Salutati became a major collector of ancient texts and was said to have collected up to 800 books in his personal library. From this passion of historical texts, he became correspondents with Petrarch, who is known as the Father of Humanism. Salutati became a major patron of humanism by assisting younger Humanists such as Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini, Leonardo Bruni, Niccolo Niccoli, and Pier Paolo Vergerio. He brought them to Florence and assisted them in their studies and finances.
Salutati also brought Manual Chysoloras to Florence in 1397 to teach one of the first courses in Greek since the fall of the Roman Empire. By bringing Chysoloras to Florence, a group of scholars were able to read Aristotle and Plato in the original ancient Greek text for the first time. Salutati, with his high political position and wealth, was able to make a huge impact on the intellectual learning in Italy and the shift to humanism.
What exactly is humanism and why was it so important in the late 14th Century? Humanism, in the most basic definition, is the belief that individuals are in charge of their own happiness and destiny. It is the belief that people are naturally rational beings who are capable of truth and goodness without the necessity of theology or ideology. At the end of the 14th Century, humanism spread quickly because of the widespread social unrest.
Petrarch, the Father of Humanism, was the first to define Late Latin literature as a product of the “Dark Ages” as opposed to the “Light Ages” of classical antiquity. The term Dark Ages spread and became the popular term for the Middle Ages. The reason this term became popularized in the late 14th Century is because of the rise of the middle class, the decline of feudalism, widespread disrespect towards the affluent Catholic Church, and the devastation of the Black Plague.
By the late 14th Century, people were ready for a change. Humanism was becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. It promoted the sense of individual…