Voices of the Renaissance
Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life
by John A. Wagner, Editor
February 2022, 316pp, 8 1/2 x 11
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7603-5
$115, £89, 100€, A158
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eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7604-2
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The term “nepotism” today refers to the practice of people with power or influence using their position to favor relatives or friends, particularly in regard to the giving of jobs. The term comes from an Italian word meaning “nephew.”

The documents in this collection trace the course of the Renaissance in Italy and northern Europe, describing the emergence of a vibrant and varied intellectual and artistic culture in various states, cities, and kingdoms.

Voices of the Renaissance: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life contains excerpts from 52 different documents relating to the period of European history known as the Renaissance. In the 14th century, the rise of humanism, a philosophy based on the study of the languages, literature, and material culture of ancient Greece and Rome, led to a sense of revitalization and renewal among the city-states of northern Italy. The political development and economic expansion of those cities provided the ideal conditions for humanist scholarship to flourish. This period of literary, artistic, architectural, and cultural flowering is today known as the Renaissance, a term taken from the French and meaning “rebirth.”

The Italian Renaissance reached its height in the 15th and early 16th centuries. In the 1490s, the ideals of the Italian Renaissance spread north of the Alps and gave rise to a series of national cultural rebirths in various states. In many places, this Northern Renaissance extended into the 17th century, when war and religious discord put an end to the Renaissance era.


  • Provides a broad selection of document excerpts that engage reader interest
  • Includes sidebars with interesting related topics that often connect to modern events or issues
  • Suggests possible projects, activities, or topics of study
  • Provides current bibliographies of related information resources
  • Includes a Chronology of the Renaissance to give an overall sense of history
  • Asks specific questions that focus the reader's attention on the section topics
John A. Wagner has taught British and U.S. history at Phoenix College and at Arizona State University. He holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh and an MA and PhD from Arizona State University. He is the author of The Devon Gentleman: A Life of Sir Peter Carew; the Historical Dictionary of the Elizabethan World, which was a History Book Club and Booklist Editor's Choice selection; the Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses; Bosworth Field to Bloody Mary: An Encyclopedia of the Early Tudors; and the Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War. He is also the editor of Voices of Shakespeare's England: Contemporary Accounts of Elizabethan Daily Life; Voices of Victorian England: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life; and Voices of the Reformation: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life. He is also coeditor, with Susan Walters Schmid, of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Tudor England.

Voices of an Era

The Voices of an Era series utilizes primary document excerpts, with introductory and follow-up material, to illuminate the character and social history of particular historical periods.

From sexual mores in ancient Egypt to resistance music in modern Latin America, from the fashion sense of the Mongols to the importance of film in modern India, the world comes alive in the award-winning Voices of an Era.

Each volume focuses on a specific historical era, offering a window into those times by bringing together a fascinating collection of primary documents, organized by cultural and social topics (art, food, religion, family life, recreation, etc.). Introductions, critical thinking questions, and other supporting material help teachers use these documents to bring true, effective inquiry-based learning to their classrooms.


Each of volume of Voices of an Era features 40-50 primary sources A chronology of the period cover in that volume Selected bibliography of print and nonprint sources (including Web sites, DVDs, CD ROMs, videos, films, etc.) suitable for student research A glossary of terms found in the introductory and followup material 15-30 sidebars per vol. Include "Did you Know"-type information, explanations of key concepts, etc. 40-50 Definition Fact Boxes per vol. Include definitions of unfamiliar terms from the text of the documents themselves.
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