A few months ago I asked all of you what the deal was with Edmund Burke. I learned that he was a starburst-prone sovereign citizen, and, more importantly, a new category for posts was born.
Since I went to Florence today and saw a bunch of Renaissance stuff, I was wondering…what is the official conservative take on the Renaissance? I know what it is for most of the rest of history. Greeks — good, despite
the teh gay stuff. Middle ages — good, people spoke Latin and obeyed the church. Age of Enlightenment — bad, too much questioning of authority plus everyone was French. Modernity — bad, too much atheism and abstract art. My gut feeling is that the Renaissance was bad. It ended the Middle Ages, which were good, it led to the atheist doctrine of heliocentrism, which is bad, and God touching the hand of man and all that seems like proto-secular humanism, at best.
So what’s the deal? Is there an Official Wingnut Position on the Renaissance? Any NRO list of 50 Greatest Conservative Renaissance Artists? And if there’s none of that, just to broaden the concept of conservative to include more general forms of wankery, if necessary, did Niall Ferguson ever write about how we’d all be better off if the Renaissance had never happened? Any Ambinder/Douthat exchanges about whether or not the Renaissance was caused by a black swan or was itself some kind of a black swan?
Update. One reader suggests perhaps conservatives like Enlightenment because it led to Burke. Not true.
Well since it challenged the rule of God over men, it was not necessarily well received. One early opposer was Giambatista Vico whose ideas are picked up by a corner of the modern conservative movement (Isaiah Berlin wrote about him, critically). Note too that the whole conservatives are for ideas and science is most definitely undermined by their early fear of anything Renaissance related.
Did the Renaissance involve goats at all? Because I’m pretty certain Kaus gives it two thumbs up if it did. Other than that, “too gay” would be my guess from the Usual Suspects.
Wait, I’m guessing they support that portion of the Renaissance that included inquisitions.
what is the official conservative take on the Renaissance?
lots of paintings of fat nekkid chicks….
Ever notice the genitals in Renaissance paintings? I think I’ve answered your question.
plus David’s balls are hanging out.
Was Isaiah Berlin a conservative? I’m pretty sure he didn’t consider himself one but was he posthumously converted, like with the Mormons?
Most of the culture of Classical Greece and Rome which helped to fuel the Renaissance was cribbed from Muslims, seeing as how for most of the previous 1000 years the dirty and semi-literate Christian barbarians occupying Europe (ex Ireland) couldn’t be bothered to preserve it.
Does that answer your question?
Don’t forget Savonarola!
I think we have a winner.
yes you are right on that, but because a lot of people claimed him (Berlin) I wanted to make clear that he was critical of the Vico position. Berlin though did see some limits to human rationality and saw in it the impulse for making utopias by force. Berlin was anti Communist (also anti fascist so maybe anti totalitarian is a better fit) so a lot of people think he was a conservative, which he was not.
edit–note that Leo Strauss claimed to revive a Roman/Greek purity that circumvented some of the perversions of the renaissance thus making that period acceptable in certain conservative sectors (via Bloom at U of Chicago)
I don’t know if this is exactly on point, but it is recent, and seems illustrative.
From Farrell v. Burke, an exchange between a defense attorney (Nathanson) and a parole officer (via Sully):
Well, Renaissance means ‘rebirth’, so on the plus side, that sounds a lot like born-again Christianity. On the minus side, one has to ask whether birth control was involved.
It was all downhill once they started using perspective in painting. You didn’t see all those nubile, sensuous naked women cavorting with satyrs in a good Byzantine fresco.
Ha ha! Very good.
By the way: Parole Officer Burke could be the best troll name ever, ever.
Two words: reproductive vigor.
At least the idea that Earth was the center of the universe was aborted.
Just guessing here:
Macchiavelli, the Medici family, and Italian oligarchic republics in general: Solid citizens, worthy of respect.
Decline of Latin in favor of filthy, modern languages spoken by peasants and immigrants: Also evil.
da Vinci: Contradicted the One True Church on the whole solar system thing, and produced way too much fruity art, but kinda-sorta invented the tank and helicopter and other cool war toys, so he gets a pass (but they’re keeping an eye on him).
The Grand Panjandrum
You do realize that the prophet Mohammed lived in the late 6th and early 7th century CE?
Illuminati: Starbursts! But the bomb should have been in Mecca.
