BC Bookmarks

Everyday Renaissances

Revealing a Renaissance beyond Michelangelo and the Medici, Associate Professor of History Sarah Gwyneth Ross recovers the experiences of everyday men and women who were inspired to pursue literature and learning, in her new book Everyday Renaissances: The Quest for Cultural Legitimacy in Venice (Harvard University Press, 2016). Ross draws on a trove of original unpublished sources—wills, diaries, household inventories, account books, and other miscellany—to reconstruct the lives of over 100 artisans, merchants and others on the middle rung of Venetian society who embraced the ennobling virtues of a humanistic education. Ross focuses on three doctors, who, unlike priests or lawyers, had not yet rid themselves of the taint of artisanal labor, and were thus indicative of a middle class that sought to earn the respect of their peers and betters, protect and advance their families and secure honorable remembrance after death.