Michael of Cesena

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Franciscan minister general and theologian; b. Ficchio, near Cesena, Italy, c. 1270; d. Munich, Germany, Nov. 29, 1342. Michael Foschi entered the franciscan Order c. 1284 and was custos at Bologna by January 1305 (Archivum Franciscanum historicum, 25:285). He had just been made a doctor of theology at the University of paris in May 1316, when the news of his election as minister general by the general chapter at Naples was announced to him. In July of the same year he went to Assisi to preside over the compilation of new constitutions for the order, and he named peter aureoli (d.1322) to succeed him in Paris. In close accord with Pope john xxii, he succeeded in putting an end to the dispute between the franciscan spirituals and the rest of the community, and the majority of those who had revolted submitted to him. However, Ubertino of Casale and angelus clarenus left the order, and four recalcitrants were burned at Marseilles in 1318. At the general chapter of Marseilles in 1319, Michael obtained the condemnation of the treatise of peter john olivi on the Apocalypse. A serious crisis erupted in 1322, when Pope John XXII repudiated the Franciscan proposition of the absolute poverty of Christ and the Apostles. The order defended it in a general chapter at Perugia in June 1322, after Cesena had tried mitigating certain texts. But the condemnation of Dec. 8 (Ad conditorem ), the imposition of ownership of goods on the order, and the Quia quorumdam (November 1324), which declared heretical everything opposing the bulls on poverty, all exasperated the friars, making them more sympathetic toward the excommunicated emperor, Louis IV, the Bavarian, who was in conflict with the avignon papacy (see poverty controversy). The general chapter at Lyons in 1325 remained silent regarding the Perugia decisions; Cesena merely exhorted obedience and moderation and made a few slight alterations in the constitutions. Trips to Paris, Naples, and Rome during 1326 to 1327 and denunciations by prominent Guelfs aroused the pope's suspicions, and Cesena was recalled to Avignon. In January 1328 Louis was crowned in Rome by Sciarra colonna (d. 1328), and in May he had a dissenting Franciscan, Pietro Rainalducci, elected as anti-pope nicholas v. Ten days later, on May 22, King Robert of Naples (d. 1343) procured Cesena's confirmation as general by the general chapter at Bologna despite the protests of the papal legate. Michael fled Avignon on the 26th with william of ockham and Bonagratia of Bergamo (d. 1347) and reached Pisa on June 9. Although avoiding the antipope, they succeeded in winning the friendship of Louis, who took them under his protection. This was a serious matter that alienated the majority of Franciscans from Cesena, and Geraldus Odonis (d. 1349) succeeded him as head of the order in 1329 after the general chapter at Paris. This same chapter condemned the conduct and writings of Michael and his associates. The schismatics settled permanently in Munich, and from there Michael addressed himself in vain to the Perpignan chapter in April 1331, which expelled him from the order. The general answered him in his Quid niteris, to which Cesena replied with Teste Salomone in December 1332. In his last years he wrote numerous anonymous works, and his name is found on a final protestation, Quoniam sicut testatur, dated Aug. 23, 1338. Before his death, he restored the seal of the order to William of Ockham and left his papers in safekeeping with Queen Sanchia of Naples (d. 1345). He died unsubmissive. His theological writings on the Sentences and on Ezechiel and his Sermones de tempore and de sanctis are lost; only the constitutions of 1316 and 1325, his polemical writings, and a few letters remain.

Bibliography: Archivum Franciscanum historicum (Quaraccchi-Florence 1909) 25:285. nicolaus minorita, Chronica: Documentation on Pope John XXII, Michael of Cesena and the Poverty of Christ with Summaries in English: A Source Book, ed. g. gÁl and d. flood (St. Bonaventure, N.Y. 1996), bibliography. d. luscombe, "William of Ockham and the Michaelists on Robert Grosseteste and Denis the Areopagite [Latin texts]," in The Medieval Church (Rochester 1999) 93109.

[j. cambell]

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Michael of Cesena

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