The Miracles of St. John of Capistran 9789633865408

This study examines the life and death of the Franciscan preacher and reformer, St John of Capistran (1386-1456). Based

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The Miracles of St. John of Capistran

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The Miracles of ôt. John Capistran

The Miracles of St. John Capistran Stanko Andric

-Y C E U *


i *

Central European University Press

Published by Central European University Press Nador utca 15 H-1051 Budapest Hungary 400 West 59th Street New York, NY 10019 USA

© 2000 by Stanko Andric

Distributed in the United Kingdom and Western Europe by Plymbridge Distributors Ltd., Estover Road, Plymouth PL6 7PZ, United Kingdom All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the permission of the Publisher. ISBN 963-9116-68-8 Cloth Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A CIP catalog record for this book is available upon request Printed in Hungary by Akademiai Nyomda Kft., Martonvasar


List of figures, tables and maps






Remark on quoting from the miracle collections Notes

9 10


The road to Ilok


The origins of the Franciscan Observance Some elements of the Observant spirituality The Observants in Bosnia and Hungary John Capistran in Hungary The victory of Belgrade and its hagiography

11 15 18 22 27




A portrait of the town


Economy, lordship, and privilege Convents and churches Linguistic differences Religious differences

37 42 45 48





The death and the corpse


After the battle From Belgrade to Ilok Last weeks Handling the saint's body Hagiographic topoi and typical situations

59 60 64 67 70




The beginnings of the canonization campaign, 1456-63


James of the Marches visits Ilok Piccolomini elected pope: his views on Capistran John of Tagliacozzo again in Hungary The miracles recorded by the committee of Ilok: N la: a collection parallel to N The Franciscan John Geszti, a miracle diarist: lb The contribution of Peter Soproni: Na and M Epistles and vitae

85 86 90 94 101 108 115 131





The canonization campaign from the 1460s to 1526


The obstacles and opponents A few scattered petitions The last notable attempt The end of the medieval canonization campaign The later miracle collections The collections Idt and Id* (1520-21) The collection Ic (end of the fifteenth century?) Ic and Idf compared "Annexe" of Idt

154 157 159 163 166 171 173 179 182




Capistran as a living miracle-worker Capistran and Bernardine of Siena Capistran and the value of miracles The miraculous punishments Human law and divine law Prophecies and visions The preaching and the miracles

193 194 196 198 203 206 208



Helping miracles Saints vs. demons and saints vs. saints

211 213




A morphology of Capistranean posthumous miracles


Miracle story as narrative structure (1) The misfortune and its circumstances (2) Ineffective attempts (3) Discovering the saint (4) The forms of imploration (5) The role of intercessors and assistants (6) The dynamic of the miraculous event (7) The practices of gratitude (8) Neglect and punishment (9) Testification to the miracles

228 234 238 239 242 255 257 269 275 278




Some historical aspects of the miracles post mortem


Miracles between diversity and uniformity The geographical extension of the cult Social and gender distribution of miracles

299 311 326



Conclusion (Towards a unified theory of miracles) Notes

351 363

Appendix 1 Sources for the history of Capistran's canonization campaign from 1456 to 1526


Appendix 2 Selected collations of miracle accounts




Appendix 3 A class of Capistran's posthumous miracles: liberations from captivity . . . . 395 Notes


Appendix 4 Domiciles of the beneficiaries of Capistran's posthumous miracles


Selected bibliography


Index of proper names


List of figures, tables and maps

Figures Fig. 2.1. Fig. 2.2. Fig. 2.3.

Ground-plan of the fortified town of Ilok 40 Ground-plan of the Franciscan church and convent in Ilok as they looked around the mid-fifteenth century 42 Magyar-speaking parts of the kingdom of Hungary-Croatia at the end of the Middle Ages 47

Fig. 3.1.

Ilok, ca. 1820

Fig. 4.1. Fig. 4.2. Fig. 4.3.

The page-layouts of the corresponding N fol. 153 v-154r and P fol. 20rv The quantitative relation between N and la 102 Chronological relationship of the three early collections of Capistran's posthumous miracles 114 Naples, BibliotecaNazionale, codex VIII.B.35, fol 102v-I03r 129 Three classes of the miracles according to the number of versions 132 Three groups distinguished among 39 miracles narrated in two versions Three groups distinguished among 229 miracles, each narrated in a single version 132

Fig. Fig. Fig. Fig.

4.4. 4.5. 4.6. 4.7.

Fig. 5.1. Fig. 5.2. Fig. 5.3. Fig. 5.4. Fig. 7.1. Fig. 7.2.

65 98.


The church of Ilok after the prolongation of the nave in 1468 156 The fresco drawing from 1468 in the Observant church of Olomouc 158 The presentation of the miracle collections in the codices of Sant'Isidoro and in Kaizer's Testimonia 170 The transmission of the account of the miraculous resurrection first noted in N #166 and la #136 182 Schematic representation of the characteristic scenarios in Capistran's posthumous miracle stories 231 Types of miracle-soliciting practices 245



Tables Table Table Table Table

4.1. 4.2. 4.3. 4.4.

T h e miracle accounts in N provided with the dates of deposition 107 T h e miracle accounts in la datable f r o m the c o r r e s p o n d i n g accounts in N Table of concords M = N = la 118 Table of concords M = N a 124

Table 5.1. T h e distribution of post mortem and in vita miracles in Ic



Table 7.1. Shares of distance-dependent and distance-indifferent miracles by collection Table Table Table Table Table

8.1. 8.2. 8.3. 8.4. 8.5.


Shares of various types of p o s t h u m o u s miracles by collection 301 Classification of the afflictions cured in Capistran's miracles 310 Fourteen counties providing five or m o r e miracle accounts apiece 317 Twenty-eight places providing three or m o r e miracle accounts apiece 318 Occupations or social ranks of Capistran's p o s t h u m o u s miraculés according

to the available data 328 Table 8.6. Shares of men and w o m e n a m o n g Capistran's p o s t h u m o u s miraculés Table 8.7. Shares of m e n and w o m e n a m o n g Capistran's miraculés originating f r o m Ilok 334 Table 8.8. Shares of boys and girls a m o n g Capistran's y o u n g miraculés



Maps M a p 1.1.

T h e region of Srijem and environs

Map Map Map Map Map Map Map

Two imagined zones around the shrine in Ilok 337 Domiciles of the miraculés in N 338 Domiciles of the miraculés in la and N a 339 Domiciles of the miraculés in lb 340 Domiciles of the miraculés in Ic, I d t and the A n n e x e of I d t 341 Domiciles of the male miraculés 342 Domiciles of the f e m a l e beneficiaries of C a p i s t r a n ' s p o s t h u m o u s miracles

8.1. 8.2. 8.3. 8.4. 8.5. 8.6. 8.7.




This is a study dealing with the miracles of a late medieval saint. Though it is relatively recently that medieval miracle accounts have been taken seriously as historical sources, 1 the bibliography of studies of miracles has now grown vast. It is not the purpose of this introduction to detail these. But it can be said that at least three major directions can be distinguished in this ongoing research; indeed, the very definition of the notion of "miracle" depends on the perspective chosen. 2 One basic line of miracle research deals with the associated theological doctrine, or "the theory of miracles" (as Benedicta Ward has put it), a development extending essentially from St. Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas. 3 Another line, representing the majority of miracle studies, includes the detailed description of "miraculous" phenomena according to particular sources, the quantitative and morphological analysis of these accounts, and their contextualization in relation to sainthood, pilgrimage, monasticism, and so forth. 4 Sigal has succinctly described the essence of this approach: "A l'étude du miracle selon des définitions théoriques il faut donc ajouter une étude du miracle dans sa réalité quotidienne à travers les témoignages de ceux qui ont été l'objet ou le témoin d'un miracle" (Sigal 1985, 10). Nevertheless, such studies, however comprehensive, do not exhaust the subject's potential, and in a certain sense they can be shown to remain on the surface of the problem. As becomes clear from the studies of Sigal and Finucane, it is possible to produce fine histories of medieval miracles within a defined geographical area without actually answering the question: what is a miracle? A third direction envisaged here may be called the anthropology of saintly miracles. This approach has as its goal the identification of the mechanism



of miracles. It largely remains to be written, although some important contributions are at hand, 5 and the previously mentioned currents of research often contribute relevant matter. 6 *

Miracle collections are an ancient hagiographic genre. 7 Among the best known are those recorded at the shrines of St. Cosmas and Damian in Constantinople, of St. Cyrus and John in Menouthis, and of St. Thecla in Seleucia. In the west, outstanding are the collection of St. Martin's miracles assembled by Gregory, the sixth-century bishop of Tours, which was designed at the same time to enhance the fame of the saint's shrine, whose guardian Gregory was. Paradoxically, the miracles of some early saints are less legendary than their lives: St. Demetrius, miraculous protector of Salonika, is a good example. The same is true of St. Foy, a martyr of the late third or the early fourth century, whose relics worked many miracles from her shrine at Conques in the eleventh century. Roughly from the year 1000 onwards, the genre started to be connected with the emerging procedure of canonization. The shrine-promoting function of miracle collection became embedded in the equally utilitarian objective of proving sanctity. The term canonizare was first used in the vita of St. Simeon of Polirone (f 1016), whose cult was approved by pope Benedict VIII ( t 1024) (Kemp 1948, 58; Vauchez 1988, 25-67). The papal monopolization of the right of canonization (the years 1171/2, 1215, and 1234 are the landmarks in its progress) 8 was accompanied by increasing attention to the investigation of the miracles of prospective saints. From the beginning of the thirteenth century on, strict rules were prescribed for this procedure. Miracle collections acquired the more scrupulous and exact character of legal documents. The official opening of the canonization process {processus), announced by a papal bull, had to be preceded by a preliminary investigation designed to convince the Holy See of the existence of a veritable fama sanctitatis. An official investigation followed, presided by three prelates, at least one of whom was a bishop and preferably none was from the interested diocese (Vauchez 1988,49-51). In the case of John Capistran, who died in 1456, the official processus was first opened with the bull of 1519, which means that the bulk of the documentation to be examined here was prepared during the preliminary, "campaigning" stage. Capistran's ample miracle collections were thus the outcome of a vigorous initiative for his canonization, shortly following the success of a similar initiative in favor of Bernardine of Siena. The historical importance



of these actions of the Observant Franciscans consists in the fact that they managed to initiate a new series of papal canonizations in the middle of the fifteenth century after a break of three decades (cf. Vauchez 1988, 7). A concomitant feature is the remarkable richness and complexity of the Capistranean miracle collections. The miracles were recorded not only by the Franciscans but in the initial stage also by lay representatives of the townsfolk of Ilok, the place of the saint's death and burial. The abundance of versions and the polyphony of clerical and lay voices involved make this dossier an attractive and promising area of research. The death of a saint does not mark an end, but rather an axial point. The "effects of saintly intercession," that is to say primarily his miracles, can be divided into two main groups: those worked in vita and those worked post mortem. The latter group, the more abundantly documented in Capistran's case, represents the major object of the present study. Michael Goodich has observed that "the mendicant saint might be venerated in several places, reflecting his apostolic peregrinations" (Goodich 1982, 131), and in Capistran's case it is possible to speak of the parallel existence of several foci of posthumous veneration, including besides Ilok other centers such as Capestrano, which managed to amass a certain number of his prominent secondary relics, Olomouc in Moravia, and a number of other towns which preserved the saint's memory. The saint's Central European peregrinations undoubtedly foreshadowed the main zones of his posthumous cult, of more diffuse character without clear centers. At the end of this diffuse path, the shrine in Ilok stood as the principle focus. However, as will be shown, the cult of Capistran's earthly remains, centered around the shrine in Ilok, represents a relatively closed and independent system. During the period of some seventy years prior to the fall of Ilok to the Ottomans this mainly Hungarian cult generated a series of miracle registers, a corpus of sources highly suitable for study within the frame of regional and local history. Yet this rich quarry has attracted relatively little attention. The truth is that most of Capistran's posthumous miracle collections have hitherto been inaccessible to the wider scholarly public; 9 one of the rare exceptions resulted in a remarkable study by Erik Fugedi, 10 characterized by Gabor Klaniczay seventeen years ago as "the only close analysis of a place of pilgrimage that has appeared in Hungarian historiography in the course of the last hundred years" (Klaniczay 1983, 71).11 The present monograph on Capistran's miracles does not unfold in linear fashion, and might thus be criticized for not being sufficiently coherent. Let me therefore begin by explaining how its disparate chapters relate to each other. The first chapter outlines the history of the Franciscan Observance,



Capistran's role in it, and the circumstances which at the end of his life brought him to the kingdom of Hungary. The second chapter is a kind of intermezzo dedicated to llok, the town in which Capistran died and worked miracles during the seven decades that followed. The third chapter resumes the story where the first stopped, describing the saint's last weeks and death. The rest of the study divides into two parallel tracks. The fourth and the fifth chapters recount the medieval attempts to have Capistran canonized, with especial attention paid to the miracle collections recorded for this puipose. Since the elucidation of how these texts came into being turns out to be rather complicated, it has been necessary to study the miracle stories themselves separately. The remaining two chapters explore-the world of Capistranean miracles from two points of view: the one, more general, isolates patterns in the use of miracles and the practices of the cult, as documented in the saint's vitae and miracle collections; the other, more particular, defines the contents, the chronology, and the spatial and social scope of the miracles post mortem and of the cult which yielded them. The study can thus be read selectively. Chapters 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 being largely of more specific or technical interest, the remaining chapters ( 1 , 3 and 8) can be read as an abbreviated version of the monograph, containing the essential historical information presented as a more or less continuous narrative. *

Unlike the Hungarian scholarly tradition, which generally uses the Hungarian forms of place-names throughout in referring to the lands of the medieval Hungarian kingdom (except for Croatia strictissimo sensu), I prefer to quote place-names in their present forms. When the context requires, I add in brackets at the first appearance of a name its Hungarian version. On one level, this is simply a matter of practicality, as an acknowledgement of the present-day political map of the region, and on another, a tribute to the recognized "multinationality" of the medieval Hungarian-Croatian kingdom. The occasional usage of the composite term 'Hungarian-Croatian kingdom' is also meant to call to mind the fact that medieval Hungary was not a national Hungary. The geographical name 'Hungary' was used in two different senses: a) a comprehensive one, as in the case of regmim Hungariae in the narrative sources; b) a specific sense, as for example in the charters when the kings are normally styled udei gracia rex Hungarie, Dalmacie, Croacie etc."', occasionally, we even find the expression "regnum Hungarie, Sclavonic et Transsilvanie", suggesting further geographical restriction in the name 'Hungary'.



Another brief explanation concerns the name of our saint. The form John Capistran (and not John of Capestrano) will be used, in the first place because this enables a distinction to be made between the saint and the place-name; secondly, because the surname Kapistran is customary in all Central-European languages (German included), and it is also used in English along with the form "of Capestrano." Finally, this usage can be justified linguistically when we consider that the form Capistran does not stem directly from the place-name (Capestrano, i.e. Latin Capistranum), but from the Latin adjective Capistranns ("of Capestrano"), which was widely used by contemporary authors. My last remark on the usage of names refers to Hungarian surnames of the type Geszti, Varsanyi, Soproni, Korogyi, etc. For syntactical reasons, these forms sometimes alternate with their analytical versions: of Geszt, of Varsany, of Sopron, of Korogy. I hope it does not require too much of the reader if I ask him to bear in mind that these forms are equivalent. *

This work is an outcome of four years postgraduate study at the Department of Medieval Studies of the Central European University in Budapest. My deepest and most fundamental gratitude goes therefore to the founder and patron of the University, George Soros. I am no less grateful to my thesis supervisor, Gâbor Klaniczay, who initiated my research by providing me with the microfilms of all the unpublished sources, and was constantly supportive with his assistance and criticism; to the Fondazione Ezio Franceschini of Florence, and especially to its director, Claudio Leonardi, and one of its pillars, Francesco Santi; to the Ecole Française de Rome and its director André Vauchez; to Sofia Boesch Gajano and Jean-Michel Sallmann; and in particular to Daniel Bornstein, during whose visits to the CEU I benefited from an unusually attentive and knowledgeable reading of my drafts. I hope that the present work will justify the kind attention and support of these people and institutions. Other particular debts will be acknowledged at appropriate places. The text of Chapter 4, here somewhat revised, has appeared in Hagiographica 3 (1996), 163-246. An earlier version of Chapter 3 has been published in the Annual of medieval studies at the CEU 1993-1994 (Budapest, 1995), 81-99. In keeping with the customs of the CEU I have written this book in English. I am inclined to accept this in the good old dialectic way: as an advantage (because an incomparably wider potential readership is addressed than



while writing in my native Croatian); as a disadvantage (because my capacity to verbalize my ideas is more restricted); and as a dis-disadvantage (because the shortcomings of the work are likely to be condoned, at least partly, in the light of the aforesaid handicap). However, the text as it is presented here is much smoother than I alone would have been able to accomplish, since it has benefitted from the invaluable assistance of the Medieval Studies Department's academic English writing instructors. Among the latter, I am particularly grateful to Frank Schaer, who subsequently as copy editor for the CEU Press meticulously revised the text (including the Latin quotations) and polished the final drafts of the edition. Provided that one spends enough time studying a subject, there is nothing so interesting that it could not become boring, and there is nothing so boring that it could not become interesting. From the days of my first initiation into Capistran's miracle collections I have believed them to be a fascinating field of study. Though at different stages my feelings towards this material have oscillated variously between passion, tedium, and exasperation, in moments of waning inspiration I have tried to convince myself of a piece of wisdom which was apparently obvious to Stephen of Varsany, Hungarian Franciscan vicar provincial in Capistran's time: sceleris arguerer negligentiae si coepto desisterem ab opere.

Notes 1

Finucane, ''The use and abuse", 2 - 4 , traces the gradual rise o f miracula

from an auxiliary

source o f medical and religious history to major "sociological documents". T h e fundamental studies on medieval miracles appeared in the late 1970s and the early 1980s: Finucane, Miracles

and pilgrims,


published in 1977; Ward, Miracles

published in 1982; Sigal, L'homme

et le miracle;

and the medieval

first published in 1981 ; and several studies in the conference v o l u m e Hagiographie, et sociétés 2

mind, first

relevant parts o f André Vauchez, La

sainteté, cultures

(Paris, 1981).

It should be noted at this point that the present study d o e s not take account o f the use o f

"miracle" to mean "miracle play," i.e. "a dramatic genre in which the protagonist is saved at a moment o f crisis by the miraculous intervention o f a saint, in most cases the Virgin Mary" (Dictionary

of the Middle


8: 431). Miracle plays are s o m e t i m e s c o n f u s e d with other

religious dramatic genres such as mystery plays or Corpus Christi plays, "long vernacular cyclic dramas depicting the spiritual history o f mankind" from the Creation to the Last Judgement (ibid. 657). J

The first two chapters o f Ward's book deal with the theological discussion o f the miracle

(Ward, Miracles,

3 - 3 2 ) ; a brief survey is given in the Dictionnaire

de théologie


10/2: col. 1 8 0 2 - 6 . A m o n g the studies o f the doctrine o f miracles in individual authors, see



McCready's thorough Signs of sanctity. Grant, Miracle and natural law, examines the role that ancient science played in the formation of the Christian doctrine on miracles. 4 Here I am thinking primarily of the works of Sigal, Finucane, and Vauchez. Among more recent works, particularly noteworthy are the books by Krôtzl, Pilger, Mirakel undAlltag, and Dalarun, La sainte et la cité. 5 As exemplary studies of the social, psychological, and ideological conditions enabling the emergence of miracles, I would mention Brown, "Society and the supernatural"; Kleinberg, Prophets in their own, esp. the last chapter, p. 149-62; Van Dam, Saints and their miracles, esp. 82-151; and Rousselle, Croire et guérir. 6 A fourth approach could be added: hagiography in a more strict sense, treating the miracle stories and their collections as a specific (para)literary genre with certain cultural and social functions. See for example Delehaye. "Les recueils antiques"; Heinzelmann, "Une source de base"; J.M.H. Smith, "Oral and written: saints, miracles, and relics in Brittany, c. 850-1250". Speculum 65 (1990), 309-43. 7 Cf. the chapter "Les recueils de miracles des saints" in Aigrain, L'hagiographie, 178-85. 8 However, until the end of the Middle Ages papal canonization was not identified with sainthood: for instance, there were cases of episcopal (local) "elevations" as late as the 14th century, and the Mendicant orders were especially inclined to establish new cults autonomously (Vauchez, La Sainteté en Occident, 36-7 and 109-111 ). 9 They were unknown to J. van Hecke, editor of an otherwise ample Capistran dossier in AASS Oct. X, 269-555. 10 Fiigedi, "Kapisztrânôi Jânos csodâi". The study is reproduced in Fiigedi's book Koldulô barâtok, polgârok, nemesek: tanulmànyok a magyar kôzépkorrôl [Mendicant friars, burghers, nobles: studies in the Hungarian Middle Ages] (Budapest, 1981), 7-56. I can only join with Jânos M. Bak in regretting that this study could not be translated and included into the collection of Fiigedi's works published as Kings, bishops, nobles and burghers. 11 Meanwhile, other pilgrimage studies have appeared, e.g. the one by Knapp, "Remete szent Pâl csodâi", dealing with a collection of late 15th-century miracles.

Remark on quoting from the miracle collections

In the discussion which follows, frequent reference will be made to six surviving fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century miracle collections whose contents amount to more than 500 different miracle stories. The quite complex questions regarding their genesis and mutual relationship will be treated in detail in chapters 4 and 5. The reconstructed stemma is given in Appendix 1. For ease of reference I give here an operative list of these collections with basic explanations only, together with the sigils used in the main text. 1. The earliest posthumous collection of Capistran's miracles was completed in April 1460 by an ad hoc committee drawn from the townsmen of Ilok; it survives both in the original bound into codex I.H.44 of the Biblioteca Nazionale, Naples (abbr. N) and in a fifteenth-century copy kept by the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris as codex Misc. Lat. 5620 A (abbr. P). 1 2. Another collection was completed probably at the turn of 1460 and 1461, presumably by the Hungarian Franciscan John of Geszt [Jânos Geszti]; larger than N and partly overlapping it, it survives in codex 1/6/1 of the convent Sant'Isidoro in Rome (abbr. Ia). 2 3. The first systematized posthumous collection was composed between April 1460 and February 1461, probably by the Hungarian Franciscan Peter of Sopron [Péter Soproni]. It survives in codex VIII.B.35 of the Biblioteca Nazionale, Naples (abbr. Na). 4. One more collection of Capistran's posthumous miracles was put together during the period May to November 1461, again by John of Geszt, and survives in the same codex 1/6/1 from the convent of Sant'Isidoro (abbr. Ib). 3



5. Another systematized, mainly recycled collection occupies the remaining part of this Sant'Isidoro codex. It was probably compiled before the end of the fifteenth century (abbr. Ic). 6. Two large systematized collections, comprising respectively the in vita and posthumous miracles of the saint, are found in a second Sant'Isidoro codex, 1/6/2. They were compiled in the years 1519-21 (abbr. Id* and Id|). When referring to any of these collections, their abbreviated names will be followed by the symbol # and the ordinal number of the given miracle account.

Notes 1

It is the Paris copy, better known but demonstrably inferior to N, that has received the

almost exclusive attention o f scholars up to the present. It has been published twice: Barberio, Gesta, virtutes

et miracula\

and Mazuran, Cudesa

Ivana Kapistrana.

The unreliability o f P is

increased in Mazuran's edition by many editorial errors; nevertheless, this edition (provided with fairly readable facsimiles) is a helpful tool for the investigation o f Capistran's posthumous miracle collections. 2

Fugedi's abbreviation for this collection is I.


Fugedi's abbreviation is V.


