Author(s): Richard Mackenney
Few periods of a hundred years have held the imagination as much as the period 1500-1600. At least four great themes - Renaissance, Reformation, Counter-Reformation and Expansion - vie for dominance. The decisive cultural theme of the fifteenth century - classical revival in Italy - had spread and diversified, the social structures of the Ancien Regime were yet to solidify. This study examines the symptons of expansion - population growth, adventure overseas, new voyages of the imagination - and the areas of conflict - the world and the spirit, the public and private spheres, elite and popular cultures - and argues that spiritual quest and intellectual curiosity had the same cultural roots.