First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

The Order of The Preaching Friars was brought to life at this time in a divine manner, like a new constellation, by the Blessed Dominic, and founded on the rule of Saint Augustine. When he (i.e., Dominic), together with Fulk, the bishop of Toulouse, went to the Lateran Council and came to Pope Innocent, desiring confirmation of this Order, they found him difficult to convince on account of the novelty of the matter. During the night, however, the pope, in his sleep, saw the Lateran Church about to loosen its structure, and to fall; but Dominick, the man of God, stood under it, bracing and holding it with his shoulders. By reason of this vision the pope accepted their plea, and directed them to choose a rule. And so Dominick returned to his 16 brethren, and at Toulouse established the rule of the Preaching Friars, which was afterward accepted and confirmed by Pope Honorius. This Order, among all others, has always been the most powerful and vehement in the dispersion, expulsion, and eradication of heresy. And so they might not suffer hindrance in the office of preaching, they discarded all estates, annual interest and rents; and such was the conclusion of the general chapter later held at Bologna. This Order was afterwards marvelously enhanced in learning and order by Raymond, the successor of Dominic, and by others who gave their lives. The most distinguished of these are Peter Martyr of Verona, Thomas of Aquinas, and Vincent, all enlisted among the saints; also Peter of Tarantasia, called Innocent the Fifth, and Pope Benedict the Eleventh; Hugo the Cardinal; Albertus Magnus; Peter Paludanis, Jacobus de Varagine, Antonio, bishop of Florence, the holy confessors, and many others.

The Dominicans, otherwise called Preaching Friars, and in England Black Friars, from the black mantle worn over a white habit, is a religious order founded by Dominic as explained in the text and note at Folio CCVIII recto. Their first house was in Toulouse, where, in 1215, the bishop established them in the church of St. Romain. Dominic secured from Pope Innocent III permission to found an order of preachers whose sphere of activity should be the whole world; but the pope insisted they must adopt one of the existing rules. Dominic, having been an Augustinian canon, caused the rule of that order to be adopted. In 1218, an encyclical bull was issued to the bishops of the whole Catholic world recommending to them the “Order of the Preaching Friars,” followed by another in 1221 ordering them to give these friars facilities to preach and to hear confessions in their dioceses. By this time the friars had penetrated into parts of Italy, France, Spain, Poland, and Bohemia.

The Order took definite shape at the two general chapters held at Bologna in 1220-21. The manner of life was very austere. At the founder’s suggestion the general chapter determined that the poverty practiced in the Order should not be merely individual, as in the case of the monastic orders, but corporate, as among the Franciscans; so that the Order should have no possessions, except the monastic buildings and churches, no property, no fixed income, but should live on charity and begging—a mendicant order. Dominic died in 1221, but the order progressed in the hands of able successors, penetrating into Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Prussia and Poland; and soon they made their way to Greece and Palestine, and from there to central Asia. From the 14th century to the middle of the 17th they had missions in Persia, India, and China, and northern Africa. They followed the Spanish explorers and conquerors to the East and West, and many suffered martyrdom. They also became a power in the universities, occupying chairs in Paris, Bologna, Palencia, Oxford, Padua, Cologne, Vienna, Prague, and Salamanca. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas were the leaders in the medieval theological development, which to this day has maintained the principles and methods of Thomas.

The Dominican name is specially associated with the Inquisition, the office of Inquisitor in all the countries being held by the Dominicans. In 1425, Martin V allowed the order to hold property; and to have fixed sources of income, and the order soon ceased to be mendicant.

The first nunnery was established by Dominic in 1206 at Prouille in the diocese of Toulouse, as a refuge for women converted from the Albigensian heresy, and the converts soon spread. The rule resembled that of the friars, except that he nuns were to be strictly enclosed and purely contemplative; but in course of time they undertook educational work.

