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The Italian Renaissance

Narrated by: Kenneth R. Bartlett
Length: 18 hrs and 17 mins
Categories: History, European
4.5 out of 5 stars (88 ratings)

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Summary

The effects of the Italian Renaissance are still with us today, from the incomparable paintings of Leonardo da Vinci to the immortal writings of Petrarch and Machiavelli. But why was there such an artistic, cultural, and intellectual explosion in Italy at the start of the 14th century? Why did it occur in Italy? And why in certain Italian city-states such as Florence?

Professor Bartlett probes these questions and more in 36 dynamic lectures. This is your opportunity to appreciate the results of the Italian Renaissance and gain an understanding of the underlying social, political, and economic forces that made such exceptional art and culture possible. At the heart of Renaissance Italy were the city-states, home to the money, intellect, and talent needed for the growth of Renaissance culture. You'll look at the Republic of Florence, as well as other city-states that, thanks to geographical and historical circumstances, had much different political and social structures. This course contains a wealth of details that will give you a feel and appreciation for the Italian Renaissance - its contributions to history, the ways it was similar and dissimilar to our times, and how the people of the time, both famous and ordinary, experienced it. You'll come away surprised by how much of our modern life was made possible by the Renaissance. Our concept of participatory government, our belief in the value of competition, our philosophy of the content and purpose of education, even our notions of love all have roots in the Renaissance period. Its loftiest ideals - the importance of the individual, the value of human dignity and potential, and the promotion of freedom - are ones we embrace as our own.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses

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  • mr
  • 29-12-14

Gripping

I feel I need to quote my daughter to accurately describe this book "Fantabuloso".

I was not to keen to listen to it, but knew I should as I was far too ignorant. When we started with Petrach and Dante, I knew i was right.

Then the story changed into a trilling account of the Italian peninsula.

I am staggeringly pleased with this purchase, the author is now a personal hero.

7 people found this helpful

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Comprehensive but very entertaining

This started a little slowly for me with the philosophical origins of the Renaissance but with the benefit of hindsight it was absolutely the right choice on the author's part as this foundation helped enormously in understanding how a small number of city states in a small anarchic peninsula like Italy became such an extraordinary hotbed of cultural, commercial and scientific development, However; once things get underway the listener is treated to a satisfying gallery of murderous princesses, wiley merchants, scheming bishops and glamorous, battling clans. Prof Bartlett takes us on a tour of the various city states explaining in a clear and entertaining way what lead to their rise, how they differed, what their notable citizens were like and how, eventually it all came to an end. The history is rigorous but he's also a good story teller so we get plenty of plot and character which helps enormously in keeping track of what's going on and where it's happening. Recommended for history fans.

4 people found this helpful

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Brilliant!

A brilliant history passionately delivered, from the Renaissance beginnings with Petrarch through to the misunderstood Machiavelli and closing with inspiring and poetic remorse at how it all ended.
A fantastic lecture, highly recommended!

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Wonderful - highly recommend

An entertaining and scholarly exploration of the Italian renaissance. The lecturer is clearly passionate and makes the subject accessible without ever dumbing down.

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Overall

I think that the lecturer has a wonderful manner and draws you into his talk.

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Outstandingly told history

I visited Florence and decided to listen to this after. So glad I did as its so well told and gives such breath and depth of the history of all aspects of the italian renaissance. Great lecturer with lessons about life intertwined.

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Lectures with sincerity.

Kenneth R. Bartlett lectures with sincerity and controlled passion for this subject, and I have loved every educational minute of it. thank you.

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Really enjoyed it. Will listen to again.

Thorough and very interesting. His research is a bit old hat when it comes to the Borgias however. Seems he's not looked further than the papal propoganda at the time following Alexander's death and accepted it as fact, scandals that have entertained historians for centuries.

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Very interesting and easy to follow

The narration is great and there are many details to be learnt in this talk. Highly recommended for anyone interested in arts, history or general knowledge!

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awesome

Solid from start to finish. If you don't like this I'm going to Lorenzaccio your ass.

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  • Listen
  • 04-07-14

Great Course but need written text

Any additional comments?

I am a big fan of Professor Bartlett. History could be full of wars, names and dates which tend to be pretty boring, but Bartlett has managed to keep audience interested by personalizing the historical figures, their background, character, journey in the way that you and I can related. He also provided various aspects of the Italian culture that we still can see today when we visit the country. In so doing, ancient history becomes highly relevant to today’s Italy and Italians, and how we appreciate them.

The major annoyance is the fact that the written material (course outlines) is not included in the Great Course lectures. Yes, Audible made a disclaimer, but still, with so much information contained in these lectures, how can Audible expect listeners to properly gain enough knowledge without some written material? Simple things like how the names are spelled and which dates related to what events/figures are all part of the reason why written text is necessary for learning. I will have to buy his written text separately to compensate.

That said, I still highly recommend it because the lectures are just too good to miss.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Larry Block
  • 17-07-15

A thing of beauty

Professor Bartlett teaches these lectures with enthusiasm and imparts knowledge as a kind of gift. To be sure, it is his obvious love of the Italian Renaissance that makes the entirety of the lectures a sparkling jewell to be cherished.

3 people found this helpful

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  • John Henry Davis
  • 06-07-15

Excellent

Well organized. Delivered intelligently with enthusiasm. Argued his subjective interpretations well. Strangely sparse on discussing art and artists.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Wallen
  • 08-06-15

Renaissance come alive

This course is extremely informative and well presented, it gives a vivid picture of the Renaissance. Listening to these lectures you get a good understanding of the Renaissance period and of the people that lived in it. It has changed the way I used to think of this period. Well worth listening to!

3 people found this helpful

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  • David Acker
  • 11-05-15

Superb lecturer, detailed educational experience

It has been half a century since I graduated from college. The course took me back to the educational pleasure of listening to a superb teacher explain a complicated topic, actually many complicated topics, and thoroughly enjoy learning new ideas, learning of new historical figures and placing a historical era into my life. Thank you

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  • Voracious reader
  • 13-06-17

One of the best from the Great Courses

What did you love best about The Italian Renaissance?

The course is well structured, informative and engaging. It is delivered with passion and verve by an animated and engaged professor. I have listened to around 40 of the great course and rate this as one of the very best. I was sad when it ended as it was deeply engaging.

What did you like best about this story?

The way in which the disparate elements of the Renaissance story are synthesised. The elements, personalities and locations are considered separately, for example, Geography, Florence, Venice, Machiavelli etc. are covered in detail. Yet, these elements are drawn together into a cohesive whole. Each element is integrated into an overall 'picture of the renaissance as you go. The threads are all drawn together beautifully and by the end of the course you understand not just the origins, development and conclusion of the renaissance, but importantly, have a coherent understanding of the philosophy and motivations that drove it. The lecture throws in biographical and historical details to retain your interest. This is the sort of course you want to share with others. My parents purchased it at my recommendation and also loved it.

What about Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett’s performance did you like?

A passionate and very informed professor. Not afraid to go deeply into his subject and express personal opinions. This is a true university level course, not 'history light'.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The conclusion of the lectures develops a view of what Renaissance society was aspiring to which is incredibly stirring. I felt great affinity with the vision and motivation of the renaissance and came to realise why it is truly a golden age of human history.

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  • Wiregrass18
  • 22-12-16

An outstanding series

I have listened to a lot of courses in the Great Courses catalog, and this one is at the top of my list. It tracks the course of the Renaissance in Italy from the first stirrings of life in the early 1300s through the hard times of the 1500s that issued in a new cultural era. It affords a big picture view, but also includes specific stories of places and people that are all wonderfully interesting. I have had an interest in this subject all my life, but this course helped make sense of the story in a new way for me. It is a fascinating view of one of the major turning points in Western Civilization, presented in an logical. well-organized way, and engaging way. It fully deserves the high rating that listeners have given it.

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  • Christopher
  • 24-08-16

Riveting and Enriching

This professor is elite.
He is passionate about the material, deeply knowledgeable, and a talented eloquent communicator.


Part of me wished that a bit more time could have been spent discussing the specifics of what made certain masterpieces so magnificent (eg why was the Mona Lisa so genius?) and part of me wished that the relationship to other cultures could have been explored more (eg... is Shakespeare a product of the Renaissance? Did England benefit from the Italian Renaissance? If so, how?.... eg how was it that the Portuguese managed to beat the pants off the Italians in exploration if the Italian Renaissance represented such a vibrant and unique atmosphere of intellectuality and innovation?)



Nevertheless, this course is magnificent... I learned so much and enjoyed it immensely.

Highly recommend.

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  • Dave
  • 19-09-19

Too Selective On Church History

There is much to profit from in this lecture, with one strong caveat I'll get to. Professor Bartlett is a great story teller and he alternates well between the macro and the micro in summarizing the Italian Renaissance. He treats us to details of personages and events, and he also aims to interpret those details and show how they caused history to develop as it did.

But, as a believing Roman Catholic, I thought he left a gaping hole in not describing the life and times of the faithful and their impact on the Italian Renaissance. When you focus so much on Power Politics, you neglect to see the impact of lived faith. The lives of the saints were quite prominent during this period -- individuals who were recognized for their impact on the world by acclamation of people who knew them. I am well aware of the sins of the clergy and the Popes during this period and Professor Bartlett will rightly detail those sins. My faith is not built on human beings. But you will not hear much about the saints or the lives of the faithful which did much to make the Renaissance what it was, too.

Some historians seem to fear they may sound too sectarian in offering those details. But the historian's job is to present details and assign causes to events, irrespective of the source of those causes. One need not be a Catholic to be a historian of Catholic events. But one cannot be a historian of Catholic events if one excludes details of Catholic life and faith from consideration, when those details are also important causes of events. In my estimation, Professor Bartlett did so here and his work would have been more complete, and equally interesting to believer and non-believer alike, if he had augmented it with details of the lived experience of faith during these times. The Church is always something more than just Power Politics, even if, at times, it may be that.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ark1836
  • 06-03-18

Interesting but Something's Missing

This is a very interesting course that I greatly enjoyed. The professor is talented, and he presented a lot of information that I did not know. My one criticism is the notable absence of any in-depth discussion of the great Italian artists of the Renaissance. This is not so much a history of the Renaissance as it is a history of Italy during the Renaissance period. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the course, and feel like I learned a great deal. I recommend it to anyone...just don't expect to hear much about Leonardo or Raphael.

1 person found this helpful