From Jacob Burckhardt’s great The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860):
In the Middle Ages, “Man was conscious of himself only as a member of a race, people, party, family, or corporation — only through some general category. In Italy this veil first melted into air; an objective treatment and consideration of the state and of all the things of this world became possible. The subjective side at the same time asserted itself with corresponding emphasis; man became a spirited individual, and recognized himself as such.”
Source: Part 2, “The Development of the Individual,” p. 70.