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The Myth of the Renaissance in Nineteenth-Century Writing$
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J. B. Bullen

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198128885

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198128885.001.0001

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The Renaissance and Protestant Confusion England in the 1840s

The Renaissance and Protestant Confusion England in the 1840s

(p.106) 6 The Renaissance and Protestant Confusion England in the 1840s
The Myth of the Renaissance in Nineteenth-Century Writing


Oxford University Press

The term ‘Renaissance’ is intimately linked to a historical perspective which is cultural, but in the 1840s England was not yet ready for cultural history. Nevertheless, the English had a strong interest in the Italian fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and this prepared the way for the new genre, and prepared the way, too, for the adoption of the concept of the Renaissance. When the decade opened, two works dealt with Italian history of this period and contributed substantially to the idea that was later to be called the Renaissance: Henry Hallam’s Introduction to the Literature of Europe and the English translation of Leopold von Ranke’s History of the Popes. Hallam’s subject is literary; potentially, at least, Ranke’s is much more explosive. Ranke, deeply self-conscious of his Protestantism, leans over backwards to show no bias against Catholicism, and either ignores or finds words of praise for the problematic aspects of the fifteenth- and sixteenth- century ecclesiastical morality. Catholic criticism had contributed significantly to the historiography of the Renaissance, but it had done so in a negative sense.

Keywords:   ecclesiastical morality, Protestantism, Catholicism, historiography, England, History of the Popes, history, Henry Hallam, Leopold von Ranke

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