T-7    Marsilius of Padua / Exploration

          #1 (difficult) 529-535


W-8   Italian Art



R-9    Italian Art (continued)



F-10  Machiavelli / Science

          R-50, 623-625


M-13  Northern Renaissance

          480-487, #3 (much reading)


T-14  Protestant Reformation

          488-492 (top), #4


W-15  Tudor England



R-16  Renaissance Test





          If there was one person who steered Western civilization away from the direction of all other civilizations, that person was Marsilius of Padua (mar-SIL-ee-us of PAD-joo-a).  Perhaps that is an exaggeration; other people were beginning to think the same way he did, but Marsilius became the first to write it down and explain it.


          Marsilius took a new look at Aristotle's four explanations of why things happen, and shifted the emphasis from destiny to the historical explanation.  Western civilization has thought historically ever since.  With the possible exception of China, no other civilization has been as concerned about studying its past.


          Marsilius had attended the famous medical university at Padua in northern Italy.  For a long time, church leaders had complained because the students studied Averroism and Arab science.  Then the German emperor and the pope began squabbling over who should rule the area.  Marsilius wrote a book to prove that the pope had no right to rule Padua or any other place.


          In the following paragraphs, Marsilius makes these points:

1.  The church is a war-making nuisance which Aristotle never heard of; therefore, the church cannot use Aristotle's words to justify itself.

2.  Aristotle explained governments by their purpose.

3.  It is more important to understand governments according to their history.

4 & 5.  The popes are claiming political powers which historically were never given to them.


Now read it in his own words:






            Only peace can furnish the necessary conditions for progress, for peace is the mother of all the higher arts.  The evils of discord* and strife have nearly all been described by Aristotle; but one great and important cause of trouble naturally escaped him--a potent, hidden influence+ which interferes with the welfare not only of the empire but of all the governments of Europe....


            The state, according to Aristotle in the Politics, Book I, Chapter I, is "the perfect community having the full limit of self-sufficiency, which came into existence for the sake of living, but exists for the sake of living well."  This phrase of Aristotle--"came into existence for the sake of living but exists for the sake of living well"--signifies the perfect final cause# of the state, since those who live a civil life not only live, which beasts or slaves do too, but live well, having leisure for those liberal functions@ in which are exercised the virtues of both the practical and the theoretic soul..,,.


            But the living and living well which are appropriate to men fall into two kinds, of which one is temporal or earthly, while the other is usually called eternal or heavenly.  However, this latter kind of living, the eternal, the whole body*of philosophers were unable to prove by demonstration, nor was it self-evident, and therefore they did not concern themselves with the means thereto.  But as to the first kind of living and living well or good life, that is, the earthly, and its necessary means,+ this the glorious philosophers comprehended almost completely through demonstration.  Hence for its achievement they concluded the necessity of the civil community, without which this sufficient life cannot be obtained.  Thus the foremost of the philosophers, Aristotle, said in his Politics, Book I, Chapter I: "All men are driven toward such an association

by a natural impulse."  Although sense experience teaches this, we wish to bring out more distinctly that cause# of it which we have indicated, as follows: Man is born composed of contrary@ elements, because of whose contrary actions and passions some of his achievement is continually being destroyed; moreover, he is born "bare and unprotected" from excess* of the surrounding air and other elements, capable of suffering and of destruction.  As a consequence, he needed various methods to avoid the aforementioned harms.  But since these arts can be exercised only by a large number of men, and can be had only through their association with one another, men had to assemble together in order to attain what was beneficial+ through these methods and avoid what was harmful....


            The bishops of Rome have extended their jurisdiction not only over the clergy,# but, since the Donation of Constantine,@ over political rulers as well.  This is illustrated by the acts of the, popes of time and of the existing bishop of Rome, John XXII, who claims, both in Italy and Germany to have supreme jurisdiction over the emperor and over the lesser princes and communities, even in purely earthly and feudal matters.


            In its original meaning, the "church" meant all believers in Christ,--all those for whom he shed his blood.  "Churchmen" then include all the faithful, whether they be priests or not.  The assumed supremacy of the bishop of Rome is without foundation.  Even if Peter was ever in Rome,--which is doubtful,--­there is no reason to suppose that he handed down any exceptional power to the succeeding bishops ....


            (Marsilius goes on, quoting the Bible to prove that St.  Peter never reached Rome, and to puncture the pope's historical claim to earthly power.)



+the Church

#purpose or destiny

@the arts





*too much



@a forgery


          We think historically.  When we want to understand a thing, we look into its past.  We do not make guesses about its destiny.  Marsilius of Padua shifted that emphasis from destiny to history.


