|Dominican Lectores in Florence during the 14th century|
This ARG aims to provide information on Dominican lectores (teachers) in the Florentine convent of Santa Maria Novella in 14th century. After a brief introduction, focused on the role of the lector (teacher), the Florentine context and contemporary historiographical sources, there is a list of the most important lectores, from Remigio de' Girolamo (1240-1319) to Leonardo Dati (1365ca-1425). In the subnotes for each lector the date of birth and death, a list of works, modern editions and manuscripts, and short bibliography will be provided.
Single authors entries come from CALMA, Compendium Auctorum latinorum Medii Aevi, with additions on vernacular works.
The lector was the key figure of the Mendicant Orders's teaching activity. He taught mainly theology, but could also teach philosophy and logic. During the 14th century some orders insisted that a lector must have taught logic and philosophy for at least a year or more, if he was to be appointed. Within the Dominican order, the lectores cursores read the Sententiae of Peter Lombard. In the most important convents, the friars could benefit from the presence of two lectores: a principal lector and a bachelor or a sub-lector for the Sentences. Apart from teaching classes, the principal lector managed disputes.
The Dominican order established another figure, who was later found in other orders: the magister studentium. He organized exercises and disputes, provided assistance to the students and taught philosophy.
In the studia generalia ordinis (principal convents focused on the education of friars) there were four teachers:
The teaching activity of the lector consisted of lessons, disputes and readings (repetitiones). Disputes were conducted by the teachers and the most learned students were invited to take part. The best-known and documentated form were the solemn debates, divided in ordinary and de quodlibet (disputes in which friars could discuss several different topics). Sometimes, the lector and his assistants helped the students by repeating the lessons with them, and asking questions to check their preparation.
Several tools were employed by the friars for teaching: encyclopedias, florilegia (collections of relevant sayings), and compilations of texts, often produced by the teaching friars. Important examples of medieval authors who such teaching tools are:
For reading of the Bible, glosses and Biblical concordances were often compiled by the lector himself. The friars used to compile their own tools for grammar, logic, philosophy and for studying the Sentences. In addition, commentaries on the works of eminent brothers, notably Thomas Aquinas, were used or abridged.
Apart from lessons, the preparation and capability of each lector was fundamental. A good lector had experience and competence, and could manage different topics that were related to each other. He could also, if required, introduce questions or notabilia and show the correct division of the texts.
The Dominican constitutions of 1220 stated that every convent should have a prior and a doctor and that the community should focus on the study of theology. The convent itself was conceived as a theology school, following canonical prohibitions concerning other disciplines. Only selected friars had permission to read and study non-theological texts, such as philosophical or scientific treatises. With the passage of time, exceptions increased until several convents were established schools (studia) of grammar, logic and philosophy. These schools were intended as preparatory courses to the study of theology.
The role of the Dominican order in 14th century in Florence was crucial, as the Dominicans shaped the most important Italian preachers and intellectuals of the Late Middle Ages. Preachers such as Remigio de Girolami, Giordano da Pisa and Giovanni Dominici were important for the life of their order and for the cultural life of the city of Florence. The presence of these friars was valuable for the young Dominicans who listened to their lessons, and their preaching, often in the vernacular, shaped Florentine society itself.
See Kienzle 2000, CISAM 1995, Abdersson 2008, Reichert 1899, Mulchahey 1998, Maierù 2002.
The history of Florence in the 14th century is characterized by political instability that was reflected in many different aspects of the city life.
The chronicle tradition is based on, and elaborates, elements of civic political identity. For this reason, chronicles are important in order to understand a text's historical context.
Major Florentine chroniclers:
Bibliography on Marchionne di Coppo Stefani (Baldassarre Buonaiuti)
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