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Renaissance 4 Essay, Research Paper

Renaissance Etiquette

As Italy and the rest of Europe entered the final stages of the Renaissance, a new set of rules concerning etiquette and manners of the upper-class were put into practice. These new rules, along with their influence, can be attributed mainly to Baldesar Castiglione. In 1528, Castiglione wrote and published a book entitled The Courtier, which would influence both Italian lifestyles and literature for centuries.

The Courtier was a used mostly by the Italian upper-class as a standard for how a true Renaissance gentleman was to behave. The book covered every aspect of Renaissance life from appearance to love to art to a gentleman s reputation.

In his book, Castiglione writes of the courtier , who is a character representative of the desired Renaissance gentleman. As far as appearance was concerned, Castiglione wrote that the courtier should not curl his hair, pluck his eyebrows, or do anything else that would make him appear somewhat feminine. The courtier should be neither too big nor too small, but of the two physical flaws it would be better to be too small. He should be well built, which would allow him to show his strength and suppleness. Castiglione also felt that the ideal Renaissance gentleman should be naturally endowed with beauty of countenance and person and with an attractive grace .

Castiglione believed that a gentleman s ability in sports and games was of great importance. According to Castiglione, a true gentleman should not look for fights or battles, but should be prepared if one were to arise. He should be be eager to fight only when defending his lover. The courtier should be a versatile man in the area of horses with the ability to not only ride well but to also be able to fight well while on horseback. He should have an expert knowledge of weapons and be skillful in their uses.

Another aspect of a gentleman s life which Castiglione felt needed a standard was the way in which a gentleman behaved among his friends and companions. He thought that the absence of friendship in one s life was a great loss. Castiglione believed that friendship amongst more than two was dangerous because it became more difficult to achieve harmony. The courtier should have one friend to whom he would be very close, and also have a circle of friends to love, honor, and respect. It was Castiglione s idea that one would succeed in the area of friendship if he was compassionate, charming, tolerant, affectionate, and able to acknowledge his own faults.

A good reputation was something Castiglione believed to be of great importance. It did not matter if a gentleman was brilliant or ignorant; he would be respected solely on his reputation. Castiglione thought that a good reputation would benefit someone if they were traveling and were a stranger. If they had a good reputation, they would be respected despite the fact that they were unknown.

On the subject of love, Castiglione believed that it was very important for a gentleman to declare his love to a woman so that there would be no way that the woman could be unaware of the genleman s feelings and intentions. However, these declarations of love should be made discreetly and be shown through the courtier s actions rather than his words.

Castiglione had many other rules concerning the way in which a gentleman should behave and what he should spend his time doing. The epitome of Castiglione s courtier would be a gentleman who was extremely versatile in all matters, including art, sports, and knowledge. The rules that Castiglione came up with were used for centuries afterwards and all over the world. Baldesar Castiglione has been called the Miss Manners of his time because he defined the social etiquette of the Renaissance, which had a lasting impact on future generations.

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