"  (PDF File)

Andrea del Castagno

 

Nine Famous Men and Women Frescos

c1421

-1457

(36)

Florence

Painter

Andrea del Castagno did not arrive in Florence until his late teens - talent scouted and brought there by Bernardetto de' Medici.  He became in a short time an outstanding artist, influenced in particular by Masaccio and Donatello.  In Florence you can see his works (particularly a resurrection and a last supper) at the Convent of Sant'Apollonia (near San Marco).  He was also responsible for the enormous equestrian fresco of Nicolò da Tolentino in the Florence Duomo, and the Famous Men and Women cycle of nine portraits in the Villa Legnaia (now in the Uffizi) - of particular interest for the (posthumous) portraits of Boccaccio, Dante and Petrarch.  His promising career was cut short by the plague in 1457.

Duke Federico da Montefeltro

 

PORTRAITS

 

URBINO PALAZZO DUCALE PHOTOS

1422

-1482

(60)

Duke of Urbino

Reigned as Signore then Duke of Urbino from 1444.  A condottieri, professionally trained by Niccolo Piccinino (regarded as the best around), he was strictly a (very successful) gun for hire - fighting for cash payments and looting rights on short term contracts and with no underlying allegiances (except expanding his own territory around Urbino) - for Florence v the Pope, or the Pope v Florence (he did both), for Naples, Venice etc - whoever paid and booked a slot in his dairy!!   In 1472, under contract to the Florence of Lorenzo de' Medici, he sacked Volterra with an appalling brutality that is still remembered there today.  Strange then to find that the Duke is universally extolled in books as the ultimate model of a Renaissance man of culture and civility!   His profession was merely the cash flow generator for his passion for books (he had a larger manuscript library than most universities), art (he was the patron of Piero della Francesca amongst others), and  beautiful buildings (including the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, also its little sister, the Palazzo Ducale in Gubbio) in which to house his "civilized court".  See his famous face painted by Piero della Francesca in about 1472 (in room 7 of the Uffizi).  The diptych also features his second wife - Battista Sforza.  She married the 35 year old Duke when she was 13, bore him seven daughters then a son, and died in 1472, aged just 28 and probably exhausted,  at the birth of the latter.

Giovanni Bellini

PORTRAIT

1430

-1516

(86)

Venice

Artist

Led the charge as Venetian artists learned to paint light and soft colours and feeling, and, in Giovanni's case, a new generation of sublime Madonnas (for example I Frari and San Zaccaria in Venice).

Marsilio Ficino

BIOGRAPHY

PORTRAIT

1433

-1499

(66)

Florence (Figline)

Platonic Philosopher

Devoted his life to the translation and study of the works of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, and the integration of Plato's philosophy into Christian theology.  Suppported by the Medici who trucked in Greek texts for him like there was no tomorrow, Ficino established the Platonic Academy in 1462 in the Medici Villa at Careggi.  He produced the first translation of the works of Plato, Plotinus and many others into any European language.

Andrea del Verrocchio

1435

-1485

(50)

Florence

Sculptor

Originally trained as a goldsmith, Verrocchio expanded into sculpture and painting and must have been a most effective workshop entrepeneur and teacher - his students included Leonardo, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino.  Apart from teaching, he spent most of his life working on commissions for the Medicis (see particularly his David in the Bargello).  He designed the globe over the lantern of Brunelleschi's Dome, and his last great work was the magnificent equestrian statue of Condottieri Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice. At one stage during the latter he was sacked, but then got reinstated at twice the fee (story).  Sadly however, he died before the statue was cast and the job was completed by Alessandro Leopardi.

Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

 

PHOTOS OF THE PALAZZO AND DUOMO

1444

-1472

Urbino,

Palace

 

 

Built 1444-72 for the Duke Federico da Montefeltro. "It could be argued" said Kenneth Clark in the 1970s book and BBC TV series  "Civilization" (both still available) "that life in Urbino was one of the high water marks of western civilization. (As for the Palace), the arcaded courtyard is calm and timeless …the rooms are so perfectly proportioned that it exhilarates one to walk through them: in fact it’s the only palace in the world that I can go round without feeling oppressed and exhausted".  Another commentator says that "above all it was judgement, not just a lucky use of available talent, that made the proportions, the spaces and the decorations of his palace the purest and most harmonious expressions of Quattrocento aesthetic ideals" (J.R.Hale, U.C. London).

Sandro Botticelli

 

SELF PORTRAIT

1444

-1510

(66)

Firenze

Artist

Outstanding painter of the mid Renaissance.  Pupil of Lippi, patronized by Il Magnifico (Lorenzo de' Medici), buried in Ognissanti, parish church of the Vespucci family amongst others.

Luca Pacioli

1445

1517

(72)

Venice, Milan, Pisa

Mathematician,

Accountant

Merchant's apprentice, Franciscan friar, but really a formidable mathematician and teacher who spent some time in Milan working with Leonardo da Vinci.   He wrote an encyclopaedia of number theory and geometrical proportion (which subject he also tackled in a book illustrated by Leonardo), but is remembered on a more mundane level as the guy who wrote the first book on double entry book keeping (which by then had been around in Italy for a hundred years)!

Domenico Ghirlandaio

SELF PORTRAIT

1449

-1494

(45)

Firenze

Artist

Visual chronicler of Florentine society, master of narrative frescoing and paintings of Last Suppers in convent / monastery refectories.  See Florentine society in his narrative frescos in Santa Maria Novella and Santa Trinita, last suppers in Ognissanti, San Marco, and Badia a Passignano in Chianti (done in 1476 with his brother Davide).

"Il Magnifico"

(Lorenzo the Magnificent)

PORTRAITS

1449

-1492

(43)

Firenze

de' Medici

 

Grandson of Cosimo the Elder (the main builder of the Medici megawealth), "Il Magnifico" (what a nickname!) was much more renaissance man than business developer. more spender than banker, and the last effective head of the senior line of Medicis.  An irrelevant personal detail: he had no sense of smell!

The Gutenberg Bible

(and first Printing Press)

 

British Library Gutenberg Bible pages

1450

-1455

Mainz, Germany

First Printed Book

1450 - THE PRINTING PRESS LIGHTS UP EUROPE

Printing from moveable metal type was the key technology behind spread of knowledge and philosophy in Europe.  Johann Gutenberg (1400 - 1468) set up the first European printing presses in Mainz, Germany, around 1450.  By 1473 a printing press is recorded in Spain, and William Caxton started his press up in England in 1476.  It's interesting to reflect that popular authors such as Marco Polo (1254-1342), Dante (1265-1321), Petrarch (1304-1374), Boccacio (1313-1375) and Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) all died well before their works could benefit from this seismic shift.  Machiavelli (1469-1527), by contrast, was clever enough to be born later!  Printing presses were also important to the new breed of protestants for spreading their pamphleted messages, as indeed they had helped the papacy manufacture indulgences - the focal point of early protestant anger.

 

Actually, as in many other areas, the Chinese had been at it for centuries.  Wood block printing of books - particularly Buddhist texts and later the works of Confucius - had been practised since at least the six hundreds, with some enormous print runs recorded.  Moveable type was invented in the 1040s by one Pi Sheng.  He used clay, others used wood and sometimes metal.  The technology developed spasmodically and spread to Mongol Turkestan and Persia, though it was for some reason not embraced by the Moslem world which is odd in view of the way they took up paper and their penchant for mechanical gizmos.  We will never know whether Gutenberg, who took the credit, 400 years after Pi Sheng, had actually seen some of the products of the latter's technology, but it is more likely than not that he had!

 

Printing, of course, needs large supplies of paper (and suitable inks) to be of any use.  It is to the Chinese again that we owe the first paper - an invention claimed by a Chinese court official, Ts'ai Lun, in AD 105.  The evolving technology of papermaking migrated east, to Korea then Japan, and west - to Central Asia and Tibet and then on to India. When the Arabs, in the course of their eastern expansion, neared Samarkand they too became acquainted with the production of paper and paper mills were subsequently set up in Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and later in the western Arab states of Morocco, Spain and Sicily. In the twelve hundreds paper mills were set up in Italy in Amalfi and Fabriano.  At every stage new or modified raw materials, chemical processes and mechanical processes (particularly involving the use of water power) were constantly being tried out.  A step function in the employment of heavy water driven production equipment was achieved in Nurenburg during 1390 with the help of paper makers imported from Italy (though there were reportedly many cultural tensions and at some stages the German entrepreneur Ulmann Stromer wondered whether it was despite the help of the Italians!).  After this paper mills spread throughout Europe - an early example of a capital intensive manufacturing process.

 

Notwithstanding the advance of paper - one of the editions of Gutenberg's bible was actually printed on vellum (calves' hide) - British Library Gutenberg Bible pages.

 

Perugino

(Pietro Vannucci)

 

SELF PORTRAITS

 

2004 EXHIBITION

 

LAST SUPPER

c1450

-1523

(73)

Perugia /

Florence/

Rome

Painter

Born near Perugia, Perugino learned his trade in Verrocchio's workshop in Florence.  In 1481 he went to Rome to work on the Sistine Chapel wall frescos with Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli and Cosimo Roselli.  Although he played the dominant role in this project, several of his contributions have since been destroyed.  For the last decade of the century he was mainly in Florence, combining works for religious establishments (such as the Last Supper in the Foglino convent refectory at No 42 Via Faenza, which can be visited as part of your "off the tourist track" itinery) with teaching (amongst others) Raphael and some quite outstanding portraits (especially our favourite - La Maddelina).  Returning to Perugia in 1502 he ran out of puff and completed no more major works in the last 20 years of his life.  He eventually died of the plague. 

Vittore Carpaccio

1450/60

- c1525

(c70)

Venice

Artist

Most famous now for his Legend of Saint Ursula cycle (1490s) a series of huge paintings which occupy a huger room in the Accademia and which meticulously portray the people, customs and built environments of his time.  A much more accessible way to discover him is to go to the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, a beautiful little place inside and out, and have a good look at his painting of Saint George slaying the dragon.

Luca

Signorelli

 

SELF PORTRAIT

c1450

-1532

(82)

Cortona / Umbria

Painter

Patronized by Il Magnifico and the Pope, his best known work is the fresco cycle depicting the Last Judgement (painted 1499 - 1503) in the San Brizio Chapel of Orvieto Cathedral.  A technical master - particularly in the areas of the male anatomy and the tricks of foreshortening, he is thought to have been taught by Piero della Francesca and to have influenced both Raphael and Michelangelo.  Other works of his are spread from the Vatican through Umbria and Tuscany, and include some of the 36 large frescoes on the the life of Saint Benedict in the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore to the South of Siena.

Christopher Columbus

 

INSIGHT PAGE

 

PORTRAITS

 

CONVENT OF RABIDA (SPAIN) AND COLUMBUS' 3 BOATS

1451

-1506

(55)

Genoa, Lisbon and Spain

Entrepreneur Explorer, "Admiral of the Ocean Sea"

Born a wool merchant's son in Genoa, swims into Portugal in 1476 after his ship is sunk in battle.  Conceives of "The Enterprise of the Indies" in 1484 (as a result of his own voyages from Iceland to Guinea and encouraged by Toscanelli's calculations (see above)).  After failing to get financial support from the Portuguese King John, Columbus negotiated the "Contract of Santa Fe" with Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, who were on a roll after  evicting the Moors (and Jews) from their last Spanish stronghold in Grenada. 

Columbus' first expedition departed Spain on 2 August 1492 and the "New World" (=Bahamas) was sighted at 2am on 12 October 1492.  In accordance with his contract, Columbus was made Admiral of the Ocean Sea, viceroy of his discoveries and owner of 10% of any new wealth.  But it never really worked out as he (possessor of advanced nouveau riche values) wanted.  Three other expeditions followed with mixed results (in a class of his own as an intuitive navigator, there was nothing intuitive or classy about his leadership or organization skills!) and he died in obscurity in Spain in 1506, still convinced that what he had reached was Asia.   In 1502 he had all the agreements he had made with the Spanish Crown, along with an associated Papal Bull, bound together into a book "The Book of Privileges", and all three vellum copies of this still exist.  There is also an unusual gastronomic insight into the first voyage from Castello Banfi in Montalcino

Girolamo Savonarola

PORTRAIT

1452

-1498

(46)

Firenze

Prior and Zealot

Dominican monk and Prior of San Marco who briefly ruled Florence after Il Magnifico died, but ended up on a bonfire on Pz Della Signoria (having himself orchestrated the "Bonfire of the Vanities" in the same place a year earlier in 1497). 

Leonardo da Vinci

SELF PORTRAIT

1452

-1519

(67)

Firenze

Ultimate Allrounder

Sculptor, architect, engineer, inventor, philosopher, musician, poet and painter.

Fall of Constantinople (Byzantine Empire ends)

 

BOOK

1453

 

Fall of Constantinople to the armies of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II - the end of a 1,129 year empire that, along with the Muslim centres of Baghdad and Cordoba, had kept some of the classical flame alight during the European dark ages.   In Constantinople on the evening of the 28 May Constantine XI, eightieth Emperor of Byzantium, and thousands of his subjects gathered in the the great church of Santa Sophia, for what became the last Christian service to be held there.  The next day Constantine  was killed defending the city, and four days later Santa Sophia, Justinian's "greatest church in Christendom", had become a mosque.  Cosimo the Elder gave shelter in Florence to many exiled scholars from Byzantium.

Incidentally "Byzantine" is a descriptive term invented retrospectively after the fall of Constantinople (and based on the fact that the ancient name for the city was Byzantium).  At the time they called themselves "The Empire of the Romans".

Bernardo, il Pinturicchio

SELF PORTRAIT

1454

-1513

(59)

Perugia

Painter

Mainly remembered as the creator of the frescos illustrating the life of the Sienese Pope Pius II (Aeneus Sylvius Piccolomini) in the Piccolomini Library (Siena Duomo).  Like Piero della Francesco he was also an accomplished painter of sublime Madonnas.

Amerigo Vespucci

 

INSIGHT PAGE

 

PORTRAIT

1454

-1512

(58)

Firenze and Seville (Spain)

Navigator whose name Amerigo = America was given to two continents

Amerigo Vespucci 1454 - 1512 (58) was a member of a prominent Florentine family (who, as a matter of interest, worshipped at Ognissanti, Botticelli and Ghirlandao's church on the north bank of the River Arno near the centre of Florence).  He worked for the Medici Bank, though was not one of their high fliers and was obviously more interested in cartography and exploration that banking.

 

By the 1490s he was living in Seville working for one of the merchants who supplied Columbus (1451 - 1506 (55)),  and in the process became a lifelong friend of the great explorer.  No doubt fired up by this, Vespucci gave away merchanting and in 1597 took off as the navigator of a westerly voyage of his own also under the flag of Spain.  He claimed to have been involved in at least one more voyage supported by Spain (which discovered the mouth of the River Amazon), and two for Portugal before he returned to Spain as "Pilot Major of Spain".  All these expeditions were to the continent that became known as South America, and all have been called into question, partly because there are no ships' logs to corroborate Amerigo's accounts.  However, it is now widely accepted that our man did what he had claimed, and in particular became the first person to understand and do the hard yards to show that this was actually a new continent and not India, as most had hitherto thought.     READ MORE .........

Angelo Ambrogini Poliziano

PORTRAITS 1  2

1454

-1494

(40)

Firenze

Poet

One of the most eloquent poets of the Renaissance - author of the Stanze. Friend of Lorenzo the Magnificent, whom he saved from assassination in the Pazzi Conspiracy.

Maximilian I

 

PORTRAIT

 

1459

-1519

(60)

Holy Roman Emperor

(1493 - 1519)

Arranger of marriages for the greater territorial glory of the Habsburg line.  Acquired the Low Countries by marrying Mary of Burgundy, married off son Philip (the Handsome) to Joanna of Castile (heir to the Spanish throne and also barking mad - the throne skipped her and went to son Charles - the Emperor Charles V).  Undertook long wars in Hungary and Italy to further extend the "family" lands.  All of which bequeathed to grandson Charles V the largest empire since Rome, and one which proved completely unmanageable.

Jacob Fugger

"The Rich"

 

PORTRAITS

 

INSIGHT PAGE

 

BIOGRAPHY

1459

-1525

(66)

Augsburg

 

Merchant & Banker

 

 

The Fugger family were merchants in Augsburg, the capital of the powerful medieval Duchy of Swabia, in the south west of modern Germany (Frederick II had been King there once).  Born almost 100 years after the founders of the Medici Bank, Jacob Fugger built a bank far bigger and richer than Giovanni and Cosimo could have imagined in their wildest dreams (though posterity remembers the name Medici rather than Fugger!). 

 

Young Jacob understood that "sovereign risk" was high risk unless a) you lent big to the winning sovereigns (in his case the Habsburg Emperors Maximillian I and his grandson Charles V)  b) you only lent against over adequate tangible irrevocable collateral (in his case Habsburg monopoly silver mines in the Tirol, gold mines in Silesia, and copper mines in Hungary - all of which effectively gave him ownership of currency production as well).  He could thus sleep soundly after lending Charles 534,000 florins in 1519 to bribe the Princes and Archbishops who elected the Holy Roman Emperor.  He was known by the functional nickname of "Jacob Fugger The Rich," died without children and nowadays very few people outside Augsburg have heard of him.

Vasco da Gama

 

INSIGHT PAGE

 

PORTRAIT

1460

-1524

(64)

Portugal

 

Navigator

Portuguese navigator who in 1497, five years after Columbus' first voyage, sailed to India via the Cape of Good Hope.  On the way he named his southern African landfall "Natal" after making it ashore there on Christmas Day 1497. 

 

In fact the Cape of Good Hope, and thus the existence of a sea route to India, had been discovered by the Portuguese navigator Bartolomé Dias in 1488 in the wake of several earlier Portuguese expeditions down the west coast of Africa, and it is odd that almost another decade elapsed before an expedition was mounted to exploit it.

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

PORTRAIT

1463

-1494

(31)

Modena & Florence

 

Philosopher and Scholar

Though he died young, Pico was one of the most influential of the Renaissance neo-Platonists (as opposed to scholastics and Aristotleans).  Also influenced by the writings of the Spanish Muslim philosopher Averroes and Jewish philosophy, and driven by a desire to synthesize almost everything - Platonism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, Hebrew thought, Jewish mysticism, Arabic philosophy, and a whole host of other stuff, into a single philosophical system to serve humankind and what he saw as its unlimited capacity for spiritual self development.  His "Oration on the Dignity of Man" (easily findable on the Web) is a kind of manifesto of the Renaissance and Humanism.  Inevitably he fell foul of the church, but the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici kept them off his back and allowed him to pursue his writings in Florence.

Niccolo Machiavelli

 

PORTRAITS AND BOOKS

1469

-1527

(58)

Senior Firenze

Government Official and

Political Theorist

Career senior Florentine administrator - Secretary for War, the Interior etc, but then excluded from the circles of (briefly restored Medici) government and forced into premature retirement in 1513.  He became an author and dramatist (and wine maker - his estate to the south-west of Florence still flourishes), and is now recognized much more widely than many of his day because of his authorship of "The Prince" - a do it yourself guide for rulers who want to manipulate people effectively in order to advance their own interests (and the first such book in Europe to treat politics and ethics as being separate and not necessarily linked).