The road to Ilok

The origins of the Franciscan Observance In the last decades of the thirteenth and the first of the fourteenth centuries the institutionalized order of the Friars Minor faced great internal strife and a reformatory movement. Under John XXIl's pontificate (1316-34), the would-be reformers, called Spirituals or Zelanti, were declared heretics and defeated; at the same time the remaining body of the Order, later to be called Conventuals, lost the papal protection which the Franciscans used to enjoy in the preceding century. With the help of Dominican theologians the pope rejected the concept of poverty as a virtue in itself. In return he was accused of heresy by such prominent Franciscans as Michael of Cesena, ministergeneral 1316-28, and William of Ockham. The official defeat of the Spirituals did not mean their eradication. If they escaped the inquisitors' stake they survived under the protection of benevolent princes and also because their ideas infiltrated the Conventual milieu itself. The appeal exercised by the Spirituals was due to their embodying a nostalgia for the Order's beginnings. Their ideals included "absolute" poverty, asceticism, penitence, and a close observance of the founder's Rule. Victor W. Turner has applied his ingenious conceptual opposition of structure and communitas (or "social anti-structure") to analysing the origins of the Franciscan order: if it originated as a communitas-type movement, this stage should have gradually been replaced by a well-defined structure and hierarchy, as "structureless communitas can bind and bond people together only momentarily" (Turner 1969, 140-54). However, at least in the Franciscan case the memory of the original communitas was constantly eroding the established structure. This memory was embodied in the Spirituals.



However, the reality was not as simple as a binary opposition between structure (Conventuals) and communitas (Spirituals). 1 The first reason is that from the second quarter of the fourteenth century on the Spirituals' ideal survived in two rather different forms: one was incontestably heretical, and the other merely marginal. The first form is associated with the Fraticelli (the name was in fact first used as one of the appellations for the Spirituals themselves); the direct connection between the Fraticelli and the Spirituals is represented by the famous apostate Angelo Clareno ( t 1337). The creed of the Fraticelli went far beyond the preservation of the primitive Franciscan ideal: they considered themselves not only as the true Order of the Friars Minor but even as the last authentic remnant of the Catholic Church. Consequently—according to the accusations of their persecutors, which should not be taken at face value—the Fraticelli set about to establish a parallel hierarchy to the Church, with their own bishops and even their own pope. They defied the efforts of (chiefly Franciscan) inquisitors well into the fifteenth century. 2 The other survival of the Spirituals remained orthodox. It consisted of Italian friars who sought perfection in eremitic communities such as that at Brogliano, and who were known as the fratres simplices orfratres devoti and also as the Zoccolanti (because of their distinctive wooden sandals or zoccoli). This faction, which is most conveniently thought of as the "strict" or "literal" observance of the Rule, was a marginal experiment in the beginning but made rapid progress in the face of the obvious decline in the Order's discipline and prestige. The fact that the strict Observants reminded the authorities of the heretical Fraticelli was (in Duncan Nimmo's words) "both their strength and weakness." Eventually, it turned out to be more to their advantage, because the Order's authorities realized that they could use these reformers to neutralize the danger which the criticism of the Fraticelli represented. To the satisfaction of both sides the strict Observants and the Conventual body of the Order maintained good relations throughout the fourteenth century, mediating some constitutional arrangements like the nomination of the reformers' leader as commissary or vicar of the general minister. The initial failure of the early Observance in 1355 was more due to a misunderstanding and its second beginning came soon, in 1368 with Paoluccio dei Trinci ("f" 1391). When Paoluccio's successor John of Stroncone died in 1418, the reform could count more than thirty residences in Central and Northern Italy. At this point, the Observance already included within its ranks four friars destined to procure its triumph: Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444), John Capistran (1386-1456), James of the Marches (1394-1476), and Albeit of



Sarteano or Sarziano (1385-1450). Indeed, the very notion of the Franciscan Observance is usually associated with these names. However, as Nimmo has pointed out, their achievement cannot be regarded as a lineal continuation of the fourteenth-century reform movement. Unlike the followers of Paoluccio dei Trinci they were less devoted to the austere eremitic life, preferring pastoral work, especially preaching, and giving increasing place to study. Their principal ideologist, Capistran, did not "think of the Rule as something sacrosanct" (Moorman). He was closer to the Conventuals than to the old Spirituals when he put the virtue of obedience above the Rule and poverty: "We honour poverty; but why not obedience and chastity as well? (...) Surely every rational person would agree that humility is greater than poverty" (Moorman 1968, 468). 3 So Capistran objected to the Hussites not so much because of their doctrine—he was himself inclined to accept the idea of Utraquism—as because of their disobedience to the Church. Still, a further difference between the Observance of Bernardine and Capistran and that of Paoluccio was that the relations of the former two with the Conventuals eventually became inimical. In fact the real roots of the "regular Observance" (Observando regular is) of Bernardine and Capistran were less in the Italian strict Observance of the fourteenth century than in some other forms of Franciscan reform which emerged during the period of the Great Schism (1378-1415). The Schism, which was said to have turned the Church into "a two-headed monster", divided all the religious orders into two obediences, Roman and Avignonese, each with their respective government. It was in the French and Spanish Franciscan provinces of the Avignonese obedience, and more particularly with the reform of Mirebeau in 1390 and that of Santiago in 1392, that a new development began to take shape. The aim of this movement was essentially to follow a moderate observance of the Rule, and it was more a reaction to the current decline of the Order's discipline than an attempt to resuscitate its mythical beginnings. Although the adherents of the movement claimed they wished to observe the Rule adlitteram et imguem, they added the significant codicil: iuxta traditiones et declarationes apostólicas (Nimmo 1985, 133). The Conventual authorities were initially benevolent but with the expansion of the reform movement they grew worried; for at a critical time, in 1407 and 1408, Benedict XIII granted the reformed party autonomy and their own general and provincial vicars. Under pressure from the angry Conventuals this concession was soon revoked by Alexander V and John XXIII; in Toulouse, some Observants were even identified with the Fraticelli and prosecuted. However, the Council of Constance in 1415 confirmed Benedict XIII's bulls. Thus began the century-long dissension between the Commu-



nity (Conventuals, irreformati) and the Reform (Observants, Familia, vicariarti), in which short-lived compromises alternated with an insistence on undivided governance on one hand and on the necessity of reforms on the other. The great Regular Observance of the fifteenth century, successfully defended by Capistran and his fellows, had its institutional roots in the reform which took place under the Avignonese papacy and especially during the Schism. In this sense it is comparable to the observances in the other Mendicant orders, although none of them experienced them to such diversity and extent. Kaspar Elm's remark that the Franciscan case is exceptional both in its content and in its chronology because it harks back to the perfectionist tendencies of the thirteenth-century Spirituals (Elm 1985, 155) partly neglects the line of demarcation between the Spiritual-type observance of Paoluccio dei Trinci and the later Regular Observance, a new creation which rapidly eclipsed the previous one. To borrrow a phrase of Duncan Nimmo's, Paoluccio is better described as the last Spiritual than as the first Observant (Nimmo 1985, 144). In fifteenth-century Italy the idea of the strict Observance was more faithfully taken on by other groups, for example the Clareni (inspired by the model of Angelo Clareno) and later the Amadeiti, who flourished in Lombardy in the second half of the century. Important evidence of another radical, eremitic interpretation of the Rule is the so-called Recollectio ViJlacreciana in Castile, based on the early Franciscan texts Speculum perfectionis and Regula pro eremitoriis. Similarly austere proponents were the Discalceati or the Brothers of the Gospel, who were influential in Spain from the last decades of the fifteenth century on. However, the common feature of all these radical types of reform was that they did not break the constitutional link with the Conventual body of the Order and remained, at least formally, in submission to the general and provincial ministers. 4 Thus, the Franciscans in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries found themselves in a complex position, with four different major blocs all claiming to represent the true Franciscan tradition: Conventuals, moderate reformers, radical reformers, and heretics (the Fraticelli). It was not their position on this continuum which dictated their alliances; on the contrary, as we have seen, the Conventuals harmonized more easily with radical reformers than with moderate ones, and it was not they who reviled the Fraticelli the most fervently. The real danger for the Conventuals came from those who were the least different from them, the Regular Observance of Bernardine and Capistran. These last seem to occupy the central place in the picture. This would explain why they lacked allies within the Order and had to rely upon the papacy, or, failing this, on their lay protectors. They fought on all three fronts:



against the Conventuals in order to preserve their autonomy; against the Fraticelli (with whom they were at one stage confused), whom they blamed for the most sacrilegious crimes and whom they sought to exterminate with fire and theological treatises; and finally, against the radical Observants such as the Recollectio Villacreciana, whom they tried, in vain, to subdue and absorb. This last front was of increasing importance, to the point that, at the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, "the real battle in the Order was between these two reformed groups, rather than between either or both of them and the unreformed Conventuals" (Nimmo 1989, 204). Unlike their previous battles this one the Observants lost. The attempt by Leo X in 1517 to unite all the congregations of the reform with the Regular Observants failed, and with the foundation of the Capuchin family in 1528 the separate status of these congregations was officially recognized.

¿ome elements of the Observant spirituality Though the great Italian Observance had French and Spanish roots, after a decade or two the direction of the influence had reversed. An illustration of this is that Joan of Arc ( f l 4 3 1 ) had the famous monogram YHS embroidered on her flag, probably due to her contact with the Observants of Orléans (Vauchez 1984, 104). It was St. Bernardine of Siena's invention to combine the monogram with the emblem of the solar disc and to use it as an icon during sermons and in public processions. From 1424 on, this peculiar form of devotion was under repeated attack by rival theologians but it eventually received papal approval. The leading men of the Observance displayed such a combination of qualities that no obstacle seemed able to stand in their way. Besides the three saints Bernardine, Capistran, and James of the Marches (the first of whom was canonized only six years after his death), there was the learned rex praedicatorum Albert of Sarteano, Michael Carcano (known as tuba Christi), Silvester of Siena, Bernardino of Feltre, Robert of Lecce (who later passed over to the Conventuals), and a series of other preachers who exercised a tremendous influence over the mass of Christians. But perhaps none of their histories was so crucially interwoven with the rise and emancipation of the Observance as that of John Capistran. 5 Born in Capestrano in Central Italy on 24 June 1386, Capistran studied law in Perugia, started a secular career, and married; but in 1415 he was unexpectedly imprisoned during some political confusion. This incident was to change the course of his life. He subsequently joined the Observant Franciscans at Perugia and swiftly gained a reputation as a theologian, his talents



coming to the fore during the controversy on the name of Jesus when he defended with success his mentor, Bernardine of Siena. He preached against the Fraticelli (and was said to have destroyed dozens of heretical villages), drafted the Constitutiones Martiniancie (that is, Pope Martin V's outline of an attempt to reunify the Conventuals and Observants), and travelled on various papal and Franciscan missions, to the Holy Land (in 1439), to Burgundy, and to Flanders. In 1443 he was elected the first vicar-general of the Cismontane Observant family, and three years later drafted the famous bull Ut sacra ordinis (1446) which Eugene IV issued, the definitive confirmation of the autonomy of the Observance. After obtaining the canonization of Bernardine of Siena a mere six years after his death Capistran spent his last years in Central Europe, preaching against the Hussites (though without ever entering Prague) and striving for the conversion of the Jews. Indeed, the expansion of the Observance into Central Europe was almost entirely his personal work. By this stage Capistran seemed to be so sure about the future of the reform that when the general chapter was held in Perugia in 1453 he ignored the pleas of his confreres to return to Italy and help repel the offensive of the Conventuals. Instead he threw himself into one further and final crusade, the destruction of the Ottomans. Capistran was a man of many talents. He was not only one of the most popular preachers of the century but also wrote many learned treatises on canon law, dogmatics, and moral theology. His diplomatic skills were used by the popes on more than one occasion. His appetite for erudition was such that he needed a special papal dispensation to allow him to possess books, a considerable quantity of which he transported with him in a specially constructed wagon during his travels. As an author he was eloquent, logical and systematic rather than a profound thinker; mnemotechnics seem to have been one of his passions. To illustrate his schematic way of thinking, on occasion when speaking with pope Eugene IV (1431^47) about the reform of the Order he enigmatically argued that "it was necesary to get rid of three P's" (AA SS Oct. X: 507; Zeissberg 1872, 330; Moorman 1968, 501-4). He explained to the puzzled pope that by this he meant: pecunia (i.e. landed property and the revenues from it ),pueri (i.e. the reception of young boys into the Order), and petulantia (i.e. lack of discipline and the inflation of privileges). 6 On another occasion he proclaimed that there were three beasts he fought against: debauchery, pride, and the rapacity of lords (Hofer 1964-65, 2: 324). We have already touched upon some elements of what constitutes a specific Regular Observant spirituality. It should be recalled that the fundamental study on Western sainthood in the later Middle Ages, that of André Vauchez, does not go beyond the end of Martin V's pontificate (1431).



