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Kicking The Habit: The Campaign Against The Friars In A Fourteenth-Century Encyclopedia

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Chapter Summary

Shelved in the Royal Collection of the British Library is a massive, four volume encyclopedia, which titles itself immodestly but only slightly inaccurately Omne Bonum. Some of the illuminations in this encyclopedia are quite spectacular. The book begins with a series of three sumptuous paintings connected with the Beatific Vision of God. This chapter focuses on a single article in Omne bonum and on what it can tell us about why an Exchequer official would have such a passionate hostility to the friars. James created only one article devoted exclusively to the friars, entitled Fratres mendicants. Its importance can be partly measured by magnitude: out of 1350 articles in the work as a whole, only eighteen are longer. This article on friars is longer than the articles on God, on Good, longer than the articles on the soul, on baptism, war, charity, heresy, man, or the pope.

Keywords: Fratres mendicants; friars; Omne Bonum



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