5. An historian cannot but raise an objection to d’Alembert’s gross and inaccurate explanation for the origin of the Renaissance, as well as his violent treatment of the Middle Ages. The fall of Constantinople came well after the first masterpieces of the Renaissance had appeared. Voltaire gave precisely the same description of the beginning of the Renaissance in his Siècle de Louis XIV (1751), in Oeuvres, XIV, 155–56, and in his Essai sur les moeurs, in Oeuvres, XI, 162. D’Alembert sensibly qualified the “fall of Constantinople” theory of the Renaissance in his article “Erudition,” Encyclopédie, V, 915.


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