Vauchez explained in the "Introduction" of his monograph the reason for his decision to treat this date as a watershed, namely his belief—without implying that the "meaning of the word sanctus" ceased to evolve and change after 1430—in the relative unimportance of later canonizations due to the complete control exercised over them by the papacy. 7 However, the spiritual ideals of the Franciscan Observants, reflected in their canonization initiatives (successful in the case of Bernardine, unsuccessful in the case of Capistran), also provide interesting material for the "study of the representations of sainthood". Within his chosen period (the end of the twelfth century through 1430) Vauchez distinguishes three major typological sections, though he stresses that they "do not constitute autonomous entities" (Vauchez 1988, 449-89). The first section, comprising the entire thirteenth century, includes those canonizations whose underlying model is an ascetic saint more devoted to apostolic work (zehis animarum) and to the love of others (caritas) than to learning or thaumaturgy. The fourteenth century saw the decline of this "evangelical model" brought about by a preference for a more intellectual type of saints whose poverty is rather "spiritual" than "visible"; orthodoxy, obedience, and the efficient performance of ecclesiastical functions were by then also important values. However, around 1370 this evolution was "blocked" by the "invasion of (female) mystics," a situation that remained unchanged until 1430, i.e. until the end of the period which Vauchez treated. These mystics brought with them a new form of elitism, "the complete spiritualization of religious life". Although the problem needs to be examined more systematically, the history of the Franciscan Regular Observance of the fifteenth century seems to provide an additional, meaningful chapter to the development reconstructed by Vauchez. Primarily represented by its three saints (Bernardine, Capistran, and James of the Marches), the movement can be regarded as a negation of the mystical interlude and a resumption of the previous development. (It is significant that the "spiritual" Franciscans, those repudiated forerunners of the Regular Observants, figured as tutors to some of the mystics, sharing with them, inter alia, a rejection of learned culture.) The Observants' attitude towards culture was not hostile. Still, it was perhaps not free of inner contradiction either: on one hand, they sometimes objected to the Conventuals' excess of learning; 3 on the other, around 1515, among the sixteen arguments for Capistran's sanctity they were happy to quote in second place his doctrina sacra cum multitudine librontm (Wadding 1931-34, 12: 479). 9 But the more striking things about the Observants go back to earlier origins and can be regarded as a revival of the "evangelical model." These



include above all their enthusiasm for preaching, an anti-heretical militancy, and a whole scale of actions designed to eradicate various forms of contemporary urban "paganism" (such as usury, gambling, luxury, and superstition). Contrary to the predominant spiritual ideal represented by the saints of the first three quarters of the fourteenth century the Observants usually refused to incorporate themselves into the formal hierarchy of the Church. When Martin V in 1427 offered the bishopric of Siena to Bernardine he declined the honor "out of modesty" (actually, because he far preferred his lifestyle as itinerant preacher). 10 In Capistran's ease this was signalled out as contemptus dignitatum mimdanarum et ecclesiasticarum (Wadding 1931—34, 12: 479). Another component of the Observants' "evangelical model" is their poverty, their refusal to handle money, and their reaffirmation of the importance of manual work. They rehabilitated "visible poverty" (suspect in the fourteenth century) but coupled it with obedience to the Church authorities and especially to the Holy See." Interestingly, it is notable that all three models distinguished by Vauchez regarded miracle-working as of secondary importance. It was rather caritas which the thirteenth-century saints favored, while those who came later actually disdained miracles out of a sense of religious elitism, whether intellectual or mystical. These attitudes, of course, did not prevent miracles themselves from being evidenced in abundance. Miracle working was always a necessary component of a more democratic conception of sainthood, and it is evident that the Observants were favorably disposed towards miracles, as according to their views miracles in no way contradicted or discredited any other value. So we have the example of Capistran organizing the registration of the miracles worked posthumously by Bernardine, and James of the Marches's efforts on behalf of Capistran. In concluding the present sketch of the Regular Observant spirituality we may accept Vauchez's observation that the combinations of saintly virtues put together by the thirteenth-century founders of the Mendicant orders later dissolved (Vauchez 1988, 410) and note further how subsequently the Regular Observance realized some kind of a new convergence of previously disparate values (such as poverty and obedience, or culture and miracle working), an achievement which was probably one of the sources of its success.

The Observants in Bosnia and Hungary As mentioned earlier, the mission of John Capistran during the years 1451-56 contributed decisively to the expansion of the Franciscan Observance in the lands along the eastern periphery of Catholic Europe, between the Baltic and



the Adriatic seas. The earliest Observant foundations in Austria, Moravia, Silesia, and Poland reflect the itinerary of Capistran's peregrinations: Vienna, Klosterneuburg, Brno, Olomouc, and Opava in 1451; Wroclaw, Cracow, and Bytom in 1453; and Warsaw in 1454. In the following years the expansion continued with the foundations in Poznari (1457), Prague (1461), Lublin (1465), Vilnius (1468), and others. The Observants were perceived almost as an order of their own: in Poland they were known as bemardyni (due to Capistran's programmatic devotion to his late fellow and teacher), while in the Czech lands among other appellations they were referred to as bosaci (the barefoot). However, some considerable parts of Central Europe had already become acquainted with the Observant reform before the middle of the fifteenth century: this was the case in Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, and Germany. 12 (German lands were part of the Ultramontane Franciscan family and their first convent to be reformed, Heidelberg, received its initial group of Observants, from Touraine, in 1426; several more foundations came into existence before 1450.) In the south, the situation was different. The Observant reform in Hungary was closely connected with the history of the Bosnian vicariate. The vicariate was created in 1340 by the minister-general Gerald Odonis, who was received in a friendly way at the court of the Bosnian ban,' 3 Stephen II Kotromanic (ca. 1314-53), who was however at the same time also tolerant towards the heretical "Bosnian Church". 14 Bosnia however never became a Franciscan province, and its vicar was directly appointed by the ministergeneral. By the end of the fourteenth century the territorial jurisdiction of the vicariate expanded far beyond the borders of the Bosnian state; it infiltrated areas of the neighbouring provinces of "Sclavonia" (Croatia) and Hungary, and even included two detached custodies, Bulgaria and Galatina (Apulia). The first foundation of the Bosnian vicariate north of the river Sava was in Dakovo [Hung. Diakovar], planted by the first vicar Peregrinus of Saxony in 1347.,:> It became fashionable for the landlords of the southern parts of the Hungarian-Croatian kingdom to build monasteries for the Bosnian friars, and by the end of the long vicariate of Bartholomew of Alverna (1368-1406) the Bosnians had more than a dozen convents in these regions. According to the anonymous Cronica sett origo fratrum minorum de Observantia in provinciis Bozne et Hungarie Christo lesu militantium (probably compiled shortly before the middle of the sixteenth century) 16 the friars of the Bosnian vicariate were popularly, and somewhat derogatorily, styled fraires Cherienses from the name of the market-town of Cseri (in the medieval county of Temes, in present-day Romania) where they had an important convent: "for [the friars] the Hungarians gladly built—in conformity with poverty, as they



themselves wished—many convents in the marches, that is Or§ova, Hateg, Kovin, Alsan or Lukovo, Harapko, and in Hungary Cseri, Caransebe§, and Ineu, and it is from this Cseri that simple folk derived a name for them in order to distinguish them from other friars, especially the Conventuals, and persist in calling them Cherienses even now". 17 It seems that the Bosnian friars were distinguished from their indigenous Hungarian confreres not only by their appurtenance to another jurisdiction, but also by a different lifestyle. The passage quoted from the Cronica reveals that they wanted their residences to be built secundum paupertatem. It is an established fact that the strict Observants of Paoluccio dei Trinci and John of Stroncone had contacts with Bosnia, which they were explicitly allowed under the minister-general Henry Alfieri (1387-1405). An observant tendency appeared in the Bosnian vicariate by the end of the fourteenth century; perhaps it is an exaggeration to state that the vicariate was the first Franciscan jurisdiction to embrace as a whole the Observant reform. The Cronica narrates that many Italian friars came to Bosnia "because of the merit of the work among infidels and schismatics, and because of the regular observance—namely, at that time the vicariate of Bosnia was the only one to be called the Observance of the Brothers Minor" (Toldy 1871, 236). After the Hungarian king Louis I died in 1382 many of these friars returned to Italy. Among them an old friar who had spent thirty years in Bosnia became renowned for sanctity in his native Siena. Many young people came to be ordained as Friars Minor by him, one of them Bernardine, the future champion of the Observance. The author of the Cronica traces this spiritual lineage, apparently in order to stress the beneficial role of Bosnia in the beginnings of the Observance; in his view, the vicariate developed an autochthonous form of Franciscan perfection and thus was able to become a source of inspiration for others. It is significant that the earliest Observant foundations in Hungary proper (Ozora in 1418, Nagykanizsa in 1423, Visegrad in 1425) were exempted from the jurisdiction of the Hungarian minister-provincial and were subject directly to the minister-general "or to his vicar in Bosnia": solum et dumtaxat generali ministro ipsius ordinis aut eius in provincia (!) Bosnensi vicario, reads the papal bull concerning Visegrad. The triumph of the Observance in Bosnia was sealed during the vicariates of John of Korcula (1429-35) and James of the Marches (1435-38). In 1434 the emperor Sigismund, who owed his coronation by Eugene IV to the mediation of Bernardine of Siena, ensured that the Council of Basle issued a decretal which confirmed the right of the Bosnian vicariate to be governed by an Observant. In 1436 the Bosnian king



Stephen Tvrtko II guaranteed the Observants the freedom to settle and carry on pastoral work. Paradoxically, this official success of the Observance in the vicariate prepared the grounds for territorial separatism within its ambit. It was as if the Bosnian jurisdiction became a secondary and superfluous attribute of the Observants' distinctiveness. The split between the friars from Bosnia and those from the southern Hungarian regions occurred in 1444, during the chapter of the vicariate held in Ineu [Jeno], The separatists proclaimed the creation of a new Hungarian Observant vicariate and elected as its first vicar Fabian of Bac [Bács] (1444-52). The pope annulled the division of the Bosnian vicariate but at the same time approved the election of the new vicar. 18 When the dissension proved incapable of resolution, he also approved the separation of the Bosnian from the Hungarian Observant vicariate. Somewhat confusingly, in a bull of 14 May 1447 the jurisdiction of the former was defined as "within its ancient confínes and borders, that is from the river Drava down to the Adriatic Sea" (Htintemann 1929, 534), while in the bull of 10 February 1448 the ambit of the latter is said to extend "from the river Sava to the aforementioned [Tatar, i.e. Black] Sea" (ibid. 592). This means that the two jurisdictions overlapped in the regions of Eastern Slavonia and Srijem. 19 In practice, however, the Bosnians lost two entire custodies, Bulgaria and Kovin [Keve], as well as some houses of the custodies of Usora and Macva [Macsó]. Favorable times for the Franciscans in Bosnia were by now definitely over. They reached a low point in 1463 with the Ottoman destruction of the medieval Bosnian kingdom, but survived the occupation by dividing themselves into two jurisdictions, Bosna Argentina in the occupied territory and free Bosna Croata. It has not been established exactly how many convents belonged to the Hungarian Observant vicariate in its early stages; they might have numbered about forty. Immediately after aquiring autonomy the Observants took over a certain number of renegade Conventual houses, among them those of Buda and Esztergom. This also happened with the convent in Ilok, whose transfer from the Conventuals to the Observants was completed in 1454. This course of events alarmed the Hungarian Conventuals. Under their energetic minister-provincial Fabian of Igal (1452-74) they undertook a number of reforms, promulgated a new statute, and assumed the name Provincia Hungariae Conventualium reformatoram. After 1455 the Observants were forbidden to incorporate ex-Conventual houses. Thus the further erosion of the Conventual community was successfully halted. The Observants remained more popular, especially among society's lower strata, but were also more susceptible to deviation: their "social radicalism" led some of them to assume active



roles in the great peasant revolt of 1514, and it was mostly their apostates who provided the preachers during the early Reformation in Hungary. 20 In 1517, following the bull Ite vos, the Hungarian Conventuals accepted unification with the reformed family of the Order, preserving however the constitutional framework of their own province, now renamed Provincia sanctae Mariae. At the same time the former Observant vicariate became Provincia sancti Salvatoris. According to the catalogue of Franciscan provinces and vicariates compiled about 1510, the Hungarian Observants controlled seventy convents or slightly more, whereas the reformed Conventuals held perhaps half that number. One of the ten custodies of the Hungarian Observant vicariate was called the custodia beati Joannis de Capistrano, and its center was in Ilok (Wadding 1931-34, 15: 402).

