The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 07

Anonymous The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 07
Рік видання:
2008 р.
Project Gutenberg
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Опис: From Content: \"FIFTY years ago the term \"renaissance\" had a very definite meaning to scholars as representing an exact period toward the close of the fourteenth century when the world suddenly reawoke to the beauty of the arts of Greece and Rome, to the charm of their gayer life, the splendor of their intellect. We know now that there was no such sudden reawakening, that Teutonic Europe toiled slowly upward through long centuries, and that men learned only gradually to appreciate the finer side of existence, to study the universe for themselves, and look with their own eyes upon the life around them and the life beyond. Thus the word \"renaissance\" has grown to cover a vaguer period, and there has been a constant tendency to push the date of its beginning ever backward, as we detect more and more the dimly dawning light amid the darkness of earlier ages. Of late, writers have fallen into the way of calling Dante the \"morning star of the Renaissance\"; and the period of the great poet's work, the first decade of the fourteenth century, has certainly the advantage of being characterized by three or four peculiarly striking events which serve to typify the tendencies of the coming age. In 1301 Dante was driven out of Florence, his native city-republic, by a political strife. In this year, as he himself phrases xiv it, he descended into hell; that is, he began those weary wanderings in exile which ended only with his life, and which stirred in him the deeps that found expression in his mighty poem, the Divina Commedia.1 Throughout his masterpiece he speaks with eager respect of the old Roman writers, and of such Greeks as he knew—so we have admiration of the ancient intellect. He also speaks bitterly of certain popes, as well as of other more earthly tyrants—so we have the dawnings of democracy and of religious revolt, of government by one's self and thought for one's self, instead of submission to the guidance of others. More important even than these in its immediate results, Dante, while he began his poem in Latin, the learned language of the time, soon transposed and completed it in Italian, the corrupted Latin of his commoner contemporaries, the tongue of his daily life. That is, he wrote not for scholars like himself, but for a wider circle of more worldly friends. It is the first great work in any modern speech. It is in very truth the recognition of a new world of men, a new and more practical set of merchant intellects which, with their growing and vigorous vitality, were to supersede the old. In that same decade and in that same city of Florence, Giotto was at work, was beginning modern art with his paintings, was building the famous cathedral there, was perhaps planning his still more famous bell-tower. Here surely was artistic wakening enough. If we look further afield through Italy we find in 1303 another scene tragically expressive of the changing times. The French King, Philip the Fair, so called from his appearance, not his dealings, had bitter cause of quarrel with the same Pope Boniface VIII who had held the great jubilee of 1300. Philip's soldiers, forcing their way into the little town of Anagni, to which the Pope had withdrawn, laid violent hands upon his holiness. If measured by numbers, the whole affair was trifling. So few were the French soldiers that in a few days the handful of towns-folk in Anagni were able to rise against them, expel them from the place and rescue the aged Pope. He had been struck—beaten, say not wholly reliable authorities—and so insulted that rage and shame drove him mad, and he died.\"

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