Renaissance Humanism and the Italian Age of Discovery

Description: The Emergence of the idea of a new world

           The collective discoveries of Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John and Sebastian Cabot, and Giovanni da Verrazzano constitute a distinct Italian Era of Discovery which laid the groundwork for all other voyages which followed.  The Italian discoverers deserve a place alongside the well-known Humanists in the history of art, literature, philosophy, and government by virtue of their research and accomplishments.  The explorers also made original contributions to the fields of science, navigation and cartography. 

           The worldview of the Italian explorers evolved to include the concept of a new world.  They had to reevaluate their cosmography and change the maps to reflect their new knowledge.  The concept of a New World was equally profound as that of a new age.  The most important contribution of the Italian explorers was not what they found, but the change in thinking that took place when they tried to explain their discoveries.


Table of Contents   Page Number
1. The Italian Era of Discovery     5
2. Christopher Columbus    22
3. Amerigo Vespucci    48
4. John and Sebastian Cabot   78
5. Giovanni da Verrazzano    106
6. The Impact of the Age of Discovery on Italy   122
7. Conclusion    125
A. Italian Voyages of Discovery     130
B. Chronology of the Italian Era of Discovery    131
Bibliography   132


About the Author: Richard Di Giacomo graduated from San Jose State University with a BA in Ancient and Medieval history, a BA in Social Science and an MA in American History. He has been a teacher for over 20 years. He has taught in a variety of schools from private and continuation schools to public high schools. He has taught everything from at risk and limited English students to honors and college preparatory classes. The subjects he has taught include US and World History, Government, Economics, Bible and Ethics, History of the Cold War, and Contemporary World History. He has been a reviewer and contributor to textbooks, and has been a frequent presenter at social studies conferences on the use of simulations, videos, and computers in education.

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