Term Paper: Southern and Northern Renaissance

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Southern & Northern Renaissance

The Southern vs. The Northern Renaissance

Although both the Southern and Northern Renaissances were characterized by a revitalized interest in the human relationship with the world, as opposed to the human relationship with God, the impact of the Protestant Reformation upon Northern Europe created a far darker view of human life, in contrast to the still hopeful Italian, Catholic portrait of humanity dwelling in a fallen, but still recognizably God-created world. Northern Europe also had a less sanguine view of femininity, as the Catholic cult of the Virgin Mary met with Protestant disapproval, although this was somewhat replaced in England with the cut of the Virgin Queen Elizabeth I. "What a piece of a work is a man," begins Hamlet, encapsulating the marvel at man that was the spirit of the Renaissance, but Hamlet ends his musings by calling man a quintessence of dust, and saying that women does not delight him (II. ii. 298-305).

Of course, in both Italy and England, there is ample evidence as to how ineffectual rulers "could erode optimism and create doubt as to the potential of human beings to achieve the ideal or to inspire others to the good through eloquent expression" (323-350). But still, in the formative works of Italian Renaissance, such as Petrach's love poetry for Laura, the still-beautiful figures of Michelangelo's Sistine chapel, or the construction of St. Peter's where "reinforcing ideals of order, balance, and harmony," held sway, there remained a confidence in the ability of human beings to encapsulate the spirit of the creator on earth, through admiring the human form and mirroring the act of creation through art (346-7).

In England, the power of the Catholic Church as an influence upon government ended, and instead religious authority was fused with the persona of the monarch, Henry VIII. "Catholics," members of the newly created state "Church of England," and Puritans who wished to purify the church of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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