Were Southern Italians important to the Renaissance?

Jun 2016
31
A Shell of Steel
#1
I have recently become curious about how important Southern Italy but particularly individuals from Southern Italy were to the Renaissance. Did any acheivements originate in one of the southern regions? Were any works or ideas of Southern Italians instrumental to developments elsewhere? I am aware that there were certain artists, architects, and so on, from Southern Italy, but what I am wondering is whether any of them were somehow either originators or played key roles in developments that perhaps took place elsewhere, rather than just successfully applying techniques that were developed by others. Also, while I am aware that it is not Southern Italy, I would also be interested in the same question as regards to the region of Lazio.

Please be aware that I am interested in individuals who were contemporary to the Renaissance or at least lived during the late Medieval period, rather than Romans who happened to come from Southern Italy and were also important to the Renaissance.

Does anyone have information on this subject? It is just for personal interest and my question is in no way intended to be polemical. I merely wish to correct, if possible, a gap in my own knowledge.
 
Last edited:
Jun 2016
31
A Shell of Steel
#3
While Rome is generally not considered part of Southern Italy, I am interested in the role which Rome and individuals born in Rome and Lazio had in cultural and philosophical developments of the Renaissance. One individual from Rome who I am somewhat familiar with is Lorenzo Valla.

Naples (Napoli) is defintely part of Southern Italy.

One generally gets information about Florentines and other Northern Italians when learning about the Renaissance.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
4,851
#4
First vernacular Italian poetry was written in the Sicilian dialect at the court of Emperor Fredrick II in the first half of the 13th c., in Palermo and elsewhere. This poetry was an inspiration for Dante when getting up to making Florentine Italian a vehicle of poetry.

Some of the earliest Medieval Italian sculpture reviving the style of ancient Roman statues are also from the Kingdom of Sicily under Fredrick.
From the Bari city gate:
1549968957348.png

The turning the Angevin French acting as the hatchet-men for the Papacy, exterminate the entire line of Hohenstaufens in Italy, and the subsequent shake-up that left the King of Aragon lord of Sicily and southern Italy, wasn't very good for the development of the region just generally. Up until then the south was the richer and more developed part of Italy, and the fragmented north Italian city states was a bit of a mess of poorer relations the southerners. Afterwards and ongoing southern Italy had been relatively disadvantaged for centuries.

As for individuals, we know Dante was keenly aware of cast of characters around Fredrick and the Sicilian court in the generations just before his own. A lot of them are in the "Divine Comede" being punished or making penance for something or another. Most importantly probably Fredrick's "logothete", his "voice", the lawyer and chancellor Pietro della Vigna, who was a poet, rhaetor and legislator all rolled into one. Dante has him doing penance for the sin of suicide. Since he was jailed accused of treason in 1249, and then killed himself in jail, one can deduce that Dante at least thought him innocent of treason.
 
Last edited:
Jun 2016
31
A Shell of Steel
#5
First vernacular Italian poetry was written in the Sicilian dialect at the court of Emperor Fredrick II in the first half of the 13th c., in Palermo and elsewhere. This poetry was an inspiration for Dante when getting up to making Florentine Italian a vehicle of poetry.

Some of the earliest Medieval Italian sculpture reviving the style of ancient Roman statues are also from the Kingdom of Sicily under Fredrick.
From the Bari city gate:
View attachment 15546
That is really fascinating, thank you so much for the information. I will certainly be researching this more along with the region in general.

I was already looking up more information about the sculptures from Sicily you mentioned and I stumbled upon the artist Antonello da Messina, of course from Sicily, who, according to the wikipedia page, Vasari credited with the introduction of oil painting into Italy. It also says that his paintings were influential on Northern artists.

So again, thank you for the information, it was just what I was looking for!
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
4,935
Canary Islands-Spain
#7
The early Renaissance had Naples as one of its main centres, starting with Robert of Anjou through the early 15th century. However, the root of this cultural promotion goes back to Frederick II, as commented before
 
Jun 2016
31
A Shell of Steel
#8
Thank you Condottiero and Frank81. I will definitely be giving more focus to Naples, as well as Sicily, as I put more focus into the era.

Are either of you familiar with any particular individuals native to those regions who had lasting contributions to culture, ideas and so on (other than Frederick II and Robert of Anjou)?
 
Apr 2018
226
Italy
#9
Thank you Condottiero and Frank81. I will definitely be giving more focus to Naples, as well as Sicily, as I put more focus into the era.

Are either of you familiar with any particular individuals native to those regions who had lasting contributions to culture, ideas and so on (other than Frederick II and Robert of Anjou)?
Antonello da Messina, Colantonio, Panormita
 
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AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,689
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#10
First vernacular Italian poetry was written in the Sicilian dialect at the court of Emperor Fredrick II in the first half of the 13th c., in Palermo and elsewhere. This poetry was an inspiration for Dante when getting up to making Florentine Italian a vehicle of poetry.

Some of the earliest Medieval Italian sculpture reviving the style of ancient Roman statues are also from the Kingdom of Sicily under Fredrick.
From the Bari city gate:
View attachment 15546

The turning the Angevin French acting as the hatchet-men for the Papacy, exterminate the entire line of Hohenstaufens in Italy, and the subsequent shake-up that left the King of Aragon lord of Sicily and southern Italy, wasn't very good for the development of the region just generally. Up until then the south was the richer and more developed part of Italy, and the fragmented north Italian city states was a bit of a mess of poorer relations the southerners. Afterwards and ongoing southern Italy had been relatively disadvantaged for centuries.

As for individuals, we know Dante was keenly aware of cast of characters around Fredrick and the Sicilian court in the generations just before his own. A lot of them are in the "Divine Comede" being punished or making penance for something or another. Most importantly probably Fredrick's "logothete", his "voice", the lawyer and chancellor Pietro della Vigna, who was a poet, rhaetor and legislator all rolled into one. Dante has him doing penance for the sin of suicide. Since he was jailed accused of treason in 1249, and then killed himself in jail, one can deduce that Dante at least thought him innocent of treason.
The main process which happened in that period of Middle Ages was the developement of two schools, one at Florence and one at Palermo. They adopted the "Amor Cortese" coming from French Lands [from Provence]. The two schools were absolutely comparable and among the great artists who lived in Sicily we can mention, with Pier della Vigna [or Pietro], Guido delle Colonne and Giacomo da Lentini.

Anyway about Sicily, we need to underline that the "Sicilian Renaissance" was the process of diffusion of the Reinessance coming from the main centers on the peninsula. This was in common with Naples. So it's not totally wrong to say that Southern Italy imported the Renaissance movement, but once imported, at Naples and Palermo they gave a well valuable contribution to its development. I would remember an artist in particular, Colantonio [from Naples]. Then, the connection with Spain and Florence made Naples the capital of Renaissance in Southern Italy [Renaissance architecture is still visible in the city which deserves a visit].
 
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