          God makes destiny, but man makes history.  "Man" became important.  People began to discover their own potential, and grew excited.  This emotional time is called the Renaissance (ren-es-SAHNCE).  It lasted from about 1400 to about 1600.


          Scholars remembered that the Greeks had also put a heavy emphasis on "Man".  They began to study Greek and Roman ideas.  But some Italians living in Rome thought that Rome was the whole world.  As far as they could see, history consisted of just three parts: (1) ancient Rome, (2) a "dark age" when the spotlight shifted to France and Germany, and (3) a rebirth of Italy's importance.  Educated people knew better; they studied Greek history and borrowed its ideas, just as they had studied Arabic civilization and borrowed its ideas during Medieval times.



#2.  Benvenuto Cellini


          Benvenuto Cellini (bane-vane-NOO-toe chay-LEE-nee) has left us a record of the exciting mood in Renaissance Florence.  He was an outstanding metal sculptor who also kept getting mixed up in love affairs, sword fights, and politics.


          In this selection, Cellini describes the casting of his bronze statue of Perseus (hero of Greek mythology who cut off the snaky-haired head of Medusa).  The statue had to be made in these steps:

          1.  Plan the design on paper. (already done)

2.  Carve a little wax model to be sure of what it will look like. (already done)

3.  Carve the huge statue in wax. (already done)

4.  Make a mold by packing the wax statue in mud and baking it until it becomes hard clay.  The heat also melts the wax, which is drained out of the hollow clay mold.

5.  Bury the mold in a pit so that hot metal can flow down into it from the furnace.  The earth around the mold supports and protects it.

6.  Heat the metal and pour it in.

7.  After several days' cooling, dig up the statue and chip off the clay mold.

As usual, things became more exciting when Cellini did them,





            Thus, having recovered my vigor of mind, I exerted all my strength of body and of purse, though indeed I had but little money left, and began to purchase several loads of pine-wood from the pine-grove of the Serristori, hard by Monte Lupo; and whilst I was waiting for it, I covered my Perseus* with the earth+ which I had prepared several months beforehand, that it might have its proper seasoning.  After I had made its coat of earth, covered it well, and bound it properly with irons, I began by means of a slow fire to draw off the wax, which melted away by many vent holes; for the more of these are made, the better the molds are filled: and when I had entirely stripped# off the wax, I made a sort of fence round my Perseus, that is, round the mold above--mentioned of bricks, piling them one upon another, and leaving several vacuities@ for the fire to exhale at.  I next began gradually to put on the wood, and kept a constant fire for two days and two nights, till, the wax being quite off, and the mold well baked, I began to dig a hole to bury my mold in, and observed* all those fine methods of proceeding that are prescribed by our art.  When I had completely dug my hole, I took my mold, and by means of levers and strong cables directed it with care, and suspended it a cubit+ above the level of the furnace, so that it hung exactly in the middle of the hole.  I then let it gently down to the very bottom of the furnace, and placed it with all the care and exactness I possibly could.  After I had finished this part of my task, I began to make a covering of the very earth I had taken off, and in proportion as I raised the earth, I made vents for it, which are a sort of tube of baked earth, generally used for conduits,# and other things of a similar nature.  As soon as I saw that I had placed it properly, and that this manner of covering it, by putting on these small tubes in their proper places was likely to answer, as also that my journeymen@ thoroughly understood my plan, which was very different from that of all other masters, and I was sure that I could depend upon then, I turned my thoughts to my furnace.  I had caused it to be filled with several pieces of brass and bronze, and heaped them upon one another in the manner taught us by our art, taking particular care to leave a passage for the flames, that the metal might the sooner assume its color and dissolve into a fluid.  Thus, I with great alacrity,* excited my men to lay on the pine-wood, which, because of the oiliness of the resinous matter that oozes from the pine-tree, and that my furnace was admirably well made, burned at such a rate, that I was continually obliged+ to run to and fro, which greatly fatigued# me.  I however, bore the hardship; but to add to my misfortune, the shop took fire, and we were all very much afraid that the roof would fall in and crush us.  From another quarter, that is, from the garden, the sky poured in so much rain and wind that it cooled my furnace.


