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Chapter 6: The Renaissance and the Reformation
Chapter Outline
ıChapter 6's outline is in part a reproduction and in part a modification and expansion of original lecture notes by Dr. Steve Estes, California State University, Fullerton.
Mechikoff, R., & Estes, S. (1998). A history and philosophy of sport and physical education: From the ancient Greeks to the present (2nd ed.). Madison, WI: Brown & Benchmark.
I. Both the Renaissance and Reformation had a significant impact upon the Catholic church and this impact was quite significant relative to how the body was viewed from a western civilization point of view.
A. The Renaissance reintroduced Greek and Roman thoughts within the intellectual elite: As a result the church had to compete with the philosophies, literature and paganism of ancient Greece and Rome.
B. The Reformation, in contrast with the Renaissance, was an effort to reform the church.
  • The church had become more of a political institution as opposed to a religious institution
  • Popes sought personal gain - not spiritual perfection
C. The Renaissance was an intellectual reawakening.
  • Idealism of the Classic
  • Concept of the Universal man
D. The Reformation was a religious reawakening.
E. Both the Renaissance and Reformation were very threatening to the church - The Church told you "What to think" not "How to think". Renaissance and Reformation would change this.
F. Henry VIII
  • formed the Anglican church after renouncing Catholicism
  • furthered the political interest of England
  • married several times
  • 1511 England fought Continental War
G. Beginning of Protestant religion
  • Protestants different from Catholics
  • Reformation resulted in "protest" against the Catholic church which became Protestant movement
  • Creation of Protestant religious beliefs which did not recognize the supreme authority of the Pope
II. During the Renaissance and Reformation, different theories and beliefs about the body were developed.
A. As a result of these different theories/beliefs about the body, different attitudes about Sport and Physical Education developed.

B. Plato and Aristotle were two philosophers that had a profound impact during the Renaissance.

C. The humanists adopted much of the philosophical beliefs of Plato and Aristotle.
  • Humanists - believed in a philosophy that placed its focus on secular concerns - on humans; as opposed to the other worldly or heavenly concerns of earlier philosophies
  • Remember - the ancient Greeks believed that the body played an important role in human existence - this greatly appealed to the Renaissance way of thinking
  • Development of the Renaissance Man - "One who uses the mind and body - the well rounded individual."
D. The Reformation
  • religious reformers, argued that the body "housed" the soul
  • the body could not be denigrated because it was the Temple of God - housed the soul
III. Implicitly the body was looked upon by scholars and leaders of both the Renaissance and Reformation to be more important than in the Middle Ages.
IV. Cultural Changes - The Renaissance
A. Rebirth/revival of the classics - Europeans described the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans as " The Classics"
B. The Renaissance was characterized by secular-humanistic influence on thought and culture, Development of Nations, Economic development based upon trade and commerce.
C. Contrast with middle "Dark" Ages; Characterized by Feudalism, Agricultural economy
What happened in 1409?

Three Popes were elected simultaneously - church had Schisms (competing political rivalries).
The Cause of the Reformation?
Rebellion/protest against the political, religious and intellectually suppression by the Catholic church.
D. The Renaissance undermines the authority of the Church.
What happened if you ignored the authority of the Church?
What could the church do?


Webster's 1913 Dictionary (Source:

Definition: \Ex`com*mu`ni*ca"tion\, n. [L. excommunicatio: cf. F. excommunication.]

The act of communicating or ejecting; esp., an ecclesiastical censure whereby the person against whom it is pronounced is, for the time, cast out of the communication of the church; exclusion from fellowship in things spiritual.

Note: excommunication is of two kinds, the lesser and the greater; the lesser excommunication is a separation or suspension from partaking of the Eucharist; the greater is an absolute execution of the offender from the church and all its rights and advantages, even from social intercourse with the faithful.

  • The classical philosophies emphasized life in this world - "Secular Concerns" equals material and corporeal concerns
V. Reformation
A. Protest Against Catholicism
B. Henry VIII broke with Rome in 1530 - Why?
  • Catherine of Aragon - Spanish Army in Vatican - as long as Spanish General (nephew of Catherine) surrounded Vatican, Pope would not grant Henry VIII the annulment.
  • England fought wars with the church without reward
  • Taxes - one-third of all the land in England belonged to the Catholic Church. The church collected and kept these taxes which angered King Henry VIII. When Henry VIII broke with Rome, he increased his tax revenue by one-third!
C. Return to true meaning of Christianity, not Catholicism equals Church of England/Anglican Church as well as the Lutherans and Calvinists believed they were "closer" to the true meaning of the Bible than the Catholics were.
D. English civil war
VI. The New Group of Renaissance Philosophers were called Humanists - The Universal Man - The Renaissance Man, well versed in the arts, sciences, languages, well traveled, well mannered, skilled in sports
A. Three main beliefs of humanism
  • Admired ancient Greeks, classics
  • emphasized joy of living - enjoy corporeal lives believed in "original goodness", not original sin.
  • one's corporeal life was worth contemplating
B. Philosophical and Educational Goals of the Renaissance and Reformation
  • Emphasize intellectual reawakening
  • Resurrecting the philosophies of antiquity
  • Philosophically and theologically undermining the authority of the Catholic church
  • Emphasis on Classical philosophies
    a. glorified the human body
  • Humanist orientation
    a. secular interests
    b. rejected the idea of original sin
    c. soul and body are one
  • Universal Man
    a. cultivated interest in the arts, science and language
    b. valued Physical Education
  • Ancient Greeks and Roman views were studies and debated
  • Corporeal Life was a "good thing," as was the spiritual.
    difference between humanism and Scholasticism
  • Piccolomini, Pietro Pomponazzi, and Baldassare Castiglione
    a. how a universal man lives and thinks
    b. influential intellectuals of the Renaissance
VII. Physical Education
As a consequence of Renaissance beliefs, Renaissance philosophy supported the justification of Physical Education and Sport in western civilization.
A. Leading educators during the Renaissance incorporated Physical Education into their educational curriculums.
B. Philosophers/Educators of the Renaissance and the Reformation
Petrus Paulus Vergerius (1370-1444)
  • Educate the son's of the wealthy
  • influenced by Plato - liked the Spartan model
  • purpose of Physical Education was to prepare for war
  • Physical Education was part of the total education process
Vittorino da Feltre (1378-1446)
  • most famous of the Italian Humanists
  • developed "La Giocosa" school for children of Marquis Gonzaga
  • blended Christianity with the classics and Greek concepts of Physical Education
  • believed in and mind/body education as well as a Christian, not Catholic, Education.
  • may have emulated the teachings of Plutarch - "Education for Boys"
  • develop health of his students
  • Mandatory participation in physical activity - 2 hours daily
  • Devout Christian and a humanist.
  • Influenced by Plato's ideas.
Aeneas Silvio Piccolomini
  • DeLiberorun Educationi
  • Education for the wealthy children
Pietro Pomponazzi
  • Wrote De Immortalitati Animae
  • Mind dependent on the body
Baldassare Castiglione
Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1517)
Martin Luther
  • Indulgences
  • Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences
  • Education vs. Physicality
  • Believed that music, games, and dancing were acceptable pastimes because they were not, in themselves, evil.
  • Individuals have an obligation to take care of their body for spiritual and health reasons.
John Calvin
  • The Principles of the Christian Religion
  • Rejection of the humanist ideas
  • Divine election
  • Physical Education
  • Consequences of predestination
  • Concept of Time

  • 1. had a negative impact on the development of sport and physical education well into the 20th century.
Sir Thomas Elyot
Roger Ascham
  • The Schoolmaster
  • Toxophilus first "how-to" books in sport

Daniel Frankl, Ph.D., Professor
School of Kinesiology and Nutritional Science
California State University, Los Angeles

5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8162
Phone: (323) 343-4662
Fax: (323) 343-6482