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Nachman Falbel



In the first decades

of the Franciscan Order
foundation, in the Middle
Ages, an internal struggle
would culminate in a greater
debate on the concept of
plenitudo potestatis – the
Papal power – and its
relation with Christendom
(societas christiana), which
encompassed personalities
such as William of Ockam,
Prof. Nachman Falbel began his Marsilius of Padua, and
studies on Mediaeval History and others.
Philosophy at Bar-Ilan University, The rigorous research
Israel. was originally published in

Nachman Falbel
Professor of Mediaeval History at 1995 when it received the
the University of São Paulo, Brazil, prestigious Brazilian Jabuti
among his many articles and Prize.
books, Prof. Falbel published: The new, completely
“De reductione artium ad theologiam of revised edition, translated to
St. Bonaventure” (F.F.L.C.H. of the English, offers itself to those
University of São Paulo, 1974), and interested in the theological
“Kidush HaShem: Hebrew Chronicles and philosophical thought
on the Crusades” (EDUSP, SP, of a formative period of the
2001). Western Civilization.

the spiritual
history franciscans

the spiritual franciscans

In the first decades of the Franciscan Order foundation, in the Middle

Ages, an internal struggle would culminate in a greater debate on the
concept of plenitudo potestatis – the Papal power – and its relation with the
Christendom (societas christiana), which encompassed personalities such
n. falbel

as William of Ockam and Marsilius of Padua, and others.

The rigorous research was originally published in 1995, when it
received the prestigious Brazilian Jabuti Prize. The new, completely
revised edition, translated to English offers itself to those interested on
the theological and philosophical thought of a formative period of the
Western Civilization.

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The Spiritual Franciscans

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Coleção Estudos
Dirigida por J. Guinsburg

Translation to English: Fiona O. Osborn

Text editing and cover design by Martine Malinski, TriArtis, 2011

Inside Cover Photo:
Saint Francis preaching the birds
Matthiew Paris, manuscript, XIIIe Century
Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Francis (detail)
Simone Martini, fresco
Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi, Assisi, Italy, c. 1317.
Side cover:
Legend of Saint Francis, confirmation of the rule by Innocent III
Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), fresco
Basilica of san Francesco d’Assisi, Assisi, Italy.

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Nachman Falbel


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Original title in Portuguese: Os Espirituais Franciscanos

Copyright © 1995 by Editora Perspectiva

São Paulo, Brazil

Library of Congress

Falbel, Nachman
The Spiritual Franciscans / Nachman Falbel.
São Paulo : Perspectiva, 2011. (Coleção Estudos; 146)
Translation to English: Fiona O. Osborn

isbn: 978-85-273-0072-9

1. Spiritual Franciscans 2. Franciscans History 3. Church His-

tory 4. Medieval Heresies I. Title. II Serie

95-4867 CDD-271.3


Av. Brigadeiro Luís Antônio, 3025
01401-000 São Paulo SP Brasil
Telefax: (011) 3885-8388


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The translation and publication of this book were possi-
ble thanks to the sensitivity and intellectual vision of my
friend Roberto Aily, whose encouragement enabled me
to overcome the many difficulties involved in this task.

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Preface 9
Professor Avrom Saltman 11

Introduction 13

Chapter I 23
The Beginnings of the Order

Chapter II 53
The Generalship of Elias of Cortona

Chapter III 73
Joachim of Fiore and his Contribution to the
Formation of Spiritual Thought

Chapter IV 105
The Period 1239 to 1260
/ The Constitutional Crisis

Chapter V 135
Angelo Clareno and the Spirituals of March of
Ancona / Ubertino of Casale and the Spirituals
of Tuscany

Chapter VI 159
Peter of John Olivi and the Spirituals of

Chapter VII 183

Pope John XXII and the Spirituals

Chapter VIII 217

The Spirituals and their Contribution to the
Reformulation of Traditional Theory on the
Papal Power

The route to Plenitudo Potestatis 239

Sources and Bibliography 245

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The intrinsic importance of a historical theme, and

its relevence to the present day, are not determined by its
chronological proximity or antiquity. Many aspects of the
history of the 19th century, or even the 20th century do not
have any particular significance for us today. Conversely,
the Middle Ages, a period that is often given disregarded, in
the belief that it has no importance for us today, provides us
with some extraordinary examples of religious and moral,
socioeconomic, and political issues that still remain relevant,
and require in-depth, conscientious study.
One such example is a theme of particular interest that
has occupied the intellectual efforts of the leading experts
in mediaeval history of this century; the problem of the
Franciscan Spirituals of the 13th and 14th centuries.
Professor Nachman Falbel, a member of this distinguished
group of intellectuals, has dedicated much of his academic
career to elucidating this enduringly fascinating theme.
Thirty years ago, he began his research at our University,
which was a motive for great pride and satisfaction for us.
Since then, he has extended and deepened his knowledge
on the movement of the Franciscan Spirituals and the
issues surrounding them, as well as the problems they had
to face. The publication of this valuable work provides us
all with a contribution to Franciscan historiography that is
of inestimable value.
The Franciscan Order did not come into the world to
bring peace to the Church, but a sword. The mendicants
often came into conflict with the traditional monastic
orders, with the new Universities, with the generality of
the parochial clergy, and with many of the bishops of the
secular ecclesiastical hierarchy. Furthermore, the Franciscan 9

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Order suffered internal dissentions, after the death of its
charismatic founder. The perseverance of the Spirituals
in their lifestyle of absolute evangelical poverty, and their
unswerving loyalty to the doctrines of Saint Francis, not
only posed a direct threat to the stability of the Franciscan
Order but also threatened to destabilize the powerful
Catholic Church, with its autocratic papal rule. Likewise,
the adoption, by the Spirituals, of the potentially explosive
Joachimite historiosophy led to a questioning of the very
existence of the ecclesiastical institution.
In numerical terms, the Spirituals constituted a small
minority of the Franciscan Order, subsumed within
the greater mass of the Conventuals. The attitude of the
conventuals, of having all possessions in in common, was
best expressed by the historian Salimbene, their most
articulate and enlightened representative. However, the
Spirituals called attracted no small degree of attention,
and enjoyed a publicity that was not in proportion to their
number. Angelo Clareno was their eminent chronicler;
Olivi, their theologian. Without doubt, the conscience
of the Conventual majority was shaken by the aspiration
and the desire of the Spirituals to perpetuate the lifestyle,
Rule and Testament of Saint Francis. This may explain the
unbridled cruelty with which they were persecuted, which
gave the movement a martyrology. But occasionally, the
Spirituals found defenders, and in fact, they were never
completely wiped out.
These and other issues dealt with by professor Falbel are
elucidated with depth and clarity. The reader, whether a
professional historian or a lay person, will find it difficult
to put this book down, as it captures the reader’s attention
right to the end.
Also deserving of special mention is the value and merit
of the bibliographic updating that clearly illustrates the far-
reaching ramifications of research on the movement of the
Franciscan Spirituals.
Avrom Saltman*
Emeritus Professor of History
Bar-Ilan University
Ramat-Gan, Israel

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In memoriam

*Avrom Saltman (1925-2000), a prominent figure in

the area of mediaeval studies, was a student of England’s
most renowned mediaevalists, having lectured there for
many years, before being invited to become a professor at
the University of Bar-Ilan, in Israel. He was Professor of
Mediaeval History and founding head of the Department
of General History, and was regarded as a leading expert
on the mediaeval history of the Church in England and
Christian-Jewish relations in Western Latin mediaeval
Winner of the Israel Prize, he gave rise to a generation
of followers, having written, among other works, Theobald,
Archbishop of Canterbury, as well many articles in specialized
journals on a range of subjects pertaining to mediaeval
history. He gave us some original and insightful analyses
of mediaeval documents, as we see in his article on the
Opusculum de conversione suae attributed to Hermannus
quondam Judaeus (Herman the former Jew), a converted
Jew of 12th century, which has become the subject of debate
among scholars. He edited, with ouststanding perception
and erudition, from manuscripts, some Latin commentaries
on the books of the Bible such as Quaestiones on the book
of Samuel (“Pseudo-Jerome”), Secundum Salomonem  : a
Thirteenth Century Latin Commentary on the Song of
Solomon, and Stephen Langton’s Commentary on the book
of Chronicles, demonstrating that these works were largely
based on some of the Jewish mediaeval commentors.
One of his last works was The Jewish question in 1655 :
studies in Prynne’s “Demurrer”, focusing on this polemical
seventeenth-century personality who campaigned against
the readmission of the Jews to England. 11

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The idea for this work first emerged out of a question put
to me by Prof. Avrom Saltman, of blessed memory, of the
University Bar-Ilan, in Tel Aviv, when I was studying for the
course in Mediaeval History at that University during the
early 1960s. The question posed by the eminent professor,
and which demanded a written response, was put in clear,
simple terms: “Why did the Franciscans fail to preserve the
original principles of Saint Francis of Assisi ?”
As a student, this was my first contact with the history
of the Franciscan Order of the Middle Ages, and it was to
awaken a profound interest in me. Having been introduced
to the topic, I ended up discovering a rich and inexhaustible
wellspring of research and study. At the heart of the
question, ultimately, was a polemic view of the essence of
Christianity and the possibilities of its interpretation. On
the other hand, the study of the Franciscan Order which,
in its initial state, was presented as a vow to renew the
traditional values, revealed how far the initial idealistic
impulse, having become institutionalized, had undergone
changes that would end up transforming the very nature
of the Order.
Yet the attitude of the founder of the Franciscan Order
was quite the opposite: Saint Francis himself sought to
escape the evils of his time, through the denial, above all,
of material wealth, which he saw as the source and root
of all the infirmities of sinful man and the open wound
of spiritual religion. Indeed, he was not alone among the
Church reformers in the Western Middle Ages in holding
such attitudes. Mediaeval man saw, in the material world,
the very motive for the fall of man and in the spirit, the
possibility of his salvation. Religious fulfilment was only 13

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possible for those who would deny the material world and
affirm the spiritual.
Before beginning our study of the Franciscan Order
in the Middle Ages, I must first mention the existence of
two important historiograhic milestones: the work of Luca
Wadding, in the 17th century, and that of Paul Sabatier, at
the end of the last 19th century. However my intention,
in emphasizing these two works, is neither to negate nor
diminish the value of certain works and research produced
before Wadding, and after Sabatier, and we find studies of
great value that served as the basis for the great work of
the Irish sage, such as the histories of Mariano of Florence,
Marcus of Lisbon (Marcus da Silva) and Francisco Gonzaga,
all of which preceded Wadding. But Annales Minorum
continues to be one of the most complete monuments of
the history of the Order in its time. Paul Sabatier, though
not always accurate in his interpretation of issues related
to the origins of the Saint Francis Foundation, was the
man of science who provided the catalyst for the avalanche
of Franciscan studies that emerged in the early decades
of the last century. Shedding light on “the Franciscan
question”, he enabled the study of documents related to the
history of the Order to be initiated under strictly scientific
criteria, as opposed to blind acceptance of the traditional
interpretations. Sabatier’s work was followed by various
biographies of Saint Francis, and many histories of the
Franciscan Foundation. Among these pioneering works
is that of Heriberto Holzapfel, whose manual provides a
rich synthesis of ideas and suggestions, elaborated with
reasonable scientific criteria, and which remains of great
use today, for scholars wishing to begin their study of
the history of the Order. Another manual of inestimable
worth is that of P. Gratien who, in the 1920s, gathered a
significant portion of the knowledge accumulated during
the flourish of academic studies prompted by Sabatier, and
others who followed the French researcher. And in more
recent times, mention should be made of another work, also
general in nature: the carefully-elaborated history by the
erudite English bishop John Moorman, which for decades,
represented the most up-to-date work on the history of the

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However, since I began to study the subject, more than
five decades have passed, and certain aspects concerning
the history of the Franciscan Order and the historical
background surrounding the origins of the mendicants,
and of the mediaeval heresies, have been the object of
detailed studies that have vastly expanded our knowledge
of that period of history. Since I completed my Doctorate
thesis in 1972, with the title of “A luta dos Espirituais e
sua contribuição para a reformulação da teoria tradicional
acerca do poder papal” (Universidade de São Paulo,
F.F.L.C.H., Dep. de História, Boletim no.3, Nova Série,
1976), and which was only published much later, in
1995 (Os Espirituais Franciscanos, Ed. Perspectiva, SP), a
generation of scholars have made a significant contribution
to the history of the Order and the Spirituals. Thus, I have
sought, in this work, to update the bibliography on the
theme of my investigation, restricting myself to specific
aspects addressed in my work, and excluding titles that
focus on the mediaeval background in a wider sense.
The Spirituals*, for the first time, merited special research
with the in-depth - and until today unsurpassed in certain
regards - studies of the exceptional historian Cardinal
Franz Ehrle who, at the end of the 19th century, initiated
the publication of a series of documents linked to the
faction in the Archiv für Literatur und Kirchengeschichte des
Mittelalters. These documents continue to be the principal
source of studies on the Spirituals, given that few researchers
continued the work that Ehrle had begun. In France, the
Capuchin René de Nantes was to write, at the start of the
last century, a history of the Spirituals that was closely linked
to the foundations laid by Ehrle. Subsequently, new studies
emerged that attempted to broaden the perspective with
which the question of the Spirituals was viewed, so that it
came to be seen not merely as an internal struggle between
the different factions of the Order, but as a struggle that was
linked to the heretical thinking of their time, according to
the regions in which this encounter occurred. The studies
of F. Tocco played a very important role in furthering this
focus, following the works of K. Balthazar, Ernest Benz and
in particular, the outstanding contribution made by Raoul
Manselli. From that time on, many specialized studies 15

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appeared, either in the form of articles published in journals
dedicated to knowledge of the Franciscan Order, or in the
form of books on the subject, which are included in the
bibliography published at the end of this work.
Until now, the history of the Spirituals has been seen
from a perspective of the internal history of the Order, or
as part of the history of the mediaeval heretical movement,
largely ignoring the fact that their struggle also undermined
the political and theoretical foundations of the ecclesiastical
institution. However, during the last decades, in many
fundamental aspects, the works of scholars such David
Flood, David Burr, and Gian Luca Potestà, among others,
became a turning point in our knowledge of this movement
and its leadership. At the same time, I must emphasize that
in our knowledge of Joachim of Fiore, his writings and
his thought, we are indebted to the thorough research of
Marjorie Reeves, Herbert Grundmann, Roberto Rusconi,
E. Randolph Daniel, B.McGinn, Gian Luca Potestà, R.E.
Lerner and many others.
The objective of this work is to study the role of the
Spirituals from a perspective that until now, has been
given scant attention by the historians of the Franciscan
Order, namely, their contribution to the reformulation of
traditional theory on the papal power or the modification
of the concept of plenitudo potestatis.
This contribution will lead directly to the idea of
conciliarism, and the attempts to put it into practice
in the 14th and 15th centuries. We can affirm, then, that
Conciliarism would, ultimately, find its deepest roots in
the Spiritual movement, denominated “heretical” by its
opponents, and that due to the direct clash with Pope John
XXII, it would end up compromising their faithfulness to
the Church.
To arrive at these conclusions, an in-depth study of
the history of the Franciscan Order was required, from
its formation, and the internal struggle that accompanied
the life of the Friars Minor, from that obstinate group
that insisted on upholding the original principles of Saint
Francis of Assisi, through to the period of its greatest
persecutions, spanning a period from 1210 to 1337. The

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first chapter, therefore, focuses on the foundations of the
Order and its early ideals. The second chapter focuses on
the critical period, represented by the Generalship of Elias
of Cortona, who was accused of implementing changes
that were not in accordance with the spirit of the original
foundation. The third chapter studies the thought of the
Abbot Joachim of Fiore who, due to his interpretations,
became the source of some mediaeval heresies, including
the Spirituals. The fourth chapter deals with the period
in which efforts were made to adapt the legislation of the
Order to the transformations that occurred as a result of its
growth and its diversification. The fifth chapter describes
the vicissitudes of the Spiritual groups of Italy, i.e. those
of the March of Ancona, and Tuscany. The sixth chapter
studies the Spiritual group of Provence and the concepts of
its leader, Peter of John Olivi. The seventh chapter focuses
on the period of Pope John XXII, and his attitude to those
he called heretics. The eighth chapter discusses the role
of the Spirituals in modifying the concepts related to the
theory of papal power.

While writing this work, I met Father João Mehlman, of

blessed memory, of the monastery of São Bento, who, with
his recognized erudition and knowledge of ecclesiastical
history, and his intimate knowledge of the library archives
belonging to the various religious institutions, assisted me
in my search for the bibliographic material that I needed
during my research. Thanks to his personal intercession, I
had the privilege of visiting the library of the Franciscan
Fathers in Petrópolis (convent of Sagrado), in the State
of Rio de Janeiro, which houses an excellent collection
of printed sources on the history of the Order, as well as
a general bibliographic archive of great value. To Friar
Gamaliel Devigili, head librarian of that convent, I extend
my immense gratitude for his kindness in providing
guidance, and for the warm welcome I received during my
stay in Petrópolis. We also thank Friar Gentil Titton, Friar
Ildefonso Silveira and the friars at the Theological Institute
of Petrópolis, who received us so graciously.
I also thank Father João Mehlman for the opportunity to
stay at the Pontifical Bilbical Institute in Rome and consult

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its rich library. In Rome, I had the opportunity to visit the
Franciscan Fathers of Colle S. Antonio-Grotaferrata, who
on that occasion, were in the process of transferring from
Quaracchi to Rome. For the graciousness of the Minister
General of the Order, Friar Constantino Kozer, I was able
to meet and maintain contact with David Flood, a specialist
of renown for his works on Peter of John Olivi, the Spiritual
leader of Provence. It was at the initiative of D. Flood and
other academics that the Olivi Circle was created, which
engaged in a scientific task of great value in the study
and publication of the work of Olivi. I thank him for the
publications sent to me, and for the assistance provided to
me by his Olivian studies. Since then, various studies and
publications on the writings of Peter of John Olivi have
become available to scholars interested in the theme.
I would also like to thank professor Haim Beinart,
director of the Institute of Jewish Studies of the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, who showed me the comparative
studies of the eminent professor I. F. Baer, on Franciscan
spirituality and mediaeval Jewish Hasidism.
Finally, I thank all those who assisted me by granting
access to the libraries of the institutions under their
responsibility; to Father Macdowell, of the Faculdade
Medianeira, Father Hilário Moser, of the Institute Pio XI,
Salesian Fathers, in São Paulo, and in particular, Father
Humberto Porto, whose attentive reading of the text was
invaluable. The Publisher of the University of São Paulo
and the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de
São Paulo (Research Support Foundation of the State of
São Paulo) made the publication of this work possible, as
without their support, it would never have seen the light of
day. To them I extend my deepest gratitude.


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* By Spirituals, we understand that group or faction of friars of the
Franciscan Order who struggled to maintain the nature of the foundation
according to their interpretation of the original ideals of its founder. The
Joachimite connotation of the expression viri spirituales also applies to these
friars, in that it is understood, in the words of Holzapfel, quo sub nomine
“hominis spiritualis” intelligebatur homo vere et profunde religiosus. In the
Epistle to the I Corinthians, 2:15; 3:1, and in the Epistle to the Galatians,
6:1, the expression is used in the same sense, of true and profound religious
people, in contrast to the “natural” or carnal man, according to the
expression in the Epistle to the Galatians, 5:19, and in common usage in
the period of our study.
In the Rule it is written thus: Et ubicumque sunt fratres, qui scirent
et cognoscerent observare... The meaning is that of a spiritual, interior
man, a deeply pious man, as we find used in the Vita secunda, c. 4, by
Tomas of Celano, when he says: contingit illuc venire quendam de ordine
praedicatorum virum quidem spiritualem et s. theologiae doctorem. Likewise,
Salimbene in his chronicle, uses it: Nota quod cuidam spirituali fratri de
ordine praedicatorum revelatum est...
The term Spiritual, designating the faction itself, according to Ehrle,
was used mainly from the XIV century onwards, although it appears earlier,
in the letter of Peter of John Olivi to Conrado of Offida, in 1295. Its origins
go back to the beginnings of the Order, when the so-called zelanti grouped
to defend the Rule with the intent that written by their founding Saint.
According to the preface to the explanation of the Rule, written by the four
doctors of Paris, the group was consolidated in 1241.


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The blessed Francis was behind the altar of the chapel
of Saint Mary of the Angels. He was in fervent prayer, with
his hands raised to heaven, asking Christ to have mercy
on the people in the great tribulation that was to come.
The Lord showed himself to him, saying: “Francis, if you
want Me to have mercy on the Christian people, serve
me, working as far as possible to ensure that your Order
remains in that state which it had in the beginning, and
which was for Me the most pleasant in this world. I, in
exchange, promise that out of love of you and your Order,
I will not allow any tribulation to come upon the world,
and I add that your followers should not depart from the
paths that I will show you. Otherwise, I will provoke My
righteous anger, which I will raise against them, and I will
send them demons, to which I will give all the power that
they craved for.
And these evil spirits will cause such scandals to come
between the friars and the world that nobody will dare
appear with his holy habit, except alone in the deserts.
But, if the world loses its love and trust in your Order,
it will be entombed in darkness, as I have chosen your
religion and your children to be the light of the world”.
Then St. Francis said: “What will my children eat, and
how will they live when they have to live in the forests?’’
To which Christ responded: “I will give them food, just
as I did with the children of Israel: giving them manna in
the desert; because these holy ones will be good, and will
return to the primitive state, as when the Order was first

(Speculum Perfectionis, ch. 4, 71). 21

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I. The Beginnings of the Order

Saint Francis’ family were not originally from Assisi; on

the paternal side, they came from Lucca, where they were
cloth manufacturers and merchants; the Moriconi of Lucca1.
His father, Pietro di Bernardone, continued trading as a
merchant, following the family tradition. His mother, Pica,
was of aristocratic origin, and came from Provence. When
Saint Francis was born, in September 1182, he was baptized
with the name John, but his father, who was travelling to
the kingdom of France at the time decided, on his return,
to change the name to Francis2 as a demonstration of his
fondness for that country. The boy would also be educated
in the Gallic culture and language, the langue d’oil, which at
that time, as Sabatier3 notes, was the international language
of Europe and in northern Italy, it was the language used
in the games and tournaments of the lesser princely courts.
As a youth, the young man from Assisi became a cultivator
of the gaya scienza, leading the carefree lifestyle that was
typical of the youth of Assisi and the neighbouring towns4.
The bibliographic sources describe how he followed in the
trading footsteps of his father, and how he would lavishly
spend the money he earned on his friends, with whom he
spent his days and nights in the streets of Assisi, playing
and singing noisily5. The gentlemanly ideal of the period
probably rubbed off on the youth, and Francis, who was
later called joculator Dei, absorbed the literature related to
King Arthur’s round table and Roland6.
But, as Celano tells us, even as a young man he felt
a compassion for the poor, and would often give his
own clothes to beggars who appeared at his door7. Saint 23

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Bonaventure narrates, in his biography, that once, when
visiting a soldier, of noble birth but extremely poor and
badly dressed, Francis was moved and taking of his outer
garments, gave them to the soldier, “covering the shame of
a noble military man and rescuing him from the indignity
of finding himself a beggar”8.
These early years in the life of St. Francis were lived
against a background of the struggle that was being played
out between the Pope and the Emperor, or the Guelphs
and the Ghibellines, at a time when the urban communes
were seeking autonomy, in order to free themselves from
the dominance of the landed gentry. On 25th June 1183,
Frederick Barbarossa, forced by the Peace of Constance,
granted all freedoms to the Lombard cities. However, after
his death, Henry VI once again imposed the imperial power
on Italy, and Assisi was obliged to renounce his municipal
rights and submit himself to Conrad of Irslingen, Imperial
Duke of Spoleto and Count of Assisi. However, in 1198,
one year after the death of Henry VI, Pope Innocent III
assumed the papal throne, initiating a policy of winning
back the lands lost to the Emperor. One aspect of this
policy was the protection of the Italian cities. Meanwhile,
a schism was dividing Germany, which resulted in two
candidates for the Imperial throne becoming crowned; the
Ghibelline Philip of Swabia, son of Barbarossa and brother
of Henry VI, and the Guelph Otto of Brunswick. The
Duke of Spoleto, Conrad of Irslingen, was called to Narni,
where he met with the Pope to pay homage to him, and at
that moment, the citizens of Assisi, taking advantage of his
absence, revolted and attacked the German fortress of Rocca
Maggiore, destroying it. To secure victory, they quickly
built protective walls around the city. The noblemen of the
city who sided with the German interests were thrown out,
and many fled to Perugia, where the seat of their power was
located. In these circumstances, Perugia and Assisi declared
war against each other, and the meeting of the armies of the
two cities took place at Ponte San Giovanni, with Perugia
gaining the victory. Among the fighters of Assisi was Francis,
who was taken prisoner, remaining captive for around one
year9. After peace was restored between the two cities, in
November 1203, he was repatriated to Assisi.

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Shortly afterwards, another occasion arose in which
Francis would embark on a new adventure in combat. This
time, it was as the companion of a nobleman of Assisi10,
who was going to join the forces of Gautier de Brienne,
leader of the fight against the Germans, following the anti-
imperial policy of Innocent III.
But as Francis was on his way to Spoleto, he had a
vision that caused him to reconsider his plans and return to
Assisi11. On his way back, he began to meditate on a way of
life that was very different from the one he had lived thus
far12. Francis joined himself in matrimony with domina
paupertas (Lady poverty).
Embracing poverty, Francis decided to become a beggar,
and chose Rome to try out for himself the new ideal of life
that he had decided to follow13. In Rome, he found many
pilgrims who were visiting the tomb of the Apostle, leaving
their offerings, as was the custom. Francis, in an ostentatious
gesture that was a remaining vestige of his former life, and
to the amazement of everybody, threw a huge sum of money
through the fenestella (a small window), to where the tomb
lay, then went over to sit among the beggars who were at
the door of the basilica, holding out their hands to passers-
by and begging for alms14.
Back in Assisi, he had a new experience when one day,
passing on horseback close to the city, he saw a leper, and
pushing back his feelings of repulsion, he dismounted his
horse and pressed a coin into the leper’s hands, while kissing
them. The following day, Francis went to a leper colony
to give the lepers money, where he once again kissed the
hands of each one15. It was with this attitude that he sought
to draw near to the “lowliest” of medieval society, those
marginalized from all human contact, since at that time
lepers lived in isolation from everybody and everything,
living either as a group or alone. Hence the biographical
text says “from that time he began to despise himself more
and more”16.
During this time, Francis gave himself up to a certain
isolation, seeking out deserted places where he could
meditate and spend his days. He would seek spiritual refuge,
in particular, in a cave not far from Assisi17. This was part of

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the process that Francis would have to go through, until his
final conversion, in order to be able to fulfil his preordained
mission. One day, while walking near the church of Saint
Damien, he was prompted to enter and pray. As he did so,
he heard a voice coming from the crucifix, which said to
him: “Francis, do you not see that my House lies in ruins?
Then go and repair it”18. From that moment on, Francis
would dedicate himself to repairing old churches that had
been abandoned or lay in ruins. On hearing the voice that
commanded him to take up this mission, he got up to ride
towards Foligno, carrying cloth. On arriving there, he sold all
the pieces of cloth he had, as well as his horse, and travelling
back to Saint Damien, he found there a poor priest and
gave him the money he had made from the sales, so that he
could rebuild his church19. The priest, Celano narrates, was
impressed with the sudden change in the young man, and
out of fear, refused to accept the money, so Francis threw it
in through a window in profound disdain, velut pulverem
vilipendit, as though it were paltry powder20. Francis, at that
moment, asked the priest to stay with him, but his father,
on learning of his disappearance and the new lifestyle his
son had chosen, grew irate, and gathering his friends and
neighbours, tried in vain to reach his son and dissuade him
from this course. Francis did not wish to see him, far less
converse with him; on the contrary, he took refuge in a cave,
where he stayed for about a month, withdrawn and hidden
from everybody21. Finally, his father managed to catch him
and lock him up inside the house, but his mother took pity
on him, and released him while Pietro Bernardone was out.
His father, despairing that he could not make his son see
sense, went to the local authorities, the consuls of the city,
but they refused to intervene, saying that the subject was
none of their affair. So Bernardone sought the help of the
Bishop of the city, who called Francis and admonished him
to return his father’s money. Francis’ answer was surprising:
“Sir, I would gladly return not only the money that I have
as product of sale of his things, but also the clothes”, and
taking off all his clothes in front of all those present, he
declared: “Hitherto I have called Pietro Bernardone father,
but from today I do want to serve only God, so I renounce
everything I could inherit from him and I give him back

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the clothes I wear. From now on I say only: Our Father,
Who art in heaven, and not: father Pietro Bernardone”22.
Then Francis was covered with the cloak of the bishop who,
from that point on, became his protector. This scene took
place in April 1207, according to an anonymous author
from Perugia23.
The Legenda Trium Sociorum says that Francis, “naked,
of all the things of the world”24, gave himself to the service
of divine justice and went from town to town asking for
stones to repair the church of Saint Damien. “Simple and
illiterate, he behaved in all things with simplicity, and did
not speak with erudite words of human knowledge”25. We
can imagine him walking in a hermit’s habit26, begging
for his living in the cities of Umbria, to the surprise and
admiration of all those who knew of his previous life. On
another occasion, the Legenda Trium Sociorum recalls that
on completing the church of Saint Damien, he “began to
wear the hermit’s habit with a leather strip tied around his
waist, walking with bare feet and a staff in his hand”27.
But on a certain day, on 24th February 1209, during the
solemn mass at the church of Porziuncola28, he heard the
words of the Gospel of Saint Matthew: “Provide yourselves
with no gold or silver, not even with coppers for your
purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or
footwear or a staff... Do not take along any gold or silver or
copper in your belts, take no bag for the journey, or extra
tunic, or sandals or a staff”29. From that moment, he no
longer wanted to use more than one of anything, and ended
up wearing a coarse habit that was fastened with a cord
instead of a leather strip, leaving behind the staff, shoes,
tunic and bag.
Francis then began to preach evangelical perfection,
preaching in public places and calling men to repentance,
greeting them with the words: “May the Lord grant you
Saint Francis’ continual wandering from town to town,
and the sincerity of his convictions, allied with an authentic
concept of the evangelical life, attracted the disciples, who
saw him as a saint or a prophet renewing an ancient truth
- as announced in the Gospels. The first disciple was the

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merchant Bernard of Quintavalle, “a simple, pious man
of Assisi”31. It seems that Bernardo had lived a peaceful
and stable life in Assisi, until he decided to follow Saint
Francis. Bernardo di Quintavalle’s confessor and friend was
a canon of the cathedral of San Rufino, Pietro Cataneo,
legal councillor of the Chapter of Assisi32. One day, as the
three were on their way to the church of Saint Nicholas,
Francis, who was there, after hearing mass, took a gospel
and opening it at random, read the following words: “If
thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that though hast, and give
to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven”33. For
the second time, he opened the bible, and read: “If any man
will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his
cross, and follow me”34. Then Francis opened the holy book
for the third time, and read: “And he said unto them, take
nothing for your journey”35.
Closing the gospel, he declared that it was “this that
he ardently desired and for which he longed with all the
strength of his heart”, and he immediately prepared to put
into practice what had been revealed to him36.
According to modern biographers, it is entirely possible
that these verses revealed to Saint Francis, on reading the
gospel, served as the basis for the first Rule of the Franciscan
Order, and Saint Bonaventure reveals in the Legenda that the
Saint, after he had finished reading them, declared: “This is
our rule and our life, and that of all those who wish to join
with us”37. Bernard of Quintavalle gave away all he owned
to the poor, and the three went to live in a shack built out
of branches, near Porziuncola. Due to their renunciation
of all material possessions, the fame of the three spread
throughout the city of Assisi, and new disciples joined
the group. The first was Egidio who was supposed to have
joined Saint Francis on 23rd April 120938. During this time,
Saint Francis travelled to Marca de Ancona, between the
Apennines and the Adriatic sea, from whence he returned
with three new disciples, Sabbatino, Morico and John of
Capella. They continued in their mission of evangelizing
and preaching repentance, and reached the valley of Rieti
in the Sabine Mountains, where another disciple was added
to their number, Angelo Tancredi, a knight who had laid
down his arms to follow Saint Francis.

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Before his wanderings around the world, a priest named
Silvestre had chosen a new way of life39.
From those early missions, Philip, Longo, John of San
Constanzo, Barbaro and Bernardo di Vigilante were added
to the group. As the number of disciples increased, they
moved to Rivo-Torto, a place not far from Porziuncola.
There, they lived in a shack, where there was barely enough
room for them all, “and there they lived in great deprivation
and hard labour, according to their extreme poverty,
delighting more in eating the bread of tears than in earthly
abundance and delights”40.
In this phase of the constitution of the founding
nucleus of the Order, we see that Saint Francis’ ideal was
not clearly-defined, as he struggled between the hermetic,
contemplative life and dedicating himself to preaching the
gospel among men. The Legenda of Saint Bonaventure itself
makes reference to these doubts, narrating that “on arriving,
animated with holy purpose, at the valley of Spoleto, they
began to realize that it would be more convenient to remain
in the cities, to dedicate themselves to preaching, or else
withdraw to solitary places to praise and worship God.
Francis did not have full confidence in his own prudence,
or that of others, and decided to devote himself to prayer
to ask God to manifest His will on the matter. Through
divine revelation, he learned that God had sent him to win
souls for Christ that the devil was bent on destroying. So he
decided to live a life of usefulness to all mankind, and not
only to himself, following the example of Christ, who was
ready to die for the salvation of all men”41.
Although Saint Bonaventure had opted for one path
– that of preaching the gospel – in his response to the
question, we know that in the history of the Order, the two
paths were continually manifested, according to the various
types of religious belief of the friars and their followers.
In the Spring of 1210, Saint Francis travelled to Rome
to ask the Pope to approve the Rule that he had written,
so that the Order could regularize the life of the religious
adepts that were continually joining the group. We do not
have the text of this first Rule, but it was probably very
simple42; however there are indications that suggest that it

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consisted essentially of some passages of the Gospel, and
some texts that regulated the manual work of the friars43.
The friars left for Rome in a group of twelve, although
the sources are not in agreement as to the names of those
who accompanied Saint Francis44. The new brotherhood
faced a number of difficulties to gaining approval of the
Rule, as at that time there were many lay sects that were not
willing to subject themselves to the ecclesiastical discipline
and hierarchy, leading to a series of doubts as to their
faithfulness to the Church and to the papacy.
The Rule of 1221 stated that “Friar Francis and whoever
is the head of this Order promises obedience and reverence
to Pope Innocent and his successors”. And the other friars
are obliged to obey Friar Francis and his successors”, which
showed that there was a certain reservation as to the nature
of the new Order, and denotes Saint Francis’ concern to
give the Holy See a guarantee of his loyalty.
The narrative of the friars’ sojourn in Rome is respected
by the majority of biographical sources; they recall that the
Bishop of Assisi was in Rome at that time and introduced
them to Cardinal John of Saint Paul, who promised to
report to the Pope the presence of the group, advising them
to join with an existing order, since Innocent III was adverse
to the creation of new orders.
When Saint Francis was received by the Pope, the
latter was doubtful about the possibility of these poor men
following such a rigid a Rule, that demanded such a high
degree of holiness.
Saint Bonaventure, in his report, reveals the intervention
of Cardinal John of St. Paul, who allayed the Pope’s fears,
saying: “If we deny the petition of this poor man as new and
excessively arduous, when he asks for a form of evangelical
life to be endorsed for him, we should, in this case,
conclude that we are offering the Gospel of Christ himself.
Because if someone were to affirm that in the observance
of evangelical perfection or in his vow, there is something
that is new and irrational, or that is impossible to fulfil,
that person would be accused of blasphemy against God,
the divine author of the Gospel”45. The Rule was approved
by the Pope, which conferred on Saint Francis the task of

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preaching repentance to the world, as well as asking the
lay brothers who accompanied him to wear the tonsure so
that with “greater liberty they could preach the divine word
wherever they went”46.
Returning to Rome, they settled in Rivo-Torto, where
they lived according to the approved Rule. Although now
dedicating themselves to opus Dei (prayer), during this
period, they had no books, and for their sustenance they
would work; if they could not find work, they went out to
beg, from door to door, the bread of poverty47. But after
a period in Rivo-Torto, the small community moved to
Porziuncola served as the greatest centre of expansion
of the Order, and it was here that the names emerged of
the disciples who would come after the initial twelve, and
constitute a new Franciscan generation. They included
Rufino, Juniper, Egidio, and Leo, who would be Saint
Francis’ confidant and one of the three companions of the
Legenda Trium Sociorum. Leo is attributed with writing
Vita Fratris Aegidii, which portrays the way of life of one of
the disciples who was close to Saint Francis, and who died
in 1261/126249. Only a reading of the Fioretti and other
sources can give us an idea of the way of life these friars led,
and the particular characteristics of their personalities, as
they formed a community that consisted of individuals of
the most diverse origins, but all dedicated to the inspired
ideals of Saint Francis, the devotion to domina paupertas
(Lady Poverty), humility, and simplicity, of those who had
been chosen as the “minores” among men50.
It is likely that in Porziuncola, they lived in very difficult
conditions, as the chapel was small and the new friars had to
build for themselves huts with tree branches and leaves, in
which to spend the night. Others lived in the leper colonies,
according to the testimony of the Speculum Perfectionis51.
The chronicles of the time the Order was founded also
give us a description of this community and its way of life.
Jacques of Vitry, in his Historia Orientalis et Occidentalis,
provides us with one of the most significant reports of this
period: “they are sent out in pairs to preach, as announcers
of the second coming of the Lord; these poor ones of

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Christ take nothing for their journey, no bag, or saddlebag,
or bread, or money; wherever they go, without gold or
silver, no sandals on their feet, nothing that the Order does
not permit them to have. They have no monasteries or
churches; or fields or vines or animals; nor houses or any
other possessions; nowhere to lay their heads”52.
It is entirely possible that the friars lived in certain places,
like hermitages, similar to those we see around Cortona,
called Le Celle, no more than caves, where they could shelter
when they went out to preach in those remote parts of Italy.
Every indication is that in 1212 the evangelical activity of
the friars reached various regions of Italy, and according to
the Saint’s biography, in that year he manifested a desire to
travel to the East, to Syria, to preach the Christian faith to
the Saracens and dedicate his life in the name of this faith.
The due preparations were made for his departure for
Syria, taking the necessary steps to ensure that the Order
would be well governed in his absence, for which purpose
Pietro Cataneo53 was nominated as his successor and the
person entrusted with the general oversight of the friars.
Francis arrived in Ancona with some companions, and
embarked on a ship heading East.
The trip was unsuccessful, as it was interrupted by a
storm half way through the journey, forcing the friars to
seek refuge in a port in Dalmatia and return to Italy.
Francis continued to preach in Italy, travelling all over
the place and making new disciples, including Friar Pacifico,
the “king of verses”, who appears in the ancient sources as a
poet and musician. The Order was attracting new members
every day, and was growing continually.
In 1212, a new factor was added to the formation of
the Order; it was joined by a young woman named Clare
who, moved by the sermons of St. Francis at the cathedral
of Assisi, chose the route of Franciscan poverty and would
later become the founder of the Order of Poor Clares, also
known as the Damianites54. In her renunciation of the
secular life, she repeated the gesture of the first disciples
of St. Francis, giving up all worldly goods and renouncing
material wealth, which she gave to the poor55. Clare was
joined by her sister Agnes and other young women, and the

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Order of Poor Clares, based in the church of St. Damian56,
began to grow.
Over time, it was felt that there was a need to organize
the Order and elaborate a Rule, which Francis wrote in
1215 and which, like the first Franciscan Rule, would have
contained some verses from the Gospels and some rules to
regulate its way of life, i.e. poverty.
Clare, and the first Poor Clares, are described as leading
a deeply acetic life in St. Damian, and Clare is attributed
with great thaumaturgic powers57.
The Poor Clares led a life similar to that of the friars,
according to Jacques de Vitry58. Innocent III had given to
the Poor Clares the privilegium paupertatis (the privilege
to live according to poverty), which prohibited the sisters
from earning a fixed monetary stipend59. Later however,
Gregory IX, after his election as Pope, offered them
property60. Over time, the privilege of poverty was an asset
of few communities of Poor Clares, and the Rule elaborated
later, in 1247, moderated it and made a series of concessions
to the life of poverty61. In view of this, Saint Clare, in 1253,
the year of her death, drew up a new Rule that would better
preserve the principles that she had proposed with the
foundation of the Order62. In 1228, according to a report,
there were around twenty-three convents in Italy63 as well
as others in France.
With the dissemination of the new ideal of the evangelical
life, preached by the friars, who continually went out to
preach in the various regions of Italy, a large number of lay
persons joined Franciscanism. Thomas of Celano describes
how Francis made a deep impression on his hearers when
he preached at Umbria, to a mixed public consisting of
nobles, clerics and lay people64.
The same scene was played out wherever Francis and his
early disciples went, anxious to transmit their convictions,
and we can suppose that they did so through zeal for the
new truth they had just discovered.
Thus, a large number of lay people were prompted by
a desire to live according to the values of the new religion.
And so the Third Order, or the Order of Penitence, was
formed. It was not the first of its kind, or something totally 33

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new, since there were lay associations during the 12th
century whose primary purpose was to lead a religious life,
but they did so without totally abandoning their secular
responsibilities and obligations. Some of these associations
took their religious ideals to extremes, which posed a threat
to the Church itself, preaching against its dogmas and
criticizing its hierarchy, and it came to a situation where they
considered heretics, and as such, were intensely attacked.
Others remained faithful to the Church. One such group
was the Humiliati, which had started out as an association
to promote Church reform, and which was protected by
Innocent III, who approved its Rule on 7th June 1201
and incorporated it into the ecclesiastic discipline. The
Third Order would have had the same purposes as the
Humiliati, but focused more on the spirit of the Order
of Saint Francis65. It is entirely possible that the Letter to
All the Faithful, written in 1215, was a summary of the
principles that could govern an association of penitents66.
Sabatier, referring to the above-mentioned letter, says “the
entire Franciscan Gospel is summarized in those pages”67,
“targeted at all Christians, religious persons, clergy and lay
persons68, both men and women, inhabitants of the whole
In 1221, St. Francis and the future protector of the
Order, Cardinal Ugolino of Ostia, wrote a Rule for the
Third Order70, of which Bernard of Bessa informs us, but
we know nothing more about it as this document no longer
survives. Once the Third Order had been established, little
by little it received privileges, until it was no longer subject
to the civil laws and the feudal life, and its members were
prohibited from swearing oaths or even taking up arms.
Between 1213 and 1214, St. Francis undertook his
mission to Morocco, where he hoped to make contact with
the Saracen infidels, but an illness kept him in Spain and,
in the company of Bernard of Quintaville, he returned to
Italy71. In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council72 was held,
and some biographers place this important event in the
history of the Church as the time of the meeting between
the founders of the mendicant orders, St Francis and
St. Dominic. According to the Franciscan historiographic

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tradition, St. Dominic had adopted “poverty” as a way of
life for his religion under the influence of St. Francis73.
In 1217, at the Chapter held in that year, the Order
had a high number of members and strong representativity,
having reached every social class of the medieval population,
including nobles, masters, craftsmen, and others.
The chapter of that year decided to give the rapidly
expanding Order a formal organizational structure, dividing
it into provinces and appointing provincial ministers. Also,
it was from this chapter that the great missions outside Italy
were established, with friars being sent to Spain, Germany,
Hungary, France and the Holy Land74.
Jordan of Giano writes, in his chronicle, that the friars,
on arriving in France, when questioned as to whether they
were Albigenses, replied in the affirmative, not knowing
what this meant, and from then on they were seen as
The same occurred in Germany where, on being
questioned whether they were heretics, and not knowing
the language, they replied yes, and were then incarcerated
and humiliated, before finally returning to Italy, considering
Germany such a difficult place that only friars wishing to
become martyrs went there76.
With the growth and expansion of the Order, the
personal leadership of St. Francis, which was visible and
was felt in the daily life of the small community, naturally
decreased77. In 1217, a new event took place that would
be of profound importance for the future of the Order.
In Florence, St. Francis met, for the first time, the future
protector of the Order, Cardinal Ugolino de Ostia, who
was Count of Segni and plenipotentiary legate of the Pope
for Lombardy and Tuscany, and a relative of Pope Innocent
III. Ugolino, an elderly man with much experience, had
perceived the importance of this new religious Order for
the Church, which at that time was desirous of reform.
Attacked by dreadful evils against which attempts at cure
had little or no effect, St. Francis and his friars appeared as
unexpected envoys, boosting the morale of a Church that
had been devastated by heresy. So Cardinal Ugolino placed
high hopes in these mendicants.

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On his appointment as Cardinal protector of the Order,
after the death of Cardinal John of Saint Paul, Ugolino
endeavoured to offer it his strong support and we know,
from the Legenda Trium Sociorum, that the Cardinal sent
letters of recommendation to the prelates of various places,
urging them not to persecute the friars, but to offer them
protection, allowing them to preach and live in their
provinces, as they were “good and holy men, approved by
the authority of the apostolic headquarters”78.
It is quite possible that this intervention was somewhat
distasteful to the founding Saint, since it did not permit
the friars to ask for any privileges for themselves79. The fact
is that in 1218, the Cardinal protector played a prominent
role in the business of the Order, whether in relation to
the organization, or in matters pertaining to the Poor
Clares, to which, at the Cardinal’s intercession, the Pope
issued a letter, dated 27 August 1218, affirming that the
funds collected for the building of convents for the sisters
belonged to the Holy See80.
Meanwhile, in that same year, Francis retired to a
hermitage, and the administration of the Order was taken
over by Cardinal Ugolino. It was only in 1219 that Francis
returned to his active life, on the occasion of the General
Chapter, held in Porziuncola and presided over by Cardinal
The chapter of 1219 continued to promote the expansion
of the Order overseas, to far-flung places. Due to the
failure of the first missions to Germany and Hungary, the
resolutions to send new missions to these places would be
repeated. Friars were also sent to Morocco and Spain, and
even Tunisia. Francis proposed to reach Syria, for which
purpose he appointed two vicars to take care of the affairs of
the Order; one of them, Matthew of Narni, was to remain
in Porziuncola, to look after the new members, while the
other, Gregory of Naples, was entrusted with the job of
travelling through Italy to counsel the friars81. Francis,
accompanied by a group of friars, set off for Ancona and
from there, set off for the East. Among his companions
were Pietro Cataneo, Iluminato, Barbaro and Leonardo.
His destination was to pass through Egypt, where the

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crusades were doing battle against the Saracens; arriving at
Damietta, where he would meet with the Sultan Melek-
el-Kamel with the aim of converting him to Christianity.
It appears that the Sultan welcomed him for several days,
treating him with reverence and admiration82.
While Francis was in the East, things at the Order went
from bad to worse. Ugolino, who in his excessive zeal was
introducing ways that were strange the friars, and not in
keeping with the ideas of the founding saint, had taken the
initiative of instigating dangerous changes to the spirit that
had animated the first disciples of the community, when
it was still in its early days. Under his influence, Honorius
III, on 11th June 1219, sent a letter to all the prelates,
asking them to treat the friars with respect and facilitate
their preaching83. This privilege was not viewed well by the
founder, who saw it as an open door for other concessions
against principles of poverty that governed all the actions of
the fraternity. On 22nd September 1220, the Pope published
an order requiring that those who wished to enter the
Order complete a one year novitiate. And while Francis
was far away from Italy, a Chapter was held, presided over
by the two vicar generals, under the guidance of Ugolino,
in which it was decided to adopt more rigorous measures
for fasting84. Furthermore, Ugolino sought to create more
favourable and comfortable conditions for the friars. All
this would no doubt have caused concern, among those
friars who were strict followers the Rule, as to the direction
the Order was taking under the guidance of its cardinal
protector. Meanwhile, rumours were circulating that Francis
had died at the hands of the Saracens, and that he would not
return from the East. The lack of discipline took on serious
proportions when a friar named Philip, who was curator of
the Poor Clares, asked the Holy See for privileges to defend
them, and the power to excommunicate any who caused
problems85. Another friar, John of Conpello, gathered
lepers, both men and women, and founded a new Order,
writing a new Rule, which he presented to the apostolic
headquarters in the hopes of gaining recognition86. Jordan
of Giano narrates, in his chronicle, that a fortuneteller
from overseas had prophesized that the Order was under
threat, and addressing the companions of St. Francis, asked 37

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them to return “to the discipline that had been devastated
by Francis’ absence, which had disrupted and separated
the fraternity”87. After mentioning the deviations of Friar
Philip and John of Conpello, Jordan of Giano concluded
that besides this disruption that was affecting the Order,
others had occurred, according to the fortuneteller from
In these circumstances, a friar, Stephen of Narni, decided
to inform St. Francis, who was at that time in Saint John
of Acre, of the events that had occurred in the Order. On
hearing of the changes taking place in the brotherhood,
Francis decided to return as quickly as possible to Italy.
Disembarking in Venice, he travelled south, to Bologna,
where he found a convent that had been built to serve as a
place of study. This initiative had been taken by the provincial
minister of Lombardy, a Doctor of Law in Bologna. Francis
refused to stay in that building, preferring to remain among
the Dominicans in that place, and he asked the friars of
that house, including some who were sick, to abandon it. It
was only at the intervention of Ugolino, who declared that
the house belonged to him, that the founder of the Order
calmed down89. It appears that in these circumstances, the
event in Bologna was not a one-off case, as the Speculum
Perfectionis narrates another episode in which Francis
wanted to destroy a large building built for the friars by
the people of Assisi, and only held back from carrying
through his intention because the people alleged that the
house belonged to the city90. The Speculum Perfectionis also
recounts that Francis reprehended his vicar, who ordered
the construction of a small house where the friars could rest
and pray their canonical hours91. Even in the hermitages,
poverty should be preserved, and in relation to habitation,
the Speculum brings the testimony of the disciples who were
closest to Francis:
We who were with him often heard him repeat the
passage [of the Gospels]: “Foxes have dens and the birds
of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to
lay his head”. Shortly before his death, he had it written in
his Testament that all the cells and houses of the brothers
ought to be only of mud and wood only, the better to
safeguard poverty and humility.92

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Following the event in Bologna, Francis went to Assisi,
where he presided over the General Chapter for that year.
Sick and afflicted, in anguish over the destiny of his Order,
the leadership of which had slipped from his hands while he
had been absent, he decided to abdicate there and then. On
his abdication, he appointed Pietro Cataneo as his successor,
recommending him to the Franciscan family, as he was one
of the first disciples who had accompanied him to Syria93.
However, Pietro Cataneo died soon after his appointment,
on 10th March 1221, and so a new successor, Friar Elias was
appointed, who had also accompanied Francis to Syria and
was minister of that province.
Having secured his successor, Francis retired to an
isolated place, and together with Caesar of Speyer94, began
to revise the Rule of 1210 that had been previously approved
by Innocent III. The Order grew, and the need arose for a
Rule that would set forth the ideals of the Order and its
organizational principles. The result of this review was the
Regula Prima of 122195.
The new Regula Prima96 was presented at the Chapter of
20th May 1221, held in Porziuncola, but the state of health
of Francis, who was suffering from an eye problem, as well
as internal sickness, and had perhaps contracted malaria
too, was very serious, forcing him to retire altogether from
the business of the Order. In truth, the Order was now
under the guidance of Elias, the provincial ministers, and
the Cardinal Protector Ugolino.
In 1222, at the Chapter of Pentecost, known as the
Chapter of the “mats”, around 5000 friars gathered,
demonstrating the vast size to which the Order had grown.
It was on this occasion that a group of friars, “men of
letters and sciences”, presented themselves before Cardinal
Ugolino, who was presiding over the Chapter, asking him to
persuade Francis to “follow the advice of the more instructed
and knowledgeable holy men, and let himself be guided
by them”. They based their pretensions on the Rules of St.
Benedict, St. Augustine and St. Bernard, “which stated that
[the Orders] should live according to an established rule”.
Francis’ response, directed at all those who were gathered
in the Chapter, was that “the Lord has called me to walk the

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paths of humility and simplicity, and He does not want to
leave this path... Therefore I do not want you to cite any
Rule at me, whether of St. Benedict or any other... But in
exchange, God will confound you for your vain science and
inflamed knowledge, and I believe that God will punish
you, through those who are ministers of justice, until you,
whether you like it or not, will return to your primitive state,
to your shame”97. Francis’ attitude of reservation towards
the men of science was explained by the fact that science
did not indicate the route of charity, but moved away from
it, “in order learn vain and useless things”98. The Speculum
Perfectionis states that he predicted that times would soon
come in which the inflated and proud science would be
the cause of the spiritual ruin of many. And wishing to
avoid this danger, it is said that he appeared a certain time,
after his death, to a friar who had been his companion, and
whom he severely admonished; furthermore, he prohibited
him from dedicating such exaggerated effort to the office of
preaching, ordering him to dedicate himself, instead, to the
practice of holy humility and apostolic simplicity99.
These words of Francis reflected the new problems
and the internal debate that existed in the Order. Poverty,
sancta paupertas, the very backbone of St. Francis’ ideals,
was brought into question by the profound changes that
were taking place at its heart. He understood poverty as
the absolute refusal to own property or any object; but this
extremism was no longer accepted by the new heads or
ministers, who felt insecure about fully adopting this way
of life on a daily basis and depending entirely on begging
or the goodwill of the faithful. Being a “minor” meant, for
Francis, withdrawing from every privilege and descending
to the lowest level of society, living in poverty among the
poor; among the sick and the lepers, to care for them;
among those who live without any permanent abode,
working with them in the fields or in any other manual
work; or preaching the truths of the gospel.
The entry of the clerical element created new problems,
but caused the very Rule elaborated by the founder to be
questioned. The clerics, by nature, needed more stability,
books, and fixed places, and the opportunity to apply their
40 study and science100.

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The passage of chapter XLI of the Speculum Perfectionis
sounds like a painful cry of St. Francis: “Who are those who
are wresting my Order and my friars from my hands? If I
could attend the next General Chapter, I’d show them my
way of thinking”. He was severely ill, bed-ridden and unable
to do anything, but aware that the Order was beginning to
go down a route that was far from what he had envisaged.
One of the Francis’ attempt to bring the Order back to
its primitive ideals, in the final years before his death, besides
the personal example of his lifestyle, was to write a new
Rule, which was also requested by the friars who had clung
to the ideals of the Order’s early beginnings. In autumn
of 1222, accompanied by Friar Leo, his close friend and
secretary, together with another friar, Boniface of Bologna,
he retired to the hermitage of Fonte Colombo, in the Rieti
valley, in search of peace, to elaborate a new Rule. When it
was ready, he sent it to Friar Elias, vicar general of the Order,
but some of the friars found it too rigid, and in the end,
whether on not through a deliberate act, this Rule ended up
being lost, perhaps even destroyed by Elias himself101. Once
again Francis returned to the hermitage to write the Rule;
but this time he took it directly to Cardinal Ugolino, who
probably made him alter some parts, as Ugolino himself
mentions in the bull Quo Elongati of 1230102. Once Francis
and Ugolino had come together in common agreement,
they submitted the Rule for the appreciation of Honorius
III and, according to the testimony of Angelo Clareno103,
the Pope persuaded Francis to eliminate a passage that said
the friars should individually observe the Rule ad litteram,
even though the ministers had determined otherwise. The
Speculum Perfectionis mentions that the ministers required
that the principle adopted by the Gospel, which was the
message received by Francis at the beginning of his religious
life, be removed from the Rule. However, even though
the ministers knew that the friars were obliged to observe
the Holy Gospel according to the Rule, they nevertheless
caused the part that said: “Take nothing for the journey”
etc. to disappear from the Rule.
After the General Chapter of 1223, the modified Rule
was taken to Honorius III, who confirmed it on 29th
November 1223 through the bull Solet Annuere104. This 41

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Rule is traditionally known as the Regula Bullata, and from
that time on, it became the official Rule of the Order105.
In 1224, on mount Alvernia, St. Francis received the
Stigmata, or wounds of Christ, as a sign of the vision
that he had had of Christ, after dedicating much time to
meditation and vigil106.
Despite his failing health, particularly the eye problems,
which had worsened to the point that he was almost blind,
he continued with his missionary work, visiting the villages
of the Rieti valley, until in 1225, his strength failed him,
and he remained in St. Damian. It was in this period of
suffering and pain, that he composed the Canticle of Brother
Sun, one of the most beautiful pieces of religious literature
in all humanity.
Between the winter of 1225 and 1226, he traveled to
Siena, where he was able to receive better medical care for
his precarious health. He was accompanied by Leo, Masseo
and Rufino, who attempted to alleviate his pain and give
him the necessary care under the circumstances. Soon
afterwards he was taken to Assisi, where he was cared for
at the palace of the bishop of the city, to prevent the crowd
from pestering or even threatening him in their attempts
to gain some relic of the Saint. Sensing that his end was
near, he wrote his Testament, in which, in a kind of final
recollection, he reminded the friars of the ideals of their
foundation and their profession of faith as an example and
instruction for the Order.
In the last part of the Testament, Francis states for
the ministers and custodians: “Always keep this writing
with you, together with the Rule, and in all the chapters,
whenever you read the Rule, read also these words”.

It was not long before polemic debates arose surrounding

the Rule and the Testament, which would lead to the
Order splitting into factions or parties. Francis himself
had foreseen that this would happen, emphasizing in
his Testament “and to all my friars, clergy and laymen, I
strongly order by obedience that you do not put in the
Rule, or in these words, glosses saying: This is how it must
be understood. However, as the Lord has me granted me

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permission to speak and write the Rule and these words
purely and simply, therefore I want you to understand them
purely and simply, without gloss, and with holy work guard
them until the end”107.
At the end of that September, Francis asked them to
take him to Porziuncola, the placed he loved most, and
which reminded him of the early days of his Order. Having
spoken to the friars about poverty and the observance of
the Gospel of Christ, he blessed them. As night fell on 3rd
October 1226, certain that death was near, he asked to be
undressed and laid on the ground108.
And thus, as he had begun, so he died.


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1. J. Joergensen, Saint François d’Assise, sa vie et son œuvre, Paris, 1910,

p. 9, mentions that the bishop of Assisi, in 1689, when in Lucca, was in
possession of an old manuscript which read “that there were, in Lucca, two
brothers called Moriconi who were salesmen. One of them remained in the
country; the other, nicknamed Bernardone, went to Umbria and settled in
Assisi, where he married and had a son, called Pietro. This boy, heir to a
considerable fortune, married a young woman from the noble family called
Pica, and later became the father of Francis”.
2. P. Sabatier, Vie de S. François d’Assise, Lib. Fischbacher, Paris, 37th
ed., s.d., p. 4; Joergensen, op. cit., p. 14. Gebry, Ivan, Saint François d’Assise
et l’esprit franciscain, Maîtres Spirituels, Paris, 1957, p. 16, proposes other
hypotheses on the change of name, saying that it is entirely possible that
in his teenage years, St. Francis’ companions had called him this due to
his ability to speak and express himself in French. See also “Speculum
Perfectionis”, VII, 93, in Escritos..., BAC, p. 759. The provençal troubadour
literature was widespread in Italy from the 12th century, and formed part of
the educational training of young people from families of a certain social
standing in that period. In relation to the introduction of the troubadour
literature in Italy, see M. C. Fauriel, “La poésie provençale en Italie”, in
Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, 1841-1843, p. 23. L. Le Monnier,
Histoire de Saint François d’Assise, Lyon, Vitte and Perussel, 1889, Tome I,
p. 12, states that four of the greatest troubadours of Provence, Bernardo de
Ventadour, Cadenet, Raimbaud de Vaqueras and Pedro Vidal were in Italy
from 1180 to 1200.
3. Sabatier, op. cit., p. 4, note 4.
4. L. Le Monnier, op. cit., T. l, p. 14.
5. Legenda Trium Sociorum, c. l, in loc. cit., p. 142; “l Celano”, c. l, 2,
in Escritos, p. 287; “2 Celano”, I, c. l, 3; “Vita beati Francisci”, de Julian of
Spira, c. l, in Analecta Bollandiana, T. XXI, p. 161.
6. P. Sabatier, op. cit., p. 4, note 4. Modern authors go to extremes in
interpreting this biographical aspect of the Saint as a sign of the spirit of
Franciscanism. They see Saint Francis as a medieval knight who promised
to defend Christianity and who sanctified his ideals in the manner of the
feudal knights.
7. “2 Celano”, P. I, c. l, 4.
8. Saint Bonaventure, “Legenda”, I, 2.
9. Legenda Trium Sociorum, c. 2, 4 (in the edition of the Acta Sanctorum,
L, T. II, 4-oct., pp. “2 Celano”, P. I, c. l, 3.
10. Legenda Trium Sociorum, c. 2, 5.
11. Idem, c. 2, 6; “2 Celano”, 1, 2.
12. Legenda Trium Sociorum, c. 3, 7; “2 Celano”, 1, 3.
13. J. Joergensen, op. cit., p. 42, recalled the fact that from 14th
September 1204 to 25th March 1206, and from 4th April to 11th May 1206,
Pope Innocent III was in Rome, which leads us to believe that there was a
special religious program at Saint Peter’s Basilica, perhaps accompanied by
a solemn indulgence.
14. Legenda Trium Sociorum, c. 3, 10.
15. Legenda Trium Sociorum, c. 4, 11; “1 Celano”, 7, 17.
16. Idem, c. 4, 11; “1 Celano”, 17.

