The gradual secularization of European society and culture is often said to characterize the development of the modern world, and the early Italian humanists played a pioneering role in this process. Here Benjamin G. Kohl and Ronald G. Witt, with Elizabeth B. Welles, have edited and translated seven primary texts that shed important light on the subject of "civic humanism" in the Renaissance.
Included is a treatise of Francesco Petrarca on government, two representative letters from Coluccio Salutati, Leonardo Bruni's panegyric to Florence, Francesco Barbaro's letter on "wifely" duty, Poggio Bracciolini's dialogue on avarice, and Angelo Poliziano's vivid history of the Pazzi conspiracy. Each translation is prefaced by an essay on the author and a short bibliography. The substantial introductory essay offers a concise, balanced summary of the historiographcal issues connected with the period.