Just finished Ferguson’s book The Ascent of Money and he is particularly taken with the Renaissance era as it gave birth to the modern bond market. A great way for all those Italian city-states to finance their wars against each other. If anything else was going on as interesting as that, I don’t recall him mentioning it. :)
No you don’t. Because it changes depending on the point the conservative wants to make. The Greeks were good when conservatives want to argue about the extremist take on civil liberties – “No one stopped Hercules from bearing arms! Or Aristole from owning slaves!” – but bad when dealing with paganism and liberal social norms – “You’ll notice how the Greeks aren’t around anymore, unlike the Christians.”
Same with the Dark Ages, where the evil Catholics make a striking comparison with modern Atheists who want to force everyone into their religion. Or the black plague, which was clearly the result of too much liberal hedonism among the city folk and the aristocracy. You didn’t see any libertarian hamlets all falling over dead, did you? (Please ignore all statistical evidence to the contrary.)
Ask a conservative whether they liked the Roman Empire, and you’ll usually get some “City on a Hill” speech and a lauding of military might, followed by a warning about how it was finally all brought down by an extreme ’bout of alcoholism and teh gayz!
Actual knowledge of the era is only valuable in so far as it can be used to reflect on modern political and social norms. At which point, it’s important to point out how history proves conservatives are right and liberals are wrong, the end.
What did conservatives love about the ’50s? The perfect Leave it to Beaver World where no one had sex before marriage and every hard working Joe had a respectable job and a decent living if he just worked hard enough… that world never existed. Neither did any of the other historical periods you’ll hear fantasies about.
Galileo and Copernicus started the whole heliocentrism thing. DaVinci was more of an imagineer than a scientist.
Hey, my spell check tries to auto-correct heliocentrism, but not imagineer. Huh.
You can’t argue with that, though, can you?
DougJ, you lucky bastard
I loved the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, DougJ! Used to go every year. We’d take our bota bag full of shitty red wine and pig out (the vernacular back in the day) on the greasy pork sausage sandwiches. What could be better than a red wine drunk in 100 degree heat on a dusty, straw-covered open field with people running around in freaky costumes?
Good Clean Fun, Wet Dirty Women!
Wash Well Wenches.
Shh. Don’t confuse them. All them wop artist/inventors are interchangeable, right?
The Grand Panjandrum
Oh c’mon Zif. I’ve still got a picture of myself in a cowboy outfit standing next to a real live pony that was taken in 1958.
@ThatLeftTurnInABQ: OK I think what you mean here is that classical culture was lost in the West during the Dark Ages, but preserved & retransmitted by the Muslims. Why the Byzantines don’t get more credit for the preservation & retransmission, I don’t know.
The Irish may have been cleaner & more literate than the Germans, but still less so, I imagine, than the Byzantines.
Thank you so much for introducing me to that awesomely crazy Brownback website. Hey, let’s all go buy “Heliocentrism is an Atheist Doctrine” t-shirts and wear them out clubbing this weekend!
K-Lo abbreviated summary on the Renaissance:
da Vinci= an effeminate, elite, bastard
Copernicus = Over-Rated. Everyone knows the universe revolves around God.
Galileo = All hail Inquisitions.
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola=ditto
Gutenberg = What do you want to read for?
And Machiavelli Rocks!
I think asking that question of today’s “conservatives” would produce, at best, a deer-in-headlights response much like that of Sarah Palin’s response to Katie Couric after being asked what publications she read.
The premise behind your question assumes the “conservative” movement still has some rational intellectuals left
I think the most likely conservative response would be, “the what?”
If we’re doing ethnic slurs, Copernicus was a Polack, actually.
Nope, they’re no down with it based on my anecdotal debates.
In my experience, they even deny that we gleaned any useful culture from Muslims. Christians discovered everything useful, the Dark Ages were not nearly so dark, the christian-muslim-jewish flourishing period in the Iberic peninsula is a lie because multiculturalism could never work, and so on.
Sounds like a job for Conservapedia.
I love how conservatives pretend to believe that their ethos is based on anything but racism, homophobia, greed, and corruption. It’s adorable. I want to put David Brooks in my purse and take him to functions.
The official conservative take is that we are living in the thirteenth century and the Renaissance hasn’t happened yet (and, with luck, never will).
Do conservatives have a position on physics? What is their take on Newton? On quantum mechanics? Does anyone know?
What do they have against heliocentrism?
tripletee (formerly tBone)
On the other hand, no NEA. Thus was the world spared Michelangelo’s follow-up to David, which would have included 100% more assless chaps.
I’d lay money more Irish women were literate than Byzantine women. Just for starters.
