Famous Renaissance Men 1

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In the actual Renaissance period, men who were educated aspired to become Renaissance men. They were expected to know several languages, understand philosophy and scientific teachings, appreciate literature and art, and further, to be deft sportsmen. Such emphasis was inspired by earlier periods, and for the first time, scholars had access to many of the Greek philosophers and writers whose work had been lost for centuries. Further, becoming a renaissance man was clearly an extension of the earlier knights and courtiers who became educated during the Middle Ages.

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Nicholas of Cusa
1401 - 1464
Nicholas of Kues (1401 – August 11, 1464), also referred to as Nicolaus Cusanus and Nicholas of Cusa, was a cardinal of the Catholic church from Germany (Holy Roman Empire), a philosopher, theologian, jurist, mathematician, and an astronomer. He is widely considered one of the great geniuses and polymaths of the 15th century. He is today recognized for significant spiritual, scientific and political contributions in European history, notable examples of which include his mystical or spiritual writings on 'learned ignorance' (and mathematical ideas expressed in related essays), as well as his participation in power struggles between Rome and the German states of the Holy Roman Empire.

Nicholas and other Religions

Nicholas supported the campaign of
Pope Puis II for a crusade against the Turks, but this is not the limit of his thought on interreligious issues. Shortly after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, Nicholas wrote De pace fidei, On the Peace of Faith. This visionary work imagined a summit meeting in Heaven of representatives of all nations and religions. Islam and the Hussite movement in Bohemia are represented. The conference agrees that there can be una religio in varietate rituum, a single faith manifested in different rites, as manifested in the eastern and western rites of the Catholic Church. The dialog presupposes the greater accuracy of Christianity but gives respect to other religions. Less irenic but not virulent, is Cusanus' Cribratio Alchorani, Sifting the Koran, a detailed review of the Koran in Latin translation. While the arguments for the superiority of Christianity are still shown in this book, it also credits Judaism and Islam with sharing in the truth at least partially. Cusanus' attitude toward the Jews was not always mild, in 1451 he ordered that Jews of Arnhem were to wear a Jew-badge. The De pace fidei mentions the possibility that the Jews might not embrace the larger union of una religio in varietate rituum, but it dismisses them as politically insignificant. This matches the decrees from Cusanus' legation restricting Jewish activities, restrictions later canceled by Pope Nicholas V.

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Vasco Nunez de Balboa
1475 - 1519
Vasco Núñez de Balboa (c. 1475 – January 15, 1519) was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World. He traveled to the New World in 1500 and, after some exploration, settled on the island of Hispaniola. He founded the settlement of Santa María la Antigua del Darién in present-day Colombia in 1510, which was the first permanent European settlement on the mainland of the Americas (a settlement by Alonso de Ojeda the previous year at San Sebastián de Urabá had already been abandoned).Balboa was born in Jerez de los Caballeros, Spain. He was a descendant of the lords of the castle of Balboa, which is located in southwestern Spain. His mother was the Lady de Badajoz and his father was the hidalgo (nobleman), Nuño Arias de Balboa. Nothing much is known of his early childhood except that he was the third of four boys in his family. During his adolescence, he served as a page and squire to Don Pedro de Portocarrero, lord of Moguer In 1500, motivated by his master after the news of Christopher Columbus' voyages to the New World became known, he decided to embark on his first voyage to the Americas, along with Juan de la Cosa, on Rodrigo de Bastidas' expedition. Bastidas had a license to bring back treasure for the king and queen, while keeping four-fifths for himself, under a policy known as the Quinto Real, or "royal fifth." In 1501, he crossed the Caribbean coasts from the east of Panama, along the Colombian coast, through the Gulf of Urabá toward Cabo de la Vela. The expedition continued to explore the north east of South America, until they realized they did not have enough men and sailed to Hispaniola. With his share of the earnings from this campaign, Balboa settled in Hispaniola in 1505, where he resided for several years as a planter and pig farmer. He was not successful in this enterprise, however, and ended up in debt. Finally, he was forced to abandon life on the island. In 1508, the king of Spain, Ferdinand II "The Catholic", launched the conquest of Tierra Firme (the area roughly corresponding to the Isthmus of Panama). He created two new territories in the region between El Cabo de la Vela (near the eastern border of Colombia) and El Cabo de Gracias a Dios (the border between Honduras and Nicaragua). The Gulf of Urabá became the border between the two territories: Nueva Andalucía to the east, governed by Alonso de Ojeda, and Veragua to the west, governed by Diego de Nicuesa.

