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Franciscan Studies 60 (2002) 359 BOOK REVIEWS David Burr, The Spiritual Franciscans: From Protest to Persecution in the Century after Saint Francis, University Park, PA, Penn State University Press, 2001. Pages: 427. Students of great art, literature or music rejoice when the insights and achievements of a particular artist that have appeared in earlier works in partial or fragmentary form are seen to come to fruition in later works demonstrating full mastery of the craft, maturity of expression and depth of reflection and analysis. Such is the impression one has in reading the present volume by David Burr, professor emeritus of history at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, on the phenomenon of the spiritual Franciscans, representing as it does the culmination of a lifetime of research and writing on the subject. And a stunning achievement it is! Indeed, it could be argued without fear of exaggeration that this work stands as one of the most accomplished treatments of an important topic in medieval Franciscan history in recent years – not because it presents that history by way of a strikingly new and original thesis but rather because of its powerful synthesis of complex realities by way of a masterful control of a wide array of sources. Burr certainly comes to his task extraordinarily well-prepared. Author of numerous articles and several important monographs on aspects of the controversies described in this book (most notably on the pivotal figure of Peter of John Olivi),1 Burr is well known to medievalists and franciscanists alike not only through his various publications but also thanks to his frequent participation as a presenter at the annual medieval congresses in Kalamazoo, often in sessions sponsored by The Franciscan Institute, on the very topics covered in this volume. In brief, he has been building his case on the subject for many years and now we have his summary statement on the matter. 1 The series of monographs are: D. Burr, The Persecution of Peter Olivi. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Ns., 66/5 (Philadelphia: APS, 1976); idem, Olivi and Franciscan Poverty (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989); idem, Olivi’s Peaceable Kingdom: A Reading of the Apocalypse Commentary (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993). He is also editor of the volume of De usu paupere. The Quaestio and the Tractatus de usu paupere (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1992). BOOK REVIEWS 360 The phenomenon of the spiritual Franciscans – or the Franciscan Spirituals as they are sometimes more commonly called – is a highly complex one, presenting a consummate challenge to any historian attempting to sort out the various people and events, issues and ideas in play between 1274 and 1340 both in the Church at large and the Franciscan Order in particular. Faced with such a daunting task, historians of the highest caliber this past century have generally preferred to concentrate on one or several aspects of the controversy, limiting themselves either to events in Italy or in France; events between 1274 and 1310 or between the Council of Vienne and the Sachsenhausen Appeal; events concerning the Friars Minor and the controversy over poverty or those concerning the lay beguins of southern France and the issue of heresy. Not our author. Throughout this hefty volume, Burr displays enormous erudition and supreme mastery of the sources at his disposal, presenting for the first time ever a cohesive narrative of this critical period of Franciscan history. Basing himself on texts first published by Franz Ehrle near the end of the 19th century in the Archiv für Literatur- und Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters,2 a series of treatises prepared for the 1309-1310 discussions published in the periodical literature during the first half of the 20th century and the inquisitorial testimonies found in the Collection Doat, Burr manages the incredible feat of drawing together most of the strands of this wide-ranging controversy. In so doing, he is able to go well beyond previous treatments – each excellent in its own way – of this multi-faceted phenomenon with which he has been in sustained conversation over the years: most notably, the work of Lydia von Auw on Angelo Clareno,3 the studies of Gian Luca Potestà on Ubertino da Casale and the Poor Hermits...


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