Home Back

The Renaissance Concept of Self


as seen in Petrarch, Castiglione and Montaigne


Daniel J. Castellano

GRS HI 811


Boston University

December 9, 2002

            Modernity is an elusive concept, for it may be understood in the trivial sense that every age is new in its time, yet it may also carry implicit biases about the relationship between the recent (modernus) and ancient (antiquus).  The Renaissance is commonly considered the point of transition between medieval and modern Europe, which is true enough if we consider ‘medieval’ and ‘modern’ to merely define chronological periods, but errors propagate when we impose certain connotations of ‘modernity’ onto this historical relation.  One such connotation is the view that the past is at best an embryonic state of modern society. To the extent that historians are influenced by this conception of modernity, they are susceptible to viewing the man of the past as a homunculus of modern man, rather than viewing him on his own terms.  Current scholars are usually sophisticated enough to be aware of this temptation, but historians succumbed to it frequently in the nineteenth century.  Renaissance man in particular suffered much violence under this analysis, being contorted into a forerunner of nineteenth-century liberalism, atheism, Protestantism, or one of numerous nationalisms.  Burckhardt’s characteristics of Renaissance man often reflect the values of his time more than those of the Renaissance.  The work of Kristeller and Garin, among others, has led to more balanced assessments of Renaissance thought, yet even their models can be problematic if interpreted too rigidly.  Instead of imposing modern categories such as secularism and individualism on Renaissance thought, we should, in good humanistic spirit, turn ad fontes and see what categories the sources themselves suggest.  While we may not find a modern, or even proto-modern, man in Petrarch, Castiglione or Montaigne, these thinkers reveal a notion of modernity that has some similarity to ours, even though the content of their thought is hardly an anticipation what followed in later centuries.  Their novel view of what it is to be modern entailed a reassessment of one’s relation to other men, past and present, and in this way they may be credited with developing a modern sense of the self – it is not that their philosophical opinions or personalities were in any way modern, but their mode of introspection is identifiable with our own.

            Any student of the High Renaissance can scarcely avoid Burckhardt’s conclusion that here arose “many-sided men” who regarded themselves as individuals, not merely as members of a class.[1] The appearance of portraiture and proliferation of intimately introspective writings, as well as a general concern for personal improvement in every detail, firmly corroborate this thesis.  Burckhardt’s other characterizations of Renaissance men, such as a supposed emphasis on worldly matters at the expense of concern for a salvation, rampant individualism, and a defining of oneself by education rather than class, tend to be true only with much qualification, and are even contradicted by the examples of some leading humanists.  The testimonies of Petrarch, Castiglione, and Montaigne will test these hypotheses, since the first two were widely admired and imitated by other Renaissance thinkers, and the last is regarded as typical of the High Renaissance man.  We can also test Eugenio Garin’s more modest assessment of the humanists, which credits them with two contributions: that “the ancients should be studied as men living in a certain historical time”, and “human knowledge proceeds less by abstract speculation than by communication of personal perspectives”.[2]  In the process, we might also address Kristeller’s skepticism on whether the humanists contributed anything to the development of speculative thought,[3] and to what extent this has bearing on our assessment of their developing a new sense of self.

            The Renaissance men considered here are of a humanistic bent, a choice which might nourish a bias that the humanist side of intellectual debate was ultimately the victorious side, leading inexorably to the development of modern thought and the downfall of Aristotelianism.  In this view, the humanists are held as typical of Renaissance thought while the scholastics are stodgy reactionaries.  Kristeller exploded this myth by demonstrating the continued success of Aristotelianism in later centuries, the popularity of Platonism in the Middle Ages, and the lack of an identifiable set of doctrines adopted by humanists, who were defined as a group only by their common profession.[4]  Further, the Neoplatonic thought which so enthralled the humanists was formulated by Marsilio Ficino, a trained Aristotelian, and his pupil, Pico della Mirandola, who eventually became a Dominican monk.[5] Religious fervor played an important role in their lives, as in Petrarch and Montaigne.  While rejecting any notion of humanists as intrinsically anti-Catholic or anti-Aristotelian, Kristeller retained the opinion that they placed an “emphasis on man, on his dignity and privileged place in the universe” (e.g., Petrarch), and focused on “the concrete uniqueness of one’s feelings, opinions, experiences” (e.g., Montaigne).[6] These are the only aspects of Burckhardt’s ‘individualism’ that Kristeller saw fit to preserve, and even this might have been too much.

            Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch, 1304-1374) was certainly concerned with self-knowledge, the definition of man as a rational being and as an individual, and fidelity to oneself, but his approach to these issues was strikingly different from modern notions of individualism and secularism.

My youth was gone before I realised it; I was carried away by the strength of manhood; but a riper age brought me to my senses and taught me by experience the truth I had long before read in books, that youth and pleasure are vanity-nay, that the Author of all ages and times permits us miserable mortals, puffed up with emptiness, thus to wander about, until finally, coming to a tardy consciousness of our sins, we shall learn to know ourselves.[7]


Being “true to myself” is achieved through contemplation of death and recognition of one’s sinfulness.[8]  Petrarch advocated the study of man not at the expense of the divine, but in replacement of dry philosophical discourse on other natures, whether animal, vegetable, or angelic.[9]  In his Secretum, Petrarch affirms that the love of man ought to be derivative of the love of God, and exposes what Ficino would later call ‘Platonic love’ as mere human love that distracts the soul from God.[10]   Writing well before Ficino, Petrarch has a modestly developed theology that follows Augustinian Platonism.

For what else does the sublime doctrine of Plato argue but that the soul must protect itself from the passions of the flesh and eradicate its fantasies so it may rise pure and unfettered to the contemplation of the mysteries of the divine, combining meditation on one’s own mortality with that contemplation?[11]


The human soul is studied not for knowledge, but in order to develop the virtues that lead to salvation, for “it is better to will the good than to know the truth.”[12]

Owing largely to the endorsement of St. Augustine, Petrarch regarded Plato as the “prince of philosophy”, whose ethical and theological teachings were closest to Christianity.[13] He followed Cicero in respecting Plato’s authority so much that he would defer to him without proof.[14] He respected Aristotle as a natural philosopher, but did not “adore” (or “worship”) him, and faulted his Ethics as more concerned with knowing what virtue is than in teaching the will to love the good.[15] Significantly, the pagan philosophers are evaluated by their proximity to Christian truth, and not cited as independent authorities.

It is questionable whether Petrarch considered education to be essential to a person.  He certainly accepted the ancient and medieval definition of man as a rational being, and believed that all desires ought to be subjected to reason.[16]  Though he identified himself as a scholasticus, he ultimately regarded his scholarly achievements as of little importance: “If only I have lived well, it matters little to me how I talked.”[17] Asceticism led Petrarch to contemplate abandoning his historical works[18], but he stopped short of this, even while recognizing that his principles ideally required him to do so.

            Introspection and solitude were valued throughout the Middle Ages, but Petrarch coupled his self-examination with a focus “upon antiquity, for our own age has always repelled me.”[19] Petrarch did not have a progressive sense of modernity, for he condemned his generation, “that dares to declare itself not only equal but superior to the glorious past.”[20] He lamented that few really knew Cicero “because the love of money forces our thoughts in other directions,” and complained that “it is the style to be aggressive and presumptuous”.[21]  Petrarch’s antiquarianism was a repudiation of the present; a century later, classical learning would nurture a revival of ancient values and the end of a Dark Age. Our concept of ‘the Renaissance’ is to no small degree informed by this humanist self-perception.

            Petrarch’s poetic and historical works, so disparaged by their creator, were the cause of renown in the eyes of future generations.  Baldesar Castiglione (1478-1529) cited Petrarch’s poetry as a model of Platonic love, which Kristeller describes as “spiritual love for another human being that is but a disguised love of the soul for God.”[22]  Castiglione and Petrarch agree in principle that God ought to be the primary object of love, but differ on whether the love of God can be achieved through the medium of earthly love.  Petrarch would object that “nature is not overcome by man’s devices; a corporeal thing cannot reach the heights by descending”,[23] but Castiglione places much more emphasis on human craft in the process of moral improvement, for neither virtue nor vice is natural, but learned.[24]

            Castiglione’s relationship with the past differs from that of Petrarch. The ‘father of humanism’ is rightly credited with a demystification of the ancients, treating Cicero as a deeply flawed human too engrossed in the politics of his day to adhere to the lofty ideals of his orations.[25]  Castiglione goes further than Petrarch, and rather than critique individuals, challenges the “error of praising the past and blaming the present”, claiming that the supposed virtue of earlier generations was occasioned by simple naivety.  He holds the Platonic doctrine of opposites in the moral sphere, maintaining against Petrarch (and Montaigne, who changes his mind on this issue in mid-essay) that vice is necessary for the existence of virtue.[26]  This dualistic philosophy makes worldliness easier to accept, and is more in tune with the times, as the word ambitio by then had its modern positive connotation.  Castiglione, though permanently associated with courtly splendor, did not consider his opinions a departure from Gospel teachings on humility,[27] and he was careful to distinguish his care for reputation and glory from deception and affectation, even if modern readers may find his advice duplicitous.

