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RenaissanceSpread Of Humanism, Development Of The Studia Humanitatis, Political Implications Of Renaissance Humanism, Bibliography

In the mid-twentieth century, Paul Oskar Kristeller (1905–1999) established the understanding of Renaissance humanism accepted by all scholars in the field. Humanists or umanisti were practitioners of the studia humanitatis or liberal arts: grammar, poetry, rhetoric, history, and moral philosophy. Their origins are traceable to the notaries who worked for courts and cities in medieval Italy writing letters and preparing legal documents. The practice of these notaries was, from 1100, influenced by the ars dictaminis or manuals of letter writing emanating from France. Italian notaries subsequently began to write manuals of their own; their innovation was to abandon medieval Latin style and to emulate the Latin style of classical Roman writers. They focused particularly on the rhetoricians (most notably Cicero from the 1380s), whose interests as public lay intellectuals most closely matched their own.

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