John Capistran in Hungary In their recent contribution to the question of what actually happened to St. John Capistran's relics and whether there is any hope that they will reappear after almost five centuries, 21 Stefan Damian and Filippo de Marchis put forward an odd idea, namely that when the saint came to die in Ilok this was an unconscious completion of his biographical cycle, being a return to his paternal roots. Capistran's father—the two researchers maintain—came to Italy at the command of one of the bans of Macva, John of Horvat [Horvath] ( t 1394), an officer of the Hungarian-Croatian king Louis I the Great (1342-82); moreover, they argue, he probably came from the region of Ilok, the place of his son's death: "Senza saperlo, Giovanni chiudeva la sua esistenza terrena proprio nella terra del genitore" (Damian and De Marchis 1993, 238-39). The connection does indeed exist, but it is more complicated and less direct than Damian and De Marchis have assumed, and was made possible by the wider context of Hungarian-Italian political and cultural relations, which were relatively intense throughout the fourteenth century. 22 Capistran's father did not come to Italy as a soldier either of King Louis of Hungary or of his relative Charles, prince of Durazzo ( f* 1386), but of the French Angevin, the duke-regent Louis I (Hofer 1964-65, 1: 29-31). The context is the following: when Giovanna I, queen of Naples (1343-82), sided with the Avignon pope Clement VII, the pope of Rome Urban VI offered her throne to Louis I, king of Hungary. To this end, Louis procured troops for his relative Charles of Durazzo, wanting to compensate him for the Hungarian and Polish crowns which were already reserved for the princess Mary's



fiancé, Holy Roman emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg (Engel 1990, 42). In 1381 Charles defeated Giovanna's husband Otto of Brunswick, entered Naples, and took the queen prisoner. The French regent Louis 1 of Anjou arrived to help Giovanna but his sudden death from disease in 1384, in Bari, prevented him from punishing Charles. Some of Louis' barons took the oath of loyalty to his son Louis II; others returned across the Alps; some stayed in Italy. Capistran's father, whose name may have been Anthony, was among the last group. He was either German or French; he may have changed sides before Anjou's final fiasco; subsequently he became a vassal of the count of Celano, with his residence in Capestrano. In about 1385 he married a girl from the Amici family, and on 24 June (the feast of St. John the Baptist) 13 86 his son John was born. In the meantime Charles of Durazzo became Charles III, king of Naples. After the death of Louis the Great (1382) one faction of the Croatian and Hungarian nobility led by the Horvati clan felt dissatisfied with the coronation of his daughter Mary. Thanks to their influence, on the last day of 1385 Charles was crowned king of Hungary-Croatia as Charles II against the will of Mary and her mother, the dowager queen Elisabeth. On 7 February 1386, in Buda, the queens' adherents made an attempt on Charles' life which resulted in his death within the month. The revenge of the Horvati was not long in coming. On 25 July 1386 their men attacked the queens near Dakovo, the see of the Bosnian bishopric, in the county of Vukovo [Valkô], (See Map 1.) They put to death a part of their retinue, including the count palatine Nicholas of Gorjan [Gara] and king Charles' murderer, Blasius Forgâch. The queens were taken captive and Elisabeth was later strangled. 23 This brutal event took place some eighty kilometers west of the town of Ilok. Exactly one month separated the birth of the future saint in Capestrano and the bloodshed near Dakovo. This, then, is the point where various lines seem to converge. The actual link between Capistran's birth-place and Slavonia is not in fact Capistran's father (whom Damian and De Marchis untenably argue came from Slavonia), but two men allied in their opposition to the Hungarian queen: Charles of Durazzo, king of Naples and short-lived king of Hungary, whose assault on Naples brought Capistran's father to Italy, and whose violent death at Buda resulted in the skirmish near Dakovo; and John of Horvat, the landlord from the county of Vukovo and the chief rebel who commanded Charles' conquering army in 1383-84. Moreover, the members of the queens' retinue captured near Dakovo included noblemen like Stephen of Korogy and John of Morovic [Marôth]. 24 We shall find their descendants among the people who benefitted from the miracles worked by Capistran's relics, or at least who testified to such miracles; for example, Stephen's



great-grandson Casper of Korogy ( t 1472) is recorded more than once in the miracle collections of 1460 and 1461. These are the subtle links which can be reconstructed between the circumstances of Capistran's birth in Italy, and his death and afterlife in a corner of the Hungarian-Croatian kingdom. A similar notion of teleology is implied in the title of a modern romanticized biography of St. John Capistran, Der Weg nach Ilok,25 suggesting that the course of the saint's life leads inevitably to the remote town in the Hungarian-Croatian kingdom. No doubt, in Capistran's time Ilok was on the periphery, not only of the kingdom but also of Western Christianity itself, in ultimis christianorum finibus.2b It lived in the shadow of the looming Otto-



man conquest, with only one river (the Sava) separating the region around it from the no-man's-land to the south where Hungarian and Croatian forces struggled to oppose the Ottoman advance. Even so, the river represented an ideal rather than an actual boundary, as it was continually violated by Ottoman raids on its countryside; in return, the defenders launched punitive expeditions, usually led by Mihäly Szilagyi (11461), the famed captain of the fortress of Belgrade, until 1460 when he was captured while attacking Smederevo (Szakäly 1979a, 94). Demographic investigations have shown that the villages of the most exposed counties (Srijem, Vukovo, Pozega) had the lowest average sizes of population in the Kingdom in the second half of the fifteenth century: only 32 for Vukovo, 34 for Srijem, and 44 for Pozega. 27 However, immigration, religious plurality, and even some commercial relations with the other side (mediated mainly by the merchants of Dubrovnik and by the despots of Serbia) 28 were also elements of this frontier reality. The Hungarian-Ottoman border was indefinite and variable, and not only in the military sense; rather than an absolute barrier it represented a permeable organ, a living membrane. It is clear that the Ottoman peril made Capistran come to the kingdom of Hungary, eventually to die in Ilok. Capistran's first mention of the Turks is in a letter he wrote in Brugge on 7 February 1443: it is insane, he writes, to tolerate the discord of the Christian nations while Hungary is imperiled by the Ottomans (Hofer 1964-65, 1: 291). In the next year he lost his friend cardinal Giulio Cesarini, whose death in the disastrous defeat at Varna (10 November 1444) brought to an end his mission in Hungary organizing a crusade. Ten years later Capistran was to preach the call for a similar crusade at the Imperial diet in Frankfurt. In Nürnberg, a dream revealed to him that he would die in Hungary without suffering martyrdom of blood; and during the mass, he heard a voice calling him "to Hungary". 29 In the middle of May of 1455 he entered the Hungarian kingdom, 30 and in June took part in the diet at Györ, where ambitious plans of defence were prepared. He spent the autumn 1455 in Transylvania, the country of Jänos Hunyadi, where according to the records of his biographers some 10,000 Orthodox were "reunified with the Church" thanks to the combined efforts of Capistran and two local Franciscans, Matthew of Transylvania and John Geszti (Hofer 1964-65, 2: 358-59). On 14 February 1456 at Buda Capistran received the blessed cross, sent to him by pope Calixtus III, from the hands of the papal legate in Hungary, cardinal Juan de Carvajal (1400-1469): from that moment on, Capistran was the officially appointed commander of the crusade. Throughout the following months he recruited crusaders in the capital and, from the middle of April onwards, in the southern parts of the kingdom.



By the end of June warning letters from Hunyadi and Szilagyi found him somewhere in the region of Backa, at the confluence of the Danube and Tisza rivers (Hofer 1964-65, 2: 370). Descending the Danube, he stopped in Petrovaradin where during mass he had the vision of a golden arrow with a divine message of comfort. 31 There are indications that Capistran also visited Ilok at this time. 32 The whole last stage of his biography is preceded with an intimate cesura: it is documented that in 1440, in his 54th year, he felt so tired by the passage of years that he described himself as "a weak, sickly old man, only fit to die" (Moorman 1968,469). A few days before arriving at the fortress of Belgrade Capistran celebrated his seventieth birthday: it was an advanced age, especially by fifteenth-century standards. Capistran was now an exceptional old man whose last earthly deeds have the scale of truly heroic exploits. 33 On the basis of Erik Fiigedi's reconstmction of Capistran's itinerary Joseph Held has calculated that between 30 May 1455 and 2 July 1456 he travelled nearly 600 kilometers on poor roads in all seasons of the year (Held 1983,36-37, nt. 20). The years spent in Central Europe, and especially his last year in Hungary, had changed Capistran to a certain degree. Although his was by no means a mystically-oriented mind, his sermons and his dreams now became troubled by a stream of visions, near-mystical experiences, hallucinations, and revelations of almost hermetical symbolism. 34 His legalistic rationalism had weakened (Fiigedi 1987a, 137). Travelling almost frantically over a country under great threat he had resolved to suffer martyrdom for the salvation of Christendom, but he was still desperately trying to discern God's intentions. Almost every day, some heavenly sign made him weep, either from gladness or from bitterness. Capistran was forced to modify his previous stubborn attitudes when faced with the complex situation in ultimis christianorum finibus. Tagliacozzo's account of the battle of Belgrade contains a significant passage, in which we are shown an indulgent Capistran who "embraces in friendship" all the schismatics, heretics, and Jews, provided they are willing to combat the Turks. 33 The biographer comments on Capistran's conciliatory instructions in the following terms: "And thus the Father, general inquisitor of heretical wickedness, although he was always the severest persecutor, exterminator, and confounder of such perverse persons, now did not wish to put any difficulty in the way of those who were taking up arms against the Turks; and he made them cry upon the name of Jesus very often" (Wadding 1931-34, 12:407-8). At the same time one cannot help feeling that this indulgence was nothing more than a temporary change of heart, following the pragmatic logic that "the end justifies the means".



