Book Series Bibliothèque de la Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique, vol. 112

A Cathedral of Constitutional Law

Essays on the Earliest Constitutions of the Order of Preachers, with an English Translation of Fr Antoninus H. Thomas’s 1965 Study

Anton Milh, Mark Butaye (eds)

  • Pages: approx. 500 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:1 col., 5 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English, French
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59334-0
  • Paperback
  • Forthcoming (Nov/23)


In this volume, contemporary researchers critically assess the 1965 groundbreaking study of Fr. A.H. Thomas on the earliest Constitutions of the Dominican Order.


Anton Milh is a Dominican brother of the Belgian-Dutch province. He holds a doctoral degree in theology and is an academic researcher at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven.

Mark Butaye is a Dominican brother of the Belgian-Dutch province. He studied theology at KU Leuven and was a student of Fr Antoninus H. Thomas. He worked as a pastor with migrants, prisoners and the poor.


The Belgian Dominican friar Antoninus Hendrik Thomas published a critical reconstruction of the earliest Constitutions of the Dominican Order. He identified meticulously where Saint Dominic and his first brothers had borrowed material from other religious and secular juridical systems, as well as where they had been original, thus uncovering the foundational charism of the Order. Even today, researchers in the field regard Fr Thomas’s work as indispensable. Unfortunately, many of his insights are difficult to access for a wider audience, since Fr Thomas wrote his work in his native language, Dutch. To mark the eighth centenary of the death of Saint Dominic in 2021, the Belgian Dominican province therefore decided to publish Fr Thomas’s work in an English translation, as well as to complement this with a selection of essays written by contemporary experts, who – from their particular perspectives – engage with Fr Thomas’s main insights. The essays deal with the historiographical tradition to which Fr Thomas belonged, the Premonstratensian, Cistercian and secular sources of the Constitutions, the manuscript tradition and editing process of the earliest Constitutions, and their reception in the first century of the Order and by the late medieval observant movement.


Introduction, Anton-Marie Milh OP & Mark Butaye OP


PART I: Essays

‘Et ut maxima est Historiae necessitas, non minor est utilitas’. Belgian Dominican Historians in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Anton-Marie Milh OP

État actuel des recherches sur les statuts de l’Ordre de Prémontré aux 12e et 13e siècles

Herman Janssens O.Praem.

Les cisterciens et l’essor de la pratique statutaire, des origines au début du 14e siècle

Alexis Grélois

Les dominicains, les colleÌges et les universiteìs. Une pauvreteì savante au 13e sieÌcle

† Laurent Waelkens & Wouter Druwé

A Manuscript and Its Editions. AGOP XIV A4, folios 28r-47r

† Wolfram Hoyer OP

Les constitutions dominicaines au Moyen Âge. Histoire et perspectives éditoriales

Florent Cygler

La première législation dominicaine dans les récits fondateurs de la mémoire de l’Ordre

Anne Reltgen-Tallon

Reformatio or deformatio? The First Observant Friars and the Dominican constitutions in the Light of Henry of Bitterfeld’s Treatise on Reform of the Order

Anna Zajchowska-Bołtromiuk


PART II: Antoninus Hendrik Thomas OP, The Earliest Constitutions of the Dominicans. Antecedents, Text, Sources, Origins and Development (1215-1237), With an Edition of the Text. Translated into English by Brian Heffernan