Renaissance History Portfolio Bibliography – Recommended Sources

Renaissance History Bibliography:

Book Recommendations for each chapter or unit. 

NOTE: Following are “suggested” living books and non-fiction sources to accompany your study.  Working through a Portfolio will require that you access stories of the people and events indicated in the Portfolio’s Table of Contents and the Teacher’s Guide. But, exactly which books you find, or choose to use, is up to you. No one single book is indispensable. If a book recommended here becomes out of print and outrageously costly, just pick something else.  

Overview Books:

Having either the Kingfisher or Usborne World History Encyclopedia will be a convenience factor for you. Many times, when researching topics indicated in the Portfolio, your students will only need a short text entry with an image to glean the bit of information required. These books are as the title states, history encyclopedias. I highly recommend having one on your home library shelf.  

Access lots of stories within a single volume! The History Portfolios cover history topically, so all people and events closely associated with an era, or movement, are covered in a single chapter. The Story of the World series takes a chronological approach. The two approaches are perfectly compatible. I recommend using SOTW just as you would every other book listed below. When you need to read about a certain person or event, refer to the book’s index or table of contents, and locate the necessary stories. 

NOTE: Several topics covered in the Renaissance Portfolio can be found within SOTW vol. 2, so if you want to use SOTW, you’ll need volumes 2 and 3 when working through the Renaissance Portfolio.

Access tons of stories, and read about history from a Christian world view. There are so many stories in each volume of Mystery of History! Volume III, for example, has stories about 84 distinct topics. Of the 84, 53 stories cover topics specifically indicated in the Renaissance Portfolio! If you want to cover history from a Christian world view, and access a narrative history told in a conversational style, this book will be well worth your money and a great convenience.

I have been very impressed by the Houghton Mifflin text books in this series. They are: A Message of Ancient Days, Across the Centuries, and A More Perfect Union. Each volume is full of primary source quotes, maps, charts, and quality images, and even selections from classic literature from which to read. The books are respectful of all cultures and religions and fit well with a classical approach. Units have chapters which are clearly defined with “lessons” divided into clear topics and sub topics that provide perfect note-taking opportunities. Easily pick up a very good quality used book on Amazon.

Well, you are reading about the Renaissance Portfolio, so best assume you’ll need to read about and study plenty of art! The History Portfolios in general incorporate the study of artists, musicians, architects, and engineers in addition to the obvious topics of people, events, geography etc. The suggested resource, History of Art for Young People by Janson and Janson, is the young people’s version of the classic college art history text. It’s a very useful book to include on your home library shelf. Be aware that when studying the Greeks,the Romans, and Renaissance art, that there will be images of classical nudity. I use paper clips to clip pages of books together that I don’t want to be accidentally viewed by my young historians.

The Italian Renaissance:

The chapter or unit titled The Italian Renaissance covers the whole range of artistic, philosophical, and economic endeavors taking place from the Early through the High Renaissance in Italy. Topics include: the Italian city states; influential merchant and banking families; humanism; daily life in Italy, famous authors, scientists, and composers; plus painters, sculptors, and architects, and their interests and innovations. 

Read more about the Renaissance History Portfolio here, or about the Unit Study Portfolios here

The Renaissance in the North:

The chapter or unit titled The Renaissance in the North covers the whole range of scholarly and artistic endeavors taking place from the 15th thru 17th centuries in the Netherlands, Belgium, northern Germany, France, and England. Topics include: a cultural map of Western Europe from 1400 – 1700; famous scholars; revolutionary scientists and inventors; famous composers (1700’s); Shakespeare, plus artists and their interests and innovations.  

Read more about the Renaissance History Portfolio here, or about the Unit Study Portfolios here

The Reformation:

The chapter or unit titled The Reformation directs the spotlight onto the challenges, reforms, and flowering of the Christian Church in Western Europe from 1200 to 1700. This chapter or unit covers a broad landscape of religious change. Topics include: the Catholic Church c. 1300; Martin Luther and later reformers; a family tree of Protestant Denominations; the formation of the Church of England; translations of the Bible; the Counter Reformation; and Pilgrim’s Progress. 

Read more about the Renaissance History Portfolio here, or about the Unit Study Portfolios here

European Political History:

The chapter or unit titled European Political History covers important topics within Western AND Eastern Europe from the late 1400’s to the mid 1700’s. A brief outline includes: Spanish politics and culture during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella; France, Louis XIV and the Absolute Monarchy; Central and Eastern Europe and the Thirty Years’ War;  Russia and the Romanov Dynasty; and England, Scotland, and Ireland and the House of Tudor. 

Read more about the Renaissance History Portfolio here, or about the Unit Study Portfolios here

Exploration and Trade:

The chapter or unit titled Exploration and Trade covers: The Silk Road and Trans-Saharan routes for salt and gold; early Portuguese explorers; the Spanish in South and Central America and the Aztecs and Incas; the Spanish in North America and Native Americans of the Southwest; the French,English, and Dutch in North America and Native Americans of the Northeast; and Transatlantic trade routes, the slave trade, and West African culture. 

Read more about the Renaissance History Portfolio here, or about the Unit Study Portfolios here