The Renaissance holds an undying place in our imagination, its great heroes still our own, from Michelangelo and Leonardo to Dante and Chaucer. This period of profound evolution in European thought is credited with transforming the West from medieval to modern and producing the most astonishing outpouring of artistic creation the world has ever known. But what was it? In this masterly work, the incomparable Paul Johnson tells us. He explains the economic, technological, and social developments that provide a backdrop to the age’s achievements and focuses closely on the lives and works of its most important figures. A commanding short narrative of this vital period, The Renaissance is also a universally profound meditation on the wellsprings of innovation.
“This wee book packs more information, insight, and historical perspective than do most volumes many times its length.” —Forbes
By Alison Brown
First published in 1988, Alison Brown's The Renaissance soon established itself as one of the most popular and useful books on this complex topic. For this expanded Second Edition the author has rewritten the text entirely in the light of the wealth of literature published over the past decade. It contains two new chapters, one on the rise of lordships and the impact of the Black Death and one on Renaissance theatre. As ever, the main focus of the book is on the influence of classical ideas on Italy, and although Florence is still central to the book its uniqueness is now viewed more critically.
The Italian Renaissance
By J.H. Plumb
Mariner Books (2001)
Spanning an age that witnessed great achievements in the arts and sciences, this definitive overview of the Italian Renaissance will both captivate ordinary readers and challenge specialists. Dr. Plumb’s impressive and provocative narrative is accompanied by contributions from leading historians, including Morris Bishop, J. Bronowski, Maria Bellonci, and many more, who have further illuminated the lives of some of the era’s most unforgettable personalities, from Petrarch to Pope Pius II, Michelangelo to Isabella d'Este, Machiavelli to Leonardo. A highly readable and engaging volume, THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE is a perfect introduction to the movement that shaped the Western world.
The Great Courses - 1400-1600A.D.
Documentaries - 1400-1600A.D.
Battle of Agincourt
2009 – Cromwell
Brian Blessed narrates this documentary chronicling the famous and crucial battle of Agincourt. On October 25th 1415, a French army of 30,000 surveyed their small opposing English force at Agincourt, and expected victory. They were not prepared for the weary and ill troops, led by Henry V, to destroy them with a new and deadly war weapon - the English Longbow. This study uses re-enactments, original reconstructions and military analysis to examine the bloody events of battle.
2009 – Ambrose
Collection of documentaries exploring the lives and careers of some of the most noted Renaissance and Baroque artists. The programmes examine the works and influences of Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Van Dyck, Raphael, Giotto, Beato Angelico, Piero della Francesca, Bernardo Strozzi and Tintoretto.
The Madness of Henry VIII
2006 – Nat Geo
Experience the intriguing story of one of the world's most scandalous monarchs in this historical documentary from National Geographic. Expert commentary and historical records bring the Tudor king to life. Best known for his six marriages and "divorce" by execution, as well as for establishing the Church of England and separation of church and state, Henry VIII remains a fascinating figure with a reign mired in sexual and political intrigue.
The Wars of the Roses
2009 – Cromwell
A bitter battle for the throne of 15th-century England, the War of the Roses is often seen as the end of the medieval era and the dawn of the Renaissance. This historical documentary traces the roots of the conflict and details the major military clashes between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Expert analysis, maps and diagrams of key engagements explain the events that eventually led to the coronation of Henry VII.
Clans of Scotland
2010 – BFS
Presenter Paul Murton uses historical and modern-day locations, the stunning drama of Scotland's scenery and the testimony of contemporary accounts and present-day descendants to explore defining moments in the fierce and bloody history of Scotland's Clans. Focusing on major characters and events, each episode throws light on one of Scotland's most famous Clans: their origins, myths and traditions, their ancient hatreds, military prowess and - for some - their battles to survive extermination and exile.
