chapter  5
34 Pages

– The Renaissance: Italy sets a Pattern

The Renaissance period in urban history is taken as extending from its commencement in Italy, at the beginning of the fifteenth century, un til the end of the eighteenth century. 'Indeed,' as Sir Patrick Abercrombie observes, 'it might be placed a little later at each end, for Bacon's dictum that men come to build stately, sooner than to garden finely, holds good also of site planning, which does not make its appearance until the Renaissance is well advanced ... and continues to lap over in to the nineteenth century." I t is im portan t to bear in mind that Renaissance urbanism spread slowly from I taly to other European countries, taking some seventy-five years to reach France and a further eighty-five years to become established in England. Renaissance archi tecture - the essen tial precursor of urbanism - takes over from the Gothic as the momentum of that style wanes. Never strongly established in Italy, Gothic architecture was at its fifteenth-century peak in England at a time when the Renaissance was fully under way in both Florence and Rome. In turn the Renaissance flowered and died. In its final decadent phase it was to be overwhelmed, initially in Britain, by the irresistible, uncontrollable onslaught of the Industrial Revolution's urban expansion.