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Franciscan Studies 60 (2002) 93 JOHN OF WALES’ COMMENTARY ON THE FRANCISCAN RULE About John of Wales we have the excellent study published by J. Swanson in 1989.1 She begins the book with a chapter on “The career of John of Wales.” With due caution, and for good reasons, she proposes that John was born in Wales between 1210 and 1230 and died in Paris in April, 1285. What he did along the way from Wales to Paris Swanson lays out in detail, and to that career belongs a commentary on the rule. John wrote the commentary on the rule edited here. Although the sole surviving manuscript in Ravenna does not attribute it to anyone, the first edition2 does, an attribution readily confirmed. Twice the author of the commentary refers to the Itinerarium and thrice to the Dietarium. He does not say “I wrote them,” but he implies it, and implies as well that his readers know to what he refers. Both texts are part of John of Wales’ Ordinarium vitae religiosae. Swanson sees no problem with John’s authorship of the commentary. The Capuchin scholar, Father Baldwin, was convinced of John’s authorship of the commentary as well.3 John of Wales wrote the commentary in 1283 or 1284 in Paris. John uses the Meditatio pauperis in solitudine extensively.4 He turns to it for a series of references and lifts whole passages from it. Instances abound; I mention but a few. In Chapter VI, John takes the paragraph with references to Cicero, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Gregory the Great from the Meditatio, pages 262-263. At the beginning of Chapter X, John takes two passages from Bernard. Whereas the 1513 edition of the commentary quotes the passage of Bernard as we find it in the critical edition, the manuscript quotes it, without enim and with beneplacitum, as we find it in the Meditatio, page 256. Most of the brief 1 Jenny Swanson, John of Wales A Study of the Works and Ideas of a Thirteenth-Century Friar (Cambridge University Press, 1989). 2 Firmamentum, Venice, 1513; Part III, folios 98va-106ra. 3 I asked Father Servus Gieben (Istituto Storico dei Cappuccini, Rome) if he knew of any manuscript with the commentary other than the Ravenna one. He did not, nor, he added, had Father Baldwin. He sent me some notes of Father Baldwin on the commentary which I, with gratitude, have used. 4 F. Delorme, ed., Meditatio pauperis in solitudine auctore anonymo saec. XIII. Bibliotheca Franciscana Asceteica Medii Aevi VII (Quaracchi, 1929). JOHN OF WALES 94 Chapter XI John takes from Meditatio, 266-267. John put the commentary together rapidly: it is not long, it has few developments. The author of the Meditatio organized his meditation around three ideas and proceeded leisurely, at times letting his mind wander meditatively, as the editor of the Meditatio observes. We may conclude then that the long piece does not draw from the brief commentary. For sound reasons, Delorme has dated the Meditatio to 1282 or 1283.5 And the commentary came later. Both the commentary and the meditation abound in the sort of learning that marked John of Wales’ writings.6 Although both texts readily identify the authors used, John does not say he is drawing from the Meditatio pauperis. John is the only one who used the Meditatio, as far as we can tell.7 I conclude that he wrote them both. As for the edition, we have but one manuscript: codex 133 of the Biblioteca Classense in Ravenna. No other has come to light. I requested a microfilm of the manuscript. I received photocopies of the folios, with the explanation that the manuscript was too fragile for the microfilming process. Besides the manuscript, which I designate CR, we also have the 1513 edition to consider, which I designate SM (Speculum Minorum seu Frimamentum. . . ). The manuscript does well with the many quotations in the commentary. The 1513 edition does not. The manuscript has problematic passages. The 1513 edition skips problems. The manuscript is all we have of the text’s transmission, whereas the 1513 edition was, as the word says, edited, in some sense of modifying and fixing readings. I...


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