what did the Twelfth-Century Renaissance Mean?

Authored by: Jacques Le Goff

The Medieval World

Print publication date:  October  2001
Online publication date:  September  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415181518
eBook ISBN: 9781315016207
Adobe ISBN: 9781136500053


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The idea of renaissance, which Jacob Burckhardt’s Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860) implanted so securely in European historiography, appeared to have condemned the medieval period to languish forever in the dungeon of ‘the Dark Ages’ to which Petrarch, the sixteenth-century humanists and, most inexorably of all, the scholars of the Enlightenment, from Leibnitz to Voltaire, had consigned it. Against Voltaire’s judgment, issued in his Essay on Manners (1756), no appeal seemed possible: ‘The whole of Europe lay sunk in this debased state until the sixteenth century, and even then only emerged through frightful convulsions.’

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