The Northern Renaissance: Crash Course European History #3


Hi I’m John Green and this is Crash Course
European History. So, when we left off last time, the Renaissance
was a very big deal, provided you were part of the elite in approximately this part of
the world. Today, we’re going to follow the spread
of the Renaissance to France, England, Spain, the Low Countries, the seventy two bajillion
ministates of central Europe. Also, suddenly there are a lot more books
to read. INTRO
The Renaissance was shaped and promoted by the discovery in the mid-15th century of moveable
type printing. The credit goes mostly to the German goldsmith
and tinkerer Johannes Gutenberg, whose printing press from the 1440s produced the famous Gutenberg
Bible and fueled the spread of printed books. Now, printing techniques, including movable
type, had been used in China for many centuries, but printing could be quicker in Europe because
the Latin alphabet only contained twenty-six characters, and also innovations made the
letters easy to eject and reset to form new words, pamphlets, and newsletters, and then
entire books. In fact, there are books in the Center of
the World today! It’s my favorite center of the world yet! I love books. It’s really hard to exaggerate just how
big a deal printing was. Like, before our friend Gutenberg, most books
in Europe were copied from other books by hand. This was time-consuming and expensive, and
it introduced errors. And it also meant that books were not part
of most people’s lives. Like, if you were among the around 80% of
people in England and France who worked in agriculture at the time, it’s not just that
you didn’t need to learn to read to do your job; there was generally nothing you could
read. But printing changed all of that incredibly
quickly. The first printing press arrived in Venice
in 1469. By 1500, there were 417 printing presses in
the city. In the first fifty years after printing came
to Europe, over 20 million volumes of books were printed. This included the great works from the classical
world that the Renaissance was rediscovering, but also many legal works. And as jurists worked to decipher the meaning
of every Latin word of the corpus of Roman law, the western legal tradition was born. More copies of the Bible were available to
read, and argue about. And new stories and poems could be shared
more widely. Think of it this way: Whether you were interested
in science or literature or law or mathematics, printing meant that more people had the opportunity
to encounter far more voices from across time and space. And as Renaissance ideas spread north fueled
in part by printing, it followed that writers and scholars would see the ideas of humanism
through the lens of local concerns. Also, of course, northern European thinkers
downplayed the movement’s Italian origins. One of the great rules of history is that
whenever Italy has an idea, northern Europe will be like, “Yeah, no. We totally already had that idea like eight
times. Our version is so much different and better. Wait till you see how we do the black death
slash ballet slash fascism slash automatic weapons slash pizza slash defensive-minded
football.” Anyway, Pieter Brueghel’s “Dutch Proverbs”
is one example of how different northern Renaissance art was from its Italian counterparts–Breughel
is still interested in the ideas of humanism in this painting–it’s secular, focused
on people, set in the natural world–but you can see that Breughel’s painting of scruffy
rural villagers acting out ridiculous common wisdom has none of the lyricism or elegance
of, say, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Then again, in many respects, the Northern
renaissance wasn’t so unique–the touchstone was still the classical world and its art
and writing. Florentines had made much of the Roman legal
tradition that empowered the paterfamilias, or the male head of the family, and this was
very much embraced in the north as well. The idea was that all social and political
order stemmed from the exercise of the father’s authority over the family unit. From the father’s secure position, the well-being
of the family flowed. And more than that, the well-being of the
larger state depended on the good order of all the families it encompassed, just as the
successes of Rome had rested on familial underpinnings. And if humanism was opening the door to rethinking
current values, some sort of anchor was need to prevent chaos, and people to the north
and south agreed that security was going to rest in the classic tradition of the father’s
legal dominance. In both North and South, humanism also went
radical. Some humanists began regularly teaching—not
just discussing—its principles and its main subject matter: rhetoric, which may not seem
like a big deal to you, but it means that at least in the radical fringe of the Renaissance
world, ancient Latin and Greek were being taught, not just the medieval versions of
those languages–which would eventually contribute to a rethinking of what certain texts actually
said, perhaps most notably The Bible. Also, girls sometimes joined their brothers
in being tutored, a radical idea indeed, although one that could also trace itself back to the
Old Light–in justifying the education of girls, scholars cited ancient women who’d
received tutoring, including Sappho, Aspasia, and Cornelia, the daughter of the Roman general
Scipio. And as humanism grew, so did the number of
universities. European universities had long taught a system
of theology and philosophy known as “scholasticism” that focused on early church teaching and
Aristotelian logic, but now they began to embrace humanism, spending less time studying
religious texts and more time investigating the human condition and thinking about how
to organize human societies, including how to establish and enforce laws. And amid these developments, Desiderius Erasmus
of Rotterdam, also known as the “Prince of the Humanists,” became the commanding
figure in the Northern Renaissance. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Erasmus contributed to taking humanism along
its twisted path from ideas of the study of “humans” and the “active life” into
politics. In 1595, he went to study at the University
of Paris and began publishing his opinions on public affairs, including the responsibilities
of a ruler. A prince, he declared in the Education of
a Christian Prince, needed to study the classics and the deeds of worthy ancient leaders. And in these examples he would discover the
