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Q 1 Outline the origins and development of the Humanistic and Renaissance movements in both southern and northern Europe.

Renaissance is a word which is come from many languages such as French and Italian. In French, the word is renaissance while, in Italian, it is rinascimento which bears the meaning of to be reborn. The meaning of this word, despite its use in various communities, has the meaning of the time in the vicinity of the 14th and 17th centuries. This period of the renaissance has its origin in Italia before it dispersed to the other regions of the European nations. This is a culture that has many memories, that even today with the entire technological advance we still sit back and marvel at the works of that cultural innovation. The renaissance culture that spread in Europe came with a great influence on the people’s life styles, for example, renaissance revolutionized the people’s literature, philosophy, the music, science poetry and politics not forgetting religion (Brotton, 20-46). The renaissance period is live in present day, in the form of photos. The photography captures the moments in an exceptionally clear way giving the real representation of the times of the renaissance period.

According to Brotton (26), renaissance period was unusually diverse and encompasses the fields of trade, finance, commodities patronage and anthropology among many others. In this connection, we are going to look at the influence of renaissance in the field of social life and how it is perceived in many situations such as marriage. Renaissance was later introduced to Northern Europe and Germany than Italy. It encountered a lot of resistance from scholastic theology which was present in many universities of the time. Humanism in German is dated from invention in the year of the printing press in the year 1450.Humanism flourished and lasted up to 1520, and  was swallowed by stronger religious movements .The Italian humanism was superseded by a papal counter reformation which distinguished  the new northern culture of the Alps  from the Italian culture.

According to catholic historians the university played a very crucial role than in the south. Scholarships were introduced where the representatives were teachers. Erasmus was one of the lecturers that taught in Cambridge and was intimate with professors then at Basel. During this time many new universities came up from Basel to Rostock (Mortimer, et al 88). In Germany there were no pioneers of arts to be compared to the renaissance popes and Medici or was there exclusive and aristocratic culture. This encouraged spread of intelligence and many schools developed in terms of grammar .Later currents of renaissance set to the north, strong, independent and intellectual current was emanating from schools managed by the Brethren of common life . the humanistic movement.  

Humanism entered the north into the religious service. Scholars from Germany, though less brilliant and elegant, they became more serious with determination than their Italian contemporaries. The ancient classics from the south were absorbed by the attention of the literati unlike in the north. Like Italy Germany lacked the passion to render the classics. Henry Stainhowel a physician translated Boccaccio’s Decameron to German. He later died in 1482 .In the northern part of Alps .attention was on the old and New Testament where the Greek and Hebrew were studied to reach the fountains of Christians (Meron 23). Here preparation had started for the protestant reformation. Focus on translation was a characteristic of humanists who assisted the launch of post scholastic era among them Luther and Erusmus.At this point Biblical texts were put above institutional or human authority which emphasized the self understanding and enrichment of God’s word.

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Christian humanism was engineered which gave birth to freedom of expression which was closely allied to the medieval shift of scholarship from monastery to the university (Thornton 153). Later some proponents opposed freedom of expression such as the censure of Anabaptists. The reflection of scholarship in Germany was also true of its art. The painters Lucas Cranach an Albrecht took no interest in mythology and were later persuaded by the reformation though some continued to commissions for catholic subjects. Holbein and Durer had a very close contact with leading humanists. Cranach lived in Wittenberg and painted portraits of Martin Luther and other leaders from the German reformation (Donald 36). Holbein made illustrations for protestant books painted Melanchtone and Erasmus.

Italian roots of the humanism in German

The fame of renaissance followed the paths of trade which went from Northern Italy to Augsburg. The campaigns of Charles VIII and visits of Fredrick III and the ascent of the throne of Naples by the princes of Aragon carried the Spanish and the Frenchmen .In Spain popes drew to the city throngs and a constant stream of pirigrims travelled to Rome. The fame of the Italian culture spread and artist started travelling to Venice, Rome and Florence. According to the Italians the land of Germany was of Barbarians. The Italian people despised the German because of their rudeness, intemperance in eating, and their rudeness.Aeneas discovered that Germans valued dogs and horses and cared for them more than scholars and poets. To the Italians Germany was a land of barbarians. They despised the German people for their ignorance, rudeness and the intemperance in eating and drinking. Aeneas found that the German princes and nobles cared more for horses and dogs than for poets and scholars and loved their wine-cellars better than the muses. Campanus abused Germany, for its cold weather, poverty, and sour wine. He lamented of his nose which had to smell everything.

