Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Franciscans in the Middle Ages

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Franciscans in the Middle Ages

Article excerpt

The Franciscans in the Middle Ages. By Michael Robson. [Monastic Orders.] (Rochester, NewYork:The Boydell Press. 2006. Pp. xiv, 239. $47.95.)

Author of a favorably reviewed book on Saint Francis, Michael Robson here attacks the larger subject of the Franciscans in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. He brings to the task an impressive command of the primary and secondary sources.The book is brimming with data, all of it relevant to the story of how the order developed as well as how it affected and was affected by medieval society as a whole. Robson traces his topic over a long period and throughout western Europe as well as in the east. (The second and third orders play a relatively minor role in his story, however.)

If Robson is generous with data, he is less so with analysis. For example, he devotes a chapter to Bonaventure and in the process summarizes a number of his works. He includes a three-page summary of the Legenda maior but makes no serious attempt to describe how it resembles or differs from earlier writings on the saint and what those differences suggest. Robson comments that "historians now shy away from the concept that he was the second founder of the order" but does not explain why they ever thought of Bonaventure as such or why that view is now questioned.

Again, Robson gives a five-page summary of Angelo Clareno's chronicle, which he describes as providing "a solid foundation for the historical development of the reform movement among the friars." He qualifies this judgment by citing some of its more obvious errors, but the question of Angelo's reliability goes much deeper than that. Indeed, it is arguable that throughout the chronicle, Angelo is artfully bending the facts to turn Franciscan history into a rather simplistic morality play. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.