Renaissance and Reformation

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The Intellectual Genesis

Anthony Levi

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In this new survey of the development of European intellectual culture between about 1350 and 1550, Anthony Levi offers a fresh view of the Renaissance and the Reformation, calling for a reassessment of the nature of both. Through a detailed examination of the significant intellectual, spiritual, and ideological developments across Europe during this period, Levi disputes the discontinuities commonly understood to explain and defend the events we term the “Renaissance” and the “Reformation.” He argues that the renewed cult of the literary, visual, and educational norms of classical antiquity were a consequence—not the essence or cause—of the Renaissance. Further, the Reformation emerged from a cultural movement that neither constituted a historical discontinuity nor led to the catastrophic religious clashes of the sixteenth century.

To construct his argument Levi analyzes intellectual developments reflected in the works of Petrarch, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Thomas More, Luther, Erasmus, Calvin, and many others. In addition he considers the full sweep of issues relating to the gestation of the Renaissance and Reformation, among them the political and financial consequences of the emergence of the large nation states, their attitudes toward the papacy, the evolving relationship between sacred and secular sovereign powers, and the norms informing the development of Europe’s legal systems and its religious sensibilities.




Anthony Levi is emeritus professor of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. He is the author or editor of numerous books, reviews, and articles and is currently at work on a biography of Erasmus to be published by Yale University Press.

“This work is impressive in its command of sources. . . . It is an important work and sets forth new constructs about Renaissance and Reformation that must be considered.”—Marion Leathers Kuntz, American Historical Review

"[Levi’s] skillfully navigated intellectual journey is a tour de force."—Choice

“A solid and reliable single-volume history, priced affordably and containing the necessary resources for closer study of its contents.”—Seymour Baker House, Renaissance and Reformation

“Presented in this impressive study [is] a strikingly original interpretation that is sure to stimulate considerable discussion and debate. . . . Levi’s interpretation of the intellectual culture of Western Christendom and of the Renaissance and Reformation will prove to be an important contribution.”—Paul W. Knoll, The International History Review

ISBN: 9780300093339
Publication Date: June 10, 2002
496 pages, 6 x 9.5