The victory of Belgrade and its hagiography It is not within the scope of this work to give an extensive account of the battle of Belgrade (14-22 July 1456), concerning which the opinion of the learned friar Michael Bihl, that the "complexio rei et controversiae specialem dissertationem efflagitat," seems quite reasonable (Bihl 1926, 68). It was an outstanding example of a battle with an unexpected outcome. The initial Christian prospects were more than bleak. The Ottomans outnumbered the Christian forces by at least twice; they also had a stronger fleet on the Danube and much heavier guns, these latter manned mostly by Western mercenaries. To their advantage the defenders had a desperate fighting spirit and crusading zeal, not to mention a certain number of stratagems which proved successful. The battle opened brilliantly with the bloody defeat of the Ottoman fleet which thus broke the blockade of Belgrade. Over the following days the exasperated Ottomans gradually demolished and captured the town's fortifications and, in the night from 21 to 22 July, the Janissaries even penetrated the inner fortress. The battle already appeared lost when Hunyadi sent in hidden reserves while the Janissaries in the ditches were assailed by fire in the form of lighted faggots dipped in sulphur. Toward noon on the next day the Christians launched a counter-attack; the sultan Mehmed II himself seems to have been wounded in the fray, and the Ottomans were forced to retreat in confusion. 36 Norman Housley has recently called this battle "the greatest crusading victory over the Turks in the fifteenth century" and "one of the most extraordinary episodes in military history" (Housley 1992, 103-4). The military designs of Sultan Mehmed II were indeed ambitious; moreover, the internal situation of Hungary made them entirely realistic. Thus the successful defence of the strategic fortress of Belgrade was a military miracle, and indeed postponed the destruction of the Hungarian kingdom for a further seventy years. It seems all the more miraculous if one recalls that Hunyadi's inadequate regular troops actually only assisted the crusader army, which consisted almost exclusively of peasants, burghers, students, and lower clergy. As Housley sees it, the generally-assumed decline of the crusading ideal is contradicted by the veiy fact that on this occasion it received such "an enthusiastic response from a broad social base," this response being the only valid explanation for the defeat of Mehmed II's army. Yet, he notes, historians are reluctant to assert the crusading nature of the victory: "The result, the relief of Belgrade by an army of common crusaders led by John of Capistrano, has been sadly neglected by crusade historians because it does not fit



into their pattern of decline, or at best, of the crusade surviving only because it was hitched to the chariot of chivalry" (Housley 1992,408). The most valuable sources for the history of the battle, and at the same time for the study of its hagiographie aspect, are four extensive letters written by Capistran's companion and favorite among his junior confreres, John of Tagliacozzo. 37 Another eye-witness of the battle among Capistran's biographers, Jerome of Udine, has left only a concise Vita in the form of a letter written in elegant humanist style and dated 17 June 145 7. 38 The most important overall biographies of Capistran are those written in the early 1460s by Nicholas ofFara (fafter 1478) and Christopher of Várese (|1491); 3 9 for the battle of Belgrade and Capistran's last months both are in the main second-hand sources. These four authors (the number is symbolic), all members of the Franciscan order and Capistran's close companions, form the canon of his hagiographie biographies. Tagliacozzo's epistles were the only ones so far to become the subject of a textual analysis from the point of view of the développement légendaire, in a valuable article by the Bollandist Robert Lechat (Lechat 1921,139-51). By reconstructing from several examples what he called "le progrès de la légende en trois stades" the author demonstrated how the metaphors from the earlier versions became the "reality" in the later ones (Lechat 1921, 145). In the first stage the arrows of the Turks simply could not hit the saint; in the last they miraculously flew around him (sagittae velut a vento repulsae patrem evitabant). Again, in the first the crusaders' war ciy Jesus! terrified the Turks, while in the last it threw them from the saddle and pulled their weapons out from their hands; it was the captured Turks themselves, the biographer underlines, who testified to these exceptional events. The examples analysed by Lechat show that an interpretation of miracles should focus on the problems of literary stylization and text-making: sometimes the concept truly contiguous to the concept of miracle is not the "pure chance" or "inexplicable phenomenon" but the metaphor. The annalists of the Observant Franciscans in Bosnia and Hungary favored the strong legendary version of the miraculous battle, as is evident from the Crónica sen origo: "In devotion to this sacred name of Jesus and with angelic assistance, he put to flight the Turk himself and his huge army, from whose folk, that is the Turk's, forty thousand perished under Belgrade and another forty thousand were killed by angels in their flight as far as Constantinople, which is testified to by the Turks themselves, and these things are contained in the book entitled 'The Fortress of Faith'" (Toldy 1871, 245). 40 A study of the battle of Belgrade as a chapter of a potential hagiographie history might ask as its central question: should the victory of Belgrade be



considered as one of Capistran's miracles? The investigator would face a troublesome and polyphonic tradition. For his younger confreres Capistran was already, and had been for a long time, il santopadre. For them there was no doubt: the victoiy was to be attributed to the saint. As Nicholas of Fara wrote: "this most glorious victory over the Turks, namely, was obtained by the Hungarians with divine help (divinitus) and—whatever people might say—its author was nobody else but saint John" (AA SS Oct. X: 472). The miraculous character of the defence of Belgrade seems to be corroborated by numerous marginal miracles, the "signs", which occurred before, during, and after the battle. On the other hand, it is well known that the adherents of the notion of miraculous victoiy were obliged from the very beginning to restrict the dispute to the discussion of technical details (number of fighters engaged, tactical questions, etc). "The delivery of Belgrade, as has often been pointed out, is one of those historical events that remain inadequately known despite an abundance of source material, because from the veiy outset the eyewitness reports were used as partisan documents" (Babinger 1978, 144). The argument about who deserved credit for the victory began immediately after the Turks were forced to withdraw; it almost erupted into the clash between seigniorial troops and the peasant and burgher crusaders "which was in the air" (Bak 1983, 296-97). 41 Many and various voices, both on the victorious and on the defeated side, were involved in the dispute at the time. A closer analysis would probably show that this was already a decisive reason for the failure of the hagiographic interpretation of the event to become dominant. There was no vigorous and solitary (vigorous because solitary) text, one of those prerequisites so characteristic for earlier centuries, to ensure the supremacy of the adverb divinitus.

Notes 1

In the following recapitulation I rely above all upon the penetrating analysis by N i m m o , "The genesis of the Observance"; idem, "The Franciscan regular observance"; and idem, Reform and division. Sec also "François, premier ordre de saint," in Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, 18: esp. col. 8 4 8 - 6 5 , by C. Schmitt; the rich, intelligent, and somewhat old-fashioned monograph of bishop Moorman, A history of the Franciscan order, esp. 3 6 9 - 8 9 and 4 4 1 - 5 8 5 ; M.D. Lambert, Franciscan poverty: the doctrines of the absolute poverty of Christ and the Apostles in the Franciscan order, 1210-1323 (London, 1961); C. Esser, Origini e valori autentici dell'ordine dei Frati minori (Milan, 1972); M. Sensi, Le


30 osservanze






( R o m e , 1985); and, f o r the

Spirituals, Leff, Heresy in the Late Middle Ages, 1: 1 6 7 - 7 5 . 2

This brief portrayal of the Fraticelli is arguably oversimplified. For a m u c h m o r e nuanced

account see Leff, Heresy,

1: 2 3 0 - 5 5 .

' Petrecca, San Giovanni

da Capestrano,

123, after an examination of relevant Capistra-

nean writings, concludes that the saint "si attene sempre, in t e m a di povertà, alla volontà e agli ideali propri della Chiesa di R o m a , " although his vernacular ¡Explanation

of the Rule (ca.

1440) s h o w s in this matter a m o r e radical attitude. 4

Ft must be mentioned that a m o n g moderate Observants there w a s also a m a j o r c o n g r e g a -

tion which preferred to stay sub minis tris: the so-called Colettans in France, the c o n g r e g a t i o n of friars attached to the second order of St. Francis, which w a s being r e f o r m e d by St. Colette of C o r b i e ( t 1447). 5

T h e f u n d a m e n t a l biography is by Johannes Hofer, Johannes


um die Reform

der Kirche,


Ein Leben


2nd edition rev. by O. B o n m a n n , 2 vols. (Heidelberg,

1 9 6 4 - 6 5 ) ; the w o r k includes an extensive bibliography of sources and literature (1: 17*—57*). T h e m a j o r recent contributions to Capistran studies are t w o c o n f e r e n c e v o l u m e s : Pâsztor and Pâsztor (eds.), S. Giovanni cana.

da Capestrano;

and Antenucci (éd.), Santità e spiritualité


For Capistran's last (Central European) period, see also Elm, " J o h a n n e s Kapistrans

Predigtreise," with an extensive bibliography in the footnotes. For w o r k s in H u n g a r i a n see Bolcskey, Capistranôi

Szent Jânos élete és kora, 3: 598 ff.; and P. Kulcsâr, Kapisztrân


(Budapest, 1987). For the m o d e s t contribution of Croatian historiography on the subject see the bibliography prepared by Batorovic, ''Literature o sv. Ivanu Kapistranu". 6

T h e a c r o n y m P P P coined by Capistran may have had an additional connotation, attesting

that he w a s abreast with a s o m e w h a t obscure tradition c o n c e r n i n g pontifical history. With his "three P ' s " Capistran possibly alluded to the f o r m u l a of "six P ' s " which appeared in the 13th century and w a s connected with the legendary usurpation of the Holy See by the p o p e s s Joan. A c c o r d i n g to the legend, an inscription consisting of six initial P ' s w a s f o u n d on w h a t w a s supposed to be her t o m b ; it w a s interpreted in two slightly different ways, o n e figuring in D o m i n i c a n (Petre, Pater Patrum, (Papa, Pater Patrum,

Papisse Prodito Partum)

Papisse Pandito Partum).

and the other in Franciscan authors

Cf. Alain B o u r e a u , La papesse



1993), 5 5 - 5 6 , 1 5 5 - 6 0 . 7

" A u niveau de nos sources se manifeste une autre coupure, m o i n s visible certes mais non

m o i n s significative: entre 1418 et 1445, la papauté, à notre connaissance, n ' a o r d o n n é a u c u n e enquête nouvelle ni effectué a u c u n e canonisation. L o r s q u e la " f a b r i q u e des saints" reprend son activité, avec la glorification de S. Bernardin de Sienne, le climat n ' e s t plus le m ê m e . Les procès de la seconde moitié du XVe siècle sont contrôlés de plus en plus étroitement par la Curie et le rôle des témoins tend à se limiter à l'approbation du s c h é m a qui leur est proposé. Q u e l q u e s sondages nous ont convaincus que les seules informations originales q u e l ' o n pouvait y glaner concernent l'extension et les manifestations de la dévotion. D a n s la m e s u r e ou notre objectif est l'étude des représentations de la sainteté, il n ' e s t d o n c pas arbitraire de nous arrêter à la fin du pontificat de Martin V, qui fut suivi d ' u n e reprise en main du culte des saints par l'Eglise romaine et de l'établissement progressif d ' u n e nouvelle discipline b e a u c o u p m o i n s respectueuse des conceptions populaires." (Vauchez, La sainteté, 8


So in 1488 Francesco N a n n i (called S a m s o n ) claimed that the C o n v e n t u a l s ' ideal declined

f r o m conscientia

to scientia.

and finally to entia. reducing them to " m e r e existence, which they

shared with the beasts and even the stones" ( M o o r m a n , A history,

504). T h e r e is a related

example, also quoted by M o o r m a n (ibid. 533), s h o w i n g that in the conflict between popular



and learned culture the Observants sometimes represented the first, as in the polemic in 1444 between the friar Antonio of Bitonto, who taught in Naples that each of the twelve sentences of the Apostolic Creed was written by one of the Apostles, and the learned humanist Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457). who was scandalized by such a fanciful interpretation. However, the version of friar Antonio goes as far back as Rufinus (+411) and his Commentarius in Symbolum apostolorum (cf. Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, 1/2: col. 1662). 9 See the original text in the Sant'Isidoro codex 1/48, fol. 4v-8r. In Bernardine's canonization process it was also stressed that se sacris disciplinis et litteris taliter imbuendum dedit, ut non post multa tempora in virum evaserit scientificum (Piana, "I processi di canonizzazione," 149). 10 Cf. article 29 of his canonization process: honores et dignitates sibi oblatos recusavit et sprevit (Piana, "I processi," 426). " In Bernardine's case these two elements are listed as articles 24 (summam paupertatem semper amplexatus est... etiam pecuniae tactuspenitus evitabatur) and 25 (sub obedientia se subiugaret): Piana, "I processi," 412-15. 12 For an overview of these problems see Kioczowski, "L'Observance en Europe centraleorientale," 171-191. lj The term ''ban" (Lat. banus, sometimes translated as "viceroy" or "duke") originally applied to the rulers of northern Croatia. The word is of Turkic origin, probably representing a trace of an early-medieval community of mixed Croats and Avars. 14 Cf. Fine. The late medieval Balkans, 281-82; Sanjek, Bosansko-humski ki-stjani, 72, 94; for the rest of this survey of Bosnian Franciscan history I rely upon C. Othmer. Ouaestio de tempore adventus fratrum minorum in Bosniam deque fundatione primae eorum vicariae (Rome, 1931); J. Dzambo, Die Franziskaner im mittelalterlichen Bosnien (Werl/Westfalen, 1991); D. Mandic, Franjevacka Bosna [Franciscan Bosnia] (Rome, 1968); Karâcsonyi, Szent Ferencz rendjének tôrténete, 1: 305-29; M. Zugaj, "Bosanska vikarija i franjevci konventualci" [The Bosnian vicariate and the Conventual Franciscans], Croatica Christiana periodica 13/24 (1989), 1-26; HoSko. "Franjevci u Srijemu". 15 Dakovo was the seat of the nominal Bosnian bishopric from 1252, and Peregrinus was appointed as its bishop in 1349. Cf. S. Bâuerlein, "Djakovo," in Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques. 5: col. 527-29. 16 The Cronica was edited by Toldy in his Analecta monumentorum, 213-315, under the somewhat misleading title "Blasii de Zalka et continuatorum eius Cronica fratrum minorum de observantia provinciae Boznae et Hungariae." The actual author of the chronicle was an unknown friar of the first half of the 16th century. The earlier work of Blasius de Zalka, Bosnian vicar 1420-25, is known to us only through the redaction of that anonymus author: cf. Toldy .Analecta, 215-6: cogitavi ergo, ut solum gesta vicariorum observantiarum praedictaram [describerem], sicut in libro Reverendi Patris Fratris Blasii de Zalka, quondam Vicarii de Bozna ... consignata comperr, and ibid. 241: haec usque adhuc ex libro Fratris Blasii de Zalka accepi. In the second part of his work, ibid. 241-304, the anonymous chronicler mostly relied upon the oral recollections of an old friar of the Hungarian Observant vicariate, Gregory of Ilok: cf. ibid. 216: et a venerabili sene videlicet fratre Gregorio de Uylak didici, and ibid. 241 : et quae sequuntur a venerabili sene praedicto [accepi], Fermendzin, who pieced together his "Chronicon observantis provinciae Bosnae Argentinae" largely with excerpts from the anonymous Cronica, apparently was unaware of its 1871 edition by Toldy. He used a manuscript of the Cronica preserved in the Franciscan convent of Gyôngyôs, whence derives his abbreviated title of the work, Chronicon Gyôngyôsiense. The manuscript used by Fer-



