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This volume is the First Part of a work upon the 'Renaissance in Italy.' The Second Part treats of the Revival of Learning. The Third, of the Fine Arts. The Fourth Part, in two volumes, is devoted to Italian Literature.
Owing to the extent of the ground I have attempted to traverse, I feel conscious that the students of special departments will find much to be desired in my handling of each part. In some respects I hope that the several portions of the work may complete and illustrate each other. Many topics, for example, have been omitted from Chapter VIII. in this volume because they seemed better adapted to treatment in the future.
One of the chief difficulties which the critic has to meet in dealing with the Italian Renaissance is the determination of the limits of the epoch. Two dates, 1453 and 1527, marking respectively the fall of Constantinople and the sack of Rome, are convenient for fixing in the mind that narrow space of time during which the Renaissance culminated. But in order to trace its progress up to this point, it is necessary to go back to a far more remote period; nor, again, is it possible to maintain strict chronological consistency in treating of the several branches of the whole theme.