Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Carmel in Medieval Catalonia

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Carmel in Medieval Catalonia

Article excerpt

Cartel in Medieval Catalonia. By Jill R. Webster. [The Medieval Mediterranean: Peoples, Economies and Cultures, 400-1453,Volume 23.] (Leiden: Brill. 1999. Pp. xvii, 200. $76.00.)

The author, until her recent retirement, of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at Toronto, has concentrated her scholarly interests especially on the Franciscan and Carmelite Orders in medieval Catalonia. This book is the fruit of frequent visits to Catalonia and a thorough familiarity with a rather inaccessible Western language.

The expansion of the Carmelite Order in Spain took place relatively late; it was only in 1254 that a general chapter decreed the establishment of houses in that country. In the constitutions of 1281 (the earliest to come down to us), the province of Spain appears in the last place. The earliest foundations were in the Crown of Aragon, probably emanating from Perpignan in Provence.

After briefly treating the origins of the Order in the Near East, and describing the Carmelite rule (1206-1214), Dr. Webster recounts the early development of the province and its eleven medieval foundations. Extensive consideration is given to the likelihood of the date, 1206, for the foundation of the convent in Perelada. This date, the earliest possible for the granting of the rule, has been rejected by Carmelite historians, Otger Steggink and Balbino Velasco, and the author presents her support of it as a "hypothesis." Another hypothesis is the likelihood of a movement of return to the Order's eremitical origins in fourteenth-century Catalonia, evidenced by the publication of Felip Ribot's Institutio primorum monacborum and the foundation of houses in remote sites in Salgar and Terrassa. …

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