means by which great leaders achieved the public good and keep the peace even in troubled
times. he also emphasized the importance of reading
the Bible and the leading Christian authors. It was for this that he came to be known as
advocating for a “middle road” between the pagan ancients and the more recent Christian
thinkers. But he was also at times very critical of
the Catholic Church. Erasmus was also a central figure in the rising
“Republic of Letters,” a growing international community of humanists in Europe. In fact, he corresponded with some five hundred
people around Europe, including everyone from Sir Thomas More to Martin Luther to Pope Leo
X. Aside from his work on Biblical translations,
he also edited, translated, and published ancient pagan texts, like Cicero’s, and
the works of many pivotal religious authors, especially Saint Jerome. He was astonishingly prolific, hiring editors,
proofreaders, and even ghostwriters to help him produce mountains of humanistic texts
and fashion himself as the quintessential figure of the Northern Renaissance before
dying suddenly of dysentery at the age of 69 because, you know, it was the sixteenth
century. Thanks Thought Bubble. Before he died, Erasmus saw the rise of the
Protestant reformation. He disagreed with much of Luther’s teachings,
and remained loyal to the Catholic Church, but Erasmus’s emphasis on inner spirituality
over ritual did in some ways presage Protestantism. Some felt that “Erasmus had laid the egg,
and Luther had hatched it,” but Erasmus dismissed that, saying that “Luther
hatched a different bird entirely.” Also, for the record neither Erasmus nor Martin
Luther could lay eggs, because they were mammals. But now we’re into biology, and getting
a bit ahead of ourselves with the Reformation. Before we start debating how many angels can
fit on the head of a pin, we should acknowledge the other great Renaissance thinker who shaped
what we now call political science–Niccolo Machiavelli, who was like the Erasmus living
in the Upside Down. Machiavelli had been a faithful supporter
of Florence’s republican traditions. After the death of Lorenzo Medici in 1492,
Machiavelli served the republic in several positions. But after Spanish, papal, and other forces
defeated the republic in 1512, Machiavelli was imprisoned and tortured (he was hung by
his wrists until his shoulders were dislocated). He was eventually released after three weeks
in prison and then set out to write his masterwork The Prince, which was only published in 1532,
five years after his death. The Prince was very different from the work
of other humanists, especially from the political ideals of Christian humanism found in Erasmus’s
essays and letters. Machiavelli imagined a grounding in the classics
for an aspiring leader of his day, but he believed the attitudes necessary for leaders
were vastly different from what the ancients had counseled. His most quoted advice focused on whether
a ruler should aim to be loved or feared: “One should wish to be both, but, because
it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved.” Machiavelli took a so-called realist views
of politics–he focused on how a prince could retain power, and maintain order. And he was much more interested in what was
effective than what was, like, noble. And unlike many humanists’ focus on maintaining
peace, Machiavelli believed war was necessary–in fact, he wrote a book about it, called Art
of War. He argued that rulers needed to prepare for
war by studying great military leaders of the past, and he believed that effective military
leadership was vital to effective political leadership, because those who win wars get
to gain peace on their terms. But there were also idealists among Renaissance
humanists, like the Englishman Thomas More, who was one of Erasmus’s five billion friends. And a close one in fact. More wrote the classic book Utopia, which
imagines a society without private property, where reason and cooperation have replaced
struggles for glory and power. It’s an odd book–More was a devout Catholic,
and in fact would eventually be executed for opposing King Henry VIII’s turn toward Protestantism,
and yet the seemingly enlightened Utopia is very much not Catholic. Like, the Utopians have married priests, for
instance, and also they can get divorced. But regardless, More believed that humanistic
analysis could lead to widespread peace and prosperity–which by the way I would argue
turned out to be sort of correct, even though A. it would take a while for humanism’s
benefits to be felt, and B. More did not get to enjoy them, on account of being separated
from his head in 1535. A century before More’s Utopia, another
book that imagined an ideal citystate, Book of the City of Ladies, was written by Christine
de Pizan. De Pizan was born in Venice but moved to France
as a kid when her dad got a job as the French king’s astrologer. As you do. She married and had three children, but then
her husband died of the plague, and thereafter she earned her living writing. In Book of the City of Ladies, de Pizan gathered
up all the great and good women of history and placed them in a city where the Virgin
Mary is queen. The book argues that women can be virtuous
leaders, and rational beings, and that leadership by virtuous women could beget virtuous communities–a
stark contrast to Machiavelli’s worldview. So at this point, it’s common at this point
to ask students to think about the relative merits of idealism and realism–is a prince
or princess, or for that matter a student at a high school, better off being loved or
feared? Is it more important for a community to be
fair or stable? Should leaders prioritize virtue or effectiveness? These are big, interesting questions, and
I think they’re worth considering. But I’d also ask you to look at the lens
through which you’re approaching those questions. Machiavelli’s life was marked by endless
wars and shifting alliances. He saw many short-lived governments fail to
achieve stability. Christine de Pizan saw the intense oppression
of women and the dismissal of their talents and intellect. Erasmus didn’t exactly have an easy life–he
was born out of wedlock and both his parents died of plague when he was a teenager–but
he saw a very different world in northern Europe than Machiavelli saw in Italy, or than
Christine de Pizan saw. Where do you sit in the world, and how might
that shape what kind of community you wish to see? Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time.

