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Zealots for Souls

Dominican Narratives of Self-Understanding during Observant Reforms, c. 1388–1517

Zealots for souls draws attention to the impact of the Observant reforms within the Order of Preachers, and ambitiously stirs up a broad scope of questions pertaining to the institutional narratives produced within the order between c. 1388 and 1517.

Through the narratives and the forms of remembrance they fostered, the author traces the development of contemporary characteristics of the Dominican self-understanding. The book shows the fluid boundaries between the genres (order chronicles, convent chronicles, collective biographies), highlights the interplay between the narrative and the intended audience, addresses the complex question of authorship, and assesses the indebtedness of 'modern' (printed) narratives to older chronicles or biographical collections. The book demonstrates that the majority of the extant institutional narratives were written by Observant Dominicans, who strived for the internal reform of their order. They wrote history to justify their own reform agenda and therefore produced invariably partisan chronicles.

The work's method is widely applicable and contributes to further reassessment of institutional narratives as sources for the analysis of religious and intellectual transformations.

Author Information

Anne Huijbers, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


"Anne Huijbers's study of Dominican order historiography in the era of the Observant reform is a veritable gold mine. [...] this work demands further research into late medieval historiography, and everyone interested in the literary cultures of the long fifteenth century among men and women on both sides of the Alps should read this book."
Claire Taylor Jones in: The Medieval Review 2019 (19.08.25), https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/tmr/article/view/27778  

"ein gelungenes Überblickswerk über die dominikanische Identitätsfindung im späten Mittelalter auf der Grundlage ausgewählter Beispiele aus der Geschichtsschreibung."
Stefanie Neidhardt, Sehepunkte 18, 2018, nr. 7/8, 15.7.2018, http://www.sehepunkte.de/2018/07/31612.html  

"another valued contribution to our recent efforts to recover the complexity, vitality, and energy of fifteenth-century culture through the lens of its religious orders."
James Mixson, Church History, 88:2, June 2019, pp. 499-502.

"this is a treasure trove ... which has much to offer any historian interested in late medieval and early renaissance religious communities, historiography and religious reform."
Gregory Schnakenberg OP, The English Historical Review, 24 August 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cez239

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Audience: All those interested in medieval history, religious studies, humanism, historiography, hagiography, mendicant orders