Michelangelo Buonarroti

 

PORTRAIT

1475

-1564

(89)

Firenze

Sculptor, Painter, etc

In Florence, see the original David (finished in January 1504) in the Galleria dell'Accademia (though there's not much else of consuming interest there and the copies outside the Palazzo Vecchio and in the Piazza Michelangelo are pretty good and much more accessible).  We would rather spend time with the powerful Pieta in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (with the added bonus that the central figure is a Michelangelo self portrait and Donatello's Maddelina is nearby).  Then, of course, there is Rome and a sublime Pieta in St Peters and ......

Giovanni de'Medici

(Pope Leo X)

PORTRAITS

PORTRAIT AS CHILD

1475

1513

1521

(46)

Pope Leo X

Giovanni de'Medici, second son of Lorenzo and younger brother of the fatuous Piero, became the first of the Medici Popes (Leo X - Leone Decimo) at the age of 38 on 11 March 1513.  Prior to this his life had been a complete roller coaster ...... LINK TO PAGE ON THE MEDICI POPES

Giovanni Sodoma

 

SELF PORTRAIT

1477

-1549

(72)

Siena

Artist

Painter, along with Luca Signorelli, of some 36 large frescoes on the life of San Benedict in the Great Cloister of the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore - "the Abbey in the Clouds".  Note the attractive young lads with tunic skirts slashed to the thigh! While at the Abbey, don’t miss the extraordinary marquetry work (circa 1505) by Fra Giovanni di Verona in the chapel's choir stalls.

The Pazzi Conspiracy

1478

Firenze

Brothers from an old rival Florentine banking family to the Medici, Francesco and Girolamo Pazzi, have a go (with the secret support of Pope Sixtus IV (della Rovere)) at killing Giuliano and (Magnificent) brother Lorenzo de Medici in the Florence Duomo, but the latter escapes with the help of Angelo Poliziano, and the Pazzi clan are systematically eliminated.

Spanish Inquisition starts

1478

Spain

Inquisition

Although the institution of The Inquisition had been around since 1231, it only became a byword for terror and indiscriminate torture in Spain in 1478, when Ferdinand and Isabella, with the support of Sixtus IV,  appointed Dominican priest Tomás de Torquemada as Grand Inquisitor and he headed for the ranks of Jews and Muslims who had converted to Christianity, followed by assorted other supposed heretics followed by various other people and activities he did not like.   Torture followed by "confession" was the standard procedure, after which came "punishment" - including more than 2,000 burnings at the stake in Torquemada's time alone.  The underlying dynamic of all this was fear of the Jews (and to a lesser extent Muslims), and in 1492 nearly 200,000 Jews had their assets confiscated and were expelled  from Spain.  The Inquisition in Spain and its colonies was only finally suppressed in 1834.   

Giulio de Medici

(Pope Clemente Settimo)

PORTRAITS

INSIGHT PAGE

1478

-1534

(56)

Pope Clement VII (Clemente Settimo)

 

 

Second of the four Medici Popes. Handsome, well travelled, a sophisticated intellectual and an outstanding musician - none of which stopped him presenting more as an unattractive, devious intriguing Pope (from 1523) who scored home goals by losing Rome and also Henry VIII's England. In fact poping was not a Medici strength - the corrupt manoeuvrings (especially the sale of indulgencies, facilitated by the new printing presses) of the first Medici Pope, Clement's cousin (and Il Magnifico's son) Leo X, triggered the birth of the Protestant movement - see below.

Ferdinand Magellan

 

INSIGHT PAGE

 

PORTRAIT

1480

 -1521

(41)

Portugal then Spain

Navigator

Portuguese courtier turned navigator who transferred his services to Spain.  In 1519 he set sail from Seville across the Atlantic with five ships and over 270 men in search of the Spice Islands.  They sailed past the interestingly named "Cape of the Eleven Thousand Virgins" and through what was to become known as the Magellan Strait at the southerly tip of South America,  crossed an ocean he named "the Pacific" because it was, and landed in the Philippines, where our man was killed in a scuffle with the natives.  One ship and 18 men made it back to Spain in 1522.  One of those who returned was the Italian nobleman Antonio Pigafetta whose detailed day by day account of the entire voyage survived and is available as a book.

 

Magellan is credited with circumnavigating the world because he had earlier (1501-12) made it to the Spice Islands via the Cape of Good Hope.

Martin Luther

INSIGHT PAGE

1483

-1546

(63)

Wittenberg

Church Reformer

On 31 October 1517, married Augustinian monk Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg - the launch of the Reformation and the Protestant Movement which, facilitated by the recent inventions of printing and cheap paper, was to sweep Northern Europe.

Raphael Sanzio

 

PORTRAITS

1483

-1520

(37)

Urbino

Painter

Leading late renaissance painter - Painted "The Mute Woman" in Urbino Palace, (Medici) Pope Leo X in the Uffizi and much much more (especially La Stanza della Segnatura in Rome which includes the famous "School of Athens").  Portraited alluringly by Pinturicchio in one of the Piccolomini Library frescos in the Siena Duomo, and by himself in the School of Athens fresco and several self portraits.

Titian (Tiziano Vecello)

SELF PORTRAIT

1485

-1576

(91)

Venice

Painter

Prolific and long lived late renaissance painter from Venice.  Outstanding with flesh textures (see for example the Venus of Urbino in the Uffizi).  Much in demand for court portraits such as those of Charles V and Suleiman the Magnificent.

