Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
When accessing content use the numbers below to guide you:
Brief, basic information laid out in an easy-to-read format. May use informal language. (Includes most news articles)
Provides additional background information and further reading. Introduces some subject-specific language.
Lengthy, detailed information. Frequently uses technical/subject-specific language. (Includes most analytical articles)
Students understand the significant challenges and developments faced by the society that caused progress or decline, including the Reformation, Renaissance and Age of Exploration.
- What key beliefs and values emerged and how did they influence societies?
- Which significant people, groups and ideas from this period have influenced the world today?
Renaissance Italy and the Reformation | Politics & Power: Introduction
Power and the People (Flatt, 2010, pp. 30-31)
"During the Renaissance people began to protest when they didn’t agree with how they were governed. Strong rulers still held power, but the idea of basic rights of freedom of religion and good government had taken hold among the people."(Flatt, 2010, pp. 30-31)
Society and Power (Romanek, 2010, pp. 30-31)
"The Renaissance brought a shift in power. People from the lower-class saw a chance to improve their lives by getting out from under the control of the upper classes. The old system of lord controlling peasants began to come apart.... Kings, nobles, and other rulers fought over control of the cities and the land around them. Often two or more regions formed an alliance, and marriages between ruling families helped to cement these." (Romanek, 2010, pp. 30-31)
Warfare (Ellott, 2009
"Renaissance city-states and their ruling families fought with one another for landand political power. If one city-state became too powerful, others would join forces and fight against that city-state to stop it from expanding. The nature of warfare changed greatly during this time." (Elliott, 2009, pp. 14-15)
Renaissance Italy and the Reformation | Politics & Power: general reading
Cities and Statecraft in the Renaissance by
Publication Date: 2009
Cities and Statecraft in the Renaissance looks at the rise of trade, commerce, guilds, and the merchant and ruling classes in northern Europe. This influenced the growth of towns, cities, states, and regions, who competed with one another for power, artistic talent, and creativity. At the same time, people rich and poor were struggling to establish new forms of society and government.
Renaissance Italy and the Reformation | Politics & Power: Italian Wars
Renaissance Italy and the Reformation | Politics & Power: the Medici
The Medici family
The Medici family were Italian merchants and bankers who ruled Florence and, later Tuscany from 1434 to 1737. Unlike the kings and emperors of the time, the Medici family and power came from their wealth.
To explore more about the Medici family's banking and business which gave them wealth and power see the Medici Family resources under the Economy tab.
Medici family (Britannica High, n.d.)
The Medici family were Italian merchants and bankers who ruled Florence and, later Tuscany from 1434 to 1737. For two brief intervals (from 1494 to 1512 and from 1527 to 1530) they were expelled from Florence due to rivalry from other Florentine families and parts of the Florentine society fighting for the old republic and against one family having too much power. The Medici family provided the church with four popes (Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV, and Leon XI) and they also married into the royal families of Europe. ("Medici family", n.d.)
"Cosimo de’ Medici" (Britannica High, n.d.)
Cosimo de’ Medici, byname Cosimo the Elder. (born Sept. 27, 1389, Florence—died Aug. 1, 1464, Careggi, near Florence), founder of one of the main lines of the Medici family that ruled Florence from 1434 to 1537... Cosimo traditionally has been accused of destroying Florentine liberties ("Cosimo de’ Medici", n.d.)
Lorenzo de’ Medici (Britannica High, n.d.)
Lorenzo de’ Medici was a Florentine statesman, ruler, and patron of arts and letters. ("Lorenzo de’ Medici", n.d.)
The Medici and Gozzoli’s Magi (Oxley, 1994, pp. 16-21)
Focuses on Benozzo Gozzoli's `The Procession of the Magi' fresco found on the walls of the Medici town palace on the Via Cavour in Florence, Italy. History of the painting; Aristocratic fantasy depicted in the work; Painting as tribute to Cosimo Medici's role in the family's prestige and power; Family's devotion to the Epiphany.
The Medici by
Publication Date: 2017
Having founded the bank that became the most powerful in Europe in the fifteenth century, the Medici gained political power in Florence, raising the city to a peak of cultural achievement and becoming its hereditary dukes. Among their number were no fewer than three popes and a powerful and influential queen of France. Their patronage brought about an explosion of Florentine art and architecture. Michelangelo, Donatello, Fra Angelico and Leonardo are among the artists with whom they were associated. Thus runs the'received view'of the Medici. Mary Hollingsworth argues that the idea that they were wise rulers and enlightened fathers of the Renaissance is a fiction that has acquired the status of historical fact. In truth, the Medici were as devious and immoral as the Borgias – tyrants loathed in the city they illegally made their own and which they beggared in their lust for power.
Renaissance Italy and the Reformation | Politics & Power: Guelf and Ghibelline
Guelf and Ghibelline
"Guelf and Ghibelline" (Britannica High, n.d.)
Guelf and Ghibelline, Guelf also spelled Guelph, members of two opposing factions in German and Italian politics during the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. The split between the Guelfs, who were sympathetic to the papacy, and the Ghibellines, who were sympathetic to the German (Holy Roman) emperors, contributed to chronic strife within the cities of northern Italy in the 13th and 14th centuries. ("Guelf and Ghibelline", n.d.)
Renaissance Italy and the Reformation | Politics & Power: Niccolò Machiavelli and the Prince
Niccolò Machiavelli and the Prince
Niccolò Machiavelli (Britannica High School, n.d.)
Niccolò Machiavelli, (born May 3, 1469, Florence, Italy—died June 21, 1527, Florence), Italian Renaissance political philosopher and statesman, secretary of the Florentine republic, whose most famous work, The Prince (Il Principe), brought him a reputation as an atheist and an immoral cynic. ("Niccolò Machiavelli", n.d.)
Machiavelli and the new philosopher prince (Brown, 1981, pp. 15-20)
Discusses the life and work of historian and philosopher Niccol ò Machiavelli. Description of Machiavelli's 'History of Florence'; Role in the republican regime in Florence, Italy; Discussion of Machiavelli's thoughts as presented in his works 'The Prince' and the 'Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius.'
Introducing Machiavelli : A Graphic Guide by
Publication Date: 2011
Illustrated guide to the crucial Italian philosopher and author of The Prince. 'Machiavellian' is a popular byword for treachery and opportunism. Machiavelli's classic book on statecraft, The Prince, published over 400 years ago, remains controversial to this day because of its electrifying frankness as a practical guide to power. Is it a how-to manual for dictators, a cynical philosophy of 'the end justifies the means', or a more complex and subtle analysis of successful government? Machiavelli was a loyal servant of the Florentine republic. His opposition to Medici despotism led him to torture on the rack and exile, and yet he chose as his model for the Prince the most notorious tyrant, Cesare Borgia. Introducing Machiavelli traces the colourful life of this paradoxical realist whose clear-sighted patriotism made him the first truly modern political scientist. Machiavelli is seen as central to the postmodern debate on Civil Society. This book brings the creative turbulence of Renaissance Italy to life, and presents a compelling portrait of a key figure of European political history.
Renaissance Italy and the Reformation | Politics & Power: Girolamo Savonarola
Girolamo Savonarola (Britannica High School, n.d.)
"Girolamo Savonarola, (born Sept. 21, 1452, Ferrara, Duchy of Ferrara—died May 23, 1498, Florence), Italian Christian preacher, reformer, and martyr, renowned for his clash with tyrannical rulers and a Alinari/Art Resource, New Yorkcorrupt clergy." ("Girolamo Savonarola", n.d.)