Introduction: Re-Orienting the Renaissance

  • Gerald MacLean


Re-Orienting the Renaissance seeks to shift the angles from which we regard those unprecedented developments in learning and the arts that it is generally agreed occurred throughout western Europe between the late thirteenth and seventeenth centuries. From differing perspectives and from different kinds of evidence, the authors of this book show how a nineteenth-century term, ‘Renaissance’, has often encouraged us to forget just how many of the artistic, social, religious, philosophical, scientific, technical and cultural developments that distinguished the period depended upon the movement and exchange of ideas, skills and goods between what have come to be thought of as separate spheres: East and West. Had it not been for the importation of eastern goods and skills, many of the achievements most commonly associated with the European Renaissance would not have occurred; had it not been for continuing cultural rivalry among Christian and Muslim princes and aristocrats to display their wealth and magnificence in ways that others would understand and perhaps even emulate or envy, many of the artistic achievements of the period might not have taken the forms they did. In chapters ranging from Ottoman history to Venetian publishing, from portraits of St George to Arab philosophy, from cannibalism to diplomacy, the authors interrogate what all too often seem to be settled certainties, such as the clear border demarcating East from West, the inevitability of conflict between Islam and Christianity, and the regeneration of European civilisation nourished entirely by taproots in classical Greece and imperial Rome.


Seventeenth Century Cultural Exchange Turkish Woman Muslim World Early Modern Period 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Gerald MacLean 2005

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  • Gerald MacLean

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