Giovanni da Verrazzano

 

INSIGHT PAGE

 

STATUE IN GREVE IN CHIANTI

1485

-1528

(43)

Greve in Chianti

Navigator

Giovanni da Verrazzano (from Greve in Chianti where his statue stands in the Piazza) was the one who did the early hard yards in the discovery of the East Coast of North America.  Giovanni set out in 1524 with four ships, promoted by the French King Francis I, and paid for by Italian Bankers and Merchants from Lyons (Kings did not pay for things).  Two of the ships sank early on and a third got no further than the coast of Spain before having to return home as it was fully laden with booty taken from other less well armed travellers - an interesting commentary on the times! 

 

Our lad made it across the Atlantic in ship 4 and amongst other things discovered New York Harbour (hence the bridge there bearing his name - the longest suspension bridge in the World) and lots of different tribes of native Americans.  He also erroneously identified a sea passing through the middle of the continent to China.  He made two more expeditions before being captured and eaten by natives in Guadeloupe in 1528.  Well that's the Italian culinary version of his end.  Spanish records indicate that he was captured off the coast of Cadiz and executed on the orders of Charles V, who was probably still smarting about the loss of a treasure ship loaded with priceless loot sent to him from Mexico by Cortés, and captured by Verrazzano in 1522.

Henry VIII of England

INSIGHT PAGE,

 

HENRY'S CATHEDRALS,

 

BOOK

1491

-1547

(56)

London (England)

Tudor King

A timeline link with one of the better known English Kings - It was Medici Pope Clemente Settimo (see above) who refused to let Henry divorce Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn  - which led to the creation of the Church of England in 1534, followed by the dissolution / looting of all England's monasteries and convents starting in 1536.  As well as having a lot of Queens, Henry was a collector of Thomases, including Cardinal Wolsey (c1470 - 1530 (60)) (Chancellor with 1,000 servants and a general liking for the luxuries of life), Cromwell (Vicar General and enforcer of the biggest redistribution of wealth in England since the Norman conquest of 1066), Moore (1478 - 1535 (57)) (Chancellor, executor of protestants, author of "Utopia", executee and from 1935 (that's right it took 400 years) saint - in fact patron saint of politicians), and Cranmer (the Archbishop who guided Henry and England through divorces and reformation, who wrote the still used Book of Common Prayer, and who ended up after all this being executed by Henry's daughter Queen Mary).

S Ignatius Loyola

BOOK

PORTRAIT

1491

-1556

65

Spain

Soldier,

Jesuit Founder

Spanish soldier who converted to the religious life in 1521 after being wounded in battle.  Not content with this he went on to co-found (with another Basque, S Francis Xavier) the Jesuit Order (the Society of Jesus) in 1534.

  1492  

"1492 - THE END OF THE MIDDLE AGES"

Lorenzo the Magnificent dies in Florence, Columbus discovers America (almost), and Granada (the last Moslem presence in Spain) falls, which is why 1492 is regarded by many as symbolically the last year of the Middle Ages!  Unrelated to these internationally seismic events, it was also the year that Roderigo de Borgia became Pope Alessandro VI.

Suleiman the Magnificent

(Suleiman I)

INSIGHT PAGE

1494

-1566

(72)

Istanbul

Ottoman Sultan (from 1520)

and Caliph

Another "Magnifico", "Suleiman the Magnificent", the tenth and greatest Ottoman Sultan. Builder of great empire and buildings, giver of laws (and for that also remembered as "Suleiman the Law Giver") and effective administrative systems, promoter of the arts, writer of poems - particularly concerning his love for his chief wife Roxelena.

Francis I

INSIGHT PAGE

1494

-1547

(53)

France

King of France

Valois King who spent most of his long reign (1515-47) biffing and being biffed by Charles V in a series of wars.  When not thus engaged he practised absolute monarchy in the comparatively small area around Paris where he held sway.

Jacopo Carucci (Pontormo)

1494

-1557

(63)

Firenze

Painter

Leading mannerist painter.

15 HUNDREDS

 

 

 

The Reformation

1500

 

Gathering groundswell in the early years of the century, given focus and unstoppable momentum by Martin Luther and his Ninety-Five Theses, backed by the spread of printing presses following their introduction at Mainz in Germany in the mid fourteen hundreds, and by William Caxton in England in 1476.

Charles V

 

INSIGHT PAGE

 

Habsburg family pic

 

Family Trees

1500

-1558

(58)

Holy Roman Emperor & King (Charles I) of Spain & other places.

The most powerful Habsburg of them all (in theory).

