The Arrival of the Franciscans in England

Michael J.P. Robson, Thomas of Eccleston's De adventu Fratrum Minorum in Angliam ["The Arrival of the Franciscans in England"], 1224-c.1257/8: Commentary and Analysis (Boydell and Brewer 2023)

Known as Friars Minor, Franciscans or Greyfriars, the followers of St Francis of Assisi pioneered a new type of religious life, moving beyond the monastic cloister. Their ministry was to bring the Gospel to life through example, preaching, gesture, drama, music and poetry. Founded in 1209, the movement became rapidly popular and spread widely across Europe. By around 1257 there were 49 communities In England, housing some 1,242 friars. The story of the Franciscans' arrival, and the growth of the Order up until c.1257/1258, is related by the chronicler Thomas of Eccleston In his De Adventu Fratrum Minorum in Angliam. The story is not untroubled: for example, Eccleston does not shy away from the painful controversies of the later 1230s, when there were deep divisions about the exercise of authority in the Order. He was disturbed by some developments in the Order and showed his support for caution in the schools and in relation to building, at a time when friars were exposed to searching criticisms. The chronological account is accompanied by exemplum materials which illuminate the friars' preaching and teaching, and by a gallery of virtuous individual friars. This book is the first full-length study of the text, examining it in detail, and providing a careful elucidation.

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