mendzin finishes with "the notice on L u t h e r ' s death," which led him to s u p p o s e that the Cronica

w a s completed around 1547 (cf. Fermendzin, " C h r o n i c o n , " 1). T h e passage Fer-

mendzin refers to corresponds with p. 304 of Toldy's edition. T h e w o r k of A n o n y m u s w a s supplemented with short notes of later origin taking it up to the mid-17th century. However, the question of the precise date of A n o n y m u s ' Cronica

must remain open until an analysis

dedicated exclusively to this important text is undertaken. 17

cjuibus [fratribus]

in conßnibus Harako,



et in Hungaria

ad aliorum


mine Cherienses


construxerunt, Cheri et Sebes,



c o n v e n t s in Hungaria

cum gaudio plurima




Yemv, de quo scilicet



sicut ipsi volebant,




Chery eisdem simplex nomen



Luko, populus

invertii, nec ipsos


It is interesting to notice the distinction m a d e between the

and those situated in conßnibus

(Toldy, Analecta,

234). T h e s e places

and their locations are present-day O r j o v a , H a f e g (both in R o m a n i a ) , Kovin (Serbia), Alsan or L u k o v o (Croatia), H a r a p k o (probably Croatia), Cseri, Caransebe?, and Ineu (all in R o m a nia). 18

T h e bull Etsi ex debito

terms: ...satore garos


ex una, et Bosnenses


quod ad divisionem


sibi vicarium


ceterosque venerint

pro seipsis,

( H ü n t e m a n n , BuHarium 19

of 24 January 1445 describes the dissension in the f o l l o w i n g


exorta gravis


vicariorum et Bosnenses



(...) discordia



ordinis praelibati et Sciavi


inter fratres


in tantum,


sibi elegerint



altera Hungari



n.s. vol. 1 : 4 1 3 ) .

Croat. Srijem (= Serb. Srem, H u n g . Szerémség, all corresponding to the medieval Latin





classical Sirmium

referred to the city, not the region) is

the traditional n a m e for the country situated in the c o n f l u e n c e of the Sava and the D a n u b e rivers. T h e region constitutes a geographical w h o l e with the " m e s o p o t a m i a " b e t w e e n the D a n u b e ' s tributaries Sava and Drava, and the modern (pre-Yugoslavian) usage of the term Slavonia

normally subsumed the territory of Srijem as well (as in the official designation of

the land of Croatia as the "Triune K i n g d o m of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia''). 20

Jenö SzQcs analyzed the surviving d o c u m e n t s illustrating the O b s e r v a n t contribution

to the revolt of 1514 and to the beginnings of the R e f o r m a t i o n in his " D i e oppositionelle S t r ö m u n g , " 2: 4 8 3 - 5 1 3 . 21

Damian and D e Marchis, " G i o v a n n i da Capestrano," 2 2 6 - 4 1 , 331—49.


In the course of the repeated armed attempts by Louis the Great to unite H u n g a r y and

N a p l e s under his person, "the diplomatic activity attendant upon the preparations for the campaign, as also the need to maintain supply lines, obliged certain sections of the Hungarian ruling class to spend a good part of their lives in Italy," to quote D. Dercsényi (ed.), The Hungarian



(Budapest, 1969), 17. See in addition L.S. D o m o n k o s , " T h e

influence of the Italian c a m p a i g n s of Louis the Great on Hungarian cultural d e v e l o p m e n t s , " in: S.B. Vardy, G. G r o s s c h m i d , and L.S. D o m o n k o s (eds.), Louis the Great, king of and Poland 2j


(New York, 1986), 2 0 3 - 2 0 .

This sequence of events, which briefly integrated the political space b e t w e e n the Seine

and the middle Danube, is described in detail in E. G. Léonard. Les Angevins

de Naples

1954), 4 4 0 - 7 6 . Léonard m a d e extensive use of B. H ó m a n ' s m o n o g r a p h Gli Angioini in Ungheria

( R o m e , 1938). Cf. in addition Sisic, Vojvoda Hrvoje

Vukcic Hrvatinic.


(Paris, Napoli 39-53;

.1. Bak, " T h e late medieval period, 1 3 8 2 - 1 5 2 6 , " in: Sugar, H a n ä k and Frank, A history, E. Fiigedi, Könyöriilj,

bànom, könyöriilj


[Have mercy, my ban, have mercy] (Budapest, 1986).



24 The form Morovic (which is the present-day name of a village in Srijem) is not familiar to Hungarian scholars, but is attested in medieval texts along with the form Maróth. So the Venetian chronicle of Zorzi Dolfin, speaking about the Hungarian defeat of 1415 in Bosnia, refers to Morovich Joannes Ban, menado in Turchia (Iorga, Notes et extraits, 2: 150, note 5). The same person is mentioned in an Italian letter handed over by the authorities of Dubrovnik to king Sigismund (queste parole sono di Morovich bario), as well as in their own accompanying letter of 18 August 1415 (cum precibus et hortacionibus Iohannis bani Morovich); both quotations are from Gelcich and Thallóczy, Raguza és Magyarorszàg, 2 5 1 - 5 2 . This John of Morovic, ban of Macva and captive of the Ottomans, was probably a nephew of the John of Morovic mentioned above. The twin forms Maróth/Morovic are yet another illustration of the Hungarian-Slavic bilingualism in late medieval Srijem. 25 Wilhelm von Scholz. Der IVeg nach Ilok: Roman (Leipzig, 1930). 26 The expression is Capistran's; sec his letter to cardinal Juan de Carvajal, dated in Pest on 19 February 1456, in Wadding, Annates, 12: 372 = Pcttkó, "Kapisztràn Jànos levelezése," 190. Ilok is the most usually confused with Villach in Austria. One could draw up a list of scholarly attributions of Ilok to different countries; cf. Hofer, Johannes Kapistran, 2: 413; Wadding, Annates, 13: 2, note 1. Unfortunately, the multiplication of books on a subject docs not necessarily imply an increasing quality of knowledge. Thus in the book of Michele Antonio di Loreto, Processo di canonizzazione di S. Giovanni da Capestrano (L'Aquila, 1990), 102, a photograph of the convent in Ilok is accompanied with the following note: "Ilok—graziosa cittadina della Serbia, presso Novi Sad; si specchia nel Danubio. Già feudo della nobile famiglia romana dei Frangipane (Frankapan), questi favorirono la riassunzione della causa di canonizzazione di San Giovanni. Il locale convento francescano fu donato dal Voivoda Nicola di Transilvania a San Giovanni poco prima della battaglia di Belgrado." Ilok was never in Serbia; it never belonged to the Frankapans, who were not a Roman family (one of their members was the archbishop of Kalocsa in the years 1502-20, and he bequeathed money for the canonization); and voivode Nicholas initiated the Observant reform of the convent in Ilok several years before Capistran arrived there. 27

These figures are to be compared to the contemporary "national" average, which was 87. Cf. Szabó. "La repartition de la population," 1: 376-77. 28 In a charter issued at Smedcrevo in 1449, despot George Brankovic of Rascia (Serbia) uses the occasion of the Turco-Hungarian truce to arrange commerce between the two sides in border towns: Item ut mercatores Turcorum cunt eorum mercibus in Nandoralbam, in Kewij, in Haram, in Zewerinum, et in Karansebes tantummodo libere venire et in eisdem negociari valeant: econtra autem nos Despotus totidem loca in tenutis Turcorum eligere debeamus, in que et mercatores Hungari cum mercibus eorum transire Ubere et negociari valeant (Teleki, Hunyadiak kora, 10: 244). The present-day names of the enumerated places on the Hungarian side are: Belgrade, Kovin, Banatska Palanka (all in Yugoslavia), TurnuSeverin and Caransebe? (Romania). 29

Hofer, Johannes Kapistran, 2: 322. Cum vero celebrando ibi die sequent! attente oraret, cuperetque scire quonam pro/icisci deberet, auclivit varias in Ecclesia voces resonare: in Hungariam, in Hungarians et dum praedicaret in platea ante majorem Ecdesiam, idem in aere saepius audiebat. Sic ex dubio surgens, decrevit secundum voluntatem Domini in Hungariam pro/icisci (Wadding, Annates, 12: 395). J

° In chapter 14 of his monograph Hofer has accurately reconstructed Capistran's itinerary in Hungary prior to the battle of Belgrade; cf. also "Itinerar," ibid. 1: 527. The main points of the itinerary are the following: Ober-Limbach, Papa, Pannonhalma (May 1455) - Gyòr



( J u n e - J u l y 1455) - Esztergom (July 1455) - B u d a ( J u l y - A u g u s t 1455) - S z e k e s f e h e r v a r (August 1455) - Szeged (September 1 4 5 5 ) - C e n a d [Csanad] ( S e p t e m b e r 1 4 5 5 ) - T i m i j o a r a [Temesvar], Arad, Lipova [Lippa], Caransebe? [Karansebes], H u n e d o a r a [Hunyadvar], T u r d a [Torda], A l b a Julia [Gyulafehervar], Ha(eg [Hatszeg], Timi$oara (October


1456) - Buda, Pest ( J a n u a r y - A p r i l 1456) - Pecs, Siklos, Perecske, Kolut [Kolyiid], Szeged, BaC [Bacs] ( A p r i l - J u n e 1456) - Petrovaradin [Petervarad] (end of June 1456) - B e l g r a d e (2 July 1456). J1

Cum enim Pater ipse cum tanta defendentium



Deus causam

sic moestus

suam tueri dignaretur,

visum est sibi celebranti emissa



sed securus,


altari mitteretur,

ut coepisti,

cruris victoriam


per Danitbium


et quod Christianorum


ante eum super

timeas Joannes, sanctissimae



de Turcis obtinebis.







quod quaedam


in qua litteris ac propera,


aureis sic legebatur:


quia in virtute nominis

" Ouibus exhilaratus



mei et

Paler abjecit

tiam, terrorem amovit, neque ex tunc tristis aut moestus visits est (Wadding, Annates, j2



moesti12: 397).

