a unique historical context that characterized the northern Italian city-states and that we call the Renaissance

In this Reflection Activity, you will be asked to think and write about an important issue or theme from the chapter. Your response will be submitted directly to the instructor, rather than shared with the class. First, read the prompt below. Then, respond to the question(s) asked at the bottom of the activity. Follow your instructor’s guidelines in terms of word count and content.  The most visible manifestation of the Renaissance comes from artistic genius and innovation, but the defining feature of the period is an outlook or worldview called humanism. Both of these developed in a particular set of circumstances, a unique historical context that characterized the northern Italian city-states and that we call the Renaissance. Their dominance of Mediterranean trade made these Italian cities into prosperous commercial centers where powerful merchants displaced the old landed aristocracy in positions of power and influence. The resulting social structure bore little resemblance to the traditional ordered society of the Middle Ages. Another point of uniqueness was Italian cities’ relatively independent political development that led first to republican forms and then to despotism. In the process, they laid the foundations for modern political thought. Of these two sets of circumstances, the political and the economic, which do you think was most important in creating an environment ripe for the Renaissance to flourish? Why?

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President, Woodrow Wilson (from The Meaning of a Liberal Education, An Address to the New York City High School Teachers Association; delivered January 9, 1909

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