Charles V inherited and expanded the World's first trans oceanic global empire, encompassing the lands of the Holy Roman Empire (Germany, Austria etc), the Netherlands, Southern Italy, Spain and substantial bits of North Africa and the Americas, and latterly much of Italy and Eastern Europe.  Nothing like it had existed before or since.  His kingly reach was a triumph of the marriage engineering skills of his paternal grandfather, the great Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I, who passed on the Holy Roman Emperorship to him (with the help of a huge amount of bribe money organized by mega banker Jacob Fugger) and indirectly bequeathed the Netherlands via his son and Charles' father, and the Spanish bits via his mother (Joan, the daughter of Los Reyes Cathólicos, Ferdinand and Isabella, who lost it after the early death of her handsome Habsburg hubbie and got locked up).  It is fascinating to appreciate that the Habsburgs then and later believed that they owned all this unconditionally by right, and were very pissed off with anyone who did not subscribe to this truth. 

 

However, such huge tracts of territory might have been governable by brute force in the era of Genghis Khan, but were not in the era of post Renaissance Europe and emerging Nation States.  Charles was inevitably confronted by other strong monarchs - particularly Francis I of France and Suleiman the Magnificent, and to a lesser extent Henry VIII of England (whose first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was Charles' Auntie).  And within his own lands there was an even bigger obstacle - Martin Luther - whom he met face to face at the Diet of Worms in 1522 and took an instant, deep and lasting dislike to.

 

In the end, in 1555 he gave the Spanish stuff to his son Philip II, and the rest to his brother who became the Emperor Ferdinand II (a single Habsburg was never again to rule both East and West in Europe), and spent the last three years of his life in the monastery of Yuste.

Benventuto Cellini

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

BIOGRAPHY

1500

-1571

(71)

Firenze

Goldsmith and Author

A seriously good goldsmith and sculptor, but remembered just as much for his Autobiography - "a vivid and convincing portrait of the manners and morals both of the rulers of the sixteenth century and their subjects"

Giorgio Vasari

SELF PORTRAIT

BOOKS: "Lives of the Artists"

1512

-1574

(62)

Firenze

Architect, Painter & Author

Another of your great Renaissance all-rounders. Taught by Michaelangelo, it was he who rescued for safe keeping the broken off arm of the great sculptor's David, which had been toppled over in one of the frequent Florentine riots in the early decades of the 1500s.    Giorgio became Cosimo I's architect of choice.  He replaced the core of the Pal Vecchio (and also painted some of the big works in the Hall of 500), frescoed the inside of the Duomo cupola, was architect for the new civic offices (the Uffizi) and the revamped Palazzo Pitti (and the "Vasari Corridor" connecting the last two, which allowed Cosimo I to get to work without being assonated).  Last but not least, he authored "Lives of the Artists" which is the source of much of today's received knowledge about the Artists of the Renaissance.

Jacopo Robusti (Tintoretto)

1518

-1594

(76)

Venetian

Painter

More soon!

Cosimo I

(de Medici)

 

MEDICI FAMILY PAGES

 

COSIMO TAKES OVER SIENA

1519

-1574

(55)

Firenze

First Grand Duke of Tuscany

From the cadet branch of the family  after the senior branch had failed, Cosimo I was plucked in 1537 from country obscurity by Emperor Charles V at the age of 18  to rule Florence in a compliant way.  Cosimo I proved to be a very competent detailed administrator at a time when being a dull pompous control freak did not seem to matter.  This was the Cinquecento - the swash buckling visionary Renaissance glory days of the Quattrocento were over - bit like a cold dose of economic rationalism today but with more support for the arts thrown in!  During his 37 year rule he  managed the growth of Florence into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, finally defeating and absorbing the Republic of Siena in 1557 and reducing the influence of the Emperor and of the French King Francis 1 (link to Insight Page) by playing them off against each other (though it was to be another 300 years before Italians finally got rid of foreign rulers). 

 

On the home building side he moved early in his "reign" to the Vasari renovated Palazzo Vecchio, and then later to the Palazzo Pitti (bought by wife Eleanora of Toledo, wealthy daughter of the Spanish Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples, to better house their ten children, though half died before twenty and Eleanora herself died of malaria, contracted whilst holidaying on the West Coast of Tuscany, in 1562 at the early age of 40).  He then had Giorgio Vasari build a huge "corridor" (better described as a series of galleries) at first floor level across the Ponte Vecchio / Arno and linking the Palazzo Pitti with the newly built Uffizi offices and the Palazzo Vecchio itself, so that he could walk to work in elevated safety.  Today the galleries of the Vasari Corridor are used to display the Uffizi's huge collection of artist self portraits, and can be visited by prior arrangement.

Andrea Gabrieli

1520

-1586

(66)

Venice

Composer

Organist of St Marks Venice from 1566. Writer of madrigals and, most famously, grand music involving several choirs.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

1525

-1594

(69)

Rome

Composer

Most important composer of church music in Italy in the latter fifteen hundreds (and a "success story" of the Counter Reformation). Simplicity, purity and sensuousness are three of the words used to describe the Palestrina sound - where music reflected and allowed the meaning of words to come through rather than obscuring them.