            Like Petrarch, Castiglione upholds the superiority of soul or mind over the body, and the desirability of subordinating the entire person to reason.  Petrarch accomplished this by focusing on death and his own sinfulness, while Castiglione recommends an energetic struggle against opposition, by caring for the body, then one’s instincts, and lastly reason, acknowledging that the practical order of priority inverts the hierarchical order.[28] The humanist emphasis on will persists here, yet as with Petrarch, this is not taken in a way that is exclusive of Aristotelianism.  Indeed, on several occasions in The Courtier, Castiglione grants the Aristotelians the last word, reaffirming that all evils arise from ignorance, and rehashing the classic argument for monarchy from the Politics.[29]

            Another feature of Castiglione’s Neoplatonism is the teleology of beauty.  Plato’s identification of the Good with Beauty is taken up quite literally by The Courtier’s Pietro Bembo, who mixes Neoplatonic notions of beauty with medieval physics of spirits emanating from the eyes or souls rising to the mouth in a kiss.  Beauty is conceived as an “influx of the divine goodness”, so it cannot be enjoyed by possessing the body.  Older men, less apt to be seduced by their senses, are thus better lovers, and what Petrarch would find shameful is praiseworthy to Castiglione only because has a more positive assessment of man’s ability to love purely.[30]  Seemingly temporal love is exalted by means of a physics that seamlessly integrates the divine light with corporeal creatures.  Firm belief in this integration enables the Neoplatonist to soberly assert that “rarely does an evil soul dwell in a beautiful body, and so outward beauty is a true sign of inner goodness”. He stops short of calling the body itself good, in fact, incorporeal beauty “loses much of its nobility when fused with base and corruptible matter.”[31]  Nonetheless, theis variant of Neoplatonism, by identifying the aesthetic ideal (Beauty) with the rational ideal (Good), constructs a harmony between love and reason that later ages have taken for granted. Petrarch had retained the Stoic-Christian view that love was a “madness”, and considered it blasphemous to identify God with love.[32]

            Bembo’s discourse on beauty culminates in a transcendence of reason itself, as the “noblest part” of the soul, the (particular) intellect, unites with the angelic nature, and comprehends Beauty through a universal intellect, or ‘world-soul’.[33]  The universal intellect is a doctrine some Neoplatonists shared with the Averroists; it should caution us against an easy association between Neoplatonism and individualism.

Much of the Renaissance concept of self is related to perceptions of God, the soul, Good and Beauty, but these universals cannot account for the individual nuances with which the Renaissance is associated.  Virtually all of the moral philosophy discussed by the humanists could be pieced together from Plato and Aristotle, and Kristeller is basically correct in asserting that the humanists made little contribution to speculative thought.  Yet throughout the discussion in The Courtier, a distinctive style of discourse emerges.  Regardless of who gets the last word, both sides are given sufficient support to allow difference of opinion.  This Sic-et-Non style was also used in the Middle Ages, but the humanists placed more emphasis on concrete examples and personal experiences, and cast the search for truth and goodness in the framework of knowing oneself and one’s own nature. 

Humanist anti-Aristotelianism is mainly a question of style and technique rather than doctrine, as the humanists offered no substitute for scholastic physics and metaphysics[34] (save those who were also scholastics, like Ficino), but intersected with scholasticism in the domain of morals and theology. Here they opposed the use of dialectic, and Petrarch created the image of the scholastic as a “quibbling trickster” who pursued vain knowledge to the point of irreligion.[35]  Though humanism is often portrayed as a forerunner of Protestantism and secularism, the humanists actually saw themselves as correcting the impious secularizing tendencies of late scholasticism.  This is especially evident in Petrarch’s portrayal of the Averroists, and Erika Rummel has shown that this stereotype was a staple of humanist polemic.[36] 