            Thus did I continue to struggle with these cross@ accidents for several hours, and exerted myself to such a decree that my constitution,* though robust,+ could no longer bear such severe hardship, and I was suddenly attacked by a most violent intermitting# fever: in short, I was so ill that I found myself under a necessity of lying down upon my bed.  This gave me great concern, but it was unavoidable.  I thereupon addressed myself to my assistants, who were about ten in number...  "Be careful to observe the method which I have shown you, and use all possible expedition@ for the metal will soon be ready.  You cannot mistake: these two worthy men here will quickly make the tubes; with two such directors you can certainly contrive to pour out the hot metal by means of the mandriani or iron crooks*; and I have no doubt but my mold will be filled completely.  I find myself extremely ill, and really believe that in a few hours this severe disorder will put an end to my life."  Thus I left them in great sorrow, and went to bed....  In this manner did I continue for two hours in a violent fever, which I every moment perceived+ to increase; and I was incessantly crying out., "I am dying, I am dying."


            (Then an assistant entered the room and said:) "Alas! poor Benvenuto, your work is spoiled, and the misfortune admits of no remedy."#


            No sooner had I heard the words uttered by this messenger of evil, but I cried out so loud that my voice might be heard to the skies, and got out of bed.  I  began immediately to dress, and giving plenty of kicks and cuffs to the maidservants and the boy as they offered to help me on with my clothes, I complained bitterly in these terms: "O you envious@ and treacherous wretches, this is a piece of villainy contrived on purpose; but I swear by the living God that I will sift it to the bottom, and before I die, give such proofs who I am as shall not fall to astonish the whole world."  Having huddled on my clothes, I went with a mind boding evil to the shop, where I found all those whom I had left so alert, and in such high spirits, standing in the utmost confusion and astonishment.  I thereupon addressed them thus:  "Listen all of you to what I am going to say; and since you either would not or could not follow the method I pointed out, obey me now that I am present: my work is before us, and let none of you offer to oppose or contradict me, for such cases as this require activity and not counsel."*  Hereupon one Alessandro Lastricati had the assurance to say to me, "Look you, Benvenuto, you have undertaken a work which our art cannot compass,+ and which is not to be effected# by human power."


            Hearing these words I turned round in such a passion, and seemed so bent upon mischief, that both be and all the rest unanimously cried out to me, "Give your orders, and we will all second@ you in whatever vou command: we will assist you as long as we have breath in our bodies."  These kind and affectionate words they uttered, as I firmly believe, in a persuasion* that I was upon the point of expiring.+  I went directly to examine the furnace, and saw all the metal in it concreted.#  I thereupon ordered two of the helpers to step over the way to Capretta, a butcher, for a load of young oak, which had been above a year drying, and been offered me by Marie Ginevera, wife to the said Capretta.


            Upon his bringing me the first bundles of it, I began to fill the grate.  This sort of oak makes a brisker fire than any other wood whatever; but the wood of elder-trees and pine-­trees is used in casting artillery, because it makes a mild and gentle fire.  As soon as the concreted metal felt the power of this violent fire, it began to brighten and glitter.  In another quarter,@ I made them hurry the tubes with all possible expedition, and sent some of them to the roof of the house to take care of the fire, which through the great violence of the wind had acquired new force; and towards the garden I had caused some tables with pieces of tapestry and old clothes to be placed, in order to shelter me from the rain.  As soon as I had applied the proper remedy to each evil, I with a loud voice cried out to my men to bestir themselves and lend a helping hand; so that when they saw that the concreted metal began to melt again, the whole body* obeyed me with such zeal and alacrity,+ that every man did the work of three.  Then I caused a mass of pewter# weighing about sixty pounds to be thrown upon the metal in the furnace which with the other helps, as the brisk wood fire, and stirring it sometimes with iron, and sometimes with long poles, soon became completely dissolved.  Finding that, contrary to the opinion of my ignorant assistants, I had effected@ what seemed as difficult as to raise the dead, I recovered my vigor to such a degree, that I no longer perceived* whether I had any fever, nor had I the least apprehension+ of death.  Suddenly a loud noise was heard, and a glittering of fire flashed before our eyes, as if it had been the darting of a thunderbolt.  Upon the appearance of this extraordinary, phenomenon, terror seized on all present, and on none more than myself.  This tremendous noise being over, we began to stare at each other, and perceived that the cover of the furnace had burst and flown off, so that the bronze began to run.


            I immediately caused the mouths# of my mold to be opened; but finding that the metal did not run with its usual velocity,@ and apprehending* that the cause of it was that the fusibility of the metal was injured by the violence of the fire, I ordered all my dishes and porringers,+ which were in number about two hundred, to be placed one by one before my tubes, and part of them to be thrown into the furnace;# upon which all present perceived that my bronze was completely dissolved, and that my mold was filling; they now with joy and alacrity assisted and obeyed me.  I for my part was sometimes in one place, sometimes in another, giving my directions and assisting my men, before whom I offered up a prayer....  My prayer being over, I took a plate of meat which stood upon a little bench, and ate with a great appetite.  I then drank with all my journeymen and assistants, and went joyful and in good health to bed; for there were still two hours of night; and I rested as well as if I had been troubled with no manner of disorder.


*wax statue





+two feet













#can't be fixed












#a softer metal







+metal bowls

#to change the chemical composition




#3.  Northern Renaissance Writers


          Erasmus (ee-RAZ-mus) was a Dutch thinker who poked gentle fun at the silly things people do.  And he did not hesitate to add that people do some of the silliest things in the name of religion.  In this selection, he laughs at the Medieval church methods of logic and debate:





[Folly, the goddess of foolishness, speaks:]


            Now tell me, what man, by heaven could wish to stick his head into the halter of marriage if, as your wiseacres have the habit of doing, he first weighed with himself the inconveniences of wedded life:  Or what woman would ever admit her husband to her person, if she had heard or thought about the dangerous pains of childbirth and the irksomeness* of bringing up a child?  But since you owe your existence to the marriage-bed... you can see how vastly indebted you are to me!  Then, too, would a woman who has gone through all this, wish to make a second venture, if the power and influence of my Lethe+ did not attend her?...  Venus# herself would not deny that without the addition of my presence her strength would be enfeebled and ineffectual.  So it is that from this brisk and silly little game of mine come forth the haughty philosophers (to whose places those who are vulgarly@ called monks have now succeeded), and kings in their scarlet, pious priests, and triply most holy popes...


            May I not affirm, indeed, that you will find no great exploits*undertaken, no important arts invented, except at my prompting?  As, for instance, is not war the seed-plot and fountain of renowned actions?  Yet what is more foolish than to enter upon a conflict for I know not what causes, wherein each side reaps more of loss than of gain?  As for those who fall... no particulars.  And when armored ranks engage each other and bugles bray with harsh accord,+ of what use are those wise men, who exhausted by studies, scarce maintain any life in their thin, cold blood?  The day belongs to stout, gross fellows; the littler wit# they have, the bolder they are... But wise planning, they say, is of most importance in war.  Yes, on the part of the general, I grant, yet it is military, not philosophical, wisdom.  Far otherwise: this famous game of war is played by parasites, panders, bandits, assassins, peasants, sots, bankrupts, and such other dregs of mankind; never by philosophers, with their candles of wisdom....


            To this order@ of folly belong the fellows who renounce* everything else in favor of hunting wild game, and protest they feel an indescribable pleasure in their souls whenever they hear the raucous blast of the horns and the yelping of the hounds.  Even the dung of the dogs, I am sure, smells like cinnamon to them.  And what is so sweet as a beast being butchered?...


            But the most foolish and sordid+ of all are your merchants, in that they carry on the most sordid business of all and this by the most sordid methods; for on occasion they lie, they perjure themselves, they steal, they cheat, they impose on the public.  Yet they make themselves men of importance--because they have gold rings on their fingers.  Nor do they lack for flattering friars who admire them and call them Right Honorable in public, with the purpose, surely, that some little driblet from the ill-gotten gains may flow to themselves....  There are others who are rich only in wishes; they build beautiful air-castles and conceive# that doing so is enough for happiness.  Some delight in passing for wealthy men away from home, though they starve meanly enough in their own houses.  One man hastens to put into circulation what money he has; his neighbor hoards his up through thick and thin...  In sum, if you might look down from the moon... upon the numberless agitations among mortal men, you would think you were seeing a swarm of flies or gnats, quarreling among themselves, waging wars, setting snares for each other, robbing, sporting, wantoning, being born, growing old, and



            Perhaps it were better to pass over the theologians@ in silence...  For they may attack me with six hundred arguments, in squadrons, and drive me to make a recantation,* which if I refuse, they will straightway proclaim me a heretic....


