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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which offers a detailed account of one inflection of this wider reforming contest over property and community. It begins that account with an overview of the cloisters culture of personal property as fifteenth-century reformers inherited it. Turning to the southern territories of the Empire, it then races the emergence of a distinct reforming discourse that sought to uproot that culture. At the Council of Constance and beyond, a generation of theologians and lawyers trained in Germanys new universities sharply and publicly condemned the vice of property among religious, and they denounced monks, nuns, canons and friars alike as mortally sinful proprietors ( proprietarii ). Historians of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century church and society have long framed their story within a general dialectic of crisis and reform. The chapter presents an overview of how the other chapters of the book are organised.

Keywords: canons; fifteenth-century reformers; religious community



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