Two medieval African Kingdoms

The Wagadou Empire (Ghana Empire) and the famous African Kigdom of Zimbabwe are the kingdoms I have chosen to discuss. The wagadou were founded in 830AD by Arab tribes in the coast of the Mediterranean Sea (Lynn, et al 28). At the very bottom of the Sahara desert, they constructed a capital known as the Koumbi Saleh. Their economy was founded on goods such as salt, timber, gold and slaves from the savage lands. The wagadou had a good relationship with developed nations such as the Moorish merchants and Egypt and sold slaves to those nations at the north (Thapar 115).

They acquired a lot of wealth and Koumbi Saleh was one of the richest and biggest cities in Africa. A merchant recording their travels to Ghana, developed one of the best tax system (Spielvogel 49).The governance of this empire is not known but the king who ruled this empire had absolute power based on capital. The city of koumbi saleh was surrounded by dozens of vassal states governed by princes who paid tribute to the king. The way the Wagadou Empire fell is not known but some research reveal that the neighboring tribes and nations absorbed the empire and in the year 1235, it was translated to be the Mali Empire (Kishlansky 122)

The kingdom of Zimbabwe was founded by a majority of people who left the kingdom of mapungubwe due to the discovery of gold( Fage & Tordoff 59) .They controlled huge parcels of land of over 150 vassal’s states. Their popularity grew because they controlled the ivory and gold trade which they sold at very high prices to the Arabs, Chinese merchants and Indians. They had the ability in stonework’s and possessed  the biggest stone structure which was seen during the pre colonial period and can still be seen today. Nonetheless in 1430, a prince travelled north to increase control of salt mines and established the Kingdom of Mutapa. In a few decades it had concealed Zimbabwe both economically and militarily (Deegan 50) .In 1450 people had left Great Zimbabwe for the newer and powerful kingdom.

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5. Look at the aspects of cultural interaction between Islam, Christianity, Judaism (and if pertinent, local pagan groups) in one specific region such as Spain, North Africa, the Byzantine Empire, Persia, Anatolia (Turkey) or the Holy Land during the portion of the medieval period.

Islam and Confucianism Religions

According to the anthropological perspective, Islam and Confucianism religions were both initiated by people who had a passion to teach what they believed was right( Llobera 39) The Islam was initiated by Muhammad the Prophet, while Confucianism was invented by Confucius in Chinese (Kong Zi), a great Philosopher. In both Islam and Confucianism, their leaders left behind rules that ought to be followed by their devotees. For instance, the Islam leader left the Five Pillars of Islam to be followed by Muslims while Confucius outlined the values that contained six duties to be adhered to by the followers of the religion.

Whereas in Confucianism, Confucius travelled all around teaching the rulers and individuals about morality, ethics and guidelines to exercise politics, Prophet Muhammad simply formalized, clarified the Islamic faith and did away with the ideas that were regarded as errors. (Hudson & Azra, 28)Similarly, the Islam is perceived to be a religion because of the teachings that its followers follow as opposed to Confucianism which is widely perceived to be a mere doctrine by philosophy of life because of its teachings which  have non-religious components. Throughout the history, Confucianism religion has been known to experience succession on the basis of reigning empires at different times and has therefore been inconsistent in its beliefs and practices. However, Islam religion has from the ancient time followed the same beliefs and practices owing to the fact that it is embedded in teachings of one man, Muhammad.

History of Confucianism and Islam

Confucianism was founded by Confucius or Kong Zi who was born in 551 B.C.  At Tsou, a district in China. Confucius was initially known as Kung Futze meaning the president or a philosopher. He was named a philosopher because he studied philosophy and established a school which was specialized in the course known as the essence for philosophy at the age of 22 years. Confucius travelled around China with a small group of people whom he considered to be important in the government. He believed that heaven and life after death were beyond human comprehension and therefore people ought to pay more attention in doing the right things. He later died in 479 B. C. E. after he had effectively established his ideas (Chen, 69).

