Renaissance Men

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A Brief History

In the early 20th century, the term “Renaissance man” was first recorded in written English.   It is now used to refer to great thinkers living before, during, or after the Renaissance (14th through 17th centuries).  This article presents a table of some notable Renaissance Men.

Digging Deeper

NameYearsEthnicity/NationalityOccupation
Dante Alighieri(c. 1265 – 1321)Italianpoet
Cosimo de' Medici (27 September 1389 – 1 August 1464)Italianbanker and politician
Lorenzo de' Medici(1 January 1449 – 8 April 1492)Italianstatesman
Leonardo da Vinci(14/15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519)Italianpolymath
Erasmus(28 October 1466 – 12 July 1536)Dutchphilosopher and Christian humanist
Albrecht Dürer(21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528)Germanpainter, printmaker, and theorist
Nicolaus Copernicus(19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543)German and/or Polishastronomer and polymath
Michelangelo(6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564)Italiansculptor, painter, architect, and poet
Thomas More(7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535)Englishlawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist
Baldassare Castiglione(December 6, 1478 – February 2, 1529)Italiancourtier, diplomat, soldier, and a prominent Renaissance author
Henry VIII of England(28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547)Englishking
Andreas Vesalius(31 December 1514 – 15 October 1564)Flemishanatomist, physician, and author
Pieter Bruegel the Elder(c. 1525–1530 – 9 September 1569)Dutch and Flemishartist
Miguel de Cervantes(29 September 1547 (assumed) – 22 April 1616 NS)Spanishwriter
William Shakespeare(bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616)Englishpoet, playwright, and actor

Question for students (and subscribers): Who is your favorite Renaissance Man (or woman) and why?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Shearer, Robert G.  Famous Men Of The Renaissance & Reformation.  Greenleaf Press, 1996.

For a nice overview of the men featured in the table in this article, we encourage you to watch this video on YouTube:

The featured image in this article, Francis I of France receiving the last breath of Leonardo da Vinci, by Ingres, 1818, is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer.  This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.

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About Author

Dr. Zar

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history in Ohio.