HIST 373 surveys the state of Western Europe in the fourteenth century—a time of devastating economic catastrophe, social upheaval, and religious controversy—and then focuses on Italy, the heartland of the Renaissance, a country that was fragmented politically and often torn by severe social conflict yet led the economic and cultural recovery of Europe in the fifteenth century. The course examines in turn all the main aspects of the Italian Renaissance: the vibrant political and social life of the Italian city states, the growth and impact of the humanist movement, the writings of leading poets, philosophers, and political theorists, and the flourishing art and architecture created by Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and others. Extensive use is made of contemporary sources to obtain first-hand insights into the values and concerns of Renaissance men and women.