Fugedi. "Kapisztranoi." 872, note 115, maintains that "Capistran stayed in Ilok between

21 and 2 9 June [1456]," but cites no evidence in support. T h i s information cannot derive f r o m the already quoted passage in Tagliacozzo (per Danubium Petrovaridini

sic moestus





T h e only certain thing is that Capistran could not h a v e

sailed d o w n the D a n u b e without c o m i n g in sight of the town of Ilok with its Franciscan convent on the hill top. However, Tagliacozzo implies that Capistran stayed in Ilok b e f o r e the battle w h e n describing his decision to die there, in loco fratrum ante victoriam


(Wadding, Annates,

de Observantia,



12: 449). Moreover, the a f t e r w o r d of the miracle

collection Ic contains a line which says that as Capistran set off f r o m Ilok to Belgrade, he blessed the town and predicted that he would be buried there: quo quidem signo [cruris] multitudine




olim Nandoralbam eventuram



ex dicta Wylak eandem


cum illicque

(Sant'Isidoro codex 1/6/1, fol. 164v). Finally, w h e n

after the d e f e n c e of Belgrade Capistran and his c o m p a n i o n s w e r e w i t h d r a w i n g to Ilok, it w a s himself and Carvajal w h o , according to Tagliacozzo, s h o w e d the w a y : quo die tam legatus

quam pater sanctus

verunt (Wadding, Annates, 3j


Vylak iter dirigentes,

I. die Septembris




12: 451).

It is interesting to note that the three other great men of the Franciscan O b s e r v a n c e w e r e

also of considerable longevity: Bernardine of Siena lived to 64, Albert of Sarteano to 65, and J a m e s of the M a r c h e s to 85. In J a m e s ' s case it may be partly explained by his healthy diet, for he w a s k n o w n to be a strict vegetarian. j4

Eg. the visions he had in Cenad [Csanad] and Szekesfehervar, described by Hofer,

Johannes 35



cum etiam contra Judaei,



2: 3 5 6 - 5 7 ; and below, chapter 6, section " P r o p h e c i e s and visions".


eos, ne atiquem

Turcas assistere et quicumque

Nunc contra

nisi Turcas molestarent,


infidetes nobiscum

Turcas, contra


amici nostri sunt, Rassiani in hac tempestate






esse volunt, eos


est. " (Wadding, Annates,


407) j6

Detailed reconstruction of the battle can be found in: Cubrilovic (ed.), Istorija


1: 1 8 9 - 2 1 7 (the chapter by J. Kalic-Miju§kovic); Hofer, '"Der Sieger von Belgrad"; Babinger. Mehmed

the Conqueror,

138—45; Szakaly, "S. Giovanni da C a p e s t r a n o . " O n the sources for

the battle's history see especially Babinger, " D e r Quellenwert der Berichte uber den Entsatz." For the Ottoman perspective see also Masala, "San Giovanni d a C a p e s t r a n o " .



The first of these letters, addressed to an unknown friar and partly written in Italian, is dated 28 July 1456 near Belgrade: Festa, "Cinque lettere," 4 9 - 5 6 = Thalloczy and Aldasy, A Magyarorszag es Szerbia..., 3 8 0 - 8 8 . The second, in Italian, dated 15 September 1457 in Sulmona, is addressed to a certain Peter of Jacovuccio: Festa, "Cinque lettere," 18-37. The third is the longest account of the battle, dated 22 July 1460 in Udine, addressed to James of the Marches: it is preserved in two somewhat different copies, the more complete of which was discovered later (published by Lemmens, "Victoriae mirabilis"). The previously known and partly incomplete redaction is available in Wadding, Annates, 12: 394—419 = AA SS Oct. X: 3 6 6 - 8 1 . Finally, the fourth letter, dated 10 February 1461 in Florence, has the same addressee and relates in detail Capistran's last days and death: Wadding, Annates, 12: 444—66 = AA SS Oct. X: 384-403. This last letter is the most important narrative source for chapter 3 in the present work. j8 "'Vita S. Ioannis de Capistrano scripta a Fr. Hieronymo de Utino," in AA SS Oct. X: 483-91. j9

'"Vita clarissimi viri fratris Joannis de Capistrano per fratrem Nicolaum de Fara socium eiusdem," in AA SS Oct. X: 4 3 9 - 8 3 ; "Vita S. Ioannis a Capistrano scripta a Fr. Christophoro a Varisio," ibid. 491-541. 40 in devotione Indus sacri nominis lesus ac angelico ministerio ipsum Turcam et eius exercitum valde magnum in fugam convertit, de ciuus gente, scilicet Turcae, sub Nandor Alba alia quadquadraginta millia perivenint, et in fuga similiter usque ad Constantinopo/im raginta millia ab angelis interfecti fuerunt, sicut testantar ipsi Turcae, et haec habentur in libro qui 'Fortalitium fidei' intitulatur. The angelic aid to the Christians is also mentioned in Capistran's vita by Varese, where the later redactor, Cherubinus of Saxony, inserts a vivid anecdote (AA SS Oct. X: 533). 41 It is noteworthy how conformable the views of the "forsaken serfs" happened to be with those of the Franciscans. Nicholas of Fara puts into the mouth of his Sultan these bitter words: (Sultan, prae nimio doloris rabie, dentibus stridebat suis.J "Me profecto non marchio, non dux, non princeps, non rex, non caesai; sed ruricolae, aratores terrae, et fossores, vilissimum hominum genus, profligavere" (AA ¿'¿'Oct. X: 472). Controversy around the contribution of particular segments of the Christian forces to the final triumph still occasionally resurfaces in the literature, cf. Held, "The Defense," 2 5 - 3 7 ; Szakaly, "S. Giovanni," 328.


A portrait of the town

ad locum nostrum Uylcich, quern beatus pater elegit sibi ad quiescendum S t e p h e n Varsanyi (5 A p r i l 1461)

John Moorman concludes his vivid account of Capistran's life with a measure of licentia poetica when he states that the saint finished his days as "a faithful warrior of Christ in a strange land and among a strange people" (Moorman 1968, 472). It was perhaps the case that Capistran, out of a self-denying fervour, preferred to die in this remote, unfamiliar ambience but was it really so strange to him personally? Since this is never discussed in the learned works on the saint it seems appropriate here to recount in some detail the late medieval condition of this town on the confines of Slavonia and Hungary proper; moreover, a comprehensive examination of Capistranean posthumous miracles is unimaginable away from their local and regional historical context.

Economy, lordship, and privilege Ilok, on the Danube's right bank—nowadays the most eastern settlement of the Republic of Croatia—was "the most important town of the province of Srijem" (Bosendorfer 1910, 173) in the later Middle Ages. This was obvious to Renaissance chorographers like Nicholas Olah [Olahus] (1493-1568), who wrote in his famed Hungaria: "That part which extends eastward between the mouths of the Drava and Sava rivers is called Srijem (Sirimium); its castles include Ilok, the threshold and the capital of Srijem...".' However, from a purely administrative point of view, Ilok was never part of the medieval Sirmian county (comitatus), the borders of which ran several miles to the east of Ilok and included within their ambit the medieval



settlements of Bcmi Monasteriitm (today Banostor) and Sanctus Demetrius (Sremska Mitrovica) (Bosendorfer 1910, 235-36 and 238-39). Similarly, Ilok never found itself under the jurisdiction of the Sirmian diocese, which was restored in 1229 by pope Gregory IX at the territorial expense of the archbishopric of Kalocsa. 2 The vicissitudes of thirteenth-century histoiy made the Sirmian bishops move from their first residence in Banostor to another, Sanctus Ireneus, probably identical with the earlier medieval Sirmium Vetus (Bosendorfer 1910, 239-40). A later tradition added Ilok as the third place of residence of the Sirmian bishops 3 - a statement which cannot be corroborated from evidence in contemporary sources. 4 If it were true in the mid-fifteenth century, the absence of any hint of that fact in the sources that deal with Capistran's stay and death there would be rather hard to explain. This tradition is also contradicted by a passage in the remarkable treatise De conflictn Hungarorum cum Solymano Turcarum imperatore ad Mohach historia verissima (Cracow, 1527) written by the humanist Stephen Brodaric [Brodericus] (ca. 1480-1539), who held the nominal title of Sirmian bishop from 1526 onwards. In its colorful chorographic introduction we find no mention of an episcopal residence in Ilok, though we do find a description with an unambiguous reference to Banostor as the see of the Sirmian bishop: "Beyond Sotin along the same bank there is the market-town of Ilok with its most noble fortress, and it is there that this most fertile region of Srijem begins, plentiful not only in the wine which is famous all over the North, but also in everything that is suitable for human usage (...) Those who leave Ilok toward Srijem first come upon Banostor, the see of the Sirmian bishopric." 3 Thus, Ilok was situated on the eastern edges of the county of Vukovo, and from the ecclesiastical point of view it belonged to the jurisdiction of the bishopric of Pecs, to its most eastern archdeaconry of Marchia. Ilok did not play a major role in administrative networks, and its increasing significance by the end of the Middle Ages was essentially of an economic nature. Appearing in charters for the first time only in the early fourteenth century, Ilok came into hands of the magnate Nicholas Kont in 1365 (Szabo 1920, 150); 6 Kont was the founder-ancestor of the family de Wylak,7 whose members ruled Ilok until their extinction in 1524. 8 The town entered its period of prosperity during the domination of Kont's great-grandson Nicholas of Ilok (ca. 1415-77), one of the most influential magnates and greatest landowners in Hungary-Croatia, who shared the voivodship of Transylvania with John Hunyadi, played a role in the liquidation of the latter's elder son Laszlo, and rivalled in power the younger son, Matthias Corvinus. The list of Nicholas' baronial offices, besides the voivodship of Transylvania (1441-65, with some interactions), includes that of ban of Croatia (1449), Slavonia



(1457-66, 1471-13), Macva (ca. 1438-77), as well as some others; from 1471 until his death he was even recognized by Matthias as king of Bosnia (he styled himself Nicolaus dei gratia rex Bozne) (Kubinyi 1958, 373, note 3, and 379). This, of course, "did not mean the restoration of Bosnia's independence; it merely satisfied Ujlaki's ambitions and had the aim of activizing his private property in the interests of defence" (Szakaly 1979a, 97). Olah's description of Ilok as regalibus extructa aedificiis (Olahus 1938, 16) seems to refer to the buildings which Nicholas erected in Ilok as king of Bosnia. Nicholas coined his own money, the mint probably being located in his "royal" court within the town-walls of Ilok (Rengjeo 1929, 15). He was married twice and had four daughters and a son, Lawrence, the last scion of the family. The castle of Ilok, the nobilissima arx of Brodaric's text, was firstly recorded in charters at the beginning of the fifteenth century (Bosendorfer 1910, 163). The process of fortifying the town with strong brick walls continued in Nicholas's and his son Lawrence's time, up to the eve of the Ottoman conquest. 9 That is how the curia of the family found itself close to the western edge of the town-walls, next to the main gate with a drawbridge spanning the deep western ditch (Szabo 1920, 151).10 In the course of the decades of Ottoman occupation the curia gradually fell into ruin," and in the eighteenth century the baroque palace of the Odescalchi family was built upon its foundations (Szabo 1920,150). (See Fig. 2.1.) The main street of the inner town followed the west-east direction of the town plan; at its eastern end the street reached the Franciscan monastery with its church, 12 the place of Capistran's death and posthumous cult. The posthumous miracle collections of St. John Capistran bring to life before us an Ilok of craftsmen (especially furriers and tanners, butchers, stone-carvers, carpenters, tailors, potters, coopers and saddle-makers), fishermen, and merchants. 13 Yet the basis of fifteenth-century Ilok's prosperity was the "fiery Sirmian wine" (Bosendorfer). 14 In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the wines from Srijem were appreciated above all others from Hungary (vimtm toto septentrione laudatissitnum, as Brodaric praised them). The wine was exported to the Hungarian Great Plain, but also to Austria, Silesia, and Poland; and one should bear in mind that apart from cattle and precious metals wine constituted almost the sole export of late medieval Hungary (Makkai 1980, 199, 203; Sugar, Hanak and Frank 1990, 58). Maximilian Prandstatter wrote in 1608 about the hills of Fruska Gora in Srijem: "They are said to have all been a vineyard, while now they are covered with shrubs and trees" (Bojnicic 1910, 208). It is not surprising, therefore, that our sources concerning Capistran's cult in Ilok are enriched

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