WE shall begin the study of the Renaissance with the last quarter of the thirteenth century. Not that the Middle Ages ended at this time and that then the Renaissance, in all its aspects, began. One cannot say when the Middle Ages gave place to the Renaissance. Indeed, in some respects, the Middle Ages are not over yet. They still subsist, stealing in silent currents along the subterranean ways of the world. It is impossible to date the bounds of an era with any degree of accuracy. Eras are not initiated with single dramatic events. In the great development of civilization there is nothing sudden, but rather is the change like that which takes place in a forest -- birth, growth, and death go on almost unnoticed side by side. There are always many foreshadowings of any intellectual movement. So, one must not expect to find the Renaissance, or any other important era, inaugurated by a striking event or a violent revolution. Only very gradually did the new dispensation take form and shape. It was not announced to a startled world by the blast of a sudden trumpet...
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