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Michael Servatus
1511 - 1553

Michael Servetus (also Miguel Servet or Miguel Serveto; 29 September 1511– 27 October 1553) was a Spanish theologian, physician, cartographer, and humanist. He was the first European to describe the function of pulmonary circulation. His interests included many sciences: mathematics, astronomy and meteorology, geography, human anatomy, medicine and pharmacology, as well as jurisprudence, and the scholarly study of the Bible in its original languages. He is renowned in the history of several of these fields, particularly medicine and theology. He participated in the Protestant Reformation, and later developed a nontrinitarian Christology. Condemned by Catholics and Protestants alike, he was arrested in Geneva and burnt at the stake as a heretic by order of the Protestant Geneva governing council.Servetus was born as Miguel Serveto Conesa (family nickname "Revés") at Villanueva de Sijena, Huesca, Aragon, Spain, in 1511, probably on 29 September, the feast day of Saint Michael, although no specific record exists. Some sources give an earlier date based on Servetus' own occasional claim of having been born in 1509. His paternal ancestors came from the hamlet of Serveto, in the Aragonese Pyrenees, which gave the family their surname. The maternal line descended from Jewish conversos of the Monzón area. His father Antonio Serveto (alias Revés, i.e. "Reverse") was a notary. Servetus had two brothers: one who later became a notary like their father, and another who was a Catholic priest. Servetus was gifted in languages and studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew under the instruction of Dominican friars. At the age of fifteen, Servetus entered the service of a Franciscan friar by the name of Juan de Quintana, an Erasmian. He read the entire Bible in its original languages from the manuscripts available at that time. Servetus later attended the University of Toulouse in 1526 where he studied law. There he became suspected of participating in secret meetings and activities of Protestant students.

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Hernando de Soto
1496 -1542
Hernando de Soto (c.1496/1497–1542) was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who, while leading the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States, was the first European documented to have crossed the Mississippi River. A vast undertaking, de Soto's North American expedition ranged throughout the southeastern United States searching for gold and a passage to China. De Soto died in 1542 on the banks of the Mississippi River in Arkansas or Louisiana. Hernando de Soto was born to parents who were hidalgos of modest means in Extremadura, a region of poverty and hardship from which many young people looked for ways to seek their fortune elsewhere. Two towns—Badajoz and Barcarrota—claim to be his birthplace. All that is known with certainty is that he spent time as a child at both places, and he stipulated in his will that his body be interred at Jerez de los Caballeros, where other members of his family were also interred. The age of the Conquerors came on the heels of the Spanish reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from Islamic forces. Spain and Portugal were filled with young men begging for a chance to find military fame after the Moors were defeated. With discovery of new lands to the west (which seemed at the time to be East Asia), the whispers of glory and wealth were too compelling for the poor. De Soto sailed to the New World in 1514 with the first Governor of Panama, Pedrarias Dávila. Brave leadership, unwavering loyalty, and clever schemes for the extortion of native villages for their captured chiefs became de Soto's hallmark during the Conquest of Central America. He gained fame as an excellent horseman, fighter, and tactician, but was notorious for the extreme brutality with which he wielded these gifts. During that time, Juan Ponce de León, who discovered Florida, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, who discovered the Pacific Ocean (he called it the "South Sea" below Panama), and Ferdinand Magellan, who first sailed that ocean to the Orient, profoundly influenced de Soto's ambitions.