Michel de Montaigne is commonly regarded as epitomizing Renaissance thought. Kristeller used Montaigne to illustrate the importance Renaissance thinkers found in the “concrete uniqueness of one’s feelings, opinions, experiences and surroundings”.[37]  Montaigne’s essays are intimately introspective, and express many of the same principles found in earlier humanists, but with more intellectual daring and skepticism. A self-described melancholic (like Petrarch), Montaigne chooses himself as subject-matter, since he doubts whether there is such a thing as human nature or instinct.[38] He holds the ideal that body and soul ought to be subject to reason, but recognizes that in fact people follow their appetites, rather than order their lives to a single telos.  Montaigne illustrates the complexity and contradictions of human beings through historical examples and personal experience, leading to his speculation that man is a mixture of “bits and pieces” pulling in different directions,[39] contrary to the conventional wisdom that the soul is simple and indivisible.  Elsewhere, Montaigne emphasizes the unity of the individual, affirming that body and soul ought not be developed separately, but the entire man as a unit.[40]

Montaigne’s introspection, like Petrarch’s, has a moral motivation: bringing the soul “into our self” causes “happiness to depend on ourselves”.  After spending the prime of life living for others, the end of life should be lived for oneself.[41]  Montaigne holds an Epicurean notion of happiness or pleasure: the satisfaction of leading a virtuous life.  Though he acknowledges that men do best “who seek solitude for devotion’s sake”, Montaigne judges his soul as “commonplace”, needing to “cling tooth and claw” to earthly pleasures.[42]  There is no universal prescription for moral behavior; each must act according to his constitution.

An evidently modern aspect of Montaigne is his pervasive skepticism:

When the mind is satisfied, that is a sign of diminished faculties or weariness. No powerful mind stops within itself: it is always stretching out and exceeding its capacities…it is only half-alive if it is not advancing, pressing forward, getting driven into a corner and coming to blows; its inquiries are shapeless and without limits…[43]


Though the desire for knowledge is a proper end of humanity, it cannot be realized in this life.  Montaigne’s skepticism differs from the later ‘skepticism’ of Enlightenment thinkers such as Hume, as it has no naturalistic bias. He thinks it is rash to disbelieve accounts of the supernatural, since our intellect cannot define the limits of possibility, and what we consider plausible is defined only by familiarity.[44]  We should not despise what we cannot understand, lest this lead to greater absurdity.  This reasoning, combined with his personal experience of discovering that some seemingly absurd liturgical practices actually had meaning, led Montaigne to the conclusion that submission to religious authority must be total.[45]  He remained wary of attempts to know God’s will or intention regarding specific earthly occurrences.  God’s purposes are unknowable, and besides, men should hope for things other “than the chances and mischances of this world.”[46]

Montaigne does not try to resolve the humanist dilemma of the solitary versus the active life.  While his introspective and ascetic musings give ample support for solitude, contempt for life, and preparation for death, he also believes it is good to engage the world, so we are not “cramped and confined in ourselves”.[47] This is achieved not by mere social interaction, but by learning to view oneself in a global or cosmic context.  In a sense, Montaigne is a synthesis of humanistic thought. Donald Wilcox characterized early humanism as giving “contemporary relevance to the classics” (Padua) and pursuing “research for its own sake” (Verona).  Petrarch subjected learning to moral ends, yet his need to reproduce the exact original text reflects a desire tor learn from particular perspectives instead of generic assertions.[48]  Hans Baron identified a shift around 1400 from Petrarchan humanism to a more active, civic humanism, and attributed this to the isolation of Florence as a republic surrounded by tyrannies.[49]  Still, some of those who championed an active political life, like Salutati, later adopted the monastic ideal.  In the 1440s, Florence moved from civic humanism to a more formal Neoplatonism culminating in Ficino’s Platonic Theology.  Neoplatonism is best viewed “as a stage in the larger development of Renaissance humanism” in which the values of civic humanism did not persist, but humanist tools of analysis remained.[50]  Nonetheless, this generation of thinkers had less technical knowledge of dating documents and relied more on scholastic reasoning.  Ficino and Pico were not humanists by profession, nor did they attack scholasticism, yet their teaching influenced humanists and those who shared humanist ideals, such as Castiglione. As Kristeller reminds us, the Renaissance was bigger than humanism; the revival of classicism was favored even by some scholastics, who also tended to be more daringly skeptical (e.g. Pomponazzi) than leading humanists.[51]

