Burkhard The Romantic Historian?

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The romance of the Italian Renaissance has captivated many historians over the years, but very few have studied the era as extensively as Jacob Burckhardt. Raised in Germany during the nineteenth century, Burckhardt was disenchanted by events such as the Industrial Revolution, which he found to be cold and unemotional. He was originally sent to the University of Basil to study Theology, but lost his faith and decided that he would study Art and History. Detached from his own time, Burckhardt found his life’s passion in the culture, art, and people of the Italian Renaissance. After graduation, Burckhardt taught Art History and it was while he was a professor that he began to publish. It was in his third book, The Civilization of the Italian Renaissance, that Burckhardt wrote about the state as a work of art. The book was written as an essay merging the political and cultural aspects of the Renaissance into his book. Burckhardt felt that three elements- the state, culture and religion- were needed to accurately portray history. The intent of this paper is to demonstrate that Burckhardt was a Romantic Historian. The Italian Renaissance was a product of freedom. Italy consisted of many small states with powerful men constantly fighting for the right to rule. Burckhardt believed that from the freedom of chaos everything the Italians created during the Renaissance became art. “A new fact appears in history – the state as the outcome of reflection and calculation, the state as a work of art.” His thesis was that the state was a work of art founded by individuals through reflection and calculation. Without a strong centralized national government, the Italians were free to create states, study antiquities and push forth a new culture filled with art and literature. The goal for many great men during the Italian Renaissance was to unify Italy. Those men lived
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