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  • Author or Editor: Peter Mazur x

Peter Mazur


In the century following the Council of Trent, ecclesiastical authorities in Naples embarked on a campaign, the largest of its kind in Italy, to convert the city's Muslim slaves to Christianity. For the Church, the conversions were not only important for the conquest of individual believers, but symbolic occasions that demonstrated on a small scale important themes of Christian ethics and anti-Islamic polemic. At the same time, the number and frequency of the conversions forced secular authorities to confront the problem of the civil status of newly baptized slaves. During the seventeenth century, one of the highest tribunals of the state heard a series of cases that pitted baptized slaves who demanded their freedom against slave owners who saw their religious identity as unimportant.

Peter Mazur and Abigail Shinn


In the early modern world the process of describing a conversion experience was often as important, and problematic, as the conversion itself, and the resulting texts illustrate the extent to which conversion and its effects permeated cultural forms. Charting the discursive nature of conversion narratives, which were frequently translated into foreign languages and crossed international boundaries, this introduction discusses the problems inherent in narrating religious change, considers the current historiography, and outlines the premise for this collection.