Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Valdo Di Lione E I 'Poveri Nello Spirito': Il Primo Secolo del Movimento Valdese (1170-1270)

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Valdo Di Lione E I 'Poveri Nello Spirito': Il Primo Secolo del Movimento Valdese (1170-1270)

Article excerpt

Carlo Papini, Valdo di Lione e i 'poveri nello spirito': il primo secolo del movimento valdese (1170-1270) (Turin: Claudiana, 2001). 542 pp.; 12 plates. ISBN 88-7016-378-4. Eur. 19.63.

In this new consideration of the development of the Waldensian heresy, Carlo Papini provides a detailed narrative of the first century of the movement, encompassing its condemnation at Verona in 1184 and the subsequent persecution, and of what is known of its founder, Waldo of Lyon. He places the Waldensians firmly in the context of eleventh- and twelfth-century popular enthusiasm for apostolic poverty, beginning with the Gregorian reform and including sections on both approved and heretical figures such as Robert of Arbissel, Norbert of Xanten, Peter of Bruis, and Henry of Lausanne.

In his introduction, Papini makes clear his desire not only to provide a narrative of the history of the Waldensians but also to reveal their founder, Waldo. However, although his discussion of Waldo's merchant past and the possibility that he may have held a cathedral office is interesting, it is undermined by Papini's decision to consider neither the social position of the early Waldensians nor the related question of Waldensianism as a form of social protest. The paucity of the source material means that Waldo remains a shadowy figure, and without this context his meagre biography before his 'conversion' to the religious life illuminates little of the development of the Waldensians. More successful are Papini's later chapters on the development of Waldensian theology: the section on Waldensian biblical translations is particularly interesting and includes a detailed consideration of the manuscript tradition and interrelationships of the surviving examples of their early work. …

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