A Renaissance History Lesson

(Oh dear...I just re-found this...it really is god-awful, but I still find it amusing. And its more or less accurate. I wrote it when studying for my AP Euro test in junior year of high school)

There Genoa and Milan, and of course Venice too
What shifted the course of history for me and you
A little shift, a little change, all of history was rearranged
Some money was being made by histories great names
Bankers were becoming popular and making some gold
Like the family of the Medici, who had Florence in their hold.
Their money was so abundant the Medici has excess
So they started the Renaissance by funding the artist.

Now to jump back a little farther, to help the story make sense
Northern Italy was led by communes-sworn to help the free men
But the nobles started marrying the merchant class
And the urban nobility took over before at last
The popolo realized that something was up
And took the government by force. making a huge ruckus
The popolo made the exact same and more idiotic mistakes
And were thrown out of power, before it was too late.
Signori and oligarchies were then put into power
But they were really just a fa├žade for something more dour
They were called republics, but that was just in name
They were ruled by those who had the wealth they claimed.

The Medici were very clever, they ruled behind the scenes
In the city of Florence, their patron acts were inspiring.
They commissioned paintings and sculptures
And The Prince was written in their name, by a genius
Named Machiavelli, who wrote what he had seen into saying

Now the governing of Italy was very confusing at this time
Because all the little city-states made it ducks in a line
There was Milan, Naples, Florence, Papal States, and Venice
Who never agreed they could work all together in this.
Alliances were made and just as quickly broke
As soon as it seemed all of Italy would be in their hook.
So it stayed divided until Milan called on France
And when they saw all the division the French took their chance.
The French swooped in and Italy was quickly overtook.
And the Italians, without union, could only sit there and look.

Then the Pope called on Spaniards and Germans to come in a rush
And take the French and all their armies crush.
It proved temporary and made a bloody scene
Of Italy for the next couple of centuries.

Now the people of the Renaissance were very intelligent
And emphasized the reading of the classic print
They decided to view things with a different eye
And unlike the Middle Ages they were not at all shy
They gloried in uniqueness and human accomplishments
And with autobiographies gave themselves lots of compliments

Now back to the person who told us the name of the age
Let's give a hand to Petrarch, who really was a sage
He looked at the Dark Ages with contempt
And called himself a person with a Greco-Roman bent
He said he lived in a golden age,
And many writers and artists agreed with this sage.

There were three qualities of intellectual change
The first is Individualism was to be attained.
In the Middle Ages they knew very little
Because writing of earthly things was egotistical
But in the Renaissance people thought highly of 'I'
And that human limit was beyond the sky.
So people like Alberti, Cellini, and more
Wrote of heightless achievements of men and themselves for they were sure
That people actually cared about their lives and opinions
And of this idea even today we are minions.

The next quality is the paradigm of Humanism
This is displayed by Pope Nicholas V planning the Vatican
People showed a great interest in learning well
And looked for the meaning of human nature and on it dwelled
The term 'Humanism' was coined by Leonardo Bruni
And then Cicero did the definition's fine tuning
The people of the Dark Ages looked for Christ in writing
But the Renaissance thought this idea was uninviting
They were more critical in their views
And through Mirandola the gap was fused.
He wrote On the Dignity of Man
Saying that we were made part divine
And with that here on earth we ourselves defined.

Secular Spirit is the last of the intellectual achievements
That in essence is the same as materialism
Before people only thought of life after death
Then people said we can also enjoy this
Bankers charged interest, which before was thought wrong
And now people were getting richer by the throngs
This allowed people to buy things of material pleasure
And soon even popes enjoyed this world of leisure
There were people that defended this life
And one of them was Lorenzo Valla, who worked with energy rife
We wrote On the False Donation of Constantine
And proved critically the document was a forgery.

