The Celestine Monks of France, c.1350-1450
The Celestine Monks of France, c.1350-1450
Observant Reform in an Age of Schism, Council and War
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Table of Contents Maps and Figures Abbreviations Introduction: The Celestine monks of France and the rise of 'Observant' reform 6 The Celestines and the French Celestines Later medieval monasticism and reform PART 1: The French Celestines in their World Chapter 1. The Vita of Jean Bassand (c.1360-1445) Provenance and purpose Defeating 'the lion of arrogance' The observance of monastic legislation: 'the regular ladder' Affection, unity and the 'opinion of friends' Chapter 2. The French Celestine Constitutions and their Heritage: Statute and Spirituality in Later Medieval Monastic Reform Purity, danger and the 'regular castle' The legacy of St Peter Celestine The constitutions inherited by the French Celestines The French Celestine vision of purity: urban extremism Reform, law, and the perfection of community Man's divine likeness Enforcement and the return of hierarchy Chapter 3. The Challenges and Adaptation of Regular Observance Ascetic standards Rank-and-file discipline The Celestine leadership The Celestine Quodlibeta: the moderation of 'regular observance' Multiple paths: the literary culture of the French Celestines The works of Pierre Pocquet I: Editing Cassian's Conferences and Climacus's Ladder of Perfection II: The Orationarium in vita Domini nostri Jhesu Christi et de suffragiis sanctorum: building the inner man and communities at peace III: St Joseph - a model for monastic superiors? PART 2: The World of the French Celestines Chapter 4. Foundations, Benefactions and Material Maintenance Giving to the Celestines Founders and foundations Other benefactors and benefactions Financial insecurity and the problem of foundation masses The reduction acts of 1414 and 1436: war, fragile rents, and financial crisis The moral difficulties of foundation masses Chapter 5. The Cultural Outreach of the French Celestines The French Celestines as a political symbol 'Grand buildings' and humble authority: the legacy of Charles V The age of Charles VI and the Great Schism Lancastrian aspirations 'A fertile school': the doctrinal outreach of the French Celestines Conversion patterns Lay religious direction Reformist outreach The Celestines and Jean Gerson Epilogue and Conclusion Appendix 1. Lists an Map Appendix 2. Reductions of Foundation Masses (beyond anniversary masses) at the Celestine Monastery of Paris, 1414 and 1436 (drawn from Paris, Arch. Nat LL/1505 and Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, MS 3330) Appendix 3. Reduction of Foundation Masses (beyond anniversary masses) at the Celestine Monastery of Sens, 1414 ('Célestins de Sens, obituaires', in Obituaires de la Province de Sens, ed. A. Molinier, Receuil des historians de la France, obituaires, 4 vols (Paris, 1902), i, 900-16) Maps and Figures Map Figures 1. The Celestine Constitutions: The Renunciation of St Peter Celestine and Introduction (Celestines of Avignon - Saint-Pierre Célestin, c.1380s; Avignon, BM MS. 727, fol. 1r). 2. Entrance to the church at the Celestine house of Paris, including the statues of Charles V, Jeanne de Bourbon, and St Peter Celestine (H. Millin, Antiquités nationales, 5 vols (1790, Paris), i, 11. N.B.: the image is reversed). Index
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Reviews and Features

"This is a concise monograph on the development in the French territories of the late medieval Benedictine reform congregation known as the Celestines. [...] The great merit of this study is the way it weaves the French Celestine experience into the tapestry of the French religious and political world."
- Bert Roest, Radboud University Nijmegen, Speculum 96/3 (July 2021)

"This book is an important contribution to the study of Observant reform, especially as a case study that cogently highlights the diversity that characterized reform’s many inflections. [...] Thanks to Shaw’s book, [the] influence [of the French Celestines] is more visible and accessible than before, as is the challenge of recovering religious life’s many neglected late-medieval stories."
- James D. Mixson, H-France Review, Vol. 19 (2019)

"With his book, Robert Shaw has tackled a significant research gap that he has begun to fill with many more far-reaching results, putting research on the Celestines on a completely new footing."
- Robert Friedrich, H-Soz-Kult, July 2019 (Translated from German)

Robert L.J. Shaw

The Celestine Monks of France, c.1350-1450

Observant Reform in an Age of Schism, Council and War

The Celestine monks of France represent one of the least studied monastic reform movements of the late Middle Ages, and yet also one of the most culturally impactful. Their order - an austere Italian Benedictine reform of the late thirteenth century, which came to be known after the papal name (Celestine V) of its founder (Pietro da Morrone / St Peter Celestine) - arrived in France in 1300. After a period of limited growth, they flourished in the region from c.1350: they added thirteen new houses over the next hundred years, taking their total to seventeen by 1450. Not only did the French Celestines expand in this century, they gained a distinctive character that separated them from their Italian brothers. More urban, better connected with both aristocratic and bourgeois society, and yet still rigorous and reformist, they characterised themselves as the 'Observant' wing of their order, having gained self-government for their provincial congregation in 1380 following the arrival of the Great Western Schism (1378-1417). But, as Robert L.J. Shaw argues, their importance runs beyond monastic reform: the late medieval French Celestines are a mirror of the political, intellectual, and Christian reform culture of their place and time. Within a France torn by war and a Church divided by schism, the French Celestines represented hope for renewal, influencing royal presentation, lay religion, and some of the leading French intellectuals of the period, including Jean Gerson.

Robert L.J. Shaw

Robert L. J. Shaw is a former Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (2016-17). He has a D.Phil in History from the University of Oxford (Oriel College).