On the other hand, Islam began in 622 CE under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad who initiated the Islamic religion. It is believed that Islam was started at Makkah/Mecca as a young religion by Prophet Muhammad who is considered to be the last prophet after Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus. The spread of Islamic religion was implemented by Muhammad’s sayings (Five Pillars of Islam) which are the duties that are to be followed by all Muslims (Quinn & Taliaferro 48)

Roles of Islam and Confucianism

The role of Islam religious leaders is to guide the devotees in performing religious practices and teachings as per the Islamic doctrines. Similarly, Confucian religious leaders are responsible for teaching the devotees the philosophical doctrines of Confucianism and to ensure that the followers adhere to the teachings and practice of Confucius.

Principles and Practices of Islam and Confucianism

Islam and Confucianism have different principles and belief systems which guide their followers. For instance, Muslims are guided by the need to strictly follow monotheism, existence of one creator who is compassionate, just and invincible. Muslims also believe in the existence of Hell. Islamic religion has two sacred texts; Qur’an, word os Allah and Hadith, a collection of Muhammad’s sayings (Llobera, 2003). Islamic religion believes and adheres to the Five Pillars of Islam (Trimingham 46). It entails reciting the Shahadah once per day, performing prayer five times daily facing Kaaba in Makkah, donating to the needy, fasting during the month of Ramadan, and making  a pilgrimage to Makka once in a life time.

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Similarly, Confucianism has its own beliefs and practices. This includes ritual performance during certain periods of time, traditional practices at birth, approaching of maturity, during marriage and at death. Confucians also believe in the Great God who is worshiped by all Chinese, but do not believe in existence of Hell or Heaven. They perform sacrifices with the help of high people in society such as kings or princes of different governments

Religions View of Social and Cultural Norms of Islam and Confucianism

Hunt (89) notes that in both Islam and Confucianism a leader is only valued if he/she is ethical and has visions for the society. For instance, the Eastern culture of China will only be granted divine status if he/she begins to have a great vision for China (Tapar 196).  Whereas Confucianism culture is not concerned with the right for humanity, but for the duties and responsibilities that are to be undertaken by various people, Islamic religion has always been known to plead for Human rights (Gonen, 38).Various social norms existing in Confucianism   offer a notion that religion is majorly concerned with personality and is family oriented. However, Islam’s social norms are democracy oriented and focus on society (Peterson, 46)..

7. Choose 3 styles of art or architecture from 3rd - 16th centuries CE (Early Christian, Byzantine, Viking, a particular Islamic type, Early European Medieval, Illuminated Manuscript, Romanesque, Gothic, Italian Renaissance, North Renaissance, etc.) and describe some of their properties. Compare this style with works or types from other periods or cultures.

Renaissance period in view of Simon is a period where accommodation of contemporary thinking of sexuality, as well as feminism, was difficult. He continues to argue, that it is during this same period of renaissance that it is witnessed the coming to birth of the modern man and realization that the world does not require investigation.  Renaissance is also considered to be the reflection of the new discoveries rather than the; set of framed mind as well as the gender based constrictions in the works of Simon. Here the main aim is to reveal the renaissance period inevitability and neutrality by bringing forth the traditional master theories.

It is in view of many people that women did not experience the renaissance, for example, according to Kelly and Simon (46), many of the historians are not ready to discuss the issue of whether the women ever had their renaissance. The historians continue to say that, this is the period that came with modernity but, unfortunately, the woman continues to be isolated in all aspects. The art in particular renaissance paintings continue to give minimal information about the feminist enterprise. The works in the renaissance period were more inclined to one gender, which is the male gender, while the female were given extremely little attention.

The renaissance period in the words of Simon, in reference to the art work of the Quattrcento Florence, considers the period to be out to outline the male history. This leaves the female gender entirely out of the revolution of that time. To further support the disparity between the male and female gender, approximately all Florentine paintings, the work was based on the male while the female were only included in paintings that were meant to be a donation. The ignoring of women and diminution is shown further where, the portraits of the male were represented in larger frames where on portraits of an unidentified man was found to measure three quarter length.

