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==The First Humanist==
Humanism was a cultural movement that valued human qualities, such as reason and argued that this world had worth and
value, which was contrary to Christian teachings and taught that human agency could improve society and give dignity and meaning to the individual life<ref> Nauert, Charles G. Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe: Second Edition. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006), p 115</ref>. Petrarch is often regarded as the Father of Humanism. This is because he helped to popularize the study of the classical world and literature. He personally rediscovered many manuscripts in monasteries and had Greek works translated to Latin, so that they could be more readily read and studied. Petrarch believed that the study of the classics could enhance a person, intellectually and morally and this became axiomatic among humanists. The Italian in his works encouraged his readers to take an interest in nature and helped to formulate a new aesthetic, which did not regard the world as a ‘vale of tears’ but as something that was beautiful and could help a person to develop spiritually <ref>Naubert, p. 18</ref>. His famous ‘Letter on the ‘Ascent of Mont Ventoux’ is regarded as a landmark, which argued that a delight in nature could be morally and spiritually uplifting<ref> Petrarch Epistolae familiares (IV, 1) </ref>. This is held by many to have initiated a move to the re-discovery of the world after the Middle Ages and its focus on the life to come, which was a characteristic of the humanists. This ultimately led to the rational examination of the world and this had dramatic consequences in the fields as diverse as science, politics and philosophy. Moreover, the poet in his writings was very much interested in the interior life of a person and suggested that everyone had a rich inner life, a key tenet of humanism. He held that the individual was important, and this was radical for the time <ref>. Bishop, Morris Petrarch and His World. (Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana University Press 1963), p 118</ref> However, Petrarch was conflicted, he was a very religious man and yet he admired the pagan classical world. He was ultimately able to resolve this by arguing that the classical and pagan world could help a person to become more moral and to achieve salvation. This did much to ensure that humanism and its love of the classical past was acceptable in an Italy and Europe that was still staunchly Christian <ref>Bishop. p. 201</ref>.
[[File: Petrarch Two.jpg|200px|thumb|left| Mont Ventoux’ which inspired Petrarch to write one of the most important documents of the Renaissance]]
==Inventing the Renaissance==
In some ways, the poet was not only one of the most important figures in the Renaissance, in a sense he invented it. The Renaissance is widely seen as a period of ‘re-birth’ when Europe rediscovered classical values and in the process used the ancient past, for models which ultimately led to the development of more modern ways of thought <ref>Bishop, p. 213</ref>. Petrarch was the first to recognize that the study of the past by the humanists was a new period in history and one that would revive the glory of Rome and Greece. He portrayed it as distinct from previous centuries which he described as ignorant and a ‘Dark Age’ . This was not strictly true because learning in Europe had been growing since the 12th century. Indeed, many have argued that the Renaissance in Italy and elsewhere were a direct result of trends in the Middle Ages. Petrarch’s conception of the Renaissance as something distinct from the Medieval world has been profoundly influential and it remains so to this day<ref> Burckhardt, Jacob. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy.