In this brilliant and widely acclaimed work, Peter Burke presents a social and cultural history of the Italian Renaissance. He discusses the social and political institutions which existed in Italy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and analyses the ways of thinking and seeing which characterized this period of extraordinary artistic creativity. Developing a distinctive sociological approach, Peter Burke is concerned with not only the finished works of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and others, but also with the social background, patterns of recruitment and means of subsistence of this 'cultural elite'. New to this edition is a fully revised introduction focusing on what Burke terms 'the domestic turn' in Renaissance studies and discussing the relation of the Renaissance to global trends. He thus makes a major contribution to our understanding of the Italian Renaissance, and to our comprehension of the complex relations between culture and society. This thoroughly revised and updated third edition is richly illustrated throughout. It will have a wide appeal among historians, sociologists and anyone interested in one of the most creative periods of European history.