When does the Renaissance begin and end? Which is the difference between the ‘Renaissance’ and the ‘Early Modern period’? What do we mean by the notions of ‘Humanism’ and ‘Classicism’? This module primarily aims to enable students to develop an informed understanding of these concepts, their meanings and (different) periodizations. It then introduces the fundamental topic of the relationship between politics and morals, which was at the core of Renaissance thought. Students will engage with this topic through the study of two masterpieces of Italian Renaissance literature: that is, Niccolò Machiavelli’s Il Principe (The Prince, 1513), considered as the first political text in the history of European culture, and Baldassar Castiglione’s Il Libro del Cortegiano (The Book of the Courtier, 1528), which embodies the very essence of courtly life in the Renaissance. Through the investigation of the significant proposed case studies, students will be introduced to some core themes, such as: courtly life and political thought; the structures of and differences between Italian courts; the role of women in Renaissance societies; the debate about the vernacular and the difference between written and spoken language; education in Early Modern Italy.