Italian Culture of the Renaissance and its Expansion Part 1
In short, an era of tiring construction, the ‘300 and’ 400 in Italy, especially this period that is between one and the other century. It was built in the midst of violent contrasts, in the midst of extremely changeable circumstances, on unstable ground sown with debris. Never as in these two centuries of Italian history, life visibly presents itself as a struggle for existence, the victory of the strongest, the merciless suppression of the weakest, not the law but the decisive element force, albeit in view of a new law. to be created and validated. And no traditional theories or rules that preside over action and guide it, no moral concerns, no great place left to transcendent forces and the institutions that represent and administer them. Everything is calculation, evaluation of the fleeting moment, control and self-control, study of men to draw from there the norm of work, study of circumstances, to be grasped or even created, in view of an end to be achieved. Therefore, an essentially individual construction. In the memories of the time, there is little place for masses or collectivities, for parties or other organized nuclei. Not even for families, as a patrimonial and moral unit, is there much room. But the foreground of the scene is occupied by individuals, with well-marked features: leaders, ministers, popes, gentlemen, some leaders, some reformer friar of customs or leader of Crusader groups or, for a moment, ruler of the city.
According to MICROEDU, this reality of time is also specifically reflected in the products of intellectual activity. The new concept of man adapts to it, now looked at outside the political and religious schemes, evaluated in himself, in his virtue and not in relation to religious profession, birth, wealth. Didn’t other things happen like that? Art had been freed from extraneous elements, beauty sought without political and moral concerns ( Boccaccio’s Decameron , Primavera by Botticelli). Knowledge was longed for in itself, as having its own purpose and value, as the first and true task of man, his mission (Petrarch and, even more, LB Alberti). Nature had been observed with a mind free from preconceptions and with the persuasion of its autonomy, as capable alone – apart from the first origin of things and the seal of God the creator – of explaining itself (Leonardo). So too is man. And looked at himself, man presents himself to the eyes of time rather optimistically, the center or pivot and driving force of life, faber suae fortunae, free to choose and fulfill his destiny, capable of being whatever he wants. The will, the true essence of man, almost synonymous with humanity. Celebrated is the self-made man, who rises from nothing to a high position and glory, which has now become supreme good. It is as if Italian society, the Italian bourgeoisie born of the cities, celebrates itself having managed to be, from nothing that it was, all or almost everything; as if he celebrated the lordship and the lord, who was himself, in his own way, a creature of that bourgeoisie and, in his own way, implemented that ideal of man who makes himself. In short, monarchical or oligarchic orientation of political thought. The great politicians of the sixteenth century introduce themselves. This era of the formation of principalities cannot be said to still have its own coherent and organic political thought. And yet in the jurists, in the writers,
This fifteenth-century Italy which now rests on the foundation of five or six independent states, closely linked to each other, each very sensitive to the action of the other, and has therefore reached a relative political unity, also wants to be looked at as a growing unity of culture. They are a concrete manifestation of this, even while they have contributed to promoting it: the law; the vulgar literary language which in the 14th and 15th centuries penetrated everywhere and is also found in the legislative documents of Sicily or Dalmatia; the figurative, constructive and plastic arts which, having developed more in one region or more in another, more or less linked, in the various regions, to local traditions and foreign influences, underwent during those centuries a process of assimilation to which perhaps no artistic environment of the peninsula escapes. The various local or regional schools act on each other, through the craftsmen who have no local and regional limits in their activity. Thus the various artistic schools broke the enclosure within which they had sprouted and undoubtedly became Italian painting, Italian sculpture. Now, we add the new literary culture founded on the study of the classics, the most intense cult for the ancient, the ideal of Rome. Development of city life and bourgeoisie and capitalism; contrasts between church and state and reaction to the medieval theocracy; laity and the tendency of life to humanize itself and seek and find in itself the reasons for itself, progress of state absolutism; practical needs of various kinds explain this rebirth. Which, in reality, is the manifestation of a new path, consciously lived. And in the fifteenth century there is already the conviction that a new age is advancing. But the fact appears in a certain sense as a return to the past.