A common theme to Petrarch, Castiglione, and Montaigne is a love of liberty which resulted in reluctance to be taught by human authority (though none dared extend their skepticism to religion).  Castiglione and Montaigne believe man “should be able to do anything, but only want to do good”, finding a salutary effect in the challenges to the spiritual life.[52]  Montaigne often imitates Petrarch’s religious and moral rigor, but he is the least optimistic of the three about the ability of reason to find truth.  In this he may be said to be the most modern, for despite our conceit that we live in an age of reason, modern thought since Kant has practically despaired of atttaining moral or theological truth through ratiocination (but in the natural sciences, a sort of mathematical Platonism or Pythagoreanism prevails).  Having witnessed the horrors of religious wars and a cruel criminal justice system, Montaigne indicates that we cannot know theological or historical truths with sufficient certainty to compel others.[53]  In some ways his thought is even freer than ours, recognizing that since “truth and reason are common to all”, ideas do not “belong to the man who first put them into words”.[54]  Montaigne comes closest to manifesting Burckhardt’s new man, to whom almost no thought is unthinkable.

The self-awareness and complexity of personality described by Burckhardt certainly exists in the Renaissance thinkers we have discussed to a degree unmatched by medieval or ancient predecessors.  They highly valued education, but moral and practical knowledge were much more prized than book-learning. Petrarch, Castiglione, and Montaigne are loath to consider themselves learned.  We might disregard such protests as a mere show of humility, but it is likely that they were acutely conscious of their lack of technical scholastic learning, and in some cases, of humanistic learning as well. Montaigne accuses the humanists no less than the scholastics of pursuing vain knowledge and teaching through rote memorization.[55]  Reason may pertain to the essence of man, but it would be an exaggeration to affirm that humanists held that education was essential.  The subjection of all things to reason was a common medieval idea; efforts to identify this as a Renaissance innovation are a vestige of the humanist myth of a Dark Age preceding the fifteenth century.  Similarly, the positive value of temporal works was not unknown to medieval Christians, as the Benedictine Rule repeatedly admonishes against idleness. 

Humanists, as often as not, prescribed a withdrawal from worldly pursuits, especially the pursuit of money.  Many were deeply concerned with religious matters, and if they did not write as much about religion explicitly, they refrained because of a sense that most theological matters were unknowable, or felt it was irreverent to discuss such matters in a profane work. Montaigne and Castiglione both mention this reservation.[56]  Silence about religion may reflect religious scruples or secularism, but we do know that when the humanistic authors do speak on religious matters, they are entirely devout.  Leonardo da Vinci might make a more promising model of primitive secularism, especially when he appears to challenge the Biblical account of the Flood.  Yet even he spoke disparagingly of the love of money and the flesh, and followed Aristotelian and Platonic convention by incorporating spirituality into physics.[57]  The more cerebral men of the Renaissance tended to accuse their contemporaries of worldliness as social and economic conditions after the Black Death enabled a greater sense of confidence in mankind’s ability to prosper in this life. On the other hand, Montaigne, who was magnificently wealthy and thought poverty was a rare occurrence, did not adopt secular leanings.  Like Petrarch and many other humanists, he remained militantly Catholic, not proto-secular or proto-Protestant. Montaigne criticizes the obtuse arrogance of those who “accused anyone who showed a glimmer of intelligence yet professed the Catholic faith of only feigning to do so”.[58]  We would share this fault if we were to reduce these humanists to forerunners of the Reformation and the Enlightenment.  They persisted in their Catholicism not out of ignorance or naivety, but after rational deliberation, and often, as in Montaigne’s case, in perfect freedom.[59]

Garin’s appraisal of humanist thought is true to the sources, which indeed exhibit a personalization and particularization of ancient authors, as well as a focus on personal qualities instead of abstract philosophizing.  This novel way of viewing the self, both absolutely and in relation to others, past and present, is a real contribution of humanism to modern consciousness.  We can also cite the relatively free, unsystematic approach to moral and religious truth that many humanists adopted. This is a symptom of their aversion to dialectical argument, but as Kristeller reminds us, the scholastic style of argument persisted into the modern age, both in the Catholic and Protestant worlds.  The humanist contribution is not to be found in innovative answers to intellectual and moral problems, but in directing attention to issues that were ignored by university scholars.[60] Just as religious disputes led to a Thomistic evaluation and clarification of Catholic doctrines, so the humanists helped define the themes that would dominate later philosophy and political theory.