            They are protected by a wall of scholastic definitions, arguments, corollaries implicit and explicit propositions; they have so many hideaways that they could not be caught... for they slip out on their distinctions, by which also they cut through all knots as easily as with a double-bitted axe... and they abound with newly-invented terms and prodigious vocables+ which say nothing.  Furthermore, they explain as pleases them the most arcane# matters, such as by what method the world was founded and set in order, through what conduits@ original sin has been passed down along the generations, by what means, in what measure, and how long the perfect Christ was in the Virgin's womb, and how accidents* subsist in the Eucharist+ without their subject.#


     But those are hackneyed.  Here are questions worthy of the great and (as some call them) illuminated theologians, questions to make them prick up their ears--if ever they chance upon them.  Whether divine generation@ took place at a particular time?  Whether there are several sonships in Christ?  Whether this is a possible proposition: God the Father hates the Son?  Whether God could have taken upon Himself the likeness of a woman?  Or of a devil?  Of an ass?  Of a gourd?  Of a piece of rock?  Then how would that gourd have preached, performed miracles, or been crucified?  Also, what would Peter have consecrated if he had administered the sacrament while Christ's body hung upon the cross?  Also whether at that moment Christ could be said to be a man?             And whether after the resurrection it will be forbidden      to eat and drink?  (Now, while there is time, they are providing against hunger and thirst!)  These finespun trifles are numberless, with others even more subtle having to do with instants of time, notions, relations, accidents, quiddities, entities, which no one can perceive with his eyes unless, like Lynceus,* he can see in blackest darkness things that are not there.



+ river of forgetfulness

#goddess of love and beauty






*give up



@religious thinkers


+big words





#body and blood

@beginning of Jesus

*Greek hero with Jason



          William Shakespeare did not write for cultured people; he wrote for everybody.  He shaped his theatre like a three-­story donut.  Wealthier citizens sat on chairs around the edge.  But for a couple of pennies, the poorest persons could stand in the center.  They cheered.  They booed.  They whistled. They threw garbage.  Shakespeare loved these "groundings," and wrote especially for them.  He peppered most of his plays with dirty jokes.  And he provided plenty of spectacle.  For instance, in Hamlet each time the king took a drink, the trumpets blared and a cannon exploded on the roof above the stage.


          Shakespeare created hundreds of characters--each one bursting with the vigor of Renaissance life: the jolly drinking of fat old Falstaff, the tender first love of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet who thinks so much he never gets around to act, old King Lear who outroars the very thunder, Othello who realizes he made an awful mistake in his jealousy.  Probably no other person in any language or civilization has expressed the feelings of so many different characters so well.


          Here are a few quotes which show the Renaissance spirit:







What a piece of work is man!

how noble in reason!*

how infinite in faculties!+

in form and moving how express and admirable!

in action how like an angel!

in apprehension# how like a god!

the beauty of the world,

the paragon@ of animals!


                        (from Hamlet)





This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,*

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,+

This other Eden, demi-paradise,

This fortress built by Nature for herself

Against infection and the hand of war,

This happy breed of men, this little world,

This precious stone set in the silver sea,

Which serves it in the office# of a wall

Or as a moat defensive to a house

Against the envy@ of less happier lands,

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.


                        (from Richard the Second)





Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,

Is the immediate jewel of their souls.

Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;

'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

But he that filches from me my good name

Robs me of that which not enriches him,

And makes me poor indeed.


                        (from Othello)













@perfect model








*powerful island

+home of soldiers














          In Spain, Cervantes (thayr-VAHN-tays) wrote the long humorous novel, Don Quixote (don kee-HO-tay).  It tells about a dreaming old man who decides to become a knight and slay dragons for his lady-love, long after the days of knighthood have vanished.  He is an idealist.  His companion, Sancho Panza, is a realist--always worrying about getting enough food for his belly.  Perhaps they represent the two halves inside each of us.


          Another Spanish writer, Juan Latino (WAHN la-TEE-no), became the first black man to make an outstanding name for himself in Western civilization. (Esteban, the black explorer in America, became famous about ten years later.) Latino was a professor, and a close friend of the emperor's son, Don Juan of Austria.  His poems about Don Juan's victories were written in an African style, but in the Latin language.  Like other talented men of the Renaissance, Juan Latino felt proud of his accomplishments.  And he felt especially proud of being black.  He wrote this poem for his tombstone:




Scholar of famous Granada and teacher of brilliant young students,

Orator* pious+ in speech, outstanding in doctrine and morals,

Offspring and son deep black with black Ethiopian forebears,#

He learnt as an innocent child the precepts@ that lead to salvation.

He sang in the fair Latin tongue the illustrious Austrian's* glories,

Under this pillar he lies; he will rise with his wife well­-beloved.







*Don Juan



            Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the council, because it is as clear as noonday that they have fallen into error and even into glaring inconsistency­* with themselves.  If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by valid reasons, if I am not satisfied by the very Bible I have cited,+ and if my judgement is not in this way brought into subjection to God's word, I neither can nor will retract# anything; for it cannot be right for a Christian to speak against his conscience.  Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise.  God help me.  Amen.










#take back







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