236. None for Me, Thanks: Franciscan Poverty

Posted on 8 August 2015

Bonaventure and Peter Olivi respond to critics of the Franciscan vow of poverty, in a debate which produced new ideas about economics and rights.

Further Reading

• J. De Vinck and R.J. Karris (trans.), Works of Saint Bonaventure, volume 15: Defense of the Mendicants (Saint Bonaventure NY: 2010).


• D. Burr, Olivi and Franciscan Poverty: the Origins of the Usus Pauper Controversy (Philadelphia: 1989)

• J.V. Fleming, An Introduction to the Franciscan Literature of the Middle Ages (Chicago: 1977).

• K.L. Hughes, “Bonaventure’s Defense of Mendicancy,” in J.M. Hammond, J.A. Wayne Hellmann, and J. Goff (eds), A Companion to Bonaventure (Leiden: 2014), 509-42.

• M.D. Lambert, Franciscan Poverty: the Doctrine of the Absolute Poverty of Christ and the Apostles in the Franciscan Order 1210-1323 (London: 1961).

• V. Mäkinen, Property Rights in the Late Medieval Discussion on Franciscan Poverty (Leuven: 2001).


dukeofethereal 1 October 2017

Hi Peter, will you dedicate an episode covering Medieval views on Economics? Their stance on Usury for one.

Economics will play a role again in the Renaissance section thanks to the School of Salamanca 

Jacinta 17 November 2017

  Where do you get the music you use at the beginning of each lecture/podcast? I'm not just talking about the music on this one, but the music on any of them. 

Hi - if you go to "links" at the bottom of the page, that includes a list of all the music with links to the sources.

Alexander Johnson 9 June 2019

i'm surprised this bible verse did not come up in this episode: 

'“One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'

I am guessing the Franciscans used it, it would be difficult to imagine them not having used it.  Did you not find anything about it, or were the arguements using it just not as interesting philosophically?

Peter Adamson 10 June 2019

In reply to by Alexander Johnson

Oh yes, they definitely cited that! I do think the part I mentioned about whether the apostles carried money bags is more interesting to get at the philosophical issue, because it really focuses our attention on possessing wealth privately as opposed to just the question of being rich or not.

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