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17. Idem, c. 4, 12.
18. Idem, c. 5, 13; “3 Celano”, 1, 16.
19. Idem, c. 6, 16; “1 Celano”, 4, 8-9.
20. Idem, c. 6, 16; “1 Celano”, 4, 9.
21. On this subject, see an unpublished text in vulgar Umbrian, from
the XIV century, published by Monsignor Faloci in Miscellanea Francescana,
vol. VIII, fasc. 3, reproduced by T. Nediani, La Fiorita Francescana..., ed.
Vita e Pensiero, Milan, 1946, p. 5.
22. Idem, c. 6, 20; “2 Celano”, 1, 7, 2; “1 Celano”, 6, 15.
23. Saint Bonaventure, “Legenda”, II, 4. Anonymus Perusinus, Acta
Sanctorum, L. T. II, octobris, dies, 4, p. 572.
24. Legenda Trium Sociorum, c. 7, 21.
25. Idem, c. 7, 21.
26. Idem, 7, 21.
27. Julian of Speyer, loc. cit., p. 168.
28. The Legenda Trium Sociorum makes no mention of the Porziuncola
Church. Sabatier, op. cit., p. 78; Joergensen, op. cit., p. 83.
29. Matthew, 10:9-10.
30. Legenda Trium Sociorum, 8, 25-26; Julian of Speyer, loc. cit., p.169;
“1 Celano”, 9, 22; c. 10-23.
31. “1 Celano”, 10, 24; Saint Boaventure, Legenda III, 28; “Legenda
Trium Sociorum”, 8, 27. Bernard of Bessa, “Liber de Laudibus beati
Francisci”, in Analecta Franciscana, T. III, p. 667.
32. “Glassberger Chronica”, in Analecta Franciscana, T. II, Ad Claras
Aquas, 1887, p. 6.
33. Matthew, 19:21.
34. Matthew, 16:24.
35. Lucas, 9:3; Mathew, 6:8-9.
36. Saint Bonaventure, “Legenda”, III, 1.
37. Saint Bonaventure, “Legenda”, III, 3.
38. Acta Sanctorum, L, oct. T. II, p. 572, in which the arrival of Friar
Egidio is narrated; the same text is also found in the Analecta Franciscana,
39. Saint Bonaventure, “Legenda”, III, 5. Miscellanea Franciscana, vol.
XIII, pp. 6-21. (Actus S. Franc. in the Valley of Rieti). For information on
each disciple, see Marianus of Florence, Compendium Chronicarum Fratrum
Minorum, in AFH, T. 1, 1908, pp. 98-107.
40. Saint Bonaventure, “Legenda”, IV, 3.
41. Saint Bonaventure, “Legenda”, IV, 2; “1 Celano”, 14-35.
42. Legenda Trium Sociorum, c. 12, 51.
43. Sabatier, op. cit., p. 100. The date of approval of the Rule by
Innocent III is discussed by Sabatier, who comes to the conclusion that
it could only have been in the Spring of 1210, since the Pope had left
Rome for Viterbo in May 1209 and returned to Rome to crown Otto IV
on 4th October, according to data from A. Potthast, Regesta Pontificum
Romanorum, 3727-3803 (we used Graz’s reprint in two volumes, 1957).
On the first Rule, see David Flood, La genèse de la Règle, in D. Flood,
W. Van Dijk, T. Matura (eds.), La naissance d’une charisma. Une lecture de
la première règle de François d’Assise (Présence de Saint François 24), Paris,
1973, pp. 115-147; David Flood, The Daily Labor of the Early Franciscans,
The Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University, NY, 2010.
44. Sabatier, op. cit., p. 102, note 1.

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45. São Bonaventure, “Legenda”, c. III, 9; “Legenda Trium Sociorum”,
c. 12, 51.
46. Idem, ch. 3, 10. A similar right to preach was previously given to
Peter Valdo, in 1179, founder of the sect of the Waldenses and the Durand
of Huesca, in 1207. Both fell into heresy. See Guiraud, Jean, Histoire de
l’Inquisition au Moyen Age, ed. Auguste Picard, Paris, 1935; Falbel, N.,
Heresias Medievais, Perspectiva, SP, 1977, pp. 60-65; Cahiers de Fanjeaux
2, Vaudois languedociens et Pauvres Catholiques, Privat, 1967.
47. Speculum Perfectionis, c. 2, 18; “2 Celano”, c. 4, 71-74.
48. The Legenda Trium Sociorum, c. 13, 55, tells that “when the happy
Father and his sons were abiding in a place hard by Assisi that is called
Rivo Torto, where was a certain wooden cote deserted of man, the which
place was so narrow that scarce could they sit or lie down therein...The
man of God wrote the names of the brethren on the beams of cote, so
that he that was minded to rest, or to pray, might know his own place,
and in their huddling together for the straitness of the room, no unseemly
noise might disturb the silence of the mind.” But one day a countryman
appeared with a donkey seeking lodging at the place where the friars were
living, who, that he might not be repulsed by the brethren, spake unto his
ass as he entered: ‘Get in with you, get well within, for we shall do well
in this place’. “The holy Father was troubled in spirit, in especial over the
man, for that he had made a great disturbance with his ass, disquieting
the brethren who were one and all giving themselves up unto silence and
prayer.” From that moment, they decided to move to Porziuncola, leaving
the shack in the Rivo-Torto for use by the lepers. Porziuncola belonged to
the Benedictine monks of mount Subasio, whose Abbot granted the chapel
of the first Franciscans. “1 Celano”, 16, 44.
49. The “Vita Fratris Aegidii” is generally published as an additional part
of the Fioretti. In Latin, the name is Aegidius and in French, Gilles, or Egide;
both forms appear in the translations. In “Chronica XXIV Generalium”, in
Analecta Franciscana, T. III, pp. 74-115, we find the “Vita Fratris Aegidii”,
in 59 chapters, who according to Omer Englebert, Les Fioretti de Saint
François, ed. Denoël, Paris, 1944, p. 251, is a development of the biography
written by Friar Leo. See also Vita Brevis B. Aegidii Assisiensis, published
by P. Araules e P. Ferdinandus, in AFH, 1, 109, pp. 267-277, who cites
Ubertino da Casale, Arbor Vitae Crucifixae Iesu, Lib. III, c. VIII, p. 90 a.
1, Venetiis, 1485.
50. As regards the origin of the name minores, we find in Luc. 22:26:
“Sed qui maior est in vobis fiat sicut minor (in the new edition of the
Vulgata, Stuttgart, 1969, the term iunior appears) et que praecessor est
sicut ministrator”. The reason for the name appears in “1 Celano”, 15, 38;
Spec. Perf., 4, 44, 2, 26; as well as “Cuonradi Urspergensium Chronicon”,
in MGH, Scriptores, T. XXIII, p. 376. It should be remembered that the
lower classes of the urban population at that time were called “the minors”
and the well-off, “the majors”. This was the agreed classification in the 17th
Century and applied to the citizens of the time, as clarified by Daniel Waley
in Las ciudades–repúblicas italianas, ed. Guadarrama, Madrid, 1969, p. 43.
For this term, see Hilarino Felder, Los ideales de San Francisco de Assis, ed.
Desclée, Buenos Aires, 1948, pp. 186-187, note 24.
51. Speculum Perfectionis, c. 4, 58.
52. Iacobus a Vitriaco, Historia Orientalis et Occidentalis, apud
Wadding, Annales Minorum, p. 10. For the other testimonies, see the
important collection of texts by P. L. Lemmens, Testimonia Minora saeculi
XIII de S. P. Francisco, in AFH, 1, 1908, pp. 248-266; Annales Normannicis,
MGH, Script., T. XXVI, p. 514.
53. “2 Celano”, 15, 143.
54. Saint Bonaventure, “Legenda”, IV, 6; “1 Celano”, 18-20.
55. Bull of Canonisation of Alexandre IV on Saint Claire, published

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on pp. 108-120, of the Escritos de Santa Clara y documentos contemporáneos,
BAC, Madrid, 1970, p. 111.
56. “Testamentum S. Clarae”, p. 275, in Seraphicae Legislationis Textus
Originales, Ad. Claras Aquas, 1897.
57. “Processo de Canonizacion de Santa Clara”, in Escritos de Santa
Clara..., pp. 61-107, which tells of the miraculous cures effected by the
58. Escritos de Santa Clara..., p. 36.
59. “Legenda Sanctae Clarae”, 14, in Escritos de Santa Clara…,
pp. 144.
60. Idem, p. 115.
61. “Regra Inocenciana”, in Escritos de Santa Clara..., pp. 239-247.
Cardinal Ugolino, the protector of the Order, had given the sisters a Rule
in 1219 in which they were permitted to own land and live in seclusion,
which contradicted the ideal of preaching poverty and brought them closer
to the way of the life of the traditional orders. “Regra ugoliniana”, idem, pp.
210-232. Bernard of Bessa, Liber de Laudibus, p. 686, defines the nature of
the Order of the Poor Clares.
62. “Regra Própria de Santa Clara”, idem, pp. 259-276.
63. AFM, 5, 1912, pp. 207-208.
64. “1 Celano”, 15, 37.
65. In the past, there was a discussion among historians of the
Franciscan Order, who questioned whether St. Francis’s intention was to
found not a religious order, but rather, a kind of brotherhood that would
include both men and women who wanted to live according to the Gospel.
One proponent of this view was the historian Mandonnet, who in 1897,
proposed this hypothesis and came to the conclusion that this order would be
that of the Penitents, with the division into three parts only occurring later.
Other historians followed in the footsteps of the great Dominican historian
Pierre Mandonnet, including the excellent P. Sabatier, although he did
not ascribe fully to this theory. Sabatier observed that “les compagnons de
François, qui recevaient des frères, recevaient aussi des sœurs, et revenaient
parfois de leurs courses missionaires avec une néophite pour Saint-Damien”
and affirmed, in note 1, p. 181 of his work that in the beginning, the friars
received sisters in the Order, and that the term was used in the singular to
include both friars and sisters. Later, Sabatier generalizes, with a certain
reason, that in the reforming sects of the beginning of the 13th Century,
both sexes were closely united. On this subject, see J. Moorman, A History
of the Franciscan Order, Oxford, 1968, p. 41.
66. Gli Scritti di S. Francesco D’Assisi, introduzione e note critiche di
Mons. V. Facchinetti, Vita e Pensiero, Milano, 1954, p. 114.
67. P. Sabatier, op. cit., p. 317.
68. Pierre Riché, “Recherches sur l’instruction des laïcs du IXe au XIIe
siècle”, in Cahiers de Civilisation Médièvale, Université de Poitiers, avril-juin,
1962, p. 180.
69. Gli Scritti di S. Francesco, p. 125.
70. Bernard of Bessa, Liber de Laudibus, p. 686.
71. “1 Celano”, 20, 56. Sabatier, op. cit., p. 198, states that the journey
of Francis to Spain took place between 1214 and 1215, and that in 1213
he was in Italy. The place where mount La Verna, or Alvernia was located
was donated by a nobleman, Orlando de Chiusi, who was one of the first
to join the Third Order. The mountain served as a place of isolation and
meditation and it was here that St. Francis received the Stigmata in 1224.
72. At the Lateran Council, the Franciscan Rule was confirmed by
Innocent III, even though the council had decided not to approve any new
Rule, according to canon 13. The inaugural sermon of the council, given

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by Innocent III, mentioned the tau symbol, which came to be used as the
symbolic signature of St. Francis; it is recalled in “2 Celano”, 8, 106, and
in St. Bonaventure, “Legenda”, IV, 9, according to Friar Pacifico. In the
Basilica of Assisi, a parchment is preserved which contains a blessing of
St. Francis to Friar Leo: “Benedicat tibi Dominus et custodiat te, ostendat
faciem suam tibi et misereatur tui convertat vultum suum ad te et det tibi
pacem”. Below it is the signature of St. Francis represented by the T. and
the words: “frater Leo Dominus benedicat te”. The same parchment also
bears the words: “Beatus Franciscus scripsit manu sua istam benedictionem
mihi fratri Leoni”, and further down: “Simili modo fecit istud signum thau
cum capite manu sua”. The parchment then ends with a note that confirms
the receiving of the Stigmata by the Saint, on mount Alvernia. According
to Joergensen, op. cit., p. XXV, the tau that is found in Ezekiel 9:4 was
considered in the Middle Ages the symbol of the cross, and the common
interpretation of the drawing left in the parchment by St. Francis is that
of a cross on mount Golgotha. St. Bonaventure, in “Legenda’’, IV, 9, says
that St. Francis liked to sign his letters with the Tau symbol. The most
interesting aspect is the origin of this interpretation of the verse from the
prophet Ezekiel, as the Hebrew word thav meant sign, or mark, and not
cross, and it was not a letter, but a word, although the medieval exegeses
confused the Greek letter tau with the Hebrew word thav. The prophet
Ezekiel spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem for its sins, and that those
with the mark on their foreheads would be saved, as they “grieve and lament
over all the detestable things that are done in it”. Our question relates to
St. Francis’s motive for adopting the tau or the thav of the prophet Ezekiel;
could it be: a) because they, i.e. his disciples or the Franciscans, were those
who “grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done” in
the city; b) because it is the symbol of the cross, therefore what could be
more appropriate for identifying with Christ, in the spirit of the imitatio
Dei that was typical of St. Francis? Curiously the most ancient form of the
phenician-hebrew letter thav was shaped like a cross.
73. R. F. Bennett, The Early Dominicans, Cambridge, 1937, p. 32,
duly explains this issue: “There is, of course, no reason in the nature of the
case why St. Dominic or any other, instead of St. Francis, should not have
made the mystical marriage with the ‘Lady Poverty’ and have been the real
revolutionary; for it must never be forgotten that poverty in its relation to
the Christian life was ‘in the air’ at the end of the twelfth century and that
no special explanation is required for its adoption by a new movement
which came comparatively late into the field. Sufficient has already been said
about Waldensians, Albigenses, Poor Catholics and Humiliati for this point
to be admitted without further discussion”. On poverty in the Middle Ages
and Franciscan poverty , among others, see R. Manselli,La povertá nella
vita di Francesco d’Assisi, in La povertá del secolo XII e Francesco d’Assisi,
(Atti del II Convegno Internazionale, Assisi,17-19 ottobre 1974), Assisi
1975, pp.256-282; Malcolm D. Lambert, Franciscan Poverty: The doctrine of
absolute poverty of Christ and the apostles in the Franciscan Order,1210-1323,
Franciscan Institute, Bonaventure University, N.Y., 1998; Michel Mollat,
Le problème de la pauvreté au XIIe siècle, in Cahiers de Fanjeaux 2, pp. 23-
47; Etienne Delaruelle, Le problème de la pauvreté vu par les théologiens et
les canonistes dans la deuxième moitié du XIIe siècle, idem, pp.48-63; L. A. De
Boni, O debate sobre a pobreza como problema politico nos séculos XIII-XIV, in
Patristica et Mediaevalia, XIX, B. Aires, 1998, pp. 23-50.
74. “Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano”, in Analecta Franciscana, T. 1,
1885, p. 20.
75. Idem, p. 3.
76. Idem, p. 3.
77. F. Cuthbert, Life of St. Francis of Assisi, Longmans, London, 1960,
p. 236: “Until now it might be said that Francis was not merely the leader of
the brethren but their law. They might not all imitate him in every detail of
his daily life...” Francis was in the habit of calling Friar Pacifico “mother”...,

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as can be seen in Thomas of Toscana, in MGH, Script., T. XXII, p. 492:
“Frater Pacificus ut a beato Francisco pia mater apellaretur”.
78. Legenda Trium Sociorum, c. 16, 66.
79. St. Francis’ position in this sense is clear, and it fits perfectly with
his ideals. In the Testament, in Seraphicae Legislationis. Textus Originales,
p. 267: “I order in the name of obedience, that all the friars, wherever they
are, do not ask of anything from the Roman Curia”.
80. “Escritos de Santa Clara”, pp. 38-39.
81. Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano, p. 4.
82. “2 Celano”, 4, 30; Saint Bonaventure, “Legenda”, c. 9. 8, “1
Celano”, 20, 57; Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano, p. 4.
83. Bull. Franc., I, p. 2.
84. Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano, p. 4.
85. Idem, p. 5.
86. Idem, ibidem.
87. Idem, ibidem.
88. Idem, ibidem.
89. Spec. Perf., 2, 6. The testimony is given by a sick friar who on the
occasion, was obliged to leave that house.
90. Spec. Perf., 2, 7.
91. Spec. Perf., 2, 8.
92. Spec. Perf., 2, 9.
93. N. Glassberger, “Chronica”, in Analecta Franciscana, T. II, 1887,
p. 32; Spec. Perf., 4, 39. The same source, c. 4, 41, narrates that on being
asked why he had renounced the leadership of the Franciscan order, St.
Francis answered that it was because of some wicked prelates who were
trying to lead him in other directions, proposing antiquated doctrines
to him and ignoring his counsel, “but in the end, we will see the result
of their conduct”. The abdication of St. Francis attracted the attention
of academics, who analyzed the question from various angles, seeking to
explain the factors inherent to the process whereby the initial fraternitas
moved to the institutional phase of Ordo Fratrum Minorum. Important
studies, among others, are those of Jean François Godet-Calogeras, Francis
of Assisi’s Resignation: An Historical and Philological Probe, in Charisma
un Religiöse Gemeinschaften im Mittelalter, Vita Regularis 26 (Akten
des 3. Internationalen Kongresses des “Italienisch-deutschen Zentrums
für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte” - Dresden, 10-12 Juni, 2004),
Giancarlo Andenna, Mirko Breitenstein, Gert Melville (Hg.) Lit Verlag,
Münster, 2005, pp. 281-300; Roberto Rusconi, Moneo atque exhortor…
Firmiter praecipio. Carisma individuale e potere normative in Francesco
d’Assisi, Id., pp.261-280; Michael F. Cusato, Esse ergo mitem et humilem
corde hoc est vere fratrem minorem: Bonaventure of Bagnoregio and the
Reformulation of the Franciscan Charism, pp. 343-382. Michael M. Cusato
returns to the question in is work The Early Franciscan Movement (1205-
1239): History, Sources, and Hermeneutics, The Franciscan Institute, St.
Bonaventure University, NY, 2009; J. Delarun, François d’Assise ou le
pouvoir en question. Principes et modalités du gouvernement dans l’ordre
des Frères mineurs (Bibliothèque du Moyen Âge 15), Paris-Bruxelles, 1999;
T. Desbonnets, De l’intuition à l’institution: Les Franciscains, Éditions
Franciscaines, Paris, 1983.
94. Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano, p. 5.
95. It is always published with the Writings of St. Francis. See David
Flood, Die Regula non bullata der Minderbrüder, Dietrich–Coelde, Werl,
(Westf.), 1967.
96. According to the description of Jordan of Giano, the chapter had

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around 3000 friars, and the Pope was represented by Cardinal Raniero
Capocci. So much food was provided by the people of Assisi that after the
seventh day, the friars refused all that was offered to them, and began eating
the leftovers in the last two days.
97. Spec. Perf., 4, 68. The description ends by saying: “on seeing this
attitude, the Cardinal was amazed, not daring to reply, and all the holy men
felt a certain fear”.
98. Spec. Perf., 4, 69.
99. Spec. Perf., 4, 69.
100. Spec. Perf., 4, 71. In which the changes that the Order underwent
are narrated, through the question raised by a companion of Francis: “Why
not correct some of the abuses introduced?” “You know how before, by the
grace of God, the regular observance was in full strength throughout the
Order, and how in every way all the friars, with great fervour and diligence,
practiced in all things the holy virtue of poverty, both in the poor, humble
habitations and in the other utensis, as well as in the use of books and the
simplicity of their clothing. With this, and in all other matters pertaining to
the outward appearance, they sought to ensure that all had the same spirit of
fervour and also took care to practice everything that that corresponded to
their vocation and profession and contribute to the good example of others.
Likewise, they were the same in their love of God, their fellow man, as truly
apostolic men, and propagators of the Gospel. Now, on the contrary, for
some time it has been noted that they are beginning to move away from
this purity and perfection, although there are still those who make excuses
for this, attributing it to the growing number of friars, and claiming that
it is not possible to religiously observe these holy customs among so many.
Furthermore, there are some friars who are so blind in their way of thinking
that they dare to claim that these new ways better edify the people than
the old practices, instilling in them true devotion, so that they appear to
live with more religious fervour, without paying any attention to, and even
despising, the holy simplicity and evangelical poverty that constitute the
origin and the solid foundation of our Order”.
101. St. Bonaventure, “Legenda”, IV, 11. In the Spec. Perf., 1, the
narrative is more touching, as after the friars had insisted to the Vicar
General Elias that he ask Francis to soften the Rule, and Elias, out of fear,
had refused to speak with the Saint without being accompanied by the same
friars, they arrived together in the place where he was “and then Francis
raised his face towards heaven and spoke to Christ, saying: ‘Lord, did I not
rightly tell you that they would not believe me?’ At that moment, they all
heard the voice of Christ in the air, replying thus: ‘Francis, everything that
is in the Rule is mine, there is nothing in it that is yours, I want the Rule
to be observed to the letter; without gloss, without gloss and without gloss’.
And he added: ‘I know very well where human efforts can reach, and how
much I want to help them; therefore those who do not want to observe, let
them leave the Order’. On hearing this, the seraphic father turned to the
holy men and said to them: ‘Did you hear, did you hear? Do you want me
to ask Him to repeat it?’ and the ministers, filled with self-recrimination,
were confused and frightened”.
102. It is possible that Ugolino’s concept of the Church was quite
different from that of Francis, and we can imagine that it was not easy to
establish a bridge of ideas between the two great personalities, who admired
each other but who had quite contrasting views of the world. In the preface
to the Registri dei Cardinali Ugolino d’Ostia e Ottaviano degli Ubaldini,
Instituto Storico Italiano, Roma, 1890, Guido Levi, on p. X, speaks of
his mission: “La predicazione e preparativi della Crociata; la pacificazione
d’ogni discordia che impedisse l’unanime concorso all’impresa; la tutela
dei privilegi della Chiesa e dei chierici e l’estirpazione delli eresie sono i
principale capi della missione affidata al cardinalle Ugolino.Egli partiva
forte della fiducia del papa e...”

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103. Angelo Clareno, Expositio Regulae, ed. L. Oliger, Quaracchi,
1912, pp. 204-206. Recently, Jean-François Godet-Calogeras published
Commentaries on the Rule of the Friars Minor (13th - 14th Centuries),
The Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University, NY, 2009, which
includes the commentaries of Hugh of Digne, Pseudo-Bonaventure, David
of Augsburg, Peter of John Olivi and Angelo Clareno.
104. Bull. Franc., I, pp. 15-19. See Michael W.Blastic, A Study of the
Rule of 1223: History, Exegesis and Reflection, The Franciscan Institute,
St. Bonaventure University, NY, 2008; Rule of the Friars Minor, 1209-
2009: Historical Perspectives, lived Realities, The Franciscan Institute,
St. Bonaventure University, NY, 2010.
105. Seraphicae Legislationis. Textus Originales, pp. 35-47. It is also
found together with the various editions of the Writings of Saint Francis.
106. The narrative of the reception of the Stigmata found in “1 Celano”,
394; “2 Celano”, 14, 135-138, particularly the second part of the Fioretti,
under the title “ Considerations on the Stigmata”; “Legenda”, XIII, 2. On
the Stigmata see Vauchez, André, “The Stigmata of Saint Francis and Its
Medieval Detractors, in Greyfriars Review 13, 1999, pp. 61-89; C. Frugoni,
Francesco e l’invenzione delle stimmate, una storia per parole e imagini fino
a Bonaventura e Giotto, Einaudi, Torino, 1993; M. Damiata, La Verna e
le stigmate nell’Arbor vitae di Ubertino da casale. Significato della Verna per
la spiritualità francescana, in Studi Francescani 85 (1988), pp. 225-247;
see also the Introduction to Liturgical Texts for the Feast of the Stigmata
of Saint Francis, (1337-1340)” in “Francis of Assisi, The Prophet, Early
Documents, Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University, New City
Press, New York-London-Manila, 2001, vol. III, pp. 661-4; The Stigmata
of Francis of Assisi, Jacques Delarun, Michael F. Cusato, Carla Salvati, The
Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University, NY, 2006.
107. Seraphicae Legislationis. Textus Originales, p. 269.
108. The interpretation of St. Francis’ symbolic act is interpreted in
St. Bonaventure, according to F. Tocco, La Questione della povertá nel secolo
XIV, secondo nuovi documenti, ed. Francesco Perrella, Napoli, 1910, p.
6, refering to the question of the subsequent interpretation of the Rule;
St. Bonaventure, Op. Omnia, T. V, Ad Claras Aquas, 1891, p. 129a.


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II. The Generalship of Elias of Cortona

According to the tradition established in the

historiography of the Franciscan Order, Elias of Cortona is
accused of betraying the ideals of St. Francis in his position
as Minister General, by introducing innovations that led
to a conflict between factions that would later develop
within the Order. According to this same historiographic
tradition, his personal example and conduct, marked the
beginning of the end1. Furthermore, some of the Franciscan
sources attack the Minister General and judge him harshly,
accusing him of causing upheaval in the Order during his
generalship, though they acknowledge his great wisdom2
and personal talent in performing his functions. But his
personality, his career and his excessive and contradictory
ambition suggest that he was a complex figure who defies
all attempts at a simplistic, unilateral judgement.
It was Elias, in his position as vicar-general of the Order,
who announced the death of St. Francis to the brothers and
to the world, and it was he who carried away the Saint’s
body for burial. He was also responsible for constructing
the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Elias’ letter3 announcing the Saint’s death demonstrates
that its author was erudite, and from a literary point of view,
shows careful elaboration, with one or more objectives.
The considerable emphasis given to the description of
the Stigmata leads us to suppose that the author was keen
to publicize St. Francis’ holiness, perhaps to facilitate
his canonisation and thereby prepare the way for the
construction of the future basilica4.
On 6th June 1227, a Chapter General was held in Assisi, 53

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with the presence of Pope Gregory IX5 who had been elected
on 19th March of the same year, formerly Cardinal Ugolino,
ex-protector of the Order.
At this Chapter, John Parenti, Provincial Minister for
Spain, was elected Minister General of the Order, which
indicates that Elias’ time as vicar-general only lasted for a
short time6. Although this issue is not entirely clear, most
authors, based on the texts I have cited, tend to accept that
John Parenti was elected Minister General at the General
Chapter of 1227, and we suppose that Eccleston based his
narrative on information from the friars who actually took
part in the Chapter.
But the author of Chronologia Historico-Legalis, Friar
Michael Angelus, would also have found texts to support
his view. Eccleston’s narrative is very credible in its details,
and everything points to the fact that it is based on eye-
witness accounts of events.
Wadding is more cautious, and raises doubts over
the issue, stating that “controversum est inter nostros
scriptores utrum Elias, an vero Joannes Parens primus in
officio Generalatus subrogatus sit sancto Francis” (there is
a divergence of opinion among our writers as to whether
Elias or John Parenti came first in the generalship, after St.
Francis’ departure)7.
Eccleston narrates facts that coincide more with the
logic of things. Elias succeeded St. Francis as Minister
General because previously, he had been vicar-general, like
his predecessor Pietro Cataneo.
But everything suggests that the Order was not happy
with Elias, and soon he was forced to resign, with John
Parenti being elected in his place. In the General Chapter of
1230, against the wishes of the provincial ministers, Elias’
followers desired, more than anything, to see him reinstated
as Minister General8. But the unexpected attitude of John
Parenti totally disarmed the troublemakers, who were
dispersed to various provinces to do penance9. Elias, the
cause of all the confusion, grew his beard and hair as a sign
of penance and retired to a hermitage10.
After this Chapter, a group of friars, including Anthony
of Padua and Adam of Marisco, was sent to Pope Gregory

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IX to report what had taken place to the Supreme Pontiff.
According to Eccleston’s account, Elias and his supporters
were also with the Pope at the same time, and after hearing
both parties (Anthony spoke in accusation of Elias), the
Pope ordered Elias to resign from the generalship, to the
great relief of everyone11.
The remainder of Eccleston’s account relates, in my view,
to the year 1239, when Elias was once again deposed and
replaced by Albert of Pisa.
It appears that Eccleston, who wrote his chronicle
around the year 1258, is mixing up facts related to four
different Chapters: the one held in Assisi12, in 1227, the
one in Assisi in 1230, the one in Rieti, in 1232, and the one
in Rome, in 123913. All these chapters are linked, in some
way, to the figure of Elias.
But in all these accounts, we see that Elias was the
natural candidate for the generalship after the death of St.
Francis, not only because he occupied the position of vicar-
general of the Order, but also because he was very close to
the Saint, and much admired by him14.
Thus, we see him assume the leadership of the Order
soon after the death of St. Francis, with the sanction of Pope
Gregory IX, who had been elected on 19th March 1227. It
is presumed that Elias had close contact with the Pope’s
nephew, Reynald of Segni, who became the new protector
of the Order following Cardinal Ugolino’s election15.
However, despite expectations that Elias would be elected
for the position of Minister General, John Parenti was
elected, to the great disappointment of his opponent and
his opponent’s followers.
A Portuguese version of the Chronica XXIV Generalium16,
found in a manuscript from the 15th Century, supports
Eccleston’s narrative, giving further details of what took
We see in its description:
This Friar Elias, after the death of St. Francis, began to
build a church of marvellous strength and size, outside the
walls, in a distant place that was previously called Collado
do Inferno, but when Pope Gregory IX laid the first
cornerstone of the church, it came to be known as Colado 55

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do Paraisso. And for the construction of that church, Friar
Elias began to search, and send money through various
means, and he was the first to demand collections of
money from the provinces to finish that work, and these
collections were made when the people were gathered
to hear the preaching, and gave money to him. In
addition, there was a bowl made of marble in front of the
construction, in which those who came there put money.
And on seeing this, St. Francis’ companions, particularly
Friar Leo, went to Perugia to Friar Giles to seek advice. And
Friar Giles replied to him: If this cause was so important
that it reached Assisi, I need only a corner to live in. And
when the friars asked him whether they should break up
that bowl, Friar Giles turned and said to them, with tears
in his eyes: If he is dead, go and break it, and if he is alive,
leave it, or you could suffer the harsh persecutions of that
man Friar Elias. Even fully understanding his meaning,
Friar Leo with his companions went and smashed up the
bowl completely. Incensed by this action, Friar Elias had
them whipped by his servants and thrown out of Assisi,
causing great consternation among the friars. And all the
friars gathered at the general Chapter and for the above-
mentioned reasons, removed Friar Elias from the office of
leadership, and elected Friar John of Florence, called father
of the Order by surname, who was at that time minister of
the provinces of Spain18.

As we see, Elias was minister but he was deposed due to

his conduct, and John Parenti was elected in his place, at a
General Chapter in which the revolutionary friars expressed
their deep repulsion towards the attitudes assumed by
Gregory IX’s trusted confidant.
Later on, in the same chronicle, we read:
The second general of John Parenti, of the city of
Castellana in the Roman province, a fair and spiritual
man [...] minister of Spain, was elected at the Chapter in
Porziuncola [...] but the year in which this took place is
not clearly stated.

While deposed, Elias hoped to return to govern the

Order as Minister General, and in the Chapter of 1230,
in a coup d’état, he made a failed attempt to resume office.
John Parenti was the elected leader, or perhaps the Minister
56 General in office who did not want to resign.

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What could have prompted Elias to face such opposition
from the friars if, in fact, on the death of St. Francis he had
been appointed as leader, shortly after the short vicariate
of Peter Cataneo (from 1220 to 10th March 1221)? What
motives could Elias have given, to be so strongly opposed?
We find some of the answers to these questions in the texts
of Eccleston and the Portuguese chronicle. We know that
on 29th March 1228, a certain Simon Puzarelli gave Friar
Elias19 a plot of land called Collis Infernus (Hill of Hell),
on which to build a church where the body of St. Francis
– which until that time had lain in the church of St. George,
in Assisi - would be definitively laid to rest. Elias had been
appointed by Pope Gregory IX to build a church in memory
of the saint. Shortly after that, the Pope published a bull,
Recolentes Qualiter, in which he proclaimed the construction
of a large church, and granted, for those who contributed
to its construction, an indulgence of forty days. On the
13th July, the Pope travelled to Assisi, and on the 16th of the
same month, at the church of St. George, he canonized the
saint20. On 17th or 18th July, the foundation stone was laid
for the new church in Collis Infernus (Hill of Hell), now
renamed Collis Paradisi (Hill of Paradise)21. The very idea of
building a church would have shocked the friars who were
loyal to the Rule of the Order, and the fact that Elias set out
a marble bowl for the collection of money could only have
contributed still further to the growing discontent among
the friars that were following the way of absolute poverty.
Elias, as the person entrusted with the construction of the
future basilica of Assisi, was the one who was blamed for
this affront to the Rule, and became the target of the friars’
rage, as narrated in the Portuguese chronicle, Chronica
XXIV Generalium.
Leo, who was one of St. Francis’ earliest disciples,
smashed the bowl that was being used to collected funds
for the construction, having been advised by Friar Giles to
do so, together with his companions. As a result of this act,
Leo was persecuted by Minister Elias, and forced to flee to
escape punishment.
But the building work, under the guidance of Elias,
increased in scale and required increasing amounts of
money, which would have to be provided by the provincial 57

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ministers, under constant pressure from the ambitious
Minister General. In October 1229, Pope Gregory IX
declared that the territory and the basilica under construction
was the property of the Church, and as such, subject to the
jurisdiction of the Holy See. In April 1230, in the bull Is
qui Ecclesiam22, he confirms this privilege, adding that the
church under construction would henceforth be the Caput
et Mater of the Order.
25th May 1230 was set as the date for the translation of
the Saint’s body to the new basilica, to be interned there23.
During this period, Pope Gregory IX was in talks with
Frederick II over peace negotiations that would culminate
in the Treaty of San Germano, on 23rd July.
But the events that took place with the translation of
the body, which would be a significant moment for the
Order in the town of Assisi, have still has not yet been
fully clarified. The sources themselves are contradictory,
and contain conflicting details. Eccleston states that the
translation occurred three days before the scheduled date,
before the friars had gathered, leading the people to believe
that there was internal discord within the Order24. Bernard
of Bessa, on the other hand, narrates that the translation
was carried out with great solemnity, that a large crowd
was present, from Assisi and neighbouring towns, and that
the Pope, unable to attend in person, had sent his nuncios,
papal representatives, who presented valuable gifts for the
new church25.
St. Bonaventure describes the occasion in terms similar
to those of Bernard of Bessa26. The Legenda Trium Sociorum
also describes an internment with solemn procession,
similar to the account of St. Bonaventure and Bernard of
In favour of Eccleston’s account, i.e. that something
unexpected took place, is the bull of Gregory IX accusing the
Podesta and the people of Assisi of usurping the functions
of the Minister General, invested by the Pope himself, and
taking it upon themselves to translate the body, effectively
preventing the friars from expressing their veneration for the
Saint28. As this is an official document, and one of the most
important, this testimony is very valuable. However, in the

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bull, Elias is not directly accused, only those responsible
for the town of Assisi; furthermore, we do not know if the
Pope’s representatives (who did not attend the translation
ceremony) recounted the events as they really happened,
or gave a false impression of events because they themselves
were involved in the delicate situation that had arisen.
It is entirely possible that Elias’ motives in permitting
the translation to be carried out before the scheduled date
were honorable; it may be that he was concerned with
what might have happened to the remains of the venerated
Saint at the hands of the Italian crowds. The mentality of
mediaeval man, with his hunger for relics, would probably
not stop at disfiguring the body, had the exact date of the
funeral cortege been publicly known.
We know of cases in which the crowds, with unbridled
enthusiasm, have torn pieces the bodies of saints being
transported to their final resting places, in the hopes of
gaining relics for themselves29.
These and other facts created enormous resentment
towards Elias, and he would not be pardoned by the future
chroniclers of the Order, who cite him as the principal
cause of its fall from grace. Events long before, which
cast suspicion regarding certain attitudes of the Minister
General, had existed since the time the Regula Bullata was
written, as we saw in the previous chapter.
The Spirituals would attribute exaggerated importance
to Elias’ attitudes, pointing the finger at him as the cause of
the difficulties within the Order. In truth, as we shall see,
the failure to live out the principles of Francis of Assisi went
far deeper, involving many more cases than those that the
person of Elias of Cortona himself could have caused.
By the time of the General Chapter of 1230, St.
Francis’ personal influence was no longer felt in the Order
and some of the friars - those more closely linked to the
spirit of the founder - saw changes taking place around
them with increasing alacrity. In the construction of the
basilica of Assisi, the workforce was mainly salaried, in
stark contrast to the days when St. Francis, with his own
hands, had begged for stones to restore the ruins of the
small chapel of St. Damien. Elias’ inappropriate attitude

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in putting out a bowl to collect funds showed the extent
of the disrespect towards the Saint’s total prohibition on
touching any kind of money. Nor was the prohibition on
accepting any ecclesiastical privileges obeyed at that time,
as the basilica was being built with the support of privileges
granted by the Pope. Finally, these attitudes, which were
far removed from those of the early brotherhood, already
showed how far they had moved away from the early days
when the Order was first founded.
The General Chapter of 1230 took place in an
atmosphere of resentment, and was an important milestone
in the history of the Order, besides being stirred up by
the interruption of Elias’ supporters, trying to force John
Parenti to resign.
One of the resolutions of this Chapter stated that:
St. Francis’ body was to be kept in a silver or marble
casket30; no friar would be called “master” or “lord”, but
all should call one another “brother”31; apostates could not
be readmitted if they were suspected of heresy, if they had
fallen into public fornication, or if they had violated the
statutes of the Order32; novices were not allowed to hear
confessions, except those that took the vows, and only
then with the permission of their provincial ministers33;
there was a redivision of provinces; and the breviaries and
antiphonaries were to be sent to those provinces34.
It appears that the questions related to the Rule that
emerged in this Chapter led to the decision to send a
delegation to the Pope, to clarify some points of dispute35.
On 28th September 1230, Pope Gregory IX published
the bull Quo Elongati, which was an attempt to respond to
the questions raised by the friars in relation to the Rule36.
The bull Quo Elongati is one of the most important
documents of Franciscan history, as it was one of the first
documents to officially abandon the ideals of its founder.
The bull prompted discussion on the validity of St. Francis’
Testament, and whether the document was binding on the
friars in the same way as the Rule.
The text of the bull justified the non-acceptance of
the Testament as compulsory, as this document had been
written by St. Francis, without consulting the ministers,

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and also because it could not be binding on its successors
without their respective consent37.
The bull of Gregory IX also introduced the concept
that permitted the “use” of objects which in theory, did not
belong to the friars, but to the Church or to the Cardinal
Protector of the Order38.
Evidently, this interpretation contradicted the Rule
itself, which clearly indicated that the friars themselves
should not own anything, whether houses, or places, or any
The bull also provided an escape clause from the
prescription of the Rule that definitively prohibited the
friars from receiving any money for themselves, whether
directly or indirectly40. On this matter, Gregory IX gave
the following interpretation: if the friars needed something,
they could receive help in money from somebody, given in
the form of alms; to pay off a debt for example, or even for
future needs, this money could be deposited in the hands
of an intermediary or friend of the Order41. The bull also
made other observations relating to the Franciscan Rule:
concerning the license and means of examining those friars
who preached, concerning those who would participate
in the election of the Minister General of the Order, and
concerning the license to visit the convents of the Poor
It would be safe to assume that the Quo Elongati, which
was meant to reassure the spirits of those friars who were
unhappy about the changes taking place in the Order,
probably ended up having the opposite effect. Despite
the weight of papal authority which, inspired by good
intentions, elaborated the Quo Elongati, the true and first
disciples of St. Francis found it difficult to accept the
interpretations given to the Rule by Gregory IX42.
During the generalship of John Parenti, from 1230
to 1232, the Order continued to prosper, and it became
necessary to restructure the various provinces43. In 1230,
we find that the Order had sixteen provinces; six in Italy
and eleven outside Italy. Many new convents were founded,
and the Order went through a major change. The stability
created by the convents, favoured by the Quo Elongati, 61

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gave the Order a similar character to the other Orders that
existed at that time. Gradually, the wandering lifestyle of
the friars, wandering from place to place, was abandoned as
something belonging to the past; instead, the friars began
to settle more in the solid constructions of the convents,
busying themselves with the internal routines of prayer
and supplication. And as I mentioned earlier, among the
resolutions of the Chapter of 1230, there was one that dealt
with the sending of breviaries and antiphonaries to the
In the generalship of John Parenti, we also see the
manifest importance given to studies, which gradually
assumed greater importance, as the Order entered the
Universities, and the masters of the Universities joined the
In this period, the studies were sanctioned by the Quo
Elongati itself, which affirmed, among other things, that
the theologian friars were exempt from being examined
by the Minister General in order to obtain the license
to preach46. The importance of the master of theology
gradually increased, until it became a function required
by the various provinces47. The physical conditions, such
as the acquisition of books and construction of libraries,
along with the establishment of comfortable convents for
the purpose of study, facilitated this process, which was
sanctioned by the bull Quo Elongati.
The itinerant and spontaneous preaching of the early
disciples of St. Francis, as practiced by the founder himself,
now required academic university training, and the
Franciscans came to excel as professional preachers.
Not only that, the friars also began to exercise a pastoral
ministry, at first in collaboration with the parochial clergy,
but soon they became independent pastors of souls, which
led to opposition and attacks from the secular clergy. Thus,
on 28th August 1231, Pope Gregory IX published another
bull, the Nimis Inique, which defended the friars against
complaints of the German bishops, who were accusing them
of interfering in the rights and privileges of the parochial
clergy, hearing confessions, burying corpses of the secular
in their churches, ringing the bells, and refusing to pay

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taxes on their lands48. Tension was being stirred up between
the friars and the secular clergy, caused by interests that had
little or nothing to do with absolute poverty.
At the Chapter held in 123249, Elias was elected Minister
General of the Order. Jordan of Giano is the chronicler who
gives us a clear, concise description of the policy of the new
Minister General:

On his appointment as Minister General, Elias, anxious

for work to begin on the basilica of St. Francis in Assisi,
made exceptions for the entire Order. In fact, he had the
whole Order under his rule, just as St. Francis and Friar
John Parenti had had; at his own discretion, he began to
arrange many things that were not convenient for the
Order. In the space of seven years, and in contradiction to
the Rule, no General Chapter was held, and the friars who
opposed him he dispersed to far-flung places.

Further on, the chronicler states: “In the year of our Lord
1237, Friar Elias sent, to each of the provinces, visitors who
suited his purpose, but due to the irregularity of these visits,
the friars became even more exasperated with him”50.
Eccleston’s view also confirms the account of Jordan of
Giano, adding that Elias, in his personal life, behaved very
badly, in a manner that totally contradicted the ideals of
poverty, simplicity, and humility of the Franciscans51. The
term carnalitatem (carnal), to designate the conduct of the
Minister General, is used by the chronicler of the friars
minor in England52.
Elias’ lifestyle was far from the exemplary conduct of a
friar minor, since as far as we can glean, he ate greedily and
rode everywhere on horseback with an attendant at his side,
denoting a changing spirit in relation to earthly things.
The spiritual and talented chronicler Salimbene does
not spare the Minister General at all, stating that he
lived “splendide, delitiose et pompatice” (sumptuously,
pleasurably and with great pomp).53
The Chronicle of the Twenty-Four Generals also
mentions similar facts referring to Elias’ worldileness54. We
know that around 1237, the situation was so critical, and
the feelings of revolt so widespread throughout the Order, 63

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that the friars came together in agreement to deal with
common interests55. According to the chronicle of Jordan of
Giano, the great philosopher and theologian Alexander of
Hales and his disciple John of Rupella, masters of theology
at the University of Paris56, also joined the opposition. As a
result of Elias’ arbitrary conduct, it was only to be expected
that an organized opposition would be set up, given that
his abuses were so numerous. The Chronicon XIV vel XV
Generalium summarizes his policy in similar terms to those
of the chronicle of Jordan of Giano57.
In 1238, the friars of Saxony sent appeals to the Minister
General against the visitors, but were unsucesseful58. Based
on what we read in the chronicle of Jordan of Giano,
from that time on, the appeals were made directly to Pope
Gregory IX59.
After a period of clarifications, made with Elias himself
and the friars who accused him, the Pope ordered that all
the objections raised against the Minister General be written
down, as well as any controversies, so that he could judge
the situation properly. In the Chapter of Rome of 1239,
Elias was dismissed and Albert of Pisa, provincial minister
of England, replaced him as Minister General of the Order,
being confirmed by the Pope60.
But the memory of Elias as the bad Minister General of
the Order lingered for a long time. The Fioretti recall that
when he was vicar of the Order, he had ordered the friars
not to eat meat, and was overbearing in his conduct, and
that for this reason, he would die outside the Order61.
In fact, after his dismissal, Elias would end up becoming
involved in the struggle between the spiritual power and the
temporal power, taking sides with Frederick II, the King of
We must presume, like P. Gratien, that Elias’ dismissal
was motivated, besides the factors described above, by
the political friction that existed between Gregory IX and
Frederick II. In other words, the friendship between Elias
and the “rebel emperor” would also have contributed to the
Pope’s decision63.
The Chapter of 1239, presided over by Gregory IX, was
also an important milestone in the history of the Order.

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Before this Chapter, the Pope had designated a commission
of twenty members, to study the situation of the Order
and the way in which it should be governed64. It is believed
that the constitutions proposed by this commission are the
same as those that St. Bonaventure would propose in the
Chapter of 1260, in Narbonne. But as we do not have these
constitutions, doubt remains. After the Chapter of 1239,
the number of provinces was reduced: from 72 to 3265.
Due to the contrast between Elias and his predecessor,
the trend against an absolutist government strengthened,
and the Order began to take a more democratic direction.
Hence, a chapter of definidores was instituted, similar to
that which existed in the Dominican Order66. The purpose
of this chapter, elected by the holy men, was to make the
specific law compulsory, after its approval by that body,
so that in the following year, it would be approved by the
chapter of superiors. In truth, this institution between the
Franciscans did not last for long, and in the Chapter of
Montpellier, in 1241, it became extinct67.
But the effort to regulate the power of the Minister
General led to his being prevented from nominating or
dismissing provincial ministers, custodians and guardians
at will; it also determined that the provincial ministers
would be elected, and that the custodians and guardians
would be appointed, in turn, by the provincial minister and
by the Chapter68.
There was also an affirmation of the superiority of the
Chapter over the ministers, who were subordinated to its
legislation. Finally, the ministers were required to:
a) convene a General Chapter, no longer arbitrarily, but
every three years;
and b) visit the provinces in person, or send representa-
tives chosen by the Chapter. The Minister Generals who
succeeded Elias and Haimo of Faversham, i.e. Crescenzio
da Jesi and John of Parma, preserved this resolution.
The period of Elias, as we have seen above, was one
of rapid development, and the Order underwent a major
transformation69. In this situation, the Minister General
had to face opposing forces from within the Order: One side
wanted to maintain the early ideals, from the days when the 65

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fraternity was first founded, while the other adopted a new
attitude in relation to the ideas of St. Francis, which partly
supported the policy of the Minister General.
The opposition to the Minister General came from
the group of early disciples of the founding Saint, and
the intellectuals (or litterati), who had joined the Order,
attracted by the very ideals that they proposed to follow.
This was clearly the case of Robert Grossatesta, Adam of
Marisco, Alexander of Hales, and other theologians from
Oxford and Paris.
The Order, which now required a more complex
administration, found in Elias the man it needed, and
many of the defects that Salimbene describes as personal
defects of Elias were probably deeply rooted in the state of
affairs within the Order.
Salimbene’s criticism is biased in certain aspects, such as
his clear antipathy towards the secular element, which had
entered the order en masse during the time of Elias70. But
there is no doubt that Elias contributed to speeding up a
process that was already commonplace by the time he rose
to the generalship. Salimbene enumerates thirteen “defects”
of Elias as Minister General of the Order, in a special part
of his chronicle known as Liber de Prelato71.
These defects included arrogance and rudeness in his
dealings with his peers; his indiscriminate acceptance of
many secular persons who had no vocation for the Order;
the promotion of friars to positions for which they had
no merit; the lack of regulations to govern the life of the
Order; his failure to visit the distant provinces for reasons
of personal comfort; the arbitrary way in which he dealt
with the provincial ministers, dismissing or ordaining them
at whim; the fact that he lived in luxury in every aspect; his
use of violent means to retain power; showing favouritism
to personal friends; not accepting his dismissal and siding
with Emperor Frederick II, after being excommunicated
by the Pope; practising alchemy72; slandering the Order,
alleging that it had been unjust in its dismissal of him;
and obstinately refusing to be reconciled with the Order.
According to Eccleston, Elias himself was excommunicated
for his close ties with Frederick II, and Salimbene tells

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us that the country folk and children jeered the friars by
singing, when they saw them:
Hor a torno fratt’Helya
Ke pres’ha la mala via73.

Efforts were made at the General Chapter of Genoa, in

1244, to reconcile Elias with the Church, but he attended the
Chapter with his friends simply to prove what he regarded
as the unfairness of his dismissal. Later, in 1247, John of
Parma, on his election as Minister General, appointed
Gerard of Modena, a renowned friar, to try and persuade
Elias to ask for forgiveness, but these efforts were in vain. It
was only in 1253 that he was reconciled with the Order and
absolved, by Benicio, Archbishop of Cortona. Elias, after
so many tribulations, felt that his end was near, and despite
everything, he preferred to die as a son of the church, so he
submitted to it at that moment, on 22nd April 1253.


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1. L. Wadding, Scriptores Ordinis Minorum, p. 105. For a summary of
Elias’ life see Paschal Robinson’s article in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol.5,
NY, Robert Appleton Company,1909; Raphael M.Huber, Elias of Cortona
(ch.1180-1253), Minister General of the Friars Minor, in the Catholic
Historical Review, 1937, no. 4, Jan. pp.395-408 and Id. A Documented
History of the Franciscan Order ,1182-1517, Part 1, Kessinger Pub., 1944
(reprint 2007), chapter “The Generalate of Brother Elias (1232-1239),
pp. 105-120, containing sources and a useful bibliography.
2. “Chronicon XIV vel Generalium Ministrorum Ordinis Fratrum
Minorum”, in Analecta Franciscana, T. III, p. 695.
3. Published in Analecta Franciscana, X, pp. 525-528; Chronologia
Historico-Legalis Seraphici Ordinis Fratrum Minorum, Neapoli, 1650, T. I,
pp. 20-21; Wadding, anno 1226, no. 44; also in E. Lempp, Frère Elie de
Cortone, Paris, 1901, pp. 70-71. The letter we have in our hands is addressed
to Gregory of Naples, Provincial Minister of France, but we assume it was
sent to all the provinces, as we are told in the Chronica Fratris Iordani a
Iano, in Analecta Franciscana, T. III, p. 16. The content of the letter sent to
Gregory of Naples is the same as that described by Jordan of Giano, hence
our assumption that the same letter was sent to all the provinces.
4. S. Attal, Frate Elia, compagno di San Francesco, Rome, 1936, p. 92.
5. Chronologia Historico-Legalis, p. 21; T. Eccleston,”Liber de Adventu
Minorum in Angliam”, in Analecta Franciscana, T. I, p. 241. The whole
question of St. Francis’ successor, i.e. whether the second Minister General
was Elias or John Parenti, is still under debate, as the oldest sources contain
contradictory information. See “Series Magistrorum Generalium Ordinis
Fratrum Minorum”, MGH, SS, T. XIII, p. 392 (it is presumed that the text
of the Codice Monacensi, published by the MGH, is from the 13th Century);
Chronica de Jordão de Giano, p. 16; “Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium
Ministrorum Ordinis Fratrum Minorum”, in Analecta Franciscana, T.I,
pp. 693-694; “Chronica Anonyma”, in Analecta Franciscana, T. I., p. 287;
Crônica da Ordem dos Frades Menores (1209-1285), vol. II, p. 11.
6. Chronologia Historico-Legalis, p. 21.
7. Wadding, Annales, ann. 1227, no. III.
8. Eccleston, p. 241.
9. Idem, ibidem.
10. Idem, pp. 241-242.
11. Idem, p. 243.
12. While the majority of texts on the history of the Order state that
the General Chapter of 1227 was held in Assisi, the Chronologia Historico-
Legalis, and also Friar Dominicum de Gubernatis, Orbis Seraphicus Historia
de Tribus Ordinibus, T. III, Romae, 1684, p. 5, claim it was held in Rome.
Although the second work is heavily supported by the first, in relation to
the Chapter of 1230, the first states that it was held in Assisi and the second
says Rome (based on Wadding). More recent authors, from H. Holzapfel,
Manuale Historiae Ordinis Fratrum Minorum, Friburgi-Brisgoviae, 1909,
p. 20, to J. Moorman, A History of the Franciscan Order, from its origins to
the year 1517, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1968, p. 88, unanimously accept
that the General Chapter of 1230 was held in Assisi.
13. The criticism of P. Sabatier, Vie de S. François d’Assise, p. XCVIII,
of the Crônica, by Eccleston, seems to me correct, albeit somewhat
14. This is what is seen in the Vita Prima, by Thomas of Celano,
written in 1228, and ordered by Pope Gregory IX on the occasion of the

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Saint’s canonisation. In the Vita Secunda, written in 1246, Celano would
form another opinion of the Minister General deposed in 1239, stating
that he was already fully known for having scandalized the Order. But
the biography of Elias himself confirms his privileged position, held in
high esteem and friendship by St. Francis until just a few years before the
latter’s death. Elias entered the Order around 1215, soon after St. Francis’
failed attempt to reach Morocco. From 1217 to 1220 he was in Syria, and
returned with St. Francis when the latter learned that the Order was going
through difficulties.
15. J. Moorman, op. cit., p. 84.
16. “Chronica XXIV Generalium”, in Analecta Franciscana, T. III,
pp. 1-575.
17. Crônica da Ordem dos Frades Menores (1209-1285), pub. by José
Joaquim Nunes, Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra, 1918, 2 vols.
(codex no. 94 under the title “Chronicas dos ministros e generaes da Ordem
dos Frayres Menóres”, at the Public Library of Lisbon). This chronicle is
a partial version of Chronica XXIV Generalium, with some modifications,
and the latter is, in fact, a compilation of other sources that may well have
included that of Eccleston. On p. 281 of vol. II it is written: “Friar Anthony
of Ribeira, a Galician, vicar of Santo Antonio de Villa Franca, ordered this
book to be written. Year of our Lord 1319”.
18. Crônica da Ordem dos Frades Menores, pp. 54-55.
19. Moorman, op. cit., p. 85; R. B. Brooke, Early Franciscan Government,
Cambridge University Press, 1959, p. 137.
20. Bull. Franc., I, pp. 42-44.
21. The description of the canonisation is found in “1 Celano”, 1, 123-
22. Bull. Franc., I, p. 60.
23. Bernard of Bessa, “Liber de Laudibus beati Francisci”, in Analecta
Franciscana, T. III, p. 688.
24. Eccleston, p. 241.
25. Bernard of Bessa, Liber de Laudibus, p. 688.
26. São Boaventura, “Legenda”, XV, 8.
27. “Leyenda de los tres compañeros”, in Escritos Completos de San
Francisco de Asis y Biografias de su Epoca, BAC, Madrid, 1956, p. 836.
28. Bull. Franc., I, p. 66, bula Speravimus Hactenus.
29. See cases cited in the book by R. B. Brooke, Early Franciscan
Government, p. 142.
30. Chronicon XIV Generalium, p. 694.
31. Idem, p. 695.
32. Idem, ibidem.
33. Idem, ibidem.
34. Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano, p. 17; see ALKG, VI, pp. 14-16.
35. Crônica Portuguesa, vol. I, p. 7. “E em no tempo de aqueste, gerall,
segundo que diz frey Booa Vemtura de Valneo Reall em huum sermon,
levamtou- sse amtre os fraires duvida de muitas maneiras de aquellas cousas
que se contem em na regla”. “E o gerall tenba a reg(r)a em nas mãaos,
afirmando e dizemdo seer clara e guardable, que se todos se devia de
guardar aa letra. E a çima o senhor papa Gregorio nono foy requirido por a
declaraçom da regra”. Eccleston, p. 242.
36. Wadding, Annales, ann. 1230, no. XIV; Bull. Franc., I, pp. 68-70.
37. Wadding, Annales, ann. 1230, no. XIV.
38. Idem, ibidem.
39. Seraphicae Legislationis, Ad Claras Aquas, 1897, p. 41.

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40. Idem, p. 40.
41. Wadding, Annales, ann. 1230, no. XIV.
42. J. Moorman, op. cit., p. 90.
43. G. Golubovich, Biblioteca Bio-bibliografica della Terra Santa e
dell’Oriente Francescano, Quaracchi, 1906-1927, vol. II, pp. 214-225,
apud Moorman, op. cit., p. 97. The list of Brooke, op. cit., p. 292, is also
taken from Golubovich and according to it, the provinces were divided as

Tuscany France
Umbria PROVENCE Burgundy

MARCH OF March of NAPLES Naples

ANCONA Ancona Abruzzi

Lombardy Apulia
LOMBARDY March of Treviso APULIA S. Angeli
Genova Portugal
CALABRIA Calabria SPAIN Aragon
Sicily Castela

Rhineland SYRIA Syria


For details on the date of origin of each province during this period,
see the article by H. Golubovich, “Series Provinciarum Ordinis Fratrum
Minorum saec. XIII et XIV”, in AFH, vol. 1, 1908, pp. 1-22.
44. Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano, p. 17, cf. note 34 of this chapter.
45. Chronica Anonyma, p. 288.
46. Wadding, Annales, ann. 1230, no. XIV.
47. Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano, p. 18.
48. Bull. Franc., I, pp. 75-77.
49. Holzapfel, op. cit., p. 622, says it was in Rieti; The Chronologia
Historico-Legalis does not mention this chapter; Eccleston, p. 242;
Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano, p. 18; Chronica Anonyma, p. 289; “Series
Magistrorum Generalium Ordinis Fratrum Minorum”, MGH, SS, T. XIII,
p. 392.
50. Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano, p. 18.
51. Eccleston, pp. 242-243.
52. Idem, ibidem.
53. Salimbene, p. 157.
54. Chronica XXIV Generalium, pp. 228-229.
70 55. Idem, ibidem.

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56. Idem, ibidem.
57. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 695.
58. Chronica Fratris Iordani a Iano, p. 19.
59. Idem, ibidem.
60. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 695.
61. “Las Florecillas de San Francisco”, in Escritos Completos de San
Francisco de Asis y Biografias, BAC, Madrid, 1956, ch. IV, p. 100, which
tells that an angel came to speak to Friar Elias, but he did not pay any
attention. The mention that he prohibited the friars from eating meat is
from this chapter of the Fioretti.
62. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 695. In the Fioretti, c. XXXVII
(version cited) the vision of St. Francis that Elias would die outside the
Order, but that his soul would be pardoned, is again mentioned.
63. P. Gratien, Histoire de la fondation et de l’évolution de l’ordre des frères
Mineurs au XIIIe siècle, J. Duculot, Paris, 1928, p. 145.
64. Continuatio Chronicae fr. Iordani de Iano, in AFH, 3, 1910, p. 50.
65. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 147; AFH, vol. 1, 1908, p. 7; Eccleston,
p. 235. And the process of reduction of the 72 provinces, after the Chapter
of 1239, is mentioned in the chronicle of Salimbene, p. 102. Continuatio
Chronicae fr. Iordani de Iano, p. 50. The series of 32 provinces are in the
Achivum Franciscanum Historicum, vol. I, 1908, p. 17.
66. In ALKG, T. VI, p. 23, F. Ehrle, Die Ältesten Redactionen der
General Constitutionem des Franziskanenordens, cites a comment by
Humbert de Romans to the constitutions of the Dominicans and mentions
their diffinitores. Concerning the role of the diffinitores in the Dominican
Order, and their origin, see the magnificent work of David Knowles, From
Pachomius to Ignatius (a study in the constitutional history of the religious
orders), Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1966, pp. 51-52.
67. P. Gratien, p. 148; Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 696;
Eccleston, p. 243. In Crônica de Salimbene, p. 221, a chapter in the time of
John of Parma is mentioned, in which the participation of the Diffinitores
is mentioned.
68. Continuatio Chronicae fr. Iordani de Iano, loc. cit., p. 50; Eccleston,
p. 243; Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 696.
69. In a statistical survey on the foundation of convents of the Order in
France, in the 13th Century, based on the work by R. W. Emery, The Friars
in Medieval France, Columbia University Press, 1962, it is revealed that
229 Franciscan convents were founded during this century, which shows
a much higher proportion than that of the other orders during the same
period. However, the statistics reveal something extraordinary: while the
average number of convents being founded up until 1232 was two to four
a year, in the year 1233, eighteen convents were founded. Elias was elected
in 1232, which confirms the rapid expansion that occurred in the Order
under his leadership.
70. Salimbene, p. 101.
71. This is the part that deals especially with the period of Elias.
72. In the AFH, vol. I, 1908, p. 117, we are told that codice no. 119,
Bibliotheca Riccardianae, of which (f. 166 r.b. 177 r.b.) is attributed to Elias
(Fr. Eliae Liber Alchimiae) and which begins thus: “Incipit liber alchimicalis,
quem frater Helya edidit apud Fredericum imperatorem” etc. The name of
Elias of Cortona appears alongside that of the translator Michael Scot in a
text entitled “Ars alchemie”, a collection of alchemical formulae, as declared
by Antony Vinciguerra, The Ars alchemie: the First Latin Text on Practical
Alchemy , in Ambix, vol.56 no.1, March 2009, pp. 57-67.
73. Salimbene, p. 160.

