Hi all! Things were starting to change as the fourteenth century opened. People, both clerical and laymen, were starting to rankle under the Church’s yoke.
Today we’ll look at Fra Dolcino, an Italian of unknown origin, who real name isn’t even known. Some people think he was the son of a rich family, but some (including the Church) claimed that he was the illegitimate son of a priest.
We’ll start with quotes from Bernard McGinn in VISIONS OF THE END:
“…about 1300 the forceful personality of Fra Dolcino was to make the fatal step from the mere preaching of apocalyptic ideas to armed resistance to the combined forces of Church and State. The Apostolic Brethren were one of the many movements of lay piety stressing poverty, preaching, and direct contact with God that sprang up in the later Middle Ages. Founded about 1260 by an unlettered layman, Gerard Segarelli of Parma, they were condemned by Popes Honorius IV and Nicholas IV for not adhering to the Church’s rules regarding the approbation of new religious orders. Segarelli was imprisoned by the Inquisition and executed in 1300. The new leader of the group, Fra Dolcino, the son of a priest from Novara, was a far more formidable figure. Dolcino had received some education and had been influenced at some time by the themes of Joachite speculation…The sequence of events is partially obscure, but by about 1304 Dolcino and his faithful followers had retired to the Alpine valleys to await the coming of the Last Emperor, whom they expected to slaughter the representatives of the carnal Church and usher in the fourth age, the time of the triumph of the Apostolic Brethren. Dolcino apparently came to identify himself with the Angelic Pope. It is difficult to know whether Dolcino was forced into open rebellion as his radical program became known, or whether he decided to take up arms as the vanguard of the avenging forces of the Final Emperor. Although the former option seems more likely, the armed resistance that the Brethren put up against the forces sent against them and the support that they received from the peasants of the Valsesia made them a prototype of later peasant insurrections. In March 1307 the Apostolic Brethren were decisively defeated in a pitched battle at Monte Rebello and many were slain. Dolcino, his consort Margarita, and about one hundred forty followers were captured. The leader was executed in unusually cruel fashion, even for the times — a sign of the strong views that medieval society took toward violent apocalypticism in action..”Continue reading