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This chapter concentrates on how Christian attitudes toward poverty and wealth changed during just one brief span of time, the years 1427-50, within the larger penumbra of the fifteenth century. It confines itself to one place: Florence. This may seem to be a small compass, but the ramifications were large, if only because the figure at the centre of my account was the influential Archbishop of Florence during what was arguably that city’s most creative period – the Florentine Renaissance. He was the most published author across all of Europe in the incunabulum period, apart from the Bible. His preached word and the texts in which they were grounded provide a measure for the ideas and values by which thinking and behaviour were defined.1 I weave my account around a sermon he preached just as he was assuming the seat of archbishop in 1446.2 The sermon was therefore ‘heard’, with all the significance of that word in the early modern period.3 For Antoninus, words resounded and, like swords, could change things.4


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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