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The Differences Between the Northern and Italian Renaissances - AP Euro essay


   The Renaissance was an era of great change in Europe. However, Italy witnessed differences in religious views during this period from Northern Europe. The major properties of those differences were in art, literature, and politics. The art in Italy was centered around religious subjects whereas the Northern European art was based on realistic and humanistic subjects. Literature in Northern Europe criticized religion. Italian based literature was often written about religion. The Northern European countries believed the Pope to be subservient to their monarchs, but Italy believed the Pope to be above all others.    Much of the Italian art of this time was religiously based. This is greatly due to the funding by the papacy for exuberant cathedrals. Most of the money from the indulgence sales went to the Vatican in Rome and used to fund the art in, for example, Saint Peter's Cathedral. Great artists like Michelangelo were paid to make great works like his paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Other artists such as Raphael painted frescoes. Much of the work was also based on human emotion, like Nicola Pisano's works. Contrary to the Italian Christian art, Northern European art was much more secular. Here, realism was popularized and widespread. The subjects were focused on nature and symbolism within a realistic disguise. Many of these works were landscapes. Some artists of this time were Roger Van der Weyden, Dreric Bouts, and Petrus Christus.    Much like the roles of art, literature too was based on different subjects between the two regions. In Italy, much of the literature was based on the nonsecular. For example, Dante's The Divine Comedy in which, Dante describes a man journey through the after life. Conversely, In Northern Europe the writing revolved around humanistic ideals. Great writers like Chaucer, Rabelais, and Erasmus wrote about human nature and all of human emotion. Some of the writers of this time, Erasmus especially, would use satire within literature to criticize the Church. This way they could speak their minds but not be condemned for it. This was quite the opposite of Italian writers. Many based their works on returning to an old way of thinking and having their subjects be about God and the surroundings he created. It was greatly Christian literature, such as Tasso's epic poem, "Gerusalemme Liberatta".    Another aspect greatly affected by the different religious emphases was politics. Many of the leaders of the protestant reformation were from the northern states, such as Martin Luther. These regions began to doubt the power of the Pope over their monarchs. However, with the Vatican being located within Rome, Italians would remain faithful to its strength. Luther was excommunicated, which would have meant a life of exile with nowhere to turn had it not been for his support in his native Germany. The Princes of Germany relished their superiority over the Pope and stopped sending money to the Vatican. These two views on seniority of leaders created many differences in these areas. Italy believed that the Pope had supremacy over all, even political leaders. Northern Europe followed Luther's ideals of division between church and state, thereby giving monarchs power over the Pope.    The differences between the Northern and Italian Renaissance in politics, literature, and art all center on a common religious aspect. It is religion that held the power and controlled a large part of Europe before the Renaissance. When a movement went to change that, differences in aspects of life occurred. As always, there are those who want change and those who do not.