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Religious Toleration in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age

An Anthology of Literary, Theological, and Philosophical Texts

Albrecht Classen

More than ever before do we need the critical engagement with religious tolerance. Historical perspectives allow us to gain access to the discourse on this universal, often very contested topic. Already the Middle Ages and the early modern age witnessed the emergence of significant voices addressing toleration, if not even tolerance. This anthology opens many new perspectives toward this centrally important topic, adding a cultural-historical, religious, literary, and philosophical dimension mostly unknown today.

„Albrecht Classen reminds us in this volume that, "we all know just too well that the survival of the human species and its future development depends existentially on its ability and willingness to subscribe to the fundamental ideals of at least toleration, if not tolerance." As with others of Classen's works on the full range of medieval and early modern culture, this book could not be more timely or more urgently needed, especially for its positive approach to a highly volatile topic."

Fidel Fajardo-Acosta, Creighton University, Omaha, NE

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Wolfram von Eschenbach: A Middle High German Poet Seeks out the Orient (ca. 1205–ca. 1220)


The Middle High German poet Wolfram von Eschenbach (fl. ca. 1190–ca. 1220) belonged to the poetic masters of his time and enjoyed highest popularity for his works, Parzival (ca. 1205) and Willehalm (ca. 1218). He also composed significant dawn songs (tageliet, or alba). Those are songs about two lovers who wake up in the morning and lament the necessity that he has to depart from her because they are not married. Wolfram changed the tone, however, and argued that it would be better if the lovers were married because then he could simply stay in bed with her). Wolfram additionally created a mysterious fragment, his Titurel, in which he picked up loose narrative strands from his Parzival and apparently experimented with alternative concepts combining notions of love and death.17 Both his Parzival and Willehalm achieved greatest popularity, considering that the ←45 | 46→first has survived in eighty-seven, the latter in seventy-nine manuscripts, which are amazing numbers for the Middle Ages. The Parzival was even printed once as an incunabulum, by Johann Mentelin in Straßburg 1477.18 By contrast, the Titurel apparently enjoyed no great success, since it has survived only in three manuscripts, none of which contains the conclusion, probably because the poet himself did not intend to offer one, forcing his audience to think about the implications of the textual message on their own.19

Wolfram drew extensively from older sources, as was typical in the Middle Ages, primarily Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval for...

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