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  • Dating Bonaventure's Inception as Regent Master
  • Jay M. Hammond

In light of the careful work of Joshua Benson who argues that the De reductione is the second part to Bonaventure's inception sermon,1 this article will date the De reductione by determining when he incepted.2 This is not an easy task because the date of his inception has been a point of confusion within Bonaventurian scholarship. Scholars date it as early as 1248 and as late as 1257. Within those nine years they assign various scenarios regarding his status as regent master. For example, the most common scenario has Bonaventure incepting in 1253 or 1254 and assuming the Franciscan Chair in theology, but only teaching in the Franciscan convent, unrecognized by the university until either 1256 or 1257.3

My thesis is that Bonaventure incepted in April 1254 to replace William of Middleton who relinquished the Franciscan chair in the wake of the Lenten riot of 1253.4 To argue this thesis, the paper divides into three parts. The first will briefly present the various dating for Bonaventure's inception. The second will examine all the thirteenth and fourteenth [End Page 179] century sources that are used for determining Bonaventure's chronology so as to establish the evidence for calculating his inception. And third, building upon the evidence gleaned from those witnesses, I will present a narrative chronology that details events surrounding Bonaventure's inception in April 1254.

I. Various Dating of Bonaventure's inception as Master

Scholars assign various dates to his inception, which has caused much confusion. The Quaracchi editors of the Opera omnia, Robinson, Gilson, Moorman, and Crowley claim Bonaventure incepted in 1248;5 Robson alone gives a 1252 date;6 Callebaut, Longpré, the Spanish editors of the Obras de San Buenaventura, Abate, Bonafede, the earlier Brady, the later Hayes, and Hammond give a date of 1253;7 Pelster, Glorieux, the Quaracchi editors of the Opera theologica selecta, Veuthey, the earlier Bougerol, Cousins, Schlosser and [End Page 180] Delio opt for 1253 or 1254;8 the later Bougerol, Quinn, the earlier Hayes, Noone, Hauser, and Cullen hold for a 1254 date;9 the later Brady posits a 1255 date;10 Bettoni and Dufeil push the inception back to 1257.11 Table 1 highlights the disparity between the last two studies that focus specifically on Bonaventure's chronology during his time at Paris.

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Table 1.

Disputed dates in Bonaventure's Chronology12

At least the two studies have one date in common, and with that one fixed date of 1257, we turn to examine the thirteenth and fourteenth century witnesses so as to dispel the disparity.

II. Examining the Sources

Even though the dating for Bonaventure's inception spans nine years, there are only seven sources that scholars can use to calculate those dates. More specifically, the majority of scholars support a 1253 or 1254 dating, with the year discrepancy likely deriving from how they calculate the dates in the sources according to medieval/modern calendars.13 Thus, to sort through the tangle of dating, all the evidence will first be presented in full. Then, in light of all the evidence, a scenario for dating Bonaventure's inception can be advanced.

The thirteenth and fourteenth century sources fall into four groups:14 (1) the Chronica fratris Salimbene de Adam (c. 1283);15 (2) the two independent, short lists of General [End Page 182] Ministers: Series Magistrorum Generalium Ordinis Fratrum Minorum (c. 1261-64),16 and Chronicon Abbreviatum de Successione Generalium Ministrorum (c. 1304);17 (3) the three interdependent texts of the Catalogus Generalium Ministrorum,18 Catalogus XV Generalium (c. 1304; also called Catalogus Gonsalvinus),19 and the Chronica XXIV Generalium (c. 1360; also called Chronica Generalum Ministrorum),20 which contain significant variances from one another; and (4) the Chronica Franciscis Fabrianensis (c. 1322; also called Chronica Veneta).21 As will become clear, scholars who advance a 1248 date read Salimbene in light of Fabriano, while those who favor 1253 or 1254 read Salimbene in light of the Catalogus Generalium Ministrorum and related texts. Those who favor a 1257 dating, seem to ignore all these sources, and instead look...


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