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E146 PR-2.1 (miolo) St_François_eng.indd 72 4/11/2011 09:25:20
III. Joachim of Fiore and his Contribution
to the Formation of Spiritual Thought

The attacks against the Church in the 12th and 13th

Centuries, by the popular heresies that were rife throughout
the European continent, basically centred around its
external secular conduct. The critics pointed to the fact that
the Church had moved away from its spiritual mission,
and that the cause of this moving away, and its most
extreme symptom were, in their view, the material wealth
of the ecclesiastical institution, its excessive complexity,
the ostentatious lifestyle of its highest representatives, the
administration of the sacraments, which became a motive
for the entry and source of material support of the clergy,
and the sophisticated spiritual elaboration of theological
dogma by the academics and their centers of study. The
common traces of the heretical doctrine revolved around
the limitation or elimination of the sacraments, apostolic
poverty, and the coming of a new era of purification of the
Church and of humanity (an era in which the Holy Spirit
would have complete dominion).
The Albigenses1, the Waldenses2, the Beguins3, and the
pseudo-apostles4, all directed their criticisms towards the
abovementioned aspects5, and believed the solution lay
in a return to simplicity and apostolic humility, and to
the evangelical ideal, commonly in the form of itinerant
preaching. It is clear that the Medieval Church gave
ample opportunity, and provided more than enough fuel
for the criticisms, due to the misconduct of many of its
members, which served as a target for the attacks from
various heretical sects. There was no lack of personalities
at the heart of the Church itself to describe the state of
affairs, often seen as disastrous by its critics6. A voice like 73

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that of St. Bernard was far above any suspicion regarding
his unwavering faithfulness to the Church, which made his
description of the ecclesiastical conduct of the time all the
more shocking. Even allowing for the fiery temperament
and incisive language of the Cistercian preacher, we have
no reason to believe that the image conveyed to us falsifies
the reality.
The desire for reform within the Church had lasted
since the 10th Century, with Cluny, and was continued
with Citeaux, besides the personal efforts of some popes to
elevate it to a purer and truer spiritual plane. But we should
not forget that the struggle of the likes of Gregory VII or
Innocent III was played out in the scope of relations between
the spiritual power and the temporal power, important
per se as step towards the purification of the Church from
extraneous elements and for decontaminating their spirit,
but still insufficient to effect a deeper internal change that
would take the Church back to the days of those humble
friars who aspired to the apostolic life. And it was here
that the heresy found an open door, to call the attention
of the faithful to a “new” truth. In the eyes of most of the
heretics, it was necessary to return to the simplicity and
humility of the early church, going against the ecclesiastical
authority, which was superfluous to the true faith. Clearly,
this thinking led to rebellion and a breaking away from the
religious discipline, undermining the very structure of the
Church, even though this was not the original intention
of the sect, which was later declared heretical. This is the
typical case of Peter Waldo and the Waldenses7. At first,
they did not abandon the Church, but tried to point out
and remedy its ills8, until their criticism reached the point
that it was considered a danger to the institution itself9.
Not only were most of the sacraments, and the priesthood
criticised, but certain details that were part of the relations
of the religious institution with secular society were denied;
for example, the prohibitions against swearing in oath,
using arms, or killing10. This led to open opposition to this
new preaching, and its preachers, and the heretics came to
be seen as rebels.
It was common among the heretics of the time to
74 see evangelical preaching as an essential element for the

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purification of the Church. It was as though there was
new ideal of replacing the materially weighty ecclesiastical
organization with humility, and a poor community of
preachers. In other words, there was a desire to follow
the Gospel to the letter, as the ideal of perfection of every
Christian, far removed worldly interests, and to truly fulfill
the Ecclesia Spiritualis11. It is in this context should we can
understand the work of Joachim of Fiore, and his influence
over the heresies that emerged after his death, and in
particular, over the Franciscan Spirituals12.
Born in Celico in Calabria, in 1135, he entered the
Cistercian Order in 1160. Later, in 1177, he became Abbot
of the monastery at Corazzo; but during this time, he felt
this was not his vocation and travelled to Rome, in the hope
that Pope Lucius III would release him from this office.
He lived for some time as a hermit, and in 1188,
founded the Florensian Order at San Giovanni in Fiore,
the rule of which was approved by Celestine III in 1198.
The Calabrian “prophet” died on 30th March 1202, and was
entombed in the convent of Saint Martin, in Pietralata.
It was in the desert of Pietralata, during the time when
he lived as a hermit, that Joachim wrote Concordia novi et
veteris Testamenti, Expositio in Apocalypsim and Psalterium
decem chordarum, the three basic scripts used in the study
of his life and work13.
The Cistercian abbot, in his exalted spiritualism, fired
up the minds of his time, providing spiritual elements that
the heretics, mystics and apocalyptics had longed for, and
his influence over the Franciscan Spirituals was undeniable.
The central axis of Joachim’s teachings, around which the
others revolved, was the Trinity. The Trinity determined a
concept of history14, an interpretative-theological scheme,
and in particular, a formula for understanding the role and
destiny of the Church of Christ.
Joachim’s tritheistic concept had historical antecedents,
and is present in John Scotus Eriugena (c.810-c.877), who
affirms the existence of three stages in the history of mankind,
each one marked by a priesthood. The first priesthood, that
of the Old Testament, which saw truth through clouds of
unintelligible mysteries; the second priesthood, that of the
New Testament, illuminated by some rays of truth and 75

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some obscure symbols; and the third priesthood, that of
the Future Life, in which man would have direct access
to God without the need for a mediator. The natural law
corresponds to the first, and the kingdom of God to the
second. The first led to the corrupt human nature; the
second ennobled it by faith, hope and charity; the third
illuminated it by contemplation. The first, represented by
the material arch, was given to a carnal people who would
only be moved by the letter. The second, represented by
the tangible symbols of the sacraments, pointed souls
towards the spiritual life, which would only be fully realized
in paradise. Thus, the appearance of the present Church
would be dissipated in the Church of the future.
Scotus, in his homily on the first chapter of St. John,
boldly states that the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ, are
the beginning of the divine life15. The Church of the New
Testament is no more than the symbolic image of the
Eternal Church. And from their earthly life, the Christians
of the contemplative order penetrated this higher Church,
participating in the spiritual ideal of the celestial life.
According to Scotus, there was an elevation; from the
Church of the Word to the Church of the Spirit.
The thinking of Scotus Eriugena, which follows the
line of a neoplatonic tradition through the Greek writings
of the early church fathers and their representatives, like
pseudo-Dionysius16, Saint Maximus, the Confessor and
Saint Gregory of Nyssa, questions the mutually exclusive
relationship between philosophy and revelation, establishing
three clearly-defined phases (and here the application of the
trinitarian scheme is revealed):
a) God created man gifted with reason, and the capacity
to know Him;
b) But original sin debilitated and obscured this capacity,
making it more difficult for man to elevate himself to attain
knowledge of God;
c) Having compassion on man, God attempted to
remedy the lack of his reason through revelation, first to
the Jewish people, then fully, through Christ17.
According to Scotus, God manifested Himself to man in
two ways, through nature, and through the Holy Scriptures,

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there being no contradiction between the two. The beauty of
the divine creation is one way to reach the source of creation,
and it is necessary to go beyond what is written in order to
understand the true message of the Holy Scriptures. Only
in this way, transcending the literal meaning, is it possible
to find the symbolic, spiritual, allegorical meaning. This
symbolism is also found in nature. Therefore, the method
used by theology causes us to transcend the perceptions of
the senses and penetrate the knowledge of the holy truths.
Universal nature (or being) is divided into four
a) Nature that creates and is not created (God, the
beginning of all things);
b) Nature that is created and creates (exemplary divine
ideas, archetypes of all things, are created by God and in
turn, create all other beings);
c) Nature that is created and does not create (the things
of the spiritual world, the sensible world, and the material
d) Nature that does not create and is not created (God
Himself, as the ultimate end towards which all created
things are moving, and into which all created things are
reintegrated)19. From God proceeds all things or creatures
by the act of creation itself, and to Him they return, as the
ultimate end of everything that exists in the world20.
In the process of creation, God, who is one in nature
and triune in persons, is fully realized, as creation is the
revelation or manifestation of Him (theophaneia). And
the entire Universe, both visible and invisible, reveals the
various degrees of Theophany, or manifestation of God. The
three persons of the divinity took part in the creation, albeit
in different ways: The essence corresponds to the Father;
the active virtue to the Son; and the operation to the Holy
Spirit21. God the Father, who is the essence, creates ideas
in the Son, who is the eternal Word and the active virtue.
The Holy Spirit, who is the operation, completes the work
of creation, preserving the logical order that proceeds from
the single to the multiple; from the most universal to the
particular22. Thus, genera and species followed one another,
until we came to the individual substances. 77

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Ideal world Ideal world
(exemplary Word) (exemplary Word)

From unity to Genera Genera From plurality to
plurality unity
(omnia a Deo) species Species (omnia ad Deum)

(Holy Spirit)

(spiritual world)

(spiritual world)

Sensible corporeal world

Therefore, the movement of the universe is cyclic,

comprehending the procession, or creation of things, and
their return to their origin or beginning. Scotus ended up
affirming a universal divinization (theosis) in which God is
in all things and all things are in God23.
However, this process, which all created nature would
follow, should have occurred, in its reintegration back to
God, through man, if only man had not sinned. But sin
precluded man as an intermediary between God and the
creatures, disturbing the whole order of the world. It was

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necessary for the incarnation of the World to remedy this
situation, through grace, which would redeem man and
along with man, all of created nature (preconceived in
the mind of man before the Fall), in order to purify it and
return it to God the Father.
The process of man’s individual reintegration takes the
following stages:
a) death, or the separation of soul from body. In death,
the soul becomes separated from the body, and the body
dissolves into its material elements;
b) resurrection, the resurrected bodies will be spiritual,
just as they were created and existed in paradise before the
Fall24. There will no longer be a distinction between the
sexes, since gender, and physical reproduction, are results of
the Fall of man. At heart, for Scotus, the body is simply the
image of the soul, just as the soul is the image of God;
c) transfiguration, from body into spirit, in which the
body and soul will reunite, following an inverse process
from that of the separation. The body will create life, life will
create sensation, sensation will create reason, intelligence;
the spirit will return to the first causes (exemplary ideas)
and the first causes will return to God. All the plurality of
beings will once again reintegrate in the divine universe,
this marking the end of the return. All things will return to
the divine essence, where they will remain in an individual
and immutable unity25.
After the elimination or negation of this world, there will
be no malice, no evil, and no misery. Divine goodness will
absorb all the malice; eternal life will absorb death; happiness
will absorb misery. Evil will end, since it will no longer have
any existence of itself; as God does not know it26. The elect
will attain happiness and will have their paradise, and the
punishment of those who were condemned will be not the
eternal fire, but the memory of evil in their consciences, in
the purely spiritual human nature27.
Scotus Eriugena, a rare intellectual phenomenon of his
day - the 9th Century - would again have an influence in
the 12th century, with the heresy of David de Dinant and
Amaury de Chartres, who would be accused of adopting
the ideas of Eriugena, among other condemnable things. In 79

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1219, at the Council of Paris, when the doctrines of the two
heretics were condemned, the doctrine of Scotus Eriugena
was likewise condemned, as it was considered the source
used by Amaury in the elaboration of his heresies28.
This condemnation was repeated at the Lateran Council
of 1215, and was associated with the condemnation of the
heretical doctrines of the disciples of Amaury, known as
Amauricians. Also in 1215, Robert of Courzon, cardinal
and papal legate entrusted with elaborating the statutes of
the University of Paris, prohibited “the study of the doctrine
of the heretic Amaury”.
Amaury had given a philosophical focus to his thinking,
while a lecturer in logic and theology in Paris. After his
death (c. 1206-1207), his disciples steered his pantheist
doctrines towards an interpretation of history that was very
close to that of Joachim of Fiore, but we cannot see that they
suffered any influence by the Abbot. Thus, like Joachim, they
divided history into three ages, corresponding to the three
persons of the Trinity. But unlike Joachim, the Amauricians
believed each age had its own incarnation. Nevertheless, the
basic division was identical to that of Joachim, i.e. the age
of the Father, comprising the age of the Old Testament,
that of the Son, the age from the birth of Jesus to the
days of the Amauricians, and the age of the Holy Spirit,
in which the final incarnation would occur. This would
mark the return of the spirit to flesh, and the Amauricians
would be the first men to be called “Spirituals”. Under
the guidance of these Spirituals, the world would enter its
highest phase, when each human being would see himself
as divine. In this aspect, the doctrines of the Amauricians
and Scotus Eriugena were similar. All this transformation
would occur in a period of five years of tribulation, which
would end with the Antichrist and his hosts, i.e. the pope
and the Church of Rome, being defeated. The Amauricians
placed their hopes in Louis VIII, who would reign eternally
in the age of the Holy Spirit, and all the kingdoms would
be under the dominion of the King of France, who was
Amaury’s friend.
Scotus’ work De divisione naturae was condemned by
Pope Honorius II on 23rd January 1225. The Pope ordered
80 all copies of the work that could be found to be gathered

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up and solemniter comburendum (ceremoniously burned)29.
For some authors, like Gebhart, the influence of Scotus
Eriugena over Joachim of Fiore is clearly confirmed30. But
if there is any truth in the establishment of this influence, it
is nevertheless restricted only to the historical tritheism, as
we have confirmed above. In this aspect, i.e. the conception
of Joachimite history, other influences over his work can be
seen. The idea of the division of history into linear stages
found a precursor in Saint Augustine, who divided history
into six periods, each lasting approximately a thousand
years. The first age extends from Adam to Noah; the second
from Noah to Abraham; the third from Abraham to David;
the fourth from David to the exile in Babylon; and the
fifth from the exile in Babylon to the birth of Christ, who
inaugurated the sixth age, which would continue until the
unknown last days. The first period occurred before the
Law, the second under the Law, and the third under the
kingdom of grace31. Other authors have viewed Gilbert de la
Porée (Gilbertus Porretanus, 1070-1154) as the predecessor
of the concepts of the Cistercian abbot. Such is the case
of the historian Paul Fournier32 who, in his study of Liber
de vera philosophia, establishes the relationship between the
thinking of Gilbert de la Porée and that of the Joachimite
Fournier considers Joachim as continuing the tradition
of the Greek Church, which had been established long
before, in Calabria33 and in Southern Italy34. In his view,
Liber de vera philosophia was written by somebody who was
knowledgeable about Eastern (Greek) theology, and who
was concerned with various aspects of the ecclesiastical
life of the time, including the union of the Eastern and
Latin Churches. This motive would reappear, playing
an important role in the work of Joachim. Fournier sees
Joachim, “born in Calabria” i.e. in a country that in his
day had numerous churches that were faithful to the Greek
rites”35, as a receiver of the ideas contained in Liber de vera
philosophia, which in turn, transmitted the doctrines of
Gilbert de la Porée. Hence the identity of ideas between
the Florensian Abbot and Gilbert36. It is known that the
Joachim’s trinitarian doctrine was condemned at the 4th
Lateran Council, in 1215, due to the polemic debate with 81

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Peter Lombard37. Although the Abbot’s writing on the
Trinity no longer survives, the content of the debate, and
the doctrinal position of both parties, has been passed down
to us in the text of the condemnation made by Innocent III
and also in a work attributed to the school of Joachim of
Fiore, entitled Joachimi Abbatis Liber contra Lombardum38.
Like Gilbert de la Porée, Joachim emphasizes - as
manifested in the book published by Carmelo Ottaviano -
the Greek doctrine of the Trinity, i.e. the Trinity of persons,
in contrast to the Latin doctrine, which emphasizes the
unity of substance. In other words, the divine unity in
Joachim’s doctrine is mere resemblance; the three persons are
distinguished from one other39, in order to avoid any falling
into Sabellianism. When speaking of God, who comprises
three persons, the term to be used to represent the unity is
unitas or collectio, which is different from unus or singularitas;
the latter supposes an individuality, whereas the former
supposes a plurality40. Therefore, the three persons are
three substances (tres individue substantiae), contradicting
the doctrine of Peter Lombard, who affirms that the same
divine substance is in the three persons, substantia essentia
sive natura divina, quae sola est universorum principium,
praeter quod aliud inveniri non potest, et illa res non est
generans neque genita nec procedens41. But this is denied in
Joachim’s doctrine, as the creation of the sensible world
presupposes the realization or generation of the intelligible
world in God, i.e. the Word; therefore only a res generans
genita procedens can be a universorum principium42. Joachim,
from that point on, accuses Peter Lombard of formulating a
quaternity, by the distinction made between substance (res
nec generans nec genita nec procedens) and person43.
Fournier, in his analysis of Liber de vera philosophia,
points out the existence of two meanings in the word
Trinity44. The first meaning is that which is understood as
the property by which one of the person is una ex tribus; the
other is the meaning of being a collection of three persons
(collectio trium personarum). The same expression collectio
used in the Joachimite text, mentioned above. In none of
these cases does the term Trinity apply to the divine nature;
only to persons. And once again, the Trinity is seen as unitas;
82 not substantial, but as many individuals, independent of

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one another, though joined by a certain link, like “omnes
ecclesiae sunt in una catholica, quia in ea omnes concorditer
vivunt” (“all the churches are in one, catholic Church, and
all live in it in harmony”). Furthermore, for the author of
Liber, the relationships between the divine persons, i.e. the
father, the son and procession, are not substanciae, that is,
nature, and far less subsistenciae, that is, persons, but they
serve to distinguish between persons. And here we must
bear in mind that in Gilbert de la Porée’s thinking (which
is adopted in Liber) there is a technical distinction between
quod est and quo est. Id quod est is the concrete individual
thing (God, homo) and id quo est is that by which it is, i.e.
the form, the subsistence (which may be generic, specific or
individual)45. Applying this distinction to the notion of God,
it is said that the divine persons (quod est) are distinguished
from nature, or divinity (quo est). And just as man exists due
to his humanity, his nature, the divine persons exist due to
their divinity. Saint Bernard justly criticized Gilbert de la
Porée, claiming he had added a fourth being to the three
divine persons, which is the divinity46.
Although many aspects of the doctrines contained
in Liber de vera philosophia and Joachimi Abbatis Liber
contra Lombardum coincide, it is undeniable that the first
comes from the “school” of Gilbert de la Porée, due to the
terminology used, and that it was written around 1179,
according to Fournier, its discoverer47. The second book,
according to its publisher, Ottaviano, appears to have
been written between 1300 and 132048 and comes from
the “school” of Joachim de Fiore himself49. But there are
those who totally deny this “school” of Joachim of Fiore,
affirmed by Ottaviano, supporting the view that Liber
contra Lombardum has nothing to do with the work of
the Calabrian Abbot, who is known for using a precise
technical language, but with the more delicate terms of
metaphysics50, like those we find being used in that work.
At most, says Arsênio Frugoni, it can be considered as an
interesting contribution to the polemic theological debate
in the 13th Century, but entirely unrelated to Joachim
and his message. The authors who adopt the view of a
Greek influence in the Abbot’s work, including F. Tocco,
Fournier and E. Renan51, derive their position and others 83

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from the trinitarian doctrine found in the Joachimite texts
themselves, and in those mentioned above.
The theological importance of the trinitarian doctrine
in the work of Joachim enables us to evaluate his role in
the formation of his concept of history. The Trinity is
manifested in the history of humanity, determining its stages
and enabling an interpretation. More than this, the Trinity
serves as a scheme for recognizing a scale of ethical values
in the behavior of humanity, in the plan of man’s salvation.
And it is under the mystery of the Trinity that Joachim
constructed the regularity that represented the three ages
of the world (status mundi). In the period of the Father,
in which men live according to the flesh (in quo vivebant
homines secundum carnem), the Law is predominant, and
it is the age of married and secular men. It is the period in
which the Old Testament predominates. After that came the
period of the Son, the period of Grace, in which men lived
in an intermediary state, between the spirit and the flesh (in
quo vivitur inter utrumque, hoc est inter carnem et spiritum).
This period is the age of clergy, in which the New Testament
is predominant. The third period is that of the Holy Spirit,
the age of Love, in which the spirit will predominate (in
quo vivitur secundum spiritum), characterized by the Gospel
of the Holy Spirit, or the Eternal Gospel (evangelium
aeternum), which signifies a spiritual knowledge that is
higher than that of the two Testaments (Old and New). And
this eternal spirit taken from the Scriptures by the spiritualis
intellectus 52, by a higher spiritual interpretation, is the one
that will continue in the future, while the written word will
disappear. This intelligentia spiritualis will be communicated
to the viri spirituales, the basis of the new Spiritual Church
(Ecclesia Spiritualis), based on a new monastic order (ordo
iustorum; ordo monachorum), which will take the place of
the carnal, corrupted Church that has been predominant
until now53.
The first period extends from Adam to Christ; the second
from Christ to the year 1260; and the third from 1260 on.
Each period or age has a precursor and an initiator. Each
lasts for 42 generations54 (according to Matthew 1:17),
equivalent to 3 x 14 generations, i.e. from Abraham to
David; from David to the captivity in Babylon; from the

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captivity to Christ. Each generation lasts thirty years, hence
they are called 30 x 42 generations, which is equal to 1260,
that is, the starting date of the third age, the precursor of
which was Saint Benedict,55 and will end with the Final
Judgement. King Uzziah56 is the precursor of the second
period, which began with Zechariah, the father of John the
The growth of each period or age is turbulent, and heralds
the coming of the Antichrist57. Elsewhere in his works, it led
to the understanding that the Antichrist has already been
born and is alive today, perhaps in Rome, which would
imply the identification of the Antichrist with the pope58.
The model of this concept of history is found, in part, as we
have already seen, in the medieval historiography itself. In
general terms, its cycle ends with the sixth age, aetas sexta,
as the era of the Incarnation, and all the previous history
of humanity is a preparation for reaching this stage59. In
Joachim, a rupture occurs that passes beyond the mark of
the age of the Son, to give historical significance to the Holy
Spirit. This should also be its historical realization, and for
Joachim, it is the most important, as it will inaugurate
the humanity of the future. Whatever the source of his
inspiration; Bizanthyne60 or Cistercien61, what is striking
in his concept is the role attributed to the Holy Spirit in
the religious economy62, and it is this period that electus
est ad libertatem contemplationis scriptura attestante qui ait:
Ubi spiritus ibi libertas63 (which was designated for the
contemplation of freedom, according to the testimony of
the Holy Scriptures, where it states: “Where the Spirit of
the Lord is, there is freedom”, (2 Co 3:7).
His method is that of “concordance” between the Old
and New Testaments, secundum coaptationem concordiae64,
which is something different from the traditional allegorical
method. The hermeneutical principle is that of misticus
intellectus qui sicut dicut est a duobus procedit65 (mystical
intelligence, which according to what was said, proceeds
from both (the Testaments)). This is the principle that
enables “concordance” of the two histories, i.e. that of
ancient Israel and that of the Church66.
Joachim’s genre of prophetic exegesis is directly linked
to the interpretation of the book of Revelation, and the 85

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Abbot dedicated himself to the hermetic and symbolic
significance of this important source of the medieval
mystic. Expositio in Apocalipsym created a true school
of Joachimite interpretation, which was accepted in the
Spiritual circles of the Franciscan Order, but which held
sway in other places too67.
The coming of the Antichrist, which would usher in
the crisis and a period of tribulations for the Church of
Christ (climaxing in the year 1260), after which eternal
glory would come, is derived from the interpretation
given to the Revelation with the description of the Seven
Seals given in the book. In this period, the unity of the
Church would take place, i.e. the Latin and the Greek,
as well as the conversion of the Jews, an essential part of
the spiritual palingenesis announced in his writings68.
The Second Coming would take place after the period of
the coming of the Antichrist and the peace that would
reign in the non-hierarchized church, of the status
monachorum. Joachim’s thinking, after his death, began to
be spread in various European centers until it was adop-
ted by certain Franciscan circles, from 1250. In an inte-
resting study by Morton Bloomfield and Marjorie
Reeves69, contrary to what was previously thought, the
Abbot’s concepts went from Calabria and Italy, i.e. from
the Florensian Order, as well as groups of Cistercians,
crossed the Alps and dispersed to England, France, Spain
and Germany. But in this phase, i.e. before 1240, the
interpretations given to the concepts of Joachim were still
not incorporated by the groups of Spirituals, which focused
on part of his ideas in their own way70.
The great spread of his ideas is evidenced by the quan-
tity of manuscripts of his works that existed at that time71.
On the other hand, this expansion shows that his
doctrines immediately created a strong renewing impression
in the minds of his time. But there is no doubt that
everything that Joachim wrote was done so in the heart
of the Church, and within his obedience to it, and had
nothing to do with heresy or with those who later adopted
elements of his doctrines and were considered heretics. He
himself criticized the heretical Cathars in harsh terms72.

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But the vision of the future coming from a third age,
with the realization of the values of the Gospel, provided
his contemporaries with a wellspring of ideas that were
used to judge and criticize the existing papal Church. This
meant, in other words, that the kernel of the attitude of
the future Joachimites towards the Church lay in the very
doctrines of Joachim73.
The replacement of the ordo clericorum that was active in
the age of the Son, with the ordo monachorum of the age of
the Holy Spirit could mean that the ecclesiastical hierarchy,
and the pope himself, would disappear, even though he
affirmed that the Church would not be destroyed, but rather,
transformed74. According to the subsequent interpretation,
and the pseudo-Joachimite writings, the ordo monachorum
refers to the two orders that emerged in the 13th Century;
the Dominican and the Franciscan75, which demonstrated
the prophetic nature of Joachim’s writings, reinforcing the
conviction among his followers that his prophesies would
certainly come to pass. In Concordia we also find phrases that
could have provided a motive for allusive interpretations
of the emergence of two religious orders (once again, the
Dominican and the Franciscan)76.
Joachim’s fame within the Franciscan Order, divided and
stirred up by the faction of the Spirituals, probably led him,
a posteriori, to exalt the prophesies, or pseudo-prophesies in
their writings, in line with the interpretations and desires
of these groups77.
According to Salimbene, Joachimism penetrated the
Franciscan Order around 1243-1247, due to an abbot of
the Florensian Order who sought refuge in the Franciscan
convent of Pisa, carrying the Joachim’s books with him,
fearing the wrath of Frederick II78.
Salimbene identified himself with the Joachimism of the
years 1247-1248, even working to spread his doctrines79.
It is entirely possible that his friendship with friar Hugh
of Digne helped influence him in this direction. Every
indication is that Hugh of Digne formed the first Joachimite
Center of France80. But Salimbene, whose chronicle
portrays the internal struggles of the Franciscan Order in
its origin, abandoned the Joachimite ideas in 1250, the year 87

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of the death of the Emperor Frederick II. According to the
disciples of the Joachimite doctrine, Emperor Frederick II
was the symbol of the beast of Revelation, the Antichrist,
whose death would be followed by a profound crisis full of
catastrophes. The death of Frederick I, known as Barbarossa
or Red Beard, led to prophesies about a future Frederick,
who would be the emperor destined to prepare the way for
the Second Coming and the period of the Millennium, in
which Jesus Christ would return to establish his kingdom
on earth. When Frederick II was crowned emperor,
the prophesies re-emerged, prompted by the striking
personality of the German monarch. He was considered,
on one hand, as the beast of the Revelation, and his empire,
the Holy Roman Empire of Germany, as the Babylon that
should punish the clergy and the Church, on the other,
as the saviour, who besides punishing the Church, would
assume the role of Emperor of the Last days, the novus
dux of the Joachimite prophesy. With his death in 1250,
ten years before the prophesied date, the hopes of those
who awaited the fulfilment of his prophesies vanished81.
In truth, nothing happened after the death of the German
emperor, who had been the cause of so much concern and
effort for the Church of his time. At the end of 1260, the
year predicted in the forecasts Abbot of Fiore, Salimbene,
as he himself affirmed in his chronicle, abandoned all belief
in the Joachimite ideas and decided to believe only in what
he saw82.
According to Salimbene’s chronicle, we get the clear
impression that Joachimism penetrated deeply into the
Franciscan Order, as well as into various social layers of the
time. We see this in the description of the circle of regular
visitors to the home of friar Hugh of Digne, a great friend
of the Minister General of the Order, John of Parma, which
included judges, doctors, and men of letters83. The two
new convents of Provence - Provins and Hyères - served
as the headquarters for the elaboration of the doctrines of
the circle of magnus Joachita. Hugh of Digne, according
to a narrative of Salimbene, even managed to convert an
illustrious Dominican friar to Joachimism84.
Besides the friars mentioned in the chronicle of
88 Salimbene, we know that personalities linked to the

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Franciscan Order, which included prominent theologians
and thinkers of great importance in Medieval history, were
also followers of the Joachimite doctrines. One needs only
to mention names like Adam Marsh (de Marisco) and
Roger Bacon to show the significance of the penetration of
these ideas.
In the works of Roger Bacon, we feel the conviction
that the events foretold concerning the coming of the
Antichrist are actually happening, and there is no doubt
that the prophesies of the Calabrian reached the Franciscan
Bacon, criticizing the state of affairs that prevailed at the
time, describes it as “taken over by corruption from head
to toe”86 and associates the salvation of the world with the
coming of the Antichrist, a recurrent theme in his writings,
with an accentuated Joachimite flavor87.
The profound, undeniable presence of Joachimism within
the Order is revealed in the prominent figure of its Minister
General (1247-1257), friar John of Parma, mentioned
earlier as the close friend of Hugh of Digne88. Following
the Franciscan principles to the letter, without making
any concessions, he was known for his saintliness, and for
being a follower of the poverty and humility of its founding
Saint. Salimbene often portrays him in his chronicle as a
man who enjoyed a great reputation, both in the Order and
in the Church, and also in the circles of the University of
Paris, where he taught as a Bachelor. He was, therefore, an
erudite man capable of exerting great influence among the
friars of the Order. Salimbene mentions a dialog between a
friar called Bartholomeus de Mantua, lector and provincial
minister of Milan, who declared that John of Parma had
caused worry to himself and his Order, by following the
prophesies of men like Joachim and his disciples89. Without
doubt, it is possible to find, among his friends, followers of
the Joachimite doctrine, whom Salimbene’s chronicle does
not neglect to mention90.
One of the friends was Bartolomeo Guiscolo, whose
personality is described in glowing terms. Another friar who
belonged to the group was Gerard of Borgo San Donnino
who, along with friar Bartolomeo, urged Salimbene to
have faith in the writings of Joachim, and study them. On 89

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another occasion, his extreme adhesion to Joachimism even
prompted a recrimination from Pope Nicholas III91.
John of Parma, in fact, would end up being a victim
of his convictions at the time when Friar Gerard of Borgo
San Donnino published his Introductorius ad Evangelium
aeternum, in Paris, in 1254. We do not know the text of
Gerard’s writing, except from the attacks of his enemies
and the condemnation of Rome, i.e. the Protocol of
the Committee of Anagni, which was given the task of
investigating the case raised by the opusculum. Gerard’s
interpretation of the writings of Joachim goes far beyond
the intentions of the Calabrian Abbot, since for the
Franciscan friar, the three writings of the abbot (Concordia,
Expositio and Psalterium) constituted, from 1200 on, the
text of the New Eternal Gospel itself. While for Joachim
the expression represented a mystical intelligence of the
two Testaments, reserved for the viri spirituali of the eternal
Church, for Gerard, it was a New Scripture, a new Law,
that of the Holy Spirit, which superseded the previous one,
i.e. that of the Son, just as that of the Son superseded that of
the Father. Gerard studied in Paris92, and there is no doubt
that the opusculum would have caused a certain impression
in University circles, and also in the Order itself; it would
have caused a true internal disturbance, as it expressed the
points of view of a faction, that is, the Spirituals. Salimbene
informs us that the Order began to be concerned over
Introductorius as it mentions the resolution that prohibits
the publication of any writing outside the Order, unless it
was first approved by the minister and by the provincial
chapter, and if anybody transgressed this resolution, that
they would be punished for three days by being given only
bread and water (panem artum et aquam brevem). The
author himself, Gerard of Borgo San Donnino, was placed
in a cell, where he lived only with the “bread of tribulation”
and the “water of anguish” until the end of his days93.
The question of Introductorius was also linked to the
internal dispute of the University of Paris, which began
with the resentment of the secular clergy, who were losing
ground in the university teaching positions as the regular
clergy gained greater prestige and positions, thanks to their
magistri of exceptional quality.

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In terms of intellectual capacity and moral conduct, it
would have been difficult to find better men than the likes of
Albertus Magnus, Alexander of Hales, John de la Rochelle,
Saint Bonaventure, and Saint Thomas Aquinas. Thus, the
appearance of the mendicant orders in the University caused
a major impact that led to a negative reaction among the
secular clergy. Many of the students of theology flocked to
hear the predicant masters, who had obtained two chairs,
in 1229 and 123194. The struggle began in February 1252,
when the University of Paris decreed that the chairs of the
mendicant orders be limited to one for each order. In 1253,
between April and September, the members f the regular
orders were required to swear an oath promising to observe
the statutes of the University, otherwise they would not be
accepted95. The fact that the debate was focused mainly
on the Faculty of Theology shows its essentially doctrinal
nature. However, despite the protests from the Dominicans,
the Franciscans, through their Minister General, John of
Parma, ended up acquiescing to the requirements of the
University. The conciliatory, mitigating position of Pope
Innocent IV, who in bulls dated July and August 1253
urged the masters to revoke the decree of expulsion, led to
a short period of calm.
But in 1254, with the intervention of the clergy and the
canons of Saint Quentin and Noyen, who resented being
deprived of their advantages, Pope Innocent IV published
two bulls, on 10th May and 21st November96, recognizing
that the holy men had departed somewhat, from his rules.
On 4th July 1254 he published a bull in which he declared
the university statutes inviolable, showing that the pope
had modified his original position. However, with his
successor, Alexander IV, the situation changed, and his
bulls, dated 22nd December 1254, Nec Insolitum, and 14th
April 1255, Quasi Signum Vitae, annulled the resolutions of
Innocent IV and affirmed the legitimacy of the creation or
suppression of chairs on the authority of the magistri alone.
The Chancellor of the University is the one who should
have the right to decide on chairs, bearing in mind the
capacity of the master, irrespective of whether he belongs to
the regular orders or to the secular clergy.
It was in this atmosphere that William of Saint- 91

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Amour’s De periculis novissimorum temporum was written,
from January to October 1255. The opusculum attacks
the mendicants from various angles, i.e. the ecclesiastical
hierarchy, placing in doubt the excellence of the religious
state, and affirming that the religious order is lower than
the secular clergy and cannot exert the same functions as the
latter, i.e. cura animarum, far less preaching. It also attacks
the mendicancy of the members of the orders, adding that
it is contrary to the doctrine of the Church, and contrary
to the evangelical perfection, claiming it was a denial of the
manual labour that neither Christ nor his apostles shied
away from. And finally, it sees in the emergence of the
mendicants, one of the signs of the last days, and perhaps the
days of the Antichrists themselves. According to Thouzellier,
the doctrine of poverty developed by William in De Periculis
is similar to that of the Cathars, i.e. it places accentuated
importance on manual labour and the possession of assets
in common (according to the customs of the traditional
religious orders) as the true way to evangelical perfection.
Saint Thomas, in a response to William, in his work Contra
Impugnantem, reminds his readers of this similarity97. One
of the best responses given to De Periculis was that of De
Perfectione Evangelica, by St. Bonaventure, in which we
find an excellent argumentation, justifying the mendicancy
of the new orders as the true way to evangelical perfection.
The work of Doctor Seraphicus is arranged in a rigid
theological exposition, dealing firstly with humility, “which
is the doorway to wisdom, the foundation of justice and the
home of grace”98.
In the second part of his work, St. Bonaventure deals with
poverty as a renunciation of all things, both in particular and
in common, responding directly to the objections raised
by William99. And neither does St. Bonaventure neglect
to address the question of manual labour as part of the
imitation of the evangelical life, as well as the mendicancy
of the Dominicans and the Franciscans100. In short, De
Perfectione Evangelica tears down, in a spirit of scholastic
argumentation, the building constructed by William in De
Periculis. But William’s text was condemned in October
1256, by Alexander IV, though this did not end the struggle
within the University of Paris. William’s De Periculis recalled

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all the dangerous doctrines contained in Introductorius and
Alexander IV sent the work to a committee of cardinals that
gathered in Anagni in 1255 to judge him. The committee’s
judgment, in the form of a report, was known as the
Protocol of Anagni. Besides the 31 errores published by the
doctors of Paris, judged by the Committee of Anagni and
found in the Chartularium of the University of Paris, this
is all that remains for our knowledge of the work of Gerard
of Borgo San Donnino and his personal interpretations of
the work of the Abbot Joachim101, as mentioned earlier. In
fact, there is a vast distance between the original intention
of Joachim’s writings and Gerard’s Introductorius102, as this
author represents a faction - that of the Spirituals - which
assumed its own position in relation to the Franciscan
ideals. Therefore, the expression referred to by Guido
Bondatti, that Gerard was incapace interpetre of Joachim,
makes no sense. Also, the scientific efforts of Bondatti to
discover the fidelity of Joachim’s text, despite its unrivalled
importance, often ended up forgetting that Joachim’s text
“serves” Gerard’s intentions” as a convicted Franciscan
Spiritual. Thus, through Gerard’s writing, Joachim ended
up saying things he had never intended to say. But here, the
historian cannot forget a basic methodological principle in
the analysis of the written document: the author and his
work should be examined in the context of time and his
personal convictions.
According to the testimony of Errores, published by
Matthew of Paris, the first part of Gerard’s book can be
seen as Introductorius itself, and what follows, as the second
part, is in fact Concordia Novi et Veteris Testamenti103. Guido
Bondatti rightly shows that the text of Errores was probably
written by the magistri of Paris, under the guidance of
William of Saint-Amour, and therefore reveals what was, in
fact, an intentional distortion of Gerard’s writing. Denifle,
in the introduction to the Protocol of Anagni, indicates this,
stating that the proposals of Concordia, listed in Errores, are
not found in the text of Joachim’s Concordia itself104. In the
text published by Matthew of Paris, we have, in the first
part (which is considered part of Introductorius itself ) seven
errors, while the others, i.e. the 24 errores, belong to the
book of Concordia. 93

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Comparing the text of the 31 errors with that of the
Protocol of Anagni, the discrepancies are apparent. Every
indication is that the Protocol was more faithful to the
text of the author Gerard than that of the magistri of Paris,
eager to combat the mendicants. William of Saint-Amour
found, in Gerard’s Introductorius, a great opportunity to
“demonstrate” the dangers to which the new orders could
lead (the Dominican and the Franciscan) with their lifestyle;
for him, they ushered in the days of the Antichrist.
What does Introductorius say, according to the Protocol
of Anagni? That in the year 1200 the spirit of life came out
of the two Testaments, to become the Eternal Gospel105.
Over time, humanity would reach the third status mundi,
that is, the age of the Holy Spirit, which will be a time of
charity, et est sine enigmate et sine enigmate et sine figuris106.
The author’s intention, according to the Protocol, is to
teach that the period of the Holy Spirit will do away with
the mediating elements of faith so that “the truth of the two
Testaments emerges clearly”107. Thus, we arrive at a period
of charity, which characterizes the period of the Holy Spirit.
In each period, three personalities (tres magni viri) emerge
that characterize it; thus, in the first we had Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob; in the second, Zachariah, John the Baptist
and Jesus Christ; and in the third, vir indutus lineis, i.e.
Joachim and angelus quidam habens falcem acutam, i.e. Saint
Domingos, and alius angelus habens signum Dei vivi, i.e.
St. Francis108. The author is also identified when he states
that the evangelium eternum traditum et comissum sit illi
ordini specialiter, qui entegratur et procedit equaliter ex ordini
laicorum et ordine clericorum, quem ordinem apellat nudi
pedum109. And this first part of the Protocol ends by saying
that istos errores et fatuidades invenimus in isto libro, et quia
totus liber istis et consimilibus respersus est, ideo noluimos plura
scribere, quia credimus ista sufficere ad cognocendum de libro.
The Protocol goes on to state that in 1255, in the VIII idus
Julii, the committee that examined Gerard’s Introductorius
(Odo, bishop of Tuscany; Stefano, bishop of Prenestino; and
Hugh, cardinal and presbyter of S. Sabina) received master
Florencio, Bishop of Ancona and duos alios to examine the
writings of Joachim of Fiore, prohibiting the publication
of what was considered suspect. The citations of extracts

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of Concordia, such as primo notandum est fundamentum
doctrine Joachim110 are given below. However, Joachim’s
other works are also cited, such as Tractatus super quatuor
evangelia, Introductorio super Apocalipsim, Psalterium decem
chordarum and also Liber Figurarum, taking into account the
interpretation of the phrase Idem habetur per inspectionem
arborum et figurarum inde confectarum ab ipse Joachim111.
The Anagni Committee also read Articulis fidei112, and was
aware of the debate surrounding the Trinitarian doctrine,
which the Abbot maintained with Peter Lombard113.
In short, the Anagni Committee read and studied the
work of Joachim with scruples worthy of admiration,
not basing their considerations on a single work by the
Abbot, but as every indication, if not all, would suggest,
they examined nearly all his works, something that was
not done by the magistri of theology of the University of
Paris. Therefore, the testimony of the committee is more
important than that of the magistri.
According to the Protocol, the Abbot of Fiore is
recriminated as a “partial inspirer” of Gerard’s doctrines,
but not as his spiritual tutor, emphasizing that Joachim was
a faithful member of the church, despite his methodological
extravaganancies in the interpretation of the Holy
Scriptures114. In the second canon of the Lateran Council
of 1215, Joachim is not condemned for all his doctrines.
On the contrary, his position of faithfulness to the Roman
Church is confirmed115.
Joachim of Fiore was not, therefore, considered a heretic,
like Amaury de Bene116, neither was he considered a radical
“Spiritual” of the type suggested by Gerard of Borgo San
Donnino. He was considered, rather, a mystic impregnated
with prophetic spirit of the Holy Scriptures, which did
not impose limits of any kind, to understand the message
contained in the texts studied tirelessly day and night, in
his monastery. As a result of this meditation, he was carried
on an adventure of the spirit, to the creation of a new
exegetic method and to the rich wellspring of implications
contained in this method. From that point on, the abbot’s
work, the fruit of his notable creative imagination, took on
a life of its own.

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1. In Practica Inquisitionis, of Bernardo Gui, we find a description of
the Albigenses.
2. In Nugis Curialium, of Gualter Map, ed. Camden Society, T. Wright,
1850, p. 65; Burchardi et Cuonradi Uspergensium Chronicon, MGH, SS,
XXIII, pp. 376-377; A. Patschovsky, “Der Passauer Anonymus”, in Schriften
der Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Band XXII, 1968, p. 82.
3. About the Beguins, idem, pp. 110 and 116.
4. About the pseudo-apostles, see Rerum Italicarum Scriptores,
L. A. Muratori, Tomo IX, part V (Historia Fratris Dulcini Heresiarche),
fac. 56, (Acta Sancti Officii Bononie), p. 54.
5. Also Abelardo, Introductio ad Theologiam, II, 4, in MPL., 178, 1056,
referring to Peter de Bruys (cit. by Raoul Manselli, Studi sulle eresie del secolo
XII, Instituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo, Rome, 1953, p. 26).
6. Obras Completas de San Bernardo, BAC, Madrid, 1955, vol. II,
pp. 516-517; MPL, 183, 1155. Also in “Sobre la consideración”, Lib. I.,
ch. VI, idem, p. 589, he refers to the participation of the Church in the
secular disputes (MPL, 182, 735). In “Apologia”, ch. 12, idem, p. 849, (MPL,
182, 914), after describing the superfluous luxury and sumptuousness of
the churches and houses of prayer, he exclaims: “the church is resplendent
in its walls yet shows itself as needy in its poor. Its stones are covered with
gold yet its children are abandoned to nakedness”.
7. Alani de Lille, De Fide Catholica contra Haereticos sui temporis, Liber
II, in MPL, 210, 337 and Liber II, 2, MPL, 210-380.
8. If the priesthood had the power to confess and consecrate, it is not
by the order or by the officium, but by the meritum, as Manselli rightly
points out, op. cit., p. 78; Alani de Lille, op. cit., Liber II, 8, in MPL, 210,
9. Alani, Liber II, 9, in MPL, 210, 385-386. Liber II, 10, in MPL, 210,
10. Alani, idem, Liber II, 18, in MPL, 210, 392, and Alani, idem, Liber
II, 20, in MPL, 210, 394.
11. And also the desire of those responsible, like St. Bernard, in a letter
to Pope Eugene (MPL, 1821, 427). Obras, vol. II, p. 1,187.
12. The role of Joachim of Fiore and his influence over the Spirituals
had already been mentioned by Auguste Jundt, Histoire du Panthéisme
populaire au Moyen Age et au seizième siècle, Paris, 1875 (anastastic copy –
Minerva, GMBH), Frankfurt am Main, 1964, p. 13.
13. Evidently this does not include the importance of Joachim’s other
works for the purposes of research, particularly Liber Figurarum, the
authenticity of which remains in doubt, though if not written by Joachim,
then it was certainly written by disciples who fully identified with his ideas.
On the subject of Liber Figurarum, see the observations and bibliographical
recommendations of Morton W. Bloomfield, “Joachim of Flora, a critical
survey of his canon, teachings, sources, biography and influence”, in
Traditio, XIII, 1957, pp. 257-260; also the first publisher of the work,
Leoni Tondelli, Il libro delle figure dell’abate Gioachino da Fiore, Società
Editrice Internazionale, Torino, 1953, 2nd ed. (with the collaboration of
Marjorie E. Reeves and Beatrice Hirsch–Reich). Other works of great
importance for our understanding of Joachim’s thought are Tractatus Super
Quatuor Evangelia, published by Ernesto Buonaiuti of the Instituto Storico
Italiano, Rome, 1930, anastastic copy, 1966; Adversus Iudeos, ed. by Arsenio
Frugoni, Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo, Rome, 1957; and De
articulis fidei, ed. by E. Buonaiuti, Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medio

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Evo, Rome, 1936, and certainly written by Joachim himself. We have a
certain number of pseudo-writings or apocrypha, such as commentaries on
Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the important commentary on Jeremiah. Other works,
such as Elogius S. Henrici et S. Cunegundis, published by Franz Pelster, “Ein
Elogium Joachims von Fiore, auf Kaiser Heinrich II und seine Gemahlin,
die heilige Kunigunde”, in Liber Floridus, St. Ottilien, 1950, pp. 329-
354, appears to be somewhat doubtful as being of the Abbot’s authorship,
although expressions typical of the Joachimite style appear in the text, v. g.
on p. 346: “Hec licet spiritualiter intelligenda sint...” or on p. 350: “Quid in
Apocalipse legimus?” The strong emphasis given to the virginity is typically
Joachimite, and is found in other writings, as well as in the biographical
description of Luke, Archbishop of Cosenza, in Acta Sanctorum, T. VII,
Maii dies, 29-31, pp. 91-92. For a better understanding of the writings of
Joachim of Fiore, see Appendix A. “The Genuine and Spurious Works of
Joachim” in the work of Marjorie Reeves, The Influence of Prophecy in the
Later Middle Ages, A Study in Joachimism, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
1969, pp. 511-514; also K.-V.Selge, Elenco delle opera di Gioacchino da
Fiore, “Florensia” 3-4 (1989-1990), pp. 25-35.
14. Bloomfield, op. cit., pp. 308-309.
15. Comment. In Evang. Joann., MPL, 122, 308.
16. A. Jundt, op.cit., p. 5.
17. Guilhermo Fraile, O.P., Historia de la filosofia, BAC, Madrid, 1966,
T. II, p. 311; M. Dal Pra, Scoto Eriugena, Fratelli Bocca Editori, Milano,
1951, pp. 97-105.
18. De Celeste Hierarchia, II, I, 146.
19. Fraile, op. cit., p. 319, and which cites De div. nat., MPL, 122, II,
1, 523D.
20. De div. nat., MPL, 122, V. 24, 908B.
21. De div. nat., MPL, 122, I, 44, 486BC.
22. Fraile, op. cit., p. 321.
23. De div. nat., MPL, 122, III, 20, 683B.
24. Idem, II, 25, 582A.
25. Idem, V, 8, 876AB.
26. Idem, V, 27, 923D.
27. Idem, V, 36, 960B.
28. Jundt, op. cit., p. 23; MGH, Script. T. XXVIII; p. 915; C. Baeumker,
La filosofia europea del Medioevo, ed. Vita and Pensiero, Milan, 1945, p. 53.
On Amaury de Bène see E. Aegerter, Les hérésies du Moyen Age, ed. Lib. Ernest
Leroux, Paris 1939, pp. 59 and ss.; M. Dal Pra, Amalrico di Bène, Fratelli
Bocca Editori, Milano, 1951; G. C. Capelle, Autour du décret de 1210:
III. Amaury de Bène, Étude sur son panthéisme formel, J. Vrin, Paris,1932;
Norman Cohn, The pursuit of the millenium, Harper & Torchbooks, New
York, 1961, pp. 156-161.
29. Dictionaire de Théologie Catholique, T.V, pp. 429-430.
30. E. Gebhart, La Italia mistica, ed. Nueva, Buenos Aires, 1943,
pp. 44-65.
31. Obras de San Augustin, see “Tratado de la Santíssima Trinidad”,
BAC, Madrid, 1968, Liber IV. C. IV, p. 279.
32. P. Fournier, “Joachim de Fiore, ses doctrines, son influence”, in Revue
des Questions Historiques, T. LXVII, 1900, pp. 457-505; “Un adversaire
inconnu de Saint Bernard et de Pierre Lombard”, in Bibliothèque de l’École
des Chartes, T. XLVII, 1886, pp. 394-417 and his Études sur Joachim de Fiore
et ses doctrines, Paris, 1909, anastastic copy (Minerva-GMBH), 1963.
33. P. Fournier, Études sur Joachim de Fiore et ses doctrines, Paris, 1909,
anastastic copy (Minerva GMBH), 1963, p. 16.

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34. Jules Gay, “Notes sur la conservation du rite grec dans la Calabre
et dans laTerre d’Otrente au XIVe siècle”, in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, T. IV,
p. 59.
35. Fournier, op. cit., p. 99 and p. 4.
36. Idem, p. 100.
37. Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, ed. Herder, Freiburg, 1962,
p. 207.
38. Joachimi Abbatis Liber contra Lombardum, a cura di Carmelo
Ottaviano, Reale Accademia d’Italia, 1934.
39. Concordia Novi ac Veteris Testamenti, Venedig, 1519, anastastic copy
(Minerva-GMBH), 1964, IV, ch. 1, fol. 42; in ALKG, T. I, pp. 136-137.
40. Joachimi Abbatis Liber..., p. 58.
41. Conc. Oec. Decreta..., p. 208.
42. Joachimi Abbatis Liber..., p. 237.
43. Conc. Oec. Decreta..., p. 207.
44. Fournier, op. cit., p. 82.
45. G. Fraile, op. cit., p. 436.
46. Obras Completas de San Bernardo, BAC, Madrid, 1955, T. II,
“Sermones sobre los Cantares”, no. 80, ch. 6, p. 536.
47. Fournier, op. cit., p. 98: regarding the Porée’s School, see J. de
Ghellinck, Le mouvement théologique du XIIe siècle, Museum Lessianum,
1948, p. 179. Also M. D. Chenu, La Théologie au XIIe siècle, J. Vrin, Paris,
1957, p. 12.
48. Joachimi Abbatis Liber..., p. 65.
49. Idem, p. 64.
50. Adversus Iudeos di Gioachino da Fiore, a cura di Arsenio Frugoni,
Instituto Storico Italiano, Rome, 1957, p. XIII.
51. F. Tocco, L’eresia nel medioevo, Firenze, 1884; P. Fournier, Études
sur Joachim de Flore et ses doctrines, Paris, 1909; E. Renan, “Joachim de
Flore et l’Evangile éternel”, in Revue des Deux Mondes, juillet 1866, t. 64,
pp. 94-142.
52. Tractatus super quatuor Evangelia, p. 6, 29; idem, p. 21, 7; idem,
pp. 21,24.
53. Concordia Novi ac Veteris Testamenti, lib. V, ch. 21; idem, lib. IV,
ch. 34.
54. Conc., lib. V, ch. 118; Conc., lib. IV, ch. 34. In Conc., lib. IV, ch. 9
and ss., there is a detailed list of the generations.
55. Tractatus super quatuor Evangelia, p. 91.
56. M. Bloomfield, op. cit., p. 268, shows that Hosea represents the
idea that the second period is characterized by the interference of the
secular power in the spiritual power, as in fact occurred with King of Judah
(2 Kings, 14:21; 15:1). Joachim here mirrors the problem of his time,
and assumes a “papist” position in the relations with the temporal power.
See Joachim in Conc., lib. II, Trat. 1, ch. 27: “Ita a diebus Silvestri pape
usque ad presens obtinuerunt sucessores Petri regale sacerdotium in ecclesia
dei, maxime super latinos...” On the vision of Joachim in relation to the
two powers, the temporal and the spiritual, in the wider context of his
thought, see the chapter “Chiesa e potere imperiale: resistere o subire?” in
the important book by Gian Luca Potestà, Il tempo dell’Apocalisse, Vita di
Gioacchino da Fiore, Laterza, Rome-Bari, 2004, pp.191-218.
57. Tractatus super quatuor Evangelia, p. 101; Expositio in Apocalypsim,
Venedig, 1527, anastastic copy (Minerva-GMBH), 1964, III, 9.12, fol.
58. The same is affirmed by M. Bloomfield, op. cit., p. 290, citing the

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text of Expositio in Apocalypsim (incidently, cited wrongly 9.11, fol. 133r),
mas III, 9.12, fol. 133: “presentem puto esse in mundo”. Also in Chronica
Rogeri de Hoveden, iii, p. 77.
59. M. D. Chenu, La Théologie au XIIe siècle, Lib. Philos, J. Vrin, Paris,
1957, p. 80; note 1, cit. Otto de Freising, Historia, lib. III.
60. Bloomfields suggestion is misplaced, op. cit., p. 286, when he
announces the name of Symeon the New Theologian (c. 1022) and his
disciple Nicetos Stethatos (c. 1055) as probable inspirers of Joachim, in
relation to the role of the Holy Spirit. It would be more appopriate to speak
of a Byzanthine influence, as some authors do, without mentioning the
direct source, as there is no certainty about any one Greek author or work
concerned with this question.
61. The spirit of reform that characterized the Cistercian Order, and
the personality of St. Bernard, may have contributed to some of Joachim’s
ideas In Conc., lib. IV, ch. 38, Levi is compared with St. Bernard, who
together with St. Benedict, inaugurated the third age.
62. Conc., lib. II, Trat. 1, ch. 18.
63. Idem, Trat. 2, ch. 4.
64. Idem, Trat. 1, ch. 2 and ch. 3.
65. Idem, ch. 2. This aspect of Joachimite doctrine was developed by
my student, Oscar Frederico Bauchwitz in his thesis “Declínio e Superação
no Pensamento da História de Joaquim de Fiore”, Rio de Janeiro, 1994.
66. Henri de Lubac, Exégèse Médiévale, IIe partie, Aubier, Paris, 1964,
p. 320; P. C. Spicq, Esquisse d’une histoire de l’exégèse latine au Moyen Age,
J. Vrin, Paris, 1944, pp. 136-137.
67. H. de Lubac, idem, pp. 330-331. In my view, there is no relationship
between the “historical” doctrine of Joachim of Fiore, and the idea of
successive periods of cosmic development found in the Kabbalah of the
13th Century and based on the Biblical idea of Shemittah.
Joachim of Fiore does not have a cosmic speculation per se, as his method
applies only to history. While Joachim’s trinity determines a historical division
of history into periods, the Sefirot of the Kabbalah, particularly the Sefer
Ha-temunah (Book of Image), written around 1250, are representations of
the stages of the process in which all things emanate from God and return
to Him. In his work Reshit Hakabalá (1150-1250)(The beginnings of the
Kabbalah), ed. Schocken, Tel Aviv, 1948 (Hebrew), p. 178, Gershom G.
Scholem writes: “And in those years in which the Franciscans discovered
the doctrine of Joachim of Fiore, and the classical books were written on
the evangelium aeternum, such as the interpretation given to Joachim to
the book of Jeremiah, a similar doctrine appeared in Catalonia among the
Kabbalist circles”. But there is a difference between them: the doctrine of the
Kabbalists does not explain the various phases of creation (in Genesis) and
our history, but rather, seeks to explain the succession of various creations,
one after the other” etc. See also, his work Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism,
Schocken Books, New York, 1971, pp. 178-179. The influence that popular
movements, and more specifically, the Franciscan Spirituals, would have
exerted over the Kabbalist circles, was proposed by professor I. F. Baer in an
article on the Hebraic title “Ha-reka hahistori shel ‘Raya Mehemna’ ” (The
historical background of ‘Raya Mehemna [Faithful Shepherd]), in Zion,
vol. V (1941), pp. 1-44) and accepted by some academics, including José
M. Millás Vallicrosa, La poesia sagrada hebraico-española, Consejo Superior
de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid-Barcelona, 1948, p. 124. Also, the
analogy made by professor Baer between the Sefer Hasidim (Book of the
Pious) and the Franciscan pietism of the time, in an article published under
the Hebraic title of “Hamegammà hadatit hachevratit shel Sefer Hasidim”
(The religious and social conception of Sefer Hasidim), in Zion, vol. III
(1938), pp. 1-50, appears to be a hypothesis for which no documentary
evidence has been found.

