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Ap European History Dbq Renaissance

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AP European History DBQ Essay

There is an ongoing debate on whether the Renaissance should be considered its own unique period in history, or just an extension of the late Middle Ages. The Medieval Ages, although in close time proximity of the Renaissance, are very different. The Renaissance brought along many new religious and moral beliefs while also enriching the medieval culture with the arts and literature. All the cultural changes brought about by the Renaissance prove that the Renaissance was not only a different time period than the Middle Ages, but also a thriving rebirth of the arts and a chance to rethink the cultural, political, and religious views of the older Middle Ages. There are many examples of how the Renaissance has changed the scope of view during the time it was occurring, and many of those changes are still evident today!

A prime example supporting the interpretation of the Renaissance as a different time period than the Middle Ages is the wide expansion and revival of the arts and literature. Jacob Burchhdardt states in The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (Document 2), that “When this impulse to the highest individual development was combined with a powerful and varied nature, then arose the “all sided man”.” Burchhdardt is telling us that during the Renaissance, people were beginning to study, read literature, and enrich themselves in educational things in order to better themselves as people. The Renaissance led to the rebirth of a new kind of man, one who was always yearning to learn more and to better himself, an “all sided man”. W.T Waugh (Document 3) argues that if there was an actual revival of learning, then it would have occurred about the year A.D. 1000. Looking at the Renaissance from Waugh’s point of view, he believes that people cared little about the sayings of the Renaissance era Humanists, and that their literary and artistic works should not be well credited due to their non-practical nature. What Waugh is missing is the fact that enriching yourself with literature or the arts does not always have to be done for practical use. Imagine reading a fiction book and expecting it to be practical. Many Renaissance writers and artists created their works for the sole purpose of enjoyment.

Another example that supports the idea of the Renaissance as its own era in time is that people began to look at themselves as individual people with their own unique potential, and began to focus on fulfilling contemporary desires rather than religious ones. Jacob Burchhardt views the change in mindset between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as a starting point to a new type of man. He states (document 2) that “In the Middle Ages both sides of human consciousness, lay dreaming or half awake beneath a common veil. The veil was woven of faith, illusion, and childish prepossession…. Man was conscious of himself only as a member of a race, people, party, family, or corporation - only through some general category. In Italy this veil first melted into air; man became a spiritual individual, and recognized himself as such.” Burchhardt is simply saying that people began to stop categorizing



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