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Sir Anthony Shirley
1565 -1635
Sir Anthony Shirley (or Sherley) (1565–1635) was an English traveller, whose imprisonment in 1603 by King James I was an important event because it caused the British House of Commons to assert one of its privileges—freedom of its members from arrest—in a document known as The Form of Apology and Satisfaction. He was the second son of Sir Thomas Shirley, and his brothers, Robert Shirley and Thomas Shirley, were also much-travelled. Educated at the University of Oxford, Anthony Shirley gained some military experience with the English troops in the Netherlands and also during an expedition to Normandy in 1591 under Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, who was related to his wife, Frances Vernon; about this time he was knighted by Henry of Navarre (Henry IV of France), an event which brought upon him the displeasure of his own sovereign and a short imprisonment. In 1596, he conducted a predatory expedition along the western coast of Africa and then across to Central America, but owing to a mutiny he returned to London with a single ship in 1597. In 1598, he led a few English volunteers to Italy to take part in a dispute over the possession of Ferrara; this, however, had been accommodated when he reached Venice, and he decided to journey to Persia with the twofold object of promoting trade between England and Persia and of stirring up the Persians against the Turks. He obtained money at Constantinople and at Aleppo, and was very well received by the Shah, Abbas the Great, who made him a Mirza, or prince, and granted certain trading and other rights to all Christian merchants. Then, as the Shah's representative, he returned to Europe and visited Moscow, Prague, Rome, and other cities, but the English government would not allow him to return to his own country. Two members of his expedition returned to London, where they published the anonymous pamphlet The True Report of Sir Anthony Shirley's Journey, which, additionally spurred by the actor Will Kempe's meeting with Sir Anthony in Rome, evoked two references to "the Sophy"— the Shah— in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (1601-02). For some time he was in prison in Venice, and in 1605, he went to Prague and was sent by Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor on a mission to Morocco; afterwards he went to Lisbon and to Madrid, where he was welcomed very warmly. The King of Spain appointed him the admiral of a fleet which was to serve in the Levant, but the only result of his extensive preparations was an unsuccessful expedition against the island of Mitylene. After this he was deprived of his command. Shirley, who was a count of the Holy Roman Empire, died at Madrid some time after 1635. Shirley wrote an account of his adventures, Sir Anthony Sherley: his Relation of his Travels into Persia (1613), the original manuscript of which is in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. There are in existence five or more accounts of Shirley's adventures in Persia, and the account of his expedition in 1596 is published in Richard Hakluyt's Voyages and Discoveries (1809-1812). See also The Three Brothers; Travels and Adventures of Sir Anthony, Sir Robert and Sir Thomas Sherley in Persia, Russia, Turkey and Spain (London, 1825); EP Shirley, The Sherley Brothers (1848), and the same writer's Stemmata Shirleiana (1841, again 1873).

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Henry IV of England
1366 - 1413
Henry IV (possibly 3 April 1366 – 20 March 1413) was King of England and Lord of Ireland (1399–1413). He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry (of) Bolingbroke. His father, John of Gaunt, was the third son of Edward III, and enjoyed a position of considerable influence during much of the reign of Richard II. Henry IV came to the throne after the deposition of his cousin Richard II. Henry's mother was Blanche, heiress to the considerable Lancaster estates. Henry IV is, therefore, the first King of England from the Lancaster branch of the Plantagenets, one of the two family branches (the other one being the York branch, initiated by his uncle Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York) protagonists of the War of the Roses (see section "Seniority in line from Edward III" below).Rebellions continued throughout the first ten years of Henry's reign, including the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr, who declared himself Prince of Wales in 1400, and the rebellion of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland. The king's success in putting down these rebellions was due partly to the military ability of his eldest son, Henry of Monmouth, who would later become king (though the son managed to seize much effective power from his father in 1410). In the last year of Henry's reign, the rebellions picked up speed. "The old fable of a living Richard was revived", notes one account, "and emissaries from Scotland traversed the villages of England, in the last year of Henry's reign, declaring that Richard was residing at the Scottish Court, awaiting only a signal from his friends to repair to London and recover his throne." A suitable-looking impostor was found and King Richard's old groom circulated word in the city that his master was alive in Scotland. "Southwark was incited to insurrection" by Sir Elias Lyvet and his associate Thomas Clark, who promised Scottish aid to carry out the insurrection. Ultimately, the rebellion came to naught. The knight Lyvet was released; his follower thrown into the Tower.


Gian Galeazzo Visconti
Gian Galeazzo Visconti (November 1351 – 3 September 1402), son of Galeazzo II Visconti and Bianca of Savoy, was the first Duke of Milan (1395) and ruled the late-medieval city just before the dawn of the Renaissance. He was the great founding patron of the Certosa di Pavia, completing the Visconti Castle at Pavia begun by his father and furthering work on the Duomo of Milan. During his patronage of the Visconti Castle he contributed greatly to the growth of the collection of scientific treatises and richly illuminated manuscripts in the Visconti Library. Although most famous as Signore of Milan, Gian Galeazzo was the son of Galeazzo II Visconti who possessed the signoria of the city of Pavia. In 1385 Gian Galeazzo gained control of Milan by overthrowing his uncle Bernabò through treacherous means. He imprisoned his uncle who soon died, supposedly poisoned on his orders. His first marriage was to Isabelle of Valois, who brought him the title of comte de Vertus in Champagne, rendered in Italian as Conte di Virtù, the title by which he was known in his early career. A devoted father to his daughter Valentina (wife of Louis, Duke of Orleans and mother of the famous poet, Charles of Orleans), Gian Galeazzo reacted to gossip about Valentina at the French Court by threatening to declare war on France.

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John Wycliffe
John Wycliffe (pronounced /ˈwɪklɪf/; also spelled Wyclif, Wycliff, Wiclef, Wicliffe, or Wickliffe) (c. 1328 – 31 December 1384) was an English theologian, lay preacher, translator, reformist and university teacher who was known as an early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century. His followers are known as Lollards, a somewhat rebellious movement, which preached anticlerical and biblically-centred reforms. He is considered the founder of the Lollard movement, a precursor to the Protestant Reformation (for this reason, he is sometimes called "The Morning Star of the Reformation"). He was one of the earliest opponents of papal authority influencing secular power. Wycliffe was also an early advocate for translation of the Bible into the common tongue. He completed his translation directly from the Vulgate into vernacular English in the year 1382, now known as Wycliffe's Bible. It is probable that he personally translated the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and it is possible he translated the entire New Testament, while his associates translated the Old Testament.

Wycliffe's Bible appears to have been completed by 1384, with additional updated versions being done by Wycliffe's assistant John Purvey and others in 1388 and 1395. Some members of the nobility possessed the Bible in French, and some portions of the Bible had been translated into English as early as the seventh century under the auspices of the Catholic Church. While Wycliffe is credited, it is not possible exactly to define his part in the translation, which was based on the Vulgate. There is no doubt that it was his initiative, and that the success of the project was due to his leadership. From him comes the translation of the New Testament, which was smoother, clearer, and more readable than the rendering of the Old Testament by his friend Nicholas of Hereford. The whole was revised by Wycliffe's younger contemporary John Purvey in 1388. Thus the cry of his opponents may be heard: "The jewel of the clergy has become the toy of the laity." In spite of the zeal with which the hierarchy sought to destroy it due to what they saw as mistranslations and erroneous commentary, there still exist about 150 manuscripts, complete or partial, containing the translation in its revised form. From this, one may easily infer how widely diffused it was in the fifteenth century. For this reason the Wycliffites in England were often designated by their opponents as "Bible men." Just as Luther's version had great influence upon the German language, so Wycliffe's, by reason of its clarity, beauty, and strength, influenced the English language as the King James Version (which borrowed heavily from Wycliffe's New Testament translation) was later to do.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther

Martin Luther turned the Church on its ear.

Revolted by corruption in the hierarchy and its simony, he used the new mechanism of movable type in printing to attack the papacy. He found no need for an intermediary clergy, and his message was to follow a literal translation of the Bible and the insistence that salvation was to be found in the text and nowhere else! More . . .

Henry VIII of England

Henry VIII of England
Changed the course of England with his lust.

Henry VIII succeeded his father, Henry VII as the second Tudor monarch. Henry’s six wives and marriages were driven as much by a need for sons as infatuation. In order. his wives were Catherine or Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Kathryn Howard and Katherine Parr. Two ended by execution, and ultimately caused a schism with Rome and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Parliament proclaimed Henry head of the Church in England (later Church of England). From 1509 until his death, Henry would become a virtual autocrat. He became a theological scholar and brought about the union of England and Wales. In his youth, he had excelled at sports, especially jousting, hunting, and tennis. He was also an accomplished musician, author, and poet. An Historical Figure of England, Tudor Dynasty.
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