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Humanizing the RenaissanceThe Renaissance was a time of great achievements. Some say that the most important achievement was the idea of perspective because it is used so frequently in art today. However, the Renaissance idea that is most evident today are the humanist views about a broad education curriculum. Humanistic views about the study of history, literature, and religion are still used in schools today. History was a very important issue stressed by the humanists. The humanists encouraged the study of history, as to not repeat the same mistakes again. In the Middle Ages, history was not studied. The humanist believed that in the studies of history, one can discover successes and flaws of their ancestors. If someone knows how to become successful, then they will attempt to do it. If someone knows what will become a flaw, they will not attempt it. The humanist belief of studying history hinged on the above two statements. The typical humanist studied Greek and Roman writings, because they aspired to be like the Greeks and Romans. Since the Greeks and Romans were very successful at what they set out to do, humanists attempted to mirror some of their actions. For example, humanists began to take on a more worldly belief, rather than a spiritual one. Religion began to play an unimportant role in the daily life of a humanist. Humanists would rather mirror the Greeks and Roman and spend time on philosophy, prose, and poetry. Humanistic views on religion affected today’s views very much. So the humanists, by and large, acted as if Christianity were a myth conformable to the needs of popular imagination and morality, but not to be taken seriously by emancipated minds (Durant 84). The humanists accepted Christianity because it was a means of which to escape reality for normal people. However, since the humanists considered themselves to have free minds, they never took Christianity seriously. For these and other reasons there was a conflict between humanism and Christianity, but it was not dramatic or critical. . . but the danger was not an alternative, or rival, faith. Rather, it was the possibility of the substitution of worldly for spiritual values (Hale 59). The humanists came into conflict with Christianity because they believed in tangible things, and did not endorse things such as faith. Church officials realized that the humanists could undermine the entire Christian faith and set about trying to sway people’s beliefs. Preachers up and down the peninsula. . . attracting huge congregations and encouraging the burning of “vanities” – cosmetics, jewelry, false hair, indecent songs and pictures (Hale 59). The humanists were being suppressed by the priests of the Christian faith, because religion played a very important role in Italian’s lives. The priests did not want the emancipated humanists to succeed in making people drop their spiritual beliefs and endorse more worldly values. To ordinary people throughout Italy religion in the Renaissance still played much the same role – and provoked the same responses – as it had in the Middle Ages (Hale 60). One diary entry of Luca Landucci supports normal people’s reason for religion. “Our Lady of Impruneta was brought into the city, for the sake of obtaining fine weather, as it had rained for more than a month. And it immediately became fine (Hale 60).” People during Renaissance times still thought of religious items as charms, to ward off bad weather, as shown in this example. The use of charms and ceremonies was against what the humanists believed. The humanists reverted back to the ways of the Classics, believing that everything must have a logical scientific explanation. The humanistic views on religion eventually led to the creation of new religions, which did not necessarily agree with Christian doctrine. Many of these religions are evident today.

Humanistic views on literature are also used by the modern educational system. The humanist believed that the best foundation for such a life was an education based on the ancient classical ideals, for he believed such ideals had developed in the Greeks and Romans a liberal attitude towards life (Mills 157). After the Middle Ages, many of the Greek and Roman writings were lost, only to be rediscovered by the humanists. In the fifty years before the Turks took Constantinople, a few humanists studied or traveled in Greece, where many humanistic ideas and values originated from, if not all of them. The fall of Constantinople resulted in the loss of many classics previously mentioned by Byzantine writers as in the libraries of that city; nevertheless thousands of volumes were saved, and most of them came to Italy; to this day the best manuscripts of Greek classics are in Italy (Durant 78). Since many of the books were brought into Italy, anyone with an open mind could have access to them. However, in order to read these writings, humanists stressed studies of the Greek and Latin languages. Greek and Latin had to be studied if someone decided to read the books, since no translations into the vernacular language were available. The decision to become bilingual is a decision that affected education today in a very large way. Every school requires that you take courses on a language that is not native to you. The humanists had a very large affect on the modern educational system as shown by their beliefs in the study of history, literature, and religion. If it had not been for the humanists, many of the studies of today would not exist. BibliographyBrooks, Polly Schoyer and Walworth, Nancy Zinsser The World Awakes. New York: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1962. Durant, Will The Renaissaince. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1953. Hale, John R. Renaissance. New York: Times Inc., 1965Mills, Dorothy Renaissance and Reformation Times. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1939. National Geographic Society The Renaissance Maker of Modern Man. New York: National Geographic Society, 1970.


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