Burckhardtian Renaissance

History 324

Prof. Horowitz

Burckhardtian Renaissance

State as a Work of Art

Development of the Individual

The Revival of Antiquity

Discovery of the World and of Humanity

Equalization of society

Immoral and Irreligious Pagan Age


Jacob Burckhardt

Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy


Burckhardtian Renaissance: True to the Evidence or Not?

Controversy on Burckhardt discussed in Ferguson, The Renaissance in Historical Thought

State as a Work of Art

Self-conscious, deliberate design of city-states

Despotisms bred a new type of egoicentric individual

Distinctive aesthetic urban styles

Republics with party strife bred new independent individuals


Development of the Individual

Growing consciousness of the subjective and of personality

Growing consciousness of fame

Emergence of the multivaried individual


The Revival of Antiquity

The "renaissance of arts and letters," what humanists originally meant by the word "renaissance."

The reemergence in Italy of its ancient Roman culture.


Discovery of the World and of Humanity

Voyages of exploration, map-making, and the discovery of the beauty of landscape.

Human spirit explored in poetry, biography, and social commentary.

Expansion of natural science.


Equalization of Society with Festivals as an Expression of a Common Culture

Mingling of noble and burgher in an urban society based on wealth and culture, not birth.

Outward refinement of fashion, language, and social gatherings.

Conceptualization of ideal man and ideal woman in secular terms.


Immoral and Irreligious Pagan Age

Machiavelli’s view of Italians as irreligious and corrupt among peoples.

Mixture of ancient and modern superstitions

Bursts of religiosity intermingled with periods of secularity.


Concluding sentence of Burckhardt:

"…the Italian Renaissance must be called the mother of our modern age."