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MISCELLANEA A NOTE ON THE FASCICULUS MORUM When Friar Sintram was studying at Oxford in 1412, he copied four treatises to carry back to Germany with him; three of these by well-known men, Hugo of St. Victor, Aegidius of Rome and the Seraphic Doctor, are accessible in print. The fourth, known as the Fasciculus Morum, compiled by an unknown Franciscan of the custody of Worcester , has not yet been printed. Under the seven capital sins and their opposing virtues, he organized preaching material with exempla and narratives and occasional English verses, and he appended to the main treatise forty-two sermon outlines running from Advent to Trinity. Dr. Little described the treatise in Studies in English Franciscan History (Manchester, 1917, pp. 139-157). He showed that while it was probably written in Edward II's reign, all the early manuscripts have disappeared: of the twenty-four manuscripts, only one was written in the fourteenth century. But a study of them makes clear that what was intended for friars had in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries become generally known and used by secular clergy as well: more than half the manuscripts were owned by secular chaplains or monastic houses, or show by the omission of the few specific references to St. Francis that they were copied outside the Friars Minor. Of the six other manuscripts containing extracts, all but one are clearly non-Franciscan; and the same holds true for the ownership of nine lost manuscripts. This extended use of the treatise is also indicated by three revisions current in the fifteenth century : a condensation omitting all the English verses and many 1. For Friar Sintram see the references in Father Lenhart's note in Franciscan Studies VI (1946), 469-70. 202 MISCELLANEA203 of the exempla; an expansion adding passages from the Legenda Áurea and elsewhere; and a third version retaining both the English and the exempla, but smoothing the difficulties of the text by rewriting many passages. Because of these revisions and also the evidence of contamination among the manuscripts, it has seemed wise in preparing a text for publication not to attempt a reconstruction of what was written in Edward IPs reign, but rather to present the text that Sintram found at Oxford in the early fifteenth century. A comparison of Bodley MS Rawlinson C 670 (which contains all but one of the English passages), with Sintram's manuscript (now in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York), and the Benedictine John Laverne's later manuscript (which he may have obtained while he was a student at Oxford and which he eventually gave to his own convent at Worcester Cathedral), produces a text not entirely free from errors, but readable, and not over-encumbered with variant readings. An analysis of the relationship between the Fasciculus and other preaching and thinking of the time is not possible till the complete text is made available. It is, however, obvious that the friar-compiler concentrated his attention on the simple people who needed the word of God. The rich store of his illustrative material includes the wisdom of the pagan philosophers, which John of Wales, his older contemporary, had compiled in the Breviloquium; the pious tales and anecdotes familiar already in such collections as Jacques de Vitry's and the Speculum Laicorum ; the science of the time, when it could be translated into simplest terms (as when the astronomers observed an eclipse of the sun by means of a mirror in a basin of water) ; and ever and again the manners of everyday life, a tinker preferring the battered old pots that he could mend, a blacksmith leaving a hot piece of iron in the road, children constructing toy mills and raiding the orchard for apples, the wife concealing blows inflicted by her husband, the nurse caring for her awakened child. But after the variety of narrations and exempla, his point is always 204MISCELLANEA driven home by a concluding text from the Bible. In short, the treatise is interesting to the student of religion as an effort to adapt the teaching of the Church for presentation to humble people; to the student of social history it throws abundant light on...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 202-204
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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