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In relation to the first case, Gershom Scholem, in his work Major Trends
in Jewish Mysticism, p. 234, cautiously notes that: “in harmony with this
tendency, the Zohar, for the first time in the history of rabbinical Judaism,
lays special stress on the glorification of poverty as a religious value. It has
been suggested by F. I. Baer, that this mood reflects the influence of the
popular movement led by the radical wing of the Franciscans, known as
the ‘Spirituals’, which spread through Europe in the thirteenth century and
found its most impressive representative in Petrus Olivi in Spain (in fact he
worked in Provence) during the very years in which the Zohar was written”.
And in regard to the second case, in the same work, p. 834, Scholem writes:
“In this brilliant analysis of the Religious Social tendency of the Sefer Hasidim,
F. I. Baer has shown that the ‘teaching of the Sefer Hasidim form a definite
and consistent whole’ and that they reflect the spirit of a central dominating
figure – Rabbi Jehudah the Hasid, whose historical position according to
Baer, is akin to that of his Christian contemporary, St. Francis of Assisi.
Baer has also raised anew the problem of the relationship between the social
philosophy of Hasidism and its Monkish-Christian environment. It is in
fact undeniable that certain popular religious and social ideas common
to the Roman Catholic West after the Cluniacensian reform also filtered
into the religious philosophy of some Jewish groups. According to Baer,
this was possible only in Germany, while in Italy and Spain the spread
of philosophical enlightenment among the Jews either prevented this
infiltration or at least limited its scope by waging incessant war against it.
Although Baer describes these tendencies as ‘stimulants which merely served
to hasten a spontaneous development’ he goes further than Güdemann
(Güdemann M., Geschichte des Erziehungswesens und der kultur der
Juden im Mittelalter, vol. 1 (1880), p. 158, apud Scholem, p. 370) who
also believed in a connection between the popular Christian mysticism of
the period and the Hasidic movement but makes a reservation in respect
of their interdependence by arguing that”. In his magnificent work Toldot
Haiehudim b’Sefarad Hanotzrit (A History of the Jews in Christian Spain),
Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1959, p. 160, professor Baer once again summarizes
the positions developed in the article cited, from the journal Zion, in which
he states that “at the end of the 13th century, an anonymous author wrote
the work Raya Mehemna and the Tikunim(Additions) as an interpretative
addition to the book of Zohar. In them, it is revealed more clearly that
the nature of the popular preacher is closer, according to his sociological
type, to the ‘spiritual’ Franciscan friar of those times”. In note 70, p. 510,
of the cited work, professor Baer says that “it is possible to demonstrate
the close link between Abraham Abulafia and the Christian Spirituals, but
we still await the complete edition of his works”. In an article by Joaquim
Carreras y Artau, “Arnaldo de Vilanova, apologista antijudaico”, in Sefarad,
VII, 1947, pp. 49-61, once again mentions the possible influence that A.
Abulafia would have received in his “Prophetic Kabbalah” or perhaps the
reverse is what actually took place. But the author of the article, who sees
a certain analogy in Allocutio super significationes nominis tetragrammaton,
by A. of Vilanova, and Or Hasechel, (Light of Wisdom) by Abulafia, after
declaring that “parece, pues, indudable una cierta influencia de la Cábala
profética en Arnaldo de Vilanova”, ends up concluding that “sólo un
examen comparativo de los dos testos citados, susceptible de ser ampliado a
otras manifestaciones literarias o culturales, permitirá aquilatar el grado de
ese influje y su convergencia con otros influjos de origem distinto”.
68. Tractatus super quatuor Evangelia, p. 323; Adversus Iudeos, p. 82;
Ver Guido Bondatti, Gioachinismo e Francescanesimo nel Dugento, S. Maria
degli Angeli, 1924, p. 27.
69. M. W. Bloomfield and M. E. Reeves, “The penetration of
Joachimism into Northern Europe”, in Speculum, XXIX, 1954, pp. 772-
793. The article brings testimonies like those of Ralph de Coggeshall and
others, to show the penetration of Joachim’s doctrines before 1250 in
England, as it cites Albert of Stade as testimony to its influence in Germany
100 (MGH, Scriptores, T. XVI). In a work published by E. Randolph Daniel,

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“A re-examination of the origins of Franciscan Joachitism”, in Speculum,
XLIII, 1968, pp. 671-676, the author points out the start of the expansion
of Joachimism before 1240, beginning in Calabria, in the South of Italy,
particularly Naples and the surrounding area. Randolph Daniel’s source
is Salimbene’s Chronica, and the analysis of the two pseudo-Joachimite
works from this period, the Super Hieremiam and Super Esaiam, are also
frequently cited by Salimbene.
70. C. Ottaviano, in the Introduction to Joachimi Abbatis Liber contra
Lombardum, pp. 25-27, corrects a series of accepted statements about the
Joachimite doctrines, such as: his sympathy for the heretical thinking of
his time; that they favoured the Jews; that they accepted the Manicheist
apocrypha that circulated at that time; that they had no interest whatsoever
in the Crusades; that they had little sympathy for the Cistercians, etc.
71. Guido Bondatti, Gioachinismo e Francescanesimo nel Dugento, p. 9;
Joachimi Abbatis Liber, pp. 40-41; F. Stegmüller, Repertorium Biblicum
Medii Aevi, Inst. Francisco Suarez, Madrid, 1940, entry on Joachim de
Flora; H. Denifle, “Das Evangelium aeternum und die Commission zu
Anagni”, in ALKG, T. I, pp. 91-98.
72. Tractatus super quatuor Evangelia, p. 157.
73. George La Piana, “Joachim of Flora: a critical survey”, in Speculum,
VII, 1932, p. 280; G. Bondatti, op. cit., p. 31.
74. See Protocol of Anagni, in ALKG, II, p. 120.
75. G. Bondatti, op. cit., p. 14 and cit., o Expositio super Ieremiam, ch. 4
(edic. col., 1577), 81.
76. Conc. Liber, f. 80.
77. It appears that the fame of prophet Joachim went beyond the limits
of the ecclesiastical life, extending into the political sphere, as we see in
Annales Stadenses, MGH, SS. T. XVI, p. 372.
78. Salimbene, Cron., p. 236.
79. Idem, p. 293.
80. Idem, p. 142.
81. Norman Cohn, op. cit., pp. 99-107.
82. Salimbene, Cron., p. 303. The role of Frederick II in the Joachimite
eschatology is recalled in the dialog between Friar Hugh of Digne and the
predicant friar who asked Hugh to prove that Frederick, “according to
Joachim”, would die at the age of seventy years and that he would die by
natural, non-violent means. Friar Hugh replied that “Abbot Joachim was a
Holy man and the things he predicted were revealed by God... and that in
the words of the Abbot we are to understand that the land of the Chaldeans
is the Roman Empire (Holy Roman Empire of Germany), Assur is the
Emperor Frederick, Tiro is Sicilia, then some days of a king are the whole
life of Frederick, and the seventy years is the period of life established by
Merlin. And that Frederick, therefore, would not die at the hands of men
but by the work of God, as foretold in Isaiah Chapter 32”.
83. Salimbene, Cron., p. 236. On Salimbene, who at a ceratin time
was close to moderate Jochimitism, see the work of Olivier Guyotjeannin,
Salimbene de Adam: un chroniqueur franciscain, Brepols, 1995, which in
addition extracts of the Chronicle, contains an excellent bibliography of
the notable Franciscan.
84. Idem, p. 239.
85. Roger Bacon, Opere Tertio, MGH, Script., T. XXVIII, pp. 576-77.
86.Roger Bacon, Compendium Studii Philosophiae, MGH, Script.
T. XXVIII, p. 577. Even in St. Bonaventure we find a certain influence,
as I have attempted to show in my study “São Boaventura e a Teologia da
História de Joaquim de Fiore”, in S. Bonaventura, 1274-1974, Commissionis
Internationalis Bonaventurianae, Collegio S. Bonaventura-Grotttaferrata,
Roma, 1974, vol.II, pp. 571-584.

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87. Idem, p. 578.
88. Salimbene, Chronica, pp. 323-333; “Chronicon XIV e XV
generalium ministrorum Ordinis Fratrum minorum”, in Analecta
Franciscana, T. III, pp. 697-698; Crônica da Ordem dos Frades Menores, V.
II, p. 83; “Este frey Joahan de Parma foy baron my esclarecido em ciencia e
em religiosidade e omildade, o quall foy tomado de estudo de Paris, honde
havia liido as sentenças, e em no capitulo geral foy emlegido por ministro
89. Salimbene, Chronica., p. 302.
90. Idem, p. 552.
91. Idem, p. 302.
92. Idem, p. 237.
93. Idem, p. 238.
94. Ch. Thouzellier, “La place du De Periculis de Guillaume de
Saint-Amour dans les polémiques universitaires du XIIIe siècle”, in Revue
Historique, CLVI, 1927, pp. 69-70.
95. The echo of these debates is recorded in Mathew of Paris,
Chronica Majora, MGH, Script., T. XXVIII, p. 336. Also in Roger Bacon,
Compendium Studii Philosophiae, in MGH, Script., T. XXVIIII, pp. 580-
96. René de Nantes, Histoire des Spirituels dans l’Ordre de Saint François,
Paris, 1909, pp. 163-165. The bull prohibited the religious predicants and
friars minor from receiving the faithful in their church on Sundays and
feast days; from confessing without the permission of the priest himself;
from preaching in the conventual churches before the solemn mass in
the parish; from preaching in the episcopal cities if the bishop was due
to preach on the same day. And if some of the faithful decided to forego
the ancient sepulchre of their forefathers in favour of the friar’s cemetery,
as their final resting place, then the friars were obliged to give the parish
clergy, for a period of eight days, half, or a third, or a quarter of the fees,
according to the custom of the country. All these rules were made under
penalty of excommunication and the bishops had the right to oblige the
friars to observe them. We can see that the disagreements between the
secular and the regular members went far beyond its doctrinal appearance,
going to the very root of the problem. i.e. the competition between the two
orders, with regard to the cura animarum and the consequent implication
in relation to the entry of secular members in their parishes. However, the
existence of a clear conflict of interests must be considered, starting with
the privileges and exemptions dispensed to the regular members by the Holy
See, to the detriment (at least so they claimed) of the secular members, as
well as the growing influence of the new orders over the faithful. P. Gratien,
the magnificent historian of the Franciscan Order, mentions the multiple
cases in which the secular clergy, with or without the help of the local
bishop, prohibited the foundation of convents of the mendicants because
they feared their influence. On this subject, see P. Gratien, Histoire de la
fondation et de l’évolution de l’ordre des frères Mineurs au XIIIe siêcle, Paris,
1928, pp. 200-205.
97. Cit. in Ch. Thouzellier, op. cit., p. 82.
98. Obras de San Boaventura, T. VI, BAC., Madrid, 1949, p. 22.
99. Obras de San Boaventura, op. cit., pp. 54 and 59.
100. Obras de San Boaventura, op. cit., p. 94.
101. Also, we have a short, yet substantial description linked to the
publication of Introductorius, in Richeri Gesta Senoniensis Ecclesiae, MGH,
Script., T. XXV, pp. 327-328. Mathew of Paris gives us some details about
the debate, mentioning the Eternal Gospel in Chronica Majora, MGH,
Script., T. XXVIII, pp. 363-365. Mathew of Paris, loc. cit., pp. 364-365,

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in an extract to his Liber Additamentorum, presents a list of errors that is
similar to the 31 errors published by the Doctors of Paris; it appears that
the events dealt with by the chronicler and that mentioned in the list of
errores correspond to the immediate publication of Introductorius without
the knowledge of the Protocol of Anagni. In spite of everything, Matthew
of Paris knew that the book was not written by Joachim, as he himself
stated (p. 365).
102. G. Bondatti, op. cit., p. 73.
103. Chronica Majora, MGH, Script., T. XXVIII, p. 364.
104. ALKF, T. I, pp. 70-88.
105. ALKS, T. I. P. 99. The set of Holy Scriptures for the author
of Introductorius, according to the Protocol, on page p. 100 is “sacram
scripturam divisam in tres partes, scilicet in vetus testamentum, et novum
et evangelium eternum. Hec tria sacra volumina”.
106. ALKG, T. I. p. 100.
107. ALKG, T. I. p. 101.
108. ALKG, T. I. P. 101. Heinrich Denifle comments, in a footnote on
the same page, that one of the manuscripts (L = Paris, 1653) contains the
observation ‘quod falsum est, quia Joachim et Franciscus jam mortui erant,
quando Introductorius fuit scriptus’ ”.
And there is no doubt that the author, when he refers to the angel that
has the signs of the living God, is aware of the Stigmata received by the Saint
of Assisi, on mount Alvernia. “Item in XII. capitulo versus finem ponit hec
verba: ‘Usque ad illum angelum, qui habuit signum Dei vivi, qui apparuit
circa incarnationis dominice’, quem angelum frater Gerardus vocat
et confitetur sanctum Franciscum.”
109. ALKG, T. I, p. 101. The expression nudipedum is seen, used by
Gualter Map, in Nugis Curialium, p. 65, on describing the Waldensians;
Mathew of Paris (Matthew of Paris), in his Liber Additamentorum, MGH,
Script., T. XXVIII, p. 364, uses the same expression as the Protocol, and
also in Burchardi et Cuonradi Uspergensium Chronicon, MGH, Script.,
T. XXIII, pp. 376-377, speaking of the Waldensians “... et quasi nudis
pedibus ambulabant”.
In the medieval chronicles that refer to the Franciscans, they are also
described with the same expression, v. gr. in Historia Occidentalis, by Jacques
de Vitry, apud Wadding, Annales Minorum, T. I, p. 10 “nec calceamenta
in pedibus suis habentes...”; in Rogeri de Wendover, Floribus Historiarum,
MGH, Script., T. XXVIII, p. 42 “nihil omnino possidentes, de evangelio
viventes, in victu et vestitu paupertatem nimiam preferentes, nudis pedibus
incedentes ...”
In the chronicle of Walteri Gynsburne, De Gestis Regum Anglie, MGH,
Script., T. XXVIII, p. 631: “solvit calciamenta de pedibus ...” This expression
is the one that appears to symbolically identify with the true evangelical
life; that of the apostles of Christ. The Minister General of the Franciscan
Order, John Parenti, in a phase in which probably not all the friars walked
barefoot, is mentioned as having visited “grande parte da Hordem a pee
descalço” (Crônica Portuguesa, vol. II, p. 4), an expression that suggests his
loyalty to the Franciscan Rule.
110. ALKG, T. I, p. 102.
111. ALKG, T. I, p. 122. See Leone Tondelli, Il Libro delle Figure
dell’Abate Gioachino da Fiore, Societá Editrice Internazionale, Torino,
1953, 2 vols. Tondelli demonstrates that the work is genuinely written by
Joachim, who illustrates his trinitarian concept with the symbolic drawings
of Liber Figurarum. Joachim’s symbolic language, immanent to his method
of interpretation and the mistica via, is an inexhaustible richness, pointing
to the Abbot as having a rare and creative personality and imagination. This
aspect of the work of Joachim of Fiore, so little studied, prompted a small,
but in-depth article by Beatrice M. Hirsch Reich, “The symbolism of musical

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instruments in the Psalterium X Chordarum of Joachim of Fiore and its
Patristic sources”, in Studia Patristica IX (Texte und Untersuchungen, 94,
Berlim, 1957, pp. 540-551. The cymbals and the zither serve as symbolic
representation in the Joachimite thinking, as according to the author,
they represent the ancient sources, as well as Saint Augustine. We should
remember that Paul Sabatier, in his classic biography of Saint Francis of
Assis, opens the work with the motto taken from Expositio in Apocalipsym,
V, ch. 3, p. 183: “qui ergo vere monachus est, nihil reputat esse suum nisi
The zither, in this passage from Joachim, is identified with the “new
man”, or Spiritual, ideal of the true monk, who was created secundum
Deum i.e. by the action of the Holy Spirit, and its three cords represent
faith, hope and charity.
112. ALKG, T. I, p. 138.
113. Idem, p. 136.
114. Idem, p. 140.
115. Conc. Oecum. dec., p. 209. Over time, he reminds us that
according to his first biography, Luke, Archbishop of Cosenza, Joachim
received license from Pope Lucius III to pen his works. See Acta Sanctorum,
T. VII, Maii, dies 29-31, p. 91.
116. Conc. Oecum. dec., p. 209.
117. L. Tondelli, op. cit., vol. I, p. XII.


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IV. The Period from 1239 to 1260
– The Constitutional Crisis

The Franciscan Order is, indeed, an ordo in the full

meaning of the concept, involving a Rule and a set of norms
or constitutions that govern its life. These constitutions
emerged out of the growth that the Order underwent, and
its dissemination to the farthest regions of the globe. Yet
at the same time, these constitutions are linked to the very
spirit of the Order and its internal transformation over
time. Therefore, a study of these constitutions is revealing,
as it gives us an accurate picture of the factors that led to
this transformation. This is certainly true of the period
from 1239 to 1260, the year in which St. Bonaventure
promulgated the Constitutions of Narbonne. For this
purpose, we will need to look closely at the leaderships
of each Minister General, and the role they played in the
process that I term the constitutional crisis, a crisis that was
initiated by Elias of Cortona during his generalship.
The sources for this study are meagre, but some have
survived, as besides the writings on the lives (those of
Celano and St. Bonaventure, among others), we have
the various explanations of the Rule (those of the Four
Masters, and Hugh of Digne), the Constitutions of
Narbonne, which can be studied comparatively with those
of the Dominican Order, the papal bulls, and the many
statements contained in the chronicles of Eccleston, Jordan
of Giano, and Salimbene). But all this is nothing compared
to the volume of material that has been destroyed over
time - often intentionally - by the friars themselves, at the
order of their Minister General, as was the case with St.
Bonaventure. There are many indications that in 1239 the
Order underwent a significant legislative transformation, 105

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but we do not have any systematic compilation of the
resolutions that were passed during that period.
The pioneering study of this aspect of Franciscan
history was that of Ehrle, whose work was published in
1892, in the ALKG, T. VI, pp. 1-138, under the title “Die
Ältesten Redactionen der General Constitutionem des
Franziskanenordens”, which until today remains the most
complete work.
This work is essentially based on this author, though I
also include other works, in the form of essays or partial
studies, such as those of R. Brooke and his Early Franciscan
Government, which is very up-to-date in terms of research
on the legislative history of the Franciscan Order.
The turbulent period of Elias left, within the Order,
a sense of uncertainty over its future, particularly when
conflicting forces were incited. But we should remember
that it is still too early to speak of a Spiritual party in this
Elias’s successor Albert of Pisa, elected at the General
Chapter of 1239, had entered the order in 1211, having
been received by the founding Saint himself. Albert of
Pisa rose quickly within the Order, and by 1217, he was
already Provincial Minister of Tuscany. In 1221 he became
Provincial Master of the March of Ancona; in 1223, that
of Germany1; in 1227, of Spain2; in 1230, of Bologna; in
1232, of Hungary; and in 1236, of England, after which he
was elected Minister General of the Order, in 1239.
Albert of Pisa’s time as Provincial Minister in Germany
is described by Jordan of Giano in his Crônica, and from
the chronicler’s description, we have the figure of a humble,
humane friar, who was much loved by his brothers.
In Germany, Albert of Pisa experienced the problems of
a recently founded province, with the first groups of friars
who volunteered to work in this hostile region.
In 1236, he arrived in England, a province founded in
1224. The testimony of his activity is given in Eccleston’s
chronicle, which is cited many times in this work. Every
indication is that the new Provincial Minister was more
concerned with the internal discipline of the convents,
and the decrees related to them, than with a more ample

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administrative activity3 of the type undertaken by his
predecessor, Agnellus of Pisa4. However, his personal
example and conduct, which were coherent with the
Franciscan Rule, led him to avoid taking an extremist
position, and Eccleston praises the friar who, preaching
at a Chapter in Oxford, condemned the use of excessively
elaborate buildings, and abundant food5.
And yet, in Southampton, in one of his customary visits
to the province, Albert found a convent built of stone that
contradicted the principle of poverty and simplicity, and
ordered it to be destroyed, despite the opposition from the
people of that city6.
Eccleston also refers to a chapel built by the King
Henry III. The minister ordered it to be abandoned, so that
it would allowed be decay naturally, over time7. These facts
are evidence of his concern with strict observance of the
Franciscan Rule.
We are informed of various disciplinary measures that
suggest there was contact between the two mendicant
orders of this period, the Dominicans and the Franciscans.
Eccleston mentions that it was Albert who established that
rule that silence would be maintained during mealtimes,
“except when playing host to predicant friars, or friars from
other provinces”8. And it appears that he himself proposed
this strengthening of relationships, while safeguarding the
differences between both orders, to the point of guarding
against the danger of mere imitation9.
Although thanks to Eccleston, we have information
about Albert of Pisa’s time as Provincial Minister of England,
we know little of his activity as Minister General of the
Order. We do know that in 1227, while still Provincial
Minister of Germany, he came to the General Chapter
with other friars to take part in the election of John Parenti.
But Albert of Pisa’s generalship was short lived, and by the
time of his death, on 23rd January 1240, he had led the
Order for just over eight months10. During this period, as
Eccleston mentions, Albert had contact with Elias, who still
had not accepted his dismissal. Elias, who had withdrawn
to Cortona where he had visited the Poor Clares, effectively
committing a disciplinary offense, since it was prohibited

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to visit them without the due permit, and infractors of this
rule were subject to excommunication11. Albert, aware of
this action, ordered Elias to seek absolution, but he refused
to do so. Pope Gregory IX took the minister’s side, and
demanded obedience of Elias, just as would be expected of
any other convent member. Elias then joined forces with
Frederick II in an attempt to avoid such a humiliation.
Eccleston praises the generalship of Albert, who led the
Order with dignity, and corrected the excesses of his
predecessor, particularly in the transalpine provinces, where
his errors and misdemeanors had been greater. As Albert lay
on his death bed, in Rome he praised, above all, the English
people for their “dedication to the Order”12, Eccleston tells
us. More significant is the chronicler’s mention of Albert:
“Friar Albert said that three things spiritually elevated
the Order: bare feet, simplicity of the habit, and the total
rejection of money”13.
After the death of Albert of Pisa, Pope Gregory IX called
a Chapter, in Rome in November 1240, to appoint a new
Minister General.
Haymo of Faversham14 was elected. Like Albert of Pisa,
Haymo was also a priest and led the opposition against
Elias. But unlike Albert of Pisa, who had known the
founder of the Order in person, Haymo probably joined in
1226, while he was still at the University of Paris. There he
began his career, as custodian and later, as a lector in Tours,
Bologna and Padua. He did not return to England until
1229, in the company of William de Coleville, when he was
appointed by John Parenti to visit this province. In 1230,
Haymo was in Italy, and it is quite possible that he attended
in the General Chapter of that year. After that, he went
to see the Pope to clear up some issues related to the Rule
that had been raised by the friars. The bull Quo Elongati
of Gregory IX is the fruit of this intervention. Haymo’s
name is found among those who made up the delegation
that visited the Pope15. Salimbene mentions that he heard
Haymo’s teachings on Isaiah and Matthew16.
We know that in 1233, Haymo was invited by Pope
Gregory IX to carry out a mission in the Eastern Church17.
This was an attempt to negotiate the unification of the two
108 Churches, through a delegation of four mendicant friars;

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two predicants, and two minors, one of which was Haymo.
Haymo was also in Nicea, where he discussed the articles of
faith with the Greeks, and later returned to Constantinople,
where the debate continued. It appears this mission was a
failure18 in terms of the negotiations, but it clearly shows
Haymo of Faversham’s great theological proficiency.
Haymo, as a priest and enlightened scholar, is described
by Eccleston as a great advocate of poverty and humility19.
On his return to Italy, Haymo resumed his university
activity, remaining in Padua for a time before being
transferred to Tours, in France. In the opposition against
Elias, Haymo identified with that group of intellectuals
who resisted the abuses committed by the unfortunate
Minister General, which included Alexander of Hales
and John of La Rochelle (Rupella). And it was Haymo of
Faversham and Richard Rufus who would carry an appeal
to the Pope to have Elias disposed from the generalship of
the Order20. Once Elias had been deposed, Albert of Pisa,
Provincial Minister of England, was replaced by Haymo
of Faversham, who remained in office for about a year21.
Haymo appears to have been involved in the reprimanding
of Elias’s followers, among whom was the Provincial Minister
of France, Gregory of Naples22. It is known that Elias used
illicit means to govern the Order, and that he had followers
among the various Provincial Ministers who supported
him, and who would later suffer the consequences when
the Minister General was deposed. When the opposition
against Elias was formed, Elias showed no hesitation in
persecuting and imprisoning or banishing its followers, with
the help of those Provincial Ministers who supported him.
This would explain Haymo’s attitude against Gregory of
Naples, who acted together with Elias and later suffered the
due punishment for this. Those who had been incarcerated
by Elias were released during Haymo’s generalship23.
Haymo’s rule was very active in various sectors, and
he was in the habit of travelling to the provinces, visiting
them and correcting any errors in situ. Jordan of Giano
mentions his participation in the Chapter of Altenburg,
in 124224, where he released from office Marquardus the
Short, who had been elected Provincial Minister at the
Chapter of Magdeburg in 1239, and who was a key figure 109

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in the fight against Elias, exhausting himself to the point
that he acquired an incurable sickness25. The chronicler
mentions that the Minister General appointed him Vicar
of the German Province, and later, Haymo appointed
Godfrey as minister, uomo temperantissimo nel mangiare
e nel bibere, sequace della comune osservanza e persecutore
d’ogni singolarita26. These words reveal the reaction that
followed Elias’s deposition, and the general attempt to
rigorously follow the principles by which the Order should
be governed. The manifestation of rigor and disciplinary
rigor zeal is also seen in Haymo’s express prohibition on the
convents increasing their areas in any place whatsoever27.
The atmosphere of tension that existed in the Order did
not spare Haymo either, and he was called, on a certain
occasion, by the Protector of the Order and other cardinals,
to give account for the accusations raised against him. His
integrity was unassailable, and Haymo defended himself
honourably28. This fact demonstrates how difficult it was
to govern the Order after the terrible period of Elias’
generalship; factions, divisions and suspicions required a
course of action that was both rigorous and clearly defined.
The Minister General therefore turned his attention to the
rules of governance of the Order29. We have mentioned earlier
that the course taken after the tyrannical period of Elias was
to democratize the leadership of the Order, through new
constitutions that would enable widespread consultation
of the friars in matters pertaining to its administration30.
This was what Haymo did during his leadership. Thus, the
Chapter of the definitores was idealized, held in Montpellier
in 1241, the nature of which we have analyzed above31.
The result of this innovation was not what was expected,
but among its other actions, the Chapter instructed the
provinces to appoint a commission of learned friars to
examine and review the Rule, where necessary, and elaborate
a report that should be submitted to the Minister General32.
The French commission included Alexander of Hales and
John of La Rochelle (Rupella), the two great luminaries of
the University of Paris33. The opinion of this commission,
known as the Expositio Quatuor Magistrorum Super Regulam
Fratrum Minorum, was that the Rule could not be violated
in any way whatsoever, and that the General Chapter was

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higher than the Minister General and any other individuals
in the hierarchy of the Order34.
Just as the commission of the magistri of Paris was
unanimous in affirming that the Rule should not be changed,
the English friars responded in the same vein. Once again, it
is Eccleston’s testimony that illustrates the attitude taken by
the friars, in the form of a more concise, less direct account
than the Expositio35, which states that the one who gave the
response to the English commission “was the spirit of the
founding Saint himself, who appeared one night to one of
the friars, revealing his will in relation to the inviolability
of the Rule”. The friars requested of the Minister General
that the Rule remain just as it had originally been written,
since St. Francis had written it under the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit”. Although the Rule was not altered, many new
constitutions were introduced in the time of Haymo, as we
see from the list given in the Chronologia Historico-Legalis36.
The Expositio of the magistri of Paris was accepted as a
suggestion by Haymo’s and the definitores of the General
Chapter, held in Bologna, in 1242.
Haymo of Faversham also dedicated himself, during his
generalship, to modifying the liturgy of the Divine Office
and the writings of the breviary used by the Franciscans37.
He left a profound legacy for the Order, due to his
exemplary conduct as Minister General, and there were few
who received as many adjectives of admiration and respect
as he38. Mariano of Florence mentions him as an elderly
man, still visiting the provinces39. Haymo died in Anagni
in 124440.
While the period from 1239 to 1244 was a phase of
intense elaboration of constitutions, arising out of the
atmosphere that prevailed among the friars following the
tragic generalship of Elias, the rule of Crescentius of Jesi was
not particularly active in terms of the legislation. Elected
at the General Chapter of Genoa, in 124441, Crescentius
previously exercised the office of Minister Provincial in the
March of Ancona, a place where there was already a centre
of Spirituals that was probably not accepted by the future
Minister General of the Order. Eccleston’s account reminds
us of a fact related to the election of Crescentius, medicus
famosus, cuius zelum inflammavit caritas, informavit scientia, 111

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confirmavit constantia who, on the night of his election as
Minister General, appeared in a vision to one of the friars,
with his head shaved and a long beard, and a voice from
heaven said: “This is Mordecai”42. And when this was told
to friar Rudolph of Rheims, he immediately said: “He
certainly would be elected General today”43. Crescentius,
before being elected for that position, would have suffered
serious difficulties with the zelanti, who were already active
in the March of Ancona, at least this is what Eccleston tells
us, in reference to the election of Crescentius, stating: “that
he had as opponents friars from his province on the same
night on which the General Chapter was held at which
he would be elected...” It is my opinion, therefore, that
Crescentius of Jesi would not have been the ideal candidate
for the position, as he was an unwilling choice among some
of the friars. What’s more, even though he was a doctor
and a lawyer, his personality showed no trait indicating that
he would be capable of leading an Order that had grown
and developed at a tremendous rate, within a short space
of time. In fact, his generalship passed without leaving any
significant legacy; after holding office for three years, he was
deposed to be appointed Bishop of Assisi44.
The Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium and Eccleston
appear to insinuate that the deposition of Crescentius was
due to the struggle that was corroding the Order. And It is
also my impression that on interpreting the phrase of the
Chronicon “friar Crescentius in his humility was silenced”45,
on being appointed Bishop of Assisi, but he was replaced
in this bishopric by another friar, Nicholas, from the same
order. Crescentius was silent because on becoming Bishop
of Assisi, the center of origin of Franciscanism, he would
no doubt have brought serious difficulties for whoever was
contrary to the Spiritual part of the Order.
Salimbene makes a brief reference to Crescentius and
Bonaventure, stating that they fought against certain friars
and had them incarcerated, but prefers to remain quiet on
the subject46. Where Salimbene is silent, the Portuguese
chronicle clarifies that “in the year 1246 some doubts
were raised among the friars”. In relation to the doubts
that emerged, Pope Innocent IV granted the Provincial
Ministers permission to delegate the reception of the

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novices into the Order to their vicars, as well as declaring
that the friars could make use of mobile property, “applying
the right and property the Church”, and extending the
prohibition of Gregory IX on friars entering the convent
of the Poor Clares of St. Damian, to all the convents and
monasteries47. The Chronica XXIV Ministrum Generalium,
which does not show a favourable position towards the
Spiritual rebels, speaks of Crescentius as having to face a
sect of non-itinerant friars, who believed themselves to
be better than the others, and wanted to live without any
discipline, distinguishing themselves by their use of shorter
habits, and who were bravely eliminated by the Minister
The Historia Septem Tribulationum Ordinem Minorum
of Angelo Clareno, Spiritual leader, describes the period
of Crescentius’s generalship and his governmental policy
as the Tertia persecutio sive tribulatio (the third persecution
or tribulation). Angelo Clareno does not spare Crescentius
either, when he states that the minister general followed
the customs and vices of the government of his predecessor
Elias49. What follows in the account of Angelo Clareno is
a more detailed description of the persecutions suffered
by the zelanti at the hands of the Minister General, whose
indications we see in other chronicles, mentioned earlier,
though less incisively. After describing the calamitous
state of chaos that was prevalent within the Order, Angelo
Clareno narrates that the pain of those virtuous and holy
friars, the first disciples of St. Francis, was very great,
due to the prevailing state of affairs50. Seeing that their
complaints on the innovations against the Rule, from the
imposing buildings to the study of or interest in science and
Aristotelean thought51, were proving futile, they decided to
appeal to the Pope in Rome52. During this interim, the
Minister General had become informed about the proposals
and deliberations of the friars53; anticipating the initiative
taken by the zelanti, he invited the friars and ministers who
supported him and, going himself to the Pope, reported
that in certain provinces, some friars were living under the
guise of holiness but were just superstitious, overbearing,
disobedient trouble-makers54, and he requested the papal
authority to punish the insubordinates before they could 113

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contaminate others and cause a division within the Order55.
The Pope ordered these schismatics to be eliminated56.
Armed with papal authority, the friars astutely intercepted
the zelanti on the way to Rome and imprisoned them,
dealing with them severely and dispersing them to the
farthest provinces, into perpetual exile, as well as defaming
them as heretics and schismatics throughout the Order57.
These sixty-two or seventy-two friars were considered the
best and most faithful to the spirit of the founding Saint
of the Order viri mirabiles omnes, according to the biased
expression of Angelo Clareno58.
Crescentius’ rule was a mediocre one and he was
incapable of calming the Order which, during these years,
was already showing a Spiritual party that was combative and
decisive on where they stood, in relation to the early ideals
of St. Francis; and the aggressive attitude of the Minister
General simply stirred up animosities and strengthened
the opposition to his rule. Finally, Pope Innocent IV
intervened, and proposed a General Chapter in Lyon
during the Spring of 1248. The Minister General himself
did not attend this Chapter and the friars, taking advantage
of the circumstances, had him deposed59. In reality, the
Minister General, in his generalship, satisfied neither the
Order nor the Church, as the interest lay in calming the
Order, due to its vast influence over the ecclesiastical life of
the time. Crescentius ended his days as bishop of Jesi, the
town of his birth, until his death in 1262. It was during
his generalship, at the General Chapter of Genoa, in 1244,
that it was decided to gather together the traditions linked
to the life of the founding Saint, compiling them so that
they would not become lost over time60. Two important
sources of knowledge of the origins of Franciscanism date
from this period: the Legenda Trium Sociorum and the Vita
Secunda, by Thomas of Celano, probably the results of an
appeal made at the General Chapter of 124461, and fruit of
the spirit that motivated the zelanti to uphold the original
traditions of the Order, its founder and its early disciples62.
Crescentius of Jesi’s successor was the renowned John of
Parma, a key figure in the conflict between the factions of
the Order in that period.
114 The attitude of Pope Innocent IV, on seeing the events

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first hand, and intervening directly in the affairs, reflects his
concern for the destiny of the Order.
From the time Innocent IV assumed the leadership of
the Church, we see him acting to prevent the followers of
Elias, after the death of Haymo, from reinstating the former
Minister General to rule the Order63. Also, the various
papal bulls relating to the explanation of the Franciscan
Rule are testimony to his intervention in the internal affairs
of the brotherhood64. Lamentably, the Pope only noticed
Cresentius’ weakness a posteriori, and the wrong choice that
had been made, when the internal struggles in the Order
during this period, was seriously threatening its stability.
The only attitude taken by Crescentius at the start of his
leadership to confront the situation that existed, and which
had no effect whatsoever, was to send two friars from each
province to Rome, in order to attend and advise those friars,
according to their origin65.
As we saw in the chapter on the spread of the doctrines
of Joachim of Fiore, the new Minister General was imbued
with concepts of the mystic of Calabria and was one of the
four closest friends of the Joachimite Hugh of Digne66.
John of Parma entered the Franciscan Order in 1233 and
soon afterwards, was ordained a priest, dedicating himself to
preaching67. After a certain time, he was designated to teach
philosophy and theology in Bologna and Naples. During
his ecclesiastical career he carried out delicate missions,
at the appointment of the Pope. At the Council of Lyon,
Innocent IV requested the participation of Crescentius of
Jesi, who ended up delegating his mission to John of Parma
for reasons of advanced age and ill health. From 1245, John
of Parma was in Paris teaching philosophy, succeeding,
together with William of Melitou, Alexander of Hales and
John de La Rochelle, the two great masters of the University.
From the University of Paris, John of Parma left to take
up the generalship, according to the text of the Chronicon
XIV vel XV Generalium: “and from the University of Paris,
where he taught the Sentences, he was promoted to the
generalship”. In 1249, he was sent to Greece to handle the
union between the Eastern and Western Churches68. This
mission shows the high personal qualifications that John of
Parma had69. He is described in all the Franciscan chronicles 115

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in almost the same terms as Angelo Clareno describes him,
i.e. a man full of wisdom, zealous for poverty and humility,
and an example to the whole Order70.
His election was the way out of the deadlock created by
the failed leadership of Crescentius of Jesi. John of Parma,
besides his administrative qualities, was also the man the
Spirituals had hoped for to govern the affairs of the Order,
being the embodiment, as he was, of the ideals of the zelanti,
the first disciples of St. Francis, and they did not did not
hide their jubilation when he was elected. Angelo Clareno
describes the joy of these disciples, Egidio, Masseo, Angelo,
and Leo, who saw in John of Parma the very resurrection
of the founding Saint71. His enthusiasm was so great that
friar Egidio, as though foreseeing the future, said: “It’s good
that you have arrived, but you have arrived too late”72.
Although hopes were renewed to bring the Order back to
its days of peace, not all the friars believed that this would
be achieved, even with a Minister General with the moral
weight of John of Parma. This is also implicit in the words
of friar Egidio.
The first act of the Minister General was to repair the
injustice done during the time of Crescentius, when he
dispersed those friars who had rebelled against the leadership
of the Order. John of Parma wrote epistles to these friars
who had been dispersed to various places, ordering them to
return to their respective provinces and absolving them of
any censure73. This was an important attempt to reconcile
those persecuted friars with the Order. John of Parma paid
little credence to the laws or the legislation as a means of
disciplining and governing the life of the fraternity, basing
his actions fundamentally on the Rule of the Order and on
the Testament of St. Francis, which in his understanding,
defined his objective and apostolic mission. As Ehrle had
already observed, it is understandable that during his
generalship, little was done in this regard74. Salimbene also
narrates that at the Chapter of Metz, the Minister General
was unwilling to elaborate new constitutions75. The few
resolutions that exist in connection with the Chapter
of Metz are part of the liturgical order, which was much
approved of by the Minister General, and in which he
threatened to severely punish anyone who introduced any

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changes to the Roman breviary (previously reformed by
Haymo of Faversham), approved by the Holy See76, and
prohibited any alterations from being made to the method
of the Gregorian chant, which were to be adopted in all the
But the most important thing to come out of the Chapter
of Metz was the resolution that the Order would renounce
the privilege granted by Innocent IV, in the constitution
Ordinem Vestrum of 14th November 1245, authorizing the
friars to direct their requests to the nuncio – an envoy or
ambassador – as established in the bull Quo Elongati, of
1230, by Gregory IX, not only in cases of strictest necessity
but also for the simple commodities of life, pro commodis78.
On 19th August 1247, in the bull Quando Studiosius,
Innocent IV authorized the friars minors to select, in each
province, an “procurator” or “syndic” who, in the name of
the Holy See, would be responsible for administering the
assets of the holy men, as it was difficult to gain access, in
urgent cases, to the protector of the Order79.
These powers attributed to the “procurator” were later
confirmed by Alexander IV, Clement IV and Martin IV80.
The decision made at the Chapter of Metz would, this
time, be more in keeping with the desire of the Spirituals,
who saw all these privileges granted by the Holy See as a
threat to the Order’s principle of poverty.
Innocent IV, in 1253, had also authorized the friars to
accept offerings in money and sacred ornaments of high
value offered to the basilica, “even though the statutes of the
Order were contrary to the prohibitions of the Provincial
Minister or the Minister General”81.
According to Eccleston, the same Chapter also resolved
that the general chapters would be held alternately in the
cisalpine and transalpine provinces82.
We know that the Chapter of Metz was not the only one
John of Parma presided over as Minister General, as during
his leadership, another two chapters were held during his
generalship, at Genova and Rome83.
Every indication was that his generalship would put an
end to the divisions that existed in the Order, and bring
peace between the parties. His personal conduct and austere 117

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lifestyle would serve as an example to all84. He also ruled
that the provinces must be visited on foot, in order to see
first hand what was happening in each place. And few could
keep up with the relatively young Minister General, on his
missions walking throughout the most distant regions85.
We learn from Eccleston that he was in England, and at
Oxford he presided over a Chapter in which he urged union
between the friars86. Another province that he visited was
Spain, from where he was called to perform a papal mission
in the Greek Orient.
During his generalship, a polemic occurred at the
University of Paris against the mendicant orders, a debate
that we studied in the chapter on the influence of Joachimism
on the Franciscan Order. John of Parma’s ability as Minister
General was also apparent in the events caused by William
of Saint-Amour and in the tract of Gerard of Borgo San
Donnino87. Despite everything, and although there was
papal intervention from Innocent IV in favor of the masters
of Paris, it was John of Parma who was the main person
to put an end to that crisis, with the bull Etsi Animarum
of 21st November 1254, which provisionally suspended the
privileges of the mendicant orders. Salimbene describes his
action at the University of Paris, where he gave a sermone
pulcherrimo, utili et devoto88, ending up reconciling the
Franciscans with the Parisian magistri. And if the statement
of Rosalind Brooke is correct with regard to the date of the
Chapter of Metz, it is highly likely that in his agenda, he
would have discussed evangelical poverty, also inspired by
the polemic raised in the University of Paris. And Mariano
of Florence appears to affirm this when he writes “on the
disputes relating to evangelic poverty”, referring to the
Chapter of Metz89.
Therefore, under the circumstances that prevailed
at the time, i.e. the deeply-rooted internal division
between the friars, with the external attacks, the frequent
misunderstandings and the lack of support from the Pope
himself90, it was very difficult to govern. As a follower of the
doctrines of Joachim of Fiore, John of Parma had opponents
who did not agree with these doctrines91, and he even fell
into a certain discredit on the occasion of the condemnation
of the Introductorius, of Gerard of Borgo San Donnino, by

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Pope Alexander IV, on 23rd October 1255. On his invitation
to the General Chapter in Rome, on 2nd February 1257,
John of Parma intended to resign. The ministers present
at the Chapter opposed the resignation of the Minister
General, imploring him the whole day to remain in office.
But John of Parma could not bow to the pressure from the
friars, since in fact, his resignation was prompted by the
Pope himself92. The ministers then asked him to nominate
his replacement, and John of Parma indicated the name of
St. Bonaventure, saying: quod in ordinem meliorem eo non
cognoscebat93 (that within the Order, he knew no better man
than him). The new Minister General appointed by this
Chapter would become John of Parma’s judge, when the
latter was accused of following the Joachimite ideals. St.
Bonaventure would not be forgiven by the Spirituals for
this participation in the judgment of John of Parma, and
Angelo Clareno sees his generalship as the period sub quo
quarta persecutio initium habuit94 (the period that marks the
start of the fourth persecution).
In the Fioretti we find a translation, probably preserved
by the Spirituals, of the abdication of John of Parma and the
ascension of St. Bonaventure to the position. It is entitled
the “the vision of James della Massa”, “who at the start of
the generalship of Friar John of Parma was taken up in
the spirit and remained three days in ecstasy”, God having
revealed to him what should happen “to our religion”.

He saw a large and beautiful tree, the root of which

was of gold, and all the branches were men, and these men
were all Friars Minors, and there were as many branches
as there were provinces in the Order, and each branch
was composed of as many brethren as there were friars in
each province [...] And he saw Brother John of Parma at
the summit of the highest branch of the tree, and round
him were the ministers of each province. And he saw
Christ, the blessed one, sitting on a throne, who, calling
St. Francis to him, gave him a chalice full of the spirit of
life, saying, ‘Go to they brothers and give them to drink
of this spirit of life, as Satan will rise up against them,
and many will fall and not rise again’ [...] And St. Francis
took the chalice to his brothers, and offered it first to John
of Parma, who taking it drank all its contents in haste,
but with great reverence, and having done so he became

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luminous, like the sun. After him St. Francis offered it to
all the others; and very few there were who took it, and
drank with devotion: those who did so, were filled with
light, like the sun; but those who took the chalice, and
threw away its contents most irreverently, became black
and deformed, and horrible to look at; those who drank a
part of the contents and threw away the rest, were partly
bright and partly dark, in proportion to the quantity they
drank or threw away. {…} Brother John left the top of the
tree where he was, and placing himself under its branches
hid himself close to the roots. A brother who had drunk
some and thrown away some of the contents of the chalice,
took possession of the place on the branch he had left; No
sooner was he there, than the nails of his fingers became
like points of iron; on seeing these, he hastened to leave
the place he had taken, and in his fury he sought to vent
his rage on Brother John; and Brother John perceiving his
intention, cried out to Christ, the blessed on, who was
seated no his throne, to help him; and Christ, hearing his
cry, called St. Frances and giving him a sharp stone, said:
“Take this stone, and going cut the nails of the brother
who seeks to tear Brother John, so that he may not be
able to do him any harm”. And St. Francis did as he was
ordered. In the meantime, a great tempest arose and the
wind shook the tree in such a way that all the brethren
fell to the ground. First fell those who had thrown away
the contents of the chalice of the spirit of life: these were
carried by devils to dark regions, full of pain and anguish.
But Brother John, and others who had drunk of the
chalice, were carried by angels to the regions of life eternal,
full of light and splendor.
[...] and the tempest did not cease till the tree was blown
down and carried away by the wind. And immediately
another tree arose out of the golden roots of the old one,
and it was entirely com posed of gold, with its leaves and
fruits; but for the present we will not describe the beauty,
the virtues, and the delicious fragrance of this wonderful

John of Parma retired to the hermitage of Greccio where

he remained until the end of his days, dying in his rustic
isolation, in one of the places where St. Francis had also
meditated and contemplated God.96
St. Bonaventure, born in Bagnorea, probably in the year
1221, entered the Franciscan Order around 1238-1243,

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and excelled as a student at the University of Paris, where
he was a disciple of Alexander of Hales97. In 1246, having
gained his bachelor’s degree, he replaced John of Parma
in his chair at that University. In 1248, he received his
licenciature, and in the same year, became authorized to
teach in Paris98, where he remained until 1225, when the
courses were suspended, interrupted by the crisis caused by
William of Saint-Amour’s campaign against the mendicant
Soon after his election, the Minister General sent the
famous circular addressed to the ministers and guardians of
the Order. This was St. Bonaventure’s first act99 in putting
an end to the crisis that had caused chaos in Order during
generalship of John of Parma, and the process that follows
his resignation100.
The process of accusation of heresy against the Joachimite
members involved not only John of Parma, but also others,
including Gerard of Borgo San Donnino, Leonardo and
Peter of Nubili, according to the testimony of Angelo
Clareno101. The chronicler portrays St. Bonaventure as a
witch hunter, his spirit stirred up by the furore against the
pseudo-heretical friars102.
The epistle, in these circumstances, had the delicate
task of calming the situation, going against the majority
of criticisms made by the Spirituals against the behavioural
deviations in the Order. Furthermore, this should have been
another political step, or an attempt to reconcile himself
with the opposition, which was now tense and extremely
aggressive. A second epistle with the same content was sent
afterwards, in 1266103
The epistle of April 1257 describes, in strong terms,
the evils that were affecting the brotherhood, which “now,
due to the dangers of the times and the injuries to the
consciences, and like the scandals of the common people,
to whom the Order should serve as a mirror of saintliness,
has become an inconvenience, despised in various parts of
the world...” And further on, when
I seek the reasons for which the splendour of our Order
has in a certain way eclipsed..., we find the multiplicity of
mundane businesses, where money (the greatest enemy of

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the poverty of our Order) is avidly sought, incautiously
received and even more incautiously touched. We find the
idleness of some friars, which is the worst of all vices, where
they are sinking, choosing a monstrous state between the
contemplative and the active life, carnally and cruelly
eating the blood of the human soul. The drifting of many
is common, for the comfort of their own bodies, weighing
on those (places) where they pass, leaving behind them not
examples of life, but scandals of souls. The inopportune
bribe occurs, to which all who pass through the territories
fear in such form find the friars as some fear fall in hands of
assailants. Also, the construction of sumptuous and bizarre
buildings also occurs, which disturbs the peace of the
friars, weigh on their friends, and expose us to a perverse
judgment among men. The multiplication of familiarities
occurs, which arouses much suspicion, defamations and
scandals... it is as plain as day that all I have said above
does great damage to our Order...104

But despite the admonitions made in the epistles

addressed to the ministers, the new Minister General was
not, by temperament, a man given to extreme actions;
he was above all a temporizer with the world, seeking to
reconcile the Order with the changes that had taken place
rather than lead it down a route of radical change.
René of Nantes, in his work, speaking of St. Bonaventure,
attempts to justify his view, stating that “the heroism of
St. Francis cannot be the law of the multitude, and while
the Franciscan Rule requires that the friars minors must
not have houses, or anything else, whether in common
or individually, it does not require that they inhabit those
poor huts that the early saints lived in”. St. Bonaventure,
says our author, “accepts the usus pauper, but in a more
moderate form, dictating that the friars live from alms,
as well as prohibiting money, but he does not go to the
extreme of requiring extreme penury of St. Francis and his
companions. It would be unjust, therefore, to say that there
was a culpable relaxation in the Order of the friars minors,
in which the earlier rigour is no longer found”. Later on,
he also states that

... because they do not want to distinguish between

what is essential and ordered by the Rule, the detractors

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of the religious orders, not content with exaggerating the
true abuses in highlighted form, looked for infractions to
the Rule in every place where they did not find the early
austerity. This was likewise the error of the Spirituals, who
led to the perturbation in the Order, by wanting to make
the extreme rigour the common rule105.
The conclusions of this author appear to us to be
mistaken, as the problem of the Order was precisely this
type of transformation that led to a change of essence, and
not only of form, moving away from the original intentions
of the founding Saint, which could not be accepted by the
early disciples and the so-called Spirituals. The explanation
of the causes that led to the change does not include the
acceptance of the change on the part of the friars of those
times. Only a historical distance of several centuries can
give us a true understanding of the needs for the Order
to adapt to its century. R. of Nantes himself points out
the reasons for the adaptation of “poverty” in relation to
the dwelling places of the friars, mentioning, among other
aspects, the increasing number of friars, which led to the
construction of more spacious convents. He also points
out, as a cause, the entry of personnages de distinction who,
in the understanding of the superiors, could not inhabit the
shacks that had served the early friars in their simplicity.
Often it was not possible to refuse the requests of princes
and bishops, who wanted to have the friars in their provinces
or dioceses, and lived in large, comfortable buildings106.
The opinion of Ehrle that “the change that took place in the
construction of the convents and in the organization of the
apostolic life reached a point that no longer corresponded
to the intentions of the founding Saint”107, even though
cited and endorsed by R. of Nantes, does not manage to
totally convince the historian that the adaptation would
change the face of the Order, as there were few points in
common between the ideals and the reality108.
P. Gratien is more incisive with respect to St. Bonaventure,
stating that “conservative by temperament, he accepted the
Order just as it was and did not wish to change anything”109.
Elsewhere, he states that St. Bonaventure was a man of the
Community, in other words, of the majority of the friars110,
and his opinion is defined by the title given to the saint 123

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himself, namely, “apologist of the Franciscan evolution and
moderator of the observance of the Rule”111.
This attitude, which places St. Bonaventure among the
moderates of the Order, can be seen in the responses of the
questions raised in his tract Determinationes Quaestionum,
in which he justifies the friars’ staying in the urban centres
for three reasons:
a) the buildings themselves which, being nearby,
facilitated access to the friars by those wishing to seek
them out, whether for penitence, counsel, or for any other
b) the far greater convenience of living here than in
remote places;
c) the safety of the objects, books, chalices, clothing
and other items, which were under threat in more remote
In another quaestio, St. Bonaventure justifies the large,
comfortable convents, both extra muros civitatis, as they
offered greater security in case of war, and intra muros,
as they enabled the religious life to be carried out better,
enabled a more perfect intellectual life, and facilitated
study. Also, because places where it was possible to build
more solid buildings of stone would be safer for the
neighbourhood in the event of a fire. All this is possible, in
the understanding of St. Bonaventure, without justifying
excesses or going beyond the bare necessities113. We see
in St. Bonaventure, an attempt to remain faithful to the
rule and interpret it in such a way that it is no longer
contradicted, but on the contrary, justifies an Order based
on certain facilities or commodities, or at their enjoyment,
if not their ownership. He highlights once again, in the
epistle of tribus quaestionibus, that the Rule does not deny
the usus but rather, the appropriatio, probably making
reference to the Quo Elongati of Gregory IX when he says
that nothing could be sold or transferred that is used by the
friars, except by the cardinal who is governor of the Order,
or the Minister General, or the provincial ministers, if they
have the consent of their superiors114.
In the Chapter of Narbonne of 1260, St. Bonaventure
summarized the resolutions of the previous Chapters

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regarding the legislation of the Order “imposing it as
officially accepted by the friars”115. In the constitutions
of Narbonne, we see that efforts were made to impose
simplicity on the life of the convent and on the objects
used by the friars116. In twelve Chapters or headings, the
constitutions of Narbonne became the most ordered,
systematized legislation up until that date. They dealt with
the admission of novices, the habit, observance of poverty,
relations with the secular world, the occupation of the
friars, the disciplines, visits to the provinces, election of the
ministers, the provincial chapter, the General Chapter, and
suffrage for defunct friars.
In the third heading of observance of poverty, we see
the honest effort of St. Bonaventure to ensure that the
Order remained consistent with the Rule of the founding
Saint, regulating on matters such as the prohibition on
handling money117 and austerity in the construction of the
convents118, and prohibiting the friars from owning any
In the constitutions themselves, we see a series of
widespread abuses that St. Bonaventure sought to eliminate,
and which were heavily criticized by the Spirituals, but
which also revealed the development that had taken place
in the Order. The prohibitions included that of requesting
a letter from the Pope120, and the prohibition on the friars
accepting an episcopal dignity without the permission of the
Minister General121. In particular, the question of the friars’
studies was regulated, as this had now become a prominent
feature of the life of the Order122. All this shows that the
changes were deep-rooted, and the legislation implemented
by St. Bonaventure sought to shape the Order according to
a new reality that was not accepted by all the friars. During
the St. Bonaventure’s generalship, his legislating activity
was not restricted to the constitutions of Narbonne; it also
extended to the resolutions of the Chapters of Pisa (1263),
Paris (1266), Assisi (1269) and Lyon (1274)123.
P. Gratien, based on Wadding124, states that
St. Bonaventure encouraged intellectual activity throughout
the Order, instituting public discussions during the general
Chapters, as a form of intellectual game in which the student’s
knowledge and progress in their studies was demonstrated 125

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to all the religious people who had gathered there125. This is
hardly surprising, as St. Bonaventure was an intellectual par
excellence; this was his strength, and often his position, in
relation to the issue of poverty, was manifested from a merely
intellectual perspective, i.e. the theoretical justification,
which did not always correlate with the practice. In this
regard, his literary work is monumental, both in regard to
the mendicants and the poverty of the Order, and in the
writings addressed, internally, to the friars themselves. We
need only to read the strict argumentation of his writings,
as though carefully woven with the best threads of spiritual
creation of the scholastic, to perceive his immense ability to
demonstrate and convince. Some examples of these are the
Expositio Super Regulam Fratrum Minorum, the Quaestiones
Disputatae de Perfectione Evangelica, the Apologia Pauperum
and also, in the same spirit, a small but interesting work,
the Quaestio reportata de Mendicitate cum annotationibus
Gulielmi de St. Amore126. But it is necessary to understand,
as I mentioned above, that the theoretical positions of
the Seraphic Doctor did not correspond to the practical
reality, and the term “poverty” was interpreted with a
certain elasticity, even long before the generalship of St.
Perhaps it is the lack of this distinction that leads
some historians to wrongly judge the role and the work
of the Franciscan thinker in his time as Minister General,
confusing his theoretical positions with his policy, as those
who read the Apologia Pauperum see a doctrinal defence
of “poverty” as it applied to the Order in the time of St.
Francis, or in the time of St. Bonaventure, indiscriminately.
But if we observe the development of the Order itself, we
see a profound difference between the state of poverty as
it was expressed in one period, and in another127. It is the
distance of time that gives a different meaning to the same
concept. On the other hand, it appears to me that the true
moderate position of St. Bonaventure is somewhat altered
when an author writes:

Here we see how far St. Bonaventure is from a certain

group of Spirituals who, in the late 13th and early 14th
Centuries, taught that the essence of evangelical perfection

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consists of poverty. They undoubtedly let themselves be
carried away by the heat of the debate, and even proclaimed
poverty as the most important and perfect of all the
virtues, and against them, John XXII had to teach that the
fundamental Christian perfection lies essentially in charity.
This doctrine, clearly supported by Doctor Angelicus
(Saint Thomas Aquinas), is unequivocally maintained
in all the main representatives of the Franciscan school,
according to the scriptural and traditional documents1 . 28

Not only was the paupertas of primordial significance

for St. Bonaventure, even when adapted over time129, but
for St. Francis and his followers, it was the backbone of
their religion and as such, it is the key to our understanding
of the leitmotiv of the Spirituals’ struggle.


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1. Chronica Anonyma, p. 284.

2. Chronica Iordani a Iano, p. 16.
3. Eccleston, p. 227.
4. R. Brooke, op. cit., p. 189.
5. Eccleston, p. 250.
6. Idem, p. 247.
7. Idem, ibidem.
8. Idem, ibidem.
9. Idem, p. 248.
10. Continuatio Chronicae Fr. Iordani a Iano, p. 51. Series magistrorum
Generalium Ordinis F. M., MGH, SS, T.XIII, p. 392.
11. Eccleston, p. 243.
12. Idem, ibidem.
13. Idem, p. 245.
14. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 696.
15. Eccleston, p. 242.
16. Salimbene, p. 277.
17. Wadding, Scriptores Ordinis Minorum, p. 162.
18. R. Brooke, op. cit., pp. 201-202.
19. Eccleston, p. 250.
20. Idem, p. 230.
21. Idem, p. 249.
22. Idem, p. 230.
23. Idem, ibidem.
24. Continuatio Chronicae Fr. Iordani a Iano, p. 51.
25. Idem, p. 50.
26. Idem, p. 51.
27. Eccleston, Appendix, p. 268.
28. Eccleston, p. 244.
29. The observation of Salimbene, p. 102, mentioned among the errores
committed by Elias, is important and reveals an actual situation in the
history of the Order, which is recalled by Ehrle, “Die Ältesten Redactionen
der General Constitutionen des Franziskanenordens”, in ALKG,
30. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 696.
31. F. Ehrle, “Die Ältesten Redactionen der General Constitutionen
des Franziskanenordens”, in ALKG, T. VI, pp. 21-22, which published
portions of the Expositio of this commission. In Expositio Quatuor
Magistrorum Super Regulam Fratrum Minorum (1241-1242), ed. Livarius
Oliger, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, Rome, 1950, pp. 23-24, it is clarified
that the first master was Gaufredus of Bria, who was Provincial Minister of
France from 1243 to 1257, and the last one was Odo Rigaldus (not Richard
of Middleton as some have supposed). One of the first items dealt with in
the Expositio is the authority of the Minister General, according to p. 30 of
the edition cited above.
32. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 696.
33. Chronologia Historico-Legalis, T. I, p. 24.

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34. F. Ehrle, “Die Ältesten Redactionen der General Constitutionen
des Franziskanenordens”, in ALKG, T.VI, p. 22.
35. Eccleston, p. 244.
36. Chronologia Historico-Legalis, T. I, pp. 24-25.
37. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 696; Chronologia Historico-
Legalis, T. I, p. 24. See also R. Brooke, op. cit., p. 208.
38. Mariano de Florença, Compendium Chronicarum Fratrum Minorum,
in AFH, 2, 1909, p. 105.
39. Mariano de Florença, op. cit., p. 105.
40. Idem, p. 305; Eccleston, p. 244.
41. Idem, p. 306.
42. Eccleston, p. 244; Chronicon..., p. 697.
43. Eccleston, p. 244.
44. Chronicon, p. 697.
45. Idem, ibidem.
46. Salimbene, p. 697.
47. Crônica Portuguesa, T. I, pp. 80-81.
48. “Chronica XXIV Ministrum Generalium”, apud Ehrle, in ALKG,
T. II, p. 256.
49. Angelo Clareno, “Historia Septem Tribulationum Ord. Min.”, in
ALKG, T. II, pp. 256-257.
50. Angelo Clareno, op. cit., p. 257.
51. Idem, p. 258.
52. Idem, ibidem.
53. Idem, ibidem.
54. Idem, p. 259.
55. Idem, ibidem.
56. Idem, ibidem.
57. Idem, p. 260.
58. Idem, p. 261.
59. Orbis Seraphicus, T. III, p. 8.
60. Chronologia Historico-Legalis, T. I, p. 25.
61. Idem, p. 25.
62. The most widely accepted premise is that Celano’s Vita Secunda was
influenced to a certain extent by the Legenda Trium Sociorum, as pointed
out by Sabatier.
63. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 697; Orbis Seraphicus, T. III,
p. 7; Chronologia Historico-Legalis, T. I., p. 25.
64. Regarding the elaboration of these texts, see the acute observations
of P. Sabatier, op. cit., pp. LXI-LXXVIII. The Legenda Trium Sociorum was
completed on 11th August 1246.
65. Continuatio Chronicae Fr. Iordani a Iano, p. 51.
66. Salimbene, p. 232. Also on Hugh of Digne, whose works “Expositio
Super Regulam Fratrum Minorum” and “Dialogus Inter Zelatorem
Paupertatis Inimicum Eius” were published in the Firmamentum Trium
Ordinum B. Patris Francisci, Paris, 1512, we have a work “De Finibus
Paupertatis”, published by C. Florovsky, in AFH, 5, 1912, pp. 277-290.
According to the author, who considers the treatise of H. de Digne close
to the writings of Bonaventure with regard to the evangelical poverty, the
work of the first precedes that of the Minister General, and he sees the
Minister General as the father of the Spirituals. In “Liber de Conformitate”,

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by Bartolomeo de Pisa, in Analecta Franciscana, T. IV and V, 1906-1912, p.
317, we have a reference to Hugh of Digne.
67. René de Nantes, op. cit., p. 146.
68. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 697.
69. Angelo Clareno, op. cit., ALKG, T. II, p. 268. H. Golubovich,
“Ceremoniale Ord. Minorum Vetustissimum, seu Ordinationis Divini
Officii” (1254), in AFH, 3, 1910, p. 59.
70. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 697. Crônica Portuguesa, T. II,
p. 83, repeats the text of the Chronicon in the same terms.
71. Angelo Clareno, op. cit., in ALKG, T. II, p. 263.
72. Idem, ibidem.
73. Angelo Clareno, op. cit., p. 262.
74. Ehrle, in ALKG, T. VI, p. 31.
75. Salimbene, p. 130.
76. Chronologia Historico-Legalis, T. I, p. 26. A more complete version
of the decree of Metz is the one promulgated in the Chapter of Rome,
in 1257, under the name of Ordinationes Divini Officii, published in the
AFH, 3,
1910, 55-81.
77. Chronologia Historico-Legalis, T. I, p. 26.
78. Ehrle, in ALKG, T. VI, pp. 31-32.
79. R. de Nantes, op. cit., pp. 76-77 and 154-155.
80. R. de Nantes, op. cit., p. 77; who mentions the bulls Cum Dilectos
Filios , of Alexander IV, dated 29th September 1259; Cum Dilecti Filii, of
Clemente IV, dated 25th July 1265, and Exultantes in Domino, of Martin
IV, dated 18th January 1283.
81. R. Brooke, op. cit., p. 265: Bull Decet et Expedit (10th July 1253);
Dignum Existimamus 16th July 1253).
82. Eccleston, p. 244.
83. The traditional date of the Chapter of Metz was 1249 (according
to the majority of classical authors of Franciscanism, P. Ehrle, R. of Nantes,
P. Gratien, and also Wadding), but R. Brooke, op. cit., p. 257 establishes
that the Chapter was held in 1254, based on a letter that was discovered,
written by John of Parma at that Chapter and published in the AFH, 4,
1911, p. 425, which gives the precise date. From then on, the date agreed
on for the Chapter of Genoa was 1251, and that of Rome, 1257; the
latter date is the most precise, while that of the previous chapters is based
merely on deductions derived from an analysis of the documents, but the
document itself does not tell us.
84. Angelo Clareno, op. cit., in ALKG, T. II, pp. 267-268.
85. Salimbene, p. 553; Salimbene, p. 298.
86. Eccleston, p. 244.
87. Mariano de Florença, op. cit., AFH, 2, 1909, p. 31.
88. Salimbene, p. 130.
89. Mariano of Florença, op. cit., AFH, 2, 1909, p. 311. Angelo Clareno,
in ALKG, T. II, p. 274, is categorical regarding the Franciscan Rule, in
stating that the Testament and the Rule have equal weight. Chronica XXIV
Ministrum Generalium attributes to John of Parma the tract Commercium
B. Franciscicum domina paupertate, in ALKG, T. II, p. 284, note b. English
edition, St. Francis of Assisi, his holy life and love of poverty, Franciscan Herald
Press, Chicago, 1964, pp. 131-144, discusses the authorship of the Sacrum
Commercium, without reaching any definitive conclusion. The edition of
E. Alençon, Rome, 1900 proposes the hypothesis that the text is the work
130 of John Parenti, who would have written it in July 1227.

