VA Essentials Student Activity, WHII.2b
Standard WHII.2b
The student will demonstrate an understanding of the political, cultural, geographic, and economic conditions in the world about 1500 A.D. (C.E.) by
b) describing artistic, literary, and intellectual ideas of the Renaissance.

Essential Skills
Identify, analyze, and interpret primary and secondary sources to make generalizations about events and life in world history. (WHII.1a)

Analyze trends in human migration and cultural interaction. (WHII.1e)
Printable Activity

Literary and Intellectual Accomplishments of the Renaissance

The Italian Renaissance marks a rebirth of classical knowledge and the beginning of the modern world. By the early sixteenth century, the Italian Renaissance had spread to northern Europe. As the peoples of northern Europe adopted and adapted Renaissance ideas, they created new art and literature. Much like those of the Italian Renaissance, Northern Renaissance artists and authors portrayed both religious and secular subjects and objects.

One important Northern Renaissance scholar is Erasmus, who wrote among other works, The Praise of Folly. He was a humanist scholar would sought reform of the Church and society. William Shakespeare, also a product of the Northern Renaissance, was a prolific author of plays and sonnets. In the late sixteenth century, his comedies and tragedies brought audiences of varying social classes to enjoy the London theaters. Shakespeare's sonnets explore the human condition with themes that range from love to the concept of time.

In this activity you will analyze works by two important, but very different products of the Northern Renaissance: Erasmus and Shakespeare, in order to gain a greater appreciation of their intellectual and literary contributions. Begin by reviewing Chapter 5, Sections 24, and Chapter 7, Section 4 of Glencoe World History: Morden Times. Next read the following primary sources.

Visit the text of Erasmus. The Praise of Folly, and read the section "Oration: Folly Quotes Christ."

Visit The Oxford Shakespeare. Choose two of Shakespeare's sonnets to analyze. Print them out and submit them with your assignment.

Use the knowledge you obtained from reading your textbook and the above primary sources to answer the following questions.

  1. Choose a quotation from "Oration: Folly Quotes Christ," and explain its meaning.

  2. Paraphrase each of the sonnets in your own words.

  3. Compare and contrast the themes of the two sonnets.

  4. Explain why Northern Renaissance humanism is also referred to by some historians as Christian humanism.

  5. Explain why Shakespeare was known as a "complete man of the theater."