Sacerdos et Predicator: Franciscan 'Experience' and the Cronica of Salimbene de Adam
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The Chronicle of the thirteenth-century Franciscan friar Salimbene de Adam is filled with an abundance of self-referential passages. At almost every step of his narrative we are made extremely aware of Salimbene’s presence, as an author, a compiler of texts and anecdotes, a commentator and as an eye-witness to his age. Due to his ubiquitous ‘I’, Salimbene’s Cronica is often thought to be a subjective, biased and an ahistorical manifestation of traditional medieval universal histories. His supposed inappropriate self-interest has caused modern historians to mark both writer and text as a curiosity which defies any sort of logical definition. This mind-set has served not only to disconnect Salimbene and his Cronica from the historiographical, religious and social influences which pervaded his age, but importantly from the integral context provided by his work as a Franciscan friar. This thesis departs from treating Salimbene’s Cronica as a document to be mined for information about his world, an approach that largely eschews traditional methodologies associated with the study of chronicles. This thesis establishes the terms and boundaries of Salimbene’s authorship and contextualises them thoroughly with the performances associated with his duties as a Franciscan in the spiritual and social world of thirteenth-century Italy. Salimbene was primarily priest and preacher as he so often tells us. Viewing Salimbene’s authorial presence through the lens of his performances as an historian, preacher, confessor and priest reveals that his Franciscan ‘Experience’ informed and shaped noticeable narrative strategies which are associated with his efforts to establish and exercise authority both in his text and the world in which he lived. Rather than being a curious exception, Salimbene’s strong authorial persona was connected intricately to the changes in the social and spiritual milieus that irrevocably impacted upon the writing of history during the thirteenth century.