Humanists and Europe



Humanism was a cultural movement that developed rapidly in Italy in the fourteenth century before spreading throughout early modern Europe. Based on a return to the authors of antiquity, advocating the renewal of the study of the humanities (the studia humanitatis) and putting forward a new vision of the place of man in the world, it gradually became a dominant cultural model throughout the continent. The terms Renaissance, humanism and Europe are often closely associated. But to which Europe are we referring? Did people at the time really have a feeling of belonging to Europe? Even if we have undoubtedly inherited a certain idea of Europe from the Renaissance, which ideas did it encompass at that time? From a Christian Europe governed by the pope to a Europe of confederations, from a Europe of plural identities to a new humanist Europe République des lettres, a wide range of projects for Europe were put forward between dreams, hopes and disillusionment.

Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, by Hans Holbein the young (1497/1498–1543).