Comments 75

  • Hey! Thanks for watching. We had to re-upload, and we appreciate your patience. We misstated the date that Erasmus went to college, so we made a change, and here's the corrected video. -stan

  • Sooo mamals don't lay eggs huh… Perry the PLATYPUSS tends to dissagree!

  • You should shave, mate.

  • Best part of the video starts at 2:54

  • Isn't Machiavelli's Prince satire? His Discourses were very different in tone and he only wrote the book advocating ruthlessness after torture and exile. Wasn't he saying "Here's how awful you are, compare it to the classics and ideals that you claim you loved and see that you are an abomination" by being as over the top as possible?

  • Defensive-minded football hahaha

  • How about the platypus? 🙂

  • love these, very interesting! keep it up

  • Desiderius Erasmus is often called Erasmus Rotterdamus here in the Netherlands and especially Rotterdam, oh local pride. Keep convincing yourself that the renaissance was a Dutch thing. Don't mind that even the word ''renaissance'' itself isn't Dutch in anyway.

  • ive missed these videos!

  • wound be nice to have the names of the paintings mentioned whenever they are displayed

  • Realism is not always realism though. It can often turn into a form of pessimism characterised by defeatism and compromise, which is to say that you don't really try to pursue good things to begin with, but assume that things can't turn out good and so give up before trying and make compromises you might not have had to.

