Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance

Lisa Jardine, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996)

Summary from the Publisher:

In this provocative and wholly absorbing work, Lisa Jardine offers a radical interpretation of the Renaissance, arguing that the creation of culture during that time was inextricably tied to the creation of wealth — that the expansion of commerce spurred the expansion of thought. As Jardine boldly states, “The seeds of our own exuberant multiculturalism and bravura consumerism were planted in the European Renaissance.” While Europe’s royalty and merchants competed with each other to acquire works of art, vicious commercial battles were being fought over who should control the centers for trade around the globe. Jardine encompasses Renaissance culture from its western borders in Christendom to its eastern reaches in the Islamic Ottoman Empire, bringing this opulent epoch to life in all its material splendor and competitive acquisitiveness.

Table of Contents:

Conditions for Change: Goods in Profusion
The Price of Magnificence
The Triumph of the Book
Learning to Be Civilized
New Expertise for Sale
A Culture of Commodities
Mapping the Heavens
Conspicuous Consumption

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W. W. Norton (excerpt)