Now it's on to the third part of this poem
About art and the artists of places like Florence and Rome
It started out funded by large groups of those
Who had money at hand and wanted to impose
It started out as before, religious in theme
Then selfish people wanted in on the scene
Rich families and oligarchies paid their riches
To have great artists depict them in pictures

The Medici were great patrons of art commissions
Spending vast costs on artistic and architectural vision
They said they didn't mind
It kept them favorable in the public's eye

In the old days money was militarily spent
But then nobles moved to cities where safety was part of the rent
So the switched things up and security was extinguished
Instead it was replaced by furnishings that were distinguished
Tapestries and paintings hung on palace walls
Their worth far out-counting the spare money in stall

As classics were more popularly read
Mythological beings were more in art depicted
Reality was also making its way to the paint
As people found Individualism more and more quaint
Giotto was the paver of realistic artistic ways
As he changed to flowing figures from the stiff old days
Donatello was a sculptor as is well known
He was the greatest influence before Michelangelo
He expressed great views of human nature variety
Which he was reviving from a far older society

Masaccio's life was unfortunately short
But he made lasting impacts of the artistic sort
He made his painting speak and look realistic
And used dark and light, powerfully simplistic
Brunelleschi and Francesca had a different view
And turned real distance into flat perspective anew

The status of an artist used to be real low
But the Renaissance was a whole new show
They were paid a fair sum so long as they were commissioned
And got far more respect, an altogether wealthy condition
Ghiberti had a salary of two hundred florins a year
And Leonardo on his salary could've easily stopped his career
But only the rich could see this genius
For the poor were kept from the educated populace

Next thing that will be addressed
Is the Renaissance social changes
Education soared high and was prioritized
Women were included for the first time
But oddly enough their life got more rough
Because the status of women took a cuff
They were demoted and reduced to things of display
Entertaining the arts, but staying out of the way
Still a few women manage still to shine through
And leave fantastic art and literary works too

There was an innovation that the Renaissance made
The printing of words- copies on a paper page
There was another invention of great importance
The sound it made had a tick-tock resonance
The folks of the city met this with much energy
For it meant businesses could close and open with consistency

Women worked hard all their lives
And were only rewarded by being paid half the price
They worked hard through the day and still again at night
And no one seemed to pay mind to their blight

Slaves were there through the Renaissance
Slavics just as often as Africans
They were put to work, and they toiled all day
And their rulers were sometimes the reason they were sold away
Having a slave of African decent
Was something like having a rare decoration
It was a symbol of wealth, a thing of pride
To say you had a slave torn from his life

Italy's revival of the classics traveled North
Where some people of study applied some work
A lawyer named More wrote of Utopia,
But it was a satire criticizing the life of all
He believed education was the solution on which to fall
An author of some similar wit
Named Erasmus had a passion to educate the common bit
Next there was the popular class clown
Better known as Rabelais who covered giant ground
His writing is amusing and pokes fun at society
It tells of a giant and his humorous adventure variety

Now the last topic has come at last
The shift in the state and in politics
Three rulers set the way
They turned around what seemed
A hopeless situation for their countries

France was ruled by Charles VII who ended the hundred year war
He restored the monarchy and so much more
He placed the gabelle and the taille to help him pay
And continued restoring he good old ways
He increased middle class influence, and started an army,
Put himself above papacy and had a son that was rather squirmy
His son changed the arrangement so the pope would agree
And King Louis appointed bishops and abbots, but the pope got their first year's salary

England's King Henry VII had to clean up his father's mess
And went on a tirade to restore orderliness
He had a small royal council that ruled the land
And rarely addressed Parliament but ruled by his own stand
He secured his place by marrying his son
To the princess of Spain, Catherine of Aragon
He encouraged business and promoted peace
And married of his daughter Margaret to the Scotties

Spain was divided and lacked a common call
Which made a difficult join for all
Ferdinand and Isabella married in order to gain
All of the lands that the other claimed
But even their marriage didn't bring peace
They restored the hermandades to give local violence a cease
The kingdom of Spain had diverse religions
And anti-Semitic mobs forced Jews to be New Christians
The people didn't believe they had really turned
So they went and had them expelled they were so harshly spurned