Tag: Will Durant

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Durant’s last chapter on the Renaissance covers a lot of ground: essentially all of Italy, excepting Venice, from the sack of Rome to the end of the 16th century. To my surprise, here is the only acknowledgment of the global trends that affected Italy in the 16th century: Portuguese exploration that bypassed Italy as the […]

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When Charles V sacked Rome in 1527, that marked the end of the Renaissance in Italy. Only, not quite. In the years following, there was a last great flowering of art and culture in Venice, largely because that is where Titian was. But first, Durant wants to tell us about Aretino. Totally forgotten today, Aretino […]

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When Barbara Tuchman, writing in ‘The March of Folly’ comes to Pope Clement VII, the last of the Renaissance Popes, it is as the culmination of a long series of follies committed by feckless popes who squandered the moral authority of the Catholic church. The result was the overwhelming of the church by the Reformation, […]

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The collapse of the Renaissance in Rome and the triumph of the Reformation can be traced through the six Renaissance popes, Borgia and Medici (plus a couple of hapless popes who only lasted a few months), each of whom in their own way contributed to the coming debacle through their poor choices in policy and […]

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It was during the papacy of Leo X that the Reformation became a force to be reckoned with, which Leo didn’t. A Lateran Council finally met, but was ineffective in implementing serious reform. This is when the corruption of the church became undeniable, and Martin Luther came to the fore as the focus of rebellion […]

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Pope Julius II is best remembered for the great art he commissioned. At any rate, the art is remembered, if not the Pope. In Durant’s telling, this is when the Renaissance shifted from Florence to Rome. Julius deserves credit for having commissioned the new St. Peter’s (Bramante), the Sistine Chapel Ceiling (Michelangelo), The School of […]

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Those of you who may have been following my diary for some time will recall that my interest in the Renaissance began with Barabara Tuchman’s ‘The March of Folly’ and her section on the Renaissance popes whose folly brought on the Reformation. I wanted to know more, and have been helped immeasurably by Will Durant’s […]

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The Kingdom of Naples is a constant presence throughout Durant’s history of the Renaissance. Naples is entwined in the history of the other Italian states as ally or enemy, conspiring with or against France or Spain, and apparently having no purpose but to make mischief in the rest of Italy. Here we finally get to […]

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Emilia is perhaps the least known section of Italy, although Ravenna is a city well known to musicians. In the Renaissance, it was a contentious buffer zone between Venice and the Papal States. Durant does not have much to say about the history or the art of this region. He notes such art as is […]

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I return after much digression to the Renaissance. Those who have been following my comments on this book may have noticed a pattern in Durant’s writing. While not slighting entirely the history of people and events, he will always devote the greater part of his attention to the art and culture of the time. This […]

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After Milan, Durant then goes on to discuss the lesser centers of art in Tuscany, Mantua, and Ferrara. Again and again we hear of an artist who develops some reputation in his native city, goes to Rome to seek fame and fortune “… and then Raphael arrives” and he sinks again into obscurity. Ferrara is […]

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Having followed the progress of Florence to the 1530s, Durant then turns to the lesser cultural centers of Italy during the same time period, beginning with Milan. Naturally, he follows the fortunes of the Viscontis and Sforzas, and its arts and (missing from Florence) its letters (poetry was big in Milan). I knew of the […]

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While historians usually peg the beginning of the Renaissance at the year 1500, the Renaissance in Florence definitely belongs to the 15th century (the quatrocento), from whence it spread to the rest of Italy, then the rest of Europe. In chronicling the Florentine Renaissance, Durant neatly alternates between history and culture. A bit of history […]

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As noted previously, Barbara Tuchman chronicles a fairly narrow time and place in history: Rome from roughly 1480 to 1530. I wanted to know more. Naturally, I turned to Will Durant. I used to own a full set of Durant’s Story of Civilization, but it took up a lot of shelf space, and I never […]

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