THE MODERN WORLD: Age of Renaissance – 1300s & 1400s

Who was William WallaceWilliam Wallace (1272-1305) was Scotland’s legendary deliverer from English tyranny.  His exploits were chronicled by the English novelist Jane Porter in The Scottish Chiefs, (1809). He rose out of the peasantry of the village of Lanark, nestled in the hills between Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

Who was DanteDante Alighieri (1265-1321) was born in Florence, Italy. Although later exiled by Florence, he grew up to serve in the Councils of Florence.  He also wrote several books on political theory, best known of which is The Divine Comedy (1321). In it and an earlier work he eulogized his infatuation with Beatrice, a woman he met briefly in the streets of Florence.

Who was Marsiglio? (1274-1343) Marsiglio was a Franciscan political philosopher and doctor. With Defensor Pacis, he sketched the outline for the modern secular state.  He also proposed  the radical view of separation of church and state that vexes politics to this day.

Who was MachiavelliNiccollo Machiavelli (1469 –1527) was a diplomat in Florence, the city of his birth, for nearly 20 years. He wrote The Prince (1513) during a nine-year exile (1512-21). Machiavelli was justly critical of the Roman church.  He charged that the closer people are to the head of the church, the farther they are from true religion. However, in putting down the church Machiavelli elevated the state.