As a final note, we should take care that the contributions of Renaissance humanism to the modern psyche are not interpreted to mean that Montaigne, Petrarch and Castiglione would have accepted what followed as natural consequences of their work, nor should we.  Each stage of historical development has some degree of autonomy from what preceded; many aspects of modern thought have little or no analogy in Renaissance thought; in some ways, Renaissance thought is bitterly opposed to modern liberal or capitalistic ideals.  Both the heavenly good and the temporal good were regarded as the common good – it was understood that the individual good should be subordinated to the common good, thus there was no radical individualism.  Politics was considered a subset of ethics, though some have seen Machiavelli as the first to divorce the two.  Despite these limitations, the Renaissance humanists may be credited with developing of sense of self and of historical present that has modern elements; indeed they are responsible for creating our notion of ‘modernity’, a fact that can gravely mislead those who would accept at face value the perception the humanists had of themselves as emerging from a Dark Age and opposing an entrenched establishment of Aristotelian pseudo-scholars.  Yet all the blame for misinterpretation cannot be laid upon humanist rhetoric; we have been far too eager to see images of ourselves in the Renaissance humanists, and selectively ignore some of their rhetoric (such as their stance as defenders of faith and tradition) in order to facilitate this deception.  This is bad humanistic technique, since it removes the subject from his original historical context, at least partially negating the uniqueness of his perspective.




Brucker, Gene A. Renaissance Florence. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1969.

Burckhardt, Jacob The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. S.G.C. Middlemore, trans. 1878. http://www.boisestate.edu/courses/hy309/docs/burckhardt/burckhardt.html

Cassirer, Ernst, Paul Oskar Kristeller, and John Herman Randall, Jr., eds. The Renaissance Philosophy of Man. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1948.

Castiglione, Baldesar. The Book of the Courtier. George Bull, trans. Penguin, London, 1967.

Kristeller, Paul Oskar. Renaissance Thought: The Classic, Scholastic, and Humanist Strains. Harper & Row, New York, 1961.

de Montaigne, Michel. The Essays: A Selection. M.A. Screech, trans. Penguin, London, 1987.

Petrarca, Francesco Selected Letters (c. 1372). Internet Medieval Sourcebook, Paul Halsall, 1996. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/petrarch1.html

Petrarca, Francesco. Petrarch’s Secretum with Introduction, Notes, and Critical Anthology. Davy A. Carozza and H. James Shey, eds. Peter Lang, New York, 1989.

Rummel, Erika. The Humanist-Scholastic Debate in the Renaissance and Reformation. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1995.

da Vinci, Leonardo. The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Robert N. Linscott, ed., Edward MacCurdy, trans. Random House, New York, 1957.

Wilcox, Donald J. In Search of God and Self: Renaissance and Reformation Thought. Waveland Press, Prospect Heights, Illinois, 1975.

[1] Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans. S.G.C. Middlemore (1878) http://www.boisestate.edu/courses/hy309/docs/burckhardt/burckhardt.html, II,i.

[2] Donald J. Wilcox, In Search of God and Self (Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, 1975), p.77. Wilcox’s words, not Garin’s.

[3] Paul Oskar Kristeller, Renaissance Thought (New York: Harper, 1961), pp.17-18.

[4] Wilcox, op. cit., pp.75-76.

[5] Ibid., pp.110, 115.

[6] Kristeller, op. cit., p.20.

[7] Francesco Petrarca, To Posterity (c. 1372), Internet Medieval Sourcebook (Paul Halsall, 1996) http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook.html.

[8] Francesco Petrarca, Secretum. In: Davy A. Carozza and H. James Shey, eds.,  Petrarch’s Secretum with introduction, notes and critical anthology (New York: Peter Lang, 1989), III, p.144; I, p.45.

[9] Francesco Petrarca, On His Own Ignorance (1368?). In: Ernst Cassirer, Paul Oskar Kristeller, and John Herman Randall, Jr., eds., The Renaissance Philosophy of Man (Chicago: U. Chicago Press, 1948), pp.58-59.

[10] Petrarca, Secretum, op. cit., III, p.111.

