Humanism had spread across Europe, and while it split in Italy, so the stable countries north of Italy fostered a return of the movement which began to have the same massive effect. Henry VIII encouraged Englishmen trained in Humanism to replace foreigners in his staff; in France Humanism was seen as the best way to study scripture, and one John Calvin agreed with this, starting a humanist school in Geneva. In Spain, Humanists clashed with the Church and Inquisition and merged with surviving scholasticism as a way to survive. Erasmus, the sixteenth century’s leading Humanist, emerged in the German-speaking lands.
The influence of the revival of interest in Greek and Roman history is undeniable, and contributed greatly to the spirit of the times. Petrarch's writings demonstrate that while the intellectual focus of the time was evolving and changing to reflect this influence, the primary aspect of medieval life, the Church, remained powerful, and religion continued to exert an extraordinary power over the thoughts and actions of individuals. Petrarch and many other Renaissance intellectuals thus often described feelings of being torn between two sides of their personalities. Petrarch, like many Renaissance intellectuals, was comfortable in the seclusion of pious monastery life, but he also loved to travel. He believed in the Christian ideal of self-denial, but also enjoyed the pleasures of the world. He advocated study and learning, but feared that the accumulation of worldly knowledge might prevent him from achieving salvation. This was a common dilemma for Renaissance thinkers, as the principles of humanism rose up to rival the doctrines of the Church.
Salutati's program for a series of Famous Men in the Palazzo Vecchio and Bruni's for Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise were probably characteristic of the attitude of early 15th-century humanists to living artists, they were primarily concerned with the contents of artistic creation. (Hays 36). Some of these creations that were of 'primary concern' were those of the knowledgeable philosophers Plato and Plotinus (Thompson 39). Once these great thinkers' works were translated, they became common place with the educational system of the time.