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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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Michel Beheim (1420–ca. 1477): A Late Medieval German Song Writer and the Three Rings


This wandering poet was a precursor of the late medieval Meistersinger (Mastersingers) and was one of the earliest professional singers, commonly in the service of high-ranking princes in Austria and Germany. Many of his works are Sangsprüche (song poetry), rhymed chronicles, poetic accounts of his own life, political reports and reflections, descriptions of warfare, religious meditations, moralistic admonishments, idealization of marital love, and satirical and parodic songs. He is famous for his massive Buch von den Wienern (Book about the Viennese), a long and detailed poem about the cruel Woiwod Vlad II Drakul (1386–1434; ‘Count Dracula’), and about the Hungarian siege of Vienna in 1485. Many other political events were the themes of Beheim’s songs, and he experimented with a wide range of poetic genres.120

Song “Ein beispel von einem kung, der het drei son” (no. 294; An example of a king who had three sons)

Michel Beheim’s remarkable, but heretofore practically never discussed song “Von ainem kung ain exemple auff die hailgen drivaltikait,” or “Ein beispel von einem kung, der het drei son, daz get uff got den vater und uff die drei glauben: cristen jüden, heiden,” is contained in the holograph manuscript A, Heidelberg Cpg 312, fol. 199rv.121 Here we find another direct poetic response to Boccaccio’s ‘Ring Parable’ and thus contributed to the discourse on the universal topic of how to evaluate a faith or to choose a religion. Because the text is so short, and yet also...

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