Monday, January 29, 2007

Definitions and Distinctions [Updated 08-21-2012]

I figured I would begin this blog by defining the era to which I'm doing research. Thus far, I've found a few sites which give the basic definition for German Renaissance with a few general sites broadening the scope to give it better context.

Renaissance Movement - 1) The humanistic revival of classical art, architecture, literature, and learning that originated in Italy in the 14th century and later spread throughout Europe.  2) The period of this revival, roughly the 14th through the 16th century, marking the transition from medieval to modern times. []

The artistic, economic and social changes that are associated with the Renaissance first began in the Italian city of Florence.  In 1425, Florence was a self-governed, independent city-state with a population of 60,000. []

German Renaissance - originated with the Italian Renaissance in Italy, started spreading among German thinkers in the 15th and 16th centuries.  This was a result of German artists who had traveled to Italy to learn more and become inspired by the Renaissance movement. [Excerpted from Wikipedia's German Renaisssance.]

The Renaissance reached Northern Europe nearly 200 years after it shattered medieval aesthetic canons in Italy.  It flourished in Germany, Switzerland and Austria from about 1500 onwards, and corresponds to the period when a remarkable group of artists raised the ex-libris from a simple printed identification of ownership to that of a work of art. []

The Netherlands Renaissance - (I am uncertain at this time which is the more accurate term, Netherlands or German Renaissance, but they both comprise the same area, therefore, they should, at this time, be interchangeable)  The Renaissance Netherlands was an area including what is now Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and northern France.  By 1500 the rule of these areas had been in the Hapsburg family for generations and was handed down from father to son.  The Hapsburg lands continued to expand over Europe during the Renaissance, both through military conquest and carefully chosen marriage alliances.

The Netherlands was an important center of cloth production and was famous for its tapestries, exported all over Europe. The Netherlands also attracted and inspired some of the most talented artists of the Renaissance. Artists of the Netherlands were particularly interested in recording the reality of the visible world. Jan van Eyck, a Belgian painter, is credited with being the first to fully understand the potential of oil paint to reproduce reality. His techniques with oil paint were copied all over Europe. Perhaps this interest in reality explains the reason portraits were so popular during the Renaissance in this region. Northern patrons, from Hapsburg royalty to merchants and craftspeople, had their likenesses captured in portraits during this period.

The Reformation began in 1517 when Martin Luther, a German monk, protested the sale of indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church. Buying indulgences allowed wealthy Catholics to be pardoned from some of the penalty for sins. Catholics who had the money, could literally buy their way into heaven. The Reformation expressed a different view of Christian practice and led to the creation of the Protestant (meaning protest) church. The Roman Catholic Church mounted the Counter-Reformation, denouncing the Protestants. In Italy and Spain, the Counter-Reformation had an immense impact on the arts and religious images increased; while in the Netherlands where Protestants remained popular, religious art continued to decline and interest in the real world grew and flourished.  [Excerpted from  and Wikipedia's Renaissance in the Netherlands]

Landsknecht - European, most often German, mercenary pikemen and foot soldiers from the late 15th to the late 16th century, who achieved the reputation for being the universal mercenary of the European Renaissance.  This term was supposedly first recorded in 1480 meaning literally - land "land, country" + knecht "servant".  It was originally intended to indicate soldiers of the lowlands of the Holy Roman Empire as opposed to the Swiss mercenaries. [Excerpted from Wikipedia's Landsknecht article.]

First coined by Peter von Hagenbach, "Landsknecht" first began appearing in the German language around 1470.  The term applied to the mercenaries of Alsace, Baden, Württemburg, Tyrol, and other areas around North Germany.  They served under Maximillian I (1490-1519), Charles V (1519-1531), Ferdinand I (1531-1564), and Maximillian II (1562-1576).
These troops were originally created by the "father of the Landsknecht," Maximilian I, to uphold his claim to the Burgundian Legacy of the Netherlands.  This was one reason for the formation of the Swabian Alliance in 1487.  This alliance needed an army, and so the Landsknechte were born, the first created on German soil.  In 1490, after the siege of Stuhlweissenberg, Maximilian had his troops swear their allegiance to him and their cause.  This event brought about the discipline and unit integrity that would mold the future Landsknechte.  This new military force was closely modeled on the fierce and well trained halbadiers and pikeman of the Swiss Confederation.
[Excerpt and quote from the History page of]

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