The Sixteenth Century


I. The Increasing linguistic self-confidence:

II. The consolidation of the Tudor Dynasty after the Wars of the Roses:

1. The court as the center of power and culture: royal power over feudal barons

(1) The unity of politics and artistic cultures.

2. The Rise of courtier culture.

(1) Flamboyant dresses: the extravagant use of ruff.

(2) Experts in rhetorical, artistic, and social skills: an art of concealing art proposed in  Cortegiano.
(3) Political intrigue: based on the principles of Machiavelli’s Il Principe, cultivating an atmosphere of paranoia caused by threats of duplicity and betrayal.

(4) Patronage system: channels through which favors were distributed.

(5) The Rise of Literature: motivated by the network of political/cultural motivations.
(6) Circulation of manuscripts among the elite: retaining fascination with the chivalric code (A vision of the idealized past).
3. The Ascendancy of the City: flourished trade, higher incidence of literacy.

III. Renaissance: (rebirth of letters and arts)

1. Stimulated by the recovery of texts and artifacts from classical ages.

2. The worldly, individualist, human-oriented (as opposed to the medieval otherworldly, group-and God-oriented).
(1) Man as the measure of all things.

(2) The belief in a unified truth underlying all philosophical systems.

3. Humanism:

(1) Belief in the malleability of the individuals: More’s Utopia.

(2) Focus on self-fashioning, on education: struggles for curriculum reform

(trivium and quadrivium) as preparation for public service.

4. The study of Latin: not just for rhetoric but moral, political, philosophical truth.

5. The question of language choice: pan-Euro intellectual community vs. nationalism: flourishing of translation (Homer, Plutarch, Ovid as well as Ariosto, Montaigne).

IV. Reformation:

1. The Catholic Church as an all-encompassing institute with its monopoly of religious affairs of everyday life over the illiterate lay: Doctrines mediated by the clergy.

2. Background: the corruption of the Catholic Church, fiercely attacked by Martin Luther at the University of Wittenberg, as a worldly conspiracy
3. Basic Tenets: Private conscience enlightened by a personal reading of the Scriptures, focusing on direct access to the word of God (sola scriptura and sola fide).

4. The Origin of Reformation in England: dynastic politics and royal greed, not really Protestant (Divorce case over Catherine of Aragon for Anne Boleyn Act of Succession The Act of Supremacy suppression of monasteries, but no less against Reformation ideas).

5. Translation of the Bible: William Tyndale’s version (as the core of the Great Bible).

6. Establishment of English Church: 42 articles of religion and Book of Common Prayer, formulated by Thomas Cranmer.

About Saweel Ur Raheem

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