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The female portraits are only found in profiles, and this persisted for a long period which changed in the late 14th century where women got equal representation as that of their male counterparts (Brown 78). This move changed the profile format, to a situation where the paint faced the viewer. Renaissance period as much as it is considered the time of rebirth and revolution of  times of the dark ages, man is still held tightly to practices that are detrimental in terms of equality between, women and men. In this period, the women had almost equal rights with men counterparts. In the inception of the renaissance, the women lost this advantage and had their rights go down substantially. This discrimination is more prominent among the people of the upper class unlike the lower class. Women from the upper class were considered as property. At the early ages, women were the property of their fathers while, at the latter stages, the ownership was passed down to the husband.

The women in the upper class suffered more than the women of the lower class. The lower class women still had the opportunity to own land. In general women during this period of the renaissance were obliged to remain faithful to their husbands, but on the other side, the husbands were encouraged to have extramarital affairs. The only advantage the women of upper class had over the women of lower, class is, in a case of rape, the upper class women would be well protected and the offender punished severely. In those days, rape was just a minor crime and offenders would make away with it or be fined or jailed for a minimal time. To add insult on the injury, for a raped woman, she was considered a used property, and no one would like to associate with them after the heinous act. The emotions of women were not to be expressed. This means that the woman was socially considered to be of lesser importance in the society. She had the opportunity to get some learning, and could only be allowed to do this for a short duration, and when the husband came they were forced to drop from it. The role of the woman was to remain submissive to their husband and do all that the husband requires of them (Colton 98)

In Venice, women had different roles; in regard to this, women were categorized into two groups. Courtesan women and patrician women. The women could be allowed to mingle in the men gathering. Even though, they had these privileges, they were closely followed by their husband so as, to know their every move. Women were not trusted, and this can be the reason as to why the women were being monitored. Discrimination was also highly rampant in Venice where places were designated for each gender. For example, the basement floor was specifically set aside for use by the men in activities such as business and storage of their properties. On the other hand, the woman’s place in Venice was in the kitchen and bedroom. It should be clear that, in this context, the bed room should not spell the place where they participated in a sexual act with the husband, but it was deemed as the place for child birth. This in itself is totally degradation of the woman in the society as it was experienced in many places during the renaissance period.

The wives and women, who were married to the mighty people in Venice hence called noblewomen, were still monitored, and the only privilege they got despite the heavy surveillance is that they were accorded substantial respect in the society. In Venice, marriage was a highly prestigious institution and the married couple had a house under their name. The respect to the wives was for their responsibility at the household level. The patrician women in Venice were of a lower level as compared to the noble women, the only occasion they came to a level ground was during the dinner table. In such occasion, all the women both noble and the less noble, served the same purpose. The noble would be give an opportunity to sit aside and have a chat while the courtesans would be engaged with men as an item of entrainment. The roles of women would at the time be switched, but the courtesans would be used by the unmarried men as well as the unfaithful married men in sexual interests.

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In Venice, again as it is prominent in the renaissance period, women had to be submissive and respectful to their husbands. This meant that a woman would not be tolerated if they cheated with other men. On the other hand, a man going out with other women was conceder as usual, and no effect would arise from that. This was illustrated by the presence of courtesans who were used in the place of a wife. While the man had all the freedom to move around, the women were left at home where their main roles were to take care of their children, as well as their husbands.

According to Kelly (48), on social ground, the Venetian woman was totally downgraded. Even the government of the time would not entertain any form of comment or view from the woman. The woman was segregated and confined in their house hold, and the furthest they could reach was only the neighborhood. The men domineering society had the women occupied so much that, parents with daughters were highly advised to keep their daughters busy with activities such as knitting with the aim of protecting them from losing their virginity.

Despite this surveillance to women; it is ironical that when the English men arrive in Venice, their first visit is overwhelmed by the number of courtesans in the streets (Rosenthal 92). In fact, one of the white men was shocked that the majority were so loose that they would open their quivers for any arrows that came their way. The social ties of Venice can thus be said to have been falling apart in that time. In Florence just like in Venice, a women’s place was behind closed doors. Women were not allowed in public places. The men used the excuse that the women were to remain at home to safeguard their chastity and ensure that the blood line remains pure. The ownership of property was no different like many places in the world. At the renaissance period women of Florence had no rights to own any property. Property ownership was left for the male gender as the role of a woman was to take care of the family (Steven and Young 102).

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