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Peter Clark Lecturer in Economic History at the University of Leicester of discusses the factors determining the cultural role of great cities. The programme complements Unit 2 on the European Cont...ext. It compares Venice and Amsterdam because they were the leading cities of the 16th and 17th centuries and the cultural cross-fertilisation common to all urban communities was there writ large. Venice's trading position as middle--man between Europe and the East formed the basis of her 16th century Empire. This Empire brough Venetians into contact with Byzantine art as well as the rediscovery of classical art in Mainland Italy. Both influences can be seen in the design and decoration of the Venetial townscape. Colonies of foreign merchants also made their own distinctive contributions. The great cultural flowering of the late 15th and early 16th centuries was made possible by the patronage of the state and the ruling elite, both as individuals and through religious bodies. By the late 16th century the balance of European trade had shifted to countries with an Atlantic seaboard and Amsterdam inherited Venice's prosperity and international power. The style of her ruling elite was much more restrained and wealth was more widely spread amongst a middle class but public and private patronage made Amsterdam attractive to artists and men of letters in succession to Venice. Amsterdam's cultural image tended to be domestic and individualist. Religious toleration encouraged the city's emergence as a radical centre of learning. By the 17th century, London was emerging as the dominant city in Europe and similar political economic and social factors were determining her cultural role.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A322, English urban history 1500-1780
Item code: A322; 02
First transmission date: 15-03-1977
Published: 1977
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:34
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Producer: Patricia Hodgson
Contributor: Peter Clark
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Amsterdam; Architecture; Venice
Footage description: The programme opens with film of modern Venice over which Peter Clark reads contemporary opinions of early 16th century Venice. Clark explains that the programme will examine the cultural influence and power of early modern Venice and Amsterdam. The first half of the programme looks at Venice. An animated map demonstrates the importance of Venice's location, as a trading post between East and West. In voice over Clark describes the kind of trade handled by Venice. Over film of buildings in Venice, Clark describes the city's chief architectural features, stressing their cosmopolitan styles. Over a map of the city he shows where the main immigrant nationalities lived. The fresco of St. George and the dragon by Carpaccio is shown. The architecture of the various nationalities is shown. Over paintings depicting the splendour of the Venetian ruling elite, Clark describes the city's oligarchical government. Over film showing the rich interior and exterior of the Doge's palace, Clark describes the power of the Doge, including his control of the Church. Shots of St. Mark's, accompanied by music by Monteverdi. Over a painting of a religious procession Clark describes how the ruling elite governed other social classes. Houses of other, lower classes are shown, and the role of the Scuoli explained. Aspects of the Venetian Renaissance are considered. Over an aerial view of the city, Venice's decline is linked to the growth of Atlantic trade. Amsterdam is given as an example of the new economic order. Over shots of the city, Clark reads contemporary descriptions of her wealth. Amsterdam's trade is described over an animated map of Europe. Atlantic trade and the activities of the Dutch East India Company are mentioned. Examples of industrial and financial development at the turn of the century are described. The position of foreigners in Amsterdam is compared with that of Venice. Their activity is illustrated in buildings and paintings. Rembrandt's portrait of Mennaseh Ben Israel is shown. Spinoza is briefly mentioned. Over paintings of Amsterdam dignitaries, the city's oligarchy is described. Their scheme for extending the city is explained, and the results shown. The cultural influence of the Calvinist ruling class is examined, and the Town Hall considered in detail. The programme concludes with a look at the cultural differences between Venice and Amsterdam, over shots of 17th century Dutch paintings. Similarities between the two are also listed. The very end of the programme looks forward to the eclipse of Amsterdam by London.
Master spool number: 6HT/72217
Production number: 00525_3225
Videofinder number: 3322
Available to public: no