2003 – PBS
Rabble-rouser or secular saint? The man who revolutionized the Christian church in the 16th century and became the father of Protestantism was probably a little bit of both. This historical look at Martin Luther originally aired on British television (and on PBS in the United States) and serves as a wonderful educational primer of a fascinating religious epoch.
King James Bible: The Book That Changed The World
2011 - Lionsgate
Actor John Rhys-Davies narrates this illuminating look at the King James Bible -- the most widely sold version of the most important book in Christianity. It effectively changed the way the English-speaking world would interpret Holy scripture. This program's highlights include elaborate live-action reenactments of how the version came to be, along with on-location footage of important biblical landmarks.
What the Tudors Did For Us
2002 – BBC
Tudor and Stuart England saw the most dramatic shifts in thinking and innovation since the Romans. It was a period that saw the emergence of Protestant churches, the increase in the power of parliament, the end of the feudal system, the development of empire, the union of Scotland and England and the emergence of some of the world's greatest scientists. Adam Hart-Davis illuminates the innovations of the period and shows how these Tudor and Stuart advancements have changed our world. Featuring demonstrations of Tudor and Stuart devices, Adam attempts to reconstruct a Tudor printing press, the first flushing toilet and to demonstrate the first stagecoach suspension, amongst many others.
Da Vinci – The Code He Lived By
2005 – History
As a gifted painter, scientist and inventor, Leonardo da Vinci was the original "Renaissance man," a brilliant thinker who kept notebooks full of ideas -- and enjoyed a resurgence as the controversial subject of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code. As time has passed, the artist has become more fascinating than ever. This History Channel documentary uses dramatic reenactments to uncover some little-known facts about da Vinci's life and work.
The Battle of Flodden
2005 – Cromwell
The September of 1513 saw King James IV invade England with the largest and most confident army Scotland has yet seen. But within a few short days, nearly 10,000 of these proud warriors would be laying dead on Flodden Field. Among the hacked corpses would be the body of King James himself. This is the story of the most catastrophic military defeat in Scotland's history. For a turquoise ring and a foolish promise, James IV had risked, and lost, everything.
2017 – PBS
This installment of PBS's educational "Empires" series focuses on the Medici, one of European history's most influential merchant families and patrons to some of the greatest artists in the Italian Renaissance.
Joseph Fiennes stars as Martin Luther, the brilliant man of God whose defiant actions changed the world, in this epic, ravishingly beautiful film that traces Luther's extraordinary and exhilarating quest for the people's liberation. Regional princes and the powerful Church wield a fast, firm and merciless grip on 16th-century Germany. But when Martin Luther issues a shocking challenge to their authority, the people declare him their new leader and hero. Even when threatened with violent death, Luther refuses to back down, sparking a bloody revolution that shakes the entire continent to its core.
To Kill a King
1645: After years of civil war, King Charles I is overthrown and two heroes have emerged Lord General Thomas Fairfax and his best friend and deputy General Oliver Cromwell. Their friendship is threatened when Fairfax and his wife conspire to return the King to power, and Cromwell instead orders his execution, seizing control. His armies spread violence and fear throughout the country, and Fairfax realizes Cromwell must be stopped, and their
bond as two comrades-at-arms irreparably broken.
This Showtime drama focuses on the early years of King Henry VIII's nearly 40-year reign (1509-1547) of England. The series looks at Henry's famous female companions like Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn and delves into his relationships with important figures like Sir Thomas More, Cardinal Wolsey (head of the Catholic Church of England during its break with Rome) and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, who was Henry's best friend and unofficial adviser.
In 16th-century Venice, Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) hopes to wed Portia (Lynn Collins). But to have a chance at winning her hand in marriage, he needs to have a lot of money -- a critical resource he lacks. And because Bassanio's rich friend Antonio (Jeremy Irons) is unable to help, he's forced to make a deadly deal with pitiless moneylender Shylock (Al Pacino). Bassanio will get his money -- and without paying interest. If he doesn't pay it back, however, he will owe Shylock a pound of his flesh.