Poverty’s Proprietors: Ownership and Mortal Sin at the Origins of the Observant Movement


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 Through close readings of unpublished texts, it traces how ideas about reformed community emerged, both beyond and within the religious orders, in the era of the Council of Constance.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.
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Biographical Note

James D. Mixson, Ph.D. (2002) in Medieval Studies, University of Notre Dame, is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Alabama. He is the author of several essays and translations on the history of religious life and Observant reform.

Table of contents

List of Maps and Illustrations Acknowledgements Abbreviations Introduction 1. Cultures of Property between Cloister and World PART I 2. Calls from Without 3. Revolt from Within PART II 4. Property and Community between Principle and Practice 5. Property and Community between Penance and Perfection Conclusion Appendix: An Inventory of Works “On Property” and Their Manuscripts Bibliography Index


All those interested in the history of medieval religious life, the Observant Movement and church reform, as well as the history of religion and culture in the fifteenth century.