Vol. 6 (2017): A Time of Their Own. Experiencing Time and Temporalityin the Early Modern World, 
Part One – Reading Temporalities in History

Temporalities and History in the Renaissance

Étienne Bourdon
Laboratorio editoriale OA / Dip. LILSI
Published March 10, 2017
How to Cite
Bourdon, Étienne. (2017). Temporalities and History in the Renaissance. Journal of Early Modern Studies, 6, 39-60. https://doi.org/10.13128/JEMS-2279-7149-20388


The article aims at showing the complexity and diversity of the perception of time during the Renaissance in numerous sources, mainly from France. More than a simple rediscovery of the Antiquity we should consider it a multiplicity of temporal conceptions. Since the question of time in the Renaissance is entirely embedded in the complex Christian order of the world, we need to consider this historical question through both theological and philosophical approaches. I contend that time is apprehended through various scales, from the one-time event to the eternity of the hereafter, with a combination of a cyclical and a linear conception, a divine periodicity and an earthly time of the rhythms of the world, an expectation of a brilliant future in an eschatological perception combined with a deep interest for the past in order to understand the present. The peculiarity of the Renaissance is essentially in the affirmation of the pre-eminence of the present. I will analyse these issues by studying the relationship between the time of God and the time of the world, then the question of the disenchantment of the world, and finally the question of a new regime of historicity, gradually built around a present emerging from the past.