“Par transition on désigne aujourd’hui une phase très particulière de l’évolution d’une société, la phase où celle-ci recontre de plus en plus de difficultés, internes et/ou externes, à reproduire le système économique et social sur lequel elle se fonde et commence à se réorganiser, plus ou moins vite ou plus ou moins violemment, sur la base d’un autre système qui finalement devient à son tour la forme générale des conditions nouvelles d’existence.” —Maurice Godelier, La théorie de la transition chez Marx. (The theory of transition in Marx)
“One of the most important aspects of the text is its insistence on the importance of individual agency. Characters in apparently impossible situations shape make their own fates through the exercise of wit, and resourcefulness is almost always rewarded in the novella. Moreover, many of the tales portray women whose intelligence allows them to successfully transgress social mores. This striking fact suggests that Boccaccio may have intended his work to serve as a practical handbook for life, serving the general populace in ways analogous to how Machiavelli’s Prince or Castiglione’s Courtier provide practical advice about ruling. This kind of transgressive stance was undoubtedly the result of the ravages of the plague, and it may even have been possible only because a calamity of such colossal proportions as the Black Death must have disturbed to the core Italian social and religious assumptions and conventions.” —REALE, Nancy M. Boccaccio’s Decameron: A Fictional Effort to Grapple with Chaos.
“A brief review of the principal points in their [the medieval middle class] program will be enough to show that they did not go beyond an indispensable minimum. What they wanted, first of all, was personal liberty, which would assure to the merchant or the artisan the possibility of going and coming, of living where he wished and of putting his own person as well as that of his children under the protection of the seigniorial power. Next came the creation of a special tribunal by means of which the burgher would at one stroke escape the multiplicity of jurisdictions to which he was amenable and the inconveniences which the formalistic procedure of ancient law imposed upon his social and economic activity. Then came the instituting in the city of a “peace” – that is to say, of a penal code – which would guarantee security. And then came the abolition of those prestations most incompatible with the carrying on of trade and industry, and with the possession and acquisition of land. What they wanted, in fine, was a more or less extensive degree of political autonomy and local self-government.” —PIRENNE, Henri. The Municipal Institutions. In: Medieval Cities - Their Origins and the Revival of Trade.