Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Making of Medieval Antifraternalism: Polemic, Violence, Deviance, and Remembrance

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Making of Medieval Antifraternalism: Polemic, Violence, Deviance, and Remembrance

Article excerpt

The Making of Medieval Antifraternalism: Polemic, Violence, Deviance, and Remembrance .By Guy Geltner. (New York: Oxford University Press. 2012. Pp. xvi, 188. $110.00. ISBN 978-0-199-63945-8.)

Antifraternalism, criticism of the mendicant friars, is probably most familiar through characters such as Geoffrey Chaucer's Friar John or False Seeming from the Romance of the Rose. Although scholars have long argued about how accurately these literary types reflect the lives (and vices) of medieval friars, that debate has rested largely on evidence drawn from literary sources and theological polemics of the friars' opponents within the Church.With this book, Guy Geltner offers us a new definition of antifraternalism based on a much broader range of source material.

Geltner divides his study into two parts composed of two chapters each. Part 1 concentrates on criticisms leveled at the friars by their opponents. Chapter 1 revisits the traditional antifraternal corpus, the theological and literary sources critical of the friars. By most accounts, at the root of these are polemics arising from conflicts between secular and mendicant masters at the University of Paris in the 1250s, especially criticisms of the friars contained in William of St. Amour's On the Dangers of the Last Times (1256). Geltner argues that although later antifraternal authors did build on St. Amour's exegesis and repeat many of his charges against the friars, his challenge to the very legitimacy of their existence was atypical of most subsequent criticism of the friars that aimed at their reform rather than their eradication. Chapter 2 identifies other sources of antifraternal activity through an investigation of accounts of violence directed against the friars (gleaned from court records between the early-thirteenth century and the end of the fourteenth). These reveal a modest yet consistent rate of aggression against the friars, but no common motivation rooted in antimendicant sentiment derived from the rhetoric of St. …

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