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Franciscan Poverty

Malcolm D. Lambert

Publication Year: 1998

An assessment of the rise and fall within the Franciscan Order of the doctrine of the absolute poverty of Christ and the apostles. Covering the decades between 1210-1323, Lambert describes the doctrine as found in the mind of St. Francis and moves to Pope John XXII’s condemnation of one particular form of the doctrine.

Published by: Franciscan Institute Publications

title pages, table of contents

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pp. 3-6

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pp. 7-8

The 1961 edition was published while I was an Assistant Lecturer at Reading University. I was grateful to the Research Board for a grant towards publication costs; still more for their generosity in electing me to their Research Fellowship to enable...

abbreviations/ names

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pp. 9-10

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pp. 11-15

The controversy in the second decade of the fourteenth century on the poverty of Christ and the apostles under John XXII must rank as one of the oddest of all medieval conflicts. For some time the energies of the greatest scholastics in Christendom were devoted to discussing the issue: did Christ and the apostles have property in common or not? My curiosity...

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1. The Problem of St. Francis

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pp. 16-43

A century has passed since the Calvinist pastor from the Cevennes, Paul Sabatier, published a remarkable life of St. Francis and thereby launched the modern study of the problem of the interpretation of St. Francis and the sources for his life1 —a study distinguished to the present day by much....

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2. St. Francis and the Poverty of Christ

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pp. 44-78

The work of textual criticism on the sources for St. Francis is now largely over. That essential work done, we are embarking on a more difficult and dangerous territory still, that of the investigation of Francis’s mind. More and more, it is becoming clear that the central problems in this field are not derived solely from the accidents of the biographical...

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3. The Development of the Franciscan Life

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pp. 79-109

We have now established the idea of the poverty of the friars in the mind of St. Francis. It is almost too obvious to say that this idea of poverty is so extreme as to cause immense difficulties as soon as it has to be applied, not to a band of wandering friars, but to a developing order with its problems of dwelling places, learning, sick friars, and the like. And in fact...

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4. John of Parma and Bonaventura

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pp. 110-132

It would have been remarkable if the developments outlined in the previous chapter had not caused disquiet in some quarters within the order. II Celano, which was published in 1246, reveals the anxiety felt by the companions about the state of the...

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5. The Bonaventuran Doctrine of Absolute Poverty

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pp. 133-148

For Francis, the nature of the poverty of Christ was an assumed fact. Much the same was true of his immediate followers. The practical needs of their life in the early years of development pressed so hard upon them that they had neither wish nor opportunity to...

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6. Exiit Qui Seminat

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pp. 149-156

In the summer of 1273 Bonaventura received the red hat from Gregory X. At Pentecost of the following year he presided over the chapter-general of Lyons, which elected his successor, Jerome of Ascoli; shortly afterwards, exhausted by his labours on behalf of the union between the Greek and Latin churches, he died and was buried at...

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7. Relaxation and the Growth of Parties

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pp. 157-195

At the start of the period which we shall now cover, the Franciscans had recently emerged from a twenty-seven year period of stabilization, dominated by the generalates of two of Francis’s greatest sons, John of Parma and Bonaventura. They had routed their....

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8. The Papal Investigation 1309-12

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pp. 196-213

We have now reached a dividing line in our account of the Spiritual-Conventual disputes. Hitherto, despite a common attachment to Olivi and a fundamental unity of aim, the Spirituals have generally acted in isolation from each other. Their ideas have been bounded by their....

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9. The Aftermath

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pp. 214-219

The Spiritual representatives, probably in 1312, withdrew from the Avignon convent, where they felt themselves threatened by the presence of the Conventuals, and made their home by a solitary church near Malauc

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10. John XXII and the Condemnation of the Doctrine of Absolute Poverty

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pp. 220-268

We have completed the task of providing a narrative account of the Spiritual- Conventual disputes from the time of Exiit qui seminat to the year of the accession of John XXII. We have seen how the situation became more complicated and more envenomed as...


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pp. 269-284


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pp. 285-306

E-ISBN-13: 9781576592502
E-ISBN-10: 1576592502
Print-ISBN-13: 9781576590010
Print-ISBN-10: 1576590011

Page Count: 311
Publication Year: 1998

Edition: First

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Franciscans -- History.
  • Poverty -- Religious aspects -- Catholic Church -- History of doctrines -- Middle Ages, 600-1500.
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