Sack of Rome

1527

Rome

The grizzly sack and destruction of Rome by a mercenary Landsknecht army of Hapsburg Spanish King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.  Escape of disguised Medici Pope Clement VII ("Clemente Settimo") to Orvieto where he had earlier ordered the building of the vast "Pozzo di San Patrizio" - a 62 m deep well accessed via double spiral stairways so that those going down never meet those coming up! 

Paolo Caliare Veronese

1528

- 1588

(60)

Painter

Verona /

Venice

Along with Tinoretto, took over from Titian the leadership of Venetian art.  More into huge scale decorative paintings than intense emotional expressiveness.  To get a flavour of what this means,  go to Room 10 of the Accademia and spend half an hour with the Feast at the House of Levy - the Last Supper that brought Veronese before the Inquisition (transcript). The Louvre and London's National Gallery also have large Veronese masterpieces.

Siege of Florence

1529

-1530

Florence

This time by the Prince of Orange on behalf of Charles V - even a total scorched earth strategy and Michelangelo's help designing the defences was of no avail, leading to the reestablishment of Medici rule in the form of Clement VII's "nephew" (=illegitimate son) and eventually, after his murder by his cousin, in the elevation of Cosimo I in 1537.

Domenikos Theotocopoulos

("El Greco")

SELF PORTRAIT

1541

-1614

(73)

Cretan / Spanish

Painter

More soon!

The Counter-Reformation

1545

 

The Catholic Church at the long running Council of Trent (1545-63) decides that the Reformation needs to be rolled back (or stopped from further expansion anyway) - two of the European instruments used in this were the Jesuits (founded by S Ignatius Loyola in 1534) to teach, and an expanded Inquisition to root out and eliminate those who did not want to be taught!

 

It was 1562 before the deliberations got round to music, resulting in the banning of masses based on popular songs (which most of them were) and other distractive music. Luckily Palestrina and Victoria were in Rome to take up the challenge of producing the new church music, and produced a transcendently beautiful style that was to retain its influence into the eighteenth century.

Tomas Luis de Victoria

1548

-1611

(63)

Spain /

Rome

Composer

Along with Palestrina, the great composer of the Counter Reformation - listen to CD recordings of his soaring masses by the Westminster Cathedral Choir.

Giovanni Gabrieli

1555

-1612

(57)

Venice

Composer

Nephew of Andrea and the greatest composer of the Venetian school.

Jacopo Peri

1561

-1633

(72)

Florence

Opera Composer

Court singer to the Medici who wrote the first known opera - La Dafne (since lost) in 1598, and later L'Euridice in 1600.

Galileo Galilei

 

PORTRAIT

1564

-1642

(78)

Pisa

Scientist

Late scientific thinker of the Renaissance, early thinker of "the Enlightenment".  He was supported and encouraged by the Medici, who created the position of Court Professor especially for him.  Amongst many other things he surprised the world by demonstrating that ice floated, and that canon balls of different weights dropped from the leaning edge of the Tower of Pisa hit the ground at the same time. 

 

The telescope ("spy glass") had been invented around 1605 by a Dutch spectacle maker.  However it was Galileo who a couple of years later started to refine lens making so that the x3 magnification achievable with crude spectacle lenses became x30 in his telescopes.  Most importantly, Galileo turned his new telescope towards the planets and stars.  Later he was famously brought before the inquisition for stating that the Earth revolved around the Sun, and forced to recant and retire.

 

See his and many other large and beautifully made "instruments" in the fascinating Instituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, just behind the East wing of the Uffizi in Florence.

William Shakespeare

1564

-1616

(52)

England

Playright

Well known English playwright. 

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

SELF PORTRAIT

1573

-1610

(37)

Rome

Painter

Breakout painter of people in dramatic lighting - go to Rome to view!

P P Rubens

SELF PORTRAIT

1577

-1640

(63)

Flemish

Painter

More to come

Grotesque ceilings

(Uffizi)

PHOTO

1579

1581

Firenze

Decorative arts

46 Ceilings in the East Wing of the Uffizi painted by Antonio Tempesta and Alessandro Allori - after the style of rooms decorated by Fabullus in the palace of Emperor Nero, discovered in Rome in the 1480s and then thought to be "grottoes".

Diego Velasquez

SELF PORTRAIT

1599

-1660

(61)

Madrid, Spain

Painter

More to come

The Enlightenment

 

 

The use of reason and logic to support social progress, and the exploitation of the liberating possibilities of rational and scientific knowledge. Progress was facilitated by the intellectual concept of differentiating human "oneness" into three "value spheres" of morals, science and art ("the good the true and the beautiful") so that a (reason based) scientific theory (for instance) no longer needed the approval of the (belief based) church.

Formation of the British East India Company

INSIGHT PAGE -THE GREAT MUGHAL EMPERORS

1600

London, England On 31 December 1600, England's Queen Elizabeth I (1533 - 1558 - 1603 (70)) signed the Royal Charter which created the British East India Company. Originally a monopoly joint stock trading company, it grew to being the administrator of the whole of India until, in the wake of the rebellion of 1857, India was made a Crown Colony and the assets of the Company were taken over by the British Government.

ARTISTS OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE

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