Other Chronicles and References - 590 

Other Chronicles and References

Boncampagno of Signa (c.1215/20)

Boncampagno (c. 1170-after 1240), a native of the town of Signa near Florence, was for many years a leading master of rhetoric at the University of Bologna. a His witty, boastful personality is vividly captured by Salimbene.b These two brief, passing comments about the Lesser Brothers are from his most important work, the Rhetorica antiqua sive Boncampagnus, a major contribution to the medieval ars dictaminis (the craft of composing letters and legal documents).c The final written redaction of this work dates from 1220, but these remarks could well have been in the first draft, read publicly at Bologna in 1215. They reveal clearly the ambivalence felt by many observers toward the new movement.

The Lesser Brothers are truly able to be counted among the disciples of the Lord, because by spurning worldly desires they torment and mortify their flesh and they follow Christ on bare feet and clothed in a hairshirt. . . .
The Lesser Brothers in part are mere youths or boys. If, then, the pliability of their years makes them inconstant and easily led, that is only to be expected; but they have already gone to an extreme of madness, since they wander through cities and towns and solitary places without any discretion, enduring horrible and inhuman sufferings.

Odo of Cheriton (1219/47)

Odo of Cheriton (1180/90-1246/47) took his name from the ancestral manor of his prosperous family in Kent.d Although the heir, he became a priest and studied theology at Paris, becoming a master by 1219. Odo never seems to have become a faculty member at a school however, but returned to his estates in England to lead the life of a “gentleman cleric,” devoting himself to study, writing, and extensive travels. Odo composed three sermon cycles, several treatises, and

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Testimonia minora, Testimonia minora, p. 92


Boncampagno of Signa (c. 1215/20)15

Fratres Minores vere possunt inter discipulos Domini computari, quia spernendo saecularia desideria carnem suam macerant et tormentant et Christum nudis pedibus et cilicio induti sequuntur.

Fratres Minores ex parte sunt iuvenes et pueri; unde, si iuxta aetatum suarum flexibilitatem sunt mutabiles et proclives, non est contra naturam; ipsi autem iam ad extremam dementiam pervenerunt, quia per civitates et oppida et loca solitaria sine discretione vagantur horribilia et inhumana martiria tolerando.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 590

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