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date: 20 October 2019


  • James Haar


A term introduced in the 19th century that refers to the activity of scholars in the studia humanitatis of grammar, rhetoric, poetics, history and moral philosophy. At its core, humanism is the study of the linguistic and rhetorical traditions of classical antiquity. Though used in a variety of contexts humanism is particularly identified with the Renaissance and is considered here chiefly within the limits of that period (1350–1600).

Petrarch (d 1374) is traditionally thought of as the first important humanist, even though he had no great scholarly pretensions and was preceded in proto-humanist activity as early as the mid-13th century by Italian, particularly Paduan, scholars. By the early 15th century a number of humanist scholars were active in Florence and elsewhere. From Italy the movement spread northwards, first to Germany, through the activity of German students who flocked to Italian universities during the 15th century. In ...

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