Castiglione (1478-1529) The Book of Courtier (1528). Perhaps most important work on Renaissance Education. Specified qualities necessary to be a true gentleman including physical and intellectual ablities and leading an active life. Rejected crude contemporary social habits. Described the idea of a "Renaissance Man" who was well-versed in the Greek and Roman classics, versatile personal demeanor. v. medieval vie of being a master in only 1 area.
Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) Member of the Platonic Academy. Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486) Perhaps the most famous Renaissance work on the nature of humankind. Humans were created by God. and therefore given tremendous potential for greatness, and even union with God if they desired it. However, humans could, through neglect, also choose a negative. Thus, humans had freewill to be great or fail.
Francesco Petrarca or Petrarch. 1304-1374. Father of humanism. First modern writer. Literature not subordinate to religion. 'The Middle Ages were the "dark ages," seen as a time of ignorance. first to apply critical textual analysis to ancient texts. Wrote in the Italian vernacular.
Valla 1407-1457. Elegances of the Latin Language/On the False Donation of Constantine 1444. Exposed the Donation of Constantine as an 8th century fraud, using textual criticism proving it was not 4th century Latin. The RCC had claimed it was granted vast territories by the Emperor Constantine. Pointed out errors in the Latin Vulgate. Promoted humanist study, undermine the claims of a church you once couldn't argue with, and helped lead to the Reformation
Boccacio (1313 - 1375) Compiled an encyclopedia of Greek and Roman mythology. "Decameron" is his most famous work. Consisted of 100 earthy tales that comprise a social commentary of 14th century Italy. Aimed to impart the wisdom of human character and behavior (especially sexual and economic misbehavior).
Ficino (1433-1499) One of the most influential humanist philosophers - 15th century. Founded the Platonic Academy at the behest of Cosimo de' Medici in the 1460's. Servved to spread the works and philosophy of Plato throughout much of europe. Translated Plato's works into latin, giving modern Europeans access to these works for the first time.
Leonardo Bruni (1370 – 1444) First to use the term "humanism" Among the most important of the civic humanists. Served as a chancellor in Florence. Wrote a history of Florence, perhaps the first modern history, and wrote a narrative using primary source documents and the division of historical periods.