Writings of Jacques de Vitry - 581 

world, not only formed religious, but also immature young men who should first be tested and subjected to conventual discipline for a time.a The head of these brothers, who also founded the Order, came into our camp.b He was so inflamed with zeal for the faith that he did not fear to cross the lines to the army of our enemy. For several days he preached the Word of God to the Saracens and made a little progress. The Sultan, the ruler of Egypt,c privately asked him to pray to the Lord for him, so that he might be inspired by God to adhere to that religion which most pleased God. Colin, the Englishman, our clerk, also has joined this Order, as well as two more of our company, namely, Master Michael and Lord Matthew, to whom I had committed the care of the Church of the Holy Cross. I am having a difficult time holding on to the cantord and Henry and several others.

Historia Occidentalis (c.1221/25)

The Historia Occidentalis is the second volume of Jacques de Vitry’s Historia Hierosolimitana Abbreviata, which he intended to be a vast narrative of the Crusading movement. The first book is the Historia Orientalis, which includes a detailed topographical description of the Holy Land and an account of the early Crusades. The Historia Occidentalis then turns to a consideration of the Latin West, the bulk being devoted to the current state of Christendom, especially recent movements of renewal in the various orders of the Church. Jacques also projected a third book, which would return to the Orient and describe events there from the Fourth Lateran Council to the capture of Damietta, but he never had an opportunity to complete it.

The Historia Occidentalis is one of the most important commentaries on church life in the early thirteenth century. The work was begun by Jacques at Damietta; this section on the Franciscans, which comprises chapter 32 of the History, was traditionally thought by most scholars to have been written in




Littres de Jacques de Vitry, Littres de Jacques de Vitry, p. 131-133

quod non solum perfecti, sed etiam iuvenes et imperfecti, qui sub conventuali disciplina aliquanto tempore artari et probari debuissent, per universum mundum bini et bini dividuntur. Magister vero illorum, qui ordinem illum instituit, cum venisset in exercitum nostrum, zelo fidei accensus ad exercitum hostium nostrorum pertransire non timuit et cum aliquot diebus Sarracenis verbum dei predicasset, modicum profecit. Soldanus autem, rex Egypti, ab eo secreto petiit ut pro se domino supplicaret quatinus religioni, que magis deo placeret, divinitus inspiratus adhereret. Eidem predicte religioni tradidit se Colinus Anglicus, clericus noster, et alii duo de sociis nostris, scilicet magister Michael et domnus Matheus, cui curam ecclesie Sancte Crucis commiseram: cantorem et Henricum et alios quosdam vix retino.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 581