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90. Pope Innocent IV is mentioned by Eccleston, probably in relation
to the bull Etsi Animarum, p. 253.
91. Salimbene, p. 302 and 304.
92. Angelo Clareno gives another version of the dismissal of John of
Parma, in ALKG, T. II, p. 220. John of Parma probably experienced the
drama of the impossibility of returning the Order to the heroic period of its
formation. It is supposed that tired and disappointed with everything, he
intended to resign. Ehrle, T. II, p. 270, gives the testimony of Peregrinus of
Bologna (in Chronica XXIV Generalium). Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium,
p. 698, is clear as to the cause of the resignation, as it tells us that John of
Parma, after resigning from the generalship, gave himself up to the doctrine
of Joachim of Fiore on the “last days”.
93. Salimbene, p. 449; Angelo Clareno, in ALKG, T. II, p. 271.
94. Angelo Clareno, in AJKG,p.271.
95. Fioretti, c. XLVIII. I have partially used the translation into English
of W. Heywood, 1906 available on the Internet, which differs from that
published in the Francis of Assisi Collection, Early Documents, The Prophet,
New City Press, New York-London-Manila, 2001, vol.III, pp. 646-648 The
same vision is narrated by Angelo Clareno in ALKG T. II, pp. 280-281.
In the Spanish translation of the Fioretti (Las Florecillas de San Francisco,
Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1957), pp. 113-114, there is an appendix of two
chapters dedicated solely to the Códice Florentino, which narrates two
visions of father Leo that appear to follow the same line of thought as the
vision of the tree. The first tells that “once St. Francis had left this life, he
wanted friar Leo to see again the sweet father, whom he loved to dearly
while he was alive, and motivated by this desire, prayed fervently to God
to answer his prayer. And so, in answer to his prayer, St. Francis appeared
to him, full of glory, with wings and golden nails like an eagle. Friar Leo
being filled with wonder and delight at such a marvellous apparition, and
full of admiration, said: ‘Why, my reverend father, did you appear as such
an admirable figure?’ St. Francis replied: ‘Among other graces that divine
mercy has bestowed on me are these wings, so that when invoked, I can
rescue devotees of this holy religion from their afflictions and needs, saving
their souls and those of my friars, and as though flying, carry them to
the supreme glory; the nails, so strong, large and golden, were given to
me against the demon, against the persecutors of my religion, against the
chaotic friars of this holy Order, so that I can punish them with sharp and
rough scratches and bitter punishments. Praise be to Christ. Amen”’. In
the second vision of father Leo, it is narrated that “he was preparing for
the Day of Judgment, when he saw angels playing trumpets and various
instruments, marvellously calling the people to a meadow. In one part of
the meadow stood a red ladder, which reached from earth to heaven, and
in another part of the meadow, a white ladder which reached from heaven
to earth. At the top of the red ladder, Christ appeared, offended and angry.
And St. Francis, a few rungs below, close to Christ, coming down a few more
steps, exclaimed: ‘Come, my brothers; trust; do not fear; come and present
yourselves to the Lord; He is calling you’. Hearing the voice of St. Francis,
the friars climbed the red ladder, one by one and with great trust. And after
all friars had climbed, some fell down from the third rung, some from the
fourth, others from the sixth and seventh rungs, and so on, until they had
all fallen down and not one remained on the ladder. Francis, moved with
compassion on seeing the ruin of the friars, as a merciful father to his sons,
begged the Judge to receive them and have mercy on them. And Christ
pointed to his bloody wounds and said to St. Francis: ‘Your friars did this to
me’. And soon after, still praying, He went down a few steps and called the
friars who had fallen from the red ladder and said: ‘Come, be strong, my
sons and friars; trust and do not despair; run to the white ladder and climb,
and you will be welcomed in the kingdom of heaven’. And at the top of the
ladder, there was the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, all merciful and
forgiving, receiving the friars who, without effort, entered the everlasting 131

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kingdom. Praise be to Christ. Amen”. And in Crônica Portuguesa, T. I, p.
118-119, we have another narrative with the same historical background,
i.e., the persecution of the zelanti, which describes the revelations of St.
Francis to friar Leo: “On that same hill, as through St. Francis and Friar Leo
were speaking as one, St. Francis showed him a stone, which he honoured
with praises of great joy and gladness of heart, and said to friar Leo: ‘Friar,
wash that stone with water’. And, when he had done that, he told him:
‘Wash it with wine. And he did so. And then St. Francis told him: ‘Wash it
with oil, which Leo did. And the fourth time, St. Francis told him: ‘Wash
it with balm and Friar Leo said: ‘how can I find balm here?’ And St. Francis
told him: ‘You know, friar innocent creature of God, that this is the stone
on which the Lord was sitting when He once appeared to me, and I told
you to wash it four times, because the Lord promised me four things for
the Order: the first is that anyone with a heart that loved the friars and
the Order, by the blessing of God, would end up fine; the second is that
the unfair persecutor of this Order be notably punished; the third is that
the bad friar, who perseveres in his malevolence, cannot last long in the
Order or that he will later be confounded and diminished; the fourth is
that this religion will last forever.’’ Also in the Fioretti, c. XXXVI, another
vision of father Leo is narrated, the vision of the “large, long, violent river”
that dragged the friars along; this river represented this world; the friars
that drowned in this river where those who did not follow the evangelical
profession, especially Saint poverty; but those who went by without danger
were the friars deprived of all earthly and carnal things, who do not possess
anything from this world, only what is required to live and wear; they are
happy to follow the naked Christ on the Cross”.
96. Salimbene, p. 550.
97. E. Gilson, La philosophie de Saint Bonaventure, Lib. Philosophique
J. Vrin, Paris, 1943, p. 10; See also H. Felder, Storia degli studi scientifici
nell’Ordine Francescano della sua fondazione fino a circa la meta del sec. XIII,
1911, p. 234.
98. Salimbene, p. 129.
99. The intellectual participation of St. Bonaventure in the polemic
debates of the University of Paris, and his philosophical and literary
production during this time, are the object of a work of my own authorship,
entitled: De reductione artium ad theologiam de São Boaventura, published
by the University of São Paulo, Coleção Revista de História, 1974, but this
subject is within the scope of this present work. Also, in the chapter on
Joachim de Fiore and his influence on the formation of spiritual thought, I
discuss the participation of St. Bonaventure in those events.
100. Angelo Clareno, in ALKG, T. II, pp. 284-285.
101. Idem, pp. 277 and 283.
102. Idem, p. 285.
103. Chronologia Historico-Legalis, T. I, pp. 29-30.
104. Chronologia Historico-Legalis, T. I, pp. 27-28. G. Coulton, Ten
Medieval Studies, Beacon Press, 1959, pp. 181-182, also analyzes the letter
in a way that is, unfortunately, disconnected from the circumstances in
which it was written.
105. R. de Nantes, op. cit., p. 215-216.
106. Idem, p. 217.
107. Ehrle, in ALKG, T. III, p. 575.
108. R. of Nantes, op. cit., p. 218. At heart, in the historian’s view,
St. Bonaventure is the mediator between the two parties: the Spirituals and
the Community.
109. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 251. Curiously, Gratien believes that the
work of R. of Nantes was little influenced by the writings of the Spirituals.
110. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 268.

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111. Idem, p. 267, explains the expression, saying that “St. Bonaventure
interprets the Rule more widely than the contemporaries of St. Francis, as
he is obliged to bear in mind the evolution that led the Order to the point at
which he found it”. And later, he states that the criteria that St. Bonaventure
uses to evaluate the legitimacy is the text of the Rule, interpreted, not only
as John of Parma does, i.e. mainly in light of the Testament, but in light of
the pontifical declarations, and above all, of the bull Quo Elongati.
112. “Determinationes Quaestionum”, in St. Bonaventure, Op. Omnia,
Quaracchi, T. VIII, Quaestio V.
113. Determinationes Quaestionum, loc. cit., Quaestio VI.
114. “Epistola de Tribus Quaestionibus”, in St. Bonaventure, Op. Omnia,
Quaracchi, T. VIII, p. 333.
115. Ehrle, in ALKG, T. VI, p. 33.
116. Idem, p. 34 and 90.
117. Idem, p. 92 and 93.
118. Idem, p. 94.
119. Idem, p. 96.
120. Idem, p. 103.
121. Idem, p. 106.
122. Idem, p. 104.
123. Besides those published by Ehrle, in ALKG, T. VI, we also find
some additions in the article by A. G. Little, “Decrees of the general chapters
of the Friars Minors, 1260 to 1282”, in The English Historical Review, vol.
13, 1898, pp. 703-708.
124. Wadding, Annales, T. VI, p. 259.
125. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 273.
126. St. Bonaventure, Collationes in Hexaemeron, Bibliotheca
Franciscana Scholastica Medii Aevi, T. VIII, Ad Claras Aquas, Florentiae,
1934, pp. 328-356.
127. An example of the disassociation between doctrine and practice is
the fact that led Ubertino of Casale, in Arbor Vitae Crucifixae Iesu, lib. III,
ch. 9, to cite the Apologia Pauperum, and we know that that this work, i.e.
that of Ubertino de Casale, is a defense of the spiritual positions, cf. Obras
de San Buenaventura, T. VI, “Introducción a la Apologia de los Pobres”,
p. 331.
128. Obras de San Buenaventura, “Introducción general”, T. VI, p. 14.
129. Holzapfel, op. cit., p. 32.


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E146 PR-2.1 (miolo) St_François_eng.indd 134 4/11/2011 09:25:28
V. Angelo Clareno and the Spirituals of
the March of Ancona – Ubertino of Casale
and the Spirituals of Tuscany

Everything points to the fact that the faction that later

came to be known as the Spirituals first existed as a small
group of friars of the Franciscan Order during the generalship
of Elias of Cortona. Chronologia Historico-Legalis states that
in this period, in 1236, a group of friars emerged, led by
Caesar of Speyer, an upright, learned, saintly man, and a
follower and staunch defender of evangelical poverty and
strict observance of the Rule1. These friars, who came to
be known as the Cesarenes2, opposed the excesses of Elias,
minister general at that time. But Elias astutely accused them
before Pope Gregory IX of being deserters of the discipline
of the Order and instigators of internal disputes, which
led to their admonishment by the Pope, in a Papal Brief3.
Caesar of Speyer was sent to prison, where he died in 1239,
and his followers were dispersed to various provinces, some
into exile, and others to severe harsh prison sentences4. The
remaining Cesarenes sought refuge in solitary places, living
in hermitages, from where they continued to fight for the
reform of the Order in their solidude5.
Among the first Spirituals were St. Francis’ closest
companions; those who, according to the Franciscan
literature, were known by the expression of intimacy used
in the narratives linked to the early days of the life of
the Order: Nos qui cum eo fuimos (We who were close to
him)6. This was the group that formed the Saint’s closest
circle of friends. When Elias assumed the Leadership of
the Order, Bernard of Quintavalle, the first disciple, who
had followed the Saint on his endless journeys7, went to
live in a hermitage where he stayed in a cabin on mount
Sefro, in complete solitude. It was not until after Elias was 135

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deposed, in 1239, that he once again resumed contact with
the friars, until his death in 1242. Giles, also one of the first
disciples, dedicated himself after the death of St. Francis to
a life of mystical contemplation; Leo, pecorella de Dio, the
Saint’s most faithful friend and confident, and the disciple
who inherited the same ideals, lived further away than the
others, until 1271. Together with Angelo and Rufino, he
wrote Legenda Trium Sociorum, becoming the guardian of
the truest traditions of the life and spirit that marked those
early days. It could be said that Leo inherited the charisma
of the founding Saint. These disciples were the first group to
refuse to accept the changes or adaptations in the Order, and
to oppose the relaxi i.e. those who interpreted the Rule with
less rigour, and the litterati, who wanted either privileges
and security, or intellectual influence in the institutions of
the day. This group of close friends had, by nature, neither
secular nor ecclesiastical ambitions. On the contrary, a
strong tendency to “escape from the world” is noted in this
group; a desire to seek refuge in uninhabited places, such as
inaccessible mountains or remote caves, where they lived the
lifestyle of contemplative and ecstatic hermits8. This ecstasy
and fervor were characteristic of those early friars, who were
often taken up in visions in which the mysteries of creation
and the Creator were revealed to them. On reading about
the lives of Masseo, Juniper, Egidio, and the other friars I
have mentioned, I feel that they would easily have joined
the opposition, as it is difficult to conceive that they were
prepared to live in an Order as an institution linked to the
structure of the Church, with its organized administrative
discipline and stable convents, fulfilling objectives other
than the evangelizing mission.
This first generation of Franciscans, who recognized
only the Rule and the Testament as the valid documents
regulating the lifestyle of the Order, was followed by
another generation that had not known St. Francis
personally, but was probably influenced by his close circle
of friends. These are the friars that constituted the first
nucleus of the Spirituals per se, and included Conrad of
Offida, who is recalled in various writings as the guardian of
“strict observance” and follower of simplicity9. Others, also
mentioned in the writings, about whom little is known,

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like Jacob of Masa, John de la Verna, and John of Penna10,
belonged to the same generation that took a stand against
the more “relaxed” observance of the Rule. This generation
also includes a rather diverse group; the followers of the
Joachimite doctrines, such as John of Parma and Hugh
of Digne, both of whom adopted Spiritual positions and
have been mentioned previously in this study. Therefore,
the origin of the Spirituals lies in the March of Ancona,
and when the Council of Lyon was held in 1274, on which
occasion a rumour emerged that Pope Gregory X intended
to transform the Mendicant Orders by allowing them to
follow the lifestyle of the traditional orders and become
owners of goods and properties, an organised opposition
arose in the March of Ancona. The above mentioned rumour
was the result of a situation created with the development
of the Mendicant Orders itself, whose existence introduced
a new factor to the life of the mediaeval church. The
more prevalent this factor became, the more attacks they
suffered, essentially from the secular clergy. To begin with,
as we saw in an earlier chapter of this work, the opposition
manifested itself violently at the University of Paris, against
the Franciscan masters of the School of Theology, which
led to the legitimacy of the entire Order being placed in
doubt. From there, the opposition spread to the parochial
clergy, which felt that their privileges, rights and incomes
were being threatened by the competition from the friars.
And this process was exacerbated as the Order incorporated
more and more privileges. Hence, at the Council of Lyon,
in 1275, the issue reached almost boiling point, as the
secular clergy were keen to raise the issue of the Mendicant
Orders. There were many complaints and accusations from
the secular clergy, alleging that hearing confessions, burying
the dead, and distributing indulgencies were privileges that
traditionally belonged to them, and claiming that the new
Mendicant Orders were usurping these privileges.
According to Hefele-Leclercq, requirements were
presented to the council to prohibit the friars from giving
absolution, from hearing confessions, except with the
consent of the bishops; from preaching in their churches
except on certain occasions; and from founding new
convents11. Although the council had given its support 137

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to the Mendicants12, the issue remained contentious.
During this period, Jerome of Ascoli became the leader
of the Franciscan Order, replacing St. Bonaventure who
resigned at the Chapter of 1274 and died in July of that
same year. But, being constantly engaged in the unification
missions of the Churches of the West and East, which the
Pope had entrusted to him, Jerome had little spare time
to dedicate himself to the problems of the Order13. In the
General Chapter of Padua, in 127614, he offered to resign,
albeit against the will of the friars, but he did not receive
permission to do so until three years later, at the Chapter of
Assisi, in 1279, on the occasion of his election as cardinal.
From the resolutions of the Chapter of Padua, we can infer
how lacking in headship the Order was, and the level of
indiscipline that prevailed. One of the resolutions speaks
of the construction of a number of good, strong jails15.
In 1279, in the Chapter of Assisi, Jerome was replaced by
Bonagratia of San Giovanni in Persiceto, from the province
of Bologna. Bonagratia was more closely involved with the
internal problems of the Order than the previous minister
general, who had done little to further its unification.
Pope Nicholas III, who took an interest in the affairs of
the Order, having been its protector since 1261, and having
witnessed first hand about what was happening in its
midst, proposed to the new minister general an authorized
publication on the interpretation of the Rule, aimed at
establishing harmony among the friars.
Thus, soon after his election, Bonagratia visited the Pope
in Soriano, so that together they could examine the issues
relating to the Order. One of these was the designation of
a new protector, and the person nominated for this role
was Cardinal Matthew Orsini, the Pope’s nephew. But the
most important thing to come out of this meeting was
the agreement to set up a commission, to officially draft a
new interpretation of the Rule. This commission consisted
of two Franciscan cardinals – Bentivenga and Jerome of
Ascoli, former Minister General –, two provincial ministers
from France and Ireland, as well as Bendetto Caetani, the
future Pope Boniface VIII, and the spiritual leader Peter of
John Olivi. The commission drew up the material that the
Pope would use to interpret the Rule, published in the bull

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of 14th August 1279, under the title of Exiit qui Seminat16.
The bull had several purposes, but its primary goal was to
give cover to the Order against its various attackers, both
external and internal17. It also sought to clarify, for the
friars, some aspects of relating to the Rule itself that were
in doubt18.
The bull reaffirmed the concept of renouncing property
(article II), but made a distinction between its possession and
its use (article III), “since in temporal goods, it is necessary
to consider the principal, the property, the ownership, the
usufruct, the right of use and the simple usus facti”19. The
latter is indispensible as it enables us to dispense with the
others. This necessary simple usus was not a right; it was
permitted to the friars by the Rule, as the moderate usus of
the things essential for life20.
But later in the text, the bull also recognizes as essential
the use of things for food, vestment, divine worship and
study (sapientiale studium). In article IV of the bull, the Pope
stated the ecclesiastical dominium over the goods granted
to the friars, as previously established by Innocent IV21.
The bull mentioned the usus pauper of “essential things”,
avoiding “superfluity, riches, abundance, and treasuring up
of such things that are opposed to poverty”22.
In article XIV, it made concession to the number of
habits allowed, at the discretion of the ministers and
custodians. Article XV reaffirmed the possibility that the
ministers and custodians assist in the administration of the
affairs of the Order, with the help of others, “considering
that the Order was no longer what it had been, but was far
smaller in number than today”23.
In relation to the Testament of St. Francis, the bull
affirmed that its observance was not compulsory “and that
St. Francis could not oblige his successors, as an equal did
not have authority over his equal”24. Finally, Nicolas III, in
his bull, affirmed that this Rule should be understood in
this way, without gloss, and threatened to excommunicate
those who dared write or speak against the Rule and the
friars minor or their profession.
Despite everything, the bull Exiit qui Seminat, which
had the effect of temporarily quieting the external enemies

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of the Franciscans, did not satisfy all the friars of the Order,
far less the Spirituals. Even so, the bull Ad Fructus Uberes,
of 13th December 1281, published by Pope Martin IV,
giving the friars permission to exercise the ministry, hear
confessions and preach, once again stirred up the dissention
between the secular and the religious groups, particularly in
France25. The bull, which had prompted the quarrel with
the seculars, was yet another of the many papal privileges
that the Order received, and this made it suspect in the
eyes of the Spiritual party, as each privilege represented, at
heart, a threat to the principle of poverty. Therefore, the
privileges not only incited the seculars against the Order,
but also, without doubt, constituted a serious internal
threat. Furthermore, when Martin IV published the bull
Exultantes in Domino on 18th January 1283, a step was
taken that would wipe out the spirit that still survived in
the Exiit qui Seminat, of Nicholas III. Now it was declared
that the goods used by the friars minor were the property
of the Church, and that the procurators should administer
them in its name; and herein lay the root of the problem:
The procurators shall be nominated, revoked, and replaced
directly by the ministers and custodians, according to the
needs of each convent.” These procurators became the
economic and financial administrators, and assumed the
functions of nuncio, spiritual friend, and procurator per se,
under the command of the Minister General. According
to Ehrle - and his opinion appears to be correct - this
manager-procurator was no more than a mere puppet, and
the control of the Church over the friar’s assets was nothing
but mere legal fiction. Other transgressions against the Rule
began to appear and spread, little by little, to the majority of
the Franciscan provinces. There was even a certain luxury in
the clothing, which in some cases, was made with cascades
of fine fabrics, the hood so voluminous that it could be
wrapped around the neck like a cape or secular shawl.
Other friars received permission to amass personal savings
for one or other motive, blatantly contradicting the spirit of
the Order. Also, in the churches of the convents, it became
commonplace for receptacles to be placed for the collection
of alms for the friars, from the faithful, a habit that became
widespread in many provinces.

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Thus, the situation of the Order was fraught with
problems, and the discipline imposed by St. Bonaventure,
which had become slack after his death, became even less
rigid, exacerbated by the fact that the subsequent Minister
Generals, for one reason or another, spent very little time in
office before being replaced by their successors. P. Gratien26
observes that from the death of St. Bonaventure until the
Council of Vienna (1311), a span of thirty-seven years,
there was a succession of seven minister generals and two
vicar generals, and it is important to emphasize the level of
indiscipline and the lack of control that resulted from this
situation. Bonagratia, on his death in 1283, left the Order
leaderless for a period of two years, which did nothing to
improve the situation; on the contrary, it gave free rein to
those friars who saw the Franciscan religion as being no
different from the other religious orders. It was not until the
Chapter of Milan, held at Easter 1285, that a new Minister
General was elected, Arlotto of Prato, from the province
of Tuscany27. However, he died the following year and
William of Falgar was chosen as Vicar General28, remaining
in office until the Chapter of Montpellier in 1287, when
the theologian Matthew of Acquasparta was elected29.
The great theologian spent very little time in his
generalship, and the following year (1289) he was replaced
by Raymond Gaufredi30. Gaufredi would support the
Spirituals in their claims, as well as becoming involved in
the political dispute created by his friend, the future King
of Naples and Sicily, Charles of Anjou.
Because he had interceded in favour of the release of
Charles of Anjou from his imprisonment by the King
of Aragon, Alfonso III, Gaufredi ended up winning the
favour of Phillip the Fair, King of France. This was the
same king who would assume an antipapal policy against
Boniface VIII, who viewed Raymond Gaufredi with great
reservations and even a certain hostility.
By this time the question of the Spirituals had become
indirectly involved in a purely political situation, anticipating
the profound shock that would take place later, and which
we shall have the opportunity to study, involving Pope John
XXII, the Spirituals, and Louis of Bavaria. In fact, Raymond
Gaufredi would be deposed by Boniface VIII, who disliked 141

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him, in 129531, to be replaced by John of Morrovalle of the
March of Ancona32.
However, during the period from the Chapter of Lyon
in 1274, through until 1295, the leadership of the Spirituals
would be affirmed in its various groups. Meanwhile,
the rumour mentioned above, which spread among the
friars during the Council of Lyon, purporting that Pope
Gregory X intended to force all the Mendicant Orders to
accept the principle of common ownership of property, led
to the protest of the zelanti of the March of Ancona. For
Angelo Clareno, the fifth tribulation of the Order began
in this period33, because soon after the Council, when the
provincial Chapter gathered, demanding that the friars who
had protested against Pope Gregory X’s intention publicly
seek forgiveness, there were some who refused to do so.
Angelo Clareno mentions the names of three zelanti friars;
Tramondo, Thomas of Tolentino and Peter of Macerata.
The latter would later assume an important role in the
group. The three, accused of schismatics, were banished
and sent to hermitages. After one year, they were called to
the provincial Capital, to again try and persuade them to
seek forgiveness, through the plea of a high-ranking friar in
the Order, Friar Benjamin, “who excelled above the others
in prudence, saintliness and seniority”34. It appears that
Friar Benjamin managed a certain provisory reconciliation
of these rebels with the Order, but the consciousness of
the evils that had corrupted their spirit remained active35.
The example of these friars in openly manifesting their
opposition had managed to attract other followers, who
identified with the position taken by the Spirituals. But the
threat of a rebellion in other provinces led the ministers
to take stricter measures, and so they condemned the
Spiritual leaders Tramondo, Thomas of Tolentino and Peter
of Macerata to perpetual prison36. The rigor of the penalty
applied must have spread alarm and fear among the friars,
and left a bitter impression among others. Angelo Clareno
recounts that a particular friar, Thomas of Castro Mili, on
hearing of this sentence, which was sent to the friars to be
sensationally read aloud at the Chapters of the convents,
stated his opinion that it was unjust, without charity, and
without fear of God37. Condemned around 1280, the three

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remained recluses until the election of Raymond Gaufredi
as Minister General, in 1289.
Raymond Gaufredi38 would assume an active role in the
struggle of the Spirituals. In a visit to the March of Ancona,
soon after his election, on inquiring about the cause of
imprisonment of those friars and learning of the cruel
treatment and unjust sentence meted out to them, he had
them released from prison, as he saw no crime deserving
of such punishment, “other than their excessive zeal for
the observance of the evangelical poverty”39. According
to Angelo Clareno’s apologetic epistle ad papam de falso
impositis et fratrum calumniis, the sole cause of the torments
suffered by those friars was their desire to safeguard the
Rule, according to the precepts of its founding Saint, and
to observe it rigorously, and so they were accused of heresy
and treated accordingly40. On their release, Raymond
Gaufredi sent them to Hayton II, King of Armenia, who
demonstrated a desire to receive the friars minor in his
kingdom41. Essentially, sending the Spiritual ex-prisoners
to Armenia was a sensible move; it would have been
dangerous to leave them exposed to the circumstances, as
their enemies might have tried to react.
The results of this mission were beneficial, judging by a
letter sent by the King to the Minister General, expressing
words of gratitude and praise, which was read out at the
Chapter of Paris in 1292, two years after the friars had been
sent there42. However, even in this mission field, they failed
to find the peace they sought. At that time, in the province
of Syria, was the former secretary to the Provincial Minister
of the March of Ancona, Paulo della Marca, guardian of the
convent of St. John D’Acre, an active enemy of the Spirituals,
and the principal inciter of the Provincial Minister of Syria,
Father Jacques, who wrote to King Hayton II urging to him
to expel the friars from his territory43. Once again accused
of schisms and heresies, and once again under pressure from
their opponents, they could no longer remain in Armenia.
Soon afterwards, they arrived at the March of Ancona,
and Father Liberatus and Angelo Clareno presented
themselves before the Provincial Vicar. They were received
with coldness and hostility, so they decided to seek out the

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Minister General, Raymond Gaufredi44 who, as always, was
willing to help them.
Raymond Gaufredi sent Liberatus and Angelo Clareno
to Pope Celestine V, who had ascended to the papal throne
at that time. Celestine V identified more closely with
the Spirituals and their aspirations, since besides being
a personal friend of Liberatus and Angelo, he was also
himself an austere hermit and follower of the Franciscan
evangelical life. In the struggle between the two factions
of the Order, i.e. the Community and the Spirituals,
Celestine V, at heart, could only support the latter, and his
election as Pope45 was a cause of great jubilation among
the Spirituals. The new Pope, previously known as Peter of
Murrone, was the founder of another Order, the Eremitae
Sancti Spiritus, (Hermits of St Damiano, also known as
Murronites) of mount Majella, later called the Celestines,
which was formally recognized by Pope Urban IV in 1264
as a branch of the Benedictine order. Some years later, Peter
of Murrone stepped down from his position as superior of
the above-mentioned Order, and withdrew to an anchorite’s
cell, or hermitage, where he lived until he was summoned
to assume the papal position46.
Celestine V received the representatives of the Spirituals
with open arms, and on hearing of what had happened
to them, released them from their obligation of complete
obedience to the Franciscan Order and allowed them to
live in the hermitages of the Order of the Celestines47.
Thus, a split emerged within the Franciscan Order, which
was formalized by the Pope. And under the name of the
Poor Hermits, in 1294 the Spirituals founded a new branch
Order, with Cardinal Napoleon Orsini as its protector, with
the principal objective of living according to the Rule of
St. Francis and his Testament. Peter of Macerata became
known as Liberatus, and Angelo of Fossombrone as Angelo
Clareno, leaving, in his Historia Septem Tribulationum
Ordinis Minorum, the most moving account of everything
that had happened to the Spirituals.
Celestine V did not last long as the Papal See of the
Holy Roman Church, and abdicated on 13th December
1294 after just a short time in office, recognizing his lack
144 of ability to administer and govern the great ecclesiastical

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organization, and anxious to return to his life as a hermit,
away from the mundane disputes that were taking place
in the Curia and college of the cardinals. The resignation
of Celestine V as pope was perhaps inspired by the
ambitious Cardinal Benedict Caetano, who was elected
pope and given the name of Boniface VIII. His election,
like that of Celestine V, took place against a background
of the traditional dispute between the two families, the
Colonna and the Orsini, both of which aspired to the papal
seat. Boniface VIII would be accused by the Spirituals of
forcing his predecessor to resign, of fraud and violence,
and of having being led to the papacy by Simony48. And
even the resignation of Celestine V would lead to the
delicate canonical and legal question of whether a Pope is
allowed to resign, and by extension, the very legitimacy of
Boniface VIII’s election. On 27th December, the new pope
would annul the privileges granted by Celestine V, and on
8th April 1295, he would place the Poor Hermits under
the jurisdiction of the Minister General, revoking all the
dispensations given to them. Members of the powerful
Colonna family who were linked to the Sacred College, like
Jacques and Pedro Colonna, great friends of the Spirituals,
questioned the validity of the election of Boniface VIII. The
Pope found defenders, like Egidio of Rome, author of De
Renuntiatione Papae, in which he attempted to prove the
legitimacy of the election of Benedict Caetano49.
With the election of John of Morrovalle in 1296,
the luck of the Spirituals’ of the March of Ancona once
again took a turn for the worse, as this Minister General
identified with the position of the Community. With
the renunciation of Celestine V, Liberatus and Angelo
Clareno fled to Greece, seeking refuge on a small island
in the Gulf of Corinth; the island of Trixonia, where they
stayed for around two years (1295-1297) until the friars of
the province of Syria were informed of their presence and
began to bother them50. Boniface VIII was also informed
that the zelanti friars and Liberatus were heretics, supporters
of Celestine V, and that they were against his abdication
and refused to accept the legitimacy of the new pope.
Boniface VIII ordered the archbishops of Patras and Athens
and the patriarch of Constantinople, Peter Cornaro, to 145

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persecute the friars, which led Liberatus and Angelo to take
refuge in Southern of Tessalia. Meanwhile, an order also
went out from the Church of Negroponto, promulgated
by the patriarch of Constantinople in 1300, for these
Spirituals to be excommunicated. So a reaction began in
Italy against the followers of the zelanti, with the support
of the Pope. Conrad of Offida was accused of stirring up
and masterminding the split of the Order51 and was forced
to apologise; the poet Jacopone of Todi was incarcerated
in a dungeon, where he remained until the deposition of
Boniface VIII, in September 130352.
Conrad of Offida and Thomas of Tolentino organized
a mission to the East, under the leadership of Jacques of
Monte, also a zelanti53. This delegacy reached Negroponto,
where they found Liberatus and Angelo, who were supposed
to join them, a plan that the minister general refused to
authorize, therefore they left alone, heading for Indies.
Those who stayed behind, i.e. Liberatus and Angelo, with
other friars, after being recognized in the region, began once
again to suffer persecution, and in 1304, they were accused
of belonging to the Manichaeist sect. Liberatus took direct
action when faced with these accusations and returned to
Italy, where he lived peacefully in Naples for some time.
The new Minister General, Gonsalvo of Balboa, elected
at the General Chapter of Assisi in 1304, invited the
Dominican inquisitor Thomas of Aversa, in order to gather
information about the conduct of these friars54. Convinced
of Liberatus’s innocence, he advised him to present himself
before Clement V, but in 1307, on the way to the meeting,
close to Viterbo, Liberatus died.
And the misfortunes of the group of Spirituals did not
end there; the inquisitor Thomas of Aversa would soon
change his attitude towards the friars, possibly instigated by
the members of the Community. In a trap, the inquisitor
caused Liberatus’s followers to seek refuge in a castle, at
Frosolone, and there, gathering together the people of
that place, in a discourse full of rage, he denounced them
as heretics, turning them over to the hands of the secular
people, who imprisoned them. The friars were taken to
Trivento and thrown into a cistern, where they remained

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for five days, then they were tortured with extreme cruelty,
according to Angelo Clareno’s account55.
The Order of the Poor Hermits remained under the
leadership of Angelo Clareno.
Angelo Clareno returned to Italy in around 1305,
after Father Liberatus, where he once again provoked the
members of the Community to the extent that they accused
him before Clement V, elected Pope on 13th June 1305.
Following this accusation, an investigation was carried out
by the papal vicar in Rome and Archbishop of Thebes,
Isnard and by the Bishop of Rieti, along with others,
and also by four Dominican inquisitors, who were fully
in favour of Angelo and his friends56. Thus, Angelo was
saved from excommunication and went to the papal court
in Avignon. Clement V allowed him and his companions
to live according to the proposal of the Order of the Poor
Hermits, until the question could be decided57.
Another section of the Spirituals, in the region of
Tuscany, in Umbria, and also from the March of Ancona,
was under the influence of the leader Ubertino of Casale.
Ubertino came from the province of Genoa, and
entered the Order in 1273, convinced that it represented
the highest ideals of the Church. Around 1275, he was sent
to Paris to study philosophy, but soon left these studies to
dedicate himself to the knowledge of the life and doctrine
of Christ. Returning to Italy in 1284, he was probably
influenced by Spirituals like John of Parma, by mystics like
Angela of Foligno and Cecilia of Florence, and by men of
great holiness like Pier Pettinagno and even the spiritual
leader himself, Peter of John Olivi. From 1285, he began to
lecture in Florence, dedicating himself to this position until
1289. Between 1302 and 1304, he preached the Spiritual
ideals with great success and had a strong influence over his
listeners58. Ubertino of Casale was also active in combating
the heresy of the pseudo-apostles, already mentioned in
a previous chapter, according to the testimony of Angelo
Clareno59. The heresy, which began around 1260, was
started by Gerard Segarelli of Parma, who was burned to
death in June 1300. His successor was Dolcino of Novara,
thought to be the illegitimate son of a priest. They preached 147

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evangelical poverty, attracting various followers to the
Franciscan Order60.
Salimbene describes them in highly derogatory terms,
accusing them of being useless and idle, wandering around
the world under the pretension of being followers of
poverty, becoming involved in affairs of which they had
no knowledge, and attempting to preach without sufficient
knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, spreading false doctrines
and heresies61.
Bernardo Gui describes them, in his Practica Inquisitionis
Haereticae Pravitates as being not subject to any man but
only to God, affirming that the Pope did not have the right
to absolve anybody, unless he were as holy as the apostle
Peter himself, living in absolute poverty and humility,
not instigating wars or persecuting others, but allowing
everybody to live in freedom62.
On 11th March 1286, Pope Honorius IV condemned
them, in his bull Olim Felices Recordationis. In 1290,
Nicholas IV sent a letter to the Church prelates, warning
them of heresy. In 1305, Pope Clement V organized a
crusade to get rid of them63. In 1307, Dolcino was arrested
and incarcerated, and soon afterwards, was burned to death.
Some years before retiring to mount Alvernia, Ubertino of
Casale took part in the struggle against the sect of the pseudo
apostles, which may have been superficially confused with
the Franciscan Spirituals.
As for Urbertino of Casale, his heterodox concepts of
the Church led to his condemnation by Benedict XI in
1304, but he was released soon afterwards at the insistence
of the inhabitants of Perugia64.
Having been banned from preaching, he retired to the
solitude of Alvernia where, around 1305, he penned the
work Arbor Vitae Crucifixae Iesu65.
Meanwhile, Ubertino of Casale had found, in Perugia,
in 1304, one of the most active and influential Spirituals,
the Catalan Friar Arnold of Villanova66.
Arnold did not tire of accusing the Community, or
the party of relaxed observance of the Rule, mentioning
its numerous abuses in relation to the observance and its
immense cruelty in its treatment of the Spirituals. Arnold’s

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campaign began to bear fruit for his party, and would come
to be associated with an anti-inquisitorial attitude of the
party, unleashed by the movement of Bernard Delicieux, in
Carcassona, between 1301 and 130467.
Arnold of Villanova became a spokesman of the anti-
inquisitorial position, and Philip the Fair, keen to diminish
the power of the inquisitors, who were disturbing the
unity of his kingdom, divested the inquisitor of Toulouse,
Foulques de Saint Georges, of his position. The agitation
continued for a certain time, as the inquisitor’s successor
was no less implacable than the previous one, and
Bernard Delicieux demanded the condemnation of all
the inquisitors. Finally, Phillip the Fair once again turned
in favour of the Inquisition, again for political reasons;
Bernard Delicieux ended up being incarcerated by Clement
V, and his followers condemned to death. In 1306, the
Pope appointed a commission of cardinals, to investigate
the abuses of the inquisitors and ensure a more humane
treatment of their prisoners.
The climate created by Arnold of Villanova’s actions also
served the Spirituals well, and while, up until that time, the
Pope had been under the direct influence of the Community,
a more just attitude now began to be adopted towards the
Spirituals. Arnold of Villanova, a renowned physician and
expert in the sciences of the time, and dedicated to alchemy,
identified with the Joachimite ideals and became an active
propagator of them. Due to his skill as a physician, he was
called to serve Peter III of Aragon, who protected him in his
court. James II and his brother Frederick III, King of Sicily,
employed him not only as a physician, but also as a man of
government. He also served King Robert of Naples, son of
Charles II, to whom he dedicated some of his works68.
Although he held a position that was suspected of heresy
in relation to the Church, and proposed a total reform, he
served as physician to Pope Boniface VIII.
Robert the wise, successor to Charles II, took a protective
attitude towards the zelanti, and during their persecutions,
the Kingdom of Naples served as a place of refuge. In the
same way, James I, King of Mallorca, brother of Sancha,
Queen of Naples, and Philip, sheltered the pilgrims, and in

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Sicily, King Frederick also protected them, all this thanks to
the political activity of Arnold of Villanova.
In 1309, on one of his numerous journeys to Montpellier
and Narbonne, where he found the Spirituals and Beguines,
followers of the doctrines of Peter of John Olivi, Arnold
found an atmosphere of disturbance, resulting from the
accusations made against Olivi’s doctrines, at the Consistory
held on 12th April of that year69. Arnold of Villanova
travelled to Avignon, where he met the two cardinals who
were friends of the Spirituals, Giacomo of Colonna and
Napoleon Orsini, protector of the Poor Hermits.
Ubertino of Casale was also in Avignon at the same time,
accompanying Cardinal Napoleon Orsini, as Menendez
Pelayo states70. Arnold of Villanova, in the presence of the
pope, who was already acquainted with him, condemned
the evils of the Church and described the persecutions
suffered by the Spirituals, demanding that justice be done
towards them. On 18th August 1309, the Beguines of
Narbonne asked Clement V to allow them to expound on
the works of Peter of John Olivi and the observance of the
Franciscan Rule, appointing Raymond Gaufredi and other
friars to carry out this presentation71. Thus, the actions
of Arnold of Villanova, together with the support of the
above mentioned cardinals, and the royal appeal of Robert
of Anjou, who was crowned King of Naples at Avignon
on 1st August 1309, led the pope to take an interest in the
question of the Spirituals and seek to ascertain for himself
what was happening within the Franciscan Order, since the
secular clergy did not tire of pointing out its failings. Hence,
the idea emerged of carrying out an objective investigation
of the situation in the Order.
In September 1309, Clement V gathered a group of
friars at Groseau priory near Malausène, including the
Minister General Gonsalvo of Balboa, who represented the
conventuals (the Community), and Ubertino of Casale,
who represented the Spirituals72. Two cardinals, Pierre de
la Chapelle and the English Dominican Thomas Jorz - the
former became ill and was later replaced by another two,
Berengar Frédol and William Ruffat - were given the task
of enquiring of the two parties and determining the causes

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of the evils that had afflicted the Order, disturbing the
Church and spreading discord73.
The cardinals began asking each faction for information
on four points:
a) the presence of elements within the Franciscan Order
that called themselves the “Brethren of the Free spirit” (Secta
Spiritus Libertatis) and their relationship to the Order74;
b) the observance of the rule and the interpretation of
c) the doctrine and writings of Peter of John Olivi; and
d) the persecutions of the Spirituals.
In relation to the first question, there was no cause
for conflicting views, as neither the Community nor the
Spirituals accepted the heretical positions of the Brethren of
the Free Spirit, and openly opposed them, as was the case
with the above mentioned Ubertino of Casale75. Everything
suggests that the sect in Provence was little known, or so
claims Raymond Gaufredi in his response to the inquiry,
with the words “quod nullum penitus scimus”76 (we know
nothing of it). Seven friars of the province of St. Francis, who
were accused of professing these ideals, were incarcerated
and later renounced their convictions77.
As for the persecutions suffered by the Spirituals,
Ubertino of Casale, in his initial response to the questions,
recalled that they were persecuted in Tuscany for wanting
to live in poverty78. The representatives of the Community
could not deny these persecutions, but justified them as
being for the good of the Order, and therefore carried out
with just cause79.
The responses that led to the most arduous and longest
polemic debate were those relating to the questions on the
writings of Peter of John Olivi and the observance of the
Rule, and Poverty.
P. Gratien rightly observes that the representatives of the
Community focused the entire question on the canonical
point of view, while the representatives of the Spirituals saw
the question from an ascetic perspective80. Evidently, the
two points of view reflected two opposing intentions as to
what should be the nature of the Franciscan Order. The

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Community justified the interpretations given by the Popes
over the time the Order had been in existence, the less rigid
observance, and its practical application; the Spirituals were
only interested in the intentions of the founding Saint,
transcribed in the Rule and in his Testament, which he left for
the Order. We can adopt the division proposed by P. Gratien
for the phases of the debate on the above-mentioned issues,
with the first continuing until Spring 1311 in Malausène,
and the end of the 1310 in Avignon, with the Spirituals as
priority; and the second continuing until May 1312, at the
Council of Vienna, with the consequent publication of the
bull Exivi de Paradiso by Pope Clement V. But before we
enter the debate and consider how it unfolded, we must
first learn more about the figure of the Spiritual leader of
Provence, Peter of John Olivi.


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1. Chronologia Historico-Legalis, T. I, p. 23.
2. Idem, p. 23: “they are called Cesarenes, after Caesar...”
3. Idem, ibidem.
4. Idem, p. 23. F. Tocco, Le due primi tribolazioni dell’Ordine Francescano,
ed. Rendiconti della Academia dei Lincei, Roma, 1908, p. 76. On Angelo
Clareno, see the study by Gian Luca Potestà, Angelo Clareno, dai poveri
eremiti ai fraticelli, Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo, Rome, 1990.
5. Idem, p. 23; Gonzagae Francisci, De Origine Seraphicae Religionis
Franciscanae, Venetiis, 1603, pp. 4 and 5.
6. The expression appears in various writings, in particular, Legenda
Trium Sociorum. It is also found in Clareno, as we see in F. Tocco, op. cit.,
p. 54.
7. See Fioretti, ch. 4, 5 and others.
8. We have a text by St. Francis, “De la habitación religiosa en los
eremitorios”; see Escritos Completos de San Francisco de Asis, BAC, Madrid,
1946, p. 32; the same under the title “A Rule for the Hermitages”, in Francis
of Assisi, The Founder, Early Documents, New City Press, New York-
London-Manila,4th reprint, 2003, vol. I, pp. 61-61; Speculum Perfectionis,
c. 4, p. 738, which quotes the words of father Leo, confessor and
companion of St. Francis, written to Conrad of Offida: “Then St. Francis
said: “What will my children eat, and how will they live when they have
to live in the forests?” To which Christ responded: “I will give them food,
just as I did with the children of Israel: giving them manna in the desert;
because these holy ones will be good, and will return to the primitive state,
as when the Order first began”. But the hermit will still be suspected both
for his lifestyle; not only the religious discipline, but also for his possible
convictions. In Little, Decrees of the general chapters, p. 706, we have a
resolution passed at the Chapter of Assisi, in 1269: “Item inhibemus quod
heremite non recipiantur ad ordinem nostrum nec aliqui de aliquo ordine
mendicantium”. See Ehrle, op. cit., T. VI, p. 88, no. 5.
9. Fioretti, ch. XLIII: “And this Friar Conrad of Offida, admirable
guardian of evangelical poverty, and the rule of St. Francis...” In the
Fioretti, ch. XLIII, Conrad of Offida, who lived in the convent of Forcino,
is mentioned together with other friars, Bentoviglia and Peter of Menticelli,
in the region of Ancona, which was once “like a starry sky, adorned with
saints and friars who, like stars in the sky, illuminated and adorned the
Order of St. Francis and the rest of the world with their example and their
10. These and other names appear in various passages of the Fioretti.
11. Hefele-Leclercq, Histoire des Conciles, T. VI, part II, pp. 165-166.
12. Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, p. 303. Canon 23 of the
Council of Lyon supports the Mendicants, eliminates the small Orders, and
leaves for a future decision the existence of the Orders of the Carmelites
and of the hermitages of St. Augustine.
13. Jerome was very successful in this mission, as can be seen in the
resolutions of the Council of Lyon, Canon 1.
14. Little, Decrees of the general chapters of the Friars Minors, 1260-
1282, gives the date of this Chapter as 1277. But M. Bihl, “Quo capitulum
generale ord. FF. Min. Patavii primum celebratum sit (1276)”, in AFH, 2,
1909, pp. 3-16, definitively establishes the date as 1276. Ehrle repeats the

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date of 1277. Jerome of Ascoli was not present at this Chapter, just as he
was not present at the Chapter in which he was elected Minister General.
See Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 701.
15. Little, op. cit., p. 707; Ehrle, op. cit., T. VI, p. 47.
16. Gratien, op. cit, pp. 326-328. The bull Exiit qui Seminat is published
in the Seraphicae Legislationis Textus Originales, pp. 181-227.
17. Seraphicae Legislationis..., Prologus, 3.
18. Idem, 4.
19. Idem, 1.
20. Idem, ibidem.
21. Idem, ibidem.
22. Idem, articulus V, 1.
23. Idem.
24. Idem, articulus XXI, 2.
25. According to Canon 21 of the 4th Council of the Lateran, in
1215, all the faithful should confess at least once a year to their own parish
26. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 361.
27. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 702.
28. Idem, p. 702.
29. Idem, p. 703.
30. Idem, ibidem.
31. Idem, p. 704.
32. Idem, ibidem.
33. Angelo Clareno, “Hist. Tribulationum Ord. Min.”, in ALKG, T. II,
p. 290 and 301.
34. Idem, pp. 302-303.
35. Idem, p. 303.
36. Idem, p. 304.
37. Idem, ibidem. Ehrle says that certainly, Friar Thomas belonged
to the March of Ancona; F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen, ihr Verhältniss zum
Franciskanerorden und zu den Fraticellen”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 524. This
Friar Thomas would be incarcerated too, and died in prison, his body being
refused religious burial, as we are told in the “Historia Trib. Ord. Min.”, in
ALKG, p. 304.
38. Idem, p. 355. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen...”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 524.
39. Idem, p. 305.
40. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen...”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 524, in “Epístola
41. “Hist. Trib. Ord. Min.”, loc. cit., p. 306.
42. “Epístola excusatória”, loc. cit., p. 525.
43. R. de Nantes, op. cit., pp. 348-349; “Hist. Trib. Ord. Min.”, loc.
cit., T. II, p. 307. “Epistola excusatoria”, loc. cit., p. 525.
44. “Epistola excusatoria”, loc. cit., p. 525.
45. Hefele-Leclercq, Histoire des Conciles, T. VI, 1ère partie, pp. 336-
46. The life of Celestine V was written by Celestine V himself and
published in the Acta Sanctorum, T. IV maii. pp. 422, 426.
47. “Epistola excusatoria”, loc. cit., p. 526. “Hist. Tribulationum”, loc.
cit., p. 309. Karl Balthasar, Geschichte des Armutsstreites im Franziskanenorden
bis zum Konzil von Vienne, Münster, 1911, p. 186.

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48. Hefele-Leclercq, loc. cit., p. 440.
49. Idem, p. 441. P. J. Olivi, “De Renuntiatione Papae Coelestini V”,
introductory study Livarius Oliger, in AFH, 11, 1918, p. 327.
50. “Epistola excusatoria”, loc. cit., p. 527.
51. “Hist. Trib. Ord. Min.”, loc. cit., p. 311 (Ehrle writes that Conrad
of Offida died on 12th December 1306 at Bastia).
52. Jacopone of Todi, in Umbria, was a poet inspired by the ideals
of the Spirituals and severe in his criticism of Pope Boniface VIII, who
considered him a usurper of the papal throne. His poems often contain a
criticism of the Church of his time, based on the sentiments of a Spiritual
who is persecuted and has his heart rent by the tribulations of his brothers.
See in A. F. Ozanam, Los poetas franciscanos de Italia en el siglo XIII, col.
Austral, Espasa-Calpe, Buenos Aires, p. 119: “Llora la Iglesia, llora y se
lamenta; experimenta toda la desgracia de la más detestable condicion: –
Nobilísima y dulce madre, por que llorar? Tu parecer sufrir con grandes
dolores. – Cuéntame lo que te impulsa a quejas tan sin medida – Hijo
mio, si lloro, harta razón tengo: véome sin padre y sin esposo. He perdido
hijos, hermanos y sobrinos; todos mis amigos se hallam cautivos y cargados
de cadenas. Los mios en otro tiempo viviam en paz, pero ahora los veo en
discordia; los infieles me llaman immunda, a causa de mal ejemplo que
han sembrado mis hijos. Veo desaparecida la pobreza... Honran y glorifican
el oro y la plata. Mis enemigos celebran conjuntamente un gran festin;
todas las buenas costumbres se han desvanecido. De ahi mis lagrimas y mis
gemidos...” etc. H. Thode, Saint François d’Assisse et les origines de l’art de
la Renaissance en Italie, Lib. Renouard, Paris, 1909, 2 vols., p. 137: “Aussi
comprend-on que le relachement de la règle franciscaine ait provoqué sa
colère, et que, s’étant résolument mis du côte des Zélateurs, il ait salué avec
joie l’élection de l’ermite Pierre de Morrone au pontificat, sous le nom de
Célestin V:
Che farai, Pier da Morrone
Ci venuto ao paragone
Vederemo el lavorato
Che en cella ai contemplato”
The election of Boniface VIII was a source of great disappointment to
the poet. On the poet and his life, see the fundamental work by George T.
Peck, The Fool of God – Jacopone da Todi, University of Alabama Press,
1980; Serge Hughes and Elizabeth Hughes, Jacopone da Todi: The Lauds
(The Classics of Western Spirituality), Paulist Press, NJ, 1982.
53. “Hist. Trib. Ord. Min.”, loc. cit., p. 312.
54. Idem, p. 319.
55. Idem, pp. 324-325.
56. “Epistola excusatoria”, loc. cit., pp. 531-532.
57. Idem, p. 532.
58. “Hist. Trib. Ord. Min.”, in ALKG, T. II, p. 132.
59. Idem, ibidem.
60. Idem, p. 131. Salimbene speaks of a friar minor named Robert, who
was a rebel and had also joined the sect.
61. Salimbene, pp. 257, 264, 272, 276.
62. B. Guidonis, Practica inquisitionis...
63. In “Ex Floribus Historiarum qui Mathei Westmonasteriensis
Dicuntur”, in MGH, Script., T. XXVIII, p. 504, also mentions this heresy.
On the heresies of the pseudo-apostles and Dolcino of Novara, see the
collection of sources in Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, by L. A. Muratori,
Fasc. 56, Tomo IX - Parte V, which includes Historia Fratris Dulcini

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Heresiarche, by Anonimo Sincrono, De secta illorum qui se dicunt de ordine
Apostolorum, by Bernardo Gui, and an appendix with other documents,
pub. Città di Castello, 1907; see Giovanni Gonnet, Le eresie e i movimenti
popolari nel Basso Medioevo, Casa ed. G. D’Anna, Messina-Firenze, 1976,
pp. 240-246; Nachman Falbel, Heresias Medievais, Perspectiva, SP, 2007,
3rd ed., pp. 66-71;
64. “Hist. Trib. Ord. Min.”, in ALKG, T. II, p. 132.
65. Arbor Vitae Crucifixae Iesu was published first in Venice, in 1485.
New fascismile edition, by Charles.T. David, Bottega d’Erasmo, Torino,
66. Fr. Callaey, O. F. M. Cap. L’idéalisme franciscain spirituel au XIVe
siècle, Étude sur Ubertin de Casale, Louvain, 1911, p. 54. The same author
also dedicated various articles to the study of Ubertino of Casale, namely
“Les idées mystico-politiques d’un franciscain spirituel: étude sur l’Arbor vitae
d’Ubertin de Casale” in Revue d’Histoire Écclésiastique, t. XI, pp. 483-
504, (parte I); idem, ibidem, t. XII, pp. 693-727 (parte II); idem, ibidem,
“L’influence et la diffusion de l’Arbor vitae de Ubertin de Casale” t. XVII,
pp. 533-546. On Ubertino of Casale, from Callaey to the present, there
is now a significant bibliography, among others, by R. Daniel, Spirituality
and Poverty: Angelo Clareno and Ubertino da Casale, in Medievalia et
Humanistica, 4, 1973, pp. 89-98; C.T. Davis, Le pape Jean XXII et les
Spirituels: Ubertin de Casale in Cahiers de Fanjeaux, 10, Franciscains d’Oc,
Les Spirituels, ca.1280-1324, Privat Editeur, Toulouse, 1975, pp. 263-283;
Gian Luca Potestá, Storia ed escatologia in Ubertino da Casale, Università
Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, 1980; idem “Un secolo di studi sull’
Arbor vitae: Chiesa ed escatologia in Ubertino da Casale”in Collectanea
Franciscana, vol. 47, 1977, pp. 217-267; Raoul Manselli, “Pietro di
Giovanni Olivi ed Ubertino da Casale in Studi Medievali, vol. 6, pp. 95-
122; E.Randolph Daniel, Spirituality and poverty: Angelo da Clareno and
Ubertino da casale, in Medievalia et Humanistica, N.S. 4 (1973), pp. 89-98;
P. Vian, Ubertino da Casale ed Angelo Clareno: due itinerari a confronto, in
34o Convegno internazionale di studi, Angelo Clareno francescano, Assisi,
5-7 October 2006; Ana Paula Tavares Magalhães, Contribuição à questão da
pobreza presente na obra Arbor Vitae Crucirfixae Iesu, de Ubertino de Casale,
Universidade de São Paulo, 2003 (Doctorate thesis).
67. P. Gratien, op. cit., appendix II, p. 548; G. W. Davis, The Inquisition
at Albi, 1299-1300, Columbia University Press, New York, 1948, portrays
the whims of the Inquisition against some citizens of that city, who led the
popular opposition against the institution.
68. M. Menendez Pelayo, Historia de los Heterodoxos, BAC, Madrid,
1965, T. I, pp. 479-512. From Menendez Pelayo to today, the bibliography
of Arnold de Villanova has accumulated a large number of titles, starting
with the notable and indispensible work by R. Manselli, Spirituali e Beghini
in Provenza, Rome, pp. 55-80 which dedicatees a chapter to Arnold de
Villanova, and the bibliograhical review done by Jaume Mensa i Valls,
Arnau de Vilanova, Espiritual: Guia Bibliogràfica, Institut D’Estudis
Catalans, Barcelona, 1994. His fame as a physician was widespread among
all sectors of the population, as they associated his name with prophesies,
and he was even seen as a prophet. The publication of medical works under
the title of Arnaldi di Villanova, Opera Medica Omnia by the Universitat
de Barcelona, in the 1970s, opened new doors not only for our knowledge
of the history of medieval medicine, but in particular, that of the genial
Catalonian physician himself. One if the clearest signs of Arnold’s fame as
an exceptional physician is the fact the Jews, who were considered excellent
physicians themselves at that time, translated his works into Hebrew. See
Moritz Steinschneider, Die Hebraeischen Übersetzungen des Mittelalters
und die Juden als dolmetscher, Graz (reprint), 1956, pp. 778-785. Volume
VI.1 of Opera Medica Omnia, Barcelona, 1990, includes the translation
of the treatise Medicationis Parabole translated into Hebrew by Abraham
ben Mesulam Abigdor of Arles (1351-1402). On his political life and his

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relations with the Franciscan Spirituals, see also Nachman Falbel, Arnaldo de
Vilanova, sua doutrina reformista e sua concepção escatológica“, Universidade
de São Paulo, 1977 (Habilitation thesis).
69. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 436.
70. M. Pelayo, op. cit., p. 506-507.
71. “Hist. Trib. Ord. Min.”, in ALKG, T. II, p. 129: Angelo Clareno
narrates that in the time of Pope Boniface, many friars of Provence suffered
great persecutions, particularly after the deposition of Raymond Gaufredi
as Minister General, and that they condemned the doctrines of Peter of
John Olivi and violated his tomb, leading Arnold of Villanova to intercede
on their behalf before King Charles of Sicily. J. M. Pou y Marti, Visionários,
Beguinos y Fraticelos catalanes (siglos XIII-XIV), ed. Serafica, Vich, 1930,
dedicates Chapter II, pp. 34-110 to the study of Arnold of Villanova,
publishing portions of the Rahonement, i.e. the discourse that he gave
before Clement V, in July 1309. Among the writings of the renowned
physician, condemned in 1316, there are two that were outstanding due
to their connection with the Beguines, who venerated Pedro of John
Olivi in Narbonne. The works in question are “Informatio beguinorum vel
lectio Narbonae” and “Als cultivadors de la evangelical pobrea”. On p. 21,
the author writes: “Es verdad que, a fines del siglo XIII y a principios del
siglo XIV muchisimos beguinos y beguinas abrazaron la tercera Regla del
Pobrecillo de Asís, como también lo es que muchos begardos e beguinos, a
causa de perversos contactos con los cátaros y valdenses, se mancillaron con
diversos errores y prácticas, que dando desde entonces, por lo general, dos
tendencias bien distintas, la dos begardos, que puedem juntar-se según lo
que de ellos escribe Fr. Alvaro Pelagio – con la secta grosera del libre espiritu,
y la de los beguinos y beguinas, que mostraron una franca propensión a la
vida pobre y espiritual, sobre todo los que se afiliaron a la tercera Orden”.
72. P. Gratien, op. cit., pp. 438-439, brings an important document, an
epistle of Clement V, of 14th April 1310, “Dudum ad Apostolatus nostri”,
which lists the main Spirituals invited to the investigation.
73. Clement V, occupied with other problems, such as the question of
the templars, could not continue to occupy himself with this subject, so he
set up a commission of cardinals for this purpose.
74. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. II, p. 361. On the Brethren of the Free Spirit, see Secta Spiritus Libertatis,
which is sometimes confused with the pseudo-apostles, and sometimes with
the Beguines, see A. Jundt, Histoire du Panthéisme populaire du Moyen Age
au seizième siècle, Paris, 1875 (cop. anast., 1964), pp. 42-109; Antonino de
Stefano, Riformatori ed eretici del medio evo, Società Siciliana per la Storia
Patria, Palermo, 1990, pp. 311-325.
75. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. III, p. 144.
76. Idem, p. 142; A. Jundt, op. cit., describes the sect as being widespread
throughout Germany.
77. Idem, p. 144.
78. Idem, pp. 68, 123 and 192.
79. Idem, p. 123.
80. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 443. P. Gratien cites A. Heysse, O. F. M.,
“Ubertini de Casali opusculum ‘Super tribus sceleribus’ “, in AFH, 10,
1917, p. 110.