Ann B. Nonymous
Wingnutland has a much higher fraction of Eastern Orthodox types than real America does. The last major Orthodox figure to have much to do with the Renaissance was Bessarion, and he defected to the West.
I think that answers your question.
Real Uhmerrikinz don’t need none o’ that Godless pagan book-learnin’, you dirty Commie librul.
First, Greek, Roman, and Hellenistic culture flourished several hundred years before Mohamed received the Qu’ran. Some classical culture (but not all) was preserved by Muslim scholars, but the great impact came after the fall of Constantinople, when thousands of Byzantines fled to the West and brought their manuscripts with them.
As for what the wingnuts think of the Renaissance, it depends. Religious nuts like Tim LaHaye hate it because it encouraged free thinking and individual rights. Classically educated conservatives like William F. Buckley probably loved it. The rest probably don’t think about it, although Da Vinci and Michaelangelo’s sexual orientation would probably make their heads explode.
@Blue Raven: I don’t know where you’re going with this. Is this nun-related? Did Irish nuns have more access to literacy than Byzantine nuns? Or is this non-nun-related?
[email protected] says: “One early opposer was Giambatista Vico whose ideas are picked up by a corner of the modern conservative movement.” I would just add that Vico was claimed as part of the seedbed of socialism by Edmund Wilson in “To the Finland Station.” It’s been almost 4 decades since I read that, so I disremember the details…
True, geocentrism got ditched in the Renaissance, but Galileo got killed for it. Similarly, wingnuts would accept global warming if only Al Gore would spontaneously combust.
And aimai’s right, Savonarola would totally be a wingnut inspiration with his bonfire of the vanities (he was trying to make Big Religion more efficient, or something). If you’re by the Piazza della Signoria there’s an etching of what’s supposed to be the profile Savanorola in a wall behind the statue of David. Story has it (as it was told to me) that Michelangelo carved it into the Pallazzo Vecchio as Savonarola was executed.
It’s not about the Renaissance. It’s about the Reformation. Which was a Very Good Thing for Protestant wingnuts and the Fall from Grace for Catholic Wingnuts (who get Ignatius Loyola to compensate for their pain & suffering). Wingnuts of almost all persuasions will talk up Thomas More, for being an intellectual white man with an unbending God-before-politics attitude.
For the Renaissance itself … it’s situational, as Zifnab says. Mostly it’s used as a showroom of the Great White Western Civilization that has been ruined by liberalism, full of Great Men who made Great Art. And we don’t have great art today, because of 1) free verse, 2) birth control, and 3) public schools. In short, Everything Was Great, because women had almost no rights, there were fairly few black people in Europe, and wingnuts think there were no black people in Europe at all.
It’s also a kind of imagined theme park kept safe from desecration by pesky historians with irrelevant and lying facts. For wingnuts, the Renaissance exists to defend from impertinent scholars of the Renaissance, who are lying liberal liars. For example, anyone who points out that Michelangelo’s love poems are, shall we say, not persuasively hetero is a “revisionist” who’s interfering with the fact-free Truth. And anyway, Kirk Douglas played Michelangelo in the movie, and there was definitely nothing gay in there.
Darren G @ 18 just guesses: “Art-not-in-service-of-politics: Evil.” But in fact most Renaissance art, not just in Italy but all over Western Europe, was created for patrons who were usually the leading politicians of their districts. So elements of power are prominent in a lot of this art – this is true as much about art created for churches and their leaders as for doges and princes and such.
Ever hear of the “Bonfire of the Vanities”? Wingnuttia in a previous incanation.
Oh wow…their entry on Christianity and Science…
Apparently the whole heliocentric thing never woulda happened without Christianity.
But, the best line, by far is, “the Enlightenment was a ploy by “militant atheists” to claim credit for the rise of science.”
As for Da Vinci:
A previous commenter was spot on. It seems like they’re cool with him since he invented a tank. Had he not drawn pictures of a war machine, they would’ve hated him.
There is really too much to comment on in the conservatpedia entry on the renaissance, but it all can be summed up as, “all the great things were done by the Catholic Church and various other good decent Christian men who loved the church. Any attempt to claim otherwise are atheist lies.”
Bill E Pilgrim
The right wing conservative response: Was it less than six thousand years ago? Because if it was more than six thousand years ago, then you made it up. Liberal historians. Twisting things to fit their humanist gaygenda. There was one with David riding on a dinosaur but they keep it hidden. Which way is the tower leaning? No, from the other side. Ah, see?
Thank you and remember to tip your waitress.
