Creating Clare of Assisi

Female Franciscan Identities in Later Medieval Italy


Earlier scholarship has characterized female Franciscanism as an institution established by Clare of Assisi in collaboration with Saint Francis. This understanding is anachronistic, however, and overlooks the more complicated disputes over what it meant for enclosed women to have a mendicant vocation. This book clarifies Clare’s contributions to these debates by distinguishing the historical figure from the uses made of her legacy by the papacy, the Friars Minor, and, most importantly, the enclosed sisters between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. By examining the diversity of female communities and their complicated institutional formation in medieval Italy, it examines how and when Clare was appropriated as a model of spiritual authority by the women to shape their identity as Franciscans.
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Biographical Note

Lezlie S. Knox, Ph.D. (1999) in Medieval Studies, University of Notre Dame, is Assistant Professor of History at Marquette University. She has published extensively on Clare of Assisi and the Franciscan sisters during the Middle Ages.

Table of contents

List of Maps ... ix List of Abbreviations .. xi Acknowledgments ... xiii Introduction: The Friars and Sisters .. 1 Chapter One: Clare and the Poor Sisters of San Damiano ... 19 Chapter Two: The Order of Saint Clare .. 57 Chapter Three: Beyond Clare: A Franciscan Centered Order .. 87 Chapter Four: The Clarisses and Observant Reform ... 123 Chapter Five: Writing Female Franciscan Identity .. 157 Conclusion: The True Daughters of Francis and Clare ... 187 Bibliography .. 191 Index ... 215


All those interested in medieval religious history (both the history of spirituality as well as institutional developments), especially those concerned with women and their writings and the Franciscan Order broadly.