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Renaissance Essay, Research Paper
There were many different values and purposes of Renaissance education.
Different philosophers and thinkers had contrasted opinions on education and other ideas
of the Renaissance, but they all felt that change was necessary. The renaissance was a
rebirth of society and the revival of education brought Europe out of the Dark Ages.
The Renaissance began in the fourteenth century and it reached its height in the
fiftieth century. During the sixteenth and seventeenth century it spread throughout
Europe. Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini had some of the earliest views on the need for
change in how people were educated. Piccolomini wrote On the Education of Free Man
and he saw the need for more education. Piccolomini felt that it was necessary to study
history in order to be able to ensure a better future. He felt that a world without
education was one where darkness covers the land.
The great Italian thinker, Baldassare Castiglione dealt more with politics. His
book, The Courtier was the most widely read book in Europe at the time. The Courtier,
which was written in 1528 presented an idealized picture of life at court and the
relationship between the prince and the courtier. Castiglione, who was a courtier and a
diplomat himself, felt that all gentlemen should be learned in humanities, verse and prose.
Unlike many other thinkers of the Renaissance, Castiglione felt that this education was
necessary to entertain women and the ability to judge the writing of other people.
Castiglione s feelings on education did not agree with many of the other Renaissance
thinkers such as Piccolomini. Piccolomini felt that education would save society from a
dark mask. Castiglione felt that education would produce a proper gentlemen. These two
men were thinking at different levels and this is just another value of the Renaissance.
The role of women was also beginning to significantly change during the
Renaissance. Men had many different ideas about how women should be educated. Juan
Luis Vives. Vives was a Spanish humanist and he wrote The Instruction of A Christian
Woman in 1523. Vives felt that books should teach women god manners and that women
should be taught from holy scriptures or the sayings of philosophers. This idea of
educating women was a revolutionary idea, even thought the lengths to which women
could go wee extremely limited. Vives wrote about how women should be taught from
Holy Scriptures. This idea is a little strange in the Renaissance, because most thinkers
were secularists and believed in breaking with the church. Obviously Vives is an
exception to this common characteristic of Renaissance thinkers. Never the less, Vives s
ideas were revolutionary.
In the late sixteenth century, there were schools for women where the women
were taught things such as reading, writing, dancing and embroidery. The fact that there
are schools for women shows the development of the Renaissance, but there is once again
a limit to what women can learn at these schools. Although women were receiving
education, it was not even comparable to that of men.
In a letter written in the mid-seventeenth century, the reopening of French Jesuit
school was discussed. The writer of this letter had a realistic point of view and felt that
not everyone had to be educated. The writer felt that schools are a necessity, but to many
of them is an unfavorable thing. This writer felt that there was a greater need for more
hardworking bodies than dreamy and contemplative spirits. This is a valid point, because
society needs people to work than to think in order for people to survive. This is just
another different Renaissance opinion.
The differences in opinions and ideas of Renaissance writers is such a metaphor of
the point of the Renaissance itself. People were not following the crowd; new and
contrasting ideas were being born. Thinkers challenged each other and learned from each
other and this essentially was the beauty of the Renaissance, it was a time of long needed
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