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The Other Renaissance: From Copernicus to Shakespeare: How the Renaissance in Northern Europe Transformed the World

by Paul Strathern

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721368,506 (4.75)None
An original, illuminating history of the northern European Renaissance in art, science, and philosophy, which often rivaled its Italian counterpart. It is generally accepted that the European Renaissance began in Italy. However, a historical transformation of similar magnitude also took place in northern Europe at the same time. This "Other Renaissance" was initially centered on the city of Bruges in Flanders (modern Belgium), but its influence was soon being felt in France, the German states, London, and even in Italy itself. The northern Renaissance, like the southern Renaissance, largely took place during the period between the end of the Medieval age (circa mid-14th century) and the advent of the Age of Enlightenment (circa end of 17th century). Following a sequence of major figures, including Copernicus, Gutenberg, Luther, Catherine de' Medici, Rabelais, van Eyck, and Shakespeare, Paul Strathern tells the fascinating story of how this "Other Renaissance" played as significant a role as the Italian renaissance in bringing our modern world into being.… (more)
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This is an accessible telling of the lives and deeds of key figures of the northern renaissance.
I thought the distinction of the "northern" renaissance was a litlle artificial, but it was probably worth the author highlighting that there was much more to the renaissance than the art and architecture of Italy.
The book is broken up into short chapters covering individuals who made their mark in the opening of minds in the 1400 and 1500s northern Europe. From Luther to Copernicus to Erasmus and Shakespeare, there is much there to keep the reader interested.
I had a couple of quibbles - I couldn't see how Catherine de Medici and Elizabeth I contributed much to the renaissance. Major figures in the times in France and England, but ranaissance figures? I'm not convinced. And while Shakespeare is covered as a major literary figure, there wasn't much effort to highlight how he was different from his predescessors, or how he changed the stage for the future.
But minor points. This is good popularised history. ( )
  mbmackay | Mar 18, 2024 |
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An original, illuminating history of the northern European Renaissance in art, science, and philosophy, which often rivaled its Italian counterpart. It is generally accepted that the European Renaissance began in Italy. However, a historical transformation of similar magnitude also took place in northern Europe at the same time. This "Other Renaissance" was initially centered on the city of Bruges in Flanders (modern Belgium), but its influence was soon being felt in France, the German states, London, and even in Italy itself. The northern Renaissance, like the southern Renaissance, largely took place during the period between the end of the Medieval age (circa mid-14th century) and the advent of the Age of Enlightenment (circa end of 17th century). Following a sequence of major figures, including Copernicus, Gutenberg, Luther, Catherine de' Medici, Rabelais, van Eyck, and Shakespeare, Paul Strathern tells the fascinating story of how this "Other Renaissance" played as significant a role as the Italian renaissance in bringing our modern world into being.

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