7 junio, 2024

The 16 Most Important Renaissance Writers

Some of the Renaissance writers most prominent were Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Nicholas Machiavelli or Martin Luther. The Renaissance was a cultural movement that saw education, literature, art, and science flourish; it saw an influx of new ideas and new practices, and left behind a profound cultural legacy.

The cultural and artistic movement was possible thanks to scientific discoveries, especially the development of J. Gutenberg’s printing press, which allowed the mass production of books.

The heart of the Renaissance is considered to have begun in Florence, Italy, in the early 14th century. This was aided by financial and cultural support from the ruling family, surnamed Medici, and later from the Vatican.

The Renaissance was literally a «renaissance,» the period in European civilization immediately after the Middle Ages characterized by a surge of interest in classical studies and values.

For the scholars and thinkers of the time, it was above all a time of revival of classical learning and wisdom after a long period of cultural decline and stagnation.

The most influential writers of the Renaissance

Although there were a large number of recognized writers, some stood out for their excellent work and the influence of their writings in the world of the fourteenth century.

1- Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)

Leonardo wrote in small notebooks using his left hand and a mirror writing technique (text is written from right to left).

He frequently painted with his left hand and only seemed to write with his right hand when he wanted the text to be easily read by others.

His great scientific works such as the Vitruvian Man, the machine gun, the helical screw, the calculator and other contributions, made him a renowned figure during the Renaissance and in world history.

Scholars presume that Leonardo may have been concerned that others would steal his ideas and therefore decided to use this type of writing. He introduced the mirror writing technique around this time.

2- Michelangelo (1475 – 1564)

Michelangelo is known throughout history for his extraordinary achievements in sculpture and painting, and it is said that he preferred the physical labor involved with both. However, he wrote numerous literary works, including letters, journal entries, and poems.

His literary skills are most marked in his poetry, which he wrote throughout his long life. Many of his poems are addressed to both men and women, while his mystical religious poems are addressed to no one in particular.

Dealing with deep emotional themes, his poetry is not as subtle as that of many other poets, perhaps a reflection of his artistic inclinations.

3- Nicholas Machiavelli (1469-1527)

Machiavelli was an Italian writer, historian, diplomat, and humanist. Moving in political circles, he created a new branch of political science based on humanistic principles. His greatest work, The Prince, is an exposition of his political machinations.

4- Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Leader of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther wrote 95 theses attacking the church, such as criticizing the belief that sin could be mitigated by paying money to the church.

Martin Luther was ex-communicado from the Catholic Church and was a key figure in the new Protestant religion.

5- Petrarch (1304 – 1374)

Francesco Petrarca, born in Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy. He was an Italian polymath, poet, and humanist whose poems to Laura, an idealized beloved, contributed to the Renaissance flourishing of lyric poetry.

Petrarch’s inquisitive mind and love of classical authors led him to travel, to visit men of learning, and to search monastic libraries for classical manuscripts. He was considered the greatest scholar of his time.

6- Miguel de Cervantes (1547 – 1616)

He was a Spanish novelist, playwright and poet, creator of Don Quixote (1605, 1615) and is recognized as the most important and famous figure in Spanish literature.

His novel Don Quixote has been translated, in whole or in part, into more than 60 languages. Editions continue to be printed regularly, and critical discussion of the work has continued unabated since the eighteenth century.

At the same time, due to their wide representation in art, theater and film, the figures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are probably visually familiar to more people than any other imaginary character in world literature.

Cervantes was a great experimenter. He tried all the major literary genres except the epic.

7- William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

William Shakespeare, also spelled Shakespeare, known as the Bard of Avon or the Swan of Avon. He was an English poet, playwright and actor, often called the English national poet and considered by many to be the greatest playwright of all time.

Shakespeare occupies a unique position in world literature. His most famous works include Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Hamlet.

Other poets, such as Homer and Dante, and novelists, such as Leo Tolstoy and Charles Dickens, have transcended national barriers, but the living reputation of a writer does not compare with that of Shakespeare, whose works, written in the late sixteenth and early from the 17th century for a small theater repertoire, are now performed and read more frequently and in more countries than ever before.

The prophecy of his great contemporary, the poet and playwright Ben Jonson, that Shakespeare «was not of a time, but of eternity,» has been fulfilled.

8- Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Teresa de Ávila was a noted religious reformer of the 1500s. Born Teresa Sánchez in the city of Ávila in central Spain, she received no formal education, although she read widely as a child.

In 1535, Teresa entered the religious order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (known as the Carmelites) and in 1562 she founded a small convent called San José de Ávila.

There he introduced such reforms as a simple lifestyle, devotion to internal prayer, and rejection of racial prejudice.

In 1970 she became the first woman to receive the title of Doctor of the Church, an honor bestowed on a select group of religious writers.

His three most famous works are his autobiography, entitled: «Book of his life»; an allegory called «The Interior Castle»; and «The Way of Perfection», a guide for mental prayer.

9- Pierre de Ronsard (1524 – 1585)

Born in France, he was a poet and writer, head of the French Renaissance group of poets known as La Pléiade. Ronsard was the youngest son of a noble family from the county of Vendôme.

An illness contracted on an expedition with Princess Madeleine to Edinburgh left him partially deaf, however his ambitions were diverted to scholarship and literature.

He learned Greek from the brilliant tutor Jean Dorat, read all the then known Greek and Latin poetry, and gained some familiarity with Italian poetry.

He formed a literary school called La Pléiade, and its aim was to produce French poetry that could be compared with the verses of classical antiquity.

10- Baldassare Castiglione (1478 – 1529)

He was an Italian courtier, diplomat, and writer, best known for his dialogue «Il libro del cortegiano» (1528; Book of the Courtier).

The son of a noble family, Castiglione was educated at the humanist school of Giorgio Merula and Demetrius Chalcondyles, and at the court of Ludovico Sforza in Milan.

His great work, mentioned above, was a great publishing success by the standards of the time. It was written and read by noble women, including the poet Vittoria Colonna, Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua, and the author’s mother, as well as by men.

In the century after its publication, it averaged one edition a year and was translated into Spanish (1534), French (1537), Latin (1561), and German (1565), in addition to Sir Thomas Hoby’s English version. , The Courtyer of Count Baldessar Castilio (1561), and Łukasz Górnicki’s Polish adaptation, Dworzanin polski (1566, “The Polish Courtier”). The book remains a classic of Italian literature.

11- Thomas More (1478 – 1535)

Illustrious British character who worked as a politician, thinker, judge, translator and, of course, a writer. His most notable work is Utopia (1516), a story in which More speaks of an ideal nation. Other of his most outstanding creations are The agony of Christ (1535), letters from a humanistas well as his various poems.

12- Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466 – 1536)

Dutch philosopher and theologian and one of the most notable Latin writers in history. He was an inveterate traveler and had the opportunity to study and live in cities like Paris, Rome or London, where he met thinkers and philosophers of his time such as Thomas More. It was in England that he developed In Praise of Folly (1511), his most acclaimed work.

13- Garcilaso de la Vega (1501 – 1536)

Poem and man of arms who from a very young age worked for the royal court. During his lifetime he did not publish any work, this being made public from 1542 together with that of Juan Boscán, another writer of the time. His work was greatly influenced by the Italian Renaissance, specifically by authors such as Petrarch.

14- Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (Molière) (1622 – 1673)

French playwright and poet, he is considered one of the most recognized writers of the French language, as well as literature in general. His work was extensive, including comedies, ballets and farces. Among his most recognized works are The giddy or the setbacks (1655) and the Host (1668).

15- John Donne (1572 – 1631)

He was one of the leading metaphysical poets of his day. His works dealt with themes such as religion, love and death. He was characterized by writing and using complicated metaphors and realistic language in his verses. His writings were first published in book form after his death by his son bearing the name poems (1633).

16- Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 1400)

Chaucer was an English writer, philosopher and diplomat, considered the most important of the Middle Ages. His most famous works are the canterbury tales, however, all his works allowed validating English as the language of literary use, since French, the language of the Court or Latin were the most used.


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Ulick Peter Burke. (November 20, 2015). Baldassare Castiglione. July 01, 2017, from Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Website: britannica.com
Michael Frassetto, Richard J. Mayne and Others. (July 19, 2016). history of Europe. July 01, 2017, from Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Website: britannica.com
Andrew Graham-Dixon. (1999). Renaissance. Google Books: University of California Press.
Werner L. Gundersheimer. (1993). The Italian Renaissance. Google Books: University of Toronto Press.

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