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39 Franciscan Studies 60 (2002) WHENCE “THE COMMUNITY”? INTRODUCTION Peruse any of the classic syntheses of medieval Franciscan history in the twentieth century – e.g., Heribert Holzapfel, Gratien de Paris, Raphael Huber, or John Moorman1 - and one will find that the pivotal years 1289-1323 are treated almost exclusively in terms of the crisis over the observance of evangelical poverty. Such studies present the period as a titanic struggle waged between two warring parties within the Order: on the one side, the Franciscan “Spirituals,” adherents of a more rigoristic form of material poverty; on the other, the Franciscan “Community,” those advocates of a more moderate or even relaxed interpretation of the vow. Moreover, the bulk of these narratives are usually devoted primarily to laying out the positions and travails of the Spirituals, thanks largely to the engaging and readable accounts of those days provided by Angelo Clareno and Ubertino da Casale.2 This reading of Franciscan history has also been reinforced more recently 1 H. Holzapfel, Handbuch der Geschichte des Franziskanerordens (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1909) [Engl. trans.: The History of the Franciscan Order, trans. A. Tibesar and G. Brinkmann (Teutopolis, IL: St. Joseph Seminary, 1948]; Gratien de Paris, Histoire de la foundation et de l’évolution de l’ordre des Frères Mineurs au XIIIe siècle, eds. M. D’Alatri and S. Gieben. Bibliotheca Seraphico-capuccina, 29 (Rome: Istituto Storico dei Cappuccini, 1982) [orig. pub. Paris: 1928] [private Engl. translation: The Foundation and the Evolution of the Friars Minor in the Thirteenth Century, trans. S.P. Laliberté (1993)]; R.M. Huber, A Documented History of the Franciscan Order (1182-1517) (Milwaukee: The Nowiny Publishing Apostolate, 1944); and J. Moorman, A History of the Franciscan Order from its Origins to the Year 1517 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968) [rpt. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1988]. 2 Angelo Clareno, Liber chronicarum sive historiae septem tribulationum, ed. G. Boccali (Assisi: Edizioni Porziuncola, 1999) with interfaced Italian translation [a private partial Engl. trans., based on the Chronicon seu Historia septem tribulationum ordinis minorum, ed. A. Ghinato. Sussidi e testi per la gioventù francescana, 10 (Rome: Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum, 1959) is available as The Chronicle or History of the Seven Tribulations of the Order of Friars Minor by Angelus Clarenus, trans. Sr. Bartholomew McDonald and G. Marcil (pro manuscripto, St. Bonaventure, NY: St. Bonaventure University: 1983)]. To date, Ubertino has not been as well served. His fundamental work is available only through a printed reproduction of the 1485 Venice edition: Arbor vitae crucifixae Iesu, ed. C.T.Davis (Turin: Bottega d’Erasmo, 1961); no integral English translation is yet available. One awaits the imminent publication of the critical edition of the work undertaken by Carlo Martinez Ruiz. A number of Ubertino’s contributions to the famous debates of 1310-11 in and around Avignon have also been edited in Latin and will be cited further on in the article. MICHAEL F. CUSATO 40 in Duncan Nimmo’s fine study of the Franciscan Observant Reform Movement who, though not writing a synthesis of medieval Franciscan history per se, still surveys the history of this period as if it were preeminently a struggle about poverty.3 Interestingly enough, in the wake of Vatican II and its call for religious communities to return to the charism of their founders, this particular approach to Franciscan history - as a history about the struggle over poverty - has come to be reinforced all the more. Now in fairness, these classic presentations do have a certain validity - for the struggle over poverty was indeed the one central issue of the period, consuming the time and energy of many of the leading Franciscans of the day. And such a struggle, moreover, was deeply rooted in contradictions and tensions already present in Franciscanism at least since the second decade of its existence. And yet it must be said that such a presentation or picture of Franciscan history is somewhat skewed, if not an outright caricature of the realities within the Order at the end of the 13th and into the early 14th centuries. For surely, there was more going on in the Order during these crucial decades than this incessant wrangling about the whys and...


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