2nd Edition

A Short History of Renaissance Italy

By Lisa Kaborycha Copyright 2024
    406 Pages 42 Color & 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    406 Pages 42 Color & 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    406 Pages 42 Color & 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    From Giotto’s artistic revolution at the dawn of the fourteenth century to the scientific discoveries of Galileo in the early seventeenth, this book explores the cultural developments of one of the most remarkable and vibrant periods of history—the Italian Renaissance. What makes the period all the more amazing is that this flowering of the visual arts, literature, and philosophy occurred against a turbulent backdrop of civic factionalism, foreign invasions, war, and pestilence.

    The fifteen chapters move briskly from the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West through the growth of the Italian city-states, where, in the crucible of pandemic disease and social unrest, a new approach to learning known as humanism was forged, political and religious certainties challenged. Traversing the entire Italian Peninsula— Florence, Rome, Milan, Venice, Naples and Sicily—this book examines the rich regional diversity of Renaissance cultural experience and considers men’s and women’s lives, their changing social attitudes and beliefs across three centuries. This second edition has been updated throughout; it now contains dozens of color images and timelines, as well as links to the author's new companion book of primary sources, Voices from the Italian Renaissance.

    Readers will need no preliminary background on the subject matter, as the story is told in a lively, readable narrative. Interdisciplinary in nature, its characters are merchants, bankers, artists, saints, soldiers of fortune, poets, popes, and courtesans. With brief literary excerpts, first-hand accounts, maps, and illustrations that help bring the era to life, this is an ideal text for students in a college survey course, as well as for the interested general reader or traveler to Italy who is curious to learn more about the extraordinary heritage of the Renaissance.

    Chapter 1 Out of the Ashes: The Rise of the Communes and Florence in the Age of Dante

    Chapter 2 The Crises of the Fourteenth Century: Climatic, Epidemic, Demographic Disasters

    Chapter 3 Back to the Future: Italian Humanists Recover the Classical Past

    Chapter 4 Caput Mundi Again? The City of Rome Reborn

    Chapter 5 Hearth and Home: Lay Piety, Women, and the Family

    Chapter 6 Lords of the Renaissance: The Medici, Visconti, and Sforza Dynasties through 1466

    Chapter 7 The Mezzogiorno: The ‘Other Renaissance’ in Naples and Sicily

    Chapter 8 La Serenissima: When Venice Ruled the Seas

    Chapter 9 Magnificent Florence: Life Under Lorenzo De’ Medici

    Chapter 10 1494: The Beginning of the Calamities of Italy

    Chapter 11 Paradoxes of the High Renaissance: Art in a Time of Turmoil

    Chapter 12 The 1527 Sack of Rome and its Aftermath

    Chapter 13 Reformations: Political, Religious, and Artistic Upheaval

    Chapter 14 The ‘Imperial Renaissance’: Italy During the Spanish Peace

    Chapter 15 Celestial Revolutions: Heaven and Earth Collide at the Turn of the Seventeenth Century

    Epilogue: The End of the Renaissance?


    Lisa Kaborycha holds a Ph.D. in Medieval and Early Modern European History from the University of California, Berkeley and has been the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship; a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship with the Medici Archive Project; and Harvard’s Villa I Tatti Fellowship in Italian Renaissance Studies. In addition to A Short History of Renaissance Italy, and Voices from the Italian Renaissance, she is the author of A Corresponding Renaissance: Letters Written by Italian Women, 1375–1650 (2016). For years Kaborycha taught courses in Renaissance History for the University of California and currently works as adjunct professor at the University of New Haven Tuscany Campus and lecturer at the British Institute of Florence.