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VI. Peter of John Olivi and the Spirituals
of Provence

Born in Serignan in 1248 or early 1249, in the Hérault

region of the Languedoc, Peter of John Olivi probably
joined the Franciscan Order in 1260 or 1261 at the Béziers
convent1, at the age of 12. Later he was sent to Paris, where
he gained a bachelor’s degree in Theology2.
Peter of John Olivi joined the commission formed by
Nicholas III, which led to the publication of the bull Exiit
qui Seminat, of 1279, which I analysed in the previous
During the generalship of Jerome of Ascoli, Peter Olivi
was accused of promoting certain suspect views, in some
of his theological writings dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
On hearing of this, the Minister General ordered him to
burn them. Olivi obediently did so, without putting up any
opposition or refusal whatsoever. Afterwards, as he went to
celebrate Mass, some of the friars were amazed that he did
not show any sense of indignation, and therefore did not
need to confess before God for this sin. Olivi replied that
he had felt the same satisfaction in burning his works as he
had felt when he was writing them, and that besides, he
could always rewrite them if necessary, and even improve
on them3.
Later, according to Angelo Clareno, Jerome of Ascoli
would say that in fact he wanted to prove his humility and
obedience to the Order4. Angelo Clareno also spoke of his
humility and personal qualities, showing the Spiritual leader
to be a man of great integrity, and well-deserving of the
position he had assumed in Provence5. It seems that during
the generalship of Jerome of Ascoli, he was once again
accused, this time defending himself before the Minister
General, who ended up accepting his point of view6. 159

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During the period of Minister General Bonagratia of
San Giovanni in Persiceto (1279-1283), as we have already
seen, he was in Rome, together with other ministers and
magistri of the Order, as they gathered in Soriano for the
commission that would lead to the publication of the bull
Exiit qui Seminat. Being a scholar of the things of the
Order, and in particular, its Rule, it was essential that he
contribute something to this work, particularly given that
Minister Bonagratia identified with his views. According
to a mention made by Ubertino of Casale, Bonagratia sent
a circular to all the members of the Order, in which he
expressed himself in exactly the same way as Olivi had,
concerning the obligation of usus pauper7.
But it was not long before the pressures of the community
began to take their toll on Peter Olivi; in 1282, at the
Strasbourg Chapter, hostility from his opponents led to his
Much of his works were criticized and the Chapter,
reluctant to judge, themselves, the doctrines propounded
in them, entrusted the Minister General Bonagratia with
the task of passing on the works to a group of theologians
in Paris in order to be examined. In 1283, Bonagratia went
to that city where, even without the presence of Olivi, the
theologians condemned his writings. This condemnation
seems to have been an arbitrary one, as Olivi was not given
any opportunity to defend himself. The condemnation
of Olivi’s doctrines was published in the form of two
documents. The first is a set of thirty-four proposals taken
from Olivi’s writings, known as the Rotulus; the other is
called Littera VII sigillorum, which contains twenty-two
proposals against the condemned writings, and which were
to be presented to Olivi and his disciples for them to sign.
The theologians also decided that Olivi’s writings would
be withdrawn, and all the friars were banned from reading
As for Olivi, he found himself forced to choose between
renouncing his works and his convictions, or signing
the proposals, and in the text of the “justification” of his
writings, published by Ehrle10, Olivi separates the writings
of a philosophical nature from those he considered
160 proposals related to the faith. He had no objection to the

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first, and recognised them, but in relation to the others he
saw it as his obligation to add certain explanations, in order
to avoid any false interpretation and misrepresentation
of his intentions11. Taking all this into consideration, he
prepared to talk to the minister of his province, to request
authorization for a trip to Paris in order to justify, before
his critics, the most incriminating passages in his writings.
We know this request was denied, so instead, he was forced
to defend himself in writing, as his good name before the
Spirituals was at serious risk. This led to the “justification”
probably written in 1285, in which he adheres to a
purely philosophical argumentation, avoiding falling into
theological issues. His obstinacy was deep-rooted, and must
not have satisfied his adversaries, for one of the most active
of these, the Cardinal of Provence, Arnaldus de Roccafolio12,
signed a memorandum, along with thirty-five friars, which
was to be presented at the next General Chapter, accusing
Peter Olivi of being the leader of a heretical sect and an
instigator of division within the Order (caput superstiose
secte et divisionis et plurium errorum) 13.
The Chapter took place in Milan, at Easter 1285, the
occasion on which Friar Arlotto of Prato, one of Olivi’s
seven accusers, was elected Minister General. The Milan
Chapter, through its resolutions, did not arrive at any
definitive decision regarding Olivi and his writings; by
a declaration of the Chapter, found by Ehrle in a 14th
century manuscript, we know that the friars were banned
from reading them “until something is resolved to the
contrary” 14. The Chronica XXIV Generalium also confirms
that Arlotto, seeking to put an end to the disturbance and
scandal provoked in the Order by Olivi’s writings, again
took up the process that Bonagratia had instigated against
Arlotto sent him to Paris, to explain himself before the
Minister General. However, he died in 1286, after he had
been in office for about a year, and once again the issue
remained unresolved15. Angelo Clareno, in his chronicle,
confirms the description of the Chronica XXIV Generalium,
giving some additional details about what took place in
After the election of Minister General Matthew of 161

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Acquasparta, at the Montpellier Chapter in May 1287,
Olivi’s adversaries once again rose up against him, but, this
time they did not find an easy field to put their schemes
into practice. Matthew of Acquasparta was an eminent
theologian, who knew the background to the debate that
existed between the Community and the Spirituals, and
could discern the issues of the doctrine raised against
Olivi’s writings. This explains his impartial judgment in the
debate that raged within the Order during that period. The
Minister General ended up declaring Olivi innocent and
exempting him of any doctrinal error.
In his defence of Olivi, Ubertino of Casale stated that
the Minister General, besides defending the orthodoxy of
his writings, had appointed him as a lector of theology at
the studium generale of Florence. Later, he would be given
the chair in theology, at the appointment of the Minister
General Raymond Gaufredi, in Montpellier17.
Despite the pressure exerted on Olivi and his disciples,
his enemies ended up achieving very little. On the election
of Raymond Gaufredi as Minister General, the Spirituals
found support for their positions, against the hostilities of
the Community. However, we know that in reality, those
few years under the leadership of Raymond Gaufredi
represented a period of truce that would not last long, and
the struggle between the factions of the Order would soon
break out again.
The abuses against the Spirituals continued, and the
resolutions of the provincial and general Chapters of
those years show the attempts that were made to combat
these extravagances. The greater the abuses, the more
the controversies between the factions raged, leading to
the intervention of the popes themselves. In 1290, Pope
Nicholas IV, concerned about the debate that was now rife
in Provence, approached the minister general to have the
guilty parties punished18. At the Minister’s order, an inquest
was set up, headed by Bertrand of Sigottier, inquisitor of
Venaissin County, in order to add his conclusions at the
following General Chapter.
On May 25th 1292, the General Chapter convened in
Paris, at the request of King Philip the Fair, led by Minister

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General Raymond Gaufredi19. The issue of usus pauper,
which was at the heart of the debate raised by Olivi, was
examined in great detail during this Chapter. Olivi declared
that his writings contained “nothing that is contrary to
anything written in Pope Nicholas III’s declaration (Exiit
qui Seminat, of 1279)” and also that “if by chance some error
is found in his writings, he would be willing to own it” 20.
Once again Olivi had defeated his opponents and remained
faithful to his convictions, without breaking away from
the Catholic Church. According to Ubertino of Casale,
after the Paris Chapter the friars were given permission to
freely use Peter Olivi’s writings21, until Minister General
John of Murrovalle ordered them to be gathered in again22.
Many other extreme manifestations emerged among Peter
Olivi’s disciples that actually bordered on heresy, leading
the Minister General Raymond Gaufredi himself to punish
such deviations through violent means23.
However, the protective attitude of Raymond Gaufredi
towards the Spirituals is undeniable, both for those
in Provence and those in the March of Ancona. John
of Murrovalle, his successor, who took the side of the
Community, was unable to calm the flared tempers; in a
letter written by Peter Olivi to Conrad of Offida, on 14th
September 1295, we see an appeal to his friend to pacify the
passionate tempers of the Spirituals, “which lead them to
separate themselves from the Order and stray from the path
of duty and truth”24. He himself affirmed that he would
have nothing to do with the troublemakers who, with their
extravagances, were placing the Order in jeopardy, as though
foreseeing the storm that would be unleashed immediately
after his death.
In addition to this letter there is another, dated 18th May
1295, addressed to the sons of King Charles II, of Naples,
– Charles Martel, Louis, Robert and Raymond Berenger –,
who were in captivity. This letter, published by Ehrle in
Archiv25, shows the spiritual influence Olivi exerted over the
young princes who, while in captivity, showed a willingness
to see him and listen to him. It seems that the Minister
General did not, on principle, oppose this journey, which
demonstrates that Olivi still enjoyed the trust of the Order
and its directors. 163

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He spent the final years of his life in a convent in
Narbonne, where he was revered by the clergy and by the
people26. He died on 14th March, 1298, and on the day
of his death, he left a profession of faith, published by
Wadding, in which he affirmed the doctrines he had taught
during his lifetime27. Olivi declared that the abdication
of all temporal goods and the usus pauper are the essence
of the evangelical life, understanding usus paper as being
closer to poverty than to abundance28. Olivi maintained
that it was an unpardonable mortal sin to defend the
transgressions of poverty and the abuses committed against
the Rule, and to oblige the friars to carry out this practice
and persecute those who wished to observe the Rule in all
its poverty29. Thirdly, he stated the widespread relaxation
of the Rule throughout the Order was a sin much more
serious than leading some individuals to insubordination,
because when evil becomes so widespread, it is difficult
to cure. Furthermore, due to the scandals they produce,
public transgressions are always more serious than secret
ones30. In fourth place, extravagance and sumptuousness
in buildings are dangerous for those who introduce them
and force them on others. They tend to destroy poverty,
and their consequences are lasting31. In fifth place, Olivi
maintained that entering a legal dispute over funerals or
legacies, even in the case of an act intermediated by friends
of the Spirituals who, to avoid scandal, are acting on the
friars’ behalf, should be considered a culpable pretence and
a disguised violation of the Rule32. He called it madness, an
error, blasphemy against the Rule, to claim it is permitted
to have luxurious habits, ride on horseback, wear shoes and
live in freedom and comfort as though they were regular
Seventh, it is an aversion for a friar minor to aspire to
secular tombs in their churches or accept perpetual bonds.
And, lastly those religious men elevated to the bishopric, or
higher ranks in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, should continue
to observe the Rule as long as their situation so permits34.
After this affirmation of principles regarding absolute
poverty and observance of the Franciscan Rule, he resumes
his profession of faith in terms that, in our view, prepare
164 the way for the antipapal concepts of William of Ockham,

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but without in any way detracting from the integrity of
his faith in the Christian religion35.2It is a text constructed
with courage and great significance; it is basically a faithful
portrait of the position that Olivi took throughout his life.
For this reason I transcribe it here in full:

I declare before God and in your presence that I do

not consider as an article of faith anything other than
what is contained in the Sacred Scriptures and what the
Catholic and Roman Church, where Boniface VIII is the
legitimate Pastor, teaches us. I have never considered the
opinion of a doctor as a point of faith, and I shall not
accept, until it is proven to me with solid reasons, that
this is the belief of the Roman Church. I consider it to
be a diabolical error to hold a personal opinion with the
same certainty that an act of faith deserves. I also confess
that I do not see myself obliged to believe in that what
the Pope, or the General Council, propose to me as an
article of faith, unless reason, the authority of the Sacred
Scriptures or that of the Catholic faith oblige me to believe
it. However, I do not wish to deny that one must respect
the opinion of the doctors, provided, of course, it does
not state anything against the faith. It is even useful to
have opposing opinions, provided they are not stubbornly
upheld. This enables the doctrine to be better studied, the
spirit to acquire more agility, and the mysteries of the faith
to be more easily clarified. However, I speak here of the
ideas themselves, which can serve to defend the faith or
clarify the revealed doctrine36.

After his death, Olivi’s writings were once again

condemned, in 1299, at the General Chapter of Lyon,
and burned as heretic37 by the Minister General John of
Murrovalle, as mentioned earlier.
In this period, many friars were incarcerated and cruelly
treated for being followers of Olivi or having his books
in their possession, as mentioned by Angelo Clareno and
Ubertino of Casale38.
During the generalship of Gonsalvus of Spain (1304-
1313), the instruction given in the previous period regarding
Olivi’s writings was repeated, as well as the guidance on the
usus pauper as the cornerstone of the Franciscan way of life
that the great thinker had praised so highly39.

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But after his death, Olivi became an object of personal
cult following, and his tomb became a centre of pilgrimage
and popular veneration by both secular and the believers.
Angelo Clareno himself, in a letter dated 3rd April 1313,
recalls that the clergy and the people celebrated a festival in
Narbonne, where they made a pilgrimage to Olivi’s tomb40.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that a group of Spirituals
and Beguins began to form around the myth created by
Olivi’s life and doctrine, which would take the Joachimite
ideals of the friar from Provence to popular and apocalyptic
extremes. Olivi, in his writings, probably did not disguise
certain critical attitudes in relation to the ecclesiastical
institution of his time41. If we can believe in the list of Olivi’s
heretical errors, published in the Directorium inquisitionis,
by Nicolas Eymerich, we will find the affirmation that in
Postilla or Lectura super Apocalypsim, he referred to the
Roman Church as meretrix magna42. Ubertino of Casale,
defending Olivi, denied such accusations43. But the fact
is that on his death, Olivi would not be the owner of his
ideas, rather they would be adopted by the Beghards, and a
large dose of idolatry attributed to him.
Even miracles were performed in his name, at the site of
his tomb, according to Beguin confessions made during the
inquisition carried out against them. One of the witnesses,
Sybilla Cazelle from Cignac, declared to the inquisitor Jean
Duprat in November 1325, when the processes against the
Beguins were at their peak, that she believed Peter of John
Olivi to be a Saint and that her daughter, gravely sick with
scrofula, when taken to the tomb, had obtained the Saint’s
favour and been entirely cured44. Another witness, John
Orlach, an inhabitant of Montpellier, had also taken his son
to Olivi’s tomb and on seeing him also cured, held a festive
banquet in honour of the friar from Provence 45. And there
are many more testimonies in the Collection Doat which
is a collection of the inquisitorial procedures of Provence,
housed at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. All the
witnesses believed in Olivi’s holiness and demonstrated
devotion to him, manifested by celebrations on the date of
his death and pilgrimages to his tomb46.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that with such fame,
166 he became the central figure around whom the Spiritual

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movement of Provence revolved47. At the same time, we
can understand the fight against the followers, promoted
by the Church and by the Community, which was no mean
struggle, even though Olivi had never thought of serving
as a “Saint” for the Beguins who began to worship him
after his death. The Beguin communities included both
religious and secular members, and we know there were a
lot of members of the Third Franciscan Order among them,
hence the Beguins even came to identify with this order.
In 1299, at the Council of Béziers, presided over by
Gilles Aycelin, Archbishop of Narbonne, we find resolutions
that refer to them as groups of followers of Olivi48. At the
Council of Treves, in April 1310, presided over by Baudoin,
Archbishop of Treves, we have other resolutions that
probably refer to Olivi’s followers in Provence49. According
to Bernardo Gui, the Beguins held apocalyptic ideas taken
from Olivi’s writings, such as the “revelations” given to
him by God in Narbonne50. Furthermore, they predicted
the coming of the Antichrist and according to Gui, spoke
of two Antichrists, whereby one would prepare the path
for the other, the first a symbolic or spiritual one, and the
second the real and principal one. The first would be the
Pope51. Following the same ideas, the moment would come
when those Spiritual men, called evangelists and in whose
name, and by whom, the Church would be established,
would preach to the twelve tribes of Israel and convert
twelve thousand men from each tribe, and this would be
the army marked by the Angel that carried the sign of the
living God, that is, St. Francis, carrier of the Stigmata of
Christ52. This would terminate after a long fight with the
carnal Church, until only a few elect Spiritual men were left
to convert the whole world to the Christian faith.
Everybody would be good and without sin, and all
assets would be of common use, charity prevailing among
men, who would form a single flock, united under a single
pastor53, until once again, in this state of things, which
would last for about a hundred years, malice would be
reemerge and charity would decrease, and Christ would be
forced to come to the day of Reckoning54.
It is hardly surprising then, that those who held this
view of the Pope and the Church suffered persecution. 167

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In short, the increasingly intense persecutions of the
Spirituals of Provence often assumed the form of shocking
cruelty, according to the same narratives of Angelo Clareno
and Ubertino of Casale. When they first began, in the time
of Raymond Gaufredi, they used Olivi’s theory of usus
pauper as a justification, but over time, all of his writings
would come to be considered pernicious and heretic55.
The situation reached such a peak that in 1309, King
Charles II of Naples wrote to the Minister General of the
Order, Gonsalvus of Spain, to prohibit the persecutions56.
We know that Charles II was under the influence of doctor
Arnold of Villanova, who had suggested this intervention
to the king. From the Minister General, the request reached
the Pope, resulting in the summons to representatives of
the two parties, i.e. the Community and the Spirituals, as
mentioned in the previous chapter57. It was not only the
action of Arnold of Villanova, but also the intervention of
the citizens of Narbonne that contributed to hastening the
Pope to summon the friars for this representation58. Besides
the representatives of the parties involved in the dispute,
Cardinal Giacomo de Colonna, friend and protector
of the Spirituals, also played an important role. Three
theologians were appointed to examine Olivi’s writings.
In order to provide a favourable working atmosphere,
the representatives of the factions were accommodated at
the large convent at Avignon, until spring 1312. Also, to
protect them from attacks and threats, Clement V, in a
court order dated 14th April 1310, published a statement
in the Spiritual’s favour, that “throughout the debates, they
will be exempt from the jurisdiction of their superiors, the
commission having the exclusive right to instigate legal
proceedings against the exempted friars, and in the event
that somebody threatened them, that person would suffer
the penalty of excommunication”59.
This was the only way the Spirituals could be guaranteed
peace and safety to defend their views. The first writing linked
to this period of controversy is a memorandum written by
Raymond Gaufredi, in favour of the Spirituals, the text of
which no longer exists today, except for the replies from his
adversaries, i.e. written by the Minister General and by the
168 four theologians, Vital of Four, Alexander of Alexandria,

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Friar Egidio and Friar Martin of Alnwick, and a second
reply, given by Raymond of Fronsac and Bonagratia of
Bergamo, in June 131160. Ubertino of Casale also wrote
a reply to the “four questions” raised by the commission,
dated around 1310, which Ehrle found in a version in the
library at the University of Basel61.
Where Raymond Gaufredi, in his memorandum,
replies that the Rule and the declaration of Pope Nicholas
III are substantially observed by the Order, but that the
paupertas is affected by extravagance in objects, books and
types of buildings used by the friars62, Ubertino of Casale is
much more incisive in his criticism. For him, the religious
practice exercised by the Community contradicts the Rule,
the constitutions, and the declaration of Nicholas III as
“poverty is the most elevated evangelic virtue instituted by
Christ and it is imposed upon us by the Rule”63. Ubertino
developed an elevated argumentation that demonstrates the
high level of the defender of the Spirituals. He stated that
the “paupertas is painful” and requires certain sacrifices for a
friar, represented by walking barefoot and by the restrictions
on clothing and food64. The testimonies brought forward by
Ubertino to reinforce his reasoning show the extraordinary
knowledge of the history of the Order and of the papal
texts, as well as the writings whose purpose is to explain
the Rule. Later, Ubertino wrote a justification of the
opinions issued in the replies given to the four questions,
known by the name the Rotulus, in which twenty-five
violations of the Franciscan Rule are pointed out, adding
yet another opusculum that shows around ten transgressions
of Nicholas III’s papal bull.
Rotulus was submitted to the approval of Raymond
Gaufredi and of Cardinal Giacomo Colonna, and was
refuted two years later by the Minister General Gonsalvus
of Spain. Parts of the Rotulus were published in the replies
given by Raymond of Fronsac and Bonagratia of Bergamo
and published by Ehrle in Archiv65. In Rotulus, Ubertino
points out the abuses of the Community, that: does not
make evangelical poverty compulsory; appropriates the
property of novices instead of distributing it to the poor; and
permits the use of garments other than what is prescribed
by the Rule; besides, they do not walk barefoot and they 169

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use horses to travel; they accumulate money and stock their
barns and cellars for long periods, discrediting pauperism.
He also accused them of the abuse of accepting fixed
annual incomes, and of the arbitrariness with which the
provincial ministers are appointed and removed by the
Minister General.
The extravagance and superficiality of the large convents,
with their gardens, richness of ornaments and sacred objects,
once again became a target of criticism, as according to
Ubertino, they were far beyond the luxury of the great
cathedrals and renowned monasteries, which was no more
than pure vanity hidden under a cloak of devotion. He also
accuses the friars of being sent, after their apprenticeship,
to study philosophy and other disciplines, distancing them
from humility and prayer by giving them a science that
was not founded on virtue. This is why misunderstandings
and contentions continued to be rife in many provinces,
and for the same reason, between the university magistri
and the lectores carnality and ambition were more apparent
than humility. It is hardly surprising that those Spiritual
friars condemned and separated themselves from those who
behaved in this way.
St. Francis saw academic studies differently, and prophe-
sied that the friars who followed this path would abandon
their vocation, i.e. the holy simplicity and the domina
paupertas66. In the writings of Ubertino and Raymond
Gaufredi, we see an effort to emphasize the observance
of the Rule, while the representatives of the Community
intensified their attacks on the writings and doctrine of Peter
Olivi. We can say that until the end of 1310 and beginning
of 1311, the Spiritual representatives were in a favourable
position and their defence would achieve positive results in
bringing about a reform of the Order. But on 1st March,
1311, almost a year after the publication of Clement V’s
decree that gave the Spirituals the privilege of exemption,
the Procurator of the Order, Raymond of Fronsac, and the
official lawyer of the Community, Bonagratia of Bergamo,
addressed the Pope and in the presence of the papal court,
protested against the papal bull of exemption67.
This attempt, on the part of the Community, to divert

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the Pope’s attention from the central question under
discussion, i.e. the reform of the Order, was done by making
Olivi’s writings the root of the problem. In the same text of
accusation, they point out ten errors of Olivi, according to
the accusers’ interpretation:
a) he stated that Christ was still alive when he received
the spear in the side;
b) he stated that the divine substance is just as much
engendering as engendered;
c) he declared that the sacrament of marriage was not a
sacrament in the same sense as the others;
d) he raised doubts as to whether baptism conferred
grace and virtue on children;
e) he denied that the rational soul (anima rationalis) was
the forma corporis;
f ) he placed in doubt the character indelebilis of the
g) according to his doctrine, the usus pauper was an
absolute duty for all friars minor, even bishops;
h) he stated that burying the dead was not an act of
mercy but rather a case of necessity;
i) he wrote and taught many other errors contrary to the
faith and the customs;
j) according to Olivi, the Roman Church was the Great
Harlot and a new Tower of Babylon68.
Finally, the protest made to Clement V, besides seeking to
have the privilege of exemption given to the representatives
of the Spirituals annulled, also demanded approval of
condemnation by the superiors of the Order against Olivi’s
writings, according to the sentence previously written,
during the generalship of John of Murrovalle.
It seems this protest did not bring effective results, as
Raymond of Fronsac and Bonagratia of Bergamo renewed
it on 4th July 1311, at the Franciscan convent of Avignon, in
the presence of the chamberlain of the Cardinal Protector,
John of Murrovalle69. This time, Clement V considered
the protest, as he decided to submit Olivi’s doctrines for
inspection by a commission delegated for this purpose, 171

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comprised of three masters of theology who did not belong
to Order: Guillaume Pierre Godin (Petri), a Dominican
friar and master of the Papal Palace; Gerard of Bologna,
Prior General of the Carmelites and Arnold, of the Hermits
of Saint Augustine70. This resolution given by Pope gave
added impetus to the representatives of the Community,
who seized this opportunity to attack the Spirituals with
new fervour71. In October 1311, the Ecumenical Council
was summoned and, on the 16th of that month, the first
session took place. Meanwhile, the dispute had reached
its peak, strengthened by the presence, in the council, of
fourteen friars minor, who had been summoned by the
Pope to take part in the council meetings.
Ubertino of Casale responded to these new attacks, with
the support of Angelo Clareno, who had been in Italy since
returning from the East in 1307.
On the advice of Archbishop Isnard of Thebes, now
pontifical vicar in Rome, Angelo Clareno intended to
address the Pope and obtain authorisation to live apart from
the Order. With this intention, therefore, he followed the
papal court to Avignon and then to Vienne, where he stayed
during the council, at the residence of Cardinal Giacomo
Colonna. Through correspondence maintained with his
disciples and followers, we get an idea of what was going
on with his followers, who were divided into three groups:
in Rome, in the March of Ancona and in the kingdom in
general72. Angelo Clareno was in Avignon from 1311 to
1318, as part of his correspondence dates from this period,
and was published by Ehrle in Archiv73. Of the replies given
by Ubertino to the last attacks of the Community, we have
three texts, among them a treatise, Sanctitati Apostolicae,
in which he contests the protests of 1st to 4th July of the
representatives of the Community and delivered a magistral
apologia of Peter Olivi, probably written at the end of 1311
or beginning of 131274.
After defining that the intention of the text was to respond
to the accusations and the slander from the representatives
of the Community against Peter of John Olivi and the
Spirituals, and confirming that all the relaxi intended to
continue without the Order being reformed, Ubertino
172 defended Olivi’s doctrine, claiming that it was orthodox

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and perfectly faithful to the Roman Church. According
to Ubertino, the principal cause of the attacks against
Olivi’s writings was that they highlighted the transgressions
against the Rule committed by the relaxi 75. In the apology,
Ubertino describes the torments and misfortunes of the
friars who were faithful to the Rule and to absolute poverty.
He contradicts those who said that Peter Olivi’s doctrine
was condemned by Nicholas IV or by another Pope, just
as his accusers wanted76. And if this doctrine of Peter Olivi
doctrine were wrong or heretical, Ubertino affirms that he
would never have defended it77. At the end of the apology,
he repeats that his intention, and that of his party, is to
observe the Rule, and it is this permission that they expect
to receive from the Pope and the cardinals76.
Among the ten accusations brought up against Olivi and
refuted by Ubertino, three were the object of discussion at
the Council of Vienne, in which the apologist says that:
a) Olivi did not state or write that Christ was alive at the
moment he was pierced by the spear; he actually confirmed
the opposite as being the most certain and safest opinion;
even having discussed the text in question (John 19:33), he
did this to examine whether he was in agreement with the
opinion of those who claimed Christ was still alive at the
moment he was pierced by the spear79;
b) concerning the baptism of children, Olivi taught, like
the Catholic Church, that the strength of baptismal grace
purifies them of original sin and makes them sons of God,
born again in Christ and worthy of eternal life80;
c) Olivi never denied that the anima rationalis was the
forma corporis; if he did so at the beginning, speaking of
the sensitive part of the soul, it was no more than pure
philosophical opinion, which does not incriminate a
Catholic and is not considered an error of faith81. Just as
Ubertino of Casale refuted the accusations connected with
the dogmas of the Catholic Church, the others were also
defended in favour of Olivi, in his apology.
The Council of Vienne, in its last session, declared, sacro
approbante concilio, that:
a) in his account of the Passion of Christ, St. John says

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that the Christ was pierced with the spear after his death,
and he therefore follows the historical order of facts;
b) the affirmation that the substance of anima rationalis
or intellectiva is not vere (et essentialiter) et per se a forma
humani corporis is erroneous and contrary to the Catholic
c) the opinion of the theologians, that baptism not only
cleanses children from original sin, but also confers on them
purity and grace, is the most correct one82.
The same Council of Vienne makes reference, in its
canons, to the Beguins of Germany and prohibits them
from continuing in this lifestyle. Decree 28 enumerates the
errors of the Beguins, and the inquisitors are called to act
against them83.
The important point is that the decree Fidei Catholicae
Fundamentum (with canon 28) does not condemn Olivi as
a heretic; it merely reiterates the doctrine of the Church on
the three points listed above.
For the representatives of the Community, who sought to
condemn Olivi and his writings, the results of the Council
were not at all favourable in this sense.
Nevertheless, the final result of the entire period of the
debate between the Community and the Spirituals is the
papal bull Exivi de Paradiso, approved in the third and final
session of the Council of Vienne, on 6th May 1312, which
represents a work of reconciliation between warring factions
and is the fruit of Clement V’s political wisdom84.
According to the text of the papal bull, we feel that the
Pope was influenced by the criticisms raised of by Ubertino
of Casale in his writings, in which the transgressions
against the Rule and absolute poverty are painted in bright
The papal bull repeats these transgressions in detail, and
condemns them. However, not all Ubertino’s criticisms
shaped the pope’s opinion; in some issues, the papal opinion
diverges from that of the Spiritual leader, as in the examples
of the friars’ storehouses and garments. Also regarding the
interpretation of the usus pauper, Clement V, leaned more
towards the opinion of the Community addressing the

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issue of observance of all the evangelical councils, which, in
the Spirituals’ view, are immanent to the friars who abide
by the Rule and have to obey it. But, according to the papal
bull (and here it takes the position of the Conventuals), the
friars were not obliged to follow all evangelical advice, but
only what was expressed in the Rule85.
As for the usus pauper itself, Clement V defines it in the
same way as the Spirituals do, as being the essence of the
vow of poverty. But not all aspects of the Rule are equally
binding (sub mortali peccato).
In other words:
a) a friar may not have more than one tunic with a hood
and one without a hood;
b) he must not wear sandals or ride a horse, except in
cases of necessity;
c) novices are not obliged to donate part of their assets
to the Order, and caution must be exercised when accepting
such assets, even when donated freely;
d) clothing is to be poor. The guardians will indicate the
price at each location, as it is misleading to give the same
guidance to all the provinces. If necessary, the superiors are
given the right to determine cases in which a friar may use
e) no friar may receive money, either directly or through
intermediaries, and it is prohibited to have bowls in churches
for receiving monetary offerings;
f ) the Order may not own anything, and whatever is
donated to it does not belong to the Order, but to the
Roman Church and to its popes. Friars have only the right
of use. Many convents have infringed this rule to this date;
but from that time on, no member, or even the Order itself,
could institute heirs to anything at all (since inheritance is a
recognition of the right to property);
g) neither the Order, nor the convents shall undertake
proceedings, they shall not own vineyards, nor shall they
sell vegetables from their vegetable gardens or stock up
provisions, and so they will not avoid the obligation of
begging. Rich churches and sumptuous ornaments are also
prohibited; 175

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h) the controversy on the question of knowing whether
the friars minor are authorised only ad usum tenuem et
pauperem or ad usum moderatum of assets in their names is
decided by the usus pauper seu arctus;
i) the election of the provincial ministers shall be the
responsibility of the provincial Chapters, with the right of
confirmation being reserved for the Minister General.
But on other points of the debate, the Pope moves away
from the requirements of the Spirituals, such as the right
to separate themselves from the Community, on which
subject the bull does not give any position. Considering
the ambiguous and apparently satisfactory position of the
Exivi de Paradiso, many authors disagree as to which side
the bull leaned on in relation to the two factions of the
Order. P. Gratien, contrary to the opinion expressed by
René of Nantes, believes the bull favoured the position of
the Community over the Spiritual ideas86.
Ehrle stated that the Pope gave the Spirituals the bull
Exivi de Paradiso and satisfied the Community, giving them
the decree Fidei Catholicae Fundamentum87. We know the
Spirituals aspired, in that period, to form their own Order,
in which they could live fully, under the rigour of the
original Rule of St. Francis, but the Pope could not satisfy
the Spirituals on this point, which theoretically threatened
the existence of the Order, now more dear than ever to the
Church and to the Papacy.
We can also suppose that the Spirituals, after this
prolonged period of dispute, were equally apprehensive
about subordinating themselves again to the Conventual or
Community superiors. Perhaps they feared the heavy hand
of vengeance and built-up resentment, and the extreme
punishments that had been meted out to them in the not
so distant past. The pope, in fact, used a ruse to prevent
such a situation. He asked for sixteen highly regarded
representatives from the Conventuals of Provence to come,
and in a public consistory, reprimanded them harshly,
stripping them of their positions and demanding that they
be replaced by more conciliatory, moderate friars, who were
obliged to act with benevolence towards the Spirituals88.
Bonagratia of Bergamo was deposed some days later and

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condemned to spend the rest of his days in the convent at
Valcabrére, near Saint-Gaudens.
On 21st May, 1313, writing to the friars assembled
at the Chapter at the convent in Barcelona, the pope
recommended observance of the Exivi de Paradiso and asked
them to select, as successor to Gonsalvus of Spain who had
passed away; someone who was wise, prudent and devoted
to the interests of the Order and the friars89.
On the same occasion, the new minister general of
the Order, Alexander of Alexandria, indicated three
convents to the Spirituals of Provence where they could
live in subordination to conciliatory superiors – the one in
Narbonne, the one in Béziers and the one in Carcassone.
Thus, Clement V ordered the Spirituals to reintegrate
peacefully in their convents, in obedience to the superiors
of the Order. Not all of them respected the papal order
and some, who refused to submit, were excommunicated90.
But the excommunication no longer had any effect on these
friars, who no longer harboured hopes of accomplishing
their ideals of reform within the Order.


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1. F. Ehrle, “Petrus Johannis Olivi, sein Leben und seine Schriften”,

in ALKG, T. III, p. 410. The name Olivi derived from the Provincial form
Olieu, according to Thomas A., “Le vrai nom du frère mineur Petrus
Johannis Olivi”, in Annales du Midi, 1913, pp. 68-69.
2. Bartolomeu de Pisa, Liber de Conformitate, p. 318. P. V. Doucet, “De
operibus manuscriptis fr. Petri Ioannis Olivi, in Bibliotheca Universitatis
Patavinae Asservatis”, in AFH, 28, 1935, pp. 156-197, compiles a
bibliography of Olivi’s writings, some of which are still unpublished.
3. “Hist. Trib. Ord. Min.”, in ALKG, T. II, p. 288.
4. Idem, ibidem.
5. Idem, p. 289.
6. F. Ehrle, “Olivis Leben...”, in ALKG, T. III, p. 414, which mentions
the fact that Olivi was accused of writing that “the sacrament of marriage
does not lead to any grace”.
7. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. III, p. 13. Also cited in René of Nantes, op. cit., p. 277.
8. F. Ehrle, “Olivis Leben...”, in ALKG, T. III, p. 416.
9. Idem, p. 416-417: “...que VII sigillorum fuit dicta.”
10. ALKG, T. III, p. 418-421 and Chronica XXIV Generalium, p. 376.
11. Idem, p. 419.
12. F. Ehrle, “Olivis Leben...”, in ALKG, T. III, p. 428.
13. Idem, ibid, and on p. 14 of the same volume, in which the erudite
Ehrle publishes the contents of a collection of writings compiled by
Raymond of Fronsac (Actensammlung).
14. F. Ehrle, op. cit., in ALKG, T. III, p. 429.
15. Idem, p. 430.
16. “Hist. Trib. Ord. Min.”, in ALKG, T. II, pp. 295-296. P. V. Doucet,
OFM, “Tria scripta sui ipsius apologetica, annorum 1283 et 1285”, in AFH,
28, 1935, p. 17. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in
ALKG, T. II, p. 389.
18. F. Ehrle, “Olivis Leben...”, T. III, pp. 432-434. Wadding, Annales
Minorum, ann. 1290, XI.
19. Idem, p. 433. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 704. Orbis
Seraphici, T. III, p. 18.
20. Ubertino of Casale, defending Olivi, in Ehrle, Zur Vorgeschichte
des Concils von Vienne, T. II, p. 389 and T. III, p. 434, states that in the
letters sent by Nicholas IV to the minister general, there is no testimony
against Olivi. The opposite is found in the collection of the Minutes of the
Procurator of the Order, published by Ehrle, Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils
von Vienne, in ALKG, T. III, p. 14. Wadding, Annales Minorum, ann.
1292, no. XIII, gives a text of Peter Olivi’s declaration at the Paris Chapter.
In a historical note by Oliger, P. Livarius, OFM, “Descriptio Codicis
Capistranensis continentis aliquot opuscula fr. Petri Iohannis Olivi”, in
AFH, 1908,1, pp. 607-622, there is the description of a manuscript on a
treatise on the usus pauper by Olivi.
21. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. III, p. 191.
22. Idem, p. 157-127: “Responsio quam fecit Petrus Ioannis ad litteram
magistrorum presentatam sibi in Avinione”. These writings reveal Olivi’s
orthodox positions in relation to the points raised by his accusers.

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23. Wadding, ann. 1292, n. XIII. Raymond Gaufredi, as we saw in the
previous chapter, would become the protector of the persecuted among
the followers of Angelo Clareno and Peter Macerata, in the province of
Ancona, and he would take a stand against the torture and punishment
inflicted against the Spirituals in that region. And in view of this, the
Procurator of the Order, Raymond of Fronsac, would throw in his face the
accusation that it was under his generalship that punishments imposed on
the Spirituals were introduced, according to F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte
des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG, T. III, p. 158.
24. The letter was published in Historisches Jahrbuch des Görresverein,
III (1882), pp. 648-659; in a study by Jeiler Ign., O. S. Franc., Ein unedirter
Brief des P. Olivi. Also Livarius Oliger, O. F. M., “Petri Iohannis Olivi de
renuntiatione papae Coelestini V, Quaestio et Epistola”, in AFH., 11,
1918, pp. 309-373. René de Nantes gives a summary in his work, cited
earlier, p. 304. The same letter has been cited in a marvellous summary
by David E. Flood, O. F. M., “Petrus Johannis Olivi, Ein neues Bild des
angeblichen Spiritualen führers”, in Wissenschaft und Weisheit (Zeitschrift für
Augustinisch-Fraziskanische Theologie und Philosophie in der Gegenwart), 34,
1971, pp. 130-141, as a testimony that agrees with the author’s concept,
and largely denies the traditional position of Franciscan historiography
regarding the Spirituals and the relationship between them and Peter Olivi.
For David Flood, whose specialised studies on Olivi provide an up-to-date
contribution on his personality and his works and the role he played in the
Franciscan Order, Olivi had little to do with the Spirituals. His position
on Olivi and the Spirituals can be summed up by the phrase the author
used in another work, “A Study in Joachimism”, in Collectanea Franciscan,
41, 1971, pp. 131-140, in which he says, on p. 139: “Whatever the
cultural components which entered into Olivi’s use of the Word spiritual, it
designated a quality of life and not a party in revolt (g. n.)”. With this, David
Flood left it clear that up to the 13th century, the so-called Spirituals did not
exist as such, i.e. as a party (or faction), and that in his understanding, they
did not emerged in this form until the 14th century.
25. F. Ehrle, “Olivis Leben...”, in ALKG, T. III, pp. 534-540.
26. F. Ehrle, “Olivis Leben...”, in ALKG, T. III, p. 441.
27. Wadding, ann. 1297, no. XXXIII, pp. 378-379.
28. Idem, p. 378. On the debate regarding the usus pauper see David
Burr, “Olivi e la povertà francescana. Le origine della controversia sull’ “usu
paupere” , Edizioni Biblioteca Francescana, Milan, 1992;
29. Idem, ibidem.
30. Idem, ibidem.
31. Idem, ibidem.
32. Idem, ibidem.
33. Idem, ibidem.
34. Idem, ibidem.
35. It seems to me that for a long time, this aspect of Olivi’s thoughts
was not given due attention among academics, bearing in mind that it
could go some way to helping us understand his position in relation to
the Spirituals and the Church. In the important work of Servus Gieben,
O. F. M, Cap., Bibliografia Oliviana (1885-1967), extratum ex Collectanea
Franciscan, 38, 1968, pp. 167-195, Rome, 1968, we are not told of any
author who deals specifically with this aspect in Olivi. In the classic works
of G. de Lagarde, La naissance de l’esprit laïque au déclin du Moyen Age,
Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1948 (3 vols.) there is also no
mention of Olivi as a possible thinker with ideas as advanced as an author
like Ockham. More recently, studies on Ockham associated with Olivi’s
thinking have begun to address this aspect, such as the interesting article
by Luca Parisioli, La contribution de l’École franciscaine à la naissance de la

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notion de liberté politique: les données préalables chez Pierre de Jean Olivi, in
Pierre de Jean Olivi (1248-1298), Pensée scolastique, dissidence spirituelle
et societé, ed. Alain Boureau et Sylvain Piron, (Actes du colloque de
Narbonne, Mars 1998), Lib. Philosophique J. Vrin, Paris, 1999, pp. 251-
263, which takes the premise that the subjective right was developed by
the Franciscan school as a consequence of a voluntarist philosophy and the
debates concerning the evangelical poverty.
36. Wadding, L. ann. 1297, no. XXXIV.
37. The Catholic Encyclopaedia, ed. 1911, verbete “Olivi’ (Petrus
Johannis), written by Livarius Oliger.
38. “Hist. Trib. Ord. Min.”, in ALKG, T. II, p. 300; F. Ehrle, Zur
Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne, T. II, p. 386.
39. F. Ehrle, “Olivis Leben...”, in ALKG, T. III, p. 514 and 517,
mentions a treatise in which Olivi wrote about the usus pauper, and the
concept was also discussed in several of Olivi’s writings, a list of which we
find in the work of Ehrle, op. cit., in the part by Olivis Schriften, pp. 514-
40. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen...”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 544. Ver Manselli,
Spirituali and Beghini in Provenza, p. 25.
41. Ernest Benz, Ecclesia Spiritualis (Kirchenidee und Geschichtstheologie
der Franziskanischen Reformation), Stuttgart, 1934, p. 311; Ph. Limborch,
Historia Inquisitionis, ed. H. Westenium, Amstelodami, 1692, p. 68.
42. Wadding, ann. 1299, no. XL.
43. Wadding, ann. 1297, n. LI, says that some, like Eymerich,
condemned Olivi, others defended and praised him.
44. Collection Doat, XXVII, f. 18r., Testimony of Sibilla Cazelle, de
Cignac, Nov. 1325, apud Manselli, op. cit., p. 37.
45. Collection Doat, XXVII, f. 25r, testimony of Johan Orlach, of
Montpellier, in the year 1325-1326, apud Raoul Manselli, op. cit., p. 37.
46. Collection Doat, XXVIII, f. 194, see testimonies of Amada, wife of
Durando Orlach, Dec. 1325. Collection Doat, XXVII, f. 13, see testimony
of Pedro Massot, Nov. 1325, apud Manselli, op. cit., p. 38. See Jean-Louis
Biget, Culte et rayonnement de Pierre Déjean Olieu en Languedoc au début
du XIVe siècle, in Pierre de Jean Olivi (1248-1298), Pensée scolastique,
dissidence spirituelle et société, ed. Ain Boureau et Sylvain Piron, Lib.
Philosophique J. Vrin, Paris, 1999, pp. 277-308.
47. This is what R. Manselli says, op. cit., p. 39.
48. Hefele-Leclercq, T. VI, 1ère partie, p. 459.
50. Bernardo Guidonis, Practica Inquisitionis, p. 150.
51. Idem, p. 148.
52. Idem, ibidem.
53. Idem, pp. 150-152.
54. Idem, p. 152.
55. The list of Olivi’s writings can be found published in F. Ehrle,
“Olivis Leben...”, in ALKG, T. III, pp. 459-552 and also in P. Glorieux,
Répertoire des maîtres en théologie de Paris au XIIIe siècle, Lib. Philos. J. Vrin,
Paris, 1933, 2 vols., pp. 127-134. Olivi’s book that served as a “Bible” for
the Spirituals and Beguins, ‘Lectura super Apocalipsim’, was the subject
of a special study by R. Manselli, La “Lectura super Apocalipsim”, di Pietro
di Giovanni Olivi. Ricerche sull” escatologismo medioevale, Instituto Storico
Italiano per il Medioevo, Rome, 1956.
56. At the end of 1309 and beginning of 1310, Gonsalvus of Spain
published a circular addressed to the provincial ministers, as part of the
preparations for the Chapter to be held in Pádua, at Pentecost, in 1310.
This letter was published in the “Chronica of Nicolau Glassberger”, in

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Analecta Franciscana, T. II, 1887, p. 117 and also in Wadding, Annales,
ann. 1310, no. I-II, and in it, the Minister General of the Order makes
serious observations on the abuses that subverted the foundations of the
Franciscan religious life.
57. The representatives of the Spirituals were: Raymond Gaufredi,
former Minister General of the Order, Raymond of Gignac, Provincial
Minister Aragon, Ubertino of Casale, William of Cornillon (Cornelione),
Custodian of Arles, Gui of Mirepoix (Levis), Bartolomeo Sicard (Sicardi),
William of Agantic (Agantico), lector in Béziers, Peter Raimundo of
Cornillon (Cornelione) and Peter of Male-Dieu (Malodie), lecturers. Those
representing the Community were the Minister General of the Order,
Gonsalvus of Spain, Alexander of Alexandria (later Minister General of the
Order), Vidal du Four (Vitalis da Furno), Raymond of Fronsac, Procurator
General, Bonagratia of Bergamo, Friar Egidio, Provincial Minister of Paris,
and Martin Alnwick. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. IV pp. 30-
58. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. IV, p. 30.
59. Wadding, ann. 1310, no. III, the bull Dudum ad Apostolatus; R. de
Nantes, op. cit., p. 326; F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. IV, p. 32.
60. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. III, pp. 19, 138 and 141-160, which contains the text of the reply.
61. The text is published in F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils
von Vienne”, in ALKG, T. III, pp. 51-89 under the title Responsio
sanctissimo patri domino nostro domino Clementi divina providentia pape
quinto tradenda.
62. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. III, p. 142.
63. Idem, p. 52.
64. Idem, p. 56. Later on, he brings the testimony of Hugh of Digne,
among others, on the paupertas, p. 58.
65. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 444; Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils
von Vienne”, in ALKG, T. III, pp. 90-93; the fragments are published
on pp. 95-130. Part of the Rotulus was also published by A. Chiappini,
“Communitatis Responsio ‘Religiosi Viri’ ad Rotulum Ubertini de Casali”,
in AFH, 1914,7, pp. 654-675; 1915, 8, pp. 56-79.
66. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. III, pp. 118-119.
67. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. II, pp. 365-374, in which the text “Anklageschrift der Communität
gegen die Spiritualen und in besondern gegen fr. Petrus Johannis Olivi
(vom. 1 Marz 1311)” is published.
68. Idem, pp. 368-370. Hefele-Leclercq, op. cit., T. VI, 2ème partie.,
pp. 668-669.
69. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne’‘, in ALKG,
T. II, p. 364.
70. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 455.
71. Repertory of R. de Fronsac, in F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des
Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG, T. III, pp. 20-21, which cites a series
of writings presented to the theologians by the representatives of the
Community, which include a refutation to Raymond Gaufredi’s reply to
the four questions, a replica of the Rotulus of Ubertino of Casale and the
treatise Circa materiam, on the usus pauper. And it is necessary to add to all
these writings a request to keep the Spirituals under the jurisdiction of the
superiors of the Order.
72. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 638.
73. Idem, p. 537.

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74. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. II, pp. 327-416. The other treatise that addresses the question of usus
pauper is the “Super Tribus Sceleribus”, published by A. Heysse, O. F. M.,
in AFH, 1917, 10, pp. 123-174. He also wrote a declaration mentioning
his accusations in relation to the decadence of the Order, published by
Ehrle, in ALKG, T. III, pp. 162-195. Cf. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 465.
75. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. II, p. 384.
76. Idem, p. 389.
77. Idem, p. 413.
78. Idem, p. 416.
79. Idem, p. 402.
80. Idem, p. 395.
81. Idem, p. 396.
82. Hefele-Leclercq, op. cit., T. VI, 2nd part., p. 670; Conciliorum
Oecummenicorum Decreta, pp. 336-337.
83. Idem, p. 682; Conciliorum Oecummenicorum Decreta, p. 359.
84. Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, p. 705. See “Chronica of
Glassberger”, in Analecta Franciscana, T. II, p. 119.
85. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 473.
86. P. Gratien, op. cit., p. 474.
87. F. Ehrle, “Olivis Leben...,” in ALKG, T. III, p. 448; cf. R. de Nantes,
op. cit., p. 336. A “Exivi de Paradiso” deals specifically with disciplinary
issues, while the “Fidei Catholicae Fundamentum” deals with dogmatic
88. Hefele-Leclercq, op. cit., T. VI, 2ème partie, pp. 702-703; cf. F. Ehrle,
“Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. II, p. 160.
89. R. de Nantes, op. cit., p. 383, note 2.
90. Hefele-Leclercq, op. cit., p. 703. Cf. “Chronica of Glassberger”, in
Analecta Franciscana, T. II, p. 119.


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VII. Pope John XXII and the Spirituals

Following the publication of the bull Exivi de Paradiso,

the Spirituals of Tuscany continued to stir up the convents
of the Order, not satisfied with Clement V’s refusal to allow
them to form a separate division of the Order, part of which
was faithful to the spirit and the Rule of the founding Saint.
In a letter dated 3rd July 1313, the Pope ordered some
clergymen to take action against them. On 15th February
1314, the person entrusted with this task, Bernard, prior
of the church of Saint Fidelis of Siena, ordered thirty-four
Spirituals from that province to submit immediately to the
Pope’s orders1.
Refusing to accept these orders, they moved to Sicily,
fearing persecution and punishment by the Inquisition.
There, they were protected by King Frederick and some
leaders who admired their religious zeal and exemplary
Pope Clement V, who had sought to treat the Spirituals
justly, and calm the conflicts within the Franciscan Order,
died on 20th August 1314. His death left an empty space
in Avignon, and the papal throne remained vacant for just
over two years. Meanwhile, a change took place that was
not at all favourable for the Spirituals and their cause. Ehrle
published a letter by Angelo Clareno, who was living in the
Curia at that time, a guest of his friend Cardinal Jacques of
Colonna, informing his disciples of the Pope’s death and
asking God to give the Church a good and holy Pastor,
“who would follow the ways of Christ in word and deed3.
Little did Clareno know that the Spirituals’ fate, at the
hands of the future Pope, would be even more bitter than
it had been thus far. On 5th October 1314, shortly after the

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death of Clement V, the Minister General of the Order,
Alexander of Alexandria, also died.
The situation had now become critical; the Order was
leaderless, like the Holy See itself. Under these circumstances,
the Conventuals found an open field to resume their
previous positions at the Chapter of Carcassone, in 1315,
where they managed to have their representatives appointed
to positions of leadership in the province4.
Although the Spirituals protested to the provincial
minister, he did nothing to stop the abuse, and as a result,
they refused to accept the resolutions of the Chapter of
Carcassone, in the name of the decrees of Clement V.
They also asked the Provincial Minister to appoint for
them devoted superiors, or to allow those who had been
appointed before the Chapter to continue.
But instead of having their requests granted they were
given, as custodian of Narbonne, William of Astre, a sworn
opponent of the Spirituals and an incorrigible transgressor
of the rule of absolute poverty5. This fact only provoked the
Spirituals to despair, leading them to take a bold initiative:
helped by the local bourgeois, they expelled the friars
identified as Conventuals from the convents of Narbonne
and Béziers; reinstated the superiors who had been divested
of their authority by the Chapter of Carcassone, and after
eliminating all traces of transgression of the evangelical
poverty, declared their intention to live according to their
interpretation of the religion of the founding Saint.
Aware of what had taken place in Narbonne and
Béziers, 120 friars from various places, desirous of living
this lifestyle, headed for the convents of those cities6. But
they were submitted to internal proceedings accused of
creating schisms, and threatened with excommunication
by the custodians of Narbonne and Montpellier if they
refused to obey the superiors appointed by the Chapter of
Carcassone. But the rebels did not bow to these threats,
and were excommunicated by the custodian of Narbonne,
William of Astre7. The radicalism of the Conventuals in
persecuting their opponents finally led to the intervention
of some cardinals who were favourable to the Spirituals,
demanding that the apostolic visitor, the Archbishop of Aix,

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annul the process initiated against them. A similar situation
occurred in the province of Aquitaine, where the Provincial
Minister Bertrand de Turre had made a similar accusation
against some friars under his jurisdiction8.
But the process that had led to these friars being
excommunicated, considered unjust by the Bishop of
Toulouse, was annulled, after an appeal made to the
Spirituals, recorded in the abovementioned Repertório of
Raymond of Fronsac9. As for the process against the friars
of Narbonne and Béziers, according to a document dated
3rd March 1316, cited by Manselli, three citizens Arnold
of Bagis and John Amelii, of Narbonne, and John Cellerii,
de Béziers, testified in favour of the Spirituals. On 27th
February 1316, Cardinal Jacques de Colonna intervened
before the proctor of Maguelonne, Raymond of Agone, who
was responsible for the process, and in a letter, in which he
openly defended the Spirituals, the Cardinal warned the
proctor not to bow to pressure and fall into error, blaming
innocent parties.
The Conventuals’ attempt to incriminate the Spirituals
was weakened immediately. Just before the chapter that was
supposed to take place in Naples, William of St. Amour
(Sancto Amancio), vicar of Narbonne, wrote a letter to
all the provincials and custodians who were gathered for
the election of the new Minister General10. In this letter,
William highlights the critical situation in Provence and
raises the possibility of a serious crisis that could occur if
a Minister General who were opposed to the guidelines of
Alexander of Alexandria were elected. After outlining the
events that had occurred during the pontificate of Clement
V, who had recognized the Spirituals, and the changes
that took place after his death, he mentions the process
by Bertrand de Turre, and its annulment by the Bishop of
Toulouse and the Archbishop of Aix, ending with a warning
that the representatives sent by the Province to the Chapter
were notorious oppressors of those who observed the Rule.
This letter was read aloud by William to all the friars, and
was entrusted to a messenger, Bernard Lombardi, to carry
to Naples. But the Chapter of Naples never received the
letter; the messenger was seized by the Community and
gravely wounded, according to a protest of the Spirituals 185

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against William of Astre and Bertrand de Turre, published
in the Archiv by Ehrle11.
In this defense, they declared that it was incorrect to
call them Spirituals, as they did not want any other name
except for the one given to them by St. Francis, i.e. friars
minor. The accusation that they had been punished was also
false, as they had always been treated with respect by Pope
Clement V, by other prelates, and by the minister genera.
The position assumed by the Community was contrary
to the doctrine; they amassed provisions of wine and food,
while the oldest ordinances prohibited them and ordered
that they be avoided like the plague. Also false was the
theory that the nuncii or intermediaries were allowed to
receive and use money in the name of the friars, and had
already been prescribed in various previous statements and
Other articles refer to the doctrine of Peter of John
Olivi, which sought to eliminate the falsehoods that the
Community had spread concerning the writings and ideas
of the leader from Provence. The sixth article of the defense
stated that it was false to affirm that in the books of Peter
Olivi, of blessed memory, errors were disseminated against
the foundations of the Catholic faith.
And it was false, said article seven, that what was
condemned in the bull Fidei Catholicae Fundamentum, at
the Council of Vienna meant that the doctrine of Olivi
had been totally condemned by all Catholicism. Article
22 reaffirmed the falsehood of the condemnation, by the
Pope or the cardinals, of any of the books or writings of
Olivi, or any such condemnation in a General Council.
The author of this work also declared the view to be false
that the Exivi de Paradiso made certain concessions to the
friars with regard to poverty. The document recalled that
the Pope did not expel the superiors who were hostile to the
Spirituals for motives of love and peace, as the Community
was fond of saying, but for the persecutions that they
inflicted on the zelanti. Furthermore, the accusation that
they were schismatics had no basis, as they always sought
to follow their superiors and the legal channels, which was
not the case with the Community; that on the occasion of

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the General Chapter, they sent a special messenger to report
the irregularities, but he was wounded and killed without
reaching his destination. Also false was the accusation that
the zelanti had expelled the custodian, Jacopo Ortolani of
the convent of Beziers, as he had acted in a cruel manner
towards the friars, and should therefore be imprisoned
according to the constitutions of the Order. And the friars
who occupied the convents of Narbonne and Beziers did
not do this arbitrarily; these convents, together with the
one at Carcassonne, had been designated to them by the
Minister General Alexander of Alexandria. Also false were
the lies spread by the Community that the Spiritual friars
defended heresies, as they believed, taught and preached
only what the sacrosanct Church, mother and master of
all the faithful, recommended. Thus, it was also false that
these friars preached, both orally and in writing, that
they would not subject themselves to the discipline and
obedience of any prelate, thereby going against the orders
of the apostolic See. Also false were the assertions that the
Spiritual friars condemned the life of the Order, and that
they taught against matrimony, the papal authority, the
Holy Trinity and the ecclesiastical sacraments. And if there
were some who preached against them, they should be
punished legally. Also false was the opinion divulged that
these friars despised the ecclesiastical authority, such that
they subjected themselves to the proctor of Megalonne and
the Archbishop of Aix, who had the process revoked and
annulled. Finally, the author of the defense concludes that
the judgment and condemnation of William of Astre was
unfounded, and that the accusation (by Bertrand de Turre),
that the friars of the convents of Narbonne and Beziers
were fugitives, was likewise false, as they had not been in
their convents for long.
The Community did not remain silent before this
defense of William of St. Amour and responded with
a libello acusatorio, which was once again rebutted in a
text written by the Spirituals. The purpose of this attack
by the Community was to oppose the doctrine of Peter
Olivi, who had been unjustly persecuted. Among the
accusations, they claimed that Peter Olivi had written that
St. Francisco would reemerge before the advent of Christ, 187

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thereby misquoting and distorting, with ill intent, the
provincial thinker’s carefully-measured words expressed in
his work Lectura super Apocalipsym. In the same libello, the
Community claimed that this erroneous, heretical doctrine
was adhered to by various dangerous sects, an argument
already refuted by the Spirituals, or rather, by the famous
defense of Ubertino of Casale in favour of Peter Olivi, years
earlier. And in the final part of the libello, the Community
claimed that the new superiors, which it had appointed to
replace those who had been favourable to the Spirituals,
were different from those that Clement V and Alexander
of Alexandria had removed from office, and therefore did
not justify the rebellion against them among the friars in
Beziers and Narbonne. This accusation was refuted by the
Spirituals, stating that they could not consider those who
sought to obtain justice before the Minister General, and
the Pope, as rebels. At this point, the Spirituals asked for
three things:
1) that the decision taken by Clement V concerning the
deposition of the leaders of Provence, who were hostile to
the Spirituals, be confirmed in a public consistory, and that
this confirmation be written in an epistle by Pope;
2) that they be allowed to observe the Rule, not according
to the judgment of the Community, but as ordered by the
Council of Vienna;
and 3) that the orthodoxy of the friars of Narbonne and
Beziers be publicly recognised.
The representatives of the Community, William of Astre
and Bonagratia of Bergamo, responded to the Spirituals, but
the decision now lay with the Pope that would be elected,
John XXII, who was consecrated in Lyon on 5th September
and transferred to Avignon on 14th October, where he soon
began to take an interest in the affairs of the Franciscan
At Pentecost, on 31st May 1316, under the protection
of King Robert and Queen Sancia, the General Chapter of
Naples gathered to elect the new Minister General of the
Order. Taking advantage of the occasion, the community
sent, as representatives of the province of Provence, two
friars who had been deposed previously by Clement V,

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the former Provincial Minister Giraudus Villette and the
custodian of Montpellier, Raymond Roverii, inciting the
Spirituals of the province to anger12. The Minister General
elected was Michael of Cesena, from the province of
Bologna, despite being absent from the Chapter. On
his election, he travelled to Assisi, where he sent to the
Provincial Ministers of the Order of the new constitutions
a circular entitled Gravi, qua premor sarcina, dated 11th
November 131613. In this circular, the new Minister
General emphasized the need for strict observance of the
Rule, specifically in relation to the garments and buildings,
reminding them of the prohibition on selling the produce
of orchards and farms, and prohibiting the friars from
riding on horseback, specifying that those who were unable
to walk by themselves should not be sent to the studia
generalia, and prohibiting the eating of meat, except in
Later, Michael of Cesena went to Avignon, where he
met with the main leaders of the Spirituals, promising that
he would put an end to their tribulations and giving them
Steven Alberti as Provincial Minister.
On 7th August 1316, Pope Jacques Duèze was elected,
taking the name of John XXII.
Raymond of Fronsac and Bonagratia of Bergamo
requested an audience with the Supreme Pontiff, on behalf
of the Minister General of the Order, in order to present
five requests:
a) to have the Fraticilli eliminated;
b) to bring back those who had fled to Sicily, so that
they could submit to discipline;
c) to punish Ubertino of Casale;
d) to eliminate and restrict the lawsuits in the Order;
and e) to stop confusing the Beguins with the Third
Order of Saint Francis, which were spreading heresies in
its name14.
At the end of 1317, the Pope invited the Spirituals to
an audience with him. Among them were Angelo Clareno,
Ubertino of Casale, William of St. Amour, Gaufredi de
Cornone and Philip de Canco.

