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The Universities of the Italian Renaissance by Paul F. Grendler

The Universities of the Italian Renaissance


The Universities of the Italian Renaissance by Paul F. Grendler

Italian Renaissance universities were Europe's intellectual leaders in humanistic studies, law, medicine, philosophy, and science. Employing some of the foremost scholars of the time-including Pietro Pomponazzi, Andreas Vesalius, and Galileo Galilei-the Italian Renaissance university was the prototype of today's research university. This is the first book in any language to offer a comprehensive study of this most influential institution.In this magisterial study, noted scholar Paul F. Grendler offers a detailed and authoritative account of the universities of Renaissance Italy. Beginning with brief narratives of the origins and development of each university, Grendler explores such topics as the number of professors and their distribution by discipline, student enrollment (some estimates are the first attempted), famous faculty members, budget and salaries, and relations with civil authority. He discusses the timetable of lectures, student living, foreign students, the road to the doctorate, and the impact of the Counter Reformation. He shows in detail how humanism changed research and teaching, producing the medical Renaissance of anatomy and medical botany, new approaches to Aristotle, and mathematical innovation. Universities responded by creating new professorships and suppressing older ones. The book concludes with the decline of Italian universities, as internal abuses and external threats-including increased student violence and competition from religious schools-ended Italy's educational leadership in the seventeenth century.


Drawing on a lifetime of scholarship devoted to the history of schooling in late medieval and Renaisssance Europe, Grendler presents a magisterial study of the Italian universities... elegantly written. * Choice * A nuanced overview... Grendler offers a perceptive discussion of the effects of the Counter Reformation. -- Robert Black * American Historical Review * An important work of great erudition, an essential work for anyone wishing to understand Renaissance education. -- Duane J. Osheim * Sixteenth Century Journal * Erudite as well as entertaining; an instructive treatise as well as a useful reference tool for anyone interested in the topic. * Catholic Historical Review * For those interested in Renaissance intellectual history and the history of higher learning, this will be the quintessential study for some time. -- Mark Jurdjevic * Canadian Journal of History * No brief review can do justice to Paul A. Grendler's elegant study of Italian Renaissance universities. The Universities of the Italian Renaissance requires close reading and will doubtless become the definitive analysis of higher education in the period. Grendler blends the same depth of archival knowledge, familiarity with the secondary literature, organization, and clear writing that characterize his earlier works on Renaissance education. -- Michael J. Galgano * History: Reviews of New Books * Paul Grendler's comprehensive, methodical, and immensely learned study of the seventeen universities in Renaissance Italy is an enormous contribution to historians and scholars... A wide-ranging and authoritative study that will be a benchmark for years to come. -- Christopher Carlsmith * H-Italy, H-Net Reviews * This will certainly become the standard work on the subject. -- Darin Hayton * Cithara * This formidable erudite, beautifully presented and magisterial work is a reliable guidebook to one of the golden ages of university history. Between the early fifteenth and late sixteenth centuries, Italian universities were unrivaled in Europe except in theology. Grendler has produced a splendid framework within which to understand one of the great flowerings of intellectual life in European history. -- Diarmaid MacCulloch * History of Education * A recognized authority on the subject of education in the Italian Renaissannce, Paul Grendler has produced a magnificent study of Italian higher education in the period 1400-1600. -- David A. Lines * Isis * A vast, highly informative, and wide-ranging account... This monumental study, beautifully produced, crystal clear, and breathtakingly encyclopedic in scope, contains a wealth of valuable information and high-level scholarship. -- Jonathan Woolfson * Modern Language Review * Will remain a basic source of reference for all future work on Italian Renaissance universities. -- Alison Brown * History * Grendler's work is likely to remain for long an indispensable, and interdisciplinary, 'benchmark'. -- John Easton Law * Journal of Ecclesiastical History * A wide-ranging and comprehensive survey. -- Jill Kraye * Times Literary Supplement * Grendler succeeds in painting a picture of the Italian universities that is well founded in empirical data. His book is a great success. -- Jurgen Miethke * Journal of Modern History * Grendler's research provides the Renaissance scholar with a guide book to the Italian universities of the period. -- Mark A. Lewis * Archivum Historicum * This erudite work of scholarship will change the way that we look at the Renaissance intellectual history. -- Anthony F. D'Elia * International Journal of the Classical Tradition *

About the Author

Paul F. Grendler is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Toronto, and former president of the Renaissance Society of America. He is the editor-in-chief of the prize-winning Encyclopedia of the Renaissance and author of several books including Schooling in Renaissance Italy, winner of the American Historical Association's Howard R. Marraro Prize for Italian History, also available from Johns Hopkins.

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Book Info

Publication date

29th September 2004


Paul F. Grendler

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Johns Hopkins University Press


616 pages





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