The Renaissance was a time of romance, the arts, and resurgence in religion and education. It has been a period of much research and reflection. Most of the attention during the Renaissance period can be found in Italy where culture exploded and took the world by storm. Peter Burke dives into the society and culture of this most fascinating period in his book, The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy.
This is not necessarily a history book as much as a study into the culture of Italy during the Renaissance period. Yet, how can history be studied without looking into Renaissance art, politics, economics, worldviews, and religion? Truthfully, it is impossible.
Burke takes the reader deep into the world of the artist like no other book but an art book can. He discusses the recruitment and training of the artists as well as how art was viewed by the public at large. He goes into who the patrons were and how the art was used in religion, politics, and just for the visual pleasure of it. Music, as well as literature, is discussed as to how Italian society embraced the changes and encouraged experimentation in each of them.
The predominant worldviews are discussed as how man begins to look at the universe around him as well as looking within himself. Burke does an excellent job of showing how man took a step backward and began to look at everything in a whole new light.
The only traditional history that you will find discussed in these pages is found in bits and pieces centering around the religious and political aspects of society. This is a book written to expose one to one particular cultural area of Europe that greatly influenced the whole of Christendom. It gives the reader a glimpse into a layer of history that is rarely visited at such depths.
I did love the fact that the book has plenty of Renaissance pictures between the pages to show the reader exactly what is being discussed. Though only in black and white, they show why the art was transforming and in such high demand. For visual readers, like myself, this is a very big plus.
An extensive bibliography can be found that will have a Renaissance lover drooling. It including many modern sources as well as numerous primary sources in the original languages listed. You would be hard pressed to not find a book on the Italian Renaissance culture listed here.
If you love the Italian Renaissance period, this is a book that you will enjoy. You will discover the many layers of the artistic world as well as that of the nobility.
Disclaimer: This book was purchased by the author for a Renaissance history class.