Renaissance and Reformation : the intellectual genesis


Renaissance and Reformation : the intellectual genesis

Anthony Levi

Yale University Press, c2002

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Includes bibliographical references and index


  • The intellectual parameters of Western Christendom
  • The crisis of scholasticism
  • Empire, papacy, Petrarch, and the Italian peninsula to 1400
  • The quattrocento to the death of Valla (1457)
  • The Florentine Academy
  • The imitation of Christ
  • Fifteenth-century France
  • Paris, England, and Italy : Erasmus to 1511
  • Lefèvre, Reuchlin, and Alcalá
  • The new century to 1516 : Utopia and the Novum instrumentum
  • Germany and Luther
  • Protestantism : the defeat of Erasmus
  • France 1520-1535
  • Secular supremacy, England, and the Swiss Confederation, 1520-1535



A survey of the development of European intellectual culture between about 1350 and 1550. Anthony Levi seeks to offer a fresh view of the Renaissance and the Reformation, calling for a reassessment of the nature of both. Through a detailed examination of the significant intellectual, spiritual and ideological developments across Europe during this period, Levi disputes the discontinuities commonly understood to explain and defend the events we term the "Renaissance" and the "Reformation". He argues that the renewed cult of the literary, visual and educational norms of classical antiquity were a consequence - not the essence or cause - of the Renaissance. Further, the Reformation emerged from a cultural movement that neither constituted a historical discontinuity nor led to the catastrophic religious clashes of the 16th century. To construct his argument Levi analyzes intellectual developments reflected in the works of Petrarch, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Thomas More, Luther, Erasmus, Calvin and many others. In addition he considers the full sweep of issues relating to the gestation of the Renaissance and Reformation, among them the political and financial consequences of the emergence of the large nation states, their attitudes toward the papacy, the evolving relationship between sacred and secular sovereign powers, and the norms informing the development of Europe's legal systems and its religious sensibilities.

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