The Poor And The Perfect: The Rise of Learning in the Franciscan Order, 1209-1310 by Neslihan SenocakThe Poor And The Perfect: The Rise of Learning in the Franciscan Order, 1209-1310 by Neslihan Senocak

The Poor And The Perfect: The Rise of Learning in the Franciscan Order, 1209-1310

byNeslihan Senocak

Hardcover | May 8, 2012

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One of the enduring ironies of medieval history is the fact that a group of Italian lay penitents, begging in sackcloths, led by a man who called himself simple and ignorant, turned in a short time into a very popular and respectable order, featuring cardinals and university professors among its ranks. Within a century of its foundation, the Order of Friars Minor could claim hundreds of permanent houses, schools, and libraries across Europe; indeed, alongside the Dominicans, they attracted the best minds and produced many outstanding scholars who were at the forefront of Western philosophical and religious thought.

In The Poor and the Perfect, Neslihan Şenocak provides a grand narrative of this fascinating story in which the quintessential Franciscan virtue of simplicity gradually lost its place to learning, while studying came to be considered an integral part of evangelical perfection. Not surprisingly, turmoil accompanied this rise of learning in Francis's order. Şenocak shows how a constant emphasis on humility was unable to prevent the creation within the Order of a culture that increasingly saw education as a means to acquire prestige and domination. The damage to the diversity and equality among the early Franciscan community proved to be irreparable. But the consequences of this transformation went far beyond the Order: it contributed to a paradigm shift in the relationship between the clergy and the schools and eventually led to the association of learning with sanctity in the medieval world. As Şenocak demonstrates, this episode of Franciscan history is a microhistory of the rise of learning in the West.

Neslihan Şenocak is Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University.
Title:The Poor And The Perfect: The Rise of Learning in the Franciscan Order, 1209-1310Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.39 inPublished:May 8, 2012Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801450578

ISBN - 13:9780801450570

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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Challenges to the Historian
1. The Formative Years, 1219–1244
2. Studying as Evangelical Perfection
3. Beyond Preaching and Confession
4. Paradise Lost
5. The Educational System around 1310

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Editorial Reviews

"The Poor and the Perfect is an impressive account of learning in the early years of the Franciscan Order. While previous scholars have acknowledged that the Order was being pulled toward learning very early after Francis's death—even before his death—the virtue of Neslihan Şenocak’s book is that it helps us understand why the Franciscans developed such an impressive educational program and pursued scholarship with such enthusiasm. Şenocak is thoroughly conversant with the primary and secondary sources, using them to give us remarkable insight into the genuine appeal of learning as well as the very real anxiety it engendered within the Order."—David Burr, Virginia Tech, author of The Spiritual Franciscans