Book Series Europa Sacra, vol. 23

Confraternity, Mendicant Orders, and Salvation in the Middle Ages

The Contribution of the Hungarian Sources (c.1270-c.1530)

Marie-Madeleine de Cevins

  • Pages: xvii + 365 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:22 b/w, 2 tables b/w., 2 Maps, 14 Graphs
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2019

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57871-2
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57872-9
  • E-book
  • Available

Draws on Hungarian sources of the mendicant spiritual confraternity movement in order to explore the movement’s broader significance in late medieval piety in Central Europe and beyond.


"(...) ein überraschend interessantes Buch (...)" (Thomas Frank, in: Sehepunkte 20 (2020), Nr. 5 [15.05.2020])

« En résumé, le livre de M.M.C. apporte de nouvelles informations sur la relation entre les ordres mendiants et la société environnante à partir d’un groupe de sources auparavant négligé. Elle souligne les différences entre les comportements des ordres, ainsi que celles au sein des ordres dans les différentes régions. Elle aborde enfin le sujet dans un contexte européen plus large, soulignant que le caractère exceptionnel du cas hongrois peut être remis en question si des sources provenant d’autres régions sont également analysées. Espérons que ce livre soit suivi d’un second qui prolongera l’analyse d’un sujet qui a trop longtemps été négligé. » (Beatrix Romhanyi, dans Le Moyen Âge, 126/2, 2020, p. 409)




Marie-Madeleine de Cevins is professor of medieval history at University of Rennes, and is director of the Tempora research unit. She has published several books about Christianity in Central Europe (especially in Hungary) in the late Middle Ages.


By the late Middle Ages, mendicant spiritual confraternities had developed a poor reputation. Their spiritual status was ill-identified: somewhere between requests for intercession, necrological commemoration, and pious associations. In the hands of the mendicants, they seemed to resemble what indulgences had supposedly become in the hands of the papacy: bait that was handed out to extort funds from the faithful while offering an apparently immediate access to Paradise. Thus, like indulgences, they seem to have been gradually emptied of their substance and denounced (even before Luther) as glaring evidence of the corruption of the Roman Church. Much recent scholarship has followed this negative portrait of spiritual confraternities — unless it has conflated them with other non-spiritual confraternities, or indeed ignored them altogether.

This volume draws on the abundant number of letters of confraternity available from Hungarian sources in order to provide a more nuanced picture of mendicant spiritual confraternities. It sheds new light on the links between the mendicants and their supports among the laity, and emphasises the broader significance of the confraternity movement in late medieval piety in Central Europe and beyond.




Chapter 1. Spiritual Confraternities of the Mendicant Orders – In a Blind Spot of Research

  • An Elusive Object of Study
  • The Link Between Confraternitas and the Monks
  • Do Mendicant Spiritual Confraternities Exist?
  • Established Historical Givens
  • Unresolved Questions
  • Central European Trajectories 
Chapter 2. The Hungarian Documentary Corpus

  • Sources on The Spiritual Confraternities of the Mendicant Orders in the Middle Ages
  • The Documentation Pertaining to Hungary: Overview
  • ‘Hungarian’ Letters of Confraternity
Chapter 3. The Success of Mendicant Spiritual Confraternities in Hungary until about 1530

  • The Hungarian Religious Context
  • The Infatuation with Mendicant Spiritual Confraternities
  • Sociography of the Affiliates 
Chapter 4. The Process of Spiritual Affiliation to the Mendicants

  • A Nebula of Graces
  • The Letter in Spiritual Affiliation
  • From Individual to Confraternitas 
Chapter 5. Mendicant Uses of Spiritual Confraternity

  • The Involvement of the Mendicants in the Development of Spiritual Confraternities
  • The Interest of Spiritual Association for the Friars
  • The Franciscans and Spiritual Confraternity
  • The Other Mendicants 
Chapter 6. Confraternity and Salvation: The Affiliates’ View

  • The Value of Spiritual Confraternity on the Salvation Market
  • Why Affiliate Oneself with The Mendicants?
  • Three Itineraries of Spiritual Associates 


Tables, Maps, Graphs

Appendix: Sixteen Letters of Confraternity

Figures (Letters Of Confraternity, Seals)

Index of Proper Names