In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The Renaissance

  • Introduction
  • Texts Series
  • Journals
  • The Italian Renaissance
  • Renaissance and Humanism

Renaissance and Reformation The Renaissance
Margaret L. King
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 July 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 July 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0123


The whole of the Oxford Bibliographies Renaissance and Reformation module is devoted to the period 1350–1650, one of the many possible time spans scholars use to denote the Renaissance era, and includes many entries pertaining to people, events, and movements associated with the Renaissance. This bibliography entry limits itself to the concept of the Renaissance: the monographs and articles that define it, debate its nature, and challenge its existence; general overviews of some aspects of the Renaissance; textbooks and sourcebooks suitable for classroom use; and journals and reference works useful for the exploration of the Renaissance as a whole. The concept of the Renaissance needs its own bibliography because its nature is not self-evident. The Renaissance does not have natural boundaries, as does Antiquity, which begins with the first civilizations and continues until the fall of Rome. Renaissance specialists do not agree on its chronological limits, although 1350 to 1650, or the somewhat longer period from Petrarch to Milton, is a designation with which many agree. Use of the term implies an interpretation of the nature of the Middle Ages, and the notion of a shift after 1300 from the main features of that era in the realms of culture, society, and politics. Most of those who employ the concept of the Renaissance see developments in thought and the arts as critical, but not as the sole elements in that transformation. Many medievalists have denied the existence of a Renaissance altogether, finding the roots of all its characteristic themes in the Middle Ages. Many scholars, especially of the later period (16th into the 18th centuries), prefer the term “early modern,” which seems to some more appropriately used when discussing European expansion, gender and sexuality, and even the modern state. But the editors of this Oxford Bibliographies module and most of its contributors find the concept of the Renaissance still to be indispensable, as denoting the era when, for the last time in the history of European civilization, the legacy of the Greco-Roman past was integrated with the firmly established Judeo-Christian one, thus reestablishing, on the threshold of modernity, its dual foundation.

Reference Works

The scholarly ferment of the last two generations has left its imprint on major reference projects completed over the last twenty years, which join some classic and still useful compilations. The numerous reference works on the Renaissance can be subdivided into aids that provide information—Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Atlases—and those that are gateways to further sources of information—Portals, Catalogues, and Bibliographies.

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