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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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Boccaccio, The Decameron (ca. 1350): Multiple Episodes of Toleration103

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Introduction

Boccaccio was born in 1313 out of wedlock as the son of the Florentine merchant Boccaccino di Chellino and a woman whose name escapes us. Boccaccio’s stepmother was called Margherita de’ Mardoli. His father was appointed head of a bank, and he moved with his family to Naples in 1326. Boccaccio was an apprentice at the bank but disliked the financial profession. He persuaded his father to let him study law at the University of Naples, where he took up canon law for the next six years. He also pursued his interest in scientific and literary studies. His father introduced him to the Neapolitan nobility and the French-influenced court of Robert the Wise (the king of Naples) in the 1330s. At this time, he fell in love with a married daughter of the king, who is portrayed as “Fiammetta” in many of Boccaccio’s prose romances, including Il Filocolo (1338). Boccaccio became a friend of fellow Florentine Niccolò Acciaioli, and benefitted from his influence as the administrator, and perhaps the lover, of Catherine of Valois-Courtenay, widow of Philip I of Taranto. Acciaioli later became counselor to Queen Joanna I of Naples and, eventually, her Grand Seneschal. Boccaccio received an excellent education and turned to literature early on, soon turned into one of the most important early Renaissance writers in Italy, or into the triumphant last medieval poets—though it would be difficult to draw a clear line between both worlds, at least in literary terms. Boccaccio...

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