  • Platypi are mammals, and they lay eggs…

  • What about the many reviews of Machiavelli that argue The Prince is actually satire. He was tortured by these people so the chances that he would then be released and write a book praising their rule and style of rule is quite unlikely, and definitely something worth considering.

  • Anyone know the name of the painting at 3:55? (Paterfamilia Bearded Man) He looks exactly like my brother and I want to send him a picture of this painting lol

  • 13:07 ooh that's the good reflexive history

    Also yay Christine de Pizane! She's awesome and 'The book of the city of ladies' is definitely worth a read. The Richards translation is great

  • John is butchering names left and right, old John is back lol

  • Slash banking slash oil painting growing interest in antiquity slash emphasis on trade and markets over large landholders (I think)

  • My beloved dog died today, so I don't sit very well in the world. Maybe tomorrow!

  • The rule about other European Countries stealing Italian ideas is, ideed, really true, especially in regard of the lovely French people

  • I just discovered this Crash Course series and feel like I have been living under a rock. Great starting point for learning. Fantastic aggregation of information. Signed up on Patreon immediately. Please keep doing what you do! 🙂

  • Crash Course is not the same without John Green. He kind of brings Wisdom to the table.

  • Can you do Islamic history please specially the golden ages …

  • Latin was the official language of Europe in contrast to the official language of a country. Ignorant…

  • Should have learned French instead of Russian but but you wanted to Tom Clancy in your mind right??

    I'm breaking your balls yes, learn Spanish read Spanish history learn about your daddy

  • Your daddy wasn't a German culture speaking, he was more like your mom's gay brother but not in a good way. That's how we got von Steuben and the ability to make war, Spanish Soldado. Conquistador families in America… . Also that's the Germany after Bismarck.
    Alemania is what you're talkin about when you talk about the printing press which is the Holy Roman Empire or is we like to put it in the frontier of the Imperial or Imperial, because you're always saying Charles V basically only left the Empire broke, when in reality being bankrupt doesn't mean s*** when you're the emperor of the planet. He also guaranteed his success…. Phillip did the same… until Napoleon.. who invaded Spain… Spain was aided by England… yup…

    So you never want to represent us in that like do you? Why not mention how much Spain contributed to the Renaissance? So yeah because you always want to tie it to the Inquisition when also in reality Inquisition is all over Europe done by different sects even after and during the Reformation. Your baby bottles diapers. Maybe the younger green in all your videos has the right idea after all

    during the American Revolution you think it was solely the French they guaranteed the logistical success of the rebels? Do you know how many Latin participated in the American Revolution? Have you ever even thought about it? How about the connections to indigenous tribes and how those ties to the tribes were reason that helped out Americans? Wild most tribes allied themselves with the English?

  • Think of it this way reading the books that the rest of the Spanish Empire was reading about said you guys translated into German to mass-produce for consumption only were copies and cheap ones at that… by the way the printing press wasn't really invented in Germany it was already being used in certain ways to make grapes in Italy. What I'm saying is that the technology of the printing press wasn't just Germany and it was actually a lot during the Italian Alps and throughout Austria. Basically what I said before there was no such thing as Germans it was basically the Holy Roman Empire or as most of us who were literate called it the frontier which is why we have to make mass production and letters look like pictures because most of Central Europe was illiterate as f**. Yeah I know what the noblemen tell you and they're only counting their higher nobility which is actually their government. In the Spanish Empire counted all the simple actuals instead of the population we would happen amazing storical intellectual Capital per individual. As of right now. Between Toledo and the science there and through the African acquisitions by Ferdinand and the Western by Isabel not including the European dominations technological account gets massive and even dwarfs the Space Race because there was no other. Even the British had started piracy in the Baltic Sea and the Northern sea before they ventured South through the English Channel. Which is why we consider them one of the greatest navies in the world even among the Spanish because they had to earn the right to call it the English Channel and they did. yeah man you need to read up on what people says nothing Spanish besides you're weird Lovecraft Tales of torture and the Inquisition or going broke your president is f***** Donald Trump you idiot LOL the only made this video in the past year.