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From a report given by Angelo Clareno, we learn that
this meeting of the representatives of the Spirituals and
John XXII concluded with the Pope being willing, from
that time, to tackle the issue full on. Ubertino of Casale
defended his party, as expected, with the due security and
skill of argumentation, but the Pope showed little willingness
to listen to him. In fact, this unwillingness is recorded in
Clareno’s text, which states that Ubertino, on offering to
defend the friars of Narbonne, his companions, and the
doctrine of Peter Olivi, received the following response
from the Pope: Nolumus, nolumus quod intromittatis
vos15. And Angelo Clareno, after being questioned by the
Pope, who would end up excommunicating him, replied
to John XXII: “Holy Father, you have heard well of the
slander that you were told about, but refuse to understand
the truth I am telling you”16. The rift probably occurred
at the Pope’s decision, so that he could then take action.
Angelo Clareno was immediately sent to prison, due to his
excommunication, but later, better informed about what
had happened previously, the Pope freed him conditionally
and asked him to rejoin the Franciscan Order, or any other
of the existing Orders17. Angelo Clareno narrates that he
replied to the Pope that he already belonged to an Order,
that of the Celestinos, and that he preferred to follow the
same rule of St. Peter of Murrone (Celestino V), “who had
lived and died in the poverty of Christ”. According to the
Repertorium of Raymond of Fronsac, John XXII, on that
occasion, suppressed the Order of the Poor Hermits of
Angelo Clareno and Liberato18. The Historia Tribulationum
does not mention the fact, and neither does the Epistola
excusatoria, written when Angelo was in prison, therefore it
is a document that is directly linked to the event, or rather,
to the meeting of the representatives of the Spirituals with
the Pope, written to clarify for the Pope what had happened
to Clareno and his disciples since the death of Celestine V,
“the Angelic Pope”.
The Minister General Michael of Cesena who, in order
to bring peace, had supported the Community since the
start of his generalship, was disappointed with the outcome
of the meeting before the papal court, and pleaded to John
XXII to resolve the long and difficult question once and

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for all. The result of his appeal was the setting up of a
commission of three cardinals, Vital of Four, Jacques de Via
and Napoleon Orsini, who initially came to the conclusion
that the rebels of Narbonne and Béziers should submit
themselves again to obedience to the Order, or to their
superiors, a conclusion that they conveyed in a circular
to the Provincial Minister of Provence. Furthermore, they
enquired about two issues, i.e. whether or not these rebels
should be considered inciters of schism within the Order,
and whether or not the Spirituals of Tuscany established in
Sicily should be seen as schismatics19. The questions also
raised discussions followed by attempts at reconciliation
and appeals, and on 27th April 1317, the Pope invited to
his presence sixty-four Spiritual friars from Narbonne,
including William of St. Amour, Gaufredi de Cornone,
Francis Sancii and the famous anti-inquisionalist, Bernard
Delicieux. The latter had volunteered to appear before
the Pope, and according the Repertorium of Raymond of
Fronsac, confronted John XXII with his responses20. From
the description given in the Historia Tribulationum, we know
that Bernard Délicieux was condemned to prison, and that
William of St. Amour also suffered the same fate. Gaufredi
of Cornone, seeing that his fate would be the same as that
of his companions, asked the Pope to allow him and his
companions to live according to the purity of the Rule. The
Pope replied that he was surprised he should be asking to live
according to the strict observance of the Rule when he had
brought with him five tunics. Gaufredi replied that there
must have been some mistake; that he had not brought five
tunics. The Pope then replied: “So you are telling me I am
lying?” Gaufredi corrected him, saying that he had merely
said that he did not own five tunics. The Pope replied,
declaring: “We’ll put you in prison and see if it’s true or not
that you have five tunics”. The others, amazed at what was
happening before their very eyes, exploded in protestations:
“Holy Peter, justice, justice”21. Little did they know that
this Pope, with his ugly, mean, decrepit appearance, had
the cold heart of an effective administrator, unashamedly
avaricious for gold and material wealth, in which the word
“justice” had not even a small corner in which to take up

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And so the meeting between the Spirituals and the Pope
transpired, to the great disappointment of the Spirituals, as
the majority had to subject themselves to the will of their
superiors, except for twenty-six who were later thrown into
the hands of the inquisitor Michel le Moine. Of these, four
were subsequently burned alive at Marseille, on 7th May
1318, for declaring that the Rule of St. Francis was identical
to the Gospel of Jesus Christ23.
They also alleged that they had sworn to keep the vow
which they sought to obey, as the Rule obliged them to,
therefore nobody could dispense with them. The Pope
could not force the friars minor, who lived according to the
Gospel of Christ, to obey him by keeping cellars for storing
grain, and deposits of oil; they would be sinning if they
accepted these things, just as the Pope would be sinning by
granting them24. We see here the kernel of the ideas of the
Beguins and the Fraticelli developing to its full form, in the
most extreme branch of the Spirituals.
Their names, John Barrani, Deodatus Michelis, William
Santoni and Poncius Rocha, would be remembered by the
Fraticelli as martyrs for their faith, and victims of the cruelty
of the “heretical” Pope John XXII.
Gaufredi was incarcerated, as was Francis Sancii.
Many of the condemned friars fled, probably to far-
off regions, inhabited by the Saracens, ad partes infideles,
according to a phrase in the letter of the inquisitor Michel
le Moine, in order to escape the persecutions that awaited
them. The theory that they became apostates, as some
authors would have it, and abandoned the Christian
religion, is unlikely25.
Following the death of four friars in Marseille, the heated
atmosphere and eschatological tension increased among the
Spirituals, and I believe that this was one of the causes that
increasingly led them to break away from with the Church,
Babylon, now seen as ecclesia carnalis, as opposed to ecclesia
spiritualis. On the occasion of the sentence of Michel le
Moine against the friars of Marseille, Peter Olivi’s Postilla
super Apocalipsym was indicated as the source of these
heresies, and his writings condemned as contradictory to
the honour and authority of the Church26. Manselli recalls

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a letter written by the friars, from their far-flung places of
refuge, after the condemnation of 6th May, in which they
affirmed that “they had not left the Order, but only its
walls; not the habit of the minors, but only the cloth; not
the faith, but only its outward expression; not the Church,
but its blind synagogue; not the shepherd, but the wolf that
devours the lambs”. It is expressed in apocalyptic form,
closely following the traces left by Olivi in his writings:

As after the death of the Antichrist, persecutor of the

faithful and ministers of Christ will be exterminated, and
thus, when this Pope (that is, John XXII) is dead, we and
our companions who are faithful to Christ, who now suffer
the persecutions of our enemies, will see the light and the
victory over all their adversaries after its extermination by
the annulment of the process of the sentence given against
us, and furthermore, against Christ and against the life
and perfection of his holy Gospel27.

Manselli recalls that in 1318, a document written

in Catalan came to light, which was a commentary and
summary of Peter Olivi’s Postilla, according to the guidelines
of the work of the Spirituals in Provence. This opusculum,
which adopts the three Joachimite ages of the Father, the
Son and the Holy Spirit, affirms that at the end of the second
general age of the world (which corresponds to the fifth age
of the Church), judgment would be carried out on Babylon
and the carnal Church, which up then had had persecuted
and would continue to search for the truth of Christ and
his poor followers, and that it would end up condemning
and crucifying the holy life and the holy poverty of Christ
(an allusion here to the bull Quorumdam Exigit of Pope
John XXII), but that in the end, the carnal Church would
be condemned and destroyed by the horns of the beast,
save for the elect, who would be released and would found
the spiritual Church, preaching throughout the world and
exalting the truth of Christ28. Thus, two Churches emerged.
The carnal one was represented by the evil persecutors
of the Spirituals, those friars minor who sought to prove
that “Christ and the apostles were not contradicting the
evangelical doctrine by having all possessions in common”,
as Christ had carried a bag and St. Paul had carried money

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with him. The spiritual mentor of this ecclesia spiritualis
was Peter of John Olivi, who would be the “powerful angel
coming down out of heaven” mentioned in the book of
Revelation (10:1), and who would have the understanding
of the truth of the Scriptures and the knowledge of the
meaning of the book of Revelation29.
The growing opposition between the two Churches – the
carnal and the spiritual – would be such that there would
be a number of false religious men and false prophets, who
would be in the service of a spiritual Antichrist, destroyer
of the truth of Christ, who would prepare the way for
the true Antichrist. These false Christians, combating the
Spirituals with the support of the authority of the Church,
would condemn them and turn them over to secular men.
The figure of this spiritual Antichrist is called “king of the
locusts”, and a “wild boar” that exterminates the Church,
the life of evangelical perfection, and it is the Caiaphas, the
Supreme Pontiff of the synagogue, who condemned Christ
and like Herod, mocked the Lord30.
The publication of the bull Quorumdam Exigit, on 7th
October 131731 marked a new phase in the dispute between
the Spirituals and the Community. The Pope practically
destroyed the work of appeasement achieved by Clement
V some years earlier, as well as the conciliatory spirit of the
bull Exivi de Paradiso.
The relaxation of the requirements in the observance
of the Rule, in the bull Quorumdam Exigiti, was strongly
contested by the Spirituals, who did not accept the
validity of the papal authority to implement these changes
to the Franciscan Rule, as in their eyes, the Rule was as
inviolable as the Gospel of Christ itself. The mere fact that
the bull permitted the storage of grains and wine, and the
prohibition on friars using short, narrow habits, or garments
that had worn out and been repaired, like those worn by
the Spirituals, went against the principles adopted by the
reformists. So on 12th October 1317, Michael of Cesena,
in the presence of Raymond of Fronsac and Bonagratia
of Bergamo, gathered the friars at Narbonne and Béziers,
invited by the Pope in Avignon, read the papal bull aloud,
gave them a copy, and asked them, as proof of their
194 submission and obedience, to abandon their short, worn

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habits and adopt those commonly worn by the friars, as well
as demanding that they submit to the decisions relating to
the stores of provisions and wine. Thus, Michael of Cesana
proposed to the Spirituals an option of a disciplinary and
legal nature, without any opportunity for discussion32.
The second blow delivered by John XXII was to suppress
the Order of the Poor Hermits, through the bull Sancta
Romana et Universalis Ecclesia, of 30th December 131733.
The bull prohibited the formation of new orders, reiterating
the decree of the fourth Council of the Lateran. This was
the first time the groups that followed the strict observance
were referred to as Fraticelli in an official document. In the
bull Sancta Romana, the Spirituals of Italy, Sicily, Toulouse,
Narbonne and Provence, were condemned, as were the
Beguins and the Bizoques, who were considered members
of the Third Order of St. Francis34. The bull included all the
groups of Spirituals under the name of Fraticelli, Fratres de
paupere vita, Bizzochi or Beghini, although we know these
groups were separate from one another, as observed in the
work of Ehrle. Raoul Manselli also demonstrates that there
was a certain hostility between some of the groups35.
On 23rd January 1318, John XXII, in a new bull entitled
Gloriosam Ecclesiam36, once again condemned the errors
of the Spirituals, making special reference to the group of
Henry of Ceva, leader of Tuscany, who took refuge in Sicily
under the protection of Frederick III.
The Pope accused them of being apostates of the friars
minor, and of going from disobedience and schism to
heresy itself. On one hand, said the Pope, they saw a carnal
church, where pleasures were paramount, stained by sin,
whose head is the Supreme Pontiff and the other prelates,
and on the other, a Spiritual Church, virtuous, humble
in its poverty, whose adepts are its followers (i.e. Henry
of Ceva). As a result of this opinion, they considered the
carnal Church, its clergy and priests as lacking in spiritual
power. And among their errors was the refusal to take the
vow, or to acknowledge the validity of the sacraments of
priests, whom they considered to be stained by mortal
sins. Furthermore, they believed they were the only ones
who observed the Gospel of Christ. All these errors of the
Spirituals, as pointed out in the bull of John XXII, and 195

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which the Pope compared to the errors of the Manicheans
and the Waldensians, were aimed at paving the way to
excommunicate and combat the heretics who sought
refuge in Sicily under the protection of Frederick III. The
bull ended, in fact, with words of hope that with the King’s
help, those heretics would be punished. The result was that
Frederick III could not avoid the papal pressure, and the
Spirituals who had taken refuge there were forced to flee to
Gerba in North Africa37.
Following the condemnation of the Spirituals on 7th
May 1318, by Michel le Moine, as mentioned previously, a
committee was set up on the order of John XXII, consisting
of cardinals and magistri of theology, to examine the
writings of Peter Olivi. The members of this committee
belonged to various religious orders: Nicholas of Prato,
a Dominican; Simon Anglico, a Carmelite; William of
Landum, a Dominican; Bertrand de Turre and Arnold
Roiardi, Franciscans; Lorenzo Anglico, a Benedictine, as
well as Guido Terreni, a Carmelite, and Peter of Pelude, a
After a lengthy examination of Olivi’s Postilla, the
cardinals came to the conclusion that around sixty articles
were heretical or doubtful in relation to the Christian
Shortly afterwards, in 1319, at a Chapter in Marseille
called by Michael of Cesena, the doctrine of Peter Olivi was
examined and certain errors were condemned. The findings
were published and signed by twelve magistri and bachelors
of theology. It is supposed that the source of the rebellion
of the Beguins and the Fraticelli was still seen as coming
from the thinker from Provence. As a result of these events,
Ubertino of Casale, who from 1317 had gone to live in the
Benedictine Order, once again defended Olivi’s doctrine,
in a process that started some time between 1318 and
1319. The process took place before the Cardinal Bishop of
Sabina, William, and the accuser was the procurator of the
Community, the well-known Bonagratia of Bergamo, who
gathered in his favour the elements found in the sentence of
Michel le Moine and in the decisions of the magistri of the
Chapter of Marseille, as well as in the previous examination
196 of Olivi’s Postilla, carried out at the Curia of Avignon39.

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Ubertino once again defended the legitimate Catholicity
of Olivi’s doctrine, stating that the articles indicated as
“heretical” were effectively written in the Postilla, but that
it was necessary to understand them in the wider context
of the writings. Bonagratia of Bergamo did not agree
with Urbertino of Casale’s responses, and accused him of
defending the Fraticelli.
The period from 1319 to 1321 was a period of relative
calm among the Franciscans, even though the judgments
in relation to the Spirituals had not ceased entirely. We
know that the inquisitors of that time sought to systematize
the material necessary to judge the heretics and combat
them40. Of these writings, published in the Baluze-Mansi’s
Miscellanea, one was written by John of Beaune, around
1320, and another is by the famous inquisitor Bernard
Guidonis (Gui). A letter from an inquisitor, probably John
of Beaune, from Carcassone or Toulouse, written between
1318 and 1321, is referred to by Manselli as an example of
the systematization of the Inquisition carried out against
the Spiritual heretics41. Its point of departure is the unity
of the Catholic Church, outside which there can be no
salvation, and which has its roots in Christ, and in his vicar
on Earth, the Supreme Pontiff, Saint Peter’s successor.
While the Spirituals accused the Pope of being a
heretic, as in the case of John XXII, after the publication of
Quorumdam Exigit, then the unity of the Church, in this
case, was automatically destroyed. And those who destroyed
the unity of the Church and opposed the authority of the
Pope, were considered heretics. Neither would those who
supported the heretics, alleging that they did not know
they were guilty, be forgiven. Like the letter attributed to
John of Beaune, the work Practica Inquisitionis by Bernard
Gui is also a systematization of the errors of the Beguin
doctrine, in more complete form. In it, the arguments are
set out in a way that clearly shows the convictions of the
heretics at the time of the interrogation of the Beguins,
and their doctrines42, which we find in partial form in the
Catalan compendium mentioned earlier. However, works
of supreme importance for our knowledge of the Beguin
convictions are the confessions of the heretics published in
Liber Sententiarum Inquisitionis Tholosanae. Here we find 197

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the living testimony of the ideas gathered by the followers
of that heresy.
The Beguins believed that Jesus and his apostles, in
their mortal life, had no possessions, either individually or
in common, as they were perfect followers of the way of
poverty in this world. They also claimed that the Rule of St.
Francis was the same rule that Jesus Christ had observed in
this world, and passed on to his apostles.
St. Francis’ words to his brothers regarding the evangelical
poverty should be interpreted in such a way that his apostles,
or rather, those who professed to follow the Rule, could
own anything; either individually or in common, except
what is necessary for life, adopting only the “poor” use that
emphasizes indigence and prohibits all superfluity.
For his followers, St. Francis was, after Jesus and his
apostles, the first and foremost observer of the evangelical
life and the Rule; he was the renewer of the sixth age of the
Church, which was his age. The Rule was the same as the
gospel of Christ, and those who combated it were combating
the Gospel, and were therefore no less than heretics. Thus,
neither the Pope nor any other person had the right to
modify the Gospel, likewise nobody could modify the Rule
of St. Francis, or add or suppress anything in it. Therefore
the Pope did not have the right to annul the evangelical
Rule of St. Francis, which was the evangelical law itself. The
same also applied to the Third Order of St. Francis.
A pope or General Council could annul or contradict
the approvals, decisions or ordinations confirmed by
their predecessors, therefore the two rules of St. Francis,
confirmed by the Roman popes, like all the other rules,
could not be annulled by any pope, or by the General
Council. If they did so, nobody should obey it, even under
pain of excommunication. The pope could not exempt a
person from their vows made to the Rule of St. Francis,
of chastity, poverty and obedience, especially the vow of
poverty made to God, if this vow was made simply and
solemnly; a person who made a vow of poverty would be
required to observe it for ever, and being exempted from
it would mean coming down from more elevated degree
of virtue and perfection to a lower, inferior level; the Pope

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could only use his power to build, and not to tear down.
The pope did not have the right to edit a bull or decree,
permitting or exempting the friars minor from storing grain
and wine in their storehouses and barns, for the future use,
as this was contrary to the evangelical rule of St. Francis,
and therefore, to the Gospel of Christ.
By permitting the friars minor, through the bull
Quorumdam Exigit, to keep stores of wheat and wine at the
discretion of the superiors of the Order, Pope John XXII was
effectively opposing evangelical poverty, and therefore, the
Gospel of Christ. He had fallen into heresy, and continued
in it while he remained in office, and for this reason, he
lost the papal power to bind and loose on Earth, as well
as all the other powers. Likewise, those friars minor who
gave credence to the bull, approving and accepting it, and
making use of it, are also deemed heretics. The pope does
not have the right to grant exemption in contradiction to
the Rule of St. Francis, with regard to the size and quality of
the habits of the friars minor, whereby all superfluity should
be banished; in this he should not be followed, neither
in anything that is contrary to the Rule. Those prelates
who have left the Order of St. Francis should continue to
maintain the perfect gospel, following the Rule.
The four heretics condemned in Marseille in 1318
were condemned by the inquisitor Michel le Moine, also
a Franciscan, appointed by John XXII to persecute the
Spirituals. On 6th November 1317, they were condemned
for their belief that it was their duty to maintain purity,
the truth and the poverty of the Rule of St. Francis, for not
accepting the relaxation of the Rule, and for not accepting
the exemption granted by the Pope in this point, thereby
refusing to give obedience to the Pope; they were unjustly
condemned for upholding the evangelical Rule. Thus,
they were not considered heretics, but glorious Catholics
and Martyrs, “and for this reason we implore prayers to
God for them”. And for many Beguins, Christ was once
again crucified in the person of four friars minor, who were
likened to the four arms of the cross; in them the poverty
of Christ and his life were condemned. If the Pope ordered
and approved this condemnation, carried out through his
inquisitor, then he too would be a heretic, and the biggest 199

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of them all, since as head of the Church, it was his duty
to defend evangelical perfection. Hence, he lost his papal
power and was no longer acknowledged as Pope among
the faithful; they no longer owed him their obedience: the
papal throne was considered sede vacante.
In their eyes, the teaching of Peter of John Olivi is the
true Catholic doctrine, and the carnal Church, i.e. the
Roman Church, or Babylon, the great prostitute, would
be destroyed and demolished, “just as the synagogue of
the Jews was destroyed in the early days of the Christian
The prelates and members of the Order who wore rich,
superfluous clothing were acting against the evangelical
perfection and the precepts of Christ, and were in allegiance
with the Antichrist; they and the clergy who boasted pomp
were the family of the Antichrist.
Peter of John Olivi, as I have stated earlier, is spiritually
linked, by the Spirituals, to the angel mentioned in Chapter
10 of the book of Revelation, whose face was like the sun
and who had an open book in his hand. Among all the
doctors, he was the one who manifested the truth of Christ
and the understanding of the book of Revelation. And if
the pope condemned the doctrine and writings of the friar
Peter of John Olivi, he would be considered a heretic, as
he would be condemning the life and doctrine of Christ
Thus, even though they had been excommunicated, the
Beguins did not obey, and did not consider themselves as
At the end of the sixth age of the Church - the era that
we are now in, which began with St. Francis - the so-called
carnal Church, or Babylon, the great prostitute, will be
rejected by Christ, just as the synagogue of the Jews was
rejected in another age. They crucified Christ; the carnal
church crucified and persecuted the life of Christ in the
person of those who called themselves Poor Spirituals of
the Order of St. Francis (“quo vocant pauperes et spirituales
ordinis sancti Francisci”).
And so, just as after rejecting the Synagogue of the Jews,
Christ chose a small number of men who, in the first age

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of the Church, would found the early Church, in the same
way, after the rejection and destruction of the carnal Roman
Church, in the sixth age of the Church, a small remnant of
elect will remain; Spirituals, poor evangelicals, the majority
of which will belong to the two orders of St. Francis; the first
and the third orders. Through them the spiritual Church
will be established, which will be humble and good, in the
seventh and last age of the Church, which will begin with
the death of the Antichrist. All the religious orders will be
destroyed by the persecutions of the Antichrist, with the
exception of the order of St. Francis. Three parties will
emerge within the Order: the first will consist of what is
called the mass of the Order. The second will consist of
the Fraticelli of Italy, who had formed communities that
were independent of the Order, and the friars minor, under
the cover of the privileges granted in 1294 by Celestine V,
but revoked by Boniface VIII. They commonly lived in
Meridional Italy. The third will consist of the brothers
whom we call Spirituals, who observe in their purity the
spirit of the Rule of St. Francis, like the brothers of the
Third Order, who adhered to his doctrines. The two groups
will be destroyed, the third will remain until the end of
the world: this, they claim, is the promise made by God to
St. Francis.
The Holy Spirit will be given abundantly to the elect
Spirituals and evangelicals, just as on the day of Pentecost,
on the apostles who were disciples of Christ, in the early
Church. They teach that there will be two Antichrists: one
spiritual or symbolic, and the other, the true and main
one; the first will prepare the way for the second. The first
Antichrist is the Pope (John XXII), under which his own
persecutions and condemnations will take place43. The era
of the coming of the great Antichrist, from the start of his
preaching until his death, will end, according to some, in
1325, according to others, in 1330, and according to still
others, later in 1335. These Spiritual men, called evangelicals,
will establish the new Church, and will preach to the twelve
tribes of Israel; they will convert twelve thousand men from
each tribe, i.e. 144 thousand men; these will be the army
marked by the angel carrying the sign of the living God,
that is, St. Francis, who will carry the Stigmata of Christ. 201

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This army will combat the Antichrist and kill him before
the coming of Elias and Enoch.
There will be a succession of great wars, a great carnage
between the Christian peoples, during which many people
will fall. After the destruction of this carnal Church, the
Saracens will come and occupy the land of the Christians,
all according to the revelation given to Peter of John Olivi,
at Narbonne.
After the destruction, twelve Spiritual men will remain,
who will convert the world to the true Christian faith; the
whole world will be good and merciful, men will no longer
be malicious but will be without sin, they will have all goods
in common, nobody will offend their fellow man or cause
him to sin; charity will reign among men and there will be
a flock and a pastor.
According to some, this period will last a hundred years;
then charity and love will decrease, malice will gradually
spread among men, and will reach such excesses that Christ
will come forcibly at the Final Judgment.
The invectives against the pope were violent: symbol
of the Antichrist, precursor and preparer of his way; they
called him the devouring wolf who would be shunned
by the faithful; a false prophet; the blind one; the high-
priest Caiaphas who condemned Christ; the wild boar; the
ferocious beast who would destroy the walls of the Church
of God and leave it exposed to dogs and pigs, i.e. those who
trampled underfoot the perfection of the evangelical life;
the worst of heretics, who would lead the Church of God
to become a synagogue of the Devil44.
In 1321 the debate on poverty came to a head, sparked
off by a member of the Third Order linked to the Spirituals
who, preaching a sermon in Narbonne, declared that Christ
and his apostles were absolutely poor, and did not have any
property, either individually or in common. Of course, the
preacher was led before the Inquisition and judged by the
Archbishop of Narbonne and by the Dominican inquisitor
John of Beaune45; a Conventual elder, Berengário Talon,
declared this statement to be true and in accordance with
the bull Exiit qui Seminat of Nicholas III. But he suffered
pressure from the inquisitor and appealed to the Holy See,

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in March 1322. John XXII appointed prelates and magistri
in theology in the Curia to give their opinions on the
question of the poverty of Christ and his disciples. Many
responses were given, among them that of Vital of Four,
who wrote a long treatise, and those of other bishops, like
Bertrand de Turre, who wrote short essays on the subject.
Even though they did not belong to, or identify with the
Spirituals, many of the responses affirmed the absolute
poverty of Christ on which the Order had been founded.
The argument used by the authors of these writings was
often based on the idea that Man, in his state of innocence
before the fall, had lived without differentiating between
meum et tuum, but as a consequence of sin, the material
desire for property emerged. Therefore Christ, by coming
to redeem fallen humanity, did so by renouncing everything
that this world could offer, even life itself. And the friars
minor, by adopting absolute poverty, were identifying with
Christ and his teaching. This argument was not unanimous,
and many cardinals and theologians wrote against these
authors, opposing them with other arguments.
Thus, if the position of those Franciscan friars were
correct, all the temporal possessions of the Church would
be condemned46. At heart, the issue also had the nature of a
polemic debate between the two mendicant orders, i.e. the
Domincans and the Franciscans. But the issue relating to
these orders had long been brewing, ever since William of
Saint-Amour and the magistri of the University of Paris had
attacked the mendicants and their ideals of “poverty”.
In this interim, Michael of Cesena, gathering the
Chapter of Pentecost of 1322, in Perusa, declared that the
affirmation that Christ and the apostles possessed nothing,
either individually or in common, was true, in a statement
that was signed by ten provincial ministers, including the
famous William of Ockham47.
Ubertino of Casale, who lived as a recluse at the
monastery of Saint-Pierre, at Gembloux, was prompted to
take part in the debate, and wrote a treatise entitled De
Paupertate Christi, in which he took a conciliatory position.
In his treatise, he affirmed that the apostles, as well as the
priests of the Churches, must have had possessions in

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order to distribute them to the poor, but that individually
they must have lived according to the Rule of poverty. On
the other hand, Christ and his apostles did not have any
possessions in the common or civil sense, i.e. they had the
right to defend their property, but by the “natural right”
they had such things as clothing, food for their own use,
and the possibility of giving them to others.
Just as there is a symbolic life of Christ, we also have his
real life48.
Among the participants in the debate, we find King
Robert of Sicily, who was close to the cause of the Spirituals
and a follower of the observance of the Franciscan Rule. He
wrote a treatise on poverty49, in which he defended it as the
great ideal in the past and in the present, and one that few
could truly attain. He did not deny the Church the right
to own property, but believed it did not have the right to
prevent or condemn those who sought a religious ideal that
was higher than the common one. Hence, the Franciscans,
and in particular the Spirituals, deserved the understanding
and protection they needed for their arduous walk.
But the Franciscans were isolated in the debate, as the
cardinals who traditionally supported the Spirituals were
against the idea that poverty was orthodox. This was the
case with Peter Colonna, friend of Ubertino of Casale and
Napoleon Orsini, friend of Angelo Clareno and Berengar
Frédol, who assumed a very different position from the one
they actually practiced50.
During the controversy, the bull Exiit que Seminat,
which, in the heat of the debate, was considered an
irrefutable document and as such, not subject to alterations
or to debate, was held up to scrutiny; from this point of
view, the bull served as support and protection for the
friars who followed the way of absolute poverty. When
John XXII published the Bull Quia Nonnunquam on 26th
March 1322, in which he affirmed the legality of the papal
act of modifying decrees promulgated by their predecessors,
he was effectively contradicting the previous prohibition on
discussing the Franciscan Rule51.
The bull therefore exposed the Rule to glosses and
interpretations, breaking with the immunity that it

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previously enjoyed, under the allegation that the Exiit
contained a series of debatable points. The Pope, with this
bull, was actually opening a can of worms, without perhaps
realizing the severity of this act. Some cardinals who were
closer to the Order, however, saw that the bull could lead
to chaos and asked the Minister General, Michael of
Cesena, and the General Chapter, to give their opinion on
the subject of the poverty of Christ. At the end of May
of the same year, the General Chapter, gathered in Perusa,
declared that Christ, showing the way of perfection, and
the apostles, following this way and giving an example to
others who wanted to live a perfect life, did not have any
possessions, either individually or in common, whether by
right of property and dominium or by personal right, “and
we unanimously declare that it is not heretical, but true and
Catholic”. The same statement quotes a passage from the
Exiit which states that renouncing all goods, individually
and in common, is an act of holiness, as proclaimed by
Christ in the Gospel52. After this statement, another, longer
one was written, containing quotations from the Bible
and passages from the apostolic fathers. The document
was signed by forty-six Franciscan theologians from Paris
and England. Bonagratia of Bergamo was appointed as
the Order’s lawyer, to defend the position assumed in the
General Chapter. He wrote a treatise, De Paupertate Christi
et Apostolorum, in which he demonstrated that the friars
did not have possessions of any kind, but only enjoyed the
simple “use” of the things necessary for their life and work,
without having the ius utendi or ownership of objects53.
John XXII responded to these new arguments with the
bull Ad Conditorem Canonum, published in Avignon on 8th
December 132254. The bull, which was a motive for deep
disappointment among the friars, undermined the Exitt
with regard to the use of property and goods. The Exitt had
dealt with the problem of these possessions by declaring
that all things belonged to the Church, giving the friars
only the right of simple use. But in this latest bull, the Pope
declared that “use”, even in its simplest form, denotes a
certain degree of ownership. In the consumption of things,
it is impossible to separate usus from dominium, just as it
is difficult to distinguish between “simple use” and “right

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of use”. The consequence would be that the friars should,
in fact, have dominium over things and goods that were
previously in the hands of the Church, under the care of
a custodian appointed for this purpose. The bull ended by
transforming and legitimizing the friars and the Order as
owners, against their will.
Bonagratia of Bergamo, on 14th January 1323, during a
public consistory, made an appeal to the Pope against the
bull, in the name of the Order; he was deemed insolent
and thrown into prison, where he set about writing a new
treatise on the Rule and the poverty of Christ55.
The debate grew, many other works were written, and a
spirit of revolt raged at the heart of the Order. William of
Ockham was also imprisoned for preaching the poverty of
Christ in Bologna.
The effect of Bonagratia of Bergamo’s appeal was that
Pope John XXII promulgated a new bull, with the same
date, approving it still further, but modifying it in one
Giving a final blow to his opponents, John XXII
published, on 12th November 1323, the bull Cum inter
Nonnullos56 as a response to Bonagratia and the writings of
the friars. The bull did not make any argument relating to
the poverty of Christ, but categorically stated that denying
Christ and the apostles the ownership of goods for their
personal use would be to affirm a heretical doctrine, as it
was necessary to put an end to the doubts surrounding the
issue that was so perturbing the friars. On 10th November
1324, Pope John XXII published yet another bull, Quia
Quorumdam, this time addressed to those who had
attacked the previous bulls, Ad Conditorem and Cum inter
Meanwhile, the dispute took another direction, and
aroused the interest of factors outside the Order, with
influences of a political nature, related to the dispute between
the Pope and the German emperor, Louis of Bavaria. From
the point of view of papal interests, the new emperor,
who had defeated his rival, Frederick of Austria, on 28th
September 1322, in Mülhdorf, gave a violent blow to the
political ambitions of John XXII57 by informing the Pope

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and the other leaders of his victory. The Pope demanded the
right of intervention and arbitrage in the issue, but Louis
of Bavaria paid little heed to the Pope’s demands; on the
contrary, he went to Italy to put an end to the regency of
the Supreme Pontiff. Relations between the two powers, the
spiritual and the temporal, became strained, and the Pope,
on 3rd October 1323, ordered a monitory to be affixed to
the doors of the churches in Avignon calling upon Louis
of Bavaria, under threat, to give up wanting to administer
the empire and revoke his royal acts, giving the Emperor a
period of three months to stand down.
Louis of Bavaria sent a request to Avignon, to extend
the deadline granted, and at the same time, negotiate the
position taken by the papal court on the issue. Meanwhile,
having informed himself of the papal positions regarding the
right to examine the election and oversee the administration
of the empire, while the throne was vacant, Louis launched
a protest at Nuremberg, on 18th December 1323, alleging
that he had been legitimately elected by the majority and
crowned in the traditional place, therefore he was effectively
King for all legal intents and purposes. Finally, he attacked
the Pope, accusing him of promoting heresies, and called
for a meeting of the General Council.
Thus, Louis of Bavaria provoked the oppositional forces
against the Pope and managed to gain increasing support
of the Franciscans. On 22nd April 1324, he published in
Sachsenhausen an appeal containing even more violent
accusations against the Pope, perhaps inspired by the
attacks of the Spirituals against John XXII58, accusing him
of heresy in various parts of the document.
The text of Appellatio, reproduced by Baluzius, was
written in an aggressive style, showing the Pope to be an
evil schemer, a heretic, and the cause of all the evils that had
afflicted the Empire and the Church. The opening text of
the Appellatio, in incisive language, calls on Christendom
to view the Pope as an enemy of peace and provoker of
scandals and discord, not only in Italy but also in Germany,
inciting the rulers against the Holy Empire59.
After listing the political machinations of the Pope,
Louis of Bavaria accuses him of spreading doctrinal heresy,

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preaching publicly that Christ and the apostles had temporal
goods, contrary to what is affirmed in the holy text of the
Later in the text, the Pope is accused of contradicting, in
his bull Ad Conditorem Canonum, the statement made by
Nicholas III in the bull Exiit qui Seminat61.
The text of the Appellatio identifies the statement
that poverty was not superior to the ownership of goods,
whether in common or individually, which implies that
Christ was not truly the Christ, or the Messiah foreseen
in the Old Testament Law and the prophets. He went on
to say that this error was from the Antichrist himself, and
was based on the errors of the Jews and the Saracens62.
After five months of the time given to Louis of Bavaria had
passed, John XXII excommunicated him, on 23rd March
1324, alleging that the King was illegally assuming the title
of King of the Romans, and supporting the Italian party
that was hostile to the Church. On that day, the Pope
also excommunicated the Visconti, supporters of Louis in
Italy, and ordered a crusade against them. But the political
changes that took place between the kingdoms involved
in the issue of German succession led Louis to reconcile
with Frederick and establish a peace treaty between them,
at Trausnitz, on 13th March 1325.
The political events, now related to the dispute
between the spiritual and temporal powers, only served
to agitate the tension that existed within the Order, and
it was feared that the Pope would disband the Order, in
view of his identification with Louis of Bavaria. So at the
General Chapter of Lyon, in 132563, it was decided that the
friars must pay reverence to the Roman Church, and use
appropriate language when speaking of the Pope and his
decrees64. This fear is seen in a circular sent by Michael of
Cesena, asking the friars not to publish anything without
the approval of the General Chapter65.
In May 1327, Louis went to Rome, in a campaign that
led him across Lombardy, passing through the Apennines,
and after surrounding Pisa for one month, he entered
Rome on 7th January 1328. He was received triumphantly
by Sciarra Colonna, leader of the Ghibellines who were

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opposed to the Pope, and who had Louis ceremonially
crowned Emperor on 17th January 1328. In Rome, Louis
carried out the greatest act of his political career, namely,
the deposition of John XXII, declaring him a heretic and
a transgressor of civil order. This was accomplished in the
form of a Processus published on 18th April 132866. Not
satisfied with this, Louis decided that the Pope should no
longer reside in Rome, and on 12th of May, he appointed a
new Pope; Peter of Corvara, a Franciscan, under the name
of Nicholas V, invested by Louis at the same time as the
new antipope was being consecrated67.
Ten days later, the Chapter of Bologna took place in the
absence of the Minister General of the Order, Michael of
Cesena, who from 1st December 1327, when he was called
to Avignon by the Pope, had been prevented from leaving
without his permission and had been thrown in prison,
where he remained with Francis of Ascoli, Bonagratia of
Bergamo and William of Ockham, who had also been
invited to Avignon, because of the doctrines they had
taught in Oxford68.
The Pope sent a personal representative to the General
Chapter of Bologna, Bertrand of Pouget, who had been
given instructions that Michael of Cesena be deposed and
a new Minister General elected. The General Chapter
did not meet the Pope’s expectations and contrary to his
wishes, it reelected Michael of Cesena and sent him a
letter of support 69. But he never received it, and on 26th
May, together with William of Ockham, Francis of Ascoli,
Bonagratia of Bergamo and Henry of Thalheim, he fled
from Avignon and crossing the Ródano, arrived at Aigues-
Mortes, from where they set off for Pisa, remaining under
the protection of the Emperor70. The Pope, on hearing of
Michael of Cesena’s flight, published a bull on 28th May
ordering his imprisonment, and on 6th June, John XXII had
the fugitive friars excommunicated, and Michael of Cesena
deposed from his position. Michael defended himself by
writing an Epistola excusatoria and an Appellatio, both
published in Baluze-Mansi71.
Bonagratia of Bergamo also wrote a defense of Michael
of Cesena, at the end of 1328 and beginning of 1329. The

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General Chapter of Paris, which gathered in 1329, was
instructed by Bertrand de Turre, Vicar General, not to
give the rebellious friars any representation, and to elect a
new Minister General. In the struggle between the parties,
each one sought to influence the decisions of that Chapter,
sending letters, and both the Pope and Michael of Cesena
did the same, Michael insisting on continuing as Minister
General. Sancha, Queen of Naples, also became involved,
asking the friars to remain faithful to the Rule72. At the
Chapter, Michael was deposed as a heretic, and the papal
declarations on evangelical poverty were endorsed by the
assembly. Gerald Odonis, a friend of John XXII and follower
of the mitigated Rule, was elected Minister General.
On 16th November 1329, John XXII wrote an extensive
bull, in which he tried to refute the treatises and epistles
of Michael of Cesena, the bull Quia Vir Reprobus, which
sought to demonstrate that Christ and the apostles had few
possessions, and that it was possible to see, from the New
Testament, that they had possessions, and that it would be
contrary to this testimony to state that they owned nothing,
therefore it was necessary to condemn the assertions of
Michael of Cesena as heretical.
Michael of Cesena remained firm, stubbornly upholding
his position as Minister General. On 23rd January 1331,
he wrote a letter to the friars, affirming that anyone who
supported the Pope against the words of the Holy Scriptures,
and against the Rule, would be condemned, even being
capable of admitting that St. Francis was a heretic, as they
would be accepting the Pope’s view of poverty; Michael
also appealed to them to oppose the new Minister General,
Gerald Odonis, nominated in practice by the Pope73.
This appeal by Michael of Cesena served very little
purpose, as at the General Chapter of Perpignan, on 1st May
1331, he made a general review of the statutes of the Order
in which poverty is hardly mentioned, and the concern of
the constitutions was to reconcile those instituted in the
past and those of the present, regardless of whether they
favoured one or the other concept of poverty, and was really
saying nothing new74.
However, when the opposition to the Spirituals’ ideals

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appeared to be consolidated, Pope John XXII, in a sermon
preached in Avignon, on the Day of All Saints, in 1331,
dealing with the “Beatific Vision”, affirmed that the souls
of the saints would not capture the full vision of God until
after the Final Judgment. This statement, which was not
in keeping with the traditional line on the subject, led
to an uproar against the Pope. This occasion was used
to advantage and exploited by his enemies, particularly
Michael of Cesena, who wrote some pamphlets in which
he explained the errors of the Pope John XXII, or “Jacques
de Cahors” as he had now come to be known75. Bonagratia
of Bergamo and Thomas Waleys76, an English Dominican,
criticized the Pope, who appointed Gerald Odonis and
another Dominican friar to take their statements to Paris
for judgement. On hearing in public of the Pope’s opinion,
conveyed by the Franciscan Minister General, they caused
such a revolt that King Philipp VI was forced to intervene.
Later, John XXII would declare that he had said nothing
beyond what was written in the texts of the apostolic
However, among his attackers was the great William
of Ockham, who used his pen to tear down not only
the position of the Pope but the “beatific vision”, and in
particular, its spiritual authority77.
This opened a new chapter in the theoretical formulation
of the relations between the two powers, a consequence,
in my opinion, of the long dispute between the Spirituals
within the Franciscan Order.


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1. R. de Nantes, op. cit., p. 386; F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG,

T. I, p. 546; T. IV, p. 27.
2. Wadding, Annales, ann. 1313, no. II.
3. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 547.
4. Idem, T. IV, p. 36, says this date is doubtful. This chapter does not
appear in the work of Holzapfel, or in the Chronologia Historico-Legalis.
Ehrle takes the chapter from the letter of appeal of William of St. Amour
(Sancto Amancio) to the Pope, of 3rd May 1316, published in the ALKG,
T. II, pp. 159-164; it is an important document for our knowledge of
the changes that took place in the Order after the death of Alexander of
5. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 162.
6. Idem, T. III, p. 26 and T. IV, p. 37; Angelo Clareno, in ALKG, T. II,
p. 142.
7. Idem, T. II, p. 142.
8. Idem, p. 162-163; T. IV, p. 38; R. Manselli, Spirituali e Beghini
in Provença, p. 114, gives the names of these friars, Arnold of Felsinio,
William of Fagia, Martim Arnei, John Barrani and the layman Bernard
Boniti, who, according to the accusation of the Provincial Minister, fled
Narbonne and sought refuge in the convents of Aquitaine. Concerning
Bertrand de Turre and the case of these Spirituals of Aquitaine, see the work
of L. Oliger, “Fr. Bertrandi de Turre processus contra Spirituales Aquitaniae
(1315) et Card. Iacobi de Colunna Litterae defensoriae spiritualium de
Provincia (1316)”, in AFH, 16, 1923, pp. 323-355; P. Gauchat, Cardinal
Bertrand de Turre: his Participation in the Controversy concerning the Poverty
of Christ and the Apostles under Pope XXII, Rome, 1930; more recently, the
important works of Patrick Nold, Bertrand de la Tour O. Min.: Life and
Works, Archivum Franciscanum Historicum, 94 (2001), pp. 275-323;
idem, Bertrand de la Tour O. Min.: Manuscript list and sermon supplement,
Archivum Franciscanum Historicum, 95 (2002), pp. 3-51; idem, Pope
John XXII and his Franciscan Cardinal: Bertrand de la Tour and the Apostolic
Poverty Controversy, Oxford, 2003.
9. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. III, p. 27.
10. F. Ehrle, “Olivis Leben...”, in ALKG, T. III, pp. 159-164.
11. Idem, T. IV, p. 52.
12. Idem, T. II, p. 163. On Robert d’Anjou’s role in the controversity
on the Franciscan poverty, an old study by Giovanni B.Siragusa is still
useful; L’Ingegno, il Sapere e gli Intendimenti di Roberto d’Angio: con nuovi
documenti, Palermo, 1891. For the complex policy of Robert d’Anjou with
Pope John XXII and the Franciscans, see the study by Darleen Pryds, The
King Embodies the Word, Robert d’Anjou and the Politics of Preaching, Brill,
Leiden, 2000. On the ambition of Robert d’Anjou and the use of the
policy of iconography, there is the excellent thesis by Suzette Denise Scotti,
Simone Martini’s St. Louis of Toulouse and its Cultural Context, Louisiana
State University, The School of Art, 2009.
13. F. Ehrle, “Die Ältesten Redactionen der General Constitutionem
des Franziskanenordens”, in ALKG, T. IV, p. 82; Chronologia Historico-
Legalis, T. I, p. 43; Orbis Seraphicus, T. III, p. 23.
14. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. III, p. 27.

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15. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 143.
16. Idem, p. 144.
17. Idem, ibidem.
18. F. Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne”, in ALKG,
T. III, p. 27.
19. Idem, p. 28.
20. Idem, p. 29. On Bernard Délicieux and his anti-inquisitorial
action, as well as is role in relation to the Spirituals see the pioneering study
by Bernard Hauréau, initially published in the Revue des Deux Mondes,
t. 75,1868) and then by ed. Hachette, 1877, it was reprinted more recently
under the original title of Bernard Délicieux et l’Inquisition albigeoise, 1300-
1320, préface et traduction de pièces justificatives de Jean Duvernoy,
Loubatières, Toulouse, 1992. See also Y. Dossat, Les origines de la querelle
entre Prêcheurs et Mineurs provençaux. Bernard Délicieux, in Franciscains
d’Oc, Les Spirituels ca.1280-1324, Cahiers de Fanjeaux 10, Privat Editeur,
Toulouse,1975, pp. 315-353; Jean Duvernoy (trad.) Le procès de Bernard
Délicieux - 1319, Le Pérégrinateur, Toulouse, 2001; Jean Louis Biget,
Autour de Bernard Délicieux, Franciscains et société en Languedoc entre
1295 et 1330, in Mouvements Franciscains et société française. XIIIe-Xxe
siècle, André Vauchez (dir.) Beauchesne, Paris, 1984; Alan Friedlander, The
Hammer of the Inquisitors: Brother Bernard Délicieux and the Stuggle Against
the Inquisition in Fourteenth-Century France, Brill, Leiden, 2000.
21. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 146.
22. Hefele-Leclercq, T. VI, 2ème partie, p. 745. The financial ability
of John XXII is seen in the information we are given in A. Hauck,
Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands, Leipzig, 1929, p. 95.
23. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. II, p. 146; S. Baluzius,
Vitae paparum Avenionensium, T. I, Prima vita Joannis XXII, auctore Joanne
canonico Sancti Victoris Parisiensis, p. 117.
24. Baluze-Mansi, Miscellanea, II, Lucca, 1761, p. 248, apud Manselli,
op. cit., p. 153.
25. Baronius-Raynaldi; Annales Eccles. ad. ann. 1318, no. 52. Baluze-
Mansi, Miscellanea, II, p. 272, states that they embraced Islam, which
appears to be a rumour spread by their enemies.
26. Baluze-Mansi, Miscellanea, II, pp. 249-250, apud Manselli, op. cit.,
pp. 155-156.
27. Manselli, op. cit., pp. 159-160. The text is published in Baluze-
Mansi, Miscellanea, II, p. 272.
28. Manselli, op. cit., pp. 165-166. The text is in J. M. Pou y Marti,
Visionarios, Beguinos y Fraticelos catalanes, p. 489. The work of Pou y Marti
was originally published in the Archivo Ibero-Americano, XIXXVI (1919-
1926). Also on the Fraticelli, see D.L. Douie, The Nature and the Effect
of the Heresy of the Fraticelli, Manchester University Press, 1932; Arsenio
Frugoni, Celestiniana, in Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo: Studi
Storici, fasc. 6-7, Rome, 1954, pp. 155-67; Gordon Leff, Heresy in the Later
Middle Ages, Manchester University Press - Barnes and Noble, New York,
1967 vol. I, pp. 230-238; on the Beguins in Languedoc, see the recent
study by Louisa A. Burham, So Great a Light, so great a Smoke, the Beguin
Heretics of Languedoc, Cornell University Press, New York, 2008; and also
the study by Ana Paula Tavares Magalhães, A questão espiritual nos Beguinos
da Provença, Universidade de São Paulo, 1998, (thesis).
29. Pou y Marti, op. cit., pp. 489-501.
30. Idem, p. 510.
31. Wadding was mistaken over the date of publication, and Ehrle
repeated the error, i.e. that it was 13th April 1317. The strange thing is that
Hefele-Leclercq, T. VI, 2ème partie, p. 749, again repeats the error, even after

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being advised by René de Nantes, op. cit., p. 401. The bull was published
between the Extravagantes Joann., XXII, tit. XIV, c.1, De verborum
significatione; S. Baluzius, Vitae paparum Avenionensium, T. I, p. 117, Prima
Vita Joannis XXII, auctore Joanne canonico Sancti Victoris Parisiensis, which
refers to the bull.
32. Michael of Cesena’s interrogation of the “disobedient” Spirituals of
Narbonne was published by R, Manselli, op. cit, appendix II, pp. 291-296.
The text is part of Latin manuscript 4350 of the Bibliothèque Nationale
de France and is described for the first time by Ehrle, “Zur Vorgeschichte
des Concils von Vienne”, ALKG, T. II, p. 23. The portion that refers to
the abbreviated habits and the question of stores of provisions and wine
is on p. 292 of the Manselli’s work. The strength of some of the Spirituals
before this disciplinary “interrogation” is impressive, as despite knowing
beforehand of the painful consequences of refusing to obey, they did not
abandon their convictions, as in the case of Berengar Torcelli, who stayed
firm to the end; see Manselli, pp. 292-293.
33. Eubel, Bullarium Franciscanum, V, no. 297, pp. 134-135.
34. Pauperes de penitentia de Tertio Ordine Sancti Francisci.
35. R. Manselli, op. cit., p. 145.
36. Eubel, Bullarium Franciscanum, V, no. 302, pp. 137-142; see the
extract on the “errors” of the Fraticelli in the bull, published by Denzinger-
Schonmetzer, Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de
rebus fidei et morum, Herder, 1963, p. 286-287.
37. G. Golubovich, Biblioteca bio-Bibliografica della Terra Santa e
dell’Oriente Francescano, Quaracchi, III, 1919, no. 59, pp. 190-192.
38. Baluze-Mansi, Miscellanea, II, pp. 258-270.
39. L. Amorós, “Series condemnationum et processum contra
doctrinam et sequaces Petri Johannis Olivi”, in AFH, 24, 1931, pp. 495-
512; Baluze-Mansi, Miscellanea, II, pp. 277-279.
40. Manselli, op. cit., pp. 172-173.
41. Idem, p. 173.
42. Bernardo Guidonis, Practica Inquisitionis, the chapter “De
erroribus Beguinorum”. Liber Sententiarum inquisitionis Tholosanae ab
anno Christi 1307 ad annum 1323, published in the second part of the
work of Limborch, cited above, p. 302 and 303.
43. Bernardo Guidonis, Practica Inquisitionis, p. 152.
44. Idem, pp. 152-154, ends by saying that he listened to all this from
the mouths of the Beguins through the interrogations, as well as through
the reading of their writings; Bernard Gui states that the Inquisition began
to persecute these heretics in the province of Narbonne (on the occasion
of the publication of the Sancta Romana), in 1318, and in Toulouse and
Pamiers in 1321 (that is, in 1322). Bernard Gui himself acted against them
in 1322 and 1323; as confirmed by a mention of Ph. Limborch in Historia
Inquisitionis, pp. 393-394.
45. “Chronicon de gestis contra Fraticellos auctore Joanne Minorita”, in
Baluze-Mansi, Miscellanea, III, pp. 206-359.
46. F. Tocco, “La Questione della Povertà nel Secolo XIV”, in Nuova
Biblioteca di Letteratura, Storia ed Arte, IV, Nápoles, 1910, which contains
the arguments used by some authors who took part in the debate.
47. L. Richard, “Jean XXII et les Franciscains depuis l’origine de la
question de la pauvreté du Christ jusqu’a l’abjuration de l’antipape Pierre
de Corvara (1321-1330)”, in Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, 1886,
pp. 129-145.
48. Baluze-Mansi, Miscellanea, II, pp. 279-280 published the position
of Ubertino of Casale.
49. L. Richard, op. cit., p. 133.50. R. Manselli, op. cit., p. 211.

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51. Eubel, Bullarium Franciscanum, V, pp. 224-225; Wadding, Annales
Minorum, ann. 1322, no. 21.
52. Baluze-Mansi, Miscellanea, III, pp. 207-208.
53. L. Oliger, “De paupertate Christi et Apostolum”, in AFH, 22,
1929, pp. 323-335, 487-511.
54. Eubel, Bullarium Franciscanum, V, pp. 233-246; Wadding, Annales
Minorum, ann. 1324, no. XXIII.
55. Verbete “Bonagrazia de Bérgamo”, in Dictionnaire de Theologie
Chatholique, pp. 954-955.
56. Eubel, Bullarium Franciscanum, V, pp. 256-259; Wadding, Annales
Minorum, ann. 1322, no. IV. The text of the bull is also published in
Denziger-Schonmetzer, op. cit., pp. 288-289.
57. Hefele-Leclercq, T. VI, 2ème partie, pp. 756-760.
58. Idem, p. 762; F. Ehrle, “Olivis Leben und Schriften”, in ALKG,
T. III, pp. 540-552. Gives the contrary view to that of Preger (Abhandlungen
der Münchner Academie, Histor. Classe, Bd., Abth. 2. Uber die Anfänge
des Kirchenpolitischen Kampfes unter Ludwig dem Bayer) that many of the
arguments are taken from a writing by Olivi, publishing both texts and
drawing a parallel. Ehrle, on pp. 548-549, contradicts Preger, who bases his
opinion that the appeal was a Spiritual writing on three factors:
a) in the appeal, John is called “opressor pauperum”, heretic and
“Antichrist”, which was the typical language of the Spirituals;
b) the Spiritual position of sanctification of the “poverty” of the Rule
through the Stigmata;
c) the appeal is a response to the questions raised in the bull “Quorumdam
Exigit”, of 13th April 1317. But Ehrle denies this position based on three
factors, affirming that these typical ideas of the Spirituals are found in the
polemic writings of Michael of Cesena against John XXII. This appeal was
probably written by the Franciscan Francis of Lutra and Michael of Cesena
and Bonagratia of Bergamo.
59. S. Baluzius, Vitae Paparum Avenionensium, T. III, pp. 386-387.
60. Idem, p. 398.
61. Idem, p. 390.
62. F. Ehrle, “Olivi und die Sachsenhäuser Appellation (Olivis Leben
und Schriften)”, in ALKG, T. III, p. 541. S. Baluzius, op. cit, T. III,
p. 404.
63. Wadding, Annales Minorum, ann. 1325, no. III.
64. AFH, 3, 1911, p. 533.
65. Analecta Franciscana, II, p. 136.
66. S. Baluzius, op. cit, T. III, pp. 425-433.
67. Hefele-Leclercq, op. cit., R. VI, 2ème partie, p. 771.
68. Baluze-Mansi, Miscellanea, T. III, pp. 237-240.
69. Mariano de Florença, Compendium Chronicarum Fratrum
Minorum, in AFH, 2, 1909, p. 639.
70. Wadding, Annales Minorum, ann. 1328, XVII, p. 84, P. Michael
Bihl, in AFH, 2, 1909, pp. 158-163, publishes some texts extracted from
the work of Dr. H. Finke, Acta Aragonensia, Berlin und Leipzig, 1908
(mentioned in the same edition of AFH, pp. 137-144), in reference to
the Spirituals. One of the interesting texts is the epistle of Friar Ferrarius
of Apulia to King James II, dated 27th March 1328. The Pope politically
mobilized the secular forces in his favour, as we see in Th. Mommsen,
“Italienische Analekten sur Reichsgeschichte des 14. Jahrunderts (1310-
1378)”, in MGH, Schriften, Band 11, 1952, p. 77.
71. Baluze-Mansi, op. cit., T. III, pp. 244-246; pp. 246-303.

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72. Wadding, Annales Minorum, ann. 1329, no. VI, VII.
73. Eubel, Bull. Franciscanum, V, pp. 427-438.
74. P. S. Mencherini, O.F.M., “Constitutiones Generalis Capituli
Perpeniani 1331”, in AFH, 2, 1909, pp. 269-292.
775. Hefele-Leclercq, op. cit., T. VI, 2ème partie, pp. 779-783;
S. Baluzius, Vitae Paparum Avenionensium, T. 2, p. 290, brings the text of
Nicolaus Minorita, on the question (also published by Hefele-Leclercq),
loc. cit.
7676. D. Knowles, The Religious Orders in England, Cambridge
University Press, 1950, p. 247. Knowles affirms on p. 248 that the English
friars supported the Pope in his debate against the Franciscan radicals in
relation to the question of the poverty of Christ and the apostles, but now
we see that Thomas Waleys turns against him.
7777. For knowledge of the political ideas of William of Ockham, a
thesis by my student José Antônio de C. R. de Souza makes an important
contribution: “A Contribuição Filosófica-Política de Guilherme de Ockham
ao Conceito de Poder Civil”, São Paulo, 1980.


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VIII. The Spirituals and their Contribu-
tion to the Reformulation of the Traditional
Theory of Papal Power

Before beginning our study of the long-term

consequences of the struggle of the Spirituals in the 14th
Century, I must first clarify that Pope John XXII sought
to eliminate all that remained as a source of inspiration for
the “heretical” ideas, i.e. the writings of Peter Olivi, and
in particular, his commentary on the book of Revelation1.
With this objective, on 1st October 1322, the Pope declared
that he did not trust anyone to judge this work, except the
Holy See himself2. In fact, on 8th February 13263, John
XXII officially condemned the commentary on the book
of Revelation, one of the last works written by Olivi, and
the one most impregnated by Joachimite ideas, which were
part of the thinking of the more extremist followers of the
thinker from Provence, the Beguins, as we saw earlier.
Up until that time, the general unanimity among
historians and academics of the Franciscan order, and the
Spirituals, particularly the work of Peter of John Olivi,
affirmed that the writings of the thinker from Provence
had always been in keeping with the official doctrine of
the church, of which he saw himself as a faithful member
and participant. Yet the instigator of heresies, Joachim of
Fiore,4 also wrote with the intention of being faithful to
the doctrine of the Church, and remained so until he died.
However, he caused great storms that shook the nave of St.
Peter during the 13th and 14th Centuries.
The entire question revolves around the fact that the
work, when it was created, no longer belonged to its
creator, and certain expressions used by Olivi, as well as

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the images borrowed from Joachim of Fiore, of the type
found in the Eternal Gospel, later took on a significance
among the Beguins and the Fraticelli that was far from that
intended by their authors5. In the Postilla super Apocalypsim,
one of Olivi’s latest writings, we find many of the ideas of
Joachim of Fiore and his doctrine on the history, dealing
with issues that were of deep concern during his time;
the expectation of a period that would be difficult, but of
profound significance for the future of humanity; the clash
between the cosmic forces of good and evil; and the exalted
mission of those who defended the evangelical perfection.
Joachim’s trinitarian scheme is directly applied by Olivi,
who speaks of seven status (ages) of the church related
to the second and third status of the world, emphasizing
the sixth and seventh status of the Church in the work
tertius status generalis, which the author himself attributes
to Joachim.6 Just as Olivi based his beliefs on concepts
and expressions taken from the writings of Joachim, the
Beguins, the outcast disciples of Olivi, would derive their
doctrines from Olivi, as we saw in the section on the
Beguins, according to the report given by Bernard Gui in
which the belief in the three Joachimite status is important
for their doctrines. Just as for Joachim, the synagogue was
propagated by twelve patriarchs, and the gentile Church
by twelve apostles, so the Church of the Holy Spirit would
finally be propagated by twelve evangelical men. Hence, St.
Francis had twelve sons and companions, by whom and on
whom the evangelical Order was founded and initiated7.
The figure of St. Francis evidently does not appear in the
writings of Joachim, but in the interpretation of Olivi, he
is prefigured and prophesied as representing the beginning
of the tertius status8. And for Olivi’s disciples, the Spiritual
leader from Provence would play a role in this eschatological
view of history. But the most important point is that all the
Spiritual groups, due to their belief that they were the viri
spirituales foretold by the prophet of Calabria, and their
understanding of the evangelical poverty as the spiritualis
intellectus and the mystical Antichrist as the Pope who
would persecute them, would demand of themselves and of
the ecclesiastical authorities a separation from that which
they called Babylon, to await the coming of the new order.

