Ruggiero divides his massive study of the Rinascimento—he prefers the term to “Renaissance” because of its specific reference to Italy—into two main eras, the first beginning roughly in 1250 and ending about 1475 and the second dating from 1475 to 1575. The “first civilization” was centered in the cities of northern and central Italy and was dominated by a new urban elite, the popolo grasso, who had replaced an older rural/feudal elite. The “second civilization” extending throughout Italy evolved progressively as the urban elite became transformed into a more aristocratic and courtly society. With this change, Italian society and culture lost many of the attributes that had distinguished it from transalpine Europe. Ruggiero’s Rinascimento is a periodic concept in that it considers the intellectual and artistic creativity of these three centuries as only two aspects of a new urban society and of a political landscape consisting of republican and...

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