    I acknowledge that I am by historical so very Advanced but still expect more from you. Stop trying to take credit for s*** look like an a******.

  • The printing press was stolen grapes Masher from Italy. Nobody cares

  • God damn you're an idiot. Patarfamilias… did not mean what you said. It's the culture said derives from the Greco Latin Roman Spanish Britannic line that leads into the Americas. Not you people. Between The Universal Church. You guys have gone Independent remember? Or should I say… you wanted to play Church Monopoly too.

    I'm just saying. Lol. Send it top it off you give the ability to have your pastors have family while they are ordained? Instead of leaving a Ministry they want to get paid, instead of training a replacement they want to get paid so, like I said there's no space in his church and that's why the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an Empire. Because the people within it work either Fray or gay LOL. Just like texts it said nowadays right with steers and queers. Anyway that's why America's has a deeper sense of red white and blue why the colors don't run. By the way I love the lgbtq community and the group I'm describing tends to oppress the lgbtq types. Kind of like low-level nobility. Kind of like the stupid churches in America. Which explains why the Catholic church is going through a Renaissance in its own with a Franciscan Pope. I'm just saying mr. Green learn Spanish

  • Father's position?. Stupid. Non military guys were imitating the style of the Spanish military, because the Spanish Society was galvanized for a war, they led trends, because they were at War… it makes news… with the obvious threats because they were representing Europe… the big leagues… and these German "princes", lol, would play victim and middlemen, then get slaughtered.. only to have Scandinavian kingdoms have to defend these pathetic principalities… then have these princes turn on them? And the Scandinavians basically fell for these stupid princes because they were white Scandinavian countries now despise Trump who represents these modern German aristocrats that could never do s***. But they wanted to mimic the fashion? Just like fashionistas and Nazis, I told you a cult. Did you know that this is the albino cult that was basically a bunch of Orphans who are unwanted by their mother culture in India? You know they're so envious eyes turn green become the green eyed monster. Always chasing their Red Sisters because they only seeing greys? Lol. and that's how they ended up in Europe. These are not the hecatoncheires, these are the Damned of Tartarus. Basically too stupid for their own good but smart enough to figure out that people think they're stupid and turn vile. Either people got their asses whooped by Philip and Alexander of Macedon the Jade emperor and eventually Genghis Khan and Stalin. One of the tribes of scythia who escaped Tartarus and brought down Hades…. a cult now, adapted by ethnic familiars… kidnapping kids and taking blood. Yep these are vampires but they're basically human oh, and they're not cosplay for doing a ritual sharing among adults. These are cultists that are looking for blood types ancient times because they think it'll bring them magical quality which basically leads to cannibalism. White people and serial killer cannibals, what can I say.

    Seriously, though, he lived on Borderlands and tried to instigate War which is why the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was always at War with Europe

  • God is in the same house that your interpretations and translations. You have no concept of the abstract in the simple notion. You know Patafamilias even sounds like kick out the family as much as this is my family… in fact it's spelling is more important than its meeting

  • Oh and your educational Christian friends didn't work that's why Makaveli wrote his books in Italy with your precious printing press

  • and you call it reaching out to humanists yes, these guys were using their academic connections to create political ties. They were crying for human rights when they were torturing women and burning them at the stake so do you think they were talking about everyone's human rights or just men's? Because the Spanish looked at every soul equally especially after the discoveries of 1492 Acquisitions of Europe and Africa.

  • Well this was a great video I had a great time over 10 minutes was not bad. it's a lot of Squeeze Inn

  • 4:45 Hey! That's my profile picture!