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Olivi, speaking of the carnal Church and distinguishing
it from the spiritual Church, was preparing the way for
thinkers of the likes of William of Ockham and Marsilius
of Padua, who theorized in greater depth on the spiritual
power, and its validity.
John XXII was probably aware of the danger of a work
like Olivi’s Postilla super Apocalypsim, as it announced a new
order that would overcome the religious practices of the
carnal church and pointed to the evangelical way of ecclesia
spiritualis. In John XXII’s favour was the fact that this work
came to be used as the ‘Bible’ of many heretics, irrespective
of the author’s original intention.
These ideas undoubtedly shook the confidence of the
faithful, living under the papal authority; in the case of
John XXII, whom the Spirituals saw as the “heretical
Pope” or the Antichrist who pre-announced the new order,
this power meant very little, and for them, its traditional
significance had been entirely vested of meaning. The
prerogative demanded by John XXII, of intervening in
the election and confirmation of the German Emperor,
now faced a state of unfavourable spirit and an opposition
of ideas that were far greater than during the time of
Innocent III, who in his decree Venerabilem fratrem,
published in 1202, affirmed that the papacy had the right
to confirm the elections for the role of the Emperor, since
it was the Pope who had transferred the Empire from the
hands of the Greeks (Byzantines) to the Germans, in the
days of Charlemagne9. Innocent III based his ideas on
the concept of plenitudo potestatis, i.e. the idea that the
Pope had authority over all others, a view that had been
theoretically developed many centuries earlier, and which
gained increasing coherence during the Lower Middle
Ages. This idea of plenitudo potestatis, by virtue of which the
Pope exercised authority over the entire societas christiana,
also gave him “temporal” or real power, as demonstrated by
Walter Ullmann in his study of the theoretical development
of the papal power10.
We know that the thinkers of the time of John XXII
questioned the papal plenitudo potestatis, in a process that
led to the emergence of a new concept: the dependence of

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the Supreme Pontiff on the group of representatives of the
ecclesiastical institution, i.e. the council.
I believe that the Spirituals, in their struggle to affirm
their values, made a decisive contribution to the review of
idea of plenitudo potestatis, leading to a new formulation of
the theory of papal power.
In the first place, the “heretical” desire of an evangelical
Church, destitute of temporal ambitions, that would come
in the third status of the history of the world, would bring
an important element of challenge to the ecclesiastical
institution, just as it had itself affirmed during that time.
The challenge lay in the idea of papa angelicus, embodied
in the person of Celestine V, in contrast to John XXII,
the “heretical pope” and incarnation of the Anticristus
Furthermore, the Roman Church had become, for those
heretics who were awaiting the renovatio mundi and lived
in expectation of it, the great whore, the meretrix magna, an
expression used to describe the carnal church as opposed to
the ecclesia spiritualis of the sexta aetate.
In the accusations of the Fraticelli as heretics, and
following the new wave of persecutions that followed
the publication of two briefs dated 13th February 1334,
addressed to the inquisitor Friar Simon Philippe of Spoleto,
as well as the letters written by the Pope to some Italian
bishops, we have a clear portrait of the Spirituals’ convictions
regarding the papacy of John XXII and the Church12. These
documents are no less important for showing what had
happened to the Fraticelli of Angelo Clareno, some years
before his death. The processes against them had resumed,
and one of the first to appear before the inquisitorial court,
on 28th February 1334, was Friar Francis Vannis of Assisi
who, on being questioned as to whether he was aware of
the heresy, replied that he was not13. And another of the
accused, Father John of Lodoroni of Alfanis, replied in the
same way14.
Through these interrogations, the antipapal arguments
became increasingly clear; it is my conclusion, therefore,
that the great polemists against the theory of papal power
found an atmosphere and a field that were ripe for their

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new theoretical ideas. The Spirituals provided much of
the antipapal material of the 14th Century, even though
it was not their intention to systematically challenge, in
principle, all the papal authority, but only that of John
XXII. One of the Fraticelli raised a deeper argument based
on previous periods, which was later elaborated by William
of Ockham15.
With this strong argument, since it stated that the bones
of St. Silvestre and Constantine should be burned, as they
had caused the Church to become wealthy, and that this
wealth had been the cause of wars, it is hardly surprising
that the repression of Pope John XXII against the Fraticelli
was as stubborn and violent as it was. In two letters, dated
9th and 11th February 1334, the Pope ordered that in all the
churches, the people who gathered there on Sundays and
feast days be informed that he condemned the sect of the
Fraticelli, and threatened to prohibit any places that gave
them asylum and helped them16.
Shortly afterwards, the Pope ordered the imprisonment
of Angelo Clareno. This took place on 21st February,
when he was at the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco. It
appears that the Abbott of the monastery did not allow the
inquisitors to reach the old Spiritual leader, facilitating his
escape to another place, probably the hermitage of Saint
Mary of Santa Maria de Aspro, where he lived until his
death, on 15th June 133717.
Opposition to the Pope also came from another quarter,
namely, the representatives of the regnum, such as Robert
of Naples and Philip of Mallorca. The first, together with
his wife, had already demonstrated his desire to protect
the Spirituals who sought refuge in his kingdom. On 17th
February 1331, John XXII reminded Italy, the kingdom of
Sicily, and the provinces of Narbonne and Toulouse, of the
provisions of the bull Sancta Romana (of 30th December
1317) with regard to the Beguins and the Fratres de paupere
vita. On 8th July of that same year, he complained to the
King of Naples that his will had not been obeyed, as Robert
of Naples had opposed the publication of the papal bulls18.
The Pope did not fail to emphasize that in other places they
were published. The difficulties of John XXII in combating

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the Spirituals in the kingdom of Sicily went back much
further, as can be seen in the letters sent to the King of
Sicily on 4th February and 10th May 1325, in which the
tone used implies that the Spirituals were heretics and had
nothing in common with the friars minor, and that they
were completely harmful to the Church19. Likewise, the
Pope wrote to Philip of Mallorca20, this ascetic prince who
protected the Spirituals and aspired to follow to their way
of life, becoming a fervent follower of their ideals, to the
desperation of John XXII21. Angelo Clareno was his friend
and spiritual mentor22, such that Philip of Mallorca, in
1328, asked the Pope for permission for his supporters to
form an Order that would be independent of the others23.
Philip of Mallorca carried out political, and at the same
time spiritual actions during the period of John XXII and
Benedict XII that were entirely favourable towards the
Spirituals. Here we find two examples of representatives
of royalty who opposed the papal instructions to combat
heresy or pseudo-heresy. The continued autonomy and
expansion of the inquisitorial institution, going back to
the time of Gregory IX, is hardly surprising therefore;
in periods of greater tension, after Boniface VIII, an
Episcopal Inquisition was set up, with the same authority
as the Pope24. Not only did the Inquisition serve as a tool
for combating the true heresy, it also protected the papal
authority against all its critics25. The multiplication of the
Fraticelli, encouraged by the rebellion of Michael of Cesena
(hence the name michelisti that was given to his followers),
“profane men who were commonly known as Fraticelli
of the poor life”26, found an important factor in the new
conditions that were giving rise to the struggle between the
communes of the Italian towns and cities, and the Church.
In the cities of Assisi, Perugia, Todi, Pisa and Rome, in
the zone of San Giovanni, ante portam latinam, numerous
groups of fratti della povera vita sought refuge, largely
supported and protected by the urban authorities. This was
one of the reasons why the heresy continued until the first
half of the 15th Century.
The support given by the communes to Louis of
Bavaria even led the Ghibellines to ally with the Spirituals,
or Fraticelli, in their struggle against the papacy, as the

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inquisitorial processes that followed the year of 1328, after
the election of the antipope Nicholas V, testify27.
In Provence, following the publication of Gloriosam
Ecclesiam on 8th November 1317, the processes against the
Beguins or the Spirituals of the region began. The friars
affirmed that “John XXII did not have and still does not
have the authority to make these declarations and that they
should not obey the Pope”28. In a bull, dated 26th February
1322, the Pope addressed the archbishops and bishops of
Narbonne, Toulouse, Auch, Bordeaux, Zaragoza, Arles,
Aix-en Provence, Vienne, and Embrum, warning them of
the dangers of the spread of the Beguin heresy that was
threatening the Church and casting doubt over the articles
of faith and the sacraments, daring to attack the integrity
of the ecclesiastical power, and questioning the rights and
powers of the Church to “loose and bind”. In this bull, the
Pope ordered all the prelates to call to their presence all
the friars of the Third Order of St. Francis, of both sexes,
and submit them to a rigorous interrogation, which should
be carried out personally by the bishop. The friars were
to be questioned about how and where they entered the
Third Order, when they decided on the religious vocation,
etc.29 The power to loose and bind was part of the plenitudo
potestatis, now attacked by the Beguins, according to what we
read in the statements in the inquisitorial interrogations30.
In the Michael of Cesena’s interrogation, Jacob Seguini,
a Beguin, testified that he “was a secular man, and when
questioned on whether the Pope had power and authority
to absolve sins, he replied that he did not...” The Pope did
not have authority to do away with the vote of evangelical
poverty, quia esset contra evangelium. Herein lies the kernel
of the idea of contestation of papal power, which without
doubt, would find its external expression in the theories
that formulated a new concept of the relations between the
regnum and the sacerdotium.
From an ‘internal” point of view, therefore, the
“heretical” movement of the Spirituals, the Fraticelli and
the Beguins developed an antipapal argument that would
be incorporated into the theoretical concepts of the time.
These ideas, which took heresy as their starting point, were
widespread at the time, as can be seen by the processes 223

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and statements of the accused, whether Beguins or
The methodical and intellectualized creation of a theory
that disputed the papal power had been in the making
since the end of the 13th Century and beginning of the
14th Century. John of Paris, in his work, develops weighty
arguments aimed mainly at invalidating the Donatio
Constantini which, incidentally, was also the target of attack
of the heretical argumentation developed in the work of
De potestate regia et papali, of 130231. The work, which was
based on the dispute between Boniface VIII and Philip IV,
raises the argument that Donatio was invalid, as it was a
donation of properties belonging to the treasury, which
could only be used for the benefit of the State, and could not
be sold. Besides, the emperor was only an administrator of
the imperium, and as such, could not sell what was entrusted
to him32. The argument of John of Paris could have placed
in doubt the lawfulness of Constantine’s act of donation33.
It is true that John of Paris remained a follower of pontifical
theocracy, largely within the traditional moulds, but he was
among the first to attack the problem of papal power from
a new perspective34. The mediaeval concept of the unity of
the world and the Church, based on the affirmation that
God created all things from a single beginning, did not
allow John of Paris to separate the two powers: the temporal
and the spiritual, to the point of making them entirely
autonomous. Had he done so, there would have been a risk
of the dualism typical of the Manicheans, the Cathars and
other heretics35. But for John of Paris, there were always
two powers linked to two orders of realities; that of nature
(linked to the temporal power) and that of grace (linked to
the spiritual power). For the latter, a supernatural definition
is fitting; it is one because their faithful are joined to the same
Christ by a common faith, and by their participation in the
same sacraments. Unlike the material or “carnal” concern
of the temporal power, its concern is to communicate the
fruits of redemption that would emanate from the Holy
Spirit: the sacraments, grace, and truth revealed36. Just as
the regnum serves as a “natural” framework for the natural
activity of men, the Church serves as the framework for his
supernatural life. Both are part of the order of the Universe,

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which is harmonious and promotes unity, even though
they are distinguished from one other. The objective of the
Church is to guide its faithful according to its essentially
supernatural nature, as this is the elevated purpose of the
Mystical Body, therefore, this expression realizes its full
The unity of the Mystical Body is possible through the
membership of all the faithful to the Supreme Pontiff,
which does mean submission of the temporal power to
the authority of the papal power. Contrary to the political
Augustinism that saw, in the two powers, two elements that
constitute man, i.e. the body was attributed to the temporal
power and the soul to the spiritual power, John of Paris
sees the two powers as dealing with the integral man, but
with each retaining its on attributions, according to their
Even the division between clergy and secular, created
by political Augustinism to define the two powers, was
modified by John of Paris, using the categories of “natural
order” and supernatural order”. Under this division, the
spiritual power is exercised over all men indistinctly, in
view of their supernatural destiny; the clergy, on the other
hand, are submissive to the temporal power in view of
the common good of the kingdom37. Influenced by the
principles established by Thomas Aquinas, John of Paris
applies them directly to the political life, demarcating the
distinct natures of the two powers, which can live in harmony
but which are separate, and are not identified as just one.
The contribution of this thinking to the modification of
the traditional concept of the “two swords that dictated
the subordination of the temporal to the spiritual, was
enormous. John of Paris even admitted that the pope can
be deposed by the King, even with the use of force, if some
crime of a civil and political order is committed, such as
promoting a rebellion in the kingdom, a threat to the State,
or other similar cases38.
In this last chapter, which deals with the issue of papal
deposition, he moves away from the position of another
mediaeval thinker who influenced his thought, Giles of
Rome (Egidius Romanus) and his work De Renuntiatione
Papae. The latter states that the Pope can be deposed by the 225

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council in the event of heresy, or even voluntarily resign,
with or without the consent of the cardinals. For John
of Paris, the deposition can be forced, as the “will of the
people supersedes that of the Pope”, and it can be executed
by the council or by the cardinals, with the participation
of the clergy and all the people39. We have here the earliest
concepts of conciliarism, and John of Paris appears to
affirm, in a certain moment, that the Pope cannot define
a dogma without the consent of the council40. A field for
this concept had been in preparation for some time41, and
Philip the Fair, on the eve of the Council of Vienne, in
1311, as happened previously, appealed to the summons
of the council42, although the papal authority was not
placed in doubt. From the middle of the 14th Century, the
conciliarist concept assumed a more clearly-defined form,
as a true response to the problem of control of the papal
Thus, we can establish that since the end of the 13th
Century, there has been a trend that increasingly affirms
the distinction between the two powers.
An additional factor in this trend, I believe, was the
evolution and emancipation of the secular in relation to
the clergy, manifested by an increasing cultural ascension,
in an institutional separation of the legal bodies, leading
to the multiplication of civil courts and a clear distinction
between the temporal and spiritual hierarchies.
Above all, within this same line of reasoning, was the
criticism directed at the material power of the Church,
that is, its possessions and wealth, in which the priestly
hierarchy were not always exemplary models of strict moral
conduct. The criticism came from both the secular and
religious elements, and would later extend to the religious
orders. In the beginning of the 14th Century, the attacks by
Pierre Dubois, author of Summaria, brevis et compendiosa
doctrina felicis expeditionis et abbreviationis guerrarum et
litium regni Francorum, against the Pope, the cardinals, the
secular clergy, and the religious orders, claiming that they
had deviated from their true purposes due to the ownership
of material possessions and the exercise of temporal power,
were not the only opposition44. Marsilius of Padua, in 1324,
226 would write a devastating work in this regard, Defensor

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Pacis, which was recognized by the Franciscan Spirituals as a
work of great influence45. Lagarde, in his work, brings some
important elements that confirm this influence, namely, the
fact that Marsilius dedicates an entire chapter to the issue
of evangelical poverty, the fact that he is a collaborator of
Ubertino of Casale, and the fact that his name is associated
with those of Michael of Cesena and William of Ockham,
although Lagarde does not accept this hypothesis46.
Marsilius of Padua did not accept the traditional
argument that the ecclesiastical hierarchy was of divine
origin, either as a general institution, or the papacy in
particular. He affirms that in the early Church, there was
no difference between a presbyter and a bishop, but that
these differences were established over time, for reasons of
order and discipline; and although this took place, and the
bishop acquired his own powers, none of this made him
superior to the others from the point of view of his sacerdotal
nature47. Ordination, which according to St. Jerome is
an office of the bishopric, is no more than a disciplinary
power of a human nature. By this, Marsilius meant that
Christ conferred on all his apostles a universal authority,
therefore all may have the expectation that the Holy Spirit
will guide them specifically to one or other place, or in one
or other direction, and finally, history demonstrates that
the promotion of certain functions is purely human. And
as though to lessen the weight of chapter 16, verse 18 of
the gospel of Saint Matthew, in which Peter is appointed
Christ’s successor, Marsilius argues that in the Acts of
the Apostles, the important decisions are taken by all of
them together, and not by St Peter alone. While Peter was
given special honour, this does not mean that he received
authority and power over the other apostles, it being of
little importance whether Paul calls him the “pillar of the
Church”, or if some priests called him “prince of apostles”.
All the apostles were placed under the power and authority
of Christ, and it is directly from Him that they received the
institution, without having to bow to one another48.
Also, according to Marsilius, the supremacy of Rome
is placed in doubt; since St. Peter was bishop of Antioch
before arriving in Rome, why not give this supremacy to
Antioch? The Scriptures clearly establish that Peter did 227

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not have any supremacy over the other apostles, and the
successors of the former could not exert any authority over
the successors of the latter49.
The conclusion of Marsilius of Padua is that the
organization of the Church is not a divine institution,
and that the priests and their hierarchy, having as their
leader the papal authority, are not superior to the faithful,
which is sovereign within the Church, just as the citizens
are sovereign in the State. They are the ones who, gathered
in a General Council, are the heirs of the prerogatives and
graces which, in the early days of the Church, belonged
to “the assembly of the apostles, the elders and the other
Only the universitas fidelium had the power to
excommunicate or judge sinners, and here, excommunication
should be understood as a “judgment” and as such, subject
to the authority of the “legislator” (i.e. “prince”)51.
According to Marsilius, all the other powers of the
Church and those still claimed by it, from the legislative to
the administration of temporal goods, should not belong
to it, but are part of the unique attributions of the State. If
the raison d’etre of the Church is spiritual - and this can be
seen in John 6:15 where Christ responds to Pontius Pilate
that his kingdom is not of this world, or where he refuses
to act as arbiter in secular issues (Luke 12:13), or where he
exhorts the apostles not to imitate the kings of the Earth,
who exert dominion over their subjects (Matthew 20 and
Luke 22) - then the Pope cannot be considered as having
any temporal power. If he does exert such power, so much
the worse for him, as it is precisely this fact that led to the
corruption of the Mystical Body of Christ, causing scandal
and promoting nepotism and Simony52.
The spread of the Defensor Pacis, launched after the
“Appeal” of Sachsennhausen in June 1324, caused great
unrest; it was seen as a work that promoted serious heresies,
and it was condemned on 3rd and 27th April 132753.
Among those who responded to Marsilius of Padua was
the Franciscan Alvarus Pelagius who, in De Planctu ecclesiae
and Collyrium adversus haereses, repudiated the Paduan’s
theories54, without perceiving the profound revolution of

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concepts that Marsilius would cause with his work, with
regard to the traditional Christian concept. The debate
was not restricted to the juridical and legal scope, but went
far beyond that; with Marsilius, a form of thinking was
introduced that is conventionally called “laic”, and that
came to predominate from the 14th Century onwards.
The best interpretation of this thinking is that of the
notable Franciscan William of Ockham, linked to the
Minister General of the Order, Michael of Cesena, to the
Spirituals, and to the Emperor, Louis of Bavaria, who dared
to apply the principles of Marsilius of Padua to the point
of desiring to have the Pope deposed. William of Ockham
received his intellectual training in Oxford, where he
remained engaged in university activities until 1324, when
he was forced to abandon them to transfer to Avignon55.
He lived in Avignon for around four years, and there he
met Bonagratia of Bergamo and Michael of Cesena. At
the same place, he was accused of professing doctrines
that threatened the authority of the Sacred Scriptures;
his accuser was the Chancellor of Oxford, John Luttrel.
The committee that was formed to judge this accusation,
consisting of six masters of theology, resulted in a report
that mentioned fifty-one articles taken from their readings
of the Sentences, but nothing truly dangerous or heretical
was found in his doctrines. Taking part in the debates on
the evangelical poverty, William sided with the Spirituals,
and those who fought against the bulls of John XXII. After
the defeat of Louis of Bavaria in Italy, and the submission
of the antipope Nicholas V in 1330, Ockham followed the
Emperor to Germany, together with Cesena and others.
In this period, from 1330 to 1334, Ockham remained
on the defensive. We see that in 1331, John XXII offered
his opponents an opportunity, in the “beatific question”.
Based on this fact, Michael of Cesena, Cardinal Napoleon
Orsini, with the support of Robert of Anjou, King of
Naples, again organized the resistance against the Pope. In
1333/1334, over a period of ninety days, Ockham wrote a
work criticizing the bulls of John XXII, the Opus nonaginta
dierum56, in insolent and aggressive language, targeted
especially at the bull Quia vir Reprobus, of 16th November
1329, in relation to the poverty of Christ and His apostles. 229

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Pope John XXII was treated like an ignorant person who
boasted the authority to meddle in affairs that he did not
understand and that were contrary to the Scriptures, the
fathers of the Church, and other theologians.
Following Opus nonaginta dierum, Ockham wrote
Dialogus57, the largest work of the restless English thinker.
From Dialogus the first part remains, but the second part
has been lost to time, and we have only fragments of the
third part. Dialogus is a more in-depth, systematic treatise
on the important points of theology related to the debates
of its time. In 1337, another work of Ockham came to
light, the Compendium errorum papae58, which summarizes
the debate that took place with John XXII, and extends the
same accusations of heresy to the new Pope, Benedict XII.
In the split that would occur between Benedict XII and
the Emperor Luis of Bavaria, Ockham, joining the defence
of the Empire, wrote a new treatise, De potestate et juribus
romani imperii59, which would be incorporated into the
third part of Dialogus.
In 1338 a synod was called at Speyer, which would
serve as a mediator between the holy See and Louis of
Bavaria. Simultaneously, in May of the same year, the
representatives of the secular States in Frankfort were called
to a solemn Diet. The prince electors of Germany, on this
occasion, felt obliged to be at the forefront of the events,
and decide the destiny of the empire and its relations with
the papacy. On that occasion, Ockham sought to show an
independent position from those of Marsilius of Padua, even
condemning the more heretical ideas of the Paduan, which
led Marsilius to reply, in a complete work that clarified
various points, entitled Defensor Pacis, or Defensor Minor.
Ockham wrote a polemic treatise that would have major
repercussions; Octo quaestiones decisiones60, targeted against
Lupold of Bebenburg, while at the same time, he rewrote
Breviloquium de principatu tyrannico61, which summarizes
his previous positions on the writings of recent years. In
Breviloquium, Ockham demonstrates that it is possible to
question the papal power62 and that this is the function of
theology, and for its resolution, it is necessary to consult the
Holy Scriptures63.
230 Also according to Ockham, in cases of a dispute between

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the emperor and the pope, the first could not lay claim to
imperial decrees, or the second to the constitutions of his
predecessors, but he could judge both of them according
to two sources64. In certain circumstances, the Christian
has the right to judge the pope’s conduct for himself.
In the second book of Breviloquium, Ockham seeks to
demonstrate that the pope does not have plenitudo potestatis,
either on a temporal plane or on a spiritual plane. To affirm
otherwise is false, as it contradicts one of the fundamental
characteristics of the evangelical law; the law of perfect
freedom65; if the pope had the power attributed to him,
all Christians, whatever their category, would literally be
slaves to the papal power, and the pope would be able to
do whatever he liked with the kingdoms and the wealth of
the faithful, according to his whims66. The pontifical power,
which was instituted for the benefit of the believers, should
remain so, and not go beyond the limits of its original
purposes. Ockham argues that if the pope is the vicar of
Christ, he should not desire more than the Son of God
himself had done, as Christ did not aspire to kingdoms, or
lands, or riches, but rather, emphasized that his kingdom
was not of this world67. And in the opinion of the Fathers
of the Church and St. Bernard, the pope never possessed
such power. What, then, are the limits of the papal power?
In the first place, the pope did not have powers to affect the
legitimate rights of emperors, kings, or even believers, in
other words, the rights that men enjoyed in relation to the
Gospel68. Meanwhile, neither could the pope take away the
freedoms granted to men by nature, and by God.
Later on, in his four subsequent books, Ockham analyzes
the origin of temporal power as opposed to spiritual power.
He comments that it is a serious error to state that the
emperor receives his power from the pope, under the pretext
that outside the Church, there is no legitimate property or
jurisdiction. This opinion, adopted by John XXII in the
bull Quia vir Reprobus, can be easily contested through an
examination of the text of the Old and New Testaments,
the writings of the Fathers, and other documents. This
opinion is merely a deviation from the reality, since even
unbelievers can exert temporal jurisdiction; the right to
appropriate things or select men to govern are common 231

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to the entire human species, from a universal standpoint69.
For Ockham, property was introduced by the human right,
and its origin lies not only in the laws of the emperors
and kings, but also in the customs of men. The opinion
of John XXII, who states that property is of divine origin,
existing in the state of innocence, is pure heresy70, as is the
statement that the Empire is derived from and granted by
the papacy. Criticizing the decree of Nicholas III, he comes
to the conclusion that the pope does not have the right
to depose emperors or kings, denying the affirmation that
St. Peter received from Christ authority over the earthly
Empire and over the heavenly Empire71.
Ockham’s ideas on the papal power were rooted in a
deeper philosophical concept, i.e. nominalism, which saw
the Church not as a corporation, which in his opinion is a
mental concept, but as the sum of each of its members; the
faithful, as real individuals. The Universitas is not a separate
legal reality from the individuals that comprise it, therefore
the Ecclesia is subject, in its organization and authority, to
the will of its individual members. The whole is no more
than the sum of its parts72.
The primary intention of Breviloquium, therefore, was to
fully expose the problem of papal power, whether in relation
to the temporal order or the spiritual order; despite being
an unfinished work, it is one of the important works for
showing the depth of the fierce debate between the regnum
and the sacerdotium in that decade of the 14th Century.
In summary, the Spirituals’ struggle paved the way for a
new attitude towards the papal institution; more than that,
it forged new concepts that favoured the formulation of a
modern political theory, clearly manifested in the writings
of Marsilius of Padua and in the works of the genial
Franciscan rebel, William of Ockham. Out of the humility
of St. Francis came the freedom of Ockham.
Pope John XXII died in December 1334, after having
asked for forgiveness, on his death bed, for his unorthodox
views regarding the “beatific vision”.
Pope Benedict XII, his successor, is remembered for
constructing the great “Popes’ Palace” in Avignon. After
eight years, he stepped down from the papal throne, but

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before that, on 28th November 1336, he published a bull,
Redemptor Noster, which contained new decrees, and was
written by a council of twenty-four clergy, including fifteen
friars. The prologue states that the objective of the new
constitution is to promote, within the Order of the friars
minor, “divine service, silence, abstinence in eating, and
holiness of conduct”, together with study of the Bible and
the scholastic life, so that the love of God would be found
in abundance73.


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1. The best study is that of R. Manselli, “Lectura super Apocalipsim” di
Pietro di Giovanni Olivi, Studi sull’escatologismo medioevale, Rome, 1955.
2. Eubel, Bullarium Franciscanum, V, pp. 233.
3. Baluzius, Vitae Paparum Avenionensium, T. I, tertia Vita Joannis
XXII, auctore Bernardo Guidonis, p. 166.
4. I understand that the doctrines of Joachim of Fiore and his writings
not only led to heresies, but decisively influenced the work of individuals
who maintained an entirely orthodox position, as was the case with
St. Bonaventure or Pietro Aureoli. In regard to this influence, see the second
part of Marjorie Reeves, The influence of prophecy in the later middle ages. A
study in Joachimism, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1969, pp. 135-274.
5. Idem, p. 195. The author mentions the fact that Angelo Clareno, who
probably met with Olivi, considered him to be inspired by the prophets,
and in particular, by Joachim of Fiore, linking the prophesy of St. Cirilo to
him, as we find in “Hist. Tribulationum”, in ALKG, T. II, p. 289.
6. M. Reeves, op. cit., pp. 195-197.
7. Idem, p. 196.
8. Apud M. Reeves, op. cit., p. 198.
9. John Morral, Political Thought in Medieval Times, Hutchinson,
London, 1958, pp. 53-54.
10. W. Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages,
Methuen, London, 1962, p. 317. This is one of the best studies on the
formation and theoretical development of the relationship between the
spiritual and the temporal powers. On the same page, note 2, Ullman cites
“Sermo in consecratione”, III (in MPL, CCXVII, 665), by Pope Innocent III,
in which the symbols of papal power are explained.
11. Limborch, Historia Inquisitionis, pp. 304, 315, 316.
12. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. IV, p. 16.
13. Idem, p. 9.
14. Idem, p. 11.
15. Idem, p. 13.
16. Idem, p. 20.
17. Idem, p. 14; ALKG, T. I, p. 520.
18. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 69.
19. Idem, p. 65.
20. J. M. Vidal, “Philippe de Majorque, un ascète de sang royal”, in
Revue des Questions Historiques, T. XLIV, 1910, pp. 361-403.
21. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. IV, p. 67, the Pope writes
to Philip exhorting him, if indeed he was attracted by the mendicant
lifestyle, to enter one of the approved Orders, in which there were people
who excelled in the sciences and customs.
22. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 545, contains a letter
from Angelo Clareno, in which he mentions Philip. In another epistle, idem,
p. 543, Clareno refers to him with expressions of respect and high esteem.
In another, in which Clareno describes the terrible tribulations suffered by
his followers, he says he received the support of the cardinals and Philip.
23. J. M. Vidal, op. cit., pp. 388-389; p. 373.
24. H. Ch. Lea, The Inquisition of the middle ages, London, 1963,
p. 111.
25. F. Ehrle, “Ludwig der Bayer und die Fraticellen und Ghibellinen
234 von Todi und Amelia in T. 1328”, (Mittheilungen), in ALKG, T. I,

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pp. 159-160, publishes a document from 1329 linked to the activity of the
inquisitor Bartholinus of Perugia, which lists many of the activities of the
inquisitor in Assisi and the surrounding area.
26. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. IV, p. 65; p. 78, in the
process of Paulus Zoppus of Rieti, in 1334, the inquisitor Simon of Spoleto
speaks of his function with a special mandate of Pope John XXII, who for
the Fraticelli, was a heretical Pope, and nobody after him would be the
true Pope.
27. F. Ehrle, “Ludwig der Bayer...”, (Mittheilungen), in ALKG, T. I,
p. 158.
28. Baluze-Mansi, Miscellanea, T. II, p. 248.
29. R. Manselli, Spirituali e Beghini in Provenza, p. 213. The bull is
found in Eubel, Bull. Franc., V, pp. 222-223.
30. R. Manselli, op. cit., appendix II, p. 293.
31. “Tractatus de Potestate Regia et Papali”, published in the final part
of the work of Leclercq, Dom J., Jean de Paris et l’ecclésiologie du XIIIe siècle,
Lib. Philos. J. Vrin, Paris, 1942, pp. 171-260.
32. De Potestate Regia et Papali, ch. XXI, pp. 244-245.
33. P. N. Riesenberg, Inalienability of Sovereignty in Medieval Political
Thought, Columbia University Press, New York, 1956, pp. 108-109.
34. Here, the expression pontifical power is understood as a society that
has God as its head, and in which the visible head, the Pope, is the personal
vicar of God, due to his divine institution, according to the definition of
Leclercq, op. cit., p. 29, note 2.
35. Leclercq, op. cit., p. 108. The author’s statement, on p.109, that
“les disciples de Joachim de Flore et les Spirituels contribuaient également
à donner au péril dualiste une forme politique” is very close to our theory
that the Spirituals contributed to the formulation of a theory against the
papal power, which is even more accentuated by the phrase: “dès le temps de
Frédéric II, ils avaint pris parti contre le pape en faveur du pouvoir temporel.
Leur attitude était la même sous Philippe le Bel. Alliés des Colonna et
du roi de France, ils invoquaient contre Boniface VIII la renonciation de
Célestin V. Jusqu’à la mort de ce dernier Boniface VIII craignit un schisme.
Contre ce dualisme menaçant, il insistait sur l’unité de l’Eglise”.
36. Idem, p. 112.
37. Idem, p. 114.
38. De Potestate Regia et Papali, ch. XXV, pp. 256-257.
39. Idem, ch. XXIV, p. 254.
40. Leclercq, op. cit., p. 127. On p. 128, the author states that “il
insinue la superiorité du Concile sur le pape en matière doctrinale”.
41. See the study by V. Martin, “Comment s’est formée la doctrine
de la supériorité du concil sur le pape”, in Revue des Sciences Religieuses,
T. XVII, 1937, pp. 121-144.
42. H. X. Arquillière, “L’appel au concile sous Philippe le Bel et la
genése des théories conciliaires”, in Revue des Questions Historiques, T. XLV,
1911, pp. 29-53.
43. W. Ullman, A History of Political Thought: the Middle Ages, Penguin
Books, 1965, p. 219.
44. F. J. C. Hearnshaw, The social and political ideas of some great
medieval thinkers, Dawsons, London, 1967, which includes the study of
Eileen E. Power, Pierre du Bois and the domination of France, pp. 139-
165. The work of this original thinker was studied by Natalis de Wailly, in
Bibliothèque de L’École des Chartes, 1846, 2ème series III, pp. 273-315; see
also the article of Ernest Renan in Histoire Littéraire de France, vol.XXVI,
45. G. de Lagarde, La naissance de l’esprit laïque au déclin du Moyen Age,

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Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1948, 3 vols. Writes in volume 1
p. 120. “Depuis longtemps déjà, on considère comme acquis que l’influence
des franciscans spirituels est patente dans le Defensor Pacis”. In a footnote,
on the same page, the author asks: “En faut-il davantage pour expliquer
des similitudes (entre les thèses des spirituels et celles des ‘laiques’ les plus
convaincus) malgré la diversité des origines?”
46. It is strange, however, that Lagarde tends to be more accepting of
the influence of the Waldenses over the doctrine of Marsilius than that of
the Spirituals, according to his words on p. 127: “Le fait certain est que
sa méthode et ses doctrines le rapprochent singulièrement des sectateurs
de Pierre Valdez”. The author ends up defining Marsilius as a synthesis
between the “evangelical” spirit of the Waldense sects, and the Aristotelian
“naturalism”. Some aspects of the historical method used by the author are
questionable, and even in poor taste, making the phrase of p. 143 ridiculous:
“Son sang (o de Marsílio) italien le pousse aux intrigues et aux guerres,
mais sa formation française lui donne avant tout le goût des constructions
logiques irréprochables et des procès bien conduits”.
47. Defensor Pacis, II, ch. XV, 4, p. 270, apud Lagarde, op. cit., T. I,
p. 213: “non altera sit essentialis dignitas episcopi quam sacerdotis”.
48. Idem, ch. XVI, pp. 280-282, apud Lagarde, op. cit., T. I, p. 215.
49. Idem, p. 288, apud Lagarde, op. cit., T. I, p. 216.
50. Idem, ch. XIX, p. 313, apud Lagarde, op. cit., T. I, p. 221.
51. Idem, ch. VI, p. 171, apud Lagarde, op. cit., T. I, p. 225.
52. Idem, XXIV, 2, p. 368, apud Lagarde, op. cit., T. I, p. 228.
53. Bulas Quia Juxta Doctrinam and Licet Juxta Doctrinam. Lagarde
demonstrates that the book is limited to a small circle of readers. It is
presumed that Marsilius of Padua wrote in partnership with John of
Jandun. In any case, the name of the latter appears in association with
that of Marsilius of Padua in the papal condemnations, as we can see in
E. Martene and U. Durandi, Thesaurus Novus Anecdotorum, T. II, 1717,
p. 742.
54. N. Iung, “Un Franciscain théologien du pouvoir pontifical au XIVe
siècle, Alvaro Pelayo, évêque et pénitencier de Jean XXII”, Lib. Philos.
J. Vrin, Paris, 1931, points out the motive that led its author to write the
work: “C’est vraisemblablement au milieu des conjonctures qui suivirent
la marche triomphale de Louis de Bavière sur Rome et l’élection de l’anti-
pape, que le jeune docteur reçut du pape Jean XXII la mission délicate non
seulement de défendre le siège pontifical et sa popre personne en particulier
contre les invectives des schismatiques et des partisans de l’empereur, mais
encore, tâche plus pénible, de faire l’examen de conscience publique de
tous les membres de l’Église”. The errors, according to Alvarus Pelagius,
published by Lagarde, op. cit., T. I, p. 317, are as follows:
1) Marsilius dared to affirm that Pontius Pilate judged Christ, taking
from this the argument that the secular authority had jurisdiction
over the clergy;
2) He believed that any priest had the same power as the Pope;
3) He argued that in the case of the Holy See being vacant, it is the
emperor who should exert the rights of the apostolic function;
4) He denied the Church the right to own temporal goods;
5) He alleged that Christ did not have in mind to constitute a vicar to
continue his work after his ascension. Lagarde observes that this
summary of errors of Marsilius demonstrates that Alvarus heard about,
more than he actually read, the author’s work.
55. Lagarde, op. cit., vol. 3, pp. 9-66, gives a biographical outline
of the life of Ockham and his writings. See also L. Baudry, Préface aux
Breviloquium de potestate papae, Lib. Philos., J. Vrin, Paris, 1937, pp. V-XX.

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L. Baudry, “Le Philosophe et le Politique dans Guillaume de Ockham, in
Archives d’Histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age, pp. 209-230: “Le
séjour à Avignon marque un tournant dans la vie de Guillaume d’Ockham
et dans l’évolution de sa pensée. L’examen des constitutions de Jean XXII,
entrepris à l’instigation de Michel de Cézène, le persuade que le pape est
tombé dans l’héresie”.
56. Published in M. Goldast, Monarchia sancti romani imperii, T. III,
Francofordiae, 1621, and in a recent edition Guillelmi de Ockham, Opera
Política, ed. R. F. Bennet, J. G. Sikes and H. S. Offler, Manchester, 1956;
R. Scholz, “Breviloquium de principatu tyranico”, in MGH, Schriften,
Band VIII, 1944, p. 7: “Das Opus XC dierum ist im übrigen eine rein
theologische Arbeit über die christliche Armutslehre und den Begriff des
dominium nach der Bibel AT und NT”.
57. Partially published in M. Goldast, op. cit., T. III, pp. 993-1236.
58. M. Goldast, op. cit., T. III, pp. 957-958.
59. Idem, pp. 771-957.
60. Idem, pp. 313-391.
61. Edited by L. Baudry, Breviloquium de potestate papae, Lib. Philos,
J. Vrin, Paris, 1937. The same author edited the work attributed to William
of Ockham, Tractatus de Principiis Theologiae, Lib. Philos. J. Vrin, Paris,
1936. I also consulted the edition of the MGH, Schriften, Band VIII,
prepared by Richard Sholz, 1944, which introduces it with the excellent
study mentioned above in footnote 56. As a critical publication it is superior
to that of Baudry.
62. L. Baudry, op. cit., p. VIII. Ockham argues that if it is acceptable
to discuss the Holy Trinity, then how much more acceptable, therefore, to
discuss the papal power, Breviloquium, L-1, ch. 2, p. 4.
63. Idem, L. 1, ch. 7, p. 10.
64. Idem, L. 1, ch. 9, p. 13.
65. Idem, L. 2, ch. 3, p. 20.
66. Idem, L. 2, ch. 3, p. 20.
67. Idem, L. 2, ch. 9, pp. 32-33.
68. Idem, L. 2, ch. 10, p. 34.
69. Idem, L. 4, ch. 1, p. 101.
70. Idem, L. 3, ch. 15, p. 98.
71. Idem, L. 6, ch. 1, p. 165. It is interesting that Ockham raises
doubts as to the legitimacy of the document Donatio Constantini, deeming
it apocryphal, long before its lack of authenticity was actually proven, when
the learned scholars of the Italian Renaissance examined it under a more
scientific light.
72. According to the nominalist philosophy, “existencia et essentia idem
omnino significant”, i.e. ens and unum, being and one, are identical. This
reduction of all existence to an individual existence is what characterizes
nominalism; and it is noted how important it is in Ockham’s political
thinking. See M. J. Wilks, The Problem of Sovereignty in the Later Middle
Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1964, pp. 93-94. L. Baudry, Le Philosophe
et le politique..., p. 214. Gives an example of the application of nominalism
of Ockham applied to the concept of the Order, and taken from Opus
XC dierum: “Fratres sunt Ordo et Ordo est fratres. Ex quo sequitur quod
Ordo non est persona imaginaria et repraesentata, sed Ordo este vere
personae reales... Ordo non est unica vera persona, sed est verae personae,
sicut populus non est unus homo, sed est plures homines... sicut ecclesia
est verae personae”. R. Scholz, op. cit., p. 17, however, separates Ockham’s
personality as a philosopher and theologian from that of a politician and
73. J. Moorman, op. cit., p. 326. 237

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E146 PR-2.1 (miolo) St_François_eng.indd 238 4/11/2011 09:25:40
The Route to Plenitudo Potestatis

a) Throughout the period in which the movement was

restricted to a small community, a “spiritual elite” that lived
in subordination to a natural discipline emanating from
the extraordinary personality of its founder and inspirer,
there was a real possibility of preserving its principles. But
the expansion of the movement, the growth in the number
of brothers and the branching out to far-off places, which
were often difficult to reach (with the precarious medieval
means of communication) led to a breaking down of
the close contact that existed in the early community of
Porziuncola. The “law” or “natural discipline”, in this case,
was not sufficient to maintain the organic and unitary
character that typified the community in its early days.
The new scope of the movement led to the creation of an
organic structure, with centralizing powers, which ended
up imposing on itself stability and settlement. Supervision,
which was difficult with the medieval geography, became a
tool for the imposition of the central power (as had occurred
in the government of Elias of Cortona).
But it was difficult, under these conditions, to maintain
purity of principles. In a large organization, the economic
basis easily asserts itself, and the movement became rich,
particularly after the Order became popular and began
receiving donations typical of medieval man, hoping to
assure salvation for their souls in the afterlife. Refusing
these donations would have required a spirit of freedom
from material desires that was not always present among
those in charge of the Order.

b) The medieval ecclesiastical society was hierarchical,

pyramidal in structure, which implied a mutual dependence,
within a clear definition of rights and powers at each level
or scale of the social structure. Behind this hierarchical
organization lay “obedience” as the basis (between lord and
serf, between liege and king, between master and apprentice, 239

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etc). Above all, the Church accentuated this characteristic,
whether through the accumulation of long tradition, in
which the papal power was gradually established in the
western societas christiana, or its universal nature, over whose
central power, the pope, is the representative of the divine
entity on earth. Obedience is required to preserve the unity
of the organization, or of the ecclesiastical body. This unit
is strong, as it is based on “belief ”. This “belief ” is one, and
does not allow the existence of any other belief, except itself
(it was only in the modern world that the “right to think
differently” emerged). One force, one supervisory power is
what determines this belief in its practical manifestation.
When Saint Francis wanted to found an Order, he certainly
sought papal approval, as without it, his ideals would
have had little real value. In a stratified society, in which
the Church justified its character by divine imperative,
the concept of “obedience” would take on a very serious
When considering that the relationship with God is
lie the personal relationship between a servant and his
master, with the same obligation of honour, belief in God
appears in the ethical-religious conscience of feudal man as
faithfulness to God, which will confirm the ecclesiastical
concept of the fides1.
The cruelty with which heretics were exterminated
reflects this situation, while at the same time, it highlights
the connection of the feudal knight as an instrument of
practical action of the medieval Church. In the stratified
relationship, in our case, its papal representative, or the
faction that dominates the Order, cannot recognize the
right of existence of minority opinion. Unless this opinion
is officially accepted by the ecclesiastical authority, the
minority will be fatally subjected to extermination and
persecution. This was the tragedy that befell the Spirituals.
Thus, the internal religious intolerance, and the apparent
desire to preserve unity and external discipline, forcibly led
to the common phenomenon within the Order whereby
“the unjust party eliminates the just party”.
In this same context, the movement appears as an
“innovator” in relation to the nature of the church of the
240 period (like that of Peter Waldo). The papacy was faced with

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two options: either absorb the movement into the bosom of
the Church, or annihilate it as heretical2. Here we see the
geniality of the statesman that characterized Innocent III
in recognizing the movement. Through this gesture, he was
preventing the possibility of any discordant trend forming
within the Mystical Body of Christ. Cardinal Ugolino
played an important role in the direction taken by Pope
Innocent III. It is not surprising that from the beginnings
of the movement, a prince of the Church had always taken
the role of counsellor, mediator and mitigator in its internal
affairs. In March 1220, in the bull Pro Dilectis, Honorius
III instituted the position of apostolic “conservator”, who
would be appointed by the Holy See, to defend the privileges
granted by the sovereign pontiffs to the mendicant orders.
In this period, in which the Gregorian reform – started
several decades earlier - had the goal of purifying the Church,
the position of Pope Innocent is also justified, who saw the
Order as a tool to further his plans to implement wide-
sweeping reforms. Pope Innocent saw not only the political
aspect of the question but also, one supposes, believed in
the rightness and purity of the Franciscan ideals. At a time
when corruption was rife in the ecclesiastical body, over
time, not even the Franciscan Order managed to escape the
flames that were corrupting the Church. Leading figures
within the Order, like St Bonaventure3 and Roger Bacon4
did not fail to call the attention of the friars of their time to
these irregularities.

c) As the Order penetrated the Universities, the tendency

to become more settled and stable increased. The human
element that was now added to the movement was very
different from that of the early disciples. They required
comfortable houses, books, things the mendicant lifestyle
could not offer them. Their studies conflicted with the
principle of absolute poverty. The competition with the
Dominicans further strengthened the connection between
the Order and the Universities, and the fact that the first
deviations from the rule occurred in Bologna, famous as a
centre of studies, is no mere coincidence. Later, academic
study would form part of Franciscanism, as I have described
earlier in this work. 241

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d) One may imagine that the level of personal demands
required of the true Franciscan was too burdensome,
when viewed in ordinary human terms. The original ideals
required rare personal qualities of those followers who
aspired to live by them. In fact, few were qualified for
such a commitment, as even among the early disciples of
St. Francis, we see that internal debates and temptations
brought them to the brink of failure.
We must not forget that St. Francis required, of his
apostles, an imitation of the Life of Christ, which at no
time was an easy aspiration to fulfill, far less in the medieval
world. Franciscans lived the drama of those religious men
who, until the last moments of their life on earth, did not
know whether they would be able to bear the weight of the
daily life, of the non-divine, of the earth, and whether they
would pass through it unharmed.
Living in harmony with the world of the things of man
would lead him, in the end, to alienate himself from the
real world, i.e. to isolate himself, avoiding contact with
men and with ordinary daily life. Franciscanism struggled,
from the very beginning, between two extremes: on one
hand, the ideal of isolation, individual contemplation, the
hermitic lifestyle, and on the other, the missionary ideal
of preaching the gospel to the multitudes, drawing near to
all creatures, and helping them to attain an understanding
of the divine. St. Francis himself felt torn between the
two extremes, which in the end, would be formulated as
individual salvation or the salvation of one’s fellow man.
The Order would have to decide on the direction it would
take in the future.
The Spirituals would end up tending more towards the
life of the hermitage as this represented, in their view, the
maximum perfection of the cenobitic life. We see this feature
in the founder of the Order and in his closest disciples,
as well as among the Spiritual leaders that followed him.
Angelo Clareno and his group tried to legalize this way as
the one that was most coherent with the ideals preached
by St. Francis. He wrote tum quia de sua auctoritate vite
perfectio et quase finis assumpserat 5.
The region of Central Italy with its mountainous valleys,

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lent itself well to this development, as it has been a land of
hermits and mystics since ancient times. Beyond the Alps,
the hermits became rarer, and the friars who followed this
type of religious lifestyle were very few in number. Thus,
the Spiritual friar understood Christianity in light of the
narrative of the Gospels, and the sense of intense religiosity
that emanated from them, without the need for any motive
other than faith itself. For them, faith was justified for its
own sake, and not as an institution in the world.

e) Putting the Spirituals in the situation of “heretics”

was, according to their accusers, the touchstone for them
to increasingly launch themselves into in a radical criticism
of the ecclesiastical power, and of the Supreme Pontiff in
particular. And the more extreme the persecutions against
them became, the more radical the concepts of the Spirituals,
until their total removal from the traditional positions of
the Church.
We must take into account that the Spiritual way of
thinking was not unusual for its time, or a phenomenon
that was isolated from the world of ideas of medieval
Europe. We see that the Joachimite concepts took account
of certain intellectual groups of the 13th and 14th Centuries.
And the historicism of Joachim of Fiore on the succession
of the times of religious humanity, culminating in a sixth
age, would form part of the Spiritual ideas, often expressed
in identical terms to those of the Calabrian abbot. One
only needs to read the writings of Angelo Clareno to gain a
sense of the extent of conviction of the Spiritual leader, in
the imminent coming of the misticum regnum ecclesie Dei6.
Therefore, the emergence of St. Francis had a profound
universal significance for those followers of the doctrine.
This conviction was not easy to eradicate, hence the
stubbornness of their opposition, and lack of willingness
to make concessions that characterized both parties. As for
the criticism developed by the Spirituals against the papal
authority, it found its precedents in previous heresies7,
but the severe conflict during the papacy of John XXII
deepened this critical attitude, which subsequently led to a
more elaborated concept on the nature of the papal power.

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1 Alfred Von Martin, Sociologia de la cultura medieval, Instituto de

Estudios Políticos, Madrid, 1954, p. 75.
2. This was what happened with the Waldensians, who were not
accepted, and were excommunicated by Pope Lucius III in 1184.
3. “Epistolae Officiales”, in Opera Omnia, ed. ALKF, T. I, pp. 468-
4. G. C. Coulton, Five centuries of Religion. Cambridge, University
Press, 1950, p. 430.
5. F. Ehrle, “Die Spiritualen”, in ALKG, T. I, p. 144.
6. Expositio Regulae Fratrum Minorum, ed. L. Oliger, Ad Claras Aquas,
1912, pp. 232 and 233.
7. Alberto de Stade, in MGH, T. XVI, p. 371, records a sect in the
Bavarian Swabia, in 1248, which called the Pope heretical and ignored all
ecclesiastical authority.


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Sources and Bibiography

I have attempted either to interpret the Franciscan

sources, some of which are little known, or to reinterpret
them, despite the many efforts already made in this regard.
It often happens that the historian finds in the text the truth
he is looking for, leaving aside that which does not concern
to him. As a result, studying a text that has “already been
studied” can still hold surprises.

The Franciscan sources within our reach, nowadays, are

numerous, and a good portion of them are accessible to the
student of medieval history, as nearly all exist in printed
form. On the other hand, some editions are extremely rare,
as they have been sold out or because they are not part of the
archive of our university libraries, and perhaps also because
they are documents linked to the ecclesiastical history, an
area of study that has been little developed in our brazilian
academic circles. It is therefore necessary to search in the
libraries of the religious institutions to find the material we
are looking for. Some sources have been carefully translated
from Latin into other languages; and can therefore be used
without fear that they have suffered some misrepresentation
in their texts. These sources can be classified as follows:

1) Writings of St. Francis, published for the first time by

Luca Wadding, in 1623, as a more organized set, published
in our century by the Collégio Saint Bonaventure at
Quaracchi, under the title of Opuscula Sancti Patris Francisci
Assissiensis, and prepared by Father L. Lemmens and
Professor H. Böhmer. The most accessible translations are
those into Italian, prepared by Father V. Facchinetti, under
the title of Gli scritti di S. Francesco d’Assisi, and Spanish, of
the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, under the title of San 245

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Francisco de Assis, Escritos completos y Biografias primitivas.
The Writings can be divided into:
a) legislative, including the first Rule of the friars minor,
that approved by Pope Honorius III in 1221; the second
Rule, approved by Pope Honorius III in 1223; a small
text known under the title of “On living in hermitages”,
perhaps written before 1218; “The Rule of Clarisses”, which
is a brief work composed of two small portions, the first a
forma vivendi and the second a ultima voluntas; “Testament
of Saint Francis”, written just before his death, possibly
when he was at the episcopal palace of Assisi, between May
and September of that year;
b) admonitions and letters;
and c) prayers and petitions, hymns and songs.

2) Biographies of St. Francis:

a) Vita Prima, by Thomas of Celano (whom I cite in
my work as 1 Celano); this is one of the oldest biographies,
and was written between 1228 and 1229. T. de Celano
joined the Order between 1213 and 1216 and after the
Chapter of 1221, he took part in the mission to Germany,
becoming custodian of Mainz, Worms and Cologne, in
1222. In 1223, he provisionally replaced the Provincial
Minister of that country, Caesar of Speyer, who was in
Italy. In 1227, Celano accompanied Albert of Pisa, the new
Provincial Minister of Germany, on the occasion of the
General Chapter at Porziuncola. Celano was probably an
eye witness of the canonization of St. Francis in 1228, as he
was in Italy at the time; it was in that same year that Pope
Gregory IX gave him the task of writing the biography of
St. Francis, which he completed in February 1229. From
the same author, we have:
b) Vita Secunda (which I cite in my work as 2 Celano),
written between 1245 and 1247. As already observed by
Sabatier, the first part of Vita Secunda is largely based on
Legenda Trium Sociorum. In fact, the Minister General
Crescentius of Jesi, at the General Chapter of 1244, ordered
all the testimonies linked to the life of the Saint to be

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gathered in writing, and based on this resolution, various
of St. Francis’ former companions wrote biographies of the
founder of the Order;
c) Legenda Trium Sociorum, written by Leo, Angelo and
Rufino, one of the biographies written after the appeal
made by Crescentius of Jesi. The work was completed
on 11th August 1246, and on 13th July 1247, Crescentius
stepped down from the generalship to make way for John
of Parma. The value of the Legenda Trium Sociorum is
immense, because it is a testimony of the disciples closest to
St. Francis, in a period in which the faction of the Spirituals
was fighting strongly for its ideals;
d) Vita Beati Francisci, by Father Julian of Speyer, written
between 1232 and 1235 is not particularly original, but is
useful as a comparative source;
e) Legenda (maior) S. Francisci, by St. Bonaventure,
written in 1260 through the resolution of the Chapter
of that year. The Legenda was approved at the Chapter of
Pisa in 1263, and in 1266, the General Chapter ordered
the destruction of the other legends and biographies. St.
Bonaventure also wrote a summary of his Legend, for use
by the choir, which came to be known as Legenda minor. We
do not find here the human portrait of the founding Saint
of the Franciscan Order, as in the biographies of Celano
or in the Legenda Trium Sociorum; the great theologian of
the Order was more concerned with describing an ideal
character, in an elevated language, albeit somewhat removed
from the stream of real life of St. Francis and his disciples;
f ) Liber de Laudibus beati Francisci, by Bernard of
Bessa. This was the secretary of St. Bonaventure; attending
to the resolution of the General Chapter of 1277, which
ordered the friars from all the provinces to gather works
or information still not known about St. Francis and his
disciples, Bessa made use of the gathered material to write
his biography. This biography brings us little contribution,
and its attention is more focused on the miracles of the
Saint and his apology;
g) Legenda S. Francisci, by Anonymus Perusinus, is very
similar to Legenda Trium Sociorum, and appears to have
been written after the resolution of the Chapter of 1277. 247

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A small part of the work of Anonymus Perusinus gives
information that is not recorded in other legends;
h) Speculum perfectionis status Fratris Minoris scilicet Beati
Francisci, written in 1318, the manuscript of which was
found for the first time by Sabatier (Bibliothèque Mazarine,
no. 1743). Sabatier was mistaken in his belief that the text
was written in 1227, but finding the new manuscript
confirmed the precise date. The work is based mainly on
cedulae Fratris Leonis or rotuli, and is heavily influenced by
the concepts of the Spirituals;
i) Actus B. Francisci et Sociorum eius, known by its Italian
version, with the title of Fioretti di S. Francesco, probably
written between 1322 and 1328. The writing is attributed
to Hugolino Boniscambi da Montegiorgio. It is one of
the writings that most reflect the spirit of the primitive
community and its lifestyle, even though not everything
that is found in it has historical value;
j) Liber de Conformitate Vitae beati Francisci ad Vitam
Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, by Bartholomeus of Pisa, started
in 1385 and completed in 1399, and which is based on
known sources. The writer does not go beyond drawing an
erudite parallel between Christ and St. Francis;
k) Commercium beati Francisci cum Domina Paupertate,
probably written by John Parenti in July 1227, may be
included among the partial biographies of the saint.

3) Biographies of close disciples of St. Francis:

a) S. Antonii de Padua Vitae Duae, the most important
of these is Legenda prima or antiquissima, written after the
canonisation of Saint Anthony in 1232;
b) Vita S. Clarae, by Thomas of Celano, also written after
the canonization of Saint Clare. We should also consider as
a source the Regula et vita Sororum pauperum, as well as the
letters written by Saint Clare, published in the edition of
her writings;
c) Vita B. Aegidii, by friar Leo, composed around 1261
and which portrays the Franciscan spirit of the early times.

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4) Cronicles of the Order:
a) Chronica, by Father Jordan of Giano, written in 1262
and which constitutes a source of exceptional value, as it is
an eye witness account of many of the events it describes.
Jordan of Giano joined the Order before 1218, later
becoming a deacon. He subsequently became custodian
at Thuringia and vice Provincial Minister of Bohemia and
b) De adventu FF. Minorum in Angliam, by Thomas
of Eccleston. Like that of Jordan of Giano, his chronicle
is very important, because it is an eye witness account of
the events it narrates. He entered the Order in 1232, and
his work must have been written between 1258 and 1259,
highlighting its not very systematic nature in the writing
of the work, which is compensated for by the authentic
material it contains;
c) Cronica, by father Salimbene de Adam, completed in
1288, and which is extremely precious for the knowledge
of the Order in the period from his entry i.e. the year 1238,
until the date of completion of his work. The chronicle
is also important from other aspects of medieval history,
portraying heretical movements, social customs and
religious personalities, with a great deal of literary and
descriptive power;
d) Chronica anonyma, which is merely a summary
of Jordan of Giano’s Chronica written later. H. Denifle
shows, in an interesting way, the use of this chronicle by
the chronicler of the Order, L. Wadding, in an article
published in Archiv, T. III, pp. 630-640, under the title of
Zur Quellenkunde der Franziscaner Geschichte;
e) Chronica XXIV Generalium, which begins with the
biography of St. Francis and the first disciples, and extends
to the year 1374. This compilation, which contains valuable
material, made use of earlier sources. The same chronicle,
with few modifications, was found in a Portuguese
manuscript which I used in my work, and which until now,
has not been the object of attention by researchers;
f ) Chronicon XIV vel XV Generalium, by Bernard of
Bessa, which gives information about the first Minister
Generals of the Order, and is of excellent quality; 249

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g) Chronica, by Nicolas Glassberger, who entered the
Order in 1472, and wrote this work in 1508, based on
Chronica XXIV Generalium, in Legenda Trium Sociorum
and in the Chronicle of Jordan of Giano, as well as in
Liber de Conformitate by Bartholomeus of Pisa. Although
not considered a first hand source, Glassberger’s work is
valuable for the direct consultation that the author had
with the manuscripts, and for its careful writing;
h) Peregrini de Bononia Chronicon abbreviatum de
successione Ministrorum Generalium, which was written in
1305 in the form of a letter, sent to the Minister General
Gonsalvus of Spain. It is published as an appendix to
Eccleston’s chronicle.

5) Chronicles of authors not linked to the Order: a) Letters

of Jacques de Vitry, one written in October 1216 and
another written in the Holy Land in 1219. From the same
author we have the chapter of his Historia Orientales et
Occidentalis, written between 1223 and 1226, which deals
with St. Francis and the beginnings of the Order; b) Various
authors, such as Thomas of Spalato (1222), Burchard of
Ursperg(1230), Roger of Wendover (1236), Walter of
Gisburne(Guisborough, s.XIV) and others are found in
Testimonia minora saeculi XIII de S. P. Francisco, published
by Father Leon Lemmens in Archivum Franciscanum
Historicum 1, 1908, pp. 68-84. All the texts were grouped
because they make some mention of St. Francis and the
Order; c) Legenda Aurea, by Jacobus of Voragine, which
deserved various translations, even though there is doubt
as to whether the author actually wrote the part referring
to St. Francis. The material used by Jacobus of Voragine
was taken from the early biographies of St. Francis; d)
Chronica, by John of Winterthur, which contains a wealth
of information about the Order.

6) Diplomatic documents: a) Bullarium Franciscanum,

written by J. H. Sbaralea from 1759 to 1768, in four
volumes. In 1780, A. de Latera added a volume, Ad
Bullarium Franciscanum Supplementum, and 1898, 1902

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and 1904, Konrad Eubel added a further three volumes.
In 1908, Konrad Eubel published Bullarii Franciscani
Epitome; b) Constitutions or resolutions from chapters,
which reached us, were published by Ehrle in Volume
VI in Archiv, as well as in volume XXXIV of Archivum
Franciscanum Historicum, 1941. In Orbis Seraphicus, by D.
de Gubernatis, vol. III, and in Chronologia Historico-Legalis
we find many of the resolutions of the General Chapters; c)
Seraphicae Legislationes Textus Originales, which contains the
Rule of 1223, as well as other legal documents related to the
Order; d) Registri dei Cardinali Ugolino d’Ostia e Ottaviano
degli Ubaldini, published by Guido Levi in Istituto Storico
Italiano; Registri shows the schedule of activities of Cardinal

7) Writings by the Spirituals: a) Historia Septem

tribulationum Ordinis Minorum, by Angelo Clareno,
written between 1313 and 1324, constituting one of the
most important sources for our understanding of the
Spirituals’ perspective. At heart, it is a history of the Order
seen from the point of view of the Spirituals. The material
contained in this work by Clareno was still not exhausted
as a pre-text for research into the Spirituals’ ideas. From the
same author, we have Expositio Regulae Fratrum Minorum,
as well as the important Epistolae published by Ehrle
in Archiv. V. Doucet published an Apology in Archivum
Franciscanum Historicum, which gives us an additional
idea of the thinking of this Spiritual leader; b) Arbor vitae
crucifixae Iesu, by Ubertino of Casale, written in 1305, as
important as the writings of Angelo Clareno, but richer
from a doctrinal point of view. Ubertino of Casale also wrote
Responsio, which constituted the response given by him to
the four points of the dispute between the Spirituals and
the Community, in 1310. In 1311, he wrote Rotulus, which
included the articles of accusation against the Community.
And August 1311, Ubertino of Casale wrote a reply to the
Community under the title of Declaratio; all these works
were published by Ehrle in Archiv, and constitutes an
indispensible source of material for the study of the polemic
between the factions of the Order; c) Scripta Apologetica,

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by Peter of John Olivi, published in Archivum Fransicanum
Historicum, which is an important text, like those written
by the other Spirituals, due to their knowledge. The work
of the leader from Provence is extensive, but also worth
highlighting is his Expositio super Regulam, in which the
point of view of his group is highly emphasized.
In this outline of the main sources used in my research,
directly related to the history of the Order since its
foundation until the emergence of the internal struggle,
I have not enumerated all the texts or primary sources
studied in the elaboration of this work. The reader will
find that other works, related to more specific aspects of
our study, have also been used, such as those mentioned
in the chapter on Joachim of Fiore and his influence in
the formation of the Spiritual thinking. In order not to
overburden the reader with unnecessary repetitions, I have
attempted to include, in this introductory work, mainly
Franciscan sources with the title and author of the text,
without giving all the publication details, since these are
given in the general bibliography at the end of this work.
Finally, it is appropriate to observe that at no time have I
attempted to evaluate the sources presented, as this would
be the subject of a new work, altogether different from the
one proposed here.


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AF, Analecta Franciscana

AFH, Archivum Franciscanum Historicum
ALKG, Archiv für Literatur und Kirchengeschichte des
MGH, Script. Monumenta Germaniae Historica,
MPL, Migne, Patrologia Latina


ABELARDUS, Introductio ad Theologiam, MPL, 178.

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_____, Epistola Excusatoria, in ALKG, T. I, pp. 521-533.
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