Miscellaneous Franciscan Sources - 791 

Miscellaneous Franciscan Sources

Thomas of Pavia (c. 1272-80)

Thomas, generally known to history as Tuscus ("the Tuscan") because of his many years of service as provincial minister there, was actually a native of Lombardy, being born in the city of Pavia around the year 1212.a As a youth he went to study at the University of Padua, where he entered the Lesser Brothers about 1229. Thomas went on to enjoy a lengthy and many-faceted career in the Order as teacher, writer, and administrator. He was appointed lector of theology in Parma around 1240. "A learned man . . . who was very facile in writing,"b Thomas's works were well known in his lifetime. After the chapter of 1244, the general minister, Crescentius of Iesi, commissioned him to compose a collection of small biographies, in which the "deeds" of various early "holy brothers" could be preserved for posterity.c Among his other works, the most famous was a massive theological encyclopedia, popularly called "The Ox" because of its size.d He remained active in education until he was elected provincial minister of Tuscany in 1258, serving with distinction in that capacity until 1270. For some time he was in the service of Charles I of Anjou, the papally-sponsored King of Naples.

It was during his later years that he worked on a lengthy chronicle, The Deeds of the Emperors and the Popes,e from which the following selection is taken. Thomas's work is a florilegium, a selection of instructive events excerpted from encyclopedic works of history and hagiography. Its nineteenth-century editor, impressed by the contemporary ideal of "objective" historiography, dismissed it as the sloppy and uncritical work of a credulous brother. Such a verdict does not do justice to the reason why Thomas wrote his chronicle. Like other works of its type, it was not meant simply as a book of "facts," but to entertain its readers and provide suitable moral anecdotes for preaching as




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 791