  • Some historian in the future is talking about the internet the same way John is talking about printing

  • Thomas More looks like Terry Jones from Monty Python

  • A GREAT video and I'm gonna have to check out de Pizan – always looking for more classic female lit. On the topic of seeing Machiavelli's writing through the lens of his life, he spends a while arguing for a prince to be good at winning wars himself largely because Italy at the time was waging war through mercenaries, and he quite correctly predicted that the mercenaries would turn on these rich cities and extort them.

  • I'd always thought that The Prince was a satire, given that it was so short in comparison to all his other published works, and also that it was a response to the people who'd imprisoned and tortured him.

  • Do a great Epic History program, no a grim dark one. Imagine europeans are blacks or asians, and how would you treat history from those people, do this for europe!

  • At around 14:00 the answer is moderation

  • "Erasmus died at age of 69…"

    Comment section : NICE

  • Fact is, Machiavelli was kinda right and kinda wrong. While it's hard to be both feared and loved as one person, one can always play game of good cop and bad cop, with his entire society. Be the "Good King" and have the "Evil Prime Minister", that always takes the blame if anything goes wrong, but actualy, is always doing the will of the King, and in fact, King isn't just a puppet, but he smooths things out, in case something goes wrong, so that everyone loves him, while if anyone hates someone, it's the prime minister that gets the blame. Best way to run a country as a ruler.

  • Being here earlier than the annoying AP comments is a blessing 🙌🏾😂

  • so this is what created the semi educated militant or jock and the super educated non militant or nerd Paradigm in certain cultures in Europe. LOL

  • I was both. More nerd. Nerdism lol

  • John, your videos rock!!! They have tons of awesome information packed into a relatively small time frame. Rock on!!!

  • An automated future. Full of listless thinkers..

  • I've noticed John talking a lot slower in his European history videos, and I know a lot of people disliked it but now I find it harder to concentrate on him and it makes me kind of sad.

  • "he died at the age of 69"- Nice

  • I am highly disappointed I had no idea this existed when I was taking ap euro last year.

  • "YOU WANT A PIZZA ME" ?!? Wait, whaaat?

    ….

    … Ohhhhhh, I get it.

  • Hi :)! Huge fan of your classes. Just for everyone's information, confirmed by UNESCO, the oldest movable metal type printing was made in KOREA 🙂 Printed in 1377 ,The second volume of "Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings" is the oldest ! Thanks you all!

  • People: Are you a realist or an idealist?

    Me: I just want to grill

  • realy njoing thisseries!

  • So you're saying the Germans stole the renaissance from the Italians the same way the Italians stole it from the Byzantines?

  • yeet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • wait he died at 69

  • whose here studying for ap euro

  • What about platypuses and echidnas? They're mammals that lay eggs 🙁

  • 8:17 I chuckled

  • Thomas More was executed because he was against the king of england "creating " the anglican church so that he could divorce, not just because it was protestant

  • Fake Goofy doesn’t work at your age. When did you teach 14 year olds? 1995?

  • I do love these condensed glimpses into European history but i do wish the background art was identified. Other than that little quibble, love the videos.

  • Well… according to Good Omens, the answer to the question of how many angels one could find dancing on the head of a pin is one, so long as the dance is a gavotte

  • Why didn’t you Mention Martin Luther and the reformation more? It was Martin Luther that created protestantism and he was the Guy to write the bible in other languages than in latin. Luther collaborated with gutenberg.

  • I thought Machiavelli wrote the "Prince" as a sarcastic view of the approach of politicians towards power as if it were a witty criticism of what it shouldn't be done while in power.

  • Somehow Thomas Moore looks like Terry Jones from Monty Python 😅😅

  • 6:20, you want a pizza me?

  • This has been a HUGE help for my studying for exams coming up!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Did Ben Shapiro make a video calling John Green a communist responding to this yet?

  • Fwiw, some rites of the Catholic church do allow priests to marry

  • Stable Unfair LMAO. Ya wanna play a "stable" game where you consistently lose 50$ every time you roll the dice or play and unstable in consistent game where you sometimes 50$ and sometimes lose 50$? What a dumb question.

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