[11] Ibid., II, p.81.

[12] Petrarca, On His Own Ignorance, op. cit., p.105.

[13] Ibid.,pp. 107, 111-112.

[14] Petrarca, Secretum, op. cit., II, p.81

[15] Petrarca, On His Own Ignorance, op. cit., pp.101, 103.

[16] Petrarca, Secretum, op. cit., I, p.54.

[17] Petrarca, Letter to Francesco Bruni (Oct. 25, 1362). In: Cassirer et al., op. cit., p.34; To Posterity, op. cit.

[18] Petrarca, Secretum, op. cit., III, p.141.

[19] Loc. cit.

[20] Petrarca, Letter to Bocaccio (1366), Internet Medieval Sourcebook, op. cit.

[21] Petrarca, To Marcus Tullus Cicero, Intenet Medieval Sourcebook, op. cit.; Secretum, op. cit., II, p.88.

[22] Baldesar Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier,George Bull, trans. (London: Penguin, 1967), p.256; Kristeller, op. cit., p.63.

[23] Petrarca, The Ascent of Mount Ventoux. In: Cassirer et al., op. cit., p.39.

[24] Castiglione, op. cit., pp.290-291.

[25] Petrarca, To Marcus Tullus Cicero, op. cit.

[26] Castiglione, op. cit., pp.107-109.

[27] Ibid., p.128.

[28] Ibid., pp.294, 305.

[29] Ibid., pp.292, 298.

[30] Ibid., pp.325-327; Petrarca, Secretum, op. cit., III, p.128.

[31] Castiglione, op. cit., pp.330, 334.

[32] Petrarca, Secretum, op. cit., pp.114,124. The objection is to ‘love’ in the sense of amor, not caritas.

[33] Castiglione, op. cit., pp.339-340.

[34] Kristeller, op. cit., p.123.

[35] Erika Rummel, The Humanist-Scholastic Debate (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1995), pp.21,30.

[36] Ibid., pp.30-33.

[37] Kristeller, op. cit., p.20.

[38] Michel de Montaigne, The Essays: A Selection, M.A. Screech, trans. (London: Penguin, 1987), II:8, pp.149-150.

[39] Ibid., II:1, pp.125-128, 131.

[40] Ibid., I:26, p.59.

[41] Ibid., I:39, pp.99, 101.

[42] Ibid., I:39, pp.105-106.

[43] Ibid., III:13, p.368.

[44] Ibid., I:27, p.75.

[45] Ibid., I:27, pp.76-78.

[46] Ibid., I:32, pp.93-95.

[47] Ibid., I:26, p.50.

[48] Wilcox, op. cit., pp.59, 61.

[49] Ibid., p.79.

[50] Ibid.,p.111.

[51] Kristeller, op. cit., pp. 123, 135-138.

[52] Montaigne, op.cit., I:26, p.61[quote]; Castiglione, op. cit.,pp.294-295.

[53] Montaigne, op. cit., III:13, p.365.

[54] Ibid., I:26, p.44.

[55] Ibid., I:26, pp.64-65.

[56] Ibid., I:56, p.116; Castiglione, op. cit., p.223.

[57] Leonardo da Vinci, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Robert N. Linscott, ed., Edward MacCurdy, trans. (New York: Random House, 1957), I. Observations and Aphorisms, pp.6, 32; VIII. Earth, Air and Water, pp.292-293, 296. A close reading of Leonardo reveals that he did not express disbelief in the Biblical account, but saw the Deluge as mostly miraculous, and was loath to accept putative physical evidence of it.

[58] Montaigne, op. cit., I:56, p.112.

[59] Of course, there were impious and anti-ecclesiastical humanists (as well as scholastics), but the abundance of sincere traditional Catholics in the humanist camp makes questionable any identification of humanism with anti-traditionalism or secularization. Lorenzo Valla’s work has been used for antipapal polemic, but Valla does not appear to have considered himself a rebel, nor did Nicholas V who appointed him secretary. For the most part, humanist ‘anticlericalism’ was directed against abuses, not the institution of clergy. Anticlericalism of this sort existed in the Middle Ages, in the forms of scathing invective (e.g., against Gregory VII), or biting parody (e.g., the Canterbury Tales).

[60] Kristeller, op. cit., p.138.

© 2005 Daniel J. Castellano. All rights reserved. http://www.arcaneknowledge.org