Edited by James Mixson and Bert Roest

The Observant Movement was a widespread effort to reform religious life across Europe. It took root around 1400, and for a century and more thereafter it inspired or shaped much that became central to European religion and culture. The Observants produced many of the leading religious figures of the later Middle Ages—Catherine of Siena, Bernardino of Siena and Savonarola in Italy, Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros in Spain, and in Germany Martin Luther himself. This volume provides scholars with a current, synthetic introduction to the Observant Movement. Its essays also seek collectively to expand the horizons of our study of Observant reform, and to open new avenues for future scholarship.

Contributors are Michael D. Bailey, Pietro Delcorno, Tamar Herzig, Anne Huijbers, James D. Mixson, Alison More, Carolyn Muessig, Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli, Bert Roest, Timothy Schmitz, and Gabriella Zarri.


James (Jim) Mixson

Focusing on the theme of property and community, this study offers a new account of the origins of fifteenth-century Observant reform in the monasteries and canonries of the southern Empire. Through close readings of unpublished texts, it traces how ideas about reformed community emerged, both beyond and within the religious orders, in the era of the Council of Constance. Focusing on reform among monks and canons in Bavaria and Austria to 1450, it then shows how those ideas were applied in practice, through reforming visitation and through a devotional culture steeped in the “new piety” of the day. These considerations allow the Observant Movement to offer fresh perspectives on the history religious community, reform, and the church in the fifteenth century.