The Order of the Lesser Brethren was at this time confirmed by Pope Honorius, though with difficulty; for the ancient enemy recognized the future influences of this order in the churches of God, and therefore labored to bring it to naught. This Order was planted like a garden of pleasure and poverty by Saint Francis with great labor. He himself first entered it, seeking refuge from the turmoil of the world in service and adherence to God, and so that he might supply his brethren with the spiritual waters of learning and grace. When he saw the Order increase through the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, he made a rule that he himself observed with a zealous heart; and he admonished his brethren to do likewise. This is the rule: To observe the Gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to live in poverty and chastity unto death. From this garden sprang many pious and highly educated men, namely: Louis (Ludovicus), a bishop; Anthony of Olisipo (Ulixbonensis); Bonaventura, a cardinal; and Bernardino of Siena; all numbered among the saints; also Nicholas, the fourth of this name, Alexander the Fifth, and Sixtus the Fourth, very great popes; also Alexander of Ales, Richard of Media Villa, and countless other celebrated teachers.

The Franciscans, Dominicans, and Carmelites are the three great Mendicant Orders, and arose simultaneously in the beginning of the 13th century. The career of Francis was the subject of text and note at Folio CCVII recto. The Franciscans and Dominicans were spiritual democrats, mingling with the people, yet not of the people. They took cognizance of the public and private affairs, domestic concerns and affections, cares and pleasures, from which their vows personally cut them off. Neither order in the beginning possessed anything of its own; nor did its members. Their vocation was to look after the stray sheep and to preach, exhort, and comfort. They were not called ‘Padri,’ fathers, but ‘Frati, Suori,’ brothers and sisters of all men. The Dominicans took the title Frati Predicatori (‘Preaching Brothers’), while Francis, in his humility, styled his commentary Frati Minori (‘the Minorites’ or ‘Lesser Brothers’). In England they were distinguished as Black-Friars and Grey-Friars.

One important innovation in religious communities was common to Franciscans and Dominicans – the admission of a third class of members (besides the professed friars and nuns) called the Tertiary Order, or Third Order of Penitents. It included both sexes and all ranks of life. The members were not bound by vows, nor required to quit their secular occupations, though they entered into an obligation to renounce secular pleasures and vanities, be just in all their dealings, and charitable to the extent of their means.

After some time the habit of the Franciscans changed from gray to dark brown. It consisted of a plain tunic with long loose sleeves. The tunic is fastened around the waist by a knotted cord, symbolic of the bridle of a subdued beast, for such Francis considered the body in subjection to the spirit. A cape, rather scanty in form, hangs over the shoulders, and to the back of the cape is attached a hood, drawn over the head in bad weather. The Dominicans are always shod; the Franciscans are generally barefoot or wear sandals—usually of wood.

The Franciscans aspired to a greater degree of sanctity and humility than the Dominicans—a more absolute self-abnegation. They were most loved by the people. Francis, as the Padre Serafico, patriarch and founder, holds the highest place in the order. Clara, as the Madre Serafica, first Franciscan nun, as the founder of the Poor Clares. Bonaventura, il Dottore Serafico, was the greatest prelate of the order. Anthony of Padua is generally figured as a pendant to Francis. Bernardino of Siena was the greatest preacher and reformer of the order.

In the Year of Salvation twelve hundred twenty-one the Tartars overran and ravaged Georgia and Armenia Major, bringing them under their dominion. Later they crossed the Rhaetian Mountains and entered Poland and Hungary, damaging, destroying and wasting these Christian regions by devastation, burning and slaying.[The history of the Tartar Empire was begun at Folio CCVII verso, and a note will be found there. ]

The city of Jerusalem was now, for the fifth time, leveled to the ground by Cordirius, son of the great Saladin, while the Christians were besieging the city of Damietta[See Damietta, Folio CCX verso.]; but the temple of the Lord remained unharmed. But when he decided to attack the Holy Sepulchre the Christians pleaded with him and softened his heart, so that he desisted from carrying out his evil decision.