A short biography helps us to understand the significance of a historical figure, but if you really want to know them, you must read what they wrote. The best encounter would be to read the original text in the language it was composed in, but for most of us, this is simply not practical.
Most important texts of the Renaissance and Reformation period are in Latin, Italian, German, & French—but happily for most purposes, there are good English translations. Perhaps a few students who read these passages in English will be intrigued enough to seek to understand them in their original language as well.
This anthology includes primary source material from 19 key figures of both the Renaissance and Reformation.
The Renaissance selections include Petrarch, Valla, Lorenzo de' Medici, Savonarola, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Erasmus.
The Reformation readings include Wyclif, Hus, Luther, Zwingli, Sattler, Tyndale, Cromwell, More, Calvin, and Knox.
The Luther selections include the 95 theses, as well as all three of the famous 1520 essays (Address to the Christian Nobility, On the Babylonian Captivity, and The Freedom of a Christian).
For Luther, Calvin, and Knox, this includes their own accounts of their conversion experiences.