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IN MEMORIAM DECIMAE LANGWORTHY DOUIE FILIORUM SANCTI FRANCISCI HISTORICAE ET EEUDITAE QUAE JOANNIS PECHAM ARCHIEPISCOPI CANTUARIENSIS DOCTORIS INGENIOSI FRATRISQUE MINORIS VITAM DESCRIPSIT OPERAQUE EDIDIT VOLUMEN HOC DDD FRATRES MINORES ET SOCII INSTITUTI FRANCISCANI APUD UNIVERSITATEM SANCTI BONAVENTURAE ALLEGANENSEM DECIMA LANGWORTHY DOUIE 1901-1977 Franciscan studies have suffered a loss from the death of Dr. Decima Douie on December 21, 1977. At the age of 76 she was working with unabated energy; there was more to come. Decima was the tenth and youngest child of Sir James and Lady Douie, hence her name. It suited her. She had about one tenth of the size and weight of a normal woman physically; morally she had the strength of ten. She reminded me of those frail looking plants whose roots grow too deep to be pulled out. Readers in the Bodleian Library marvelled to see her lifting volumes almost as big as herself. Her life as a scholar centered on the history of St. Francis and his Order. The absorption began when she was reading history as an undergraduate at Oxford. As soon as it was financially possible she went to Manchester University to write her doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Sir Maurice Powicke and Dr. A. G. Little, who thought so highly of her potential that he gave her a dossier, collected over the years, as a starting point for her research. She published her thesis in 1932 as The Nature and Effect of the Heresy ofthe Fraticelli. It remains a standard work on the subject still. However, Franciscan history had to be fitted into the intervals of her life as a university teacher. There were only two breaks in it, when she held research fellowships at Girton College, Cambridge and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Decima taught first at the University of Durham and then at Hull until her retirement to live in Oxford in 1967. Her pupils felt a loving admiration for 'The Frightened Lady,' as they called her. Decima's voice belied her looks; she could hold a large audience. Students were grateful both for her inspiration and for the personal interest and help which she gave them unsparingly. There were other distractions from her pursuit of Franciscan history, since she contributed to studies in other fields out of an unselfish willingness to collaborate. That accounts for her part in the edition and translation of the Magna Vita of St. Hugh of Lincoln (Nelson's Medieval Texts, 1961) and for her support of local historical societies. Family troubles and bouts of 8 BERYL SMALLEV illness cut into the leisure she might have had later in life. She completed the edition of Pecham's Register, left unfinished by its first editor, an exacting and unexciting task, because 'it needed doing.' Again, she ventured into the unfamiliar field of Bible exegesis, when reading of Olivi on St. Matthew had enticed her into it. Dogged perseverance in getting up a new technique resulted in the paper which has just been published here. Decima changed her mind about the Franciscan Spirituals while she was working on her thesis. She began with full sympathy for those truest to the ideas of St. Francis; then she came to see what practical difficulties were involved in running a vast organization on such lines. A more balanced judgment enabled her to describe conflicts within the Order more objectively. She understood the tensions and could identify with all parties in the disputes. Her book on Archbishop Pecham is a meticulous, thorough survey, comprising all aspects of his tenure of the see of Canterbury. As such it is required reading for any student of English thirteenth-century history. But it also shows a deep personal insight into Pecham's character, formed by his early years in the Order, when the claims of poverty clashed with those of university life for friar doctors. We watch a motion picture of the reforming archbishop, faced by vested interests and achieving far less than he had planned in his zeal. It is worth quoting Decima's conclusion: Although the Franciscan ideal represented the literal imitation of Christ and His apostles, possibly his ardent desire to follow the way of the Cross was granted...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 3-9
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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