This is the assignment page for the topic "The Spread of the Renaissance Humanist Curriculum" for J. B. Owens's sections of the lower-division undergraduate course, History 101, Foundation of Western Civilization. The sole purpose of this page and all of the pages linked to it is to provide an orientation for those students enrolled in History 101.

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The Spread of the Renaissance Humanist Curriculum

ID: Cicero (106-43 B.C.E.), Florence, Medici, Lorenzo de'Medici (1449-1492), Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529), Desiderius Erasmus (ca. 1466-1536), Johann Gutenberg (ca. 1400-ca. 1468), Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527)

  1. Why did the Humanist curriculum come to dominate European education by 1530?
  2. Why were the Renaissance Humanists so successful in defending their curriculum as the basis of education?
  3. Why was the urban environment so important for the development of Renaissance educational ideals?
  4. Why did the Renaissance Humanist curriculum first take root among families who were tied to investments in banking, commerce, and manufacturing?
  5. Why did a concern for "chivalry" become an increasingly important part of the elite cultural environment in the Late Middle Ages (1300-1500)?
  6. Why did the military role of the mounted knight decline in the Late Middle Ages?
  7. Why was Castiglione's The Courtier so important to the spread of Renaissance Humanism? Discuss particularly the social role of elite education in the sixteenth century.
  8. Why did Machiavelli's book The Prince cause such a scandal?
  9. Why did Erasmus become the most influential intellectual of his time?
  10. Why did Erasmus attach so much importance to the study of foreign languages?
  11. Why was the invention of printing from moveable type so important for the development of the European cultural environment?
  12. In what ways did the humanists' studies of ancient Greek and Roman cultural products have an impact on the European cultural environment between 1400 and 1650?
  13. In what ways did the spread of the Renaissance Humanist curriculum have an impact on the European cultural environment between 1400 and 1650?


Owens, 179-187; Kishlansky, ch. 11 and pp. 262-264; Niccolò Machiavelli [1469-1527], selections from The Prince, at the URL:; Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy, at the URL:

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Revised: 29 May 2006