by Robert G. Shearer
The Renaissance and the Reformation are pivotal periods in both Church History, Western History, and World History.
The Renaissance was the beginning of the modern world. Its leading thinkers were the first to recognize that there was now a huge gap between themselves and the ancient nations of Greece and Rome, and that civilization had been through a "dark age." The Renaissance revered Greece and Rome and sought to recover the ancient languages, literature, art, and in some cases also their pagan religion.
The Reformation, too, was a modern movement in which theologians and Christian thinkers became aware of the large differences between the late medieval church and the early church and the teachings of Christ in the Bible. The towering figure of Martin Luther dominates the Reformation. He mastered the literature and language skills of the Renaissance humanists, and became convinced that the church was desperately in need of reform. The printing press spread his ideas rapidly and he miraculously avoided the martyrdom that Jon Hus had undergone when he called for reform a century earlier. Pope Benedict XVI himself has now initiated a re-evaluation of Martin Luther and acknowledged that many of the reforms he called for were later adopted by the Roman Church.
Drawing on 30 years of reading in Renaissance & Reformation history, I have selected 15 figures from the Renaissance and 15 from the Reformation whose lives illustrate the history of the times.
From the Renaissance: Petrarch, Giotto, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Cosimo de' Medici, Lorenzo de' Medici, Savonarola, Botticeli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Cesare Borgia, Machiavelli, Pope Leo X, and Erasmus.
From the Reformation: Wyclif, Hus, Luther, Charles V, Durer, Zwingli, Muntzer, Grebel & Sattler, Menno Simons, Henry VIII, Thomas More, Tyndale, Cromwell & Cranmer, Calvin, and Knox.
The biographies are written so that they can be profitably read by an upper elementary student as well as any high school student. Reading through these biographies will give you a broad introduction to both the Renaissance and Reformation and help you to understand how the events of that time continue to shape our world today.
- Rob Shearer
"a richer picture of the period than we usually encounter" - Cathy Duffy
one of Cathy Duffy's "100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum"