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Benzan: Renaissance, Reformation and Age of Enlightenment- Primary and Secondary Sources: Home

Unit Overview

Renaissance:  The Renaissance is defined as a period of European history, lasting from about 1300 to 1600, during which renewed interest in classical culture let to far-reaching changes in art, literature, architecture, science, math, technology, government, social order, learning, and views of the world.Th study of humanism helped spur the wide range of changes that occured.

Reformation:  Reformation is defined as a movement, in the 16th century, for religious reform.  This movement lead to the formation of various religious movements and ideologies which challenged the norms of the Catholic Church and the authority of the Pope. 

Enlightenment:  The Enlightenment was an 18th century European movement in which thinkers attempted to apply the principals of reason and scientific method to all aspects of society.

It is said that these three eras brought about a great deal of change to European society.  The questioning spirit that arose during the time period changed society views in all aspects of life.

In this unit we will focus on the compelling question: 
How did the thoughts, actions, and creations of the men and women of the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment movements impact society at that time, as well as today's society? 

Task and Compelling Question

Compelling Question:
How did the thoughts, actions, and creations of the men and women of the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment eras impact society at that time, as well as today's society?

Task:  Select one person from each of the categories: Science/Technology, Political Thinkers, Art/Literature, and Religion. Once you have selected your person, find ONE primary and ONE secondary source document by/on that person.  Using those sources, answer the compelling question, in a well developed paragraph.  There are links below to both primary and secondary sources.  If you are finding your own sources, be sure that they are from reliable sources.

Compelling Question:
How did the thoughts, actions, and creations of the men and women of the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment movements impact society at that time, as well as today's society? 

A well-developed paragraph includes at least five sentences:

  • topic sentence which presents a claim based on the supporting question.
  • An explanation of your claim.
  • Textual evidence that supports your claim (from a primary or secondary source, properly documented)
  • An explanation of how your textual evidence supports your claim. 
  • A second piece of textual evidence that supports your claim (from a primary or secondary source, properly documented)
  • An explanation of how your second piece of textual evidence supports your claim.
  • A concluding sentence.

Primary Sources

 Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period.  A primary source reflects the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer.  Examples can include diaries, journals, speeches, memoirs, letters- any papers in which individuals describe events in which they were participants or observers.  You can include published materials (books, magazine and journal articles, newspaper  articles) written at the time about a particular event.  The important thing is to distinguish between material written at the time of an event as a kind of report, and material written much later, as historical analysis.Primary sources may also be images and artifacts that document or represent an event.‚Äč

The following links can provide you to primary sources related to these time periods.  The databases recommended for secondary sources will often have access to primary, as well as secondary documents. 

Internet Medieval Source Book: This site is sponsored by Fordham University and has a plethora of primary sources, and is easy to search.

British History Online:  British History Online is a digital library of key printed primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain and Ireland, with a primary focus on the periods between 1300 and 1800. 

Euro Docs:   From Brigham Young University Library, links to European Renaissance documents.

Science/Technology

  • Nicolaus Copernicus
  • Galileo Galilei
  • Isaac Newton
  • Francis Bacon
  • JohannGutenberg
  • Michelangelo
  • Da Vinci
  • Johannes Kepler

Supporting questions:
What was the scientific change in reasoning?
How was technology altered?

Art/Literature

  • Donatello
  • Michelangelo
  • Raphael
  • Da Vinci
  • William Shakespeare

Supporting Questions:
What role did art play in altering society?
What role did literature play in expression?

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources interpret and analyze primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. Some types of secondary sources include:

  • Textbooks, magazine articles, histories, criticisms, commentaries, encyclopedias 

The following databases are excellent sources of secondary information.  You can also use your text book and class notes as secondary sources.

Political Thinkers

  • Thomas Hobbes
  • Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire
  • John Locke
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau
  • Charles de Secondat Baron de la Breide et de Montesquieu
  • Marquis Cesare Beccaria
  • Mary Astell
  • Mary Wollstonecraft

Supporting Questions:
What were the political ideologies of the time period?
How did political ideologies differ?

 

Religion

  • John Wycliffe
  • Jan Hus
  • Martin Luther
  • Henry VIII
  • Elizabeth I

Supporting Questions:
How was religious thought altered?
What was the impact of that change?