When Was The Renaissance?

I was reading up on an Italian scholar of the 15th Century names Leonardo Bruni. Here is a blurb written on him in the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Leonardo Bruni, also called Leonardo Aretino    (born c. 1370, Arezzo, Florence[Italy]—died March 9, 1444, Florence), Italian humanist scholar of the Renaissance.

Bruni was secretary to the papal chancery from 1405 and served as chancellor of Florence from 1427 until his death in 1444. His Historiarum Florentini populi libri XII (1610; “Twelve Books of Histories of the Florentine People”) is the first history of Florence based on a critical examination of the source material. An elegant Ciceronian stylist, he made Latin translations of many classical Greek works, including those of Plato, Aristotle, and Plutarch, that furthered the study of Greek literature in the West. His Italian-language biographies of Dante, Petrarch, and Giovanni Boccaccio aided humanism’s growing appreciation for Italian poetry.


So, Bruni was a humanist during the “Renaissance”… but you see the date of his birth (1370)? Isn’t that pre-Renaissance? Well, yes and no. It really depends on what school of thought you belong to on when the Renaissance began – and when it began in which country.

One of my favorite paintings by Ghirlandaio from the height of the Renaissance period (1488) in Florence.


I submit that the Renaissance began in Italy and it existed there before any other Western European country. I also submit that, in my studies, I have read scholars date the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy as early as Giotto. Who was Giotto?

Giotto di Bondone,  (born 1266–67/1276, Vespignano, near Florence [Italy]—died Jan. 8, 1337, Florence), the most important Italian painter of the 14th century, whose works point to the innovations of the Renaissance style that developed a century later. For almost seven centuries Giotto has been revered as the father of European painting and the first of the great Italian masters. He is believed to have been a pupil of the Florentine painter Cimabue and to have decorated chapels in Assisi, Rome, Padua, Florence, and Naples with frescoes and panel paintings in tempera.

Giotto is touted as a painter at the “dawn of the Renaissance” by several sources including the J Paul Getty Museum in their exhibition on Giotto and Pacino. The dates for the “dawn of the Renaissance” are 1300-1350.

For the purposes of this blog, and for the Ca’ d’Oro Renaissance Salon at Gulf Wars we will use 1350-1600 as the dates of the Renaissance.



Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com

Sciacca, Christine. (2010). Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance. Getty Publications.

One thought on “When Was The Renaissance?

  1. I’ve always used the c. 1350 starting date based on the intellectual focus- Petrarch after all was the father of Renaissance humanism, so a starting date that completely excludes him doesn’t make sense. There’s also an argument to be made about the casual influence of the Black Death, so earlier than 1350 also doesn’t work for me.

    Historically, I think the Renaissance is best understood not as a separate era at all, but as a time of transition from the Medieval worldview to the Enlightenment/Early Modern worldview. It was a slow transition, that took 200-300 years to work through Europe. By 1600 Europe is recognizably not Medieval and the worldview is more similar to our than to the Middle Ages.

    I could go on and on but the point is I agree with you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s