Renaissance

Nikolaus of Cusa and the Learned Ignorance

Nikolaus of Cusa and the Learned Ignorance

On August 11, 1464, German philosopher, theologian, jurist, and astronomer Nikolaus of Cusa (in latin: Nicolaus Cusanus) passed away. He is considered as one of the first German proponents of Renaissance humanism. His best known work is entiteled ‘De Docta Ignorantia‘ (Of the Learned Ignorance), where also most of his mathematical ideas were developed, as e.g. the trial of squaring the circle or calculating the circumference of a circle from its radius. “In…
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Giorgio Vasari and his Foundations of Art-Historical Writing

Giorgio Vasari and his Foundations of Art-Historical Writing

On July 30, 1511, Italian Renaissance painter, architect, writer and historian Giorgio Vasari was born. He is best known today for his Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing. One of the Lesser Known Renaissance Artists From all the great Renaissance artist, Giorgio Vasari might be one of the lesser known. The reason for this might be that although an artist of considerable…
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Petrarch and the Invention of the Renaissance

Petrarch and the Invention of the Renaissance

On July 20, 1304, Italian scholar and poet Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) was born. He is considered to be one of the earliest humanists and also the “father of the Renaissance.” Petrarch’s sonnets were admired and imitated throughout Europe during the Renaissance and became a model for lyrical poetry. He is also known for being the first to develop the concept of the “Dark Ages”. “I rejoiced in my progress, mourned my weaknesses, and…
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John Dee and his World of Science and Magic

John Dee and his World of Science and Magic

On July 13, 1527, Welsh mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee was born. He is considered one of the most learned men of his age. Besides being an ardent promoter of mathematics and a respected astronomer, in his later years he immersed himself in the worlds of magic, astrology and Hermetic philosophy. One of his aims was attempting to commune with angels in order to…
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Lucrezia Borgia – Femme Fatale or Political Tool?

Lucrezia Borgia – Femme Fatale or Political Tool?

On June 24, 1519, Lucrezia Borgia, the daughter of Pope Alexander VI, and Vannozza dei Cattanei, passed away. Lucrezia’s family later came to epitomize the ruthless Machiavellian politics and sexual corruption alleged to be characteristic of the Renaissance Papacy. Lucrezia was cast as a femme fatale, a role she has been portrayed as in many artworks, novels, and films. The extent of her complicity in the political machinations of her family is…
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Bartolomeo Platina and the Vatican Library

Bartolomeo Platina and the Vatican Library

On June 15, 1475, Pope Sixtus IV issued the papal bull ‘Ad decorem militantis Ecclesiae‘ in which he regulated the complex structure of the newly founded Vatican Apostolic Library and appointed Renaissance author Bartolomeo Platina as its first head librarian. For sure you will heave heard about the famous Vatican Library and even more about the Vatican Secret Archives, which are part of the library. Even in popular culture such as Dan…
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Sebastian Brant and the Ship of Fools

Sebastian Brant and the Ship of Fools

On May 10, 1521, German humanist and satirist Sebastian Brant passed away. He is best known for his book of satire entitled ‘Das Narrenschiff” (The Ship of Fools) published in 1494 in Basel, Switzerland. It is most likely that you might have never heard of Brant nor of his famous book. Anyway, if you continue reading, you won’t regret… “die weltt die will betrogen syn” (The world wants to be betrayed.) – Sebastian…
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Athanasius Kircher – A Man in Search of Universal Knowledge

Athanasius Kircher – A Man in Search of Universal Knowledge

On May 2nd, 1601 (or 1602), German Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher was born. He has published most notably in the fields of oriental studies, geology, and medicine, and has been compared to Leonardo da Vinci for his enormous range of interests.[5] He is regarded as one of the founders of Egyptology for his (mostly fruitless) efforts in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs, wrote an encyclopedia about China, studied volcanos and fossils, was one of the very…
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Catherine de Medici and St. Bartholomew’s Day

Catherine de Medici and St. Bartholomew’s Day

On April 13, 1519, Italian noblewoman and Queen of France Catherine de’ Medici was born. Catherine played a key role in the reign of her sons, and is blamed for the excessive persecutions of the Hugenots in particular for the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572, in which thousands of Huguenots were killed in Paris and throughout France. Catherine de Medici and Henry, Duke of Orleans Catherine de’ Medici was born into a…
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Pico della Mirandola and the 900 Theses

Pico della Mirandola and the 900 Theses

On February 24, 1463, Italian Renaissance philosopher Count Giovanni Pico della Mirandola was born. He is famous for, when at the age of 23, he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy and magic against all comers, for which he wrote the famous Oration on the Dignity of Man, which has been called the “Manifesto of the Renaissance“, and a key text of Renaissance humanism and of what has…
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