I just wish North Dallas Thirty would chime in here with her opinion.
Actually, Charlton Heston played Michelangelo, so you REALLY know there was none of teh ghey there. (Kirk Douglas played Van Gogh.)
You know how in the 90s liberals had an annual bull session called the “Renaissance weekend”? The conservatives had one called “Restoration weekend.” Which kinda answers your question.
Why the Byzantines don’t get more credit for the preservation & retransmission, I don’t know.
Two reasons really.
One, they were Christians. They were the ones who destroyed so much of it in the first place. Islam didn’t pick the stuff up in the lands they conquered from Byzantium so much as they got it in the non-Christian Hellenic east. From the Sassanids in Persia for a great part.
And secondly, we got most of the classics the same way the Muslums did; By conquering the people who already had it…. Muslims. It was the Crusades and the Reconquista that most facilitated the transmission of classical lore to western Europe.
Not that Byzantium didn’t preserve and pass on some of the classics. Both Italian commercial states and Byzantine religious purges transmitted some of the knowledge that sparked the Renaissance. Just not to the same degree.
Oh, also Shakespeare. The .0000001 percent of conservatives who have ever read him voluntarily probably like him because his politics were pretty royalist. The rest of them just know that college students get assigned to read Alice Walker instead of him and that’s bad, even though they wouldn’t read a Shakespeare play if you promised them free diaper sex.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. He was sentenced to several years’ house arrest which he spent at the villa of his friend, the Archbishop of Siena. He was also sentenced to say several penitential Psalms everyday, which was commuted to having his daughter, a nun, saying them for him. The whole issue of Galileo and the RC Church is much overblown. Much of the antipathy can be traced to a personal feud between Galileo and the Pope at the time. Galileo’s version of heliocentrism also had a number of weaknesses, such as continued reliance on uniform circular motion that other, better astronomers, such as Kepler had abandoned. When the Church astronomers pointed out these weaknesses he didn’t have a good answer.
It really wouldn’t be until Newton, a generation later, worked out the details of a new physics that the new astronomy was really satisfactory.
Bill E Pilgrim
And this changed only very recently. Something that amuses me about the US conservative demonization of liberal godless Europe is that women got the right to vote in European countries astonishingly late. In France it wasn’t until 1944.
In Switzerland it wasn’t until the 70s.
People are essentially extremely conservative in many ways, even now. Which makes the whole view from Wingnut America of Europe often seem even more surreal and out of synch with reality than I already knew it was.
Mike in NC
Just that it was boring and sucked compared to the Inquisition. Hot pokers, whips, the rack, and Iron Maidens were pretty cool for conducting those very necessary enhanced interrogations. None of that pussy waterboarding stuff, no siree.
yes, Vico gets claimed on both sides or gets thrown in with the lot on either extreme. Like Carl Schmitt who has lots of popularity today with some very left wing philosophers. Who would have thunk.
I’m pretty sure it’s three words: Happy Reproductive Vigor. To lose the happy is to lose both the true wingnutty flavor and it’s – unintended, I’m sure – resemblance to a Chinese menu item.
“Wrong, wrong, wrong.”
Eep! But I saw Ewan McGregor finger Galileo, shouting “ILLUMINATUS” and then Galileo got killed by the Swiss Guard, “eppur si muove” barely off his lips…? And then Ewan McGregor parachuted out of DaVinci’s flying machine? It’s all right there, in the new Ron Howard movie…
No, but seriously, the triply-gonged “wrong” was kind of a turn-on.
I’m not sure they like classical Greece. Rome, sure, there’s lots there for them. But not the Socrates-types.
Also, whither the hockey thread?
Only as it relates to wetsuits.
Dunno. I see a lot more artistic gay pagans walking around modern America than I do practising Christians. I mean, there are plenty of people who say they’re Christians, but they don’t seem to be interested in acting like that Jesus-Christ hero-god-person instructed His followers to act. The artistic gay pagans, however, are plenty pagan and gay and artistically-oriented!
Incidentally, when I first saw DougJ’s heading I thought this was another GM/Chrysler posting, because I read it as “Whither the Renaissance *Center*?”…
Maybe, but it’s not like the church was going to switch over to heliocentrism once Kepler discovered “equal areas in equal arcs”.
It’s more like the Discovery Institute nitpicking some detail in natural selection. It doesn’t much matter whether they’re right on that particular detail or not, though they’re most likely not, but that the criticism is argued in bad faith with no actual regard for the scientific method, and the criticism therefore can’t be regarded as valid.
Yeah, because he recanted. Otherwise they probably would have put him on the rack.
I’m not sure how on point that is. The Restoration was a return to Enlightenment/Renaissance values under Charles II, from an ostensibly conservative (they closed the theatres) Puritan protectorship under Cromwell.
Never mind. I’m gonna go pretend to care about hockey now.
Wile E. Quixote
@The Grand Panjandrum
And many of today’s conservatives can say the same thing. Unfortunately those pictures were taken in Enumclaw, Washington in the early 2000s. But hey, at least we got an anti-bestiality law, sponsored by a Republican no less, out of it.
Wile E. Quixote
I’m a huge James Ellroy fan and one of the best sentences he ever wrote perfectly sums up conservative attitudes about the 1950s and does a lot to explain why so many conservatives are so frustrated. It’s from the first page of his novel Clandestine which introduces some of the characters, most notably Dudley Smith, that appeared later in the L.A. Quartet, The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, ;L.A. Confidential and White Jazz.
Tycho Brahe, Christopher Columbus, Vlad Tepes, and Henry VIII were just about the only Renaissance figures worth praising. Almost everyone else was an Atheist-in-training. Or worse.
If you could get any answer at all, I expect it would go something like this:
* Newton: good for industry, bad for values because he took God out of motion.
* Einstein: good for central role in The Bomb, bad for tendencies to pacifism, deism, and generally thinking way too much.
* Quantum mechanics: good for making transistors used in Bombs, but celebrates indeterminacy, undermines common sense, and edges too close to questions of the nature of consciousness and the universe itself. Denies role of God.
* Multiverse theory: bad, Bad, BAD, B.A.D.
* Dead cats: good: cats are teh ghey.
* Not-live, not-dead cats: I’m soooo confused. Pal-in! Pal-in! Pal-in!
[Ooo! Look what starting each line with a break tag and an asterisk does!]
@The Grand Panjandrum: It is called Iraq, also known as the center of the earth in the centuries after Mohammed’s death. The Byzantines, caught up in wave after wave of conservative reforms and political correctness and mercantile corruption, were hiding the classical texts in monasteries and letting them rot. The Arabs conquered half of the Roman empire and consolidated the texts and republished them.
Without the curatorship and distribution of the texts (still in Greek, as most classical Islamic scholars learned Greek) we would have just a few scraps of Aristotle today, because Aristotle was the sole politically correct Greek who could be published in Europe. The renaissance took place because some soldiers plundered or bought copies of the Western philosophical patrimony off the Semites they were raiding in the crusades.
I’m not so sure about Brahe. Wasn’t he the one with the metal nose? To a wingnut that must make him seem suspiciously like those “freaks” at their “rock” concerts.
Regarding the survival of Greek and Roman documents, the Muslims preserved Classical science and mathematics (e.g. Aristotle), but little or no Pagan or Christian literature, which did not interest them. Beginning in the 1300’s, the study of Greek was revived in the west, and numerous Greek documents were purchased and brought to wealthy cities like Florence from Constantinople. A flood of Classical Greek works came west with refugee scholars after 1400 when it became obvious that Constantinople’s days were numbered (fell to the Ottomans in 1453).
European monastery libraries were scoured by Renaissance scholars for Latin Classical works from the time of Petrarch (1304 -1374) till the early 1500’s, by which time ~99% of what we have now had been recovered. A good thing too, because so many monasteries were looted or destroyed in the wars that followed the Protestant Reformation.
Oh, I’d say they’d do very well in the Renaissance—if not the glorified version we prefer to remember. The batch of conservatives we have now seem vain enough to get into the idea of having their portraits painted, or of having artists and writers forced to kiss ass for patronage. They like intrigue and gossip in court. They are happy to let scholars pursue their marginalized little inquiries as long they know their place, stay amusing, and don’t, you know, give people ideas. And seriously, I don’t believe for an instant that they’re pious enough to fit comfortably into medieval society–conservatives like owning stuff, and they like being important.
That has to be forgiven, though, since he also helped save the Earth from Helioleftists. Thanks to him, we’re still the center of the Universe!
Conservatives hate the renaissance because, for a while, it led to a wee bit of a loosening up of the church hold on all aspects of society. But then that damned cross dressing revolutionary Martin Luther went all free-lancing, and pretty soon, there were Jews all over the land. And protestants of the worst kind, the ones who eventually became methodists who eventually became progressives. So it was horrifying, really. It was a distressing time to be a conservative. Fortunately, the European monarchy and teh pope were able to roll back the clock pretty effectively with an effective inbreeding program between nobles, religious wars that ravaged the landscape for the next 200 years, and a series of inquisitions targeting Jews primarily, or anybody else the church decided needed a good ass-kicking. Thank goodness Columbus invented the new world, because in the aftermath of the great plague, the hundred years war and the thirty years war, the upper class was running out of indegenous people to commit genocide against. It was a close call, really; if that hadn’t happened they’d have had to genocide the Turks, who weren’t as susceptible to smallpox or shiny-bead-compensated real estate transactions.
Yep, it was a pretty bad time for conservatives, but once the church got the iron maiden and the protestant cages fired up along with some constructive mercantile colonialism, and once they got the girls of the nobility traded off into arranged marriages, things settled down a bit to a better, more orderly way of life. At least until that goddam Thomas Paine came along with his stupid notions of democracy, anyhow. Stupid Thomas Paine.
I think we all forgot the obvious here. “Renaissance“, being a fancy foreign Italian word is bad per se to real ‘mericans.
BTW, DougJ, I think it’s time you took down those selfish fuckers Friedman and Hayek, while you’re on the job of debunking conservative philosophy as a whole. You’re doing a great job poking holes in Burke, the other two assholes could use it too, not like Rawls didn’t already do it for you, but still.
You know, on closer consideration, when you look at the political behavior of Renaissance politicians — the Borgias, the Medicis, the Renaissance Popes, who as often as not belonged to one of the reigning merchant families of Italy and were utterly without religious belief or scruples — I’d say today’s conservatives would fit right in. I mean, before the great art and the great scholarship and science and all came the wealth that funded it.
I think I read somewhere that Karl Rove always kept a copy of The Prince on his bedside table.
Rush is a Francophile, for whatever that’s worth…
Left Coast Tom
Doug, my impression walking through the chronologically-arranged Uffizi was that the Renaissance was a fairly brief flowering of utter magnificence, sandwiched between a lot of art that pre-dated the successful utilization of perspective, and a lot of somewhat less interesting art that incorporated perspective.
But linger as long as you can amongst the art in between. And spend extra time with the Botticellis.
Konservatives would hate the Renaissance unless they knew the counter-reformation was on the way.
And an amazing number of folks are still pissed off about it…
The conservatives’ major contribution to the Renaissance was hiring prudes to paint fig leaves over the naughty wee wees in artwork.
The Renaissance nurtured all kinds of fun librul stuff, such as the concept of religious tolerance and separation of church and state (Erasmus and his followers), erotic art (including homo-erotic), critical thinking and free inquiry rather than faith in authority, appreciation for ambiguity, open-ended questions and shades of gray, multiculturalism, the celebration of human potential instead of punishment of sin, and so forth. In short, everything the conservatives hate now and hated then–consider Philip II of Spain, for example, or the critical reaction to Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel.
trade kicked up by the blood thirsty crusades is what funded the renaissance.
what’s not to like?
I’m pretty sure that if you asked them, conservatives would tell you that the Renaissance is the underpinning of modern conservatism, what with the fascination with liberty and human freedom that intellects of that age had. Of course that would be a ridiculous lie because modern conservatives, what with their own fascination with order and authority, are the natural descendants of church leaders and aristocrats who were opposed to the changes in human society wrought by the Renaissance. This gentleman argues that, in fact, modern conservatives prefer the the aristocracy of those days. Which, looking at what passes for conservative elite these days, seems like a not unreasonable theory. After all what is conservatism as a political movement these days if not a cabal of wealth elites put into office by rubes whose biggest concern is staving off changes in American society like greater tolerance for gays and gay marriage or reducing inequality.
If we’re talking about the extreme conservatism spawned in the southern states, then you’re absolutely right that it is the natural, and even direct, descendant of the Old Regimes of Europe. Consider how the culture in the South was established (from Wiki):
It was never about Enlightenment principles for these guys. And the Renaissance was mined for its architectural styles, not its attitudes.
hey DougJ, I wish I’d known you were going to Florence. It’s like my 2nd hometown (I’m going to be there Sunday thru Tuesday).
I highly recommend the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. It is directly behind the Duomo and little-frequented by tourists who are more intent on the famous sights like the Duomo itself, the Ponte Vecchio, and the David sculpture.
Also go to Piazza San Marco and see the wonderful frescoes in the cloisters. After you’re done, directly across the square from the church is a schiacciateria named Pugi, which is some of the best schiacciata you’ll find in Florence. Start with the simple schiacciata, ask them to brush it with olive oil. Go from there, they have schiacciata with potatoes and rosemary, stuffed schiacciata, on and on and on.
Oh, also on Monday they are finally re-opening the camminamento at the Palazzo Vecchio. You have to sign up and they only do two groups of 30 per day. You get to walk the ramparts of the Palazzo Vecchio and see some stunning panoramas of Florence.
@Left Coast Tom:
I highly recommend spending the entire day at the Uffizi, bring a guide book to help explain the significance of the artwork.
When I go, I only do the east half of the museum (up to the late renaissance). Anything after the 16th century bores me to tears, once you get into the baroque era and such. I really don’t give two figs for scenes of fox hunting and other aspects of manor life.
Also, make a reservation. That way you can bypass the long, long, long lines to get in.
If you want to have a bistecca fiorentina that is out of this world, go to I Latini. Try to bypass all the other courses and save your appetite for the steak.
oh and if it is re-opened (I think it was closed for a while because they moved it???), go to the museum of the history of science. The one that has Galileo’s finger. Really a fascinating stop.
And if you want a bit of local flavor, on Tuesday morning go to the Cascine park for the mercatone. It’s like a big flea market with lots of cheap stuff, mostly clothing and books but you might find some souvenirs. At the eastern end there are the Italian versions of roach coaches. Get some lampredotto for even more local flavor, literally. Have them put the salsa on it. Lampredotto is a tripe sandwich. I know, sounds terrible but it is really good, made on crusty bread roll with pepper.
@sstarr: re: Leonardo, perhaps so (wrt being an imagineer) but he made a pretty good living designing machines of war. The guy was amazing, far far ahead of his time.
@Col. Klink: actually, Renaissance is French. The Italian word for it is rinascimento. The English and Americans adopted the French word.
@Delia: hmm, interesting point but I’d say ‘no’. I think that a more apt analogy would be that the Renaissance, politically speaking, was much more about new money/power gaining a more equal voice with old money/power. That was about as close to modern liberal ‘power to the people’ politics as one could expect in those times.
For instance, the Florentines talked a lot about their republican form of government, but they hardly thought that that should mean that the little people should actually have a real voice in the government. What it really meant was that the merchant classes had a chance to participate in government, instead of just the nobles and the Church. Or, being ruled by a tyrant who seized power by means of a mercenary force or foreign alliance.
In any case, once they gained power, the Medici rigged all the elections anyway. Just like Italian politics today, it was far more about appearances and saying the right things while doing something completely different and far more practical and self-serving. The Sienese, on the other hand, came much closer to an actual functioning republic in deed as well as in word.
Well, not quite. About that house arrest: when given a choice among “several years”, “eight and a half years”, and “the rest of his life”, I submit that the first is the worst choice, and any but the last can lead to a questioning of motives.
Also, he was with the friendly Archbishop for a few months, not years. Know why he was sent home? Because reports got to the Pope that the Archbishop was treating Galileo altogether too well, more like an honored guest than like a penitent.
House arrest at one’s own villa isn’t too terribly awful, though it is a trifle inconvenient when you have to ask for permission to go and see a doctor for treatment of a hernia, and it’s denied. But that’s ok; late in his life he asked permission to go to a chapel next door for Mass, and it was granted, provided he was under guard, went only on special feast days, and spoke to no one. The guard was not a hard matter to arrange, considering that he had to be carried there. You and I wouldn’t mind not going to Mass, but it’s not a nice way to treat a sincere Catholic.
BTW they not only banned the heretical Dialogue, they also banned everything he had written or would ever write in the future. But when he sneaked his masterwork the Two New Sciences out to Holland and got it published, they were very lax about cracking down on the smuggling of the book into Italy, so let’s give them the Nobel Peace and Kittens Prize for that.
You can’t find a culture that was Golden or Old enough to make wingnuts truly happy.
Conservatard Rod Dreher says the Enlightenment sucks:
I leave on Sunday, unfortunately (from Pisa).
The science would be troubling for Cons, but they would look at the art and be gulled by its religiosity, possibly without seeing the underlying troublesome (for them) humanism taking root.
Also, I don’t believe Medieval artists did not understand perspective, it’s just that perspective views were not an important component their art of religious iconography.
Erm, what position do your wingnuts have on the Reformation? Direct result of Renaissance, split (Western) Christendom, led to secularism and science. But also led to Protestantism, which is obviously the Best Religion Evah!
And Shakespeare was ‘royalist’ in the same sense that Prokofiev was Stalinist. You didn’t get a choice on what to write, you got a choice on whether you wrote at all. Writers were effectively licenced by the state. See the case of Mr Ben Jonson sentenced to have his nose split for being naughty.
Since conservatives are opposed to culture, especially government-sponsored culture, they would naturally disapprove of the “so-called” Renaissance. Once they found out how gay it was, the Renaissance would be over for them. But they’d be caught between a church Rock and a hard-Right place: Some of those gays were instrumental in shepherding in the Reformation, which the con’s would claim as their own. There’s a problem there, too, since the Reformation was a challenge to the established order, and it got out of hand toward the end, resulting in some revolutionary activity. It was the begining of modernism, and the end of an era dominated by religion. If we’re talking evangelical conservatives here, that would be a bad thing: Secularism. If they’re economic conservatives, the Renaissance and the Reformation would be a good thing, leading to the end of the State-dominated economy and the beginnings of mercantilism and the Industrial Revolution. But then there’s that damned Enlightenment, and all that “rights of man” rubbish.” So CONFUSING! No, better stay in the dark ages. But that was all Catholic, and Rome-dominated. OK, dial it back to Biblical times. Ooops, there’s Rome again. Try the Old Testament. Hm. Looks Jewish. What came before the Jews? CAVEMEN!!! Woo-hoo! Hunting for your food! Wiping out alien tribes! Clubbing women and dragging them off! And DINOSAURS!!! That’s more LIKE it! Aaaahhh, simplicity!
Shakespeare had to walk a fine line. His mother was from a prominent Catholic family, at a time when Catholics were considered potential traitors as well as heretics. His father had been an up-and-coming local official until a mysterious scandal, possibly drunkenness, put an end to his career.
I think it’s a mistake to apply modern political labels to 16th century Europeans. Elizabeth is thought of as the model of a benevolent monarch, but she ran a secret police agency that was second to none for the time. She was a patron of the arts, but censorship was pervasive.
Brick Oven Bill
Catholic Church 1500 = “Heretic”
College 2000 = “Racist”
The Renaissance, in my opinion, was good. The Catholic Church had its own self-serving belief systems which, believe it or not, benefited itself. There were then men who used their senses; sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, to challenge these belief systems. They succeeded.
The Renaissance brought on the rise of the Liberal Arts; Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy. Perhaps one day these will again be taught.
Not under the mattress?
@Brick Oven Bill:
No time for that crap. Too busy teaching kids that this evolution bullshit they saw in “Jurassic Park” is a fraud, since the world’s only 5,000 years old and dinosaurs went extinct thanks to Noah not building a bigger Ark.
Brick Oven Bill
The Catholic Church is not the only organization that denies evolution Scruffy.
Thus a poster of Rasputin and a long beard do not a thinker make. In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II formally apologized for the trial of Galileo.
I think somebody already said it, but conservatives like to celebrate the products of the Renaissance… all the art and literature by our European ancestors. Of course, the ancestors of today’s conservatives would have been very much against the Renaissance when it was actually happening.
Thus it always is with conservatives, whether you’re talking about civil rights, desegregation, evolution, women’s suffrage, Social Security, Medicare, women in the military… they oppose all these social advances at the time, but after they become accepted they act as if they were for them all along.
@Brick Oven Bill:
The Catholic Church in fact accepts evolution as a fact.
Do you ever tire of being wrong?
IMVHO The Prince gets a bad and undeserved rap, and so does Machiavelli… just saying.
Hmmm. Remids me of this:
Maybe in the wake of W’s crappy little ‘crusade’ we can have some sort of renaissance ourselves. Be nice to rediscover our cultural patrimony.
@Brick Oven Bill:
The Catholic Church DOESN’T deny evolution. But our schools should, along with the other dastardly pseudoscientific fallacies of the last 500 years- like Helioleftism, and the supposed disproving of phlogiston and alchemy.
And I heard that George Bush kept Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince on his bedside table.
So you’re saying you have a long beard and a Rasputin poster?
The conservative fetish about Burke is very amusing, because he above all believed in the preservation of the ancient English constitution, habeas corpus, the rule of law, the Anglo-Saxon legal tradition, Magna Carta – all the stuff that today’s wingnuts hate and want to get rid of so that W could have his unitary executive. Everything Burke revered, they want to use like birdcage liner. Another example of just how fucking stupid and clueless they are.
Oh, shit, what